International help is on its way for Vanuatu, which is threatened by climate change
Shutterstock / Karin Wassmer
Some help is on its way for Vanuatu, which is threatened by climate change.

Unless you’re among the growing number of Americans whose homes are powered entirely by renewable energy, every time you switch on a light you’re doing your part to sink a Pacific island.

Many of the thousands of tropical islands that dot the Pacific Ocean are low-lying and will be among the first countries to sink as the world’s seas continue their steady rise.

But beyond the risks posed to their very survival, these islands face additional acute threats from freshwater shortages, coral bleaching, higher temperatures, and other hazards wrought by climate change. This despite the fact that their inhabitants have low carbon footprints and are contributing relatively little to the climate problem.

It is against this backdrop that the U.S. has spent the past year preparing aid projects designed to help a dozen Pacific island countries brace themselves against the growing threats posed by global warming.

From the Australia News Network:

USAID’s mission director for the Pacific Islands, Gloria Steele, said as part of the Climate Change Adaptation Project, USAID will work with coastal communities in a range of areas.

“To help identify mostly small infrastructure that would need assistance to make them more climate resilient, and working in disaster preparation, prevention and response,” she told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat.

“Finally working with the policy-makers, who make sure that policies incorporate measures that will make communities be more climate-resistant.”

Ms Steele said all of the projects will be done in partnership with the communities, NGOs and the private sector.

Is the U.S. doing enough to rescue Pacific islanders from the climate change that it has done so much to cause? Probably not. The best thing would be to stop messing with the climate. Is the U.S. doing something worthwhile? Check out the list of projects and judge for yourself: They include efforts to restore mangroves that can serve as buffers from tidal surges, projects to protect agricultural output, and the development of new sustainable fisheries policies.

By the way, if you do happen run your home and vehicle without using fossil fuels, thank you for not sinking any small nations today.