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OP-Ed: Who Can We Depend On?

The latest U.N. “Sustainable Development, Summit Meeting” ends today in Rio de Janeiro, This marks the 20th year since that first U.N. meeting in Rio.

The Rio meeting and the 2005 Kyoto Agreement (as important as they were) by all accounts proved a failure. And every meeting since then has shown little progress.

So for twenty years now, while the world’s largest industrial countries (incidentally the largest polluters, U.S. included) failed in their deliberations, yours and everyone else’s future has been bargained for and exploited by greedy, ignorant and powerful people. The result is the accelerating destruction of the planet.

Record heat waves, rising sea levels, disappearing animal life, acidifying oceans, over-population, melting ice flows, record fires, super hurricanes, and unusual flooding are among the many clear indications that the Planet’s eco-system is reacting.

It is real and it is happening now.

In a recent Samoa News essay the American Samoa 350 Environment Club pointed out that our cousins and neighbors of the Pacific Islands have now become the victims of climate change.

For example, the eroding shorelines caused from rising sea levels were part of the reason for the devastating floods experienced in Fiji in late March and early April. They killed at least six people and left 8000 homeless.  Fiji is 770 miles from American Samoa.

In Tuvalu, families are moving off of their Islands to higher ground and planning for the time when their atoll will be completely underwater.  They are securing their rights to their underwater lands, their fishing rights, their mineral rights. Tuvalu is 790 miles from American Samoa. 

The Solomon Islanders are planning and looking for land to resettle people from low-lying outer atolls, and those living in the outer atolls of the Federated States of Micronesia are also moving to higher ground.

So, is it wise to depend on this latest U.N. Global Warming Conference in Rio to solve our looming problems? Probably not. Should we depend on the U.S. Government or ASG to to solve them? Probably not.

In fact it should be evident that as long as people and governments continue policies that react, instead of act upon environmental issues caused by human activity, the planet’s future is in doubt. And here on our Island— as long as people continue to treat the Island as a large never ending garbage dump, and continue to use fossil fuels for energy— we are contributing to the greed and ignorance that will, in the end, strangle us all.

So what can we do about it?

For a start, we can put into place some of the best “do-able” ideas— beginning with those in the (already paid for) multitude of studies done on behalf of this Island by the Feds and other agencies, that are sitting on some shelf somewhere. This could be an important source of information for starters.

We could also go outside of government and listen to concerned Engineers and Scientists who have been working hard to provide independent information and ideas for years now. We could utilize resources from government, NGO’s, independent environmental organizations, students, churches, and concerned citizens.

We should qualify— and then support— those politicians who are aware, or are willing to become aware to lend their power and support to tackling our environmental problems. We should call upon those religious leaders who understand (as did Albert Einstein) that science and religion are not enemies.

Regardless of what happens in Rio, if business people, students, government, religious leaders, and private citizens come together here, the results would be a cleaner island, a better and healthier environment, and a more secure future for those who come after us.

(International environmental organization, 350.org gets its name from climate science. 350 parts per million of CO2 greenhouse gases is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for allowable CO2 in our atmosphere. We have been over 350-ppm since 1985 and have steadily climbed from that time to the present 392-ppm.)



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