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Op-Ed: Pacific Warrior Day, March 2, 2013

For the past two years the, American Samoa 350 Environment Club, has been working hard to educate the youth of our Territory on the science and history of climate change and how the melting polar caps will effect the weather, sea level rise, as well as economy. Not only will our Island be affected, but also other Islands, and coastal communities around the globe.


There is no need to go on about the fires, storms, temperature increases, sea level raise and the other phenomenon resulting from burning fossil fuels. We are living and experiencing those effects right now. It is obvious we need to stop and reconsider our life styles.


This is the primary reason 350. org and pacific.350. org, are working with youth around the world. They are the ones who will have to live with the mess they have inherited and it isn’t like we haven’t been warned.


In 1965 President Lyndon Bains Johnson (LBJ) addressed a joint session of congress concerning the burning of fossil fuel and the problems it would bring to future generations. The exact quote: “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through . . . a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels” 


No one paid attention


In 1986 Dr. Jim Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, “that by the year 2050 we’re going to have tremendous climate changes, far outside what man has ever experienced.”


No one paid attention


In 1992 the first United Nations Climate Conference (Kyoto) using climate information gathered from a 1990 study of global emissions concluded that climate change was a serious threat to mankind and steps were necessary to reduce the burning of fossil fuels. The largest fossil fuel consumers never ratified the treaty or reduced their burning of fossil fuels.


No one paid attention


Several International Conferences later (the latest being in Rio de Janeiro, June 2012) and after much deliberation the results turned out to be about the same as 1992. The difference being that there are close to one and a half billion more people on the planet. (in 1992 there were 5.480 billion, in 2012 the world population exceeded 7 billion)


Perhaps, President Obama paid attention (Remains to be seen)


There was, however, one important event that came from that the last meeting ― the youth movement. And it became vocal, demanding accountability from world leaders. Seventeen year old Brittany Trilford from New Zealand  stood before this world body of leaders and declared…


“You have made great promises, promises that, when I read them, still leave me feeling hopeful. These promises are left – not broken, but empty. How can that be? When all around us is the knowledge that offers us solutions. Nature as a design tool offers insight into systems that are whole, complete, that give life, create value, allow progress, transformation, change. We, the next generation, demand change. We demand action so that we have a future and have it guaranteed. We trust that you will put our interests ahead of all other interests and boldly do the right thing. Please, lead. I want leaders who lead.”


Powerful stuff coming from a teenager and that’s the point of the American Samoa 350 Environment Club. Our young people are beginning to grasp the problems of the climate change situation. They are learning the science and the politics that will directly affect their future. We adults need to applaud and support them.


So on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Utulei Beach Park, a declaration of war will be announced in conjunction with Fifteen other Pacific Island Nation Monday, February 25, 2013’s youth. The theme is: 2013 We are Pacific Island Warriors and together we will tackle 2013 Climate Change.


We are being funded by UNESCO and the Pacific Voyagers Foundation and we will be shooting a video to be submitted along with the other Island groups showing their efforts. It will be edited by professionals in New Zealand and shown around the world by UNESCO.


I say all of this because we want the word to get out about "Climate Change" and how it will and is affecting our collective futures.


Besides, the rest of the world should know that we are here. And though what lies ahead for us is uncertain, we are "Pacific Warriors" and we will confront our future, not armed with spears, but with knowledge.


So on Saturday we are planning clean ups in the morning around the island. Then festivities at Utulei Beach Park will be starting around noon and they include games, traditional dances, speeches, hot dogs, etc.


Stand with our young people and the community this Saturday and attend Pacific Warrior Day.


You can contact Sandra Purcell, (Youth coordinator) at 258-8095 or me (Dale Long @ 733-2014)