180°, Tuvalu

Longitudinal Installation by Xavier Cortada

“Tuvalu is the first victim of global warming.”

— Koloa Talake, former prime minister

Tuvalu is an independent island nation located in the south of the Pacific Ocean. With their highest point being 16 feet above sea level, the people of Tuvalu and their government are concerned about the effect global warming will have on their set of islands. In the early 2000s, the people already noticed the sea waters clouding and the abundance of coral dying near the beaches. The extensive coral reef that surrounds Tuvalu’s islands protects the land from strong tides in the ocean, but with an abrupt rise of sea level, the reef will die and leave the islands exposed to the bare ocean. The ocean has direct contact with the Tuvalu lands, so farming would also be highly affected since farmlands would become poisoned with saltwater, negatively affecting a living necessity that the whole population depends on.

A 2018 study of all of the pacific islands of Tuvalu has given hope to its people. It reported a 2.9% increase in land for Tuvalu and that coral reefs have been adapting to sea-level rise, providing people with more time and land to plan for the future. If sea level was kept at the current speed for the rest of the century, the islands and coral reef would be able to keep up with the changes, however, global warming and sea-level rise are only expected to grow in speed and effect. The resilience of nature has given Tuvalu and the UN time to create a plan of action that will aid these islands with what will only become a greater sea complication.