EDITORIAL : We Should Take Climate Change Seriously, Prepare For Possible Disaster
Latest weather watch shows there is a developing tropical disturbance over the Coral Sea to the south of the Solomon Islands.
Na Draki Weather says this disturbance is forecast to drift slowly southeast towards New Caledonia.
It says as the low moves closer to New Caledonia later this week winds will tend northeast to northerly bringing air from the equatorial zone down over Fiji, and as a consequence we can expect weather to become even more humid and unsettled over our part of the world.
There is another system, TD02F, near Cook Islands, is of no consequence to Fiji yet.
At the weekend the temperature soared. While it reminded us that summer is here, the early onset of warm and humid weather is indicative of the wild weather patterns we are facing. It’s not even December yet, when it normally gets warmer.
We have been reminded that because of climate change we could be getting some cyclones this cyclone season.
History shows that many cyclones, including Cyclone Winston, happen between the January to April period.
Because of the erratic weather movements who knows what could happen in December.
That’s something we have to brace ourselves for. Things could change in a matter of days.
Cyclone Winston gave us a stark reminder that anything can happen during this cyclone season. No one expected Cyclone Winston to be category five.
These developing weather patterns remind us of the threats that hang over us — that these wild weather movements could develop into those dreaded cyclones.
We live in fear of a direct hit on the whole of Fiji and its impact on our economy. Cyclone Winston devastated only parts of the country and fortunately spared our tourism industry and major urban centres including Suva.
Some of our people are still living in tents and waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. Another cyclone could be catastrophic and cause havoc and more misery.
We need to be all aware that this is the reality of the challenge that faces us today. That is why we must take climate change seriously.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has led the charge in the campaign on climate change. He has appealed to the developed and more affluent nations about their understanding and support of the climate change battle.
Many of these countries are big polluters and getting them to drastically reduce their carbon emissions is a constant struggle.
If these countries do what has been agreed in Paris, Marrakesh and to be agreed in COP23 in Bonn, Germany, next year, the global temperature will continue to drop from 2 degrees Celsius.
The global warming is responsible for rising sea levels now threatening coastal villages and settlements in Fiji and several small island states in the Pacific region.
The threat of cyclones and associated rain and floods, because of climate change, also hovers over the country.
It is estimated that the cost of damage from Cyclone Winston was $1 billion, more than 20 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $4.5 billion, calculated as of 2014 by the World Bank data.
That’s a big chunk but it’s remarkable how the economy has bounced back. The recovery demonstrates the robustness of our economy.
It is hoped, though, that as we recover we will not be hit again by another disaster which could be more damaging and a lot more difficult to recover from.
Those in control of climate change funding need to make this funding easily accessible to countries like Fiji to help build seawalls, relocate villages and settlements and other climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.
What we have learned is that we must continue to prepare ourselves for a possible disaster. That means climate change must be factored in all our development plans.
If we fail to do it, we are in for a rough ride.