Zinke attends Pacific Islands Forum, ignores their biggest concern

Zinke attends Pacific Islands Forum, ignores their biggest concern

Joel Clement writes:

This week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke heads the United States delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum Leader’s Session on the Island of Nauru on September 4, 2018, an annual gathering of dozens of Pacific Island leaders and partners. In the Interior Department press release, Zinke noted that the Pacific Islands are strategically important and he wants to discuss trade and the rule of law. He did not indicate any interest in discussing the impacts of climate change in the Pacific Islands region – dramatic impacts that his own agency described in a publication earlier this year.

The US Geological Survey (USGS), the lead science agency within the US Department of the Interior, published a report in April with an ominous headline: “Many Low-Lying Atoll Islands Will Be Uninhabitable by Mid-21st Century.” The study concluded that due to rising sea levels, flooding, and salt-water intrusion into aquifers there will be no potable water on thousands of islands in the Pacific “no later than the middle of the 21st century,” rendering those islands uninhabitable. Thirty to forty years from today, entire island cultures may have to leave their homelands for good because we have burned too much fossil fuel.

In the meantime, they urgently need assistance to adapt to rising seas, build resilience, and develop the infrastructure that could save lives and livelihoods before and during relocation. Ironically, the Interior Department, the agency that released this study, stands in the way of the assistance these islands so desperately need. [Continue reading…]

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