Presentation on theme: "EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON PACIFIC ISLANDS by Imogen P. Ingram"— Presentation transcript:
1 EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON PACIFIC ISLANDS by Imogen P. Ingram
2 LOCATION OF THE COOK ISLANDS I come from the Cook Islands group, which is in the South-West Pacific, one hour airplane flight west of TahitiRarotonga IslandAitutaki Island
3 VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE I believe that the climate change issues for the Cook Islands are similar to those in other Pacific IslandsIn the Cook Islands, the Southern Group islands are high volcanic islands, with peaks up to 2,000 feet high and a coastal plainThe Northern Group islands are coral atolls made up of circular sand cays around a lagoonThese differences in geography mean that the problems will be different, and that the ways in which residents can try to lessen the effects of climate change will be different.
4 CLIMATE CHANGE TRENDSThere is a cooling trend of about 0.2°C culminating around 1900Evidence for the Southern Hemisphere is quite sparseIt is likely that like the Northern Hemisphere that the 1990s was the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest yearFrom IPCC, 2001
5 EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS Slide #15: Extreme Weather EventsIncreases in extreme weather events, like heat waves and hurricanes and floods, are not proof of global warming. And yet they are the kind of event that scientists believe could become more frequent and more intense in a warmer world.In 1998 alone, the damage from extreme weather was significant:Hurricane Mitch caused at least 11,000 deaths in Central America.The 1998 winter ice storm in Canada and New England cost $2.5 billion in damages.According to a study conducted by federal scientists, El Niño years, which involve a shift in ocean currents and wind patterns in the Pacific Ocean and consequent weather changes throughout the world, may become even stronger as a result of global warming. The federal scientists found that over the past century, El Niño years have become more frequent and warmer.15
6 Key Messages about Climate Change Effects cont’d The most striking effect of these climate changes will be experienced by PacificSmall Island States as hurricanes (alsoKnown as cyclones or typhoons).
7 EFFECT ON A HOUSE IN NIUE ISLAND OF CYCLONE HETA DECEMBER 2003
8 OTHER PACIFIC COUNTRIES AFFECTED Other neighbouring islands like Samoa and Fiji have also beenhit by hurricanes in the past 5 yearsDuring March 2004, Vanuatu was hit by a cyclone which didtremendous damage to the infrastructure thereOur colleague yesterday spoke of the typhoons that regularly strikeTaiwan and countries nearbyJust last week, Japan was hit by a severe cyclone, resulting inthe deaths of many people, and severe damage from high winds,flooding and sea surge
9 Key Messages about Climate Change Effects cont’d But we will also experience other changes which may be less dramatic but just as dangerous, in the form of longer drought periods, and more marked rainy periods.The consequences are already very high, and will likely increase markedly as a result of climate changeResidents of Small Island States can take steps to reduce risks such as those associated with sea surge and heavy floodingFuture development needs to be carefully planned so that climate-related risks are not worsened
10 FUTURE ACTION TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS Pacific Small Island States do not put out significant amounts of the greenhouses gases which contribute so greatly to climate changeThe accession by the Russian government (and others) to the UN Framework for the Convention on Climate Change has meant that this Convention has at last come into force.This is a first step towards possible reduction of these greenhouse gases, and hopefully a first small step towards reversing the trend.
11 FUTURE ACTION TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE Perhaps of more relevance to the residents of most Pacific Small Island States is the need to adapt in order to lessen the effects of future severe weather events.The first step is to increase awareness amongst the communities of what climate change will mean with regard to their homes and lifestyles.People need to be informed about what practical steps can be taken to adapt their homes.This might include siting new buildings well away from the seashore, or building raised houses in flood-prone areas.Existing buildings can be strengthened by adding cyclone-resistant fixings for roofs or walls at comparatively little extra cost.
12 FUTURE ACTION TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE cont’d When asked, Cook Islands communities havesaid that their main concerns about climatechange are salt intrusion into ground water andchanging rainfall patternsRainwater harvesting using individual householdwater tanks is seen as the most effectiveand rapid response to these concerns
13 FUTURE ACTION TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE Capture of rainwater will become increasingly important, especially for the atolls in the Northern GroupFinance for water tanks will need to be soughtFor the high Southern Group islands, authorities need to minimise leakages from mains water systemsFor both types of islands, use of hydroponics for agriculturehelps to cope with salt intrusion into ground water and to conserve water during droughtsChange bank housing loan policies so that water tanks are mandatoryDesalinisation plants are available but at a major cost, andFunding would have to be sourcedEducation and awareness about water conservation would have to be on-going
14 CONCLUSIONIt is not useful to talk about the future as all “doom and gloom”.It is important to make the community aware that taking these steps to adapt homes and lifestyles to climate change will help to lessen the damage from future climate eventsTHANK YOU FOR LISTENING!