Portraits of Resilience

Climate Change in Tuvalu

Earth – the planet of enchanting blue skies, earth with bustling life and pristine waters – every single thing on this planet is like a treasure that cannot be replaced. However, we humans are clearly oblivious to that fact.

Earth – the planet of enchanting blue skies, earth with bustling life and pristine waters – every single thing on this planet is like a treasure that cannot be replaced. However, we humans are clearly oblivious to that fact.

The effects of climate change are inevitable, even in some of the most remote areas on Earth. In Tuvalu, the results are known worldwide – that the island will be erased from world maps by the year 2050, swallowed by the ocean. Rising sea levels are threatening the very existence of countries and cities that lie just a few metres above sea level. It starts off with the increase of carbon dioxide emissions from things such as oil refineries, cars or even your own kitchen, which traps more heat. The heat will gradually warm up the ocean and melt the ice at the polar caps; the water that is released will eventually raise sea levels. The melted ice not only threatens the existence of polar and coastal animals as polar bears and crabs, but humans become the prime victim: millions homeless and a dramatic downfall of society. Do we want this to happen to our sons, our grandsons, and our descendants?

Tuvalu is only a mere example of the price that has been paid in exchange for an industrialized world. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, lying near the equator, this island is a small haven for special animals and locals alike. Years ago, according to the elders, the ocean would never surpass the naturally formed levee by the beach. As years passed, floods began to be common. The King Tide, which occurs sometime between the months of January to March, is a simple indicator of how much the sea level has changed. At this time of the year, the high tide is unusually high. Associated with storms, the tide can turn out to be deadly, as it did at the year of 1972, when Cyclone Bebe thrashed Tuvalu. The village was nearly obliterated by the waves.

Tuvalu is after all a small country and we cannot survive the effects of climate change on our own. The United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention, or UNFCCC, is dedicated to reducing climate change effects. We Tuvaluans can join in the talks to exchange ideas as to how the sinking of Tuvalu can be postponed, or perhaps completely avoided.

— John Tseng

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