Sinking Tuvalu Wants Australian Help
Tuvalu is the second lowest elevation country in the world
after Maldives. It is conceivable that the entire country could be under water
in 100 years, not likely but possible. But it would be possible to relocate the
10-12 thousand people before that happens, probably to New Zealand or
Australia. And again, maybe the sea level rise will be minor. In any event this will be
gradual, not overnight.
THE first nation likely to be overwhelmed by climate change wants Australia to accept its entire population if sea levels continue to rise.
Tuvalu, in the South Pacific, is one of the world's lowest-lying nations and faces inundation within a generation by rising tides linked to mankind's impact on the climate.
In a week where Ross Garnaut delivered his climate change report, the Tuvalu issue poses a question for Australia: Do we take on other countries' problems as well?
In a twist with far-reaching implications, Tuvalu Government officials and community elders are hoping in a worse-case scenario Australia will accept the entire population of about 10,000 and allow them to continue to function as a sovereign nation, in the hope of one day returning to their island home.
Tuvalu Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia visited Canberra in August in what Tuvalu officials described as a ``secret visit'' to float the migration plan. Australian officials have refused to comment on the meeting.
Such an unprecedented environmental evacuation could become the model for other low-lying nations such as Kiribati and the Maldives, which face being swept away by rising tides.