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Earth Hour Reminds Us of our Climate Change Obligations

Last Saturday we joined countries around the globe in observing Earth Hour, a worldwide movement organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The event here was led by
28 Mar 2017 11:08
Earth Hour Reminds Us of our Climate Change Obligations

Last Saturday we joined countries around the globe in observing Earth Hour, a worldwide movement organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The event here was led by our Climate Champion, Inia Seruiratu, the Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and National Disaster Management.

His message was that we must act with urgency to save our planet. It is particularly significant this year for us because of the leading roles we playing in the two major international events.

One is the United Nations Oceans Conference in New York in June which Fiji is co-hosting with Sweden.

The second is the COP23 summit on climate change in Bonn, Germany in November. Fiji is presiding. All our global concerns are brought to these forums about the protection of our oceans and climate change.

One thing that we cannot avoid is the fact that we are at the mercy of what nature throws at us. We have no control over that.

But what we do have control over is our contribution to ensure that we protect and preserve our environment as best as we possibly can.

Our oceans and their ecosystems are under threat by indiscriminate dumping of rubbish and over fishing. Pollution continues to harm them. It is slowly strangling them.

Over fishing caused by the commercial demand continues to be a major threat. A common story that one hears is that people have to travel further out to sea to catch fish. Gone were the days when they were able to catch fish near their homes.

This has been exacerbated by wild weather patterns caused by climate change. Global warming is gradually melting ice caps in the North and South poles causing sea level rise.

This warming is caused by carbon emissions from fossil fuel like coal and generally the atmospheric pollution in heavily industrialised countries.

In Fiji we can show the rest of the world that we are serious about climate by taking some concrete steps.

We can keep our environment clean by not littering. We sort of go hot and cold, not realising that every time we litter we threaten our environment and the health of our people.

We still see many vehicles, particularly some buses and trucks belching out thick smoke when they accelerate. Some of our factories are equally guilty.

Rules can be strengthened to ensure that it is not only wrong to be polluting the atmosphere but there would be a penalty to act as a deterrent.

All developments must strictly undergo environmental assessments to ensure minimal damage.

Over the years we have seen the effect of Climate Change on our rivers and coastal areas.

Erosion is a major problem. Fiji’s biggest river, the Rewa River, is getting wider because of it. Prime, fertile land is slowly being eaten away by the forces of nature: rain, winds and floods.

In fact the weather patterns have reshaped some of our landscapes.

Tropical Cyclone Winston was a stark reminder that we are indeed at the mercy of nature.

And we need to be prepared for the worst scenario. Fiji was lucky that Winston spared our tourism industry and other major industries.

The next time we may not be so lucky. The emphasis on including climate change in our economic planning cannot be taken lightly.

Our survival and the sustainability of our resources depend on how serious we take climate change.

 

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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