Tuvalu: Under the Waters of Human Indifference

Dear Reader...

This letter is addressed to those in positions of power who have failed to recognize and act on the climate crisis. Saving Tuvalu and Fridays for Future USA are working together to address the crisis that is impacting frontline communities across the globe – and to demand accountable action. 

Tuvalu is a small island nation that is on the brink of collapse. Residents of the island nation have experienced the brunt of climate impacts, notably through rising sea levels and trash and plastic pollution. In 50 years, the nine islands that make up Tuvalu may be submerged. Tuvalu exemplifies the worst impacts of our man-made and fossil fuel perpetrated climate crisis – and is a current sample of what happens when we fail to act. Tuvalu’s population  has been left without a voice in the face of the crisis. This also implies a cultural threat in which citizens do not have the tools to generate the massive impact that their government could. 

If I had the equipment, the platform, the education, or the voice, I could do something bigger. I could tell the world about the crisis in my homeland, and pressure the international community to take action towards it.”

– Tala Simeti (photographer)

The soil in our country is not cultivable for many fruits. We need to plant our crops in buckets (for example pulaka, which is a typical plant here in Tuvalu very important for our culture), because otherwise they would die in the soil because of the salinity levels”

– Makelita citizen of Funafuti, Tuvalu

Residents of Tuvalu face climate threats including inability to grow native foods due to salty, porous soil, ingestion of chemical toxins due to trash pollution, illness caused by bacteria in reef fish caused by our degenerating coral reefs, and much more.

It is a state of emergency which will force Tuvalu citizens to be relocated to safer land – causing both poignant environmental and cultural erosion. 

To save our planet in the small window of time left, we must eliminate fossil fuels and transition the global economy to green and renewable energy. We must invest in social justice movements and address environmental racism. The climate crisis is the intersection of sexism, racism, poverty, lack of education, and every social justice issue imaginable. We prioritize wealth over necessity, money over basic human rights. We are already failing to act on climate – what happens when Tuvalu is not a headline, but our collective global reality? It will be our reality, and it is our reality. We will not fail global frontline communities on an issue they didn’t create. We will tackle the issue at the source – our institutions, philosophies, and politics. 

”There are currently not enough homes for all inhabitants. Usually, a small house is shared by about 11 people. They sleep on the floor, and have no fixed housing. Also, many of us do not have enough economic and natural resources to cover our daily needs.”

– Makelita citizen of Funafuti, Tuvalu

Annually, hundreds of millions of people are displaced due to natural disaster and climate. Yet, our international laws do not legally recognize climate refugees. In our changing, dying climate, we will all feel the impact.

This letter is not a request but a demand. We demand immediate action on the global climate crisis – on all social, economic, and political levels. We must question our philosophy concerning success and prosperity. We must induce a social revolution and transition to a global green economy. We must save Tuvalu.

In solidarity,

Saving Tuvalu International Campaign Directors

Fridays For Future USA Campaign Coordinators

Saving Tuvalu Internal Campaign Director