How Climate Change Caused an Island Paradise to Run Out of Water

Treehugger.com has a great post today about the small Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu and how they are running out of water.

Tuvalu’s highest point is about 4.5m above sea level, making it one of the lowest lying island nations (second only after the Maldives).  Long before a low lying area experiences flooding due to rising sea levels, it’s quite possible that they will run out of fresh drinking water first.  The sea water can get into their groundwater, making it too saline to drink.

Tuvalu already depends heavily on rain water but have recently experienced less than normal rainfall, a condition that begin in November of 2010 and predicted by meteorologists to last until December.  The drought is most likely the cause of La Nina; due to climate change, more severe La Ninas are predicted for the future.

Their taps have quite literally run dry and the islanders have had to ration their rain water.  Tuvalu is being assisted by New Zealand and Australia, whose governments are providing temporary desalination plant and helping with the repairs of the existing desalination units.

Small islands like Tuvalu are like the canary in the mine: a signal that something is very, very wrong in our environment.

Picture Courtesy of leighblackall at Flickr

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