Presentation on theme: "EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON PACIFIC ISLANDS by Imogen P. Ingram."— Presentation transcript:
EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON PACIFIC ISLANDS by Imogen P. Ingram
I come from the Cook Islands group, which is in the South-West Pacific, one hour airplane flight west of Tahiti Rarotonga Island Aitutaki Island LOCATION OF THE COOK ISLANDS
VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE I believe that the climate change issues for the Cook Islands are similar to those in other Pacific Islands In the Cook Islands, the Southern Group islands are high volcanic islands, with peaks up to 2,000 feet high and a coastal plain The Northern Group islands are coral atolls made up of circular sand cays around a lagoon These 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.
There is a cooling trend of about 0.2°C culminating around 1900 Evidence for the Southern Hemisphere is quite sparse It is likely that like the Northern Hemisphere that the 1990s was the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year From IPCC, 2001 CLIMATE CHANGE TRENDS
EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS
Key Messages about Climate Change Effects cont’d The most striking effect of these climate changes will be experienced by Pacific Small Island States as hurricanes (also Known as cyclones or typhoons).
EFFECT ON A HOUSE IN NIUE ISLAND OF CYCLONE HETA DECEMBER 2003
OTHER PACIFIC COUNTRIES AFFECTED Other neighbouring islands like Samoa and Fiji have also been hit by hurricanes in the past 5 years During March 2004, Vanuatu was hit by a cyclone which did tremendous damage to the infrastructure there Our colleague yesterday spoke of the typhoons that regularly strike Taiwan and countries nearby Just last week, Japan was hit by a severe cyclone, resulting in the deaths of many people, and severe damage from high winds, flooding and sea surge
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 change Residents of Small Island States can take steps to reduce risks such as those associated with sea surge and heavy flooding Future development needs to be carefully planned so that climate-related risks are not worsened
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 change The 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.
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.
FUTURE ACTION TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE cont’d When asked, Cook Islands communities have said that their main concerns about climate change are salt intrusion into ground water and changing rainfall patterns Rainwater harvesting using individual household water tanks is seen as the most effective and rapid response to these concerns
FUTURE ACTION TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE Capture of rainwater will become increasingly important, especially for the atolls in the Northern Group Finance for water tanks will need to be sought For the high Southern Group islands, authorities need to minimise leakages from mains water systems For both types of islands, use of hydroponics for agriculture helps to cope with salt intrusion into ground water and to conserve water during droughts Change bank housing loan policies so that water tanks are mandatory Desalinisation plants are available but at a major cost, and Funding would have to be sourced Education and awareness about water conservation would have to be on-going
CONCLUSION It 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 events THANK YOU FOR LISTENING!