The island paradise is under attack. Thanks to destabilizing forces of climate change – rising sea levels and strengthening storms, particularly – some of Earth’s most picturesque locations are being scrubbed from the map. And the residents of these postcard settings are being forced to consider relocating to avoid being swept away into the sea.
In Tuvalu, a collection of reef islands and atolls midway between Hawaii and Australia, saltwater intrusion has already made it difficult to grow traditional crops, and the rainfall that provides much of the drinking water has become unreliable. Despite investments in freshwater storage systems and makeshift bulwarks to slow coastal erosion, much of the nation – where the average land height is a mere 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) above sea level – will likely be under water by the end of the century.
“It’s already like a weapon of mass destruction,” Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said last month of the impact climate change is having on his nation.