Activist Greta Thunberg has garnered lots of attention this week for her remarks before the United Nations General Assembly regarding climate change.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying,” she said.

Less attention has been given to others fighting for change, such as Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands, who is also in New York City for Climate Week 2019.

President Hilda Heine, shown here at the Pacific Islands Forum Summit in 2016, says rising sea levels are threatening her island nation. Denise deBrum-Reiher, Office of the President, Marshall Islands

“Prolonged and unseasonal droughts are hitting us real hard, and salt water is creeping into our freshwater lands,” she told NPR’s “Morning Edition” Tuesday. “We are on the very front line of climate change. We are seeking the approval of our Parliament to declare a national climate crisis to spare no effort in mobilizing our response to this fight.”

Heine said the Republic of the Marshall islands is working on an adaptation plan in response to the crisis. One possibility is to raise the height of the islands, which are just a few feet above sea level.

In spite of the lack of support from the Trump administration, Heine said she feels that there is today a greater sense of urgency to climate change.

Heine is scheduled to be in Honolulu next month to deliver the keynote speech of the 2019 SACNAS – The National Diversity in STEM Conference.

Read more about how climate change is hurting Micronesia here, and Civil Beat’s ongoing series Hawaii 2040: Climate Change.

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