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Rise Up, Kiribati

Video: Residents of Kiribati sing a haunting song about the disappearance of their island home under the waves.
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The Song of the Frigate, video stillIn 1999, two small islands of the Republic of Kiribati, an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean, disappeared underwater.

On another, rising seas have increased soil salinity so much that the island no longer supports coconut palms—and is it expected that salt will threaten much of the nation's arable land within a century. According to Chrisitana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kiribati—like Tuvalu, the Maldives, and Vanuatu—is "looking for way to evacuate [its] entire population," some 100,000 people.

In the song, a frigate—the bird whose emblem appears on the Kiribati flag—leaves to find food for her chicks but returns to find the island gone.

As one of the nations most vulnerable to climate change, Kiribati has been an active participant in international climate negotiations, joining with the Alliance of Small Island States to fight for its future.

At the U.N. negotiations that just concluded in Cancún, Mexico, the Kiribati delegation presented a song written in 1978, long before the nation worried about the threat of climate change. In it, a frigate—the bird whose emblem appears on the Kiribati flag—leaves to find food for her chicks but returns to find the island gone. 

This video combines the haunting song with images of the climate-related devastation that the people of Kiribati are already facing.

The Song of the Frigate

 

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