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14 islands threatened by climate change

By: Katherine Butler on Jan. 10, 2018, 11:44 a.m.
Keeping the Marshall Islands from disappearing is a challenge.

Photo: Alan A. Taylor/Shutterstock

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Marshall Islands

One thousand or so islands spread over 29 coral atolls make up the Marshall Islands. Most of them are less than six feet above sea level and few are more than a mile wide. A single meter increase in sea levels could result in 80 percent of Majuro atoll, home to half the country's 53,000 people, being underwater.

Like other island nations, the Marshall Islands struggle with keeping the islands from disappearing while also keeping their population on those islands. "We are trying to look at all opportunities and technologies to make sure our country can remain viable for our people to continue to live there," Marshallese president Hilda Heine said to the Canberra Times. "Our country's survival is based on people living in the Marshall Islands, not elsewhere."

Efforts to combat rising seas ranges from reducing their own emissions, a mostly symbolic gesture, to working with the World Bank to safeguard infrastructure and agriculture and to provide clean water to residents.

However, keeping a population from leaving can difficult when it's somewhat easy for a them to relocate, as it is with the Marshallese. They can live and work legally, without a visa, in the United States thanks to the Compact of Free Association. For those worried about rising sea levels, this can make the logistics of leaving a little bit easier.