The world's first climate refugees:
(Havet stiger!)- We had to flee to Norway!

"Soon huge waves will wash over the islands. We will try to climb the palm trees, but then we will drown. It is not so bad for me, I'm old now, but the children should live!"
    The words came from my mother-in-law Fakalei after we had three hurricanes in our fifth year at our island Motuloa. Three hurricanes in the doldrums close to the equator - where according to physical laws it should not be possible to have hurricanes! All the islands in the country of Tuvalu where we had settled were flat coral atolls, with a height of about two meters above sea level - at low tide! And what more - the ocean had already started to rise due to the thermal expansion of a warmer sea - a consequence of the greenhouse effect. We had our four-year-old daughter. We left our beloved island.

Emma og Sonia finner skjell .

We first traveled to neighboring Fiji, 1000 kilometers to the south. We did not quite feel like leaving the tropical climate, and for Emma it was important to be close to her family. Family ties are far stronger on the South Pacific islands than in the western world.
  We rented a house in the outskirts of the capital Suva, and I tried to get a residence permit as a writer with income from abroad. It was not approved. Once again, I had to resort to table tennis, and I became the national team coach for Fiji. Without salary, but with a permit to reside. Until the table tennis association decided that they should to give me some of the money I managed to get them from Olympic funds. The new president of the table tennis association, who did not like that the younger ones had started beating him, offered me a salary that he knew was less than we could live for. Farewell to Fiji for us, and still a position in the national team for the Indian veteran!
   We could probably have fought to stay in Fiji, but the rise of crime thanks to political and racial conditions, made that Emma no longer dared to be alone in the house after dark. Well, I was coaching every evening so that did not work well. So then we were on the move again.
At first glance, it looked like we managed the transition to Norway well. We bought a four-room apartment at the suburb Lambertseter of the capital Oslo, which had become a very nice and tidy place to live. Shopping center, sports field, swimming pool, cinema; everything you need within a short walking distance.
   Our daughter Sonia started school and football training. She quickly spoke fluent Norwegian, and made lots of friends. Emma worked at Lambertseter retirement and nursing Home, first as a cleaner, but later as a nursing assistant. She attended a Norwegian language course twice a week, and also aerobics training. Emma also spoke Norwegian fairly quick.
And what about me? First I tried to get back to advertising, but even if two of my old mates helped to make a campaign to get me back as a copywriter I had no success. The advertising industry had been cut to a third of what it once was, and many those who used to have good jobs had lost them. There was a few vacancies, but I never get a chance to show what I could do: I was too old and have been away too long. No chance whatsoever.
  Torkild Wiik, who sailed in his yacht Mot more or less together with my in my yacht Coco Loco all the way to Tahiti, had started to work as a translator of cartoons, for dubbing. He convinced me to take a trial assignment. It went well. Suddenly I was sitting from quarter to seven in the morning until late at night (with a break to get Sonia to and from kindergarten) in front of the computer and video-player almost seven days a week. Money floated in and our loan to the flat was quickly reduced, but then my neck started to ache and I felt really dizzy. Finally I had to see the doctor. Snap, snap, snout, the translator's adventure was out. I was on sick leave. Well, I did not surrender up, but had heaps of different treatments. Tablets and syringes, acupuncture, chiropractor, etc., but X-rays showed calcifications in the neck (probably by ski jumping with many falls as a young man), - and this is not so easy to fix! One last trial-and-error attempt by a physiotherapist who pulled me in the head made the situation worse, so any writing took much longer time and hurt too much. Not good, because it was writing that had been my income for many years! Well, well...that's life!
I mentioned that the transition from our island in the Pacific to Norway apparently at first went quite well, but it was not so easy for Emma to leave a tropical island life and move to cold Norway. And the worst part was to be away from her family. She used to be the one to help keep the extended family together, and now she was too far away. Also I longed for life on our island Motuloa. Here we used be self-sufficient through collection, cultivation and fishing. It was so much, much more rewarding than sit behind a typewriter and work in a nursing home to buy the food in the store!
  I was also disheartened by the development in Norway. I was probably much more aware of how people in Norway, and society in general, had changed. Material goods and money in the wallet now seemed to be the most important thing. People did not come together like before, they did not go for walks in outback in the weekends, the neighbors never talked to each other.
Sonia wanted a brother or a sister - and then Olav was born in Oslo. This was very good for the family but in the end we came to realize that Norway was not really the place for us. Winter in Norway with my bad neck so stiff that I walked around like an old man. And of course, we still missed our island life in Tuvalu, as well as Emma's family and our friends there. So finally we headed south again. First to Fiji, but there another military coup had made the country unstable with more crime. So we finally gave up and set the course for Australia. To the town of Townsville in the north of the country.
It is not so easy to be a Norwegian and try to tell the Norwegian people about climate change caused by fossil fuels. Norway is a big producer and exporter of oil and gas, even some coal from the island of Svalbard. But I had to do something: We could leave Tuvalu and move to Norway while the others were still there - fearing for their lives. So I wrote letters to the king asking if he could ask the government to reduce the Norwegian interests in fossil fuels like oil. My letters were just forwarded to the government from the Norwegian royal castle. Well, there were a few articles in the media and I was invited to debate programs where we were called the world's first climate refugees.
  The same goes for Australia were we now live. Australia is a big producer and exporter of coal, and it is not very popular to talk about climate change. Well, every now and then I cannot keep quite and there have been a few articles and even speeches during resent climate actions/strikes.
  We have to act before it is too late - but is the will there, or is money in own pocket more important than the lives of our children?


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