WASHINGTON — To small island nations where the land juts just above the rising seas, the U.S. pulling out of the Paris global warming pact makes the future seem as fragile and built on hope as a sand castle...
Top scientists say it was already likely that Earth’s temperatures and the world’s seas will keep rising to a point where some island states may not survive through the next 100 years. That likelihood increases, they say, if the United States doesn’t follow through on promised cuts in heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions.
“If we really push into action, we can save some (small islands) but we may not be able save all of them,” said Hans-Otto Poertner, a German scientist who chairs the climate impacts study group for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “The chances are even less with the U.S. pulling out of the climate agreement in Paris.”
While calling Trump’s announcement “deeply disappointing,” Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine told The Associated Press “I cannot give up on my people and my country and my culture. It’s very important for us to be optimistic.”
Heine and other island leaders are putting their hope in strong pollution curbs by China, other nations, individual American states and cities, as well as improved technology. While visiting Europe, she said “it’s all the more important that Europe takes the lead on climate change.”
Palau’s environment minister F. Umiich Sengebau said he has no choice but to hope.
“Right now some of the islands have disappeared,” he said. “And so if we continue this trend our very existence as small islands could very well disappear in many instances.”
ap file photo
Small islands “are the most vulnerable parts of the world,” said scientist Jim Skea of the Imperial College in London, who chairs another UN climate panel. Exceeding 1.5 degrees “really makes the vulnerability threat for them more acute. It’s kind of existential.”
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