Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tuvalu


So probably many people are already aware of this but I will talk about it anyway. Tuvalu is a small island nation of about 11,000 people, living on 9 coral atolls totaling approximately 10 square miles (smallest country in the world other than the Vatican). Its south of the equator and west of the international date line (north of the Fiji islands and west of the Solomon Islands). This small country has no industry, burns little petroleum and barely contributes any carbon pollution. However, they may be the first peoples to experience global warming firsthand. Rising sea levels, higher intensity of tropical storms and higher water temperatures are all creating problems for this tiny nation whose highest elevations is a mere 4.6 meters above sea level. These Tuvaluans could become the world's first climate refugees, their whole culture may need to be transplanted.
Now, several times a year with the lunar tides, portions of the nation are engulfed in water, and during storm events, surge floods even more. While the islands aren't in imminent danger, the effects of warming accumulates year after year. "Even if we are not completely flooded, " said former assistant Environmental minister and now assistant secretary for Foreign Affairs, Paani Laupepa, "in 50 to 70 years we face increasingly strong storms and cyclones, changing weather patterns, damage to our coral reefs from higher ocean temperatures, and flooding of all our gardens." Not growing enough food and decreasing fish catch if reefs are damaged would mean "importing more food, more foreign exchange, and more health and diet problems, " he said.
For more coastal areas that can soon be effected, including some in our very own country, click here.

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