From Sun Come Up: Carteret Islanders on a boatPhoto: Sun Come Up

If you’re tracking this year’s green Oscar nominees, another one to watch is Sun Come Up — which could really be titled Water Come Up because it’s about rising sea levels. Filmmaker Jennifer Redfearn tells the story of climate refugees in Papua New Guinea. All 3,000 residents of the Carteret Pacific Islands have to move because their six islands will soon be underwater. Many are going to the island of Bougainville 50 miles away, where they’ll have to adjust to a cash economy and a different culture. Thanks, flooding and erosion. (Watch your back, Venice.)


Yet another problem: unpredictable weather. In addition to the islands disappearing, the Carterets were facing food shortages. Since the weather was so erratic, leaving the islands to fish was dangerous. “Storms and unusually high tides have wrecked havoc on the Carterets, uprooting coconut palms, inundating wells and destroying gardens. It only takes about 15 minutes now to walk across the largest of the six islands,” says The Daily Green.

Third time’s the charm? “The chain [of islands] could well be uninhabitable by 2015, locals believe, but two previous attempts to abandon it ended badly, when residents were chased back after clashing with their new neighbors on larger islands,” wrote The New York Times in 2009.

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Hopeful and heartbreaking: “At the rate the island is sinking, will the island sink first or will everyone die of hunger?” asks a radio DJ in the trailer. “Everyone will die of hunger first,” a man answers. Yeesh. Not exactly uplifting. “It’s a tragedy, but it’s also a hopeful story,” Readfearn told The Daily Green in a 2009 interview.

Is she right? Watch the trailer and decide for yourself:

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