A gathering storm of climate change looms over Marshall Islands
June 28, 2015
Severe droughts, massive flooding and dying coral mark realities of climate change on remote Pacific islands
As climate change becomes a growing global concern, the Marshall Islands, a collection of atolls spread across 357,000 square miles in the Pacific Ocean, offer a snapshot of what may be to come. On the main island of Majuro, seasonal high tides combined with storm surges and a rising sea combined to render more than 1,000 people homeless last year. The outer atolls have also been hit hard, first by droughts and now by increasingly common flooding. The floods have gotten so bad that the residents of Kili, home to hundreds of descendants of the nuclear refugees from Bikini Atoll, have petitioned the United States government for help relocating to higher ground in the U.S. And rising sea temperatures have caused massive coral bleaching in the Marshall Islands’ world-renowned reefs. As Sheila MacVicar reports in this excerpt from Compass, residents remain optimistic and defiant in the face of the rising seas.