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Editor’s note: CNN columnist John D. Sutter is advertisement on a tiny cardinal — 2 degrees — that may acquire a huge aftereffect on the future. He’d like your help. Subscribe to the “2 degrees” newsletter or chase him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He’s jdsutter on Snapchat. You can appearance this coverage.

Angie Hepisus heard her nephew, Mark, banging on the aperture and agreeable in Marshallese.

“It’s flooding! It’s flooding! Get out!”

Her thoughts went anon to her ancestors on this brittle bank in the average of the Pacific, a abode beneath accretion blackmail from altitude change.

The Marshall Islands is a accumulating of 29 atolls and bristles islands, amid amid Hawaii and Australia.

One of her cousins woke up that morning aftermost bounce to acquisition herself floating, her plywood home bushing up like an aquarium. Another, who lives in a abode breadth the roof is captivated bottomward by analogously spaced rocks, was so addled by the blitz of baptize that had invaded her abode at 4 a.m. that she absolutely baffled her arm to be abiding that, yes, this was saltwater, and, no, she wasn’t accepting a nightmare.

Then there was Jitiam, her wild-haired nephew, who was aggravating to tie his family’s pigs to a timberline block to anticipate them from abrasion away. And Roselinta, who was sleeping with her 2-year-old son, Shiro, in a abode that was actuality agitated civil by the storm and the almighty aerial advance that accompanied it.

“My apperception and my affection were pounding,” Angie told me.

“It’s like: not again.”

She affective the Bible and all the ancestors associates she could.

They waded out into the dark.

Out actuality in the average of the Pacific, about amid Australia and Hawaii, there’s a abode breadth no one has the affluence of abstinent the actuality of altitude change. Bodies actuality in the Marshall Islands are active it. Acquire been active it.

They’ve internalized the gravest of predictions — that the Marshall Islands, this apart accumulating of no-elevation apricot atolls, acceptable will be abysmal beneath the after-effects as bodies abide to balmy the atmosphere and the oceans abide to rise. They’ve credible their homes flood frequently — credible the tides accepting higher, credible their lives threatened. Mojje Anungar watched the charcoal of his babyish son, George, who died at 7 months, ablution into the Pacific from a littoral graveyard.

“I’m still shell-shocked,” he told me through an interpreter. “Before, this affectionate of affair never happened.”

A few bodies already are authoritative the difficult accommodation to leave this country, in allotment because of the abundance of floods and the blackmail of altitude change; and I activate some of them gluttonous ambush in the best abrupt of places.

In the nine canicule I spent in Majuro, the crescent-shaped basic of the Marshall Islands, I abstruse there is boilerplate on these islands to escape the floods. People, I was told, seek accommodation on the additional belief of buildings, or by aggressive up the trunks of attic trees. The abandoned “hill” to allege of in Majuro is a arch that’s congenital over an inlet.

Perhaps boilerplate is the ambiguous attributes of this country’s cartography added credible than Rita, a awash adjacency at the actual tip of Majuro. That’s breadth Angie and her ancestors live, breadth they faced the “inundation event” aftermost spring.

“I don’t anticipate these islands are activity to aftermost that long,” Angie told me.

I accurate my adventure to the Marshall Islands on Snapchat, which is a amusing arrangement for dematerialization stories. Beneath you’ll acquisition a few examples of what will be absent if this country is abysmal by ascent seas.

“Once a big advance comes, we’re all activity to be done away.”

For Angie and her family, the March 2014 storm acquainted like the alpha of the end — like the ocean, consistently an accessory and friend, assuredly had angry on them.

It’s awfully accessible to address off a country you’ve never seen.

I didn’t apprehend that until I visited the Marshall Islands — until I watched bristles hours of azure ocean canyon beneath my aeroplane window amid Honolulu and Majuro, absolutely clumsy to cull my eyes from the wet beyond below.

No boats, no land. Abandoned baptize — salt-speck after-effects cresting on a accomplishments of blue; clouds casting coffee-stain caliginosity on the apparent of the Pacific.

I acquainted my chest bind up.

All this nothing.

Where was this freaking place?

The acknowledgment offered little comfort. Majuro appeared as a aerial chaplet of acreage draped about a azure lagoon — some of it about added than an airport runway. I’d apprehend affluence about the Marshall Islands afore bent on a alike in Atlanta 31 hours earlier. But none of it able me for the afterimage of this tiny little atoll — this coke-line of bank and approach — tossed out in the average of the alarming sea.

No admiration this abode is at accident for altitude change.

It’s about treading water.

I boarded on this adventure to the average of boilerplate because CNN readers voted for me to attending into “climate refugees” as allotment of my Two° alternation on altitude change. That abstraction came in the anatomy of a catechism from Kelly, a 48-year-old clairvoyant in San Jose, California, who asked, “What happens if bags or tens of bags are displaced due to ascent sea levels or desertification? Breadth do they go?”

More than 11,000 voted in a poll that commissioned this story.

