08 April 2011 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation
Climate Change is not the only problem currently faced by Pacific Island countries.
Head of the Pacific Climate Change Science Program, PCCSP, Dr Gillian Chambers was presenting a talk this morning at the Greenhouse 2011 conference on the advantages and risks in advancing science in small tropical islands.
Dr Cambers said there is still an urgent need to address other important development issues such as urbanisation, pollution and population growth.
She said with the emphasis on climate change, there is danger that issues such as pollution and environmental degradation are sidelined.
She said there was also tendency in the popular literature to attribute almost everything to climate change.
“For example, beach erosion is often attributed to climate change, and while sea level may be a contributing factor, beach erosion is usually a site specific phenomenon with many other factors involved, such as building too close to dynamically active beaches, the deterioration of coral reef health and other factors”, she said.
“So as scientists we need to be very careful about the attribution of environmental change, especially in areas outside our scientific expertise,” said Dr Cambers.
“And also as scientists we need to lead the way and communicate well the knowledge we are sure of, while identifying the gaps where we are uncertain”, she said.
Another issue raised in her presentation was the need to help the islands respond to climate change in a targeted manner, recognising the individuality of small islands and that one size does not fit all.
Dr Cambers said especially when delivering such programs as the PCCSP, stakeholders need to be understand their strengths, and weaknesses, and mainly just listening to small islands and acting on what is heard.
Meanwhile she said more emphasis needs to be put in the collection, storage and analysis of climate and environmental data.
“More emphasis needs to be placed in this area in many programs, without any accurate reliable data, we cannot understand the past, let alone validate the global climate models that help us project the future”, she said.
Dr Cambers also spoke of the need to carefully assess the most immediate climate change needs of small islands over the next 20 years and address these in a prioritized manner or help the islands to address these.
Meanwhile the sessions looking into climate and environmental issues in the pacific continue today, on the last day of the Greenhouse 2011 conference. The conference was attended by more than 450 delegates from Australia, the pacific and abroad and focused on the sciences of climate change.
This year’s conference focused on areas such as the ocean, atmosphere, biosphere, climate modeling, climate change predictions, climate variability, extreme events, impacts and adaptation, biodiversity, politics and economics, and communicating climate change.
The greenhouse 2011 conference also follows five major greenhouse meetings in Perth (2009), Sydney (2007), Melbourne (2005), Wellington (NZ) (1994) and Melbourne (1987).
Coverage of the GreenHouse2011 conference in Cairns written by Rozalee Nongebatu of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.