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  • (Marshallese) Ukot boka eo.

  • Turn the tides.

  • We must give back,”

  • chant my ancestors.

  • The thunder strikes --

  • (Hands clap)

  • as the sea demoness swept through the lands

  • with a fiery likeness of Letao’s fire.

  • Tearing apart livelihood,

  • the mounting waves and erosions leave my island gaping

  • like the mouth of a dead fish.

  • Tense muscles of uncles and aunties

  • that hauled cement for the seawall,

  • cooked meals for the hungry bellies.

  • Release in relief.

  • The tides have gone out.

  • I look to my grandparentsgraves,

  • intimate with limp seaweeds.

  • The disrespect.

  • (Marshallese) Iakwe nan aolep.

  • My name is Selina Leem.

  • At 18 at the COP 21,

  • alongside late ambassador for climate change Tony de Brum,

  • I introduced myself as a small island girl with big dreams.

  • Five years later, I reintroduced myself

  • as a climate warrior from Aelon Kein Ad,

  • the Marshall Islands.

  • Situated between Hawaii and Australia,

  • our chain of islands decorate the Pacific Ocean like seashells,

  • and they are home to about 60,000 people.

  • Our islands average about two meters above sea level,

  • and it is not uncommon to see both the ocean and lagoon side

  • from wherever you stand.

  • We say our highest point

  • is the bridge which curves about seven meters above the sea.

  • The massive body of water is our reality and our livelihood.

  • With a history of seafaring,

  • the ocean connected our islands together

  • as well as providing many resources to fish,

  • to feed,

  • and to adorn our handicrafts with seashells that we make a living from.

  • But the climate crisis has brought calamities to my people,

  • threatening our very livelihoods.

  • In the Pacific, king tide season is from November to April.

  • This is when the tides are at their highest,

  • and each year the sea level rises.

  • In these months, especially houses by the seashore end up flooded

  • or damaged completely.

  • Schools and churches have had to open their doors for community members

  • to come sleep at

  • when announcements come in the radio advising to find shelter

  • because of incoming tides.

  • And we huddled together with our blankets and pillows,

  • no matter that we are strangers as we sleep next to one another.

  • Seawalls are rebuilt as soon as it’s low tide,

  • only to be broken down again

  • by the waves that grow higher each year.

  • And these waves,

  • their path continues on into the islands,

  • bringing with it garbage weve thrown into it.

  • You see the graves of your loved ones submerged in water,

  • littered.

  • Then the vegetation starts to brown;

  • it is dying.

  • The soil becomes salinated.

  • You pray the bigger trees hold on

  • for their roots are needed to prevent further erosion.

  • In the most effected parts of the lands,

  • the land has regressed,

  • coming closer and closer to the road each year.

  • Our driest part of the year happens within this time period, too.

  • We are unable to use groundwater well because it becomes saltier as well.

  • In the capital, Majuro, once per week,

  • water is dispensed

  • and my neighbors and I fill up our tanks,

  • our water catchments,

  • our bottles and our buckets.

  • Our government has had to declare a state of national emergency,

  • calling for help from our friends.

  • Sea-level rising,

  • flooding,

  • droughts,

  • erosion have been the reality of my people for many, many, many years.

  • Weve been told to move.

  • To become climate change refugees.

  • I’m not even sure who would even take us in.

  • But to those who think that we can just accept our fate,

  • I want to say:

  • Adaptation and Indigenous knowledge are the solutions.

  • These islands are our ancestors,

  • our predecessors,

  • our homes.

  • We are at the risk of losing all of that

  • for something we contributed very, very little to.

  • Raising and expanding the islands is something my country is thinking of.

  • However, we don’t have the resources nor the infrastructure.

  • Regardless,

  • we remain adamant.

  • We continue to fight for our livelihoods

  • and not abandon our home.

  • Thank you.

  • (Marshallese) Komool tata.

  • (Applause)

(Marshallese) Ukot boka eo.

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B2 US TED climate sea sea level selina climate change

Climate Change Isn't a Distant Threat -- It's Our Reality | Selina Neirok Leem | TED Countdown

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    Jimmy posted on 2022/04/30
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