As the after-effects came in, I started analytic for a acceptable case study. There are countries like Bangladesh breadth millions acceptable will be displaced by ascent seas. But Alice Thomas, from Refugees International, drew my absorption to beneath island nations that could vanish if seas acceleration as abundant as 1 or 2 meters.

Kiribati, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands.

All of these about blink out over the apparent of the ocean.

And all of them absolutely could be wiped off the map.

That’s not an actual anticipation — absolutely not bristles years or 10. Alike 20. But it could appear aural our lifetimes, and absolutely aural the abutting generation’s.

Scientists say we calmly could balmy the atmosphere by 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the aeon — and if you alarm up a scientist like Stefan Rahmstorf, a abettor of ocean physics from Germany’s Potsdam University, he’ll say apocalyptic things like this: “Even attached abating to 2 degrees, in my view, will still accomplish some island nations and littoral cities to drowning.” In added words: See ya, Marshall Islands.

The accent is about nonchalant.

Not because he doesn’t care; he does. But because he says this actuality so generally — and I apprehend this actuality so generally — that it about starts to assume expected. Accessible to intellectualize. As if an absolute country, culture, history and accent are analytic externalities of our deposit ammunition addiction. Oh yeah, drowning islands. Heard that story.

It’s absolutely addition thing, however, to airing bottomward the alley in Majuro.

Many apricot atolls in the alien Pacific aloof about blink out aloft sea level, authoritative them decidedly accessible to altitude change.

There you see the burst sea wall, burst by floods that, in contempo years, covered the runways and shut bottomward the airport temporarily. You see bank accumulated up forth the road, as if argumentation with the ocean to break back. You feel the blubbery air, balmy cottony on your skin. You clean the fog off your glasses. And you booty in the candied aroma of the ocean — all alkali and backtalk and approach frond.

If you’re lucky, you accommodated Amatlain Kabua, a Marshallese princess, aloft agent to the United Nations, and babe of this country’s aboriginal president. She met me at the alike — threw a lei about my neck, a bend of ambrosial craven flowers she best herself. She accustomed me with a Marshallese chat that is as all-over as it is magical.


Meaning: “Hello,” “I adulation you,” and “You are a rainbow.”

How could you not adulation this place?

Amatlain insisted that I sit down, acquire some attic milk (right from the coconut, but with a straw, because, well, this is 2015) and apprehend about her country’s “existential fight” to argue the apple that this place, these people, abide — and that they amount abundant to edgeless the force of altitude change.

Climate change is real, she said.

“Seeing is believing.”

I’d apprentice she was right.

Because, aback you’re continuing all the way out here, you acquire to wonder: How could this abode — this charming, sweaty, evil-smelling abode — vanish?

Or, added accurately: How could we accomplish it vanish?

The bigger flood was added than a year ago but she still doesn’t sleep.

Is it aerial tide? King tide? Any adventitious for a swell?

Angie Hepisus checks advance and acclimate apps constantly, and wakes her husband, Timothy, to be abiding she hasn’t absent article critical.

Outside, the ocean laps at the acreage — abandoned paces from her bedchamber wall.

She hears it out there, churning like a abrasion machine.

She’s not able to let her bouncer down, clumsy to acquisition peace.

“The complete of the ocean, it (used to put) me to sleep. It’s like my lullaby,” Angie told me. “Now, it’s added like slamming and hammering. It’s so noisy. It scares me at night. … It’s changed. The melody of it has changed.

“It’s not the aforementioned song I acclimated to love.”

The 44-year-old grew up in the azure accurate abode at the bend of the acreage — she, her 16 ancestors and their parents, all active beneath one roof. Marshallese families aren’t apprenticed by agreement like “nuclear,” so it isn’t aberrant for a army of cousins, aunties, nephews and abundant uncles to alive calm as well. It makes faculty aback you apperceive how the acreage — the adored little acreage — is handled. All of it is endemic by several chiefs, and it’s managed on account of the ancestors community. Bodies actuality mostly don’t pay rent; they ask for allowance to body on the ancestors acreage and it’s granted, free. Acreage rights are anesthetized bottomward from a mother to her children. So this artifice of acreage on the bank in Rita is not aloof any place; it’s a ancestors heirloom, a allotment of their identity.

Ukulele music is everywhere in the Marshall Islands. The apparatus actuality has three of the accepted four strings.

Angie is the third youngest of the 17 children, and the youngest girl. But she’s the acting matriarch, ensuring that dozens of ancestors members, abounding of them active on this ambiguous amplitude of coastline, are fed, clothed and kept safe. She’s additionally the ancestors historian, attention and afterlight abstracts pertaining to the family’s aristocratic ancestry and their acreage actuality in Rita and elsewhere.

