“ONE canary in the climate-change coalmine may have just quietly fallen from her perch. The tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has declared a state of emergency after a fresh water shortage forced it to shutter its schools and hospitals and begin water rationing across the country. Observers blame the shortage on the changing weather patterns and rising sea levels associated with climate change—and warn they could be a sign of things to come for the whole region.
“Climate scientists have linked the episode to a weather event known as La Niña, which has brought with it a punishing drought. Families who already rely almost solely on rainwater have been rationed to two buckets per day. The Red Cross and the New Zealand Defence Force have flown in water and desalination machines, but even so the government warns that Tuvalu has less than five days’ drinking water left.
“Even worse: nearby Samoa, which has a population 15 times that of Tuvalu and Tokelau combined, has begun to ration water in parts of its territory for the same reasons. The freshwater crisis racking the region, which The Red Cross calls “dire, with rain not expected for the next couple of months”, shows no signs of abating and every indication of spreading throughout the region’s fragile eco-system.”
Read more: The Economist