Limiting damages of climate change - Solomon Star News

Limiting damages of climate change

12 September 2019

DEAR EDITOR – The message that emerged from the leaders of the smaller Pacific islands countries at the recent Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tuvalu could not have been clearer or more important – climate change is real and the future of our children and all the children of the blue Pacific is uncertain – unless urgent, ambitious action is taken to limit global warming to below 1.5C.

Last year, Pacific Islands Forum leaders reaffirmed, through the Boe Declaration on Regional Security, that climate change was the single greatest threat facing the region.

At their 50th meeting in Tuvalu, the leaders discussed this threat and resolved, by consensus, to take urgent action.

Following their meeting, leaders issued the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now.

A couple of weeks ago In Iceland, officials and researchers, including Iceland's Prime Minister, attended a 'funeral" at the site of the country's lost glazier, known as the Okjokull glacier, due to climate change having lost all its ice cover.

A bronze plaque was mounted during the ceremony as a memorial on the bare rock that has been left exposed by the vanished glacier.

Skeptics said the loss of the ice was due to the natural process of warming that has been occurring over centuries.    Climate scientists and those most affected by climate change in the Pacific know better to than to agree with skeptics.

 Sadly what has occurred in Iceland with the loss of the iceberg is just the beginning.

 Renowned climate scientists and researchers are warning that hundreds of other glaziers in Iceland could share the same fate if the situation remains unchecked.  

Currently, glaciers cover nearly 11% of the country's total surface area. However, the ice is melting away at an unprecedented rate of approximately 11 billion tons every year, and as a result, almost 400 glaciers in the subarctic island could go extinct within the next 200 years. 

The situation in Iceland prompted Rachana Gupta to write in China News about climate change and its effects and her comments and observations are worth quoting.   This is what she wrote on 1 September 2019.


"The accelerated glacial melting could alter climate patterns in astonishing and complex ways. 

“Glaciers' white surfaces reflect the sun's rays, which aids in keeping the Earth's atmosphere mild. 

“However, the bare land uncovered by the glaciers' disappearance absorbs and releases more heat into the atmosphere, thus causing the temperature of the planet to spike, as well as causing thermal expansion of seawater.  

"Reportedly, this phenomenon isn't new, as the average sea level has been rising globally since the beginning of the 20th century and has increased by 16-21 centimeters between 1900 and 2016. 

“The thermal expansion of water accounts for 42% of the rise in sea level between 1993 and 2018, while the melting of temperate glaciers, Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets account for 21%, 15%, and 8% respectively.

"Climate scientists have warned that an increase in global temperature of just 1.5 degrees Celsius could result in a rise in sea-level between 1.7 and 3.2 feet by 2100. 

"A temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius could be catastrophic for the planet, potentially exposing at least 570 cities with around 800 million people to extreme floods and storm surges, as well as severe land shortages and degradation of agricultural lands. 

“This could, in turn, trigger food shortages and elevated food prices, thereby leading to social unrest in society.”

Aside from the human population, marine ecosystems stand to be severely affected due to the rise in temperature of the planet's bodies of water.

"Looking at the detrimental ramifications of climate change, warming and rapidly rising sea levels, it is increasingly essential that people, businesses and government agencies across the globe be proactive and make rigorous efforts to discover more innovative solutions. 

“This is crucial if we are to save the planet's ecosystems and human and animal populations.”

Few, if any, in the Pacific Islands nations will disagree with Ms Gupta's warning on climate change and urgently await the proactive and rigorous efforts to bring some substantial change to the plight of those Pacific Islands already drowning from rising sea levels.

Frank Short
Bangkok, Thailand