Think global policy doesn’t effect you? Try talking down global warming to this small island state. (Staten Island, take note).
Tuvalu, a tiny cluster of nine coral atolls and islands about halfway between Australia and Hawaii in the South Pacific, is one of the smallest countries on the planet, and many scientists say it is getting smaller. Its population of fewer than 12,000 people inhabits a landmass of 26 square kilometers, or 10 square miles, about a third the size of Manhattan. On Funafuti, the main atoll and Tuvalu’s capital, the widest point between the lagoon around which the town spreads and the ocean beyond is just half a kilometer.
The lowest point is just above sea level, a spot from which you can be tricked into thinking that you are somehow standing below the vast Pacific, looking up rather than out into it.
Data from the National Research Council in the United States predict that global sea levels could rise by as much as 55 inches by 2100 as a result of climate change, which, when combined with damage to the coral roots of Tuvalu by rising acidity in seawater, could threaten the country’s very existence. Then there is coastal erosion, a result of rising water and harsh weather but also human activities like excavation for construction and other development projects.