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14 islands threatened by climate change

By: Katherine Butler on Jan. 10, 2018, 11:44 a.m.
Flying over Chuuk, Micronesia

Photo: mattk1979/flickr

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Federated States of Micronesia

Micronesia consists of 607 islands containing both mountains and low-lying coral atolls in the Pacific. It lies 1,800 miles east of the Philippines. This 270-square-mile nation holds a population of roughly 107,000. "The threat is to our existence, survival, not only as a people — as a culture. ... We now have just flat beaches — the wash comes in and hits the roots of coconut trees," Masao Nakayama, a representative of the Federated States of Micronesia to the United Nations, said in 2009. Experts say sea levels will rise more than 3 feet in the next 90 years, and Nakayama contends that "even a small rise of 1 meter" will be devastating to the nation.

And the danger so far is very real. According to a July 2017 study, a number of small uninhabited islands were submerged between 2007 and 2014 thanks to rising sea levels. Islands that are able to trap sediment with mangrove forests seem to withstand the sea levels.