Ask the people of Tuvalu, a small island nation in the South Pacific, what they think about climate change and many of them will simply point to their disappearing shoreline. Only three feet above sea level, the island has suffered in the wake of rising waters -- and even went so far as to sue the Bush administration for their refusal to do anything about carbon emissions. As MNN's Shea Gunther wrote earlier this year, even GoDaddy added a warning to sales of the .TV domain (for Tuvalu) since the island is "sinking".

Instead of just leaving, however, Tuvalu's 12,000 residents have decided to fight back. The world's fourth-smallest nation recently announced that it would power the entire island with 100 percent solar energy by 2020. The ambitious project is expected to only cost around $20 million (not bad for an entire nation -- but still a hefty $1,666 per resident!) and serve as a model of sustainbility for the rest of the world.

"There may be other larger solar power installations in the world, but none could be more meaningful to customers than this one," said Takao Shiraishi, general manager of the Kansai Electric Power Company that helping implement the project.

"The plight of Tuvalu versus the rising tide vividly represents the worst early consequence of climate change. For Tuvalu, after 3,000 years of history, the success of U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen this December may well be a matter of national survival," he said in a press statement.

Obviously, taking an island only 10 square miles large and hooking it up to clean energy will do little to help slow rapidly increasing carbon emissions. However, inspiration comes in many flavors and watching one nation fight back for its very survival against climate change is truly awesome. Let's hope their plight -- and stalwart resolute to make to stand -- makes an impression this December in Copenhagen.


Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Tuvalu plans to be first 100% solar-powered nation
South Pacific island sets ambitious goal to harness sun for more than just tourism.