The Aquarium of the Pacific has formed a partnership with Conservational International to provide a lead role in public education and outreach on the Pacific Rising project. The mission of Pacific Rising is to ready Pacific island nations to adapt and thrive—economically, environmentally and culturally—in the face of climate change for many generations to come.
Few global events in the foreseeable future will require greater moral or collective action than protecting Pacific Island societies from the substantial disruption they face from climate change and sea-level rise. These non-industrialized nations had little to do with the climate crisis, yet they will be among the first to bear the costs. Already, the governments of Kiribati and other low-lying Pacific nations including Tuvalu, Tokelau and the Marshall Islands are struggling to manage requests from their people for assistance to address climate-related damage to homes and infrastructure — placing increasing pressure on national treasuries and systems that are ill-equipped to handle it. The disruption to the islands — and the forced exodus of people from their lands — threatens regional stability and could unravel the very fabric of Pacific societies. If not carefully planned, a human migration of this scale will tax neighboring countries faced with accepting and integrating an influx of refugees. Even with proper planning, neighboring countries can provide a physical refuge but cannot preserve these islands’ ancient cultures. No cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, no carbon tax, no ambitious climate deal can stop the calamity that is underway in the Pacific. But the world can help to prevent a calamity from becoming a catastrophe. A collective global effort will be required, on the order of the scale and ambition of the European Recovery Program — known as the Marshall Plan— that helped to rebuild the economies of Europe after World War II. This historically successful initiative illustrates what is possible in the wake of disaster — not least by looking to the future without disputing the cause of, or assigning blame for, the crisis.
The Aquarium of the Pacific will provide educational programming to its guests to draw awareness to this crisis facing Pacific Islanders.
Kiribati and other low-lying atoll nations are under assault from sea level rise due and a climate refugee crisis is looming.