Climate change, previously referred to as global warming, has been widely debated but there is now widespread agreement that it is very real. Its impact is affecting everything from global food production to coastal property sales.
For the people of Takuu the effects of climate change are obviously very personal and direct. Sea-level rise is killing their gardens and eating into their coastline. This puts pressure on their culture as more people stop traditional activities and decide to leave the island for opportunities elsewhere if they can get them.
As the effects of climate change progress and sea-level rises, floods like the one Takuu experiences in There Once was an Island will become much more common. This is because when cold sea water coming from the South pole surfaces near the equator, it combines with air which is warmer than before and this creates stronger cyclones and hurricanes. As sea-levels rise these storms make bigger waves than before, putting atolls like Takuu in a dangerous position. More big storms and stronger waves will make it impossible for the community to continue living there and when they move they’ll be forced to leave their culture behind.
The Takuu community is in a particularly precarious position. A Polynesian outlier contained within Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, there is little political will or resource available to help. And only recently a man from another Pacific island had his application for climate change refugee status rejected by the New Zealand government.
The Takuu community are facing the growing threat with their eyes open but it is hard to say what the future holds.