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May 28, 2024 9 mins

Today, we highlight the work of climate justice activist, poet and writer Selina Leem. 

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Speaker 1 (00:05):
Hey, this is and Samantha. Welcome to stuff I've never
told your production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:18):
And as it is the tail end of AAPI or
API History Month, we are closing it out with an activist,
a writer, and a poet, Selena Limb. Now Limb is
an activist from the Marshall Islands and has been a
leader for our community for a while now. At the
age of eighteen, Limb was the youngest delegate to speak

(00:40):
at the COP twenty one where she spoke about the
impact of climate change and what was happening to her homeland.

Speaker 1 (00:46):
So the Republic of the Marshall Islands is located in
the Micronesia region in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Here's some
more information from Britannica dot com quote Marshall Islands Country
and the Central Pacific Ocean. It consists of some of
the easternmost islands of Micronesia. The Marshals are composed of
more than twelve hundred islands and islets in two parallel

(01:07):
chains of coral atolls, the Ratak Or sunrise to the
east and the rolic Or sunset to the west. None
of the twenty nine low lying coral atolls and the
five coral islands in the Marshall Group rises to more
than twenty feet six meters above high tide. The islands
are coral caps set on the rims of submerged volcanoes

(01:27):
rising from the ocean floor. The island units of the
Marshalls are scattered over about one hundred and eighty thousand
square miles of the Pacific.

Speaker 2 (01:36):
And because of where the country is located as well
as the makeup of the land, they're in a pretty
precarious state, especially with the ongo and climate crisis. Here's
something from Hakai magazine dot com To say that the
Republic of the Marshall Islands is vulnerable to sea level
rise is an understatement. Two million square kilometers of Pacific
Ocean surround the country's a smattering of islands and tiny atolls,

(02:00):
of which are less than two meters above sea level.
Since nineteen ninety three, the surrounding ocean has risen by
more than twelve centimeters. Today, it regularly floods some neighborhoods,
fills roads, and even graveyards. And this is just the beginning.
If glaciers and polar ice sheets continue melting at the
current rate, which is likely Even if global carbon emissions
are capped, climate scientists expect the ocean around the Marshall

(02:22):
Islands to rise as much as one point three meters
by the year twenty one hundred. Powerful storms and extra
big waves could temporarily push it even higher. Without drastic intervention,
much of the country could be rendered uninhabitable.

Speaker 1 (02:36):
And this is why Lim has become a leader for
climate justice. She has been working since her teens to
not only bring attention to what is happening to her home,
but also advocating and pushing political leaders to make change.
When speaking about her work and her home, she said,
my people are counting on me to share what is
happening in the vast ocean of the Pacific, too small

(02:56):
for people to see, too far for people to reach,
and a number of fifty two, six hundred and thirty
four people too little for people to care. Our islands
are not just barely their dots on the maps for
many to turn a blind eye. They are our home.

Speaker 2 (03:10):
So in an interview with thread dot Com, she talks
about why she began her works. She said, as a child,
my grandfather would reprimmend me and tell me that the
ice in the north and south poles were melting, and
that the water would eventually flood our islands. This was terrifying.
I would have nightmares of my family drowning and me
desperately trying to save them. This made me extremely conscious

(03:31):
of the changing environment around me, and I began to
pick up on increasing temperatures and rising sea levels year
in year out. I quickly realized just how dire the
situation had become and decided I had to do something
about it.

Speaker 1 (03:44):
And she has been speaking up about her concerns, including
permafrost melting, forest fires, and droughts which continue to threaten
her home, and educating others and helping others to understand
the crisis is something that she does often. She told
World Bank dot org quotelimate change impacts, gender inequality, high
unemployment rate, high school dropouts, noncommunicable diseases are some of

(04:06):
the biggest issues we are facing right now. Our country
is poor and a huge part of our government's budget
comes from the United States government funding. I believe education
is the first step to addressing these issues. Once we
know what they are, what are the causes, the history,
how it impacts us, why they must and need to
be addressed and the support from our family, our community,

(04:27):
our government, and internationally, then we are on the right path.
It is important that there is a clear understanding and
communication between the government and its people. Right now, the
entire world's biggest threat is climate change.

Speaker 2 (04:42):
Not only has she used her voice to speak up
in international conferences in front of powerful world leaders, but
has used her voice in performing spoken word and poetry.
She was also featured in Before the Flood, a documentary
talking about the climate crisis, in which she talks about
her land. Apparently it was produced by Leonardo Dicaprille. That's

(05:03):
a bit tidbit. There you go.

