Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Flooding of Gilligan's Island

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With little fanfare, news came this week that five islands in the Solomon Islands group disappeared under the ocean as a result of global climate change. This comes after news of the resettlement of the U.S.' first climate refugees in the New York Times (I think they got it wrong. The first U.S. climate refugees that I know about are from the native village of Kivalina in Alaska, not Louisiana, but who am I to argue with the Gray Lady).

With all of this news, we still are not reducing greenhouse gases fast enough to prevent global climate change.

The Solomon Islands may seem like an exotic and distant location to most Americans, but they have loomed large in world history. They were fought over in World War II. Sadly, the generation that fought the war has largely left us. This Greatest Generation probably would have understood the significance of the loss of the very islands they fought over and tried to do more to stop global climate change with the advent of this news.

As someone from the tail end of the Baby Boomer Generation, I find the only popular cultural touchstone to this region is that the islands were the likely site of the castaways on Gilligan's Island. Perhaps if those from this generation visualized Mary Ann and Gilligan trying to build a dam to keep the sea out of the huts more of us would try to do more to prevent global climate change.

But alas, Gilligan and Mary Ann lost the battle and their island is flooded. In many corners of the world, the conversation on global climate change has moved toward migration and adaptation. Yet as we can see in the Solomon Islands, sometimes, there is only loss.

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