by: Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner
MAJURO, Republic of the Marshall Islands –
As the sun rose on May 5th a group of youth took a photo on the reef behind CMI holding cardboard cutout dots with various messages about carbon emissions, CO2, rising sea levels and one particularly large dot which read “Connect the Dots: Majuro Marshall Islands.” Since then the photo has gone viral online, with a number of blogs and websites sharing it in an effort to raise awareness on climate change.
The photo was the first of hundreds of actions taken around the world in the “Connect the Dots” campaign for Climate Impacts Day led by 350, a global grassroots movement that focuses on climate change awareness. According to their site, the number of CO2 in the atmosphere is currently at 392 parts per million. But to preserve the planet, this number must be lowered to 350 – hence the name of the climate crisis organization.
The sunrise photo, along with another photo which showed the same youth floating underwater in the lagoon outside of MIR with a banner which read “Connect Our Dots – Your Carbon Emissions Kill Our Corals” was taken at the end of a two day RMI Youth Climate Leadership Workshop held at CMI and led by 350 Oceania Coordinator Aaron Packard and Policy and Governmental Manager at the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) Mary-Linda Salvador.
“The Marshall Islands is at the front lines of climate change,” says Packard, “The photos inspired hundreds of people around the world to action – and it also puts a human face to the issue.”
Packard and Salvador arrived in RMI on Thursday May 10th, after leading a similar workshop series in Pohnpei and in Palau. The workshop was organized by 350 RMI Representative Helpy Mote, with the assistance of Benedict Yamamura and Candice Guavis and funded by a $1700 check from MIMRA.
“The workshop gave us a lot of ideas,” says Mote. “We’re looking for solutions, and ways to prepare our islands for future generations.”
Also present at the workshop were representatives from MICS, MAWC, Youth to Youth, IA Majuro Youth Council, Jo-JiKuM, and also CMI and USP students.
“I took part mainly because climate change is one of my interests,” says CMI student Broderick Menke. “I think it’s very important for youth to be involved because this is our future that’s at stake.”