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Rising Seas Prompt Plan B Escape Plans for Kiribati March 16, 2012
South Tarawa atoll
South Tarawa is one of 32 atolls that make up the Republic of Kiribati. The few high points in the nation are scarcely more than 12 feet above sea level.
Leaders in the Pacific nation of Kiribati are so concerned about rising sea levels making their islands uninhabitable that they are considering moving all of their people to higher terrain in Fiji.

President Anote Tong told The Associated Press that his cabinet has endorsed a plan to buy nearly 6,000 acres on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu.

Tong said the fertile land, being sold by a church for about $9.6 million, could provide a refuge for Kiribati’s entire population of 103,000 should their equatorial island homes be swamped by rising seas.

Fiji is 1,400 miles south of Kiribati and has not commented on the scheme.

“We would hope not to put everyone on one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it,” Tong told the agency.

Intruding seawater has already contaminated some of Kiribati’s underground freshwater supplies, forcing some villagers to move.

Many scientists have predicted that sea level rise will accelerate in the coming decades due to climate change.

Photo: Republic of Kiribati