The original lead story on the excellent Foreign Correspondent was a climate change sceptic’s nightmare: Carteret Islands.
It’s an idyllic paradise of pure white sand, turquoise waters, and picture perfect sunsets.
But all is not well in the Carterets- the tiny South Pacific atoll could well be the first island chain in the world to completely disappear because of rising sea levels.
‘Scientists usually measure rises in millimetres and centimetres’ reports Steve.‘But on the Carterets, the tides are growing by a phenomenal rate.’
Fallen coconut trees litter the beaches everywhere, their roots swamped by high tides. Water also seeps from beneath the sand into the gardens of villagers.
‘It’s become impossible to grow traditional crops like banana, taro and breadfruit’ says Steve. ‘The islanders have to get by on a monotonous diet of coconut and fish’.
Villagers have built seawalls from clam shells to try to stop the invasive tides, but they’re breached each day. It’s estimated that by 2015, the Carterets will disappear.
‘We love the place, we love the islands’ says villager Salina Netoi.
‘But we see it with our own eyes, the island is gone, finished’
The people of the Carterets will soon be on the move. Officials of Bougainville’s new autonomous government are planning to relocate families, ten at a time.
Also very remarkable was the interview with a man the Australian military has been vainly seeking, in its small way a bit like some reporter actually finding Osama bin Laden, though there is no comparison between Osama and East Timor’s errant Major Alfredo Reinado. See East Timor – Man on the Run.
The other program I have been enjoying on Tuesday nights has been Not All Tea and Scones, a series about the Country Women’s Association. Jim Belshaw has written a good account of this. It does serve to remind us city folk of some important facts about our own country. Last week’s episode dealt with the CWA at Trundle, a small western NSW town I stayed in for a week some forty years ago. They are doing it tough out there.