SANNE ZURNE

Kiribati - an island state in the middle of the Pacific - is sinking. Scientist say that if the sea keeps rising, by 2050 Kiribati might be among the first countries to disappear from the world map.

Last January I spent a month on Tarawa, the main island of Kiribati. I came to Kiribati expecting to find a place planning for its own destruction, but instead I found a people that live like nothing is happening to them.

Life on Kiribati is still as easy and carefree as ever. The I-Kiribati play volleyball, make music, laze and laugh. Problems are for another day. They realize the sea is coming their way, but they can't imagine that their house won't be there. A nation disappearing off the map is something that’s never happened before and, so far, is something people seem unable to imagine.

But the island is facing problems and one wonders how long Kiribati will be livable. Houses flood on a regular basis, soil has become barren, the drinking water salty.

One day I confronted a young woman with the possible destiny of her country. She looked at me for some time, then asked me: "Sanne, do you really think we're going to sink?"

 

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