Elementary Planetary Astronomy Essay: Climate Change

ASTR178 Pushka Gib’en

Were genocide or the destruction of a country the topic of a discussion on ethics, there would be immediate consensus as to what the outcome and preventative measures should be, however when the issue is human enabled global climate change, many would be ready to deny their role in loss of property and life. One nation that may be directly affected by climate change and raising sea levels is the estimated 11,200 residents of the island nation of Tuvalu. The country is composed of 9 coral islands with a height generally four or five metres above sea level. The local residents of the country have a part to play in preserving their land; however they are also at the mercy of all other countries.

Estimates have the country uninhabitable in the next 50 years if the trajectory of current changes in global climate continues in the direction they have been going. The islands have quite a low altitude, and are susceptible to being completely submerged if sea levels rise a considerable amount. Ceiling fluctuations in ocean tides already cause flooding in parts of Tuvalu when tides are at their peak. Depending on one’s location, tides may increase or decrease in mean size depending on the time of year, such as spring tides, when there is a full or new moon. Other effects of climate change are also being observed by citizens. Weather patterns are having adverse effects on crops, with a notable increase in high winds and other volatile weather patterns. Saline waters from the ocean are contaminating farming soil by either direct spray from the ocean, or by leaking through the soil. Coral bleaching has been increasing and fishing is becoming more and more difficult. Were it a more affluent nation at risk of their country being damaged or destroyed by climate change, perhaps more swift action would be taken to alleviate the effects. The fact that Tuvalu is a small nation does not change the fact that as a global community, we should be protecting all people and taking responsibility for our negative impacts on others.

The result of the hardships brought on by changes in the environment, such as damage to farmland and oceans, has been more reliance on imported food. This is creating competition with local produce, introducing lower quality processed food into the community and further increasing the carbon footprint of the nation and the world, as sustainable local practices are replaced with global transport and industrial agriculture processes. Other nations may have caused these damaging consequences, and the deputy prime minister of Tuvalu had called on the UN for major polluters of the world to pay compensation for the economic impacts on the country that climate change has wrought, however the majority of funds come from foreign aid, licencing and sales of the top level domain name .tv which would be www.company.tv for example.

The situation is seen as an injustice by residents of Tuvalu and others concerned about the effects of climate change. Those who are feeling the unfavourable effects of climate change are they that seem to be contributing least to it. The people of Tuvalu have little western technological and urban developments and therefore are not contributing as much per capita as others in affluent western countries, and on top of this, they are aiming to rely solely on renewable energy by 2020. Tuvalu wishes to lead by example to other nations, and I would agree that there must be another way to live sustainably as a global village. The sobering thought is that it will take quite a while for Tuvalu to rely on renewable energy alone, without support from governments, industrial and business sectors, it seems an impossible task for all other countries to follow suite, at least at this present moment.

There are relocations strategies being discussed, however some countries simply want Tuvalan immigrants as labourers rather than simply relocating them. There is a conundrum, as the Tuvalu culture is closely linked to the sea, yet foreign oceanside land is expensive, and many Tuvalu residents do not want to move to another country. There is still time for the people of Tuvalu, and perhaps as they were requesting, corporations and governments contributing most to climate change could be forced to pay compensation to those affected by it.

There are also some factors which the people of Tuvalu must address in order to help the situation or prevent further damage. There has been mining of beaches and cutting down of trees which may contribute to island erosion. Some claim that sea levels are not rising at all, and it is simply the actions on the islands that have caused the detrimental effects, however other data is contrary to this theory. Because of this, both the local people of Tuvalu and the world as a whole both have a part to play in the preservation of this island nation.

In conclusion, though developed wealthy nations may not appear to noticeably experience the adverse effects of climate change, all people are responsible for the liberty and right of all people to live in their land, something which may be taken away from the people of Tuvalu. The actions of the past may be hard alleviated, but actions can be taken to reduce the impact on our environment and other countries. All people, governments and corporations that contribute to the factors leading to climate change are responsible for detrimental circumstances arising around the world such as what is happening in Tuvalu.

Reference List
Patel S. S. 2006. “Climate science: A sinking feeling” Nature 440 734-736.

Chambers A. F. and Chambers K. S. 2007. “Five Takes on Climate and Cultural Change in
Tuvalu” The Contemporary Pacific 19 (1): 294-306.

Terry C. 2009. “Tuvalu hopes solar project inspires climate talks; nation sets goal of 100
percent clean energy by 2020” AAAS.

Lusama T. 2011. “The Long View: Tuvalu a nation sinking as the world warms”  Private

2012. “Tuvalu” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

Pita A. 2007. “United Nations High Level Meeting on Climate Change – Tuvalu calls for
Climate Change Polluters to Pay”

2009. “Tuvalu: Economic overview and major challenges”