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These are her responsibilities for conceivably three reasons. First, she’s absolute as hell. As a kid, Angie’s ancestors nicknamed her “big eyes” and “reporter,” because she saw what added ancestors associates were accomplishing wrong, and was quick to tattle. Her apple is one of appropriate and wrong, and she’ll absolutely acquaint you if you’re wrong. Second, she has arguably the best, best abiding job of her siblings, alive as an controlling abettor at the Bank of Marshall Islands in Majuro. And, finally, and best importantly, she’s here.

The others are not.

The abode breadth Roselinta and her 2-year-old lived afore the flood? What charcoal is a slab of concrete. Mark, the nephew who woke her as the amnion were rising? Jitiam, who was aggravating to tie up the pigs afore they done away?

They are gone.

I spent abundant of my time in the Marshall Islands aggravating to amount out what will be absent if we let this country asphyxiate beneath the ascent ocean. I absitively to certificate these wanderings on Snapchat, an app for belief that vanish afterwards you appearance them.

I alleged them dematerialization belief from a dematerialization country.

Annoyingly meta, I know.

A apriorism for my findings: To absolutely get the Marshall Islands, you charge to acquire that this is a country that’s far added baptize than land. The absolute breadth of the country, including the Pacific Ocean, is about three times that of Texas.

Subtract the ocean and you’re larboard with acreage that would ample Washington, D.C.

“We are not a babyish island country. We are a big ocean country — with a censor that we’d like to share,” said Tony de Brum, the adopted minister.

The aboriginal bodies are anticipation to acquire accustomed in the Marshall Islands 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, acceptable advancing by canoe from Southeast Asia. Anticipate about that. A boating beyond the Pacific by outrigger canoe. That’s the affectionate of affair that aloof doesn’t appear in the SpaceX era — well, unless you’re Alson Kelen, administrator of a nonprofit alleged Waan Aelõñ in Majel, or Canoes of the Marshall Islands.

I met Alson, a smiley 47-year-old who looks like the surfer-dude adaptation of George Foreman, at his canoe-building branch on the Majuro lagoon.

Outside, a brace dozen adolescent men were hacking abroad at a breadfruit tree, axis it into a vessel. They were planning a 200-mile boating out to sea — which is annihilation for Kelen, who has ridden outrigger canoes from the Marshalls to both Hawaii and New Zealand, a cruise breadth the sun blistered the cheers of his feet.

“A lot of bodies cross with their heads,” he told me, sitting in his office, a stick-and-shell map of the currents of the Marshall Islands nailed to the beam aloft us. “We cross with our stomachs. We feel the swells and we apperceive breadth we are.”

Alson doesn’t appetite to blow about these feats and is quick to say he’s not a “master navigator.” His expertise, he insists, is the art of canoe building.

For details, he deferred to the experts.

“By lying on his aback in the balloon of his canoe and analysis the motion of the canoe, the accomplished pilot can ‘fix’ his position at night alike afterwards attractive at the sea, for the movement of the canoe abandoned will acquaint him what kinds of swells are acting on it,” wrote University of Pennsylvania anthropologist William Davenport, in 1964.

This aberrant accomplishment is abnormally absurd — and all-important — aback you accede the Marshall Islands are so low to the sea that they’re basically airy from a distance.

To apperceive breadth an island is, you acquire to feel its presence.

That takes work, so training for “master navigators” starts in aboriginal childhood, said Joseph Genz, an abettor abettor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii in Hilo. The active trainees are placed for hours at a time in mini-canoes and floated out assimilate the baptize so that they can tune their stomachs to the waves.

“This ability is actual sensitive,” the abettor said by e-mail.

It’s additionally awfully attenuate these days. Alson, however, hopes to accompany aback the art. He’s already training dropouts to body canoes. And, one day, he wants to advice them apprentice to cross their amphibian nation.

He told me he’d be the aftermost actuality to leave these islands if they sunk beneath ascent seas — that he’d be out actuality afterwards anybody else, treading water.

But he additionally sees this training as an allowance policy.

If these kids acquire to carelessness their country, at atomic they’ll acquire some skills.

Maybe this allotment of their ancestry can survive.

Or at atomic they’ll apperceive it existed.

In Majuro, ask anyone — from Angie and her ancestors to kids you acquisition arena basketball on the street, application artificial buckets for hoops — breadth they would move if the islands accumulate calamity and you tend to get one of three answers: Hawaii, which makes faculty because it’s close-ish, and it’s additionally a accumulating of islands; Washington state, which is freakishly algid compared to Majuro, but, still, is on the West Coast.

And then: Arkansas.

Springdale, Arkansas, to be exact.

I was so abashed that I absitively to pay a appointment to Springdale.

It’s a woodsy boondocks of rolling hills, blinking band malls and taquerias.

Hundreds of afar from an ocean.

As landlocked as they come.

“It’s the bigger Marshallese citizenry in the continental United States,” said Carmen Chong Gum, the delegate accepted of the Marshall Islands in Springdale.

Yeah, let me echo that. The government of the Marshall Islands has an official consular appointment in Springdale, Arkansas. It shares a architecture with a barbershop, an advocate and a apparatus adjustment abundance alleged Undead Electronics.

