Sea Level Rise and Kiribati

the consequences of climate change

Research and Write up

What has caused your issue?

The cause of sea level rise is climate change. Climate change is largely contributed to by the burning of fossil fuels, and the release of CO₂ into the atmosphere. As CO₂ is released into the atmosphere, it traps heat in the atmosphere, heating up our planet. As the planet heats up, more and more polar ice melts into the ocean, causing the sea level to rise.

What are the two points of view on your issue?

Point of view 1: Island nations such as Kiribati should accept sea level rise, and abandon their islands in search of a new place to settle. Climate change is inevitable and it is Kiribati's responsibility to relocate.

Point of view 2: We can save island nations such as Kiribati, if all countries reduce their CO₂ emissions. As one of the most carbon responsible nations per head, the Kiribati population is not responsible for the rising sea levels. Large industrialised countries such as China and the U.S. need to cap their carbon emissions for the good of all.

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Countries's CO₂ emissions per annum (kt)

Image from: List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions. (2016, February 28). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from Wikipedia,

How is your issue impacting on/ affecting people and/ or the environment?

As the Pacific Ocean rises along the coast of Kiribati at an alarming rate of 13mm a year, it shrinks the already heavily overcrowded group of islands. The supply of fresh, drinkable groundwater is also being contaminated. At the rate that the sea is rising, the island nation with an average altitude of 2 meters above sea level is suspected by locals to be mostly under water within the next 30 years.

What is being done (or could be done) to solve your issue.

The Kiribati government is taking responsibility for looking after it's people. It has purchased 20.8 square kilometres of densely forested land on Vanau Levu, one of the Fiji Islands, located about 2000 kilometres away. "We would hope not to put everyone on [this] piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it." - Kiribati's President, Anote Tong. But this is not just Kiribati's issue. We as a species need to phase out fossil fuels, and while it is already happening at a rate well above what was expected 10 years ago, it needs to happen even faster than it is. We also need to invest in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, so that they become cheaper to use than fossil fuels.
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Map showing the location of the Kiribati

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Graph showing the amount of CO₂ in the atmosphere

Image from Jesuit, W. (1999). Greenhouse gases and temperature. Retrieved March 19, 2016, from
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Caramel, L. (2016, January 26). Besieged by the rising tides of climate change, Kiribati buys land in Fiji. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Dizard, W. (2014, July 1). Plagued by sea-level rise, Kiribati buys land in Fiji. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

Flannery, T. (2007). The weather makers - the history and future impact of climate change. Australia: The Text Publishing Company.

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Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, southeast Iceland. (2016, March 17). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from