Marshall Islands President Pleads in The New York Times: Don’t Let Us Drown

All nations, big or small, need to step up efforts against climate change, says the leader of the Pacific nation.

An aerial view of part of a low-lying atoll in the Marshall Islands.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Marina Koren
Sept. 26, 2013, 8:53 a.m.

The latest pres­id­ent to pen an op-ed in a ma­jor Amer­ic­an news­pa­per is not call­ing for dip­lomacy in hand­ling mil­it­ary or nuc­le­ar threats, as Pres­id­ents Vladi­mir Putin of Rus­sia and Has­san Rouh­ani of Ir­an have done in the last month. This pres­id­ent is ask­ing the world to work to­geth­er to keep his coun­try from drown­ing.

The threat of cli­mate change is very real in the Mar­shall Is­lands, wrote pres­id­ent Chris­toph­er Loe­ak in The New York Times on Wed­nes­day. The re­pub­lic is a string of more than 1,000 small is­lands south­w­est of Hawaii, with a pop­u­la­tion of 52,555. Some land is what’s known as atolls — nar­row, ring-shaped strips of low-ly­ing land that en­circle la­goons. The en­tire na­tion sits about sev­en feet above sea level.

“We are in­creas­ingly pan­icked by re­cent sci­entif­ic re­ports sug­gest­ing that the world is cur­rently head­ing for a three- to six-foot rise in sea levels by the end of the cen­tury,” Loe­ak said. ‘“If such pre­dic­tions are ac­cur­ate, my coun­try will be lost forever.”

Earli­er this month, the Mar­shall Is­lands, along with 15 oth­er states party to the Pa­cific Is­lands For­um, signed a de­clar­a­tion to com­bat the ef­fects of emis­sions on plan­et­ary warm­ing. For­um mem­bers range from small states like Fiji and Tu­valu to large na­tions like Aus­tralia and New Zea­l­and. The Mar­shall Is­lands aims to cut its green­house-gas emis­sions in half be­fore 2030 and be­come car­bon neut­ral be­fore 2050. “The mes­sage to the big­ger coun­tries is this: If we can do it, so can you,” the pres­id­ent said.

Loe­ak said he re­ceived sup­port from U.S. of­fi­cials on the de­clar­a­tion, but stressed that more needs to be done. “For too long, oth­ers have used Amer­ic­an in­ac­tion as an ex­cuse not to act them­selves. The world needs Amer­ic­an lead­er­ship on cli­mate change. United States sup­port for the Majuro De­clar­a­tion could not be more wel­come, and it is likely to spur ac­tion from oth­ers.”

The pres­id­ent de­clared a “state of dis­aster” for the coun­try’s north­ern atolls after a severe drought left thou­sands without fresh wa­ter. Six weeks later, a rare high tide struck the cap­it­al city of Majuro, flood­ing the air­port, neigh­bor­hoods and “even my own back­yard,” Loe­ak said.

Some have sug­ges­ted the Mar­shallese seek high­er ground, but for them, there’s no such thing. The is­land na­tion’s res­id­ents won’t choose to leave either, said Loe­ak, who is sched­uled to ad­dress the United Na­tions Gen­er­al As­sembly on Thursday af­ter­noon. “If the wa­ter comes, it comes.”

What We're Following See More »
PROBE CAME FROM INQUIRY INTO MANAFORT’S FINANCES
Mueller Investigating Tony Podesta and His Firm
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News. The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller's inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort."

Source:
OFF TO MICHIGAN, SURPRISE TRIP
FLOTUS to Kick Off Anti-Bullying Initiative
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"First lady Melania Trump is making good on a promise she made earlier this year to combat childhood bullying, taking a surprise trip Monday to a middle school in a Detroit suburb." She is bringing awareness to the problem with a campaign she found called #NoOneEatsAlone, which encourages kids to be inclusive.

Source:
SURPRISE VISIT
Tillerson in Kabul
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
WITHOUT NAMING HIM, CALLS OUT “BONE SPUR”
McCain Needles Trump on Vietnam
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS
SCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY
House Intel Will Interview Trump Digital Director
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump’s campaign digital director, Brad Parscale, will be interviewed Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee, his first appearance before any of the panels examining the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mr. Parscale confirmed his scheduled appearance. The Senate committees also probing interference haven’t scheduled time with Mr. Parscale, he said, declining to comment further."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login