The citizenry there is so ample that I met a applicant for Marshallese senate, Tadashi Lometo, who was authoritative a attack stop in town.

“If you win in the States, you will additionally win aback home,” he said. “We acquire a ample association actuality in Arkansas.”

How ample is what’s incredible, though.

The Marshall Islands is home to about 70,000.

There are 10,000 Marshallese in Northwest Arkansas, according to the consulate.

Ten-thousand people. About 15% of the country’s population.

And they vote by mail.

So, how did they end up here?

Run about boondocks allurement that catechism and you’ll get one name: John Moody. I couldn’t delay to accommodated him — to acquisition out how this all happened.

But there’s a problem, several association told me: John Moody’s dead.

One woman was so abiding of this that she pulled up John Moody’s cairn on Google Images aback I told her I was aggravating to acquisition him.

But it turns out John Moody is not dead.

Just in hiding.

After agreeable what acquainted like bisected the Marshallese citizenry of Springdale, I tracked bottomward John Moody — claret in his cheeks and active about an hour and 20 account by car from Springdale. He’s anchored on top of a hill, in a biscuit double-wide trailer. Buzz cut and policeman mustache. Thirteen chickens active about out back.

He keeps to himself, he told me, because he’s so acclaimed in Springdale that bodies stop him at cartage lights, yelling, “Hey! John Moody!”

It’s the amount you pay for actuality the aboriginal Marshallese in Arkansas.

“That’s what they alarm me,” he said. “Pioneer.”

John, 63, confused to the United States from the Marshall Islands in 1979 — afore the accepted calamity that Angie’s ancestors is now experiencing, but about the time that seas started ascent because of a abrupt uptick in deposit ammunition emissions. His aboriginal stop: Oklahoma, breadth he went to academy on a recommendation. He got a summer job at a craven processing brawl and absitively he admired that better. The assignment led him to Springdale, which is breadth Tyson and added banty companies are based.

Soon, he had 13 or 14 ancestors active with him — all alive on branch lines, analytic craven genitalia with knives for accomplishment absurd on the islands.

“I said, ‘Adios, Marshall Islands, I’m gone,'” he told me, smiling.

Throngs of migrants followed, abounding attractive for assignment or bigger schools for their accouchement — a adventitious to apprentice English. Marshallese bodies can alive and assignment accurately in the United States afterwards a acceptance because of the Compact of Chargeless Association, which allows the United States to accumulate a aggressive abject on one of the atolls. (It’s adamantine not to see this as added of a arrangement of reparations for nuclear testing than as a favor to the islands, by the way. Starting afterwards Apple War II, the United States detonated nuclear weapons on some alien atolls in the Marshall Islands, relocating absolute populations and advertisement others to cancer- and disease-causing radiation.)

Now, however, a new beachcomber of migrants is emerging: Those, like Angie’s ancestors members, who anguish their nation will be flooded.

Roselinta, Mark, Jitiam, Shiro.

You may acquire estimated it.

I met all of them in Arkansas.

Roselinta, who was active in the berth that floated abroad during the March 2014 flood in Majuro, told me she brand activity bigger here. She lives in a second-floor, three-bedroom accommodation with 10 ancestors members. A dozen or so pairs of flip-flops are ample up aloof central the door. The apartment’s walls are covered in ancestors photos and flowers fabricated from attic crust and broiled pandanus leaves.

I asked Roselinta what she admired so abundant about this place.

Her acknowledgment abashed me.

It’s far from the ocean, she told me through an interpreter.

And that agency it’s safe.

In aggravating to acquire this “big ocean country,” I ample I bare to get out on the water. Fortunately, Alson Kelen, the canoe guru, offered to accord me a lift.

We didn’t go far — aloof beyond Majuro’s kidney-bean lagoon — but alike that abbreviate adventure was revelatory. Majuro about is one road, but if you’re active up and bottomward it day afterwards day, abstention kids and roosters that braid in and out of a abiding beck of traffic, you alpha to balloon aloof how abandoned this area is, how fragile.

From the water, however, the acreage vanishes.

The outrigger landed on Ejit, a tooth-shaped island with no cars or roads. I roamed about with a resident-slash-security guard, David. He absolved with a abundant bending and wore a blubbery beard, alike admitting it’s consistently sweat-through-your-T-shirt acclimate here.

Most association of this island came originally from the Bikini Atoll, he told me. They were relocated a cardinal of times afterwards the United States conducted nuclear tests on their alien islands. A hydrogen bomb 1,000 times as able as those alone on Japan during Apple War II was exploded on Bikini Atoll in 1954, afterwards the war.

As attestation to this abominable history, I saw adolescent accouchement active about with Ejit Elementary Academy T-shirts that featured cartoons of that nuclear bang on the back.

The text, translated from Marshallese, read, “Everything’s in God’s hands.”

Or: The calmly of the bomb makers, I thought.

Eventually, I sat bottomward beneath a breadfruit timberline — with its leaves as continued as a acquaint and its civil bake-apple — to allocution with Ken Amlek, a 23-year-old with piercing, atramentous eyes, whose ancestors originated in Bikini. He explains its long, aphotic history in a yep-that’s-how-it-is simplicity: “They activated the bomb, and that’s why we’re here.”

Angie Hepisus, 44, says the complete of the ocean already was her lullaby. Now, it scares her.

Now, he said, this island, which he and his ancestors never admired to activate with, is calamity frequently. The acreage is arced like a bowl, and it fills up at the centermost with saltwater, he said. He wants the United States to pay to backpack him. You could see a move as a anatomy of altitude change reparations, agnate to the $604 actor the United States has spent aggravating to accomplish up for the nuclear tests, which not abandoned evicted bodies from their affiliated homes but additionally were affiliated to cancer.

To date, although China isn’t far behind, the United States is the bigger accumulated polluter of carbon dioxide. So why not authority the United States liable?

Maybe altitude change is the new nuclear testing.

Slow moving, and beneath intentional.

But aloof as threatening.

I charge say this altercation started to assignment on me aback I was on Ejit.

Partly that’s because Ejit is a abode adherent amid worlds. I saw girls arena checkers with rocks on a carved-out table — while a acquaintance broke at her iPhone. There’s no active baptize and bound electricity in some homes. Ken showed me the rain catchment catchbasin he drinks from, and it was abounding of pinkie-finger-size fish, which he said are there on purpose because they eat the mosquitoes. Aback the tide’s low, though, you can airing beyond the apricot bank to Majuro, breadth there’s an airport, hospital, restaurants and a scattering of Wi-Fi hot spots. Activity on Ejit, and abnormally the alien “outer islands” of this country, is hard. Leprosy charcoal a scourge, blubber ante are high, admission to medical affliction inadequate.

Maybe the band-aid is to boost this country into the climate-changed approaching — to acquire the realities now, and accord with them accordingly. There’s no all-embracing law to assure ambitious “climate refugees,” Walter Kaelin, agent of the chairmanship of the Nansen Initiative, a accumulation that focuses on altitude change and migration, told me. They can’t seek cover in added nations — or haven’t been able to. A man from Kiribati, according to account reports, approved to seek cover as a altitude refugee in New Zealand. The courts alone him. And while bodies from the Marshall Islands can alive and assignment accurately in the United States, refugees from Kiribati or the Maldives, for example, would acquire boilerplate abroad to go, legally, if their island nations disappeared. As a Plan B, Kiribati reportedly purchased added than 5,000 acreage in Fiji. Academics who abstraction this array of planning tend to say it’s healthy. They alarm it “migration with dignity.” Rather than a atrocious flood of refugees.

Some island nations “want to be able to accept aback to go,” said Walter. “They appetite to be able to accept added or beneath breadth they go.

“In that faculty they appetite to abide masters of their own destiny.”

Think of it: A planned departure afore the country disappears — afore freshwater aliment get attenuated with salt; afore abyssal beforehand kills all the bake-apple trees; afore floods are so accepted that bodies acquire no best but to try to move away.

I started to think, maybe Ken Amlek is appropriate — maybe the United States should pay, now, to backpack anyone from the Marshall Islands who’s accommodating to leave. A one-way flight from Majuro to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport goes for $1,600 at the moment, aback aloof one ages in advance. (Duration: 33 hours. Stops in Honolulu, San Francisco and Houston.) Some families save up for a year or added to accomplish that trip. Others, like Angie’s cousins active in plywood-and-tin homes, seven or added ancestors associates awash into one room, never could do that.

Based on that fare, it would amount $84 actor to fly every Marshallese actuality to Arkansas. Maybe we should accommodate the funding, accomplish this affair orderly.

Face the affair head-on.

Establish the New Marshall Islands.

Location: Springdale.

On aboriginal glance, the islands acquire annihilation in accepted with Arkansas.

Just attending at Angie’s family’s arrangements.

In Majuro, they alive in a babyish array of homes forth the coast, three pandanus copse buried out aback because their roots run abysmal and allegedly authority bottomward the soil. Aback the leaves bang in the ocean breeze they complete like rain. Sunsets amaze the clouds, all blush and orange, and a abounding moon makes the baptize blinking at night.

Smiley ukulele music is about consistently aural earshot.

Compare that with Arkansas, breadth you ascend a alluvium access to ability the second-floor apartment. Inside, curtains are fatigued all day and the lights are consistently out, in allotment because bisected the ancestors works the night about-face at the craven packing plant, and because they’re aggravating to save electricity. On the few canicule I spent time there, best bodies seemed to be watching TV or arena video games. They don’t eat calm because of their adverse schedules. Dinner’s generally ramen.

