THEME: ISLANDS & ENVIROONMENTAL CONCERNS (ClimateChange)

ISLANDS OF THE WORLD VIII
Changing Islands - Changing Worlds
November 1-7 2004, Kinmen Island, Taiwan

PACIFIC ISLANDS ALREADY AFFECTED BY GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

by Ms Imogen P. Ingram
Taporoporoanga Ipukarea Society Inc.
Rarotonga, Cook Islands (South Pacific)

Mailing address: P O Box 649, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS
Tel: (682) 21-144 Fax: (682) 22-128 email: imogen@oyster.net.ck

 

ABSTRACT

The effect of global warming is now being felt in every aspect of the lives of people who live in the Pacific. Reliable statistics now show that the western Pacific is becoming progressively drier while the eastern Pacific is becoming progressively wetter.

Where once we could expect steady rainfall throughout the year, we now receive most of our rainfall in a short periods, often resulting in floods. These floods, followed by droughts, ruin our food supplies and hurricanes leave us without crops for up to three months. They also cause sedimentation in our lagoons.

Severe weather events like hurricanes are occurring more frequently. Tourism, which plays an increasingly important part in island economies, is always adversely affected by reports of hurricanes. Black-pearl farms are also damaged by warmer sea temperatures and sedimentation.

Storm surges and sea level rise result in saltwater contamination of our groundwater, making it unsuitable for crop irrigation. The changes in air and water temperature change the way the ocean currents flow, affecting the migration of deep-water fish, our staple food. Warmer temperatures favour invasive plant species and disease-bearing insects. Vector-borne illnesses are on the rise. Warmer sea temperatures are destroying our coral reefs, which have served in many islands as a natural breakwater.

We urgently need to implement projects that will help us adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. We in the Pacific have been among the first to suffer the effects of procrastination over climate change, even though we contribute relatively little to the production of greenhouse gases. We ask that the expertise of more developed countries be harnessed to work with our intimate knowledge of our region in order to reduce the effects of climate change.

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See the corresponding powerpoint presentation