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    How to save a drowning nation

    Tuvalu is expected to be the first nation to disappear under the Pacific Ocean, because of rising ocean levels caused by global warming. The prime minister doesn’t seem too concerned. He has a plan.

    Tavalu, a full member of the United Nations, is one of the world’s smallest countries. Its 10,000 people live on nine tiny scattered Pacific islands, just south of the equator. Funafuti is the largest of these atolls. It has a highway that stretches the length of the island, a distance of seven miles; a single 16-room motel, and no building higher than three stories.

    Climatologists expect Tavula to be uninhabitable as early as 2050, and completely underwater by the end of the century.

    Brooklyn writer Andew Marantza visited the island. His findings, including an interview with Prime Minister Maatia Toafa, were reported in the December, 2011 issue of Harper’s Magazine. One portion of the interview with the prime minister went like this:

    “I asked what solution he proposed to the issue that his entire country might be underwater in fifty years.

    “He said he would consider ‘bringing in some mountains from somewhere, so we can have a higher elevation.’

    “‘Mountains? I asked.

    “‘Sure,’ he said.

    “’Where would the mountains come from?’

    “‘Well,’ he said, ‘we’ll ask around.’”

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