Tuvalu is a tiny country in Polynesia (covering just a quarter of the area of Barcelona) made up of nine coral atolls. Not many people have heard of it, although it did make the news a few years ago when it allowed various television companies to use its internet domain (.tv) in return for sums of money that far exceeded the country’s GDP.
The golden toad of Costa Rica has the dubious honour of being the first known case of extinction resulting directly from current climate change. Tuvalu may soon go down in history for being the first country to disappear for the same reason. With the country’s highest point at just five metres, the rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice caps will soon swallow the group of islands up. It is not just Tuvalu that is under threat: Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau and the Maldives are all facing the same watery demise. Around half a million islanders will have to abandon their homelands and become the world’s first climate refugees. Within a few years, the waves will claim the beaches, drown the vegetable patches and engulf the coconut trees with saltwater. Experts believe that it is too late to do anything to save these countries from their fate, but there is still hope for the rest of the world... as long as we take action right away.
- Tuvalu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuvalu
- What is an atoll: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atoll
- The golden toad of Costa Rica: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_toad
- Data on the effects of climate change on the atolls of Polynesia are taken from Mark Lynas’s book “Six degrees: Our future on a hotter planet”: http://www.marklynas.org/books/