Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tuvalu: Climate Refugees (Tuvalu)

Tuvalu is one of the smallest and most remote countries on earth. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it can barely be seen on most maps. The country is in danger of disappearing beneath the waves. Not an Atlantis myth but the reality of this century.
Plans for evacuation are being made right now.
Tuvalu is destined to become one of earth’s first nations to be washed away due to the effect of global warming, making the Tuvaluans the first complete nation of climate refugees, banned from their home-islands, their culture and identity taken away.

Tuvalu's nine islands are little more than thin ribbon-like atolls scattered in the immensity of the Pacific Ocean.
At their highest point, they stand no more than four metres (13 feet) above sea level and if predictions of rising sea levels caused by global warming are correct, they could be wiped out within 50 years.

"We keep thinking that the time will never come. The alternative is to turn ourselves into fish and live under water," Tuvalu Deputy Prime Tavau Teii told Reuters in the South Korean capital where he was attending a conference on the environment.

"All countries must make an effort to reduce their emissions before it is too late for countries like Tuvalu," he said, calling the country one of the most vulnerable in the world to man-made climate change.

This could also be the fate of other Pacific Islanders as well. Besides Tuvalu, Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands are considered at risk, though true disaster is still at least decades away.

The sea is increasingly invading underground fresh water supplies, creating problems for farmers, while drought constantly threatened to limit drinking water.
Annual spring tides appear to be getting higher each year, eroding the coastline. As the coral reefs die, that protection goes and the risk only increases.
And the mounting ferocity of cyclones from a warmer ocean also brought greater risks, he said, noting another island state in the area had been buffeted by waves three years ago that crashed over its 30 meter cliffs.

Teii said his government had received indications from New Zealand it was prepared to take in people from the islands. About 2,000 of its population already live there.
"Australia was very reluctant to make a commitment even though they have been approached in a diplomatic way."


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