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An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth
May 27
11:00 2017

About 30 years ago in Australia we were all being told about the risks to our health from a hole in the Ozone layer caused by the use of aerosol products because the propellant used at that time was ozone depleting as it rose into the stratosphere above the country.

No-one had ever heard of the ozone layer, a section of the upper atmosphere which, we were told, filtered the Sun’s ultra violet rays and protected us from cancer causing skin damage. The type of cancer was Melanoma and it was dangerous and often deadly.

Many of us read the warnings in the papers while lying on the beach sunbathing (a favourite Australian hobby) and we would put the paper down and roll over to brown the other side. Very few people took notice and even less cared. Today this type of cancer is a major cause of death.

In 2006, the ex Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, presented a slide show titled “An Inconvenient Truth”, which was later made into a documentary and widely circulated.            This set out the latest science on so called “Global Warming” and more importantly, showed many clear examples of the effects of this problem.

We all talked about the documentary, we all discussed the quality of the production, but again almost everyone ignored the message. But finally the effects of Climate Change made it impossible to ignore.

The whole world is being negatively affected.


What does this mean for Fiji?

For Fiji, the risks are great and our government has been one of the leaders in the efforts to motivate the worldwide action that will be required if any effective action to reduce the damage is to happen.                   In Fiji we are already seeing the extreme weather (Cyclone Winston) and the exaggerated rain and dry periods predicted, we are seeing the rise of sea levels and the damage to food sources and there is real activity.

Fiji has taken the lead in the international arena and so far the responses are effective. While no-one will be spared the impact of Climate Change, in Fiji the tourism industry, the single biggest industry in the country and the source of large contributions to the economy will be very much at risk.

The beautiful tropical environment with lush forests, clear sparkling streams, mountain lakes with plentiful fish life and dramatic volcanic mountains all work together to provide the tourist with a memorable experience.

On the coast the crustal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean, the plentiful and often spectacular fish life and the secluded and unspoilt coves and beaches all add to the experience. But all this depends on the environment and any changes that affect the beauty and appeal would have a definite affect on the performance of the industry in terms of growth in numbers currently predicted for the future.

And we can be sure that there will be changes created by the impact of the current cycles because of the impact of various factors, almost all manmade.

The world (or almost all the world) has finally accepted that climate change is a reality and that it is caused by the activities of humans.


So there is hope, embodied in the deliberations and decisions of the COP23 meeting in Paris and all of the different activities generated by the Paris Agreement.

The world leaders are continuing to focus in the many issues that make up the problem.

For example, the just held the World Oceans Conference is turning international attention to the sad deterioration of seas all over the world and that can only be good for Fiji.



The tourism industry is well aware of the issues of climate change and its potential to directly impact the tourist numbers and they have already taken steps to address certain issues but at the moment, there is no coordination, with each resort basically doing their own thing.

Sometimes the action is very effective and well planned and at others it is misdirected or insular. One of the leading examples I am aware of is the Outrigger Resort, where the concept of mitigation is well founded and not only applies to the property, but to areas outside that can be reached and assisted by actions controlled by the Resort.

The industry needs to look at the old way of operating and make changes industry wide.

There are many issues that need to be addressed, and while I am no expert I am aware that the laundry function carried out in-house by many of the island resorts allows dangerous levels of detergent chemicals to enter the ocean, particularly phosphates.

A number of resorts have laundry done professionally on the mainland, shipping soiled linen over each night while others have changed the chemicals they use in washing to minimise damage.

Most resorts burn waste and this releases carbon into the atmosphere, chemicals used for insect control do enter the sea and damage the reef systems and organic replacements for the mineral based brands are available.

Solar generation is helpful and many other practices can be changes to assist in mitigation.

There is a strong will to be part of the solution and, as an industry, tourism is getting its act together.

With all the activity at a worldwide level, with prominent and respected people involved there is a risk, particularly in Fiji, that we as individuals will sit back and expect the problem to be solved at the top level.


Manmade problems

But remember, Climate Change and its sister Global Warming are manmade problems and that means that each human, being involved in creating the problem, has an obligation to try to fix the problem. And each person can make a difference, in fact, has to make a difference. Change the way you do things, use organic fertiliser and insecticides instead of the damaging mineral based brands, reduce the levels of waste you create, recycle where possible, keep burning of rubbish and garden waste to a minimum, ensure your vehicles don’t emit visible gas, use water wisely, seek out environmentally friendly products, resist supporting brands that are damaging the world you live in and let businesses know that you will not support them if they pollute.

And, when you get a chance, Google “An Inconvenient Truth” and refresh your understanding of the message Al Gore sent us eleven years ago. Because now is the time for you to make a difference.





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