Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tiny Tuvalu in 'save us' plea over rising seas

Adelaide Now (Australia): first nation likely to be overwhelmed by climate change wants Australia to take its population in a mass evacuation if sea levels keep rising. Tuvalu, in the South Pacific, is one of the world's lowest-lying countries and faces being inundated by rising tides linked to mankind's impact on the climate within a generation.

In a twist with far-reaching implications, Tuvalu Government officials and community elders are hoping in a worse-case scenario Australia will accept its 10,000 inhabitants. Tuvalu Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia visited Canberra in August in what Tuvalu officials described as a "secret visit" to float the migration plan with the Federal Government.

Under the plan, Tuvalu would be based in Australia but continue to function as a sovereign nation, in the hope of one day returning to its island home. The Tuvalu Government would continue to exercise its economic exclusion zone of about one million square kilometres and maintain its seat and vote at the United Nations.

…Such an unprecedented environmental evacuation could become the model for other low-lying nations such as Kiribati and the Maldives.

…A sophisticated tidal measuring gauge installed by the National Tidal Centre at Tuvalu's main port in 1993 shows the sea level there has been rising by 5.7mm a year. While this is relatively small, most of Tuvalu is just 1m above the high tide mark and water already bubbles up through the porous coral during high tides, flooding the land during king tides.

Location map showing position of Tuvalu in relation to Australia

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