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14 islands threatened by climate change

By: Katherine Butler on Jan. 10, 2018, 11:44 a.m.
Aerial view of uplifted limestone islands in Palau

Photo: NOAA

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Republic of Palau

Palau and other island nations have formed an expert advisory committee to bring the issue of rising sea levels to the United Nations. While others see climate change as an economic problem, "For us, it’s about survival," then-President Johnson Toribiong said at a U.N. news conference in 2012. He also noted that waters had risen two or three times higher in Palau's region than anywhere else in the world. The current president, Tommy Remengesau, has uses the example of how he loses his garden to the sea every full moon to illustrate the very real dangers Palau faces.

The 190-square-mile chain of eight main islands and more than 250 islets sits around 500 miles southeast of the Philippines. Geographically, it ranges from mountains to low-lying coral islands. Hopes are that the United Nations would be able to determine the legal ramifications of climate change via international law. Palau, which has roughly 20,000 citizens, is already active in other such arenas and is home to the world’s first national shark sanctuary.