Water: from friend to foe

Woman weaving a mat from pandanus leaves
Woman weaving a mat from pandanus leaves. The Pandanus tree is highly productive. Locals make use of its leaves for weaving and for building traditional houses. It also produces fruit that is eaten and used for medicine. Courtesy Fikau Teponga
Source: Fikau Teponga

Tuvalu lies partly in the southern tropical cyclone belt. In the southern summer, Tuvalu encounters severe hurricane-force winds and high seas. Sometimes Tuvalu is hit by out-of-season high winds and seas caused by weather disturbances far away, and these threaten life on the island nation. The change in weather patterns has caused Tuvaluans to wonder what the future holds for them.

Tuvalu is often mentioned in global warming discussions, as it will become the first nation to be uninhabitable as a result of climate change and rising sea levels. While there are still some sceptics, overwhelmingly experts agree that the earth is warming due to the emission of greenhouse gases caused by human activity.

Tuvalu's greenhouse gas emission is miniscule in comparison to that of developed nations such as Australia. Yet the geography, sovereignty and cultural heritage of Tuvalu are destined for extinction, unless world communities take responsibility for this issue. Irrespective of who caused global warming, Tuvalu lifestyle has already been affected by it. Tuvaluans will be the first ‘climate refugees’ in the world, alienated from their ancestral home-islands. Their culture and identity will be taken away, surviving only as memories in the minds of living Tuvaluans.

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lunch tiny islet of Tepuka Savilvili