The Fate of Tuvalu

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted a 7 to 23-inch rise in sea level by the end of the century in its first of four climate change reports back in February. But this rising of the seas is hard to perceive--that is, if you’re not a Tuvaluan.

Tuvalu, a group of nine coral atolls located in the South Pacific halfway between Hawaii and Australia, could easily disappear. According to one study, the island group, standing at less than two meters above sea level, could be underwater in the next 30 to 50 years.

Meanwhile, seawater is seeping into the underground water table, causing problems for farmers and threatening the drinking supply. The government appealed to New Zealand and Australia in 2000 to take in the 11,000 or so Tuvaluans should there be need for an evacuation. And just weeks ago at a global warming symposium in Seoul, Korea, Tuvalu Deputy Prime Minister Tavau Teii urged the world to do more to combat global warming.

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