In the Marshall Islands, it would be rice and bank fish, served whole, the eye staring at you (Angie got assimilate me for abject about the eye, and for answer to a angle afore I bald its bark off). Breadfruit and pandanus, a mustard-colored bake-apple that tastes like a mango alloyed with an avocado, are Marshallese staples.

There’s a Marshallese grocery abundance in Springdale, but it’s abounding abandoned aback the buyer takes trips to the islands, bringing the commodity in a acknowledgment that she checks on the flight. The shelves are half-empty, and the abundance doesn’t backpack breadfruit or pandanus. They rot, a agent told me, and there’s not abundant demand.

Look harder, though, and there are similarities.

Take religion. About anybody in the Marshall Islands is Christian. Angie and her ancestors are Seventh Day Adventists, and there are churches for them in both locations. I’m told, actually, that there are added than 30 Marshallese churches abreast Springdale — all of them alms casework in the Marshallese language.

Then there are the big-little things, like sleeping arrangements. Abounding of the ancestors associates in the Marshall Islands beddy-bye on thatched mats, rather than mattresses, but in both places the families beddy-bye ample abutting to anniversary other. In the Springdale apartment, kids beddy-bye in a allowance breadth three mattresses are abiding ancillary by side.

“I’m acclimated to sleeping with my accouchement and my nieces, my nephews” on the aforementioned mattress with me, said Cynthia Riklon, 45, Angie’s sister, who’s active in Arkansas.

“You acquire to authority them.”

Especially aback they’re so far from home.

There’s an acute faculty of anxious blind over Springdale.

First altogether parties, or kemems, are generally bigger than weddings in the Marshall Islands.

That’s abnormally accurate for earlier generations. Booty bodies like Cynthia, who never larboard the Marshall Islands until she came here. She wouldn’t acquire done it, she told me, if not for her kids. The Marshall Islands, abnormally with the floods, was no best safe for them, she told me. Aback they’re developed up — aback they’ve accomplished academy and don’t charge her so abutting — she wants to move aback to the islands.

But her kids — she wants them to put bottomward roots here, breadth it’s safe.

People like Cynthia do little things to authority assimilate what makes them Marshallese. I met Rumina Lakmis, from the Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese, sitting at an appointment board in the architecture that houses the consulate. Flip-flops are that band for her. “During the algid winter, you see the American bodies all cuddled up with their scarves and sweaters and things,” she said. “And me? I abrasion my flip-flops all winter. See?” she said, pointing bottomward to her feet. “It’s my Marshallese culture. …

“I don’t feel Marshallese if I abrasion boots.”

I met addition Marshallese man in Springdale, Edison Maddison, 44, who told me he lies on the attic at night with all the lights off and stares at a babyish aquarium in the active room. A blue-cheeked angle swims in circles, aflame by a distinct bulb.

The afterimage transports him aback to the ocean — aback home.

I approved to accompany a allotment of the islands aback with me, too, in the anatomy of a video blow of Angie and her ancestors in Majuro, continuing on a sea bank they complete afterwards the March 2014 flood. It’s afterglow — aphotic abundant I had to flash a spotlight on the accumulation to get their images to appearance up on camera. I promised them I’d appearance it to their stateside ancestors members. John, Angie’s nephew, plays the ukulele.

Angie chose the song: “God absolve Marshall Islands.”

It’s a adieu tune, I’m told. Appropriate for a funeral.

You see all the agitation activity on

Things not accepting better; but they’re accepting worse

God absolve Marshall Islands already again.

It’s a plea, in a sense.

See us, God?

We’re bottomward here, too.

A child’s aboriginal birthday, or kemem, is conceivably the best cogent anniversary in the Marshallese culture. These parties are bigger than weddings. Historically, abounding breed did not alive through their aboriginal year — never accomplished maturity.

So a kemem is a rite of passage, and a anniversary of survival. A achievement for constancy and happiness.

I was advantageous abundant to be arrive to kemems in Majuro and Springdale.

In Majuro, I absolved bottomward an alley of tiki torches with Angie, Timothy and their cousin, Darrell, to acquisition one of the best acquiescently accidental scenes I’ve encountered: Some 500 bodies eating, singing and dancing in a courtyard on a close evening. There was a banderole featuring three photos of the babyish intermixed with those of unicorn ponies, a block with an icing account of the 1-year-old, a cupcake tower, two bands, and tubs of rice so big two bodies had to backpack them.

Plus, a chief. Attractive actual “Godfather.”

It was calmly the best abundant altogether affair I’ve abounding — and, it’s been a while, but I’m appealing abiding it would attempt with some episodes of MTV’s “My Super Candied 16.” I mostly spent my time there active about accession photos and video clips, but, at one point, the (very affectionate and happy-to-be-photographed) ancestors of the 1-year-old insisted I sit bottomward to eat. And they didn’t appetite me to eat aloof a little bit.

They capital me to eat a tray of aliment as advanced as a bank ball.

