Climate change in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the island nations in the Pacific that is beginning to experience the effects of Climate Change (C/C). Although the negative effects of C/C are affecting the lives of the people here, the people are ill prepared for it (C/C) and are caught by surprise. The vast majority of the people about 90-95% of the population don’t understand what C/C is. About 60-70% of the population could have access to a few information about Global Warming as there was less or no awareness of that nature in PNG.
A little information about C/C in PNG.
INCREASE IN SEALEVEL
It is very common along the coastal areas around PNG; the level of the sea is rising. It is unusual for the people to experience the daily rise of the sea level. For instance, some weeks ago on our daily news paper (the Post Courier), the people of the Madang area in the Madang province experienced the sea level rising and it occupied their food gardens and coconut trees. They complained to their provincial government to do something to address such natural problems.
Another example would be the Manus Island in Manus Province also reported similar cases about sea level rising. It appeared several times in different places in the province some months back. People fearing for their lives have moves inland or evacuated to bigger islands to live.
Mortlock island atolls in the Bougainville have reported similar cases several times. Sea level is on the rise and people are fearing for their lives and have asked the government to help them for a relocation program to be carried out. Similar case is also reported in Carteret islands and Tinputz districts in Bougainville Province and the people there are starting to relocate their homes to higher grounds.
CHANGES IN WEATER PATTERNS
People in PNG are so concerned now a days about the quick changes in the weather patterns. The weather patterns are changing all the time that it is greatly affecting the life style of the people. As witnessed and are experiencing the change in weather patterns, at times it would be very cold during the nights. Sometimes, we have a dry season, very hot during the day with a lot of sunshine and the air is dry. This results in flu or coughing as it s very cold during the nights.
While one or two provinces are experiencing the dry season other provinces will experience heavy rainfall consistently that greatly affects their food gardens, roads, land slides or other related natural phenomena.
For example, Lae city in the Morobe province was experiencing heavy rainfall that damaged food gardens and roads while some parts of the highlands like Eastern Highlands and Simbu provinces were experiencing dry seasons while in Western Highlands we experiences wet and dry periods weekly over the past months. The weather is unpredictable as people normally count from November to March as wet of rainy seasons and from April to October as Dry season. But now the weather is unpredictable.
The sudden changes in temperature and weather pattern are greatly affecting the livelihood of the people here.
The unexpected dry season is affecting the Agricultural system where the people rely on Agricultural products from their food gardens for survival and to sell the extra produce at the market to earn an income which they later use it for other purposes to support their lives. It is affecting our economy slowly but people can not realize it as it’s the beginning of the effects of inconsistent weather patterns.
The unpredicted rainy periods have created a question in the lives of the people as when it will stop??? Or will it continue??? If it continues, how can we support our families when the heavy rains have washed away our food gardens, bridges are washed away or damaged which are the only means of linking services? In fact the unpredicted weather patterns are creating chaos in the midst of the people and every individual is concerned but they don’t know how to address the issue and it’s beyond everyone’s limit.
WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE;
The government of Papua New Guinea is treating this issue about C/C very seriously. Earlier this year around April the government had created Climate Change ministry of its own. Slowly they are in the process to create positions and fund them. They are progressing very slowly as there was no such positions in the past. Such information’s in the past were addressed by the Environment Ministry but now the government has created a C/C office. Apart from this the government has not implemented any form of activities relating to C/C. Hopefully when it’s fully prepared then a lot of awareness and such activities will be implemented to address the issue in the country, but by then it would be late as people are already experiencing the effects of Climate Change.
The mentioned information above are all realities relating to C/C and its effects which are many and are beginning to affect us the Papua New Guineans. Our people are not aware of what is going on but are experiencing the effects of C/C but don’t know the main contributing factor, what Climate Change is. Even myself I never knew what C/C is until I attended the 2nd Pacific Future Leaders Environmental Forum held in Suva, Fiji in March 2008, earlier this year.
Papua New Guineans need to know what C/C is and should be prepared to face the challenges or effects of C/C rather than wondering about the end results of C/C in their lives. The people could be equipped with all the necessary information regarding the formation, its effects and the end results of C/C and should prepare to meet it. They should be informed of different alternatives to reduce Green House Gases in to the atmosphere that leads to the formation of C/C and encouraging adaptation of more resilient plants that will withstand C/C and practice alternatives to minimize the contribution of Green House gases into the atmosphere.