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Carteret Island

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 25 May 2009

Tom Heap witnesses the first large scale human evacuation due to climate change. The Carteret Islands are slowly being submerged by the rising sea, forcing the removal of hundreds of islanders to nearby Papua New Guinea.

  • The Carteret Islands, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean

    The Carteret Islands, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean

    The Careteret Islands: A coral atoll off the coast of Papua New Guinea are the size of eighty football pitches and home to around two and a half thousand people. Sadly for them islands summit is only five foot high – most adults would dwarf the peak.

    They were discovered by a British navigator, Philip Carteret in 1767 just as the Industrial Revolution was beginning back here. Two and a half centuries later industries appetite for fossil fuels has changed the climate. The ice is melting, the sea level is rising and now the Islanders have to leave.

  • Rising Tides

    Rising Tides

    The rising seas of the Pacific have swamped the beaches of the Carteret Islands. Where once palm trees once grew there is now sea.

    With sea levels on the rise, the land is becoming poisoned by salt. Very little grows and food is becoming scarcer and scarcer for the islanders.
    As a result, the first evacuation of a population due to climate change is underway with the relocation of hundreds of islanders to nearby Bougainville, a larger island off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

  • The first arrivals at Tinputz on the island of Bougainville

    The first arrivals at Tinputz on the island of Bougainville

    Dan Box witnessed the first wave of environmental migration as the first group of islanders from the Carterets arrived at Tinputz on the island of Bougainville.

    Five fathers from the island have come to set up home, build gardens and perpare the way for the arrival of their families as the evacuation of the Pacific atoll begins.


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