Scientists say the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is bearing the brunt of climate change more than just about anywhere else in the world.
For the people living there, rising sea levels are a very real and increasing threat to their existence.
“This used to be our foundation…”
For Alii Afoa, living right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean has long been crucial to his family’s survival.
“This is where we get our food from, it is very important.”
But lately Alii said, the ocean has become an increasing threat.
It’s already destroyed one structure…
And is encroaching on the newer one room house he shares with 13 other family members.
“When it is high tide, we kind of like move into the front of the house.””
And it is happening all across the country.
Home to just 12,000 people, Tuvalu is made up of low-lying atolls, or ring shaped islands with very little land, a total of just 26 square kilometres. The highest point is just two metres above sea level, making the country extremely vulnerable to increasing weather extremes, and rising sea levels.
“The impact of climate change of the sea rising is really putting a burden on our land by eating away the land and there are some cases where little small island actually disappears or become submerged,” said Tuvalu’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Seve Paeniu.
The sea water is also infiltrating crops and destroying vegetation, and warming sea temperatures are impacting the marine resources the country depends on.
It may seem odd that drought is a very big concern here in the Pacific, especially when you are literally surrounded by water. In Tuvalu you’ve got the lagoon on one side, the Pacific on the other, and experts say it is getting worse because of climate change. The reason it is a problem, there is a very limited supply of drinking water. These countries rely on rainfall.
At the moment CGTN are told it has been nearly two months since Tuvalu has had any significant rainfall. It is serious enough where the government is considering declaring an emergency.
Tuvalu’s government has long been calling on the rest of the world to limit carbon emissions, sometimes using creative means to get the point across.
The people who live here say they are running out of options.
Alii Afoa admits his family will eventually be forced to move.”
“So sad but that is how it is going to be
Because he said, the sea that has served his land for generations, continues to take it all away.