Journey to the Sinking Lands

A witness to the world's first evacuation of an entire people due to climate change

Archive for February, 2009

Onya AST!

Great news. A British company, AST, have offered to lend me a portable satellite modem for the journey to the Carteret Islands. It’s a Thrane & Thrane Explorer 300 and is a very nice piece of kit. It means I am going to be able to keep this blog running even from the islands themselves (the Carterets don’t have electricity, let alone phones, so a satellite modem is the only way to do this)…

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A useful German word

Sebastian Lasse, a photojournalist from Dortmund who has travelled to the Carterets as part of a documentary team writes with news of a very useful German word… 

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Finally, I’ve bought my plane tickets. Which means this really is happening. I really am going to the Carteret Islands; it’s not just a nice idea I’ve been talking about a lot. And, for some reason, this has made me nervous. I’ve flown on a lot of planes before but this time I don’t really know what is going to be at the end of the journey. In fact the flights I’ve booked so far are only to Brisbane, which is only the first step. From there it’s another flight to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. From there another to Buka, in Bougainville. And from there, some kind of boat. That’s where it all gets a little uncertain. But it’s real now, I’ve got a departure date: April 13.

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Journey of a Lifetime

I’ve just added a new page to the site all about the Journey of a Lifetime Award itself, the people who have done it in the past and how you can have a go at doing it yourself in the future.

I know, I should have put this up sooner, not least to give the people who organise the award their due (something about paying the piper…?), but it just didn’t occur to me until I was in the bath last night. Go on, check it out – the link is in the next column on the right.

There is hope (?)

I think I have understood this right ( if not, please correct me). Trees, it seems, are soaking up more CO2 than we thought, and are actually getting bigger – and soaking up more – as we pump out more carbon.

And its a lot more: “Over the world’s tropical forests, this extra “carbon sink” effect adds up to 4.8bn tonnes of CO2 removed each year – close to the total carbon dioxide emissions from the US.”

If so, doesn’t that mean that the climate prediction models are wrong? Might we have more time than we thought?

Even so.

Thank you, Rachel

I knew I could rely on you guys to come up with some answers when I got stuck and, frankly, Rachel, yours is the best. So good in fact I’ve pulled it out of the comments to the previous post and stuck it in here:

Maybe because the others have been… and left. Because this will only happen once, and someone should be there to document it as it happens, and because the BBC is probably about the only ‘public service’ broadcaster left to do it.

Thinking about whether there’s anything you can do to help them. Take a quick trip to Iceland (virtually if you can’t fly over!) – talk to the people of Heimay who were evacuated from their island when it errupted, but who have subsequently gone back and rebuilt their lives. They will have as good an idea as anyone. But the one thing that strikes me is that you could photograph and video the home that they’re leaving. Document it *for them* – and make sure they have copies to give to their grandchildren.

And for those of you completely sick of soul-searching and whinging eco-puritanism, can I recommend John Carlin and his refreshingly blunt take on saving the planet:

Why are you coming?

This project just keeps throwing up hurdles. Ursula, who has previously invited me out to the Carterets, writes today to say this:

Dan, I am giving your request to travel to the Chairman of the Council of Elders (Andreas) as he is now here in Buka. He has asked the purpose of your trip, how your trip will benefit the Carterets relocation program and whom you will advocate your program to.

This office was set up by the chiefs and they wish to know why you’re coming after so many media people have come to the islands.


But, the more I think about it, the more I think it’s a fair question. Why am I going after other media have been there? And what will me going there actually do for them? I think both are bloody good questions for any journalist to ask and I’m going to throw this open while I also have a think about it myself. So, any comments or suggestions are welcome. The email is over there on your right.