Climate change: the lament of a people - Solomon Star News

Climate change: the lament of a people

17 June 2016
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ALLOW me to retell a familiar experience of my brothers and sisters living on the artificial islands in the happy isles in a situation we’re stunned and marvel as effects of climate change take its tolls.

From the outset, the issue about climate change is its enormity, too big that, the rest of humanity could virtually do nothing about.

Sadly, continents stand accused for the human footprint that causes earth’s devastations after giving birth to billions of lives.

Throughout history, the sharp distinction between an island and continent is irreconcilable.

Islands are too small that they can easily be referred to as a dot on the world’s map even when human beings are occupying them.

By contrast, continents are huge, but, a place where human beings master minded by greed are selfishly indulged at the expense of earth’s destructions.

A sharp distinction between human ingenuity and the works of God the creator is further escalated.

The Creator brought forth life by the word of his mouth, while, human beings used every stuff of the earth by their own creation to recreate the irreversible creation of the creator.

Climate change for people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer is “the world come of age”.

It is irreversible because of our human ingenuities or human centeredness to think only of ourselves.

The ecological crises and the suffering around the globe to say the least isn’t about what God saw and he was pleased.

Climate change is the result of humanity’s claim as if we know better, but, failed at the expense of our own desperations to find solutions to a broken and shattered earth we recreate at our own demise.

Consequently, the entire globe is a defaced world God sees and grieved.

Small island states are called on to mitigate or lessen the crisis, but how?  If anyone should say my people are not ingenuous. Listen to this.

Human ingenuity had given my people the strength to construct human made islands in the shallow lagoons of the Solomons.

I personally, live my entire life in one of those human made islands in the Baegu/Asifolae before climate change the uninvited guest intrudes my people’s sanity and forced us to take irrevocable choices.

As if we were enticed by a dream, the rising sea level is a reality unjustly struck at the very core of my people’s sanity.

It denies our dignity to live just as it destroyed our vulnerable homes and left us homeless. Once my people were warriors, now we’re but a displaced uprooted people.

Along our beautiful Lau lagoon, human made islands are washed, destroyed to their cores, uninhabited, deserted and ruined by Mother Nature.

Unlike the frigate birds in the sky forced by the high tide and return when the tide is low, my people are uprooted and flogged unjustly by the effects of climate change and never to return to where they once lived.

Environmentalists and Governments ask my people to mitigate climate change.

Mitigate what? How can anyone shut an opening in the haul of a sinking boat?

Aren’t my people are champions of mitigations from time immemorial?

For centuries my people were able to mitigate before and the aftermath of cyclones, earth quakes, random tidal waves and fire not rising sea level.

Climate change is an open, unpredictable, ferocious insanity brought about by Mother Nature.

Its effects, mirrored in rising sea level and oceanographic disturbances caused by ice caps shrinking in the North Pole are all impossibilities my people could virtually do nothing about.

From the low lying atolls of Anuta to Choiseul in the north climate change has uprooted peoples and pristine shorelines.

The effect of climate change isn’t a pending horror. It is real just as peoples have become displaced victims among friends and neighbours.       

The laments of the victims of climate change desperate and emotionally in search of a place to settle are many. One neighbour shared this story.

In trying to maintain my dignity I set out in a collision course. I went to my next door neighbour whom I shared food and water.

He lives on the main land. Thinking he’s my good neighbour I started to erect a shanty shelter for me and my family.

“Pull down the posts the land belongs to me” a voice shouting from a distance.

I went to farm in an area my fathers and mothers used to farm.

I started to clear the bush only to hear, “what are you doing clearing the bush” another voice shouting at me.

“The land belongs to my tribe”.

Stunned, unable to bear the loneliness of homelessness I sat down. Then, I heard a voice so familiar from yesterday.

“Land is our mother. She is life to all”.

I responded to this wisdom from the past.

“I wish my brothers and sisters knew our sacred oratory”. Not now, they’re blind to your sacred wisdom and treating us as strangers living among them. 

Another victim said, in the last centuries, we settled among people with welcoming hearts.

We shared meals and sacrifice together.

With a sense of respect, we served them with honour and dignity and for centuries we have been friends in the spirit of mutual understanding.

Then climate change intrudes.

Bigger and unimaginable to reason, we are lost, sunk and swallowed by the bottomless deep of mother earth’s mysterious womb.

Now the strangers we met and knew and became our protecting friends have turned against us.

To end this lament, mitigation we knew in our long history, should begin with building bridges and weaving ties of human friendship.

The restoration of broken relationships between once were friends and now are enemies is fundamentally the best mitigation effort.

Lamenting people would like to ask. Where is sanity today among people created in the image of God?

Does land our mother is still LIFE to all or a commodity to sell and buy?

And in the midst of climate change, a time death is what we see every day in the suffering of people and victims living without hope for the future, who among us is prepared to offer the uprooted and displaced people a place to live?

By REV. PHILEMON AKAO
Honiara

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