Speaker 1 (05:06):
Well, thank you for the tidbit. In the same threat
dot Com interview, she talks about the power of the
arts and why creativity is important in her activism. She said,
quote creativity connects us with our core, which is our
emotion and what makes us human. I'm privileged to have
been born in this era because it's so easy to

(05:26):
mental health, setting boundaries and how to move forward with
my generation. We're part of a community, so that when
ego anxiety is gripping my heart and I feel so
overwhelmed with the state of things, I'm able to feel
grounded and remind myself that I'm not alone. We're all
in this together, and that if I need to take
a break to look after myself, it's okay, because they'll
keep fighting for me in the meantime. And she goes

(05:50):
on talking about why storytelling is an important medium quote
because it's human. It's how my grandparents taught me to
keep our cultures, proverbs, morals, and values alone. This is
why I find it a very powerful and effective tool
to use.

Speaker 2 (06:04):
Right And obviously her works have gained some notoriety, including
the fact that she was nominated for a Contributing Performance
in the Best Indigenous Language Album category at the thirty
third Golden Melody Awards. And I'm sure we'll hear more
from her because her work is beautiful. And with that,
we wanted to read a bit of her poem. And
this is just like a small snippet of her poem

(06:26):
that she presented to the cop twenty six. It was
the poem that we mentioned earlier. I grew giant and
all BT dubs. I'm gonna put this in there. They
also speak Marshallesee in here. Obviously I do not know
this language. I could not really, just find a pronunciation
or translation for it for me, which is good because

(06:46):
she did this purposefully. So I'm going to try my
best and excuse my pronunciation. If you actually speak Marshal
Lesee and want to send in a corrected version, please
do because we would love to hear it. So here
we go. Now is what I need you respond to.
I've seen bones of loved ones spilling out of broken graves,
torn by the angry waves. Nightmares haunt me at night

(07:07):
and follows me throughout the day. The terror I feel
act now I stand here najhatukijin for my people, my home,
non homage rao nani ju jiku. Our corals never grew
to be the giant we needed them to be to
protect us from the rising water. But I did to
five three the giant to protect my home from the

(07:27):
waves of deniers and work hand in hand with those
fighting for our planet together, each of us, like the
tiny corals my friends and I put out in a
horizontal line near the outer reef, grow tall Tuesday to
be giants for our planet. And again, this is just
a small piece, and her whole piece was beautiful. You
can actually look this up. They do have it on
medium dot com where they speak about her a little

(07:50):
bit and give the entirety of the poem. But yes,
obviously this is really really important work. And I was
admitting to any earlier that my geography is way off
because I did not know that the Republic of the
Marshall Islands existed and didn't know its history and what
was happening there. Obviously there's a lot happening, and islands
and countries like these are very heavily affected by what

(08:12):
is happening with the climate change, and they have become
the people of the Marshall Islands have become leaders in
this movement, I mean true leaders with some amazing plans,
and I didn't even talk about what they've been doing
and the whole layout they have to try to protect
their lands because as Liam told another interview that she
knows people who've lived there all their lives, like their

(08:33):
families from there, and they said they would drown on
that island before ever leaving it because they love their
home so much. So it's definitely something that we need
to be talking about more. And also it was acknowledging
in the fact that yes, again I feel real ignorant,
not even knowing that the existence of this country was here,
and even the impact that the US had on them,
which was not great, but the fact that they were

(08:53):
able to get their independence and now doing what they're
trying to do to save their land really important.

Speaker 1 (08:59):
Work is always and yeah, listeners, if you have any
further information or any thoughts about this or anything related
to this, experiences or anything like that, please let us know.
You can email u at stuff at your mom Stuff
at iHeartMedia dot com. You can find us on Twitter
at mom Stuff podcast, or on Instagram and TikTok at

(09:20):
stuff I've Never Told You for us on YouTube. We
have a tea public store merchandise. We have a book
you can get wherever you get your books. Thanks as
always to our super producer Christine, our executive producer May,
and our contributor Joey.

Speaker 2 (09:32):
Thank you.

Speaker 1 (09:33):
Thanks to you for listening Stuff Never Told You suspection
of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts to my heart Radio. You
can check out the heart radio app, Apple podcast wherever
you listen to your favorite shows.

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