Tuvalu’s Gruesome Animal Friends

Does the IPCC think Tuvalu will be the first island nation to disappear due to climate change – or has a gruesome art exhibit manufactured that claim?

click for image source

According to a recent press release, only one art exhibit was approved for display at the recent UN climate change talks in Doha, Qatar. Sponsored by the island nation of Tuvalu (population 10,000), it was created by Taiwanese artist Vincent J.F. Huang.

Featuring a suicidal political-protester penguin, its purpose was to draw attention to the fact that wild animals are affected by environmental changes.

Since every child learns this at her mother’s knee, there’s nothing in the least daring about such a message. Which is why Huang – an official member of the Tuvalu delegation to the climate talks -  apparently felt the need to go further.

A news article on the official climate conference website explains:

Visitors [to the exhibit booth] are encouraged to squeeze the handle of a petrol pump to power a miniature oil rig. On one end a guillotine descends into the bloodied neck of a Tuvalu sea turtle and on the other hangs a moribund polar bear. Made expressly for the event, the work is meant to show how climate change threatens the lives of tropical sea creatures and arctic wildlife at the same time. [backup link]

Profound, huh? I mean, really. If your kid produced this kind of “art” the school would be calling in psychological counsellors.


click for image source

But there’s a more serious angle to this story. The art exhibit press release claims that, in 2009, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that Tuvalu would be “the first country to be submerged” due to rising sea levels.

That claim is repeated in the news article on the conference website. But when I asked the distributors of the press release to direct me to “the IPCC document that makes this prediction” they were unable to do so.

Below is a cut-and-paste of the reply I received:

Hi Donna,
Here below are a few links to Tuvalu’s data. Vincent Huang was appointed as a Tuvalu delegate for COP18, I have included a few links to related coverage as well. Let me know if you would like to interview him or if you’d like any more info on his involvement with Tuvalu.

Tuvalu-related articles:

Vincent J.F. Huang- related articles:

I asked for an IPCC document reportedly released in 2009. Instead I was directed to four sources:

  1. a 2007 New York Times news story
  2. a “short research overview” prepared by freelance researcher/writer Moya K. Mason for a documentary film that aired on the Discovery Channel in early 2006 (it quotes the IPCC’s 2001 report)
  3. a 2002 article published in Outside, an outdoor recreation magazine
  4. a 2002 document about sea level change written by John R. Hunter. According to his homepage, this is an “unpublished technical report” rather than a peer-reviewed academic paper (see here and here).

In other words, all of these sources pre-date the supposed 2009 IPCC announcement. Only #2 and #4 even mention the IPCC. None comes close to supporting the claim contained in the press release.


screencap of official climate conference website

Perplexed, I’ve conducted some searches of my own on the IPCC’s website. My conclusion? If the IPCC has said Tuvalu will be the first to disappear due to climate change I can find no trace of it.

This claim appears to be a total fabrication.


A thoughtful piece about the climate change debate and Tuvalu appears on the Klimazwiebel blog here.

The full text of the press release, dated Dec. 3, 2012, appears here – along with additional photos.

On the final day of the Doha conference, a second art-exhibit-related press release was issued. See it here (backup link).



  • Pete Frost

    Equal pay for equal work sounds good on paper. I submit, however, that in the real world, if employers had their workers answer an anonymous poll, they would know its the males who do most of the heavy, dirty, or unpleasant tasks that need to be done, be it in an office or a combat unit, and they do it without complaint because thats what men do. Paying someone who operates a keyboard or in a classroom the same as a coal miner or a construction worker is hardly "equal."

    • Jean

      Hi, Pete.
      Poor choice of analogies – as I type a lot in my line of work (performance tester for computer systems – involves recording a script of user actions, then writing code to make ti work for multiple users at once. Think eBay or Yahoo, though I'm on smaller scale these days.)

      Not to brag, I make a good salary – better than most miners or construction workers, I'm sure, though certain skilled labor may be close. OTOH, I usually don't get OT, and even if I get paid for extra work, it's not OT pay, but straight pay.
      Point is, typing can be really important – like a programmer, tester, etc. I've also read that in several professions, women are paid MORE than men – engineering fields especially, since there are few women, and in order to meet EEOC requirements, a female engineer makes things look REAL good… Even better if she's hispanic or black. (Hey, how about we stop with the divisions? AMERICAN, please… Not Afro-Latino woman of color… You can almost HEAR the attitude in that hyphenated garbage. But that's commentary for another time.)

  • Virtue

    Does anyone here really think this Bill has ANYTHING to do with discrimination?

  • Gunner Retired

    It is no secret that men dominate the many skilled trades that are truly 'deadly' (if you doubt this, watch the line maintenance technicians that ride a helicopter to their jobs inspecting and maintaining high tension power lines that course with tens of thousands of volts even as they slide along these cables performing repairs), and that so many of these trades produce the highest incomes.
    It’s also no secret that men are the biggest losers in the current economy, losing jobs at a rate faster than Massa Obamy’s stimulus package can create jobs for women.
    < continued >

  • Gunner Retired

    Clear thinking people able to see beyond the rhetoric and engage whole concepts usually can, when they open their minds to the totality of the pay issue, quickly see that while a pay scale deviation can quickly be found between the trades and the professions… a gender pay deviation can not be found (unless it is invented?).

    Nevermind that Harvard recently discovered that women in the legal and medical professions can be seen to leave the workforce after 12 years (ostensibly to pursue dreams of a family?), whereas men in these professions can be seen still utilizing their pedigreed education decades into the future.
    < continued >

  • Gunner Retired

    A king crab fisherman in the Bering Sea can anticipate bringing in a hundred thousands dollars for a months work if luck favors him (or her?) if they can stand up to the 40+ hour work days on heaving, pitching, rolling decks where a misstep can pitch them into a freezing ocean where, once submerged, their life expectancy is measured in mere minutes… or an arm in the wrong place at the wrong time seals their doom as they’re dragged to a watery grave by a thousand pound crab pot.

    Now do these workers deserve the same pay scale as a 9 to 5 (with an hour for lunch) file clerk in an air conditioned officeplex on Market St surrounded by OSHA mandated safety devices and warning placards maintained by an OSHA mandated repair force?
    I think not.
    Gunner Retired