GLASGOW, Scotland – “Tuvalu is sinking”, declares minister of Finance Seve Paeniu of his island nation as he sits down for an interview with Yahoo News at the UN Conference over climate change.
Immediately population of just over 11,000 inhabitants, Tuvalu is an idyllic atoll in the South Pacific consisting of of nine low-lying islands of which highest height is about 15 feet. Thanks to sea level rise, each year die height shrinks a bit more.
“We are now living climate change in Tuvalu, we see land fast to disappear,” says paeniu, who radiates an intensity with are bald head and piercing gaze.
“That’s why we’re here at COP26,” he said says of the climate conference, “to tell us” story to the world. The world must act now, not put it off to later years.”
Paeniu, 56, has seen it firsthand how rising seas have begun to eat away in his home country.
‘There is a flood. water’s just infiltrate in the water links below the land, the places where the water doesn’t come through now, is all under water. There are storm surges when there are cyclones die just come and wash over the whole country. … That has never happened before,” Paeniu says. “We have land that is going to be floodedof disappears where there used to be vegetation and agriculture.”
Without rivers of sources for fresh water, the inhabitants of Tuvalu must collect rain for drinking water of import diesel desalination plants, although the last solution is expensive. As ocean waters have progressed, agriculture made more precarious, and once abundant fisheries also started spinning.
“Food security is seriously threatened, and even our fisheries”, Paeniu says. “We see coral bleaching, acidification of the seawater, which now affects our food supply.”
To make matters worse, tropical cyclones are increasing more powerful, thanks to rising land and ocean temperatures, elevating Tuvalu and other island nations risk.
“[Cyclone Tino] beaten us in January of 2020, a category 4 . cyclone die was quite severe,” Paeniu says. “For houses die had no poles, the water” just rinses over die houses, so they lost their homestheir personal, private possessions. It also destroyed our stable root crop, which is swamp taro. She took out vegetation, so seawater just came in, just destroyed the whole harvest.”
Of the many risks die climate change met entails for humanity, die faced by island nations are perhaps the easiest to understand. And they are also among the most urgent.
“Islands are the canary in the coal mine in this situation,” former President Barack Obama said: in a speech on Monday at COP26. “They are now sending a message that if we don’t act — and act boldly — it will be too late.”
For his comments, Obama had a session on resilience of the island and met with representatives of Fiji, the Marshall Islands and Grenada. The minister Tuvalu Foreign Office Simon Kofe filmed a message for the conference die he held while standing knee-deep in seawater to better illustrate the threat his country faces.
while Paeniu says the inhabitants of Tuvalu not want leave their homeland, that’s a regular topic of conversation in the last a few years.
“The government of Tuvalu does not actively encourage people migrate – that’s quite a clear policy direction. however, the government facilitates and offers opportunities for people who chose to migrate out of Tuvalu because of the consequences of climate change,” he says says. “There are employee schemes, labor migrant schemes with Australia and New Zealand, where our people can go on short-term employment contracts. We are working on an initiative that will eventually be brought up within the UN system where if all fails and Tuvalu becomes uninhabitable, of course we have nowhere to go, so we will need to move house.”
Scientist Benjamin Strauss told “The Climate Crisis Podcast” that thanks to the amount of emission of greenhouse gasses die people have added to the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution, the planet is anything but guaranteed to see 5 feet of sea level rise in the coming decades.
if die prediction is correct true, it would be the end of Tuvalu like us know the.
“We know that even if we use the 1.5 . would reach [degree Celsius of warming] focus on this COP that won’t prevent Tuvalu land from disappearing of sinks,” Paeniu says. “So our key message is for countries until help us, appearance us from being submerged in water. For that we would like to undertake an ambitious, increased land reclamation program.”
That idea means following the lead of the Maldives and China, die huge amounts have started pumping of sand on top of coral reefs to undo the attack of sea level rise on outposts of the island.
“It’s a viable project,” Paeniu says of the expensive, and possibly temporary, solution. “Part of our expectation at the COP is to ensure that whatever climate financing is agreed upon [upon], it could bring funding for so ambitious program.”
It is unclear of Tuvalu will be able to convince rich countries to contribute to the effort to save it from the encroaching ocean. But what not? in doubt is that there is a deep connection between being population and what remains of the atoll.
“We do not want to leave of to move of migrate away from Tuvalu, want that’s part of it of our culture, our identity, our heritage. We are working on amending our constitution to ensure the permanence of state, state Tuvalu, in maritime boundaries regardless of the effect of sea level rise,” Paeniu says, adding: “We hope this can be a platform” for set one new precedent under international law, so that whatever happens as a result of the impact of sea level rise, Tuvalu can still claim its sovereignty.”
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