Soaring temperatures and rising sea levels are two of the most obvious effects of global climate change. As warmer temperatures cause ice caps to melt at a rapid pace, higher water levels have placed low-lying countries and islands into serious peril … and it is predicted that The Maldives, Seychelles, Solomon Islands and Micronesia, among others, will soon be lost to us completely.
Vlad Sokhin, a photographer based in Thailand, has recently compiled a moving photojournalism project called Warm Waters. This project documents the devastating impact that climate change has had on Pacific island nations such as Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Vanautu, Niue, and Tivalu. His pictures aim to capture the tragic circumstances being faced by the people of these nations and raise awareness of their rapidly disappearing way of life. They are a true call to action for all of us to help stop climate change today.
In addition to the fact that their homes are being slowly submerged by rising sea levels, the people of the Pacific islands also endured the effects of Cyclone Pam in spring 2015. Sokhin said that during that time, he saw “houses, hospitals, schools, and roadways razed to the ground by winds and rainfall. I couldn’t believe my eyes. People literally lost everything.”
Coastal graveyards on the islands are being slowly eaten away by the sea. Behind a young boy is a pit filled with trash and salt water – a truly heartbreaking environment for a child. A destroyed water tank in the Tanrake village of the Fenua Tapu islet is emblematic of the total destruction of people’s homes and livelihoods that occurred during the cyclone of 2015. Twelve homes were completely ruined, another 110 were damaged, and 71 families were displaced (approximately 40 percent of the island’s population). Margaret Jonathan, a mother in Pang Pang village who supported her two sons by selling vegetables, had her house and garden completely destroyed by the cyclone.
This is Apameme atoll, Kiribati. Thanks to rising sea levels, most of the atolls – ring-shaped coral reefs or small islands – in Kiribati are now elevated less than two meters above sea level. People have been forced to transport their children from village to village using “te wa uowa” (double) canoes. Many communities have been left without fresh water supplies. In this photo, local children on Efate Island are watching a water truck delivering drinking water to their homes. Funafuti, an island which has not been as badly affected by the cyclone and rising sea levels as other islands, has become a place of refuge for those from surrounding areas.
For the children of these islands, the future looks incredibly bleak and uncertain.
Despite everything they have endured, Sokhin has been amazed by the kindness and resilience shown by the islands’ residents. When he returned to Vanautu after witnessing the effects of a horrific earthquake in Nepal, he was astounded to discover that the locals wished to organize an exhibition of his work in order to raise funds for Nepal. “They would give their last plate of food to help others,” he said.
“Warm Waters” serves as a tribute to these incredible people, and an expression of hope that their way of life can be saved. Sokhin has encouraged people to donate to one of the many organizations trying to help, including Live&Learn Vanautu, ChildFund Australia, ChildFund New Zealand, Oxfam Australia, UNICEF Pacific, and Greenpeace Australia Pacific. You can also find out how to make a difference in the fight against climate change by reading our posts Scientists Say Climate Change Has Reached the ‘Point of No Return’ – 5 Things You Can Do Today, and 6 Ways You Can Help Save Our Oceans.
One of the best things that you can do to protect these island nations starts on your plate. Animal agriculture is estimated to contribute 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, meaning it plays a pertinent role in the warming temperatures that have caused such catastrophic level rise.
As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, it is One Green Planet’s view that our food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, give species a fighting chance for survival, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future. By choosing to eat more plant-based foods we can all start to decrease the impact our collective diet is having on the world’s environment and people. Just by leaving meat and dairy off your plate, you can halve your carbon footprint! Join One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet movement and start making a difference today!