15 May 2013

Time running out for habitability of Marshall Islands atoll

7:26 pm on 15 May 2013

The Marshall Islands senior climate change advisor says the atoll of Ailinglaplap may only be habitable for another 20 years, unless the international community steps in to help.

Steve Why says the latest climate change vulnerability survey shows coastal erosion has accelerated due to strong trade winds brought about by the current La Nina weather pattern.

He hopes the plight of Ailinglaplap, and the state of disaster in the country's drought-stricken northern islands, will make the international community wake up to the dire situation facing the Pacific as a result of climate change.

"Marshall Islands is supposedly the canary in the coalmine. Well, the canary's singing away right now, and we're about to croak. So hopefully the rest of the coalmine's listening, the world's listening. I mean these disasters allow us to discuss these things and to get some attention but it completely befuddles me why we have to wait until this place is wiped out before we do anything about it."

Steve Why says the country is developing a land reclamation plan which would need international funding to complete.