Exodus II?

The Kiribati islands
While they never have been dry lands
Have been sinking, as the ocean levels rise;
As each island’s head goes under
People leave, and it’s no wonder—
Now they’re planning for their future, which is wise

With the ocean levels rising
It is not at all surprising
That they’re looking to protect their sons and daughters
Onto Fiji they could squeeze
As a band of refugees
As the world denies the rising of the waters.


Via the Telegraph (UK), the story that the entire nation of Kiribati may have to relocate.

In what could be the world’s first climate-induced migration of modern times, Anote Tong, the Kiribati president, said he was in talks with Fiji’s military government to buy up to 5,000 acres of freehold land on which his countrymen could be housed.

Some of Kiribati’s 32 pancake-flat coral atolls, which straddle the equator over 1,350,000 square miles of ocean, are already disappearing beneath the waves.

Long time readers (well, not *that* long) may recall that Tong was in trouble last year for his obvious lack of faith; many citizens of Kiribati were convinced that the God would protect them; that God had explicitly promised that He would never flood the earth again!

I am wondering (can’t tell from today’s article) whether Tong’s people have seen enough to change their minds, or whether he is trying to help them against their own wishes.

I do not envy his position.


  1. says

    One quibble, my dear Cuttlefish: the islands are pronounced KEER-uh-bus. It’s “TI” is more like Ghoti. So your scansion is slightly off. I’ve been hearing about this for years; a few are emigrating to Australia. Tuvalu is also in big trouble.

  2. Cuttlefish says


    I keep telling my students, I love it when I am wrong–that’s how I learn. But that does kinda throw everything off. Thanks for the lesson!

  3. zackoz says

    I wondered if someone would point that out about Kiribati pronunciation! The islands used to be called the Gilberts (or the “Gilbert and Ellice Islands”) in colonial times; the current name seems to be the word “Gilberts” adapted to the local Austronesian language.

    We’ll hear more and more about Pacific islands going under.

    I understand that Papua New Guinea’s isolated Carteret Islands have already been pretty much abandoned.

    Rising sealevels will also affect (or are already affecting) parts of much larger countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh.

  4. says

    How about:
    “The Kiribati Islands,
    which never were dry lands”

    I am not a versifier but that feels better to me.

    Also, I really needed to choose between “It’s TI as in GHOTI” or “Its TI is like the one in GHOTI”. Not apostrophe abuse, honest, just sloppy proof-reading!

  5. EmbraceYourInnerCrone says

    There are some interesting interactive maps for seeing the predicted results of various levels of sea level rise:



    You have to take them with a grain of salt because, especially with the second one the person was working mostly with extrapolating data from Google maps but, as someone who lives a quarter of a mile from the ocean its a wakeup call.

    Its fun to have the Civil Defense sirens go off everytime we get bad rainstorms, warning people to move to higher ground. At least my town takes it seriously. As we live between 2 rivers the possibility of getting trapped by flash floods is no joke.

  6. oldebabe says

    One can’t help wondering, tho, that while sea level rise is undoubtedly occurring, that there isn’t also the potential of occurrence of land movement/sinking (e.g. post-Japan latest earthquake land subsidence) due to changes in the plate boundaries, faults, et al… a double whammy for many of those islands in the south Pacific, and Indian oceans

    Hopefully, religion and lack of education won’t play its usual part in the loss of the resident people’s lives.

  7. says

    Will the Christian Right support government funding for us all to get canoes? If they believe this is the start of the end, is it too much to wish that they put themselves out to sea now and get a head start?

  8. EmbraceYourInnerCrone says

    Also I abjectly apologized for my apostrophe abuse! “The Missing Apostrophe….a mystery” maybe I’ll write a children s book.

    UUURRGGG seriously I always do that, oh well I shall blame the fact that I never went to college. (That’s no excuse I know better, I just type too fast and don’t proofread)

  9. The Ridger says

    Misspelling is easy; typing a homonym is incredibly easy. Don’t beat yourself up over such a small, tiny error.

  10. sailor1031 says

    funny you should ask. Yes there is such an effect. It’s called post-glacial rebound. Basically as areas that were covered by glacial ice during the last ice-age are still rebounding and rising. This upward movement is causing a sort of hinging at the point where the icesheet ended so that land that was south of the ice sheet is actually sinking – double whammy. Check it out.

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