For those in the United States who actually believe in climate change, we tend to speak of it as an existential threat. Sure, its menace can be measured by analyzing increases in sea level heights, temperatures and the rate of glacial ice melts, but the phenomenon remains just that: an abstraction, something currently unfelt by us, and therefore something unknown.
The same cannot be said for Tuvalu, an island nation in the south Pacific. A symbol of the unequal impacts of climate change, Tuvalu is just one of 22 South Pacific island states, which approximately seven million people call home.
Together, these nations emit a mere .06 percent of global greenhouse gases, whose extended presence in the atmosphere contributes to the planet’s increasing warmth. And yet, these individuals are reported as being three times more vulnerable to climate change than their Northern peers. Indeed, experts have estimated that by 2050, Tuvalu will be uninhabitable.
Watch as Panos Pictures explores the very real, very human impacts of climate change — an irrevocable loss of land, but also of language, culture and history — happening now in the South Pacific.