During United Nations-sponsored climate change talks in Germany, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands said 26 skeletons of World War II soldiers washed up after their graves were exposed by rising sea levels. Said Foreign Minister Tony de Brum:
There are coffins and dead people being washed away from graves— it’s that serious. Even the dead are affected.”
The soldiers are believed to be Japanese.
The Marshall Islands are particularly precarious in their perch; the nation, made up of 29 atolls, is roughly just six feet above sea level. With sea levels predicted to rise by three-to-six feet by the end of the century, the alarm is obviously growing.
In an interview earlier this year, Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak described how the beaches where he fished as a child have vanished and how the country’s roads are being moved inland.
“The island is not only getting narrower, it is getting shorter,” he added.
As the conference tries to sort out issues like how to deal with curbing emissions and delegating different responsibilities between bigger powers and emerging economies, the deck already seems a little stacked. Yesterday, it was reported that several delegates from major countries failed to show at the conference, prompting a public shaming by environment advocates.