HOGA ISLAND, Indonesia – He sat shirtless on his thin bamboo floor in a home built on posts rising out of the Banda Sea.
Tadi had just returned in his dugout canoe from scanning crevices in a nearby reef for octopus. He and his neighbors spend every day this way – scouring the ocean for something to eat or sell. Fishing, here, is about survival.
Their stilt village has no industry, no land, no running water. They dive without oxygen, wearing hand-carved wooden goggles, and carry spear guns hacked from logs with their machetes. They eat what they catch and sell the rest, using the money to buy everything else they need: boat fuel, root vegetables, rice, wood.
Without fishing, “how would I feed my family?” asked Tadi, who like many Indonesians has only one name.
Now Tadi’s community, like countless others across the globe, is on a collision course with the industrialized world’s fossil-fuel emissions.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world rely on marine life susceptible to warming temperatures and ocean acidification, the souring of seas from carbon dioxide emitted by burning coal, oil and natural gas. That includes Northwest oyster growers and crabbers in the frigid Bering Sea, who now face great uncertainty from shifts in marine chemistry.
But from Africa to Alaska, many coastal communities face a substantially greater risk. These cultures are so thoroughly dependent on marine life threatened by CO2 that a growing body of research suggests their children or grandchildren could struggle to find enough food.