A Refuge from Kiribati

Gwynn Guilford writes for Quartz:

This has to be the weirdest business deal of the week: The Church of England just sold a chunk of forest-covered land on the Fijian island Vanau Levu for $8.8 million to the government of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. For the moment, Kiribati plans to use its 20-square-kilometer (7.7-square-mile) plot for agriculture and fish farming. But the investment is really a fallback for its 103,000 residents — a place to live if they must leave their home island.

“We would hope not to put everyone on [this] one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it,” president Anote Tong told the Associated Press, via the Guardian. Tong is awaiting parliamentary approval of the land purchase before clearing that possibility formally with Fiji’s officials.

… The seas around Kiribati’s 32 atolls (ring-shaped coral reefs) are rising 1.2 centimeters (0.5 inches) a year — about four times faster than the global average — thanks to the flux of ocean currents. Some experts think that by 2100, the country will have disappeared beneath the waves. That may be optimistic; some residents expect the sea to subsume their homes within 20 or 30 years.

Read the rest.

Biretta tip: TitusOneNine.

Image: The flag of Kiribati


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