Environment

The Reason This Olympian Is Dancing Will Break Your Heart

August 16th 2016

By:
Almie Rose

If you happened to catch any of the men's 105-kg Olympic weightlifting competition on Monday, chances are you were delighted by David Katoatau's enthusiastic celebrations. 

But now that Katoatau has the world's attention, he wants to deliver a serious message about climate change, and the threat it poses to his home nation of Kiribati

Located in the Central Pacific, Kiribati is being ravaged by climate change. 

Butaritari, Kiribati

Katoatau's parents even lost their home when a cyclone hit. So he dances, because he figures Kiribati needs all the extra attention it can get.

He told told Reuters,

"Most people don’t know where Kiribati is. I want people to know more about us so I use weightlifting, and my dancing, to show the world.

I wrote an open letter to the world last year to tell people about all the homes lost to rising sea levels. I don’t know how many years it will be before it sinks.

We don’t have the resources to save ourselves."

Climate change often effects the people who had the least to do with contributing to it, and Katoatau is a prime example.

In 2010 the United States was responsible for 5,610 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Little Kirabati, meanwhile, produced only .04 million metric tons in that year. 

Most people haven't even heard of Kiribati, let alone know where it is, yet Katoatau and people like him are those who are being hit the hardest. 

After their family home was destroyed, Katoatau says they rebuilt, but, "it’s close to the sea so there is always a worry," he said

And it isn't just peoples' homes that are brought down — their health can be significantly at risk, too.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reports, 

"Climate change can be a driver of disease migration, as well as exacerbate health effects resulting from the release of toxic air pollutants in vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those with asthma or cardiovascular disease."

It isn't limited to only waterborne diseases, either. Other possible side effects can include cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as cancer.

Kiribati needs all the awareness it can get, and it looks like Katoatau's plan may be working: