An institute for critical education in the South Pacific

A ʻAtenisi picture

Relaxing after class

Apr. 2016 – Kiribati Expat Reports Mood Back Home

missing picture: Meria.jpg

By 2050 the chief island of Kiribati – South Tarawa – is expected to be partly inundated by the rising Pacific. Two years ago Kiribati purchased 20 square kilometres in the Savusavu highlands of the Fijian island of Vanua Levu. Following the sale, its president told the Associated Press the nation isn’t planning to move its entire population to Vanua Levu. “But if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it.” Kiribati’s population is currently 104,000, with nearly half residing on S. Tarawa.

After these facts were presented 4 April by ‘Atenisi’s dean, Dr Michael Horowitz, expatriate Meria Russell described the attitude of her people towards the impending crisis. “People remain cheerful and upbeat,” she assured those who attended 'Atenisi’s first evening event of 2016. “They rarely talk of the future.”

The audience further learned I Kiribati typically bear no grudge against China or the USA, who, as of 2012, were annually pumping 8.1 and 5.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. According to Horowitz’ report, the 32.3 metric billion tons of carbon dioxide globally added to the atmosphere each year has raised sea level 10 centimetres since the mid-1960s. Sadly, the highest point on South Tarawa is barely three metres.

Here in Tonga, Russell is programme manager for the Australian High Commission. She holds a B.A. in education from USP/Kiribati.