Angie’s cousin, Darrell, helped me analyze what I didn’t recognize. Here’s what we spotted, organized into two or three layers, with rice and spaghetti on the bottom: sea turtle (grilled), pandanus bake-apple adapted in attic milk, sushi, sashimi (fish actuality generally is captivated raw), absurd chicken, additional ribs, attic meat, potato salad, parrot fish, broiled breadfruit, broiled attic adapted in attic oil, breadfruit adapted underground, beginning breadfruit (so abundant breadfruit!) bake-apple salad, absurd noodles, turtle intestines, above assistant — and a hot dog.

Again, all on one “plate.”

I sat there for a minute, acrimonious at the food, and watching dancers in analogous floral shirts broad and aberration and pump their arms, as if accomplishing push-ups in the air. I smelled the sweet, abundant air, acquainted the diaphoresis on my skin. Saw the lights dangling from the breadfruit and pandanus trees, the 1-year-old acclamation and cooing as bodies lined up to put $1 bills in her pink, inflatable pond pool. I couldn’t brainstorm all this — this celebration, this achievement for a 1-year-old child’s ablaze future, this food, this party, this land, this life, the nation — vanishing beneath saltwater.

Land is character in the Marshall Islands.

What happens if the acreage is gone?

The Arkansas kemem took abode at an calm accident amplitude abutting to a Demolition Derby at the Rodeo of the Ozarks. I saw two Marshallese kids continuing at the fence, fingers captivated about the alternation links. Car engines roared beneath the amphitheater lighting.

Going to the kemem? I asked.


They were absorbed by the cars.

Inside, the air conditioner was set to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and a automated breeze fluttered balloons added to banquet-style tables. The allowance had a pitched roof and accurate floor. Portraits of white guys in cowboy hats adorned the aback wall. There were about 100 people, some in acceptable Marshallese dress — floral prints, headbands, flip-flops. Others wore jogger jeans and high-top sneakers.

Yeah, there were a array of foods.

But craven seemed like the capital course.

And abandoned one kid danced.

I talked to several bodies about the steadily accretion clearing of association to Arkansas. Do you anticipate it will aces up as altitude change continues?

What do you anticipate will appear to the islands?

“There’s consistently Arkansas!” said Mahku Moghaddam, 24, alms a alleviation to the biconcave nation. “They’re all acceptable here.”

Many of the Marshallese bodies came here, of course, for bigger jobs, bigger schools, bigger lives. Those were factors for Angie’s ancestors who confused here, too, on top of the floods. I don’t begrudge them any of that. But I anguish this is a window into the approaching — a approaching aback abounding Marshallese bodies will be actuality not because they accept to be but because they acquire to be. Because their country no best exists.

Standing there in landlocked Springdale, I anticipation of Angie and her ancestors on the bank in the Marshall Islands. They’re because abrogation their country, too, and for a mix of reasons, as is consistently the case — partly the floods and partly their ancestors in the States. But they would abhorrence this event, I’m sure. No breadfruit, no pandanus.

Air conditioners accord Angie the chills.

In the aback of the room, I chatted with three teenagers who had headphones awash in their aerial and smartphones ashore to their faces. I asked a kid in a Chicago Bulls hat what he anticipation about altitude change. “It’s all right,” he said, in that yeah-whatever, SNL-parody-of-Justin-Bieber array of way.

Like, sure. Who cares?

Not my problem.

Or, added accurately: Not my experience.

I acquire a acknowledgment to make: Maybe I’m the affliction actuality to be cogent you the adventure of the Marshall Islands. I’m from a country — the United States — that is allowance accession sea levels accepted and that conducted nuclear testing here. I flew on a alike to get actuality — abounding 2,682.33 pounds of carbon dioxide in the process, and that’s aloof one-way. I grew up in a state, Oklahoma, represented by Sen. Jim Inhofe, one of the country’s best articulate altitude skeptics. He afresh brought a snowball — a snowball! — assimilate the U.S. Assembly attic to appearance that, no, acutely all-around abating isn’t happening. I mean, lookie here. There’s snow.

Such absurdity is so shameful. I acquainted ashamed to be in the Marshall Islands allurement bodies questions about breadth they’d move.

I was animated aback addition assuredly pushed back.

“When bodies ask that it feels like defeat,” Milañ Loeak, a altitude activist who additionally happens to be the President’s daughter, told me, actual amount of fact. “And I don’t appetite to feel defeated. I don’t appetite to absorb that question. I anticipate bodies should be saying, ‘What can we do to help?’ instead of saying, ‘When will you go?'”

Or breadth will you go.

I acquire to accede with her.

If you array up all the Pacific countries, they accord 0.03% of all-around carbon dioxide emissions from deposit fuels, according to a abstraction cited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Altitude Change.

These islands aren’t causing this problem.

And because of that, they’re blank to save themselves.

The Marshall Islands is a abode of stories.

Passed bottomward by chat of aperture so they won’t disappear.

During my abrupt time in the islands, I met bodies like Angie who are witnessing altitude change and who are aggravating to do what’s best for themselves and their families. By administration their stories, they achievement the blow of us ability accept — ability apprehend our accomplishments acquire after-effects for places we’ll never see, for bodies we’ll never meet. I additionally had the amusement of affair Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a adolescent mother and artist who has emerged as one of the country’s pre-eminent storytellers. A abecedary at the College of the Marshall Islands, the 27-year-old additionally studies the articulate belief that anatomy the bolt of her nation and culture.

She told me two of her favorites — and one of her own.

It seems applicable to let her belief serve as the end of mine.

The aboriginal is the adventure of the Ripako, or bluff clan, who are Kathy’s abroad ancestors on her mother’s side. Accurate to their name, fable has it this accumulation of bodies could acquaint with sharks. They formed a array of abashed accord with the tides, too. Instead of accomplishing rain dances, as would acquire been accepted in North America, they captivated ceremonies on the bank aimed at accommodating the advance into calm — and befitting ample after-effects from antibacterial their homes and calamity them out.

This chat with the sharks — and with the baptize — helped them advance in the acrid ambiance that consistently has been the Marshall Islands.

Theirs is a adventure of adeptness and survival.

The additional adventure is one of neglect.

It’s the fable of a boy who absent his mother, and the angry stepmother who replaced her (evil stepmothers predate Disney, apparently). The stepmother didn’t accommodate the boy with abundant food, nor the mat to use as clothing, nor a aeroplane alloyed from leaves, so he could play. She was atrocious and uncaring, not acquainted how her decisions pushed the adolescent against abasement and sadness. He had a able spirit but was clumsy to accommodate for himself. The boy suffered in silence, abashed to accuse to his stepmother or father, who didn’t apprehension or didn’t care, either.

One day, however, the boy was out fishing with his father. Aback his ancestor dived beneath the after-effects afterwards a fish, a bird appeared and started talking to the boy.

It was his mother, reincarnated.

Why are you crying, the bird asked her son.

No reason, the boy said.

The bird pecked at the son for lying to her. And aback the ancestor re-emerged from the waves, the bird flew away.

This arena afresh itself three times afore the boy had the adventuresomeness to acquaint the truth: That his stepmother and ancestor weren’t agriculture him, that he had no mat, no kite. He assuredly acquired the adventuresomeness to accost his ancestor and stepmother about this, too. Aback he stood up for himself, his mother, the bird, returned. She accepted his quiet, admiring attrition to abuse — so she angry the boy into a bird. The boy-bird flew abroad from his ancestor and the angry stepmother, always changed.

The ancestor died in sorrow, analytic for his absent son. If abandoned he had noticed the agitation eventually — had accustomed the severity of the situation.

Then maybe he could acquire adored his son.

And himself.

From abbreviation your carbon brand to advancement leaders stop abating abbreviate of 2 degrees, there are a cardinal of means you can advice ensure the Marshall Islands will survive for approaching generations.

Kathy’s own adventure seems afflicted by those of her ancestors.

She has emerged as a clarion, moral articulation on altitude change, shouting into the wind from these abroad islands. I aboriginal met her at a altitude change assemblage in New York aftermost fall. There, she batten afore the United Nations, account a composition about how she doesn’t appetite her now-1-year-old daughter, Peinam, who is alleged afterwards a application of acreage on a abroad atoll in the Marshall Islands, to abound up afterwards a country.

“They say you, your babe and your granddaughter, too, will aberrate defenseless with abandoned a authorization to alarm home,” she says in the poem, which is accounting to her daughter. “No one’s drowning, baby; no one’s moving; no one’s accident their homeland; no one’s gonna become a altitude change refugee.” Kathy told me she hoped that speech, and the poem, would deathwatch the apple up — that her story, and the adventure of her islands, could be the antitoxin to aloofness and the arctic of ignorance.

There are babyish signs the apple is listening. The Pope is demography a close attitude on climate. The United States and China acquire apprenticed to abate emissions. Germany is aggravating to assemblage the automated apple to go carbon-neutral. The Guardian and are aggravating to accomplish bodies see investments in deposit fuels as about shameful.

People who watch all-embracing altitude negotiations closely, however, say none of it is abundant — not yet — to accumulate the apple beneath 2 degrees of warming.

In added words, acceptable not abundant to save the Marshall Islands.

Kathy tries not to get discouraged, but she does.

She keeps answering the aforementioned questions from reporters.

Keeps cogent her adventure — once, afresh again.

Hoping addition will hear.

Someone will act.

On my aftermost morning in the Marshall Islands, the adolescent mom and I went to a bank in Majuro to blur a account of a composition she wrote for CNN, alleged “2 degrees.”

“There are bodies — there are faces all the way out here,” she said, after-effects abolition on a bank abaft her, sun tucked abaft a cloud. “There is a babyish — walking wobbly, stomping squeaky craven ablaze up shoes beyond the bend of the reef.”

She paused.

“Not yet underwater.”

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