The disappearing country

by Balari Gabadamudalige
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Kiribati Island - Maldives

“Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here; it is happening now.”

Barack Obama


When viewed from above, Kiribati forms a tropical paradise surrounded by multiple shades of blue waters and lush green palm trees.

However, the reality on the ground is far from it!

The Republic of Kiribati, located in the Central Pacific Ocean is facing its worst nightmare!


This tiny nation of 33 islands and atolls is said to completely disappear from the map by the year 2100! The rising sea levels caused by climate change have posed a threat to some of the kindest and friendliest people living in the Pacific. And it’s completely heartbreaking!

Is the Ocean a Friend or Foe?

Since the beginning of time, the ocean has been a great friend to the citizens of Kiribati. They have completely depended on it all their lives, be it for food or work.

Kiribati Natives
Kiribati Natives pushing a boat by the ocean shore

The ocean which was the heart of their lives has now become their greatest enemy because the chances are that they will most probably die from it too.

Climate change has driven the ocean to break through freshwater ponds destroying crops and houses and forcing villagers to evacuate their homes. It has also washed away a sea wall and has put the country’s one and only main road at risk of being wiped off the map at any given time.

Struggles of the Locals

Sea levels are rising every minute and the villagers have to face many dire consequences because of it.

They are forced to adapt to the ever-worsening situation by either leaving their homes or uncovering solutions of their own.

Initially, the villagers will use various materials to elevate the walls of their homes as much as they possibly can. Piles of bricks, steel sheets and any other raw material they can find will be used to elevate the walls on their own.

However, there are only so many times that they can do this until they are eventually forced to abandon their homes too!

Who are Climate Refugees?

Although you are probably scratching your head and wondering what this phrase means, about 30 years from now, climate refugee will be a phrase so commonly known in the world.

Climate Refugees
Climate Refugees

Climate refugees are individuals who have been compelled to abandon their homes due to the environmental impacts of climate change.

To prevent its citizens from becoming climate refugees, the government of Kiribati has been sending locals to countries like Australia and New Zealand for jobs so that they can start adapting to life outside Kiribati.

The Bitter Truth of Climate Change

Although Kiribati is the first country to pay the price for climate change, it will affect all of us at some point in time. Though it may not be the rising sea level that would make your country extinct, other extreme weather events will definitely affect it.

By about the same time Kiribati will disappear from the face of the Earth, coral reefs will die, rainforests will crumble, Southern parts of Europe will turn into a desert and natural disasters will be more frequent and severe than ever before.

Save Kiribati

So, as you can see, climate change is not a problem for tomorrow. It is a problem for today and the situation in Kiribati is a bitter reminder of that!

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