There’s been coverage in the media about the peril that Tuvalu, the Maldives and Kiribati face from climate change. But what of other Island nations?

Students from the Federated States of Micronesia wrote this powerful letter to founder Bill McKibben, but the letter isn’t aimed just at Bill – the message reflects the urgency of the crisis facing Micronesian youth – should the Tar-Sands Pipeline go ahead…

Dear Bill McKibben,

I am Jorg Anson from the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia (English is my second language).  I am a senior at University of Hawaii-Manoa (UH) majoring in Marine Biology.  I am writing on behalf of the Pohnpeian students in Hawaii majoring in fields associated with the environment, marine, and biological sciences. There is a small group of people from our island residing in Oahu, Hawaii at the moment but through facebook and other social media sources, we continue to receive stories regarding the devastation that results from sea level rise and global warming in Pohnpei and the associated islands.  At the same time, poor land development practices continue to deteriorate our local marine ecosystems.  But we are most especially concerned with the direction that global powers such as the United States and China are pursuing in these tough economic times. 

We would like to express our concern and gratitude for several things.  But first, we should understand that there are approximately 607 islands scattered throughout the Federated States of Micronesian (FSM) region alone.  This number excludes neighboring island nations such as the Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Kiribati, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Territory of Guam. 

We are well aware of the potential impacts that the Keystone XL would have for the very existence of our people not only in Pohnpei but throughout the rest of the Pacific island nations.  When it comes to the plethora of gibberish-ness for support from the US for Pacific island nations, we find it extremely ironic how the more influential media would only refer to Tuvalu and/or the Maldives.  We know friends who were forced to move from their home islands as far as early last decade due to sea level rise alone.  In Pohnpei, we are starting to see an influx of people migrating from neighboring islands with very different cultural backgrounds seeking new home since Pohnpei is the highest island in the FSM.  Many things have changed since we left our island to pursue a bachelor’s degree here in Honolulu (there are no four year college institutions in the FSM).  At times, we take the situation personally when it comes to finding ways to address the international community that our existence is threatened by climate change.  One of the only few books that we were able to seriously read was your book “Eaarth”.  Additionally, we support your effort in raising the awareness for the international community, most especially the US through the

I write you this email to show our sincere support and gratitude for the work that you have done to stop the Keystone XL project.  After several discussions regarding the pipeline, it took us quite a while to really accept the fact that our US president isn’t who he said he was in ’08.  With that being said, we can only hope for the best.  Our ultimate goals are to achieve graduate degrees and return to our home country.  But if Obama approves the Pipeline, we rather stop wasting any more of our time away from our families and return home so we can assist our conservation agencies with everything that we have learned throughout our years here at UH. The reality is that there are just too many people in the world.  So we understand why we cannot get any deal done during our recent COP conferences.  The recent scandals that have been coming through the news are quite appalling.  It is sadly amazing to learn how greed and the thirst for power have been driving our leaders.  We are asserting our concern for the fact that if the world community fails to act to implement mitigation plans for climate change now, our next generation of Pohnpeians will find their home a difficult place to live in and protect.  At times, we wonder what the world would be like without people like yourself, James Hansen, and the many others that we have yet to learn more about.  So on behalf of all Pohnpeians around the world, we thank you so much for the work that you continue to do to safeguard our planet “Eaarth”.


Jorg Y. Anson
Undergraduate Researcher
Kewalo Marine Laboratory
University of Hawaii at Manoa
41 Ahui Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 USA

Want to find out more?

You can download an informative fact-sheet about how climate change is impacting the Federated States of Micronesia here.

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