Imagine the sea rising around you as your country literally disappears beneath your feet, where the food you grow and the water you drink is being destroyed by salt, and your last chance is to seek refuge in other lands where climate refugees have no official status. This is not a dream, it's the fearful reality for millions of people who live on islands around the world, from the Maldives to Papua New Guinea.
That is why these small islands are planning the unprecedented step next week, ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting, of calling on the Security Council itself to address climate change as a pressing threat to international peace and security.
This is a creative move born of desperation, a challenge to global powers to end their complacency and tackle this lethal crisis with the urgency of wars. This effort could help shift the tenor of the world's debate -- from a far-off storm cloud to a life-threatening crisis here and now. But the island states' campaign will meet fierce opposition from the world’s biggest polluters, so they need our help. Sign the petition now to raise a worldwide chorus of support for this call -- our signatures will be presented to the UN by the islands' ambassadors as they introduce their resolution next week:
Arctic ice is melting so fast that, for the first time in human history, you can sail straight through the Arctic. Hurricanes and other extreme weather patterns are growing in size and number. As an Avaaz member in St. Kitts writes, "While those in the US can evacuate an area when a powerful hurricane is on its way, those of us on the islands do not have that option." Now, small island nations -- whose highest points are often only a few meters above sea level -- are preparing evacuation plans to guarantee the survival of their populations.
President Remengesau of Palau, a small island in the Pacific, recently said:
Palau has lost at least one third of its coral reefs due to climate change related weather patterns. We also lost most of our agricultural production due to drought and extreme high tides. These are not theoretical, scientific losses -- they are the losses of our resources and our livelihoods.... For island states, time is not running out. It has run out. And our path may very well be the window to your own future and the future of our planet.
Beyond the islands, countries like Bangladesh -- population, 150 million -- face losing large parts of their landmass. The experience of our planet's most vulnerable communities serves as a warning sign of the future world we can all expect: extreme weather growing in intensity, conflict over water and food supplies, coasts disappearing and hundreds of millions made refugees.
I've signed. And you?