Vanishing nation urges billionaires to stop funding Mars trips and save sinking island

As billionaires spend huge sums to travel to Mars, the Marshall Islands cannot secure international funding to save the country from climate catastrophe, its natural resources minister has warned.

“There are these billionaires who are building rockets to go to Mars… All we ask is to give us the money so that the Marshall Islands can continue… to exist in the world”, said John Silk. The Independent at the COP27 summit in Egypt. “We are talking about a nation that is on the verge of extinction.”

Mr Silk said his country became an independent nation in 1979 and has since faced the prospect that it may not exist for decades to come due to rising sea levels.” Where are you going?” He asked.

The World Bank has described the threat posed by climate change to the Marshall Islands as ‘existential’ and said that if the current rate of sea level rise continues, the country will face costly choices to protect infrastructure essentials such as schools and hospitals.

According to the World Bank, rising seas are expected to put 40% of buildings in the capital at risk, with 96% of the city exposed to frequent flooding induced by climate change.

Mr Silk said that as well as the island itself, its culture and heritage are at stake. This includes the Marshall Islanders’ skill at navigating the ocean, their ability to make canoes from the trees taller ones (which no longer grow so tall) and the stories passed down from generation to generation which are immortalized in the rocks of the island but which are in danger. to disappear into the sea.

At some point in the future, the government may have to decide which islands to save and which to abandon, he said. “People are now migrating from island to island because of rising sea levels,” he added.

Mr Silk said his country needed funds to build seawalls, to raise some of the islands and to build better structures to protect the country from rising seas and cyclones.

“We can’t do this without your help,” he said, pointing to the 2009 pledge by rich countries to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries make dealing with the effects of a rapidly warming planet. More than a decade later, this commitment has not been kept.

“We haven’t seen it; where is he?” said Mr. Silk.

John Silk, the Marshall Islands' natural resources minister, has urged wealthy nations to help save his vanishing island (The Independent)

John Silk, the Marshall Islands’ natural resources minister, has urged wealthy nations to help save his vanishing island (The Independent)

On the controversial question of whether rich countries should compensate vulnerable countries for the irreparable loss and damage they have suffered as a result of rising global temperatures fueled primarily by developed countries burning fossil fuels, Mr. Silk said there should have been a “yesterday” fund. .

The Independent spoke with the Minister on the sidelines of an event where leaders and activists from Pacific island states shared their experiences on climate change. The message from these leaders was clear: at COP27, countries must pay reparations for loss and damage now, or at least establish a program that will create a fund within the next two years.

“We came out of Glasgow disappointed,” said Seve Paeniu, Tuvalu’s finance minister. “We are on the front lines of climate change and sea level rise. We need the money now.

The leaders agreed that the negotiations had gone on for too long, stressing that the countries were still resisting calls for compensation. “They’re really reluctant to any mention of a special fund,” Silk said.

The minister, who was watching the panel discussion at the Moana Blue Pacific pavilion, said it had been a long time since the Kyoto Protocol in 1992 started the Cop process.

“There’s another cop next year and another cop following him, and those will continue for the rest of our lives,” he said. The Independent. “At some point, maybe the Marshall Islands won’t be here.”

He invited the United Nations to organize a Cop in the Marshall Islands – if the islands still exist.

Mr. Silk also spoke about his grandson, who had recently visited him from Hawaii. He said that one day as they sat on the porch at high tide, the ocean came almost to the front door. “He said, ‘Grandpa, why don’t you move? “, Mr. Silk said. “I said ‘Moving where? We have no higher ground.

He added: “There’s no time to waste, we need to move, and this cop needs to come up with something really tangible so we can all drive home and tell our grandkids there’s has a future here.”

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