In an unprecedented move that illustrates the dramatic impacts of planetary global warming, one community in the South Pacific has decided it has no choice but to pick itself up entirely and flee for higher ground.
All too aware of their vulnerability to the effects of climate change — such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events — communities in the Pacific Islands have long acknowledged that their very existence is threatened by global warming.
But now, authorities in a town on Taro Island, a coral atoll off Choiseul in the Solomon Islands that sits less than seven feet above sea level, have decided to relocate to the mainland in response to increasing coastal hazards including tsunamis, storm surges, and erosion. The exodus from Choiseul Bay Township, the provincial capital that’s currently home to about 500 people, will take place over many years. It is the first such official migration — of people, services, and facilities — in the Pacific Islands.
According to Reuters, “the groups behind the Choiseul adaptation plan said it is being hailed by the Solomon Islands national government as a model for other provinces across the nation and more broadly across the Pacific.”
The plan comes out of Choiseul Bay Township’s consultation with a team of engineers, scientists and planners, funded by the Australian government, on how best to adapt to the impact of climate change. Extensive community input was solicited, Choiseul Province premier Jackson Kiloe said in a statement Friday.
“Relocation is the only option available that will keep the community safe and will allow for future growth and prosperity of the capital and the province,” said Philip Haines, project manager at BMT, an engineering firm that worked on the plan.
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