Climate change: As sea levels rise, the island of Panama empties

On a small island in the Caribbean just a few kilometers off the coast of Panama, about 300 families are packing up to move inland as the sea prepares to swallow up the place where they grew up.

Gardi Sugdub Island is the first of 63 communities located off the coast of Panama. Caribbean Sea and is expected to be transferred in the coming decades, such as the Pacific Ocean climate change raises the sea level.

Gunas, with the names of residents of Gardi Shughdub, leave voluntarily, but with heartache.

“We are a little sad to leave behind the houses we have known all our lives, our relationship with the sea where we fish, swim and welcome tourists, but the sea is slowly swallowing the island,” he said. Associated Press Nadine Morales, 24, who is about to move in with her mother, uncle and boyfriend.

A spokesman for Panama’s housing ministry said some residents are refusing to leave despite the danger and the government will not force them.

A lost battle

Gardi Sugdub is one of the 50 inhabited islands in the archipelago of Guna Yala province. It is very small, 260 meters long and 140 meters wide. From above, only the houses stretching to the piers in the sea are visible.

Every year, especially in November and December, roads and houses are flooded with strong winds. Climate change not only raises sea levels, but also brings stronger storms as the oceans warm.

Although the Gunas try to protect their island with breakwaters, the battle with the sea seems lost.

“Now I see the consequences of climate change lately,” Morales said. “Now the water flow is higher than before and the heat is unbearable.

61-year-old teacher Evelio Lopez will move with his relatives to a new settlement built by the government with a budget of 12 million dollars. The newly built houses are located just 2 kilometers from the port, from where boats take eight minutes to reach the island.

According to a recent study by Panama’s Ministry of the Environment, the country risks losing 2.01% of its coastline by mid-century.

According to the ministry’s spokesperson, about 1.2 billion dollars will be required to relocate about 38,000 residents who are at risk of rising water levels in the short and long term.

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