The home of the Gunas is often referred to as paradise on earth. The tiny coconut islands of the San Blas archipelago off Panama’s eastern coast are littered with glistening white sand beaches, palm trees, and thatch-roof huts. And even though the indigenous tribes have maintained a healthy distance from unwanted modernization, the ripple effects of climate change have reached their shores.
Rapidly rising sea levels mean that many islands will be completely submerged within a few decades. Moreover, with increasingly unpredictable weather events, it would take only one big tropical storm to level the modest dwellings of the Guna (pronounced Kuna) and leave the islands completely inundated.
The island of Gardi Sugdub, aka Crab Island, is one of the most vulnerable, experts say. Measuring just 400m long and 150m wide, the island is lined “wall-to-wall” with thatched huts, housing some 2,000 people.
These people face a double whammy. On one hand, there is the threat of…