The country of Tuvalu sits in between Australia and Hawaii on a thin chain of coral islands. At its widest point, the country is less than a third of a mile -- an area rapidly shrinking due to sea level rise. In the last few decades, Tuvalu has experienced six inches of rise; by the end of the century, its government predicts that the small island nation will be swallowed whole. With the prospect of losing culture, sovereignty, and community, George Siosi Samuels, a Tuvaluan descendent and blockchain expert, created a plan to help Tuvalu retain its statehood. By using blockchain technology in the event the island goes underwater, the technology could potentially be transformed to maintain Tuvalu’s economic assets and allow the government, if displaced, to perform many of its functions and duties digitally and remotely.
Guardian: Tuvalu minister gives Cop26 speech while standing knee deep in seawater, November 8, 2021.
Why This Matters
Blockchain technology, in its nature, is very difficult to hack or modify so it is ideal for banking and governmental activities. In the scenario, if Tuvalu and its citizens are uprooted, the government could potentially continue operating and preserve its independence through a digitized economy. A digital blockchain national ledger would allow a record to be kept of existing citizens and facilitate the formation of a digital currency that future generations could use to recreate the nation.
Tuvalu’s former secretary of finance, Karlos Lee Moresi, says that this technology "provides the opportunity to continue [Tuvalu’s] existence,” because there are “still economic resources [and] natural resources around the maritime boundary that can benefit Tuvalu’s citizens wherever they may be.”
Island Nations Bear The Brunt Of Inaction
Pacific island nations are among the most vulnerable to climate change due to rapidly rising sea levels and more frequent and intense storms. Officials in Pacific nations report significant setbacks to residents’ livelihoods because of severe marine and coral dieoff, beach erosion, and seawater inundation that is killing croplands. Unfortunately, large nations like the EU, US, and Canada are among those contributing vast amounts of global carbon emissions and condemning small island states to bear the brunt of climate change effects. A 2019 IPCC report, projected for the first time, that many of these island countries will be uninhabitable by the end of this century due to climate change consequences.
Guardian: One of the greatest injustices': Pacific islands on the frontline of the climate crisis, Oct 25, 2021.
"What the islands need in addition to adaptation assistance are strong commitments and real action from the countries that are the biggest emitters," says Victoria Keener, a climate change research fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu.
Robin Hood: "This is Loss and Damage - Who Pays" narrated by Mark Strong, September 23, 2021.
Ranking Charts: Top 10 Polluting Countries by CO2 Emissions (1840-2021), December 26, 2021.
Soleil Foy is an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is particularly interested in social-ecological interactions in coastal and marine environments and has spent time researching coastal ecology in the Gulf of Maine and Panama. She has also contributed to a publication on a transmission control strategy for the novel West Nile virus.