Australias Paruma Joins Pacific's 'Drowning Islands'

While Australia's politicians debate the so-called "inconvenient truth" of human-induced climate change, inhabitants of low-lying islands across the Pacific know climate change is very real if rising sea levels are any indication. One island within Australia's territorial waters is among those threatened by the rising sea. Poruma Island—formerly known as Coconut Island—is one of 274 islands in the Torres Strait archipelago, between Queensland and Papua and New Guinea. Part of the Diocese of Cairns, Poruma is home to 205 people who have traditionally lived by fishing. But Poruma is drowning. Rising sea levels, storm surges and salinity in its freshwater wells are making the island uninhabitable. When Dolly McGaughey last returned to her island home, the severity of erosion shocked her. "It has all been eaten up by the sea. The beautiful white beaches of my childhood have gone underwater. Some of the trees I knew then are gone," said McGaughey, a member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Catholic Council.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

“I ask forgiveness,” the pope said on his flight from Lima to Rome. “It’s a hurt [caused] without wishing it.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 22, 2018
Jesus “is here in Lima, or wherever you are living, in the routine of your daily life and work.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 21, 2018
People and cheered Pope Francis everywhere he went on this last day of his visit.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 21, 2018
A boy presents a hat to Pope Francis upon his arrival at the international airport in Trujillo, Peru, Jan. 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
“Just as the apostles faced the storm on the sea, you had to face the brunt of ‘El Niño costero.’”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 20, 2018