Journey to the Sinking Lands

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

Archive for September, 2009

An argument

I’m pulling together a talk I’m due to give to the Royal Geographical Society about the Carterets journey. I’m speaking twice, firstly to the Society’s City branch on October 6 and secondly at the RGS itself, on December 14.
It’s proven to be a good opportunity to finally tie together some of the loose ideas I’ve been thinking about since before I left for the islands in April. At the time, I remember thinking there was something there, but couldn’t quite form it as a finished idea in my mind.
My basic thinking goes link this (I hope to come back with more scientific data to back all this up):

This year is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. He was born in Shrewsbury, where I live. I even went to the birthday party held for him in town, where lots of people got dressed up in old-fashioned clothes and ate cake.

It is also the 300th anniversary of the first use of coke (a form of coal) to smelt iron. The site of this discovery, now called Ironbridge is described as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. I grew up in Ironbridge.

Ironbridge and Shrewsbury are just 12 miles apart. I cycle or drive that road constantly. Before I left for the Carterets, I couldn’t shake the feeling there was something that linked Darwin, Ironbridge and the islands, but I couldn’t work out what it was.

Now, I think it is this:

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“Dan risked life and limb…”

Is Dan vain enough to put the reviews for his radio programme up on this blog?

Yes he is…

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Mary blong me

elle picThis is Nel, my wife.
If you look closely around her neck, you can just see the two strings of shell money sent out to me by the Carteret Islanders for our wedding. The shell money was a completely unexpected gift, from the people of Group 4 on Han island, where I lived for a couple of weeks (the islands have a very democratic social system, with the people divided up into groups, each with a set of responsible elders). Having left PNG and arrived home, I got a phone call from one of the islanders out of the blue saying they had made the shell money and needed to get it to me in time for the wedding – they wanted me to be able to pay bride-price on the big day.

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Journey of a Lifetime

PNG mapEast, Dan, east. The Carteret Islands are in the east of Papua New Guinea. Not, as you said three times in the course of the programme, the west. Idiot boy.

That apart, I really enjoyed listening to the programme (which can be downloaded here), maybe more than anyone else who did. I could remember every moment; the heat, the music, the taste of the fish eyes…

Simon Elmes at the BBC did a great job stitching it all together and I’m really proud to have worked with him on it. The programme has also been made the Radio 4 ‘podcast of the week’. My Aunty Sue says they should give me a badge.

Latest news: This just in from the Carteret Islands…

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On air – tomorrow

I had no idea when I started this journey just how long it would take, nor how much of my life it would fill, nor how much I would get from it.

For those who want to hear me take some of those steps, the broadcast of the radio programme about the journey to ad life on the islands will be broadcast tomorrow, Friday September 4, at 11am on Radio 4. I haven’t heard it yet, so will be one of those listening – along with my mum.

But there’s more…

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