Most of the Western world tends to relate the continent of Oceania with the countries of Australia and New Zealand, including mass media outlets around the world. Few people take notice of the small island countries that also lie on the continent; countries that are small in population and overall global representation but have an increasing problem that puts in danger the entire existence of their islands: rising sea levels. This problem derives from climate change, which causes the loss of sea ice in the polar regions in the world. Thanks to this, there has been a constant rise in the sea level for the last 40 years. Even though the rise has not been of more than a couple centimeters per year, the impact it causes on the long run can be drastic, especially for countries like Tuvalu or the Maldives. These countries are in great danger due to their maximum level above sea level, which is merely a few meters above the sea that surrounds the island. The risk of them completely disappearing into the sea in a few decades is increasing every year. This would mean that thousands of people from the diverse islands-states that exist in the Pacific Ocean would be forced to leave the place they have known practically all of their lives. The disappearance would also bring massive geopolitical issues including the displacement of thousands of people, the decision regarding the reception of those immigrants, the economic losses, among many others.
The potential disappearance of entire sovereign countries may seem like a completely fictional scenario for the majority of people in Western society, but it is an increasing issue that is becoming more serious as the climate change effects increase. This preoccupation is shared by some people around the world, people who are aware of this global problem and environmentalists, but also people who are going to suffer the direct consequences of the disappearance: the Tuvaluans.
According to the statement given by a Tuvaluan citizen, the issue of sea levels rising and other consequences directly linked to the rise in climate change are putting the entire country in jeopardy. The citizen mentions that “the future of Tuvaluans is filled with uncertainty due to the fact that the place their great forefathers settled believing it was the promised land for them” and now the land is about to disappear; this would leave thousands of pleasant memories and emotions in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. “And it is very heartbreaking to see Tuvaluans, particularly seeing the smile of young beautiful kids who will soon realize that their future is highly uncertain, their beautiful Tuvalu will soon submerge underwater. Sad, just sad.” added the citizen.
Tuvaluan citizen Maeli Loane has also given a statement regarding her personal experience with climate change in her country. Her personal experience mostly recalls the effects Cyclone Pam had in her home and community in 2015: “The fact that Tropical Cyclone Pam devastated in March 2015 my home island in Tuvalu Nui is very suffering.. The entire traditional farming was destroyed from the waves of the cyclone and also devastated the settlement of my coastal villages of my island.” She also recalls how this cyclone affected the traditional farming of the island: “Therefore sea level rise during Tropical Cyclone Pam has destroyed the key stable food of my Community and if sea level rise is getting worse there is no higher mountain to find refuge.” It is important to remember that the increase of intensity on cyclones or hurricanes is directly linked to the instability climate change causes on the entirety of the planet’s meteorological situation.
Fellow citizen Taupule Apelu also details his personal experience regarding climate change and links it with the meteorological problems it brings. “Many of the islets in Funafuti, the capital, have already disappeared due to the increase in the sea level and have experienced it by seeing it myself. The changes in weather predictions, before in the early 20s, the weather can only predict in specific months and it’s two seasonals :the wet season and the dry seasons.” He states that these problems are causing the loss of their livestock, their crops, and their homes.
Laloniu Suiane also states that there are three ways she has suffer the effects of climate change: soil erosion is reducing the total area of the country, the local food “Taro” planting is affected by rising sea levels, and finally, due to the increasing radiation from the Sun, they are experiencing a drought.
From what was recompiled from different points of view in the country in Tuvalu is only a summary and written affliction that Tuvaluans have to deal with every single day. Tuvaluans deserve the right to inhabit the land their ancestors settled in, just as any member of other countries. It is not fair that, for the actions of the majorities, a small population suffers the consequences. Tuvalu may be small, but their people are not; they deserve the same right of inhabiting land as we do. Tuvalu needs to be saved from its destiny, climate change effects are slowly sinking the country. We need to raise awareness about the problem and start proposing and effecting solutions now!