Journey to the Sinking Lands

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

Archive for May, 2009

Am I a disgrace?

Let’s deal with the criticism first. This, from Simon McGrath:

“A disgraceful piece of propoganda. No attempt at all to suggest any other rason the islands may be sinking -like being in an earthquake belt.”

Now, I think I’ve nailed this elsewhere on the blog, but it doesn’t hurt to do so again here. Because you know what? Simon is right…

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Money (well) spent

Spent a good part of today going through the various pots, pockets and bank accounts used to finance the expedition to make sure I have at least some idea of where all the money went. It’s amazing how complicated things can get when you are working in an economy where the sea shell is a recognised form of currency and the nearest bank is a three-hour boat ride away, and doesn’t accept your card.

Doing so has really driven home that this expedition simply would not have been possible without generous support, and among those who provided it, I would particularly like to single out the Ashden Trust.

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To London

Down to London today, to Broadcasting House to meet Simon Elmes (seen here posing with a bookcase) and hand over the Flash Cards with the audio I recorded during the trip. There’s about 23 hours of footage all up which Simon, the poor bugger, will now have to sit through and sift out anything that he can stitch together into a BBC radio documentary, to be broadcast I think in August. The doco will be half an hour long so I’m hoping that in every hour I recorded there must be at least a minute that is of use. Pad that out with a bit of music and you’re there.

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Costing the Earth

Great news. A BBC Radio 4 documentary about the Carteret Islands is going out on air tonight. A lot of the material will be stuff I recorded on this trip, with the rest of the programme having been put together in sunny Birmingham while I was away. While I don’t think you will hear my voice – be thankful for small mercies – you will be able to hear from the islanders themselves.  The first broadcast is on Monday May 25 at 9pm GMT, with a repeat at 1.30pm on Thursday May 28 and the programme can also be downloaded from its website.

Being able to contribute to this doco is a real bonus for me. A second Radio 4 documentary, the Journey of a Lifetime programme I originally came out here to make, will be broadcast later this year. I will keep you posted.

What’s going on?

Now I’ve been home long enough to talk to people about where I have been and what I have seen, I realise that some of the most basic facts about what is happening to the Carterets  – like the fact 8000 people are facing evacuation – never made it onto the blog at all.

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Morning has broken

Grandpa’s funeral was yesterday and there was nowhere in the world I would rather have been. A few things will stay in the memory. I was asked to read a collection of memories of Grandpa from different members of our family. Among them the fact that I took my first steps across the living room floor to reach a toy he was holding out. There was also this from my brother, Finn:

“when we were stopped at a red light in the car Grandpa would count down from 10 and reach ) as the lights changed – for years I thought he really did control the lights.

We also sang Morning has Broken, accompanied by a recording of Cat Stevens. Grandpa was a headmaster, so he would have heard it over and again at school assemblies. I include it here for that reason.

Back to Blighty

Back to Heathrow, where Elle met me at the gate. Later, I overheard this in a phone conversation between her and her mother:
“Yes, he’s fine. He’s tired, a bit smelly and he needs a haircut, but one step at a time.”