Where we are and where we will be

Where we are and where we will be
The idea of Edinburgh is a combination of place, soul and symbolic leadership of a nation

Friday, 5 September 2008

A modern day parable

A true story for those sad souls who think global warming is not happening or that even if it is, it's nothing to do with us and so we should not respond. It may be set a long way away but the way we ignore anther's cry for help is the day we do damage to our own lives

Soccer net at the end of the runway - in the world's smallest nation By Kim Cain

Funafuti, Tuvalu, 4 September (ENI)--As most of the world was lauding gold medal winners in August under the ancient Olympic slogan of "fastest, highest, strongest", life in the smallest nation on earth, Tuvalu, drifted on normally. It sent pretty much the slowest, lowest and
weakest team to the games.

Not surprisingly none of Tuvalu's three-person Olympic team won a medal, but the nation itself has a bigger race to win - the race for survival.

Tuvalu is in a beautiful backwater of the Pacific where life is very slow. Barring the Vatican City State, Tuvalu is the world's smallest nation, and far from being high - it is the world's lowest nation.

The highest point in Tuvalu is 1.5 metres (five feet) above sea level. All nine islands that make up the nation are in danger of being swept away by rising tides caused by climate change.

Yet, even as each Olympic day in Beijing heralded a new batch of gold for the great athletes, in "slow, low, weak Tuvalu" young people stepped out to play their sport. Come dawn each morning the nation's only airstrip, one constructed by the U.S. Air Force to ward off Japanese control of the South Seas in the Second World War, becomes home for a host of sporting activities.

Here on the tarmac, before it gets too hot, young people play volleyball, some run laps along the length of the landing strip, and several soccer games are under way. In fact, most are playing the "world game". At the very end of the runway a soccer net catches the early
morning rays as the sun rises over the pristine, Pacific waters.

There is nothing between this little island and Peru thousands of miles away to the East, but the soccer net stands there as if to catch any old soccer ball - or errant aircraft - lest they slip into the waves that pound the coral shore.

Yet Tuvalu is in terrible danger of slipping below those same tropical waters due to climate change. No soccer net will save it.

A person can walk the width of Funafuti Island, the biggest and most populated of the Tuvalu group. It takes just 687 steps to cross the country - including the airstrip. At another point all but a sliver of bitumen road separates the open ocean waves on one side from the lagoon
that shelters the island on the other. It's a nation that is literally a matter of metres wide.

If just being so small and surviving is not hard enough, it's as if the rest of the world is ready to hand out flippers and snorkels to the entire population - as if the fight is already over.

Almost everyone internationally, it seems, has given up saving Tuvalu - if they know where it is, that is. But that is not how Tuvaluans see it.

Government, Church and the people want Tuvalu to survive. They have plans. They have hopes. They have ideas on how they can survive. And they are in demand at every international forum on climate change you can imagine. But they can't themselves make any of the changes needed to save anyone - themselves or us. Only the powerful polluting nations can do that.

It is as if "the weak, the low, the slow" have to change the strong, the fast, the high-and-mighty nations so everyone can survive. The question is, "Does size really matter"?

At what point does the world actually say to the 12 000 Tuvaluans: "Your nation, your language, your culture" can be sacrificed for the convenience of the Western world's material comfort?

And by what measure does the world say, "you are too small to survive? You are disposable. You, tiny Tuvalu, can sink - start swimming. But there will be no gold medals!"

Then there is the other option. What would happen if the people from the "fastest, highest strongest" nations understood that if together we were to save Tuvalu from the worst impact of climate change, we would be saving ourselves, too. Maybe we can be the soccer net Tuvalu needs.

1 comment:

Ching said...

very good article on climate change.

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