July 29, 2019

Pacific experiencing the realities of climate change, says expert

By Junior Oiofa

Climate change is real and many Pacific Island countries are experiencing this reality, says climate expert Dr Jale Samuwai.

Dr Samuwai became the first graduate to be awarded a PhD in climate change at The University of the South Pacific this year.

Speaking at the USP graduation ceremony in March this year, he said Pacific Island countries were at the front-line of the impact of climate change.

“Many low-lying atolls in the Pacific region like Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu among others are experiencing the same threat of global warming and sea level rise, which is very destructive to their lives,” he said.

“The change in whether patterns and seasonal harvesting of marine life are not following the normal patterns of the past. People are starting to experience abnormal tides and they are worried about what the damage the tide may cause to their properties.

I-Kiribati student at the University of the South Pacific, Katarina Botioa said their island was sinking and people were forced to move inland for safety reasons not knowing what the sea level would be like in the years to come.

“We also do community work like planting of mangroves around the island and building seawalls to protect our home and houses but the power of nature was stronger than the power of human,” Botioa said.

She said the Government and the people of Kiribati were trying their best to address the issue of climate change but they could not do this alone and needed global action to help strengthen their climate fight.

“Our people are suffering a lot from the impact of climate change. Our properties are being washed away demanding us to evacuate to places which do not belong to us. How can other people from different cultures accept us and allow us to live with them?” Botioa said.

Speaking to Wansolwara, Solomon Islander Samuel Kenini said his island atoll Ontong Java was also experiencing the same impact and was also on the verge of sinking.

“We continue to experience our shorelines and beaches being washed away, causing people to move inland and even settle on other islands,” he said.

“The impact of sea level rise is real and beyond our control.” Kenini said.

Junior Oiofa is a final-year journalism student at The University of the South Pacific’s Laucala campus. He is also the regional student editor of USP Journalism’s student training newspaper and online publication, Wansolwara

SOURCE: WANSOLWARA/PACNEWS
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