News / USA

Sinking Island Highlights Effects of Climate Change

Documentaries explore lives in a warmer world

This man ponders his fate as he looks out to Huene, an island in the Carteret bisected by the sea 20 years ago.
This man ponders his fate as he looks out to Huene, an island in the Carteret bisected by the sea 20 years ago.

Multimedia

Audio
Rosanne Skirble

Our planet is warming.

Average global temperatures have climbed about one degree Celsius since the last century, and at an accelerated rate in recent decades.

And scientists believe the global warming trend is responsible for an increased severity of droughts, floods, and storms across the globe, and slowly rising ocean levels.

The serious consequences of earth's changing climate are the subject of three new documentary films, funded in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Elders among the Carteret, pictured here at a relocation meeting on Piul Island, hold memories of happier days but now must seek shelter elsewhere.
Elders among the Carteret, pictured here at a relocation meeting on Piul Island, hold memories of happier days but now must seek shelter elsewhere.

Sinking island

"Sun Come Up" is the story of the Carteret Islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea, where filmmaker Jennifer Redfearn says Islanders have had no choice but to move to higher ground.

"We documented some of the destruction that is happening from rising sea levels, more frequent storm surges, from the lack of fresh water sources and how the sea has contaminated some of their gardening land."

Ursula Rakova grew up on the islands. "In those times the sea wasn't as cruel as it is today, she says. By 2015 her homeland is expected to be under water." She now heads the relocation effort for 3,000 people.

Among them is Carteret elder John Sailik who laments the fate of the island chain. "When I was a little boy my very special thing was fishing with my spear on the wave. I'll be losing the wave and losing this happiness of the island. I'll be missing the sound of waves at night and I'll be listening to it no more."

"Sun Come Up" debuted at the 2010 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina. Redfearn says the Carteret islanders are among the world's first climate refugees.

The International Organization for Migration predicts the number of people displaced by rising ocean levels will grow to 200 million by 2050.

Redfearn hopes her film helps raise awareness to reverse that trend. "I want [it] to move people. I want [it] to either make them angry, make them sad, make them frustrated, and I want to take that anger and that frustration and that sadness and turn that into action."

First victims of climate change

"Water Wars" was produced by the Seattle-based Common Language Project.

Springs are drying out from the drought in Southern Ethiopia forcing pastoralists to push their cattle long distances for scarce resources.
Springs are drying out from the drought in Southern Ethiopia forcing pastoralists to push their cattle long distances for scarce resources.

The film takes a closer look at water scarcity in Southern Ethiopia and the drought that has left farms there without any irrigation supply. Herders are forced to shepherd their animals longer distances for water.

Neighbors compete for the same scarce resource, says Jon Sawyer, director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the group that brought "Water Wars" to the 2010 Environmental Film Festival in Washington.

"[We're] really looking at how pastoralists are among the first victims of global climate change, and what that's doing to their way of life and the possibility of conflict as a result," he says.

"Water Wars" joins the pastoralists in a stark landscape of dead grasses, arid plants and dust. Experts predict droughts will get worse with climate change, and that poor countries like Ethiopia will be hardest hit.

Solar-powered school boats

The third film, "Easy Like Water" documents the water crisis in Bangladesh.

The small South Asian nation of 150 million people on the coast of the Bay of Bengal has been facing increasingly intense floods and storms.

Filmmaker Glenn Baker envisions entire communities that will one day have to float as they adapt to climate change.
Filmmaker Glenn Baker envisions entire communities that will one day have to float as they adapt to climate change.

We learn about this growing crisis from architect Mohammed Rezwan, who has built a fleet of solar-powered, internet-connected school boats."I believe that if children cannot come to school then the school should go to them."

Flooded roads can shut down schools up to four months a year.

Filmmaker Glenn Baker says the solar-powered boats help bridge the education gap and also meet other community needs. "It's not only floating schools that he's making a difference with. He has floating libraries, floating clinics, floating climate shelters, floating gardens.

He envisions entire communities that will have to float. "Now, I'm not saying that this is the only answer to climate change, but it is people taking one adaptive strategy, doing what they have to do to survive," says Baker.

All three documentaries - "Easy Like Water," "Water Wars" and "Sun Come Up" - were supported in part by The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Center director Jon Sawyer hopes they will stir greater public activism on climate change and water issues.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs