After an unprecedented monster storm devastated Vanuatu this past weekend, killing at least 8 and rendering much of the population homeless, officials blame climate change.
The official death toll is likely much higher, as aid workers have been unable to reach outlying islands. UN aid teams on the ground are focusing on providing food, water and shelter and trying to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases.
Leaders of Vanuatu, a nation of about 80 islands with a population of 260,000, and other Pacific island nations have warned of their special risk from rising sea levels and intensifying storms, which they attribute to global warming. Recently, a risk analysis company named Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, the city most exposed to natural disasters. “Vanuatu is, like most other small island developing states, a canary in the coalmine when it comes to the dangerousness of climate change,” wrote Margaretha Wewerinke, a lecturer at the University of South Pacific.