Climate change is real threat for small island nations, as they are experiencing it, according to an activist from Palau island.
"[...] We are at the forefront and we are at the most vulnerable country to be affected by climate change as we are experiencing [it] now firsthand," Carlos Manuel, a climate activist from Palau said at the third webinar of the Talks for Future series organized by the Fridays for Future movement.
Manuel who is of Filipino origin and moved to Palau at a young age, is one of the 16 child petitioners who lodged a complaint against governments for failure to act on the climate crisis.
On Sept. 23, 2019, youth petitioners, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, filed landmark complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Touching on the devastating effects of climate change to the Pacific nations, Manuel said that climate change is killing reefs and the corals at the region which directly affects the ocean, people's main source of food and income.
"Climate change forces many families to move out their houses because they are vulnerable to rise of sea level [...] As small island nations, we do not have much to offer to the world but all we have is our environment and our culture because, Palau depends on ocean a lot, so without it there would not be us," he added.
- 'Evil twin of climate change'
For his part, Jerwin Baure, marine scientist from the Philippines, explained how ocean acidification and warming affect Pacific Islands.
Defining ocean acidification as lowering of the ocean’s pH due to increasing CO2 concentration in the water, he said: "That’s why it is considered to be the evil twin of the climate change because as the increasing CO2 level in the atmosphere also increases the CO2 in the seas."
He went on to say that ocean acidification and warming pose threats to coral reef ecosystems as well as other marine ecosystems, and degradation of reefs would make coastal communities more vulnerable to climate change-related hazards.
"For example healthy reefs can buffer strong waves during storms, however with degraded reefs, coastal communities will not be having the same protection," he said.
Baure added the degradation of reefs will also endanger food security in the region since reefs provide shelter to many economically important fishery resources.
On the other hand, he said, nature and ocean also play a vital role in the fight against climate change.
"Oceans are capable of trapping CO2 from the atmosphere, this happens via photosynthesis of marine plants such as seaweeds, microscopic diatoms, seagrass and mangroves," he said, adding that oceans are also capable of absorbing heat from the atmosphere.
Touching on the solution, he called on people to urge the world leaders especially those who come from industrialized countries to reduce carbon emissions and said people should seek accountability from multinational companies operating in developing countries.
"Ultimately we must all strive to defend our environment," he concluded.
By Burak Bir