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‘Overcrowding and climate change’

Reuters photojournalist David Gray visited South Tarawa recently, here’s what he had to say …

The ocean laps against a protective seawall outside the maternity ward at Kiribati’s Nawerewere Hospital, marshalling itself for another assault with the next king tide.

Inside, a basic clinic is crowded with young mothers and newborn babies, the latest additions to a population boom that has risen as relentlessly as the sea in a deeply Christian outpost where family planning is still viewed with skepticism.

It is a boom that threatens to overwhelm the tiny atoll of South Tarawa as quickly as the rising seas. Some 50,000 people, about half of Kiribati’s total population, are already crammed onto a sand and coral strip measuring 16 sq km (6 sq miles).

“Climate change is a definite long-term threat to Kiribati, there’s no doubt whatsoever about that,” says Simon Donner, a climate scientist at the University of British Columbia who has been visiting South Tarawa since 2005.

“But that doesn’t mean it’s the biggest problem right now … Any first-time visitor to Tarawa is not struck by the impacts of sea level rise, they’re struck by how crowded it is.”

Read the full article and view the pictures at news.yahoo.com
Read the South Tarawa Island Report for more detailed information on South Tarawa
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