Peter Rudiak-Gould has just spent a year living on a remote, picture-postcard Pacific island, 70 miles from the nearest telephone, car or shop.

Paradise to some, but he found a culture under threat from global warming, on top of the challenges of daily life in such a remote place.

The 27-year-old, who was the only white face among the 450 inhabitants of Ujae, in the Marshall Islands, has just published a book about his adventures.

Mr Rudiak-Gould, of Turn Again Lane, Oxford, was so moved by his experiences teaching English to children in Ujae in 2003 he returned to the islands, in 2007 and last year, to carry out research.

He said: “It was such an important experience in my life.

“The culture is like a puzzle I have been trying to crack and each time I go, I understand a little bit more, but you can never completely understand it.”

The highest point on any of the islands is 10m above sea level.

Current scientific predictions estimate that rising sea levels and an increase in violent storms due to climate change is likely to force islanders to leave for good within 50 years.

Mr Rudiak-Gould, an anthropology student, decided to carry out fieldwork in the Marshall Islands for his doctorate at Oxford University’s Jesus College, on how islanders were reacting to the impact of climate change.

He said: “It’s a tiny country, far away from everywhere.

“You would think nothing consequential ever happened on the islands, but there has been nuclear testing, a US military base and it’s one of the few countries that is most vulnerable to climate change, so in a way it’s central to world events.

“We still have an idea of these places as tropical paradises, isolated indigenous communities, which are idyllic, innocent places. I found that it was so much more than that and so much more interesting.”

Many of the island’s devoutly Christian inhabitants see climate change in religious terms, with some saying God promised not to flood the earth again, while others say it is part of Armageddon.

Mr Rudiak-Gould said when he first visited, climate change had been in the background for him, but when he returned it was possible to see how far the tiny islands had eroded since his last visit.

When he was interviewing a man about the issue he realised it was the first time his nephew had heard about climate change and the boy’s reaction brought home the impact of global warming.

He said: “Within that child’s life, it’s quite likely the country will be experiencing big problems and might have to be evacuated.”

l Surviving Paradise: One Year On A Disappearing Island, is published by Union Square Press, priced £14.99.