THERE IS A LOT OF DEBATE about how long these islands have and which are in the most danger due to climate change.
Whether they vanish in this lifetime or stay with us for another few centuries is anyone’s guess, but one thing is clear: With the onset of rising sea levels and warming temperatures, many low-lying islands face challenges they have never faced before.
Some island nations have already begun relocation efforts for their people, including some of those pictured below.
This country of 33 islands is located in the Pacific between Hawaii and Australia. One of the world’s most vulnerable nations to climate change, its government is searching for a place to move its 103,000 inhabitants.
Situated 4.5 meters above sea level, this Polynesian nation is the fourth smallest country in the world. “Unless urgent actions are done against climate change in 50 years’ time, the world will just come and collect our bodies from the sea,” says one Tuvalu citizen in the documentary film King Tide.
Can you see the house in the photo? The Australian island of Boigu is one of the lowest-lying of the Torres Strait Islands, located six kilometers from the mainland of Papua New Guinea. It is home to about 260 indigenous people. In February 2014, the Australian Government said it would put $26.2 million toward seawalls for the Torres Strait Islands.
In the remote Cook Islands north of Rarotonga, Aitutaki has a population of just over 2,000 and is well visited by tourists who make it to this part of the South Pacific. Its 123-meter summit won’t be disappearing anytime soon, but unfortunately its inhabitants depend on land area that is much closer to the sea.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands
Located northwest of Australia, these islands have 75km of shoreline. The Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve protects a diverse range of marine life, including endemic species of sea snakes and mollusks.
Part of the Seychelles, the Aldabra Group has four main islands. One is Aldabra, the world’s second largest coral atoll, with an elevation of eight meters. It is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and home to the Aldabra Giant Tortoise.