FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA GIVES "HIGH TIDE" NEW MEANING

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By Jayvee Vallejera

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (June 28, 2001 - Saipan Tribune/PINA Nius Online)---U.S. President George Bush may not know it but "high tide" has just acquired a new meaning in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Some of the small islands in the Pacific island nation are now disappearing due to rising sea levels brought on by climate change.

Which is one reason why Federated States of Micronesia President Leo Falcam said he felt very sad when Bush junked the Kyoto protocol that would have significantly reduced the emission of greenhouse gases.

"Very sad. Very sad," said a somber-faced Falcam, during an interview yesterday at the President’s Suite of the Hyatt Hotel, Saipan, when asked to comment on the U.S. junking of the Kyoto accord.

Faced with vanishing islets and rising sea levels, Falcam said the FSM, as well as other islands in the Pacific, Caribbean and Indian oceans, will be the most affected if the world’s countries do not come together and cooperate to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

The accumulation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to the unmitigated use of fossil fuels -- gasoline, diesel, oil and coal -- has been blamed for the increase in worldwide temperatures. If current trends are not reversed, experts predict that temperatures will continue to rise, leading to the melting of the ice at the polar caps and the subsequent rise in sea levels. The rise in sea levels will inundate low-lying areas – islands -- and cause widespread flooding.

"In fact, some of our islands are already suffering from sea-level rise today. We are not looking at 20 years from now but today," said Falcam. He said that, together with other small island states, "we have expressed our concern about that pronouncement by the U.S. President. I hope that enough people will sign the Kyoto protocol."

Falcam urged leaders of other nations and people who believe in the Kyoto protocol and who believe in the climate-change phenomena to put pressure on the U.S. government to abide by the protocol.

He clarified that he has not brought up the matter yet this year with the United Nations "but we will. . .We have brought up the climate change situation in the past at the UN General Assembly but this will take a new twist because of the U.S. position on the Kyoto protocol."

Bush has refused to sign the climate accord because of reservations over what he described as "too short a time" allotted for the program and the "too high a cutback" in fossil fuel emission that was required of signatory countries.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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