Thu, Jul 07, 2016 - Page 9 News List

Despite rising seas, Kiribatians divided on their nation’s future

A former president has long warned the island nation faces devastation from climate change, but many of his compatriots feel there are more pressing problems that need attention, or place their faith in God

By Mike Ives  /  NY Times News Service, TARAWA, Kiribati

Others see no need to leave.

“This is where I belong,” Aroita Tokamaen, 76, said as she peeled a coconut on her patio. “I would rather stay.”

The tide that damaged the hospital in winter last year was an exceptionally strong king tide, a surge that occurs twice a year when the moon is closest to the Earth. The waves also flooded the thatched-roofed outdoor meeting space of the local branch of the Kiribati Uniting Church.

While some people were alarmed, the pastor, Rube, said she refused to accept the idea that Kiribati could disappear.

“We are Christians,” she said. “So we don’t believe that God could have given us this world and then take it away.”

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