Journey to the Sinking Lands

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

What now?

John Sailik, one of the clan elders, asked me to take a final message with me when I left the Carterets. He asked for help, help to stay on his island home and not be forced to evacuate. It can’t have been easy for a proud man to admit that his people simply cannot help themselves, alone…

Since I got back, a few people have written to me either asking or suggesting what they can do to help prevent the islands being washed away. Many have suggested building sea-walls against the ocean; something I know the islanders have tried in the past, using either coral or giant clam shells, and which has failed. I’m no engineer, so simply do not know what the answer is. Fortunately, one of those to write to me, Derek, is. I asked him to cast his eye over the idea of building sea walls. this is his reply:


Many thanks for your reply to my email, I was doubtful at first that l would, any way less of the trivialities. As there has been suggestions of building sea walls, this is only a temporary solution and besides with the high winds and turbulence in the Islands area, the best suggestion would be try and build the islands up with a channel running through the islands (man made) to release the back pressure caused by the sea trying to flow and ebb, it will require tremendous cooperation by the various governments to fund the project so that the islanders may be saved of their fate. We have to let the sea do what it does best and that is to let it flow without resistance, as in all cases building the sea wall is an additional resistance, I know this could end up separating  the island in the future if there were channelsmade through the islands,  but that’s the way islands get formed. But it would save them form sinking away by the rising sea levels. The estuaries built could be planted with palm trees, mangroves, bamboo as defences along both banks forming homes for wild life and shelter, thus increasing the natural resources for food for the locals, this is a suggestion i would like you to take on board if you wish. Hope to hear from you again buddy, in the mean time don’t give up, as they say ” Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Stonehenge”.Time is still there, so let’s get moving.



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