DEAR EDITOR, back in 2006 there were some Pacific Islanders whom viewed the then predicted climate change scenarios as being too alarmist and far away to accept that sea water inundation of their land would become the stark reality that it is today in 2018.
Now many of the small Pacific Islands states have experienced waves washing over the land and roads, coconut trees partly submerged, crop land swept away or rendered unusable because of the encroaching saltwater, homes destroyed and habitat once flourishing under water.
A reporter from the Island Sun newspaper went to Marau on the eastern tip of Guadalcanal’s coastline last week and came back with a first- hand account of what he witnessed when visiting Vuravura village. His story is recounted in the Sun’s Monday edition and tells of coconut palms having been totally destroyed on an inundated area of outstretched land as a consequence of sea level rise over recent years.
A village elder apparently told the visiting reporter that in the 1990s, the beach stretched more than 50 meters to the sea but not anymore and the swamp taro plants located several meters off the shoreline are already dying due to the salt water intrusion.
The Marau situation is being replicated across the Western Pacific with many similar stories coming from Tuvalu, Fiji, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, the Cook Islands and Samoa.
It is being claimed that the ocean could swallow Tuvalu whole, making it the first country to be wiped off the map by global warming.
The region is already facing a host of problems that environmentalists say are being worsened by climate change: shortages of potable water, anaemic economies propped up by foreign aid, disease, dependence on sugar-packed, processed food imports, to mention a few.
And there are health problems like obesity and diabetes exacerbated by such food imports. The World Health Organization has found that the South Pacific is the world’s most overweight region.
It is known that the Solomon Islands Government is already working with several Non-government Organisations and multilateral partners, including the UNDP, SPREP and the GEF to build up resilience to combat the dramatic impact of climate change impacted on the Solomon Islands.
One must really hope that much will be done in terms of government planning and regional and agency cooperation (and gaining access to funding) to provide a bastion against the ever encroaching sea that is already threatening the lives and futures of so many Solomon Islanders.