Rising Tides of Change
Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia of Tuvalu announced in a February meeting in Taipei that global warming poses a serious flooding risk to his nation, so much so that he worries if the islands will remain above sea level. Visiting a Taipei school, Ielemia took the opportunity to tell the assembled schoolchildren that the threat to Tuvalu was rising, literally, as sea levels gain every year.
Though Tuvalu is the third smallest nation on earth, with 12,000 citizens, it sits only 4.5 meters above sea level and has been at the forefront of the debate over climate change. Government officials have announced that, if sea levels continue to rise at predictable intervals, within 50 years the series of nine atolls that make up Tuvalu will be evacuated. The threat is so real that neighboring New Zealand has already guaranteed Tuvalu that it will take in islanders in the event of submersion.
Tuvalu is far from alone in this plight, as most of the low-lying islands of the Pacific are threatened by rising sea levels. Though Tuvalu will likely be the first to be submerged, and thus the first nation swept away by climate change, many of the other island nations in the Pacific may have similar timetables to contend with.
-Equatorial Press Staff Report. Photo Courtesy of Mrlins/Flickr.