Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Feb. 16) - The world is concerned about global warming and the Kyoto treaty is a big step towards cutting back on the emission of greenhouse gases.

Already we are experiencing extreme weather events and the situation is going to get worse unless we collectively and effectively take precautionary measures to address the problem.

World news is now increasingly dominated by disasters and weather events such as increased storms at sea and frequent flooding in urban centers. We are quite familiar in Fiji about floods. Early last year, we witnessed the devastation caused by floods in the central division and in the capital city's central business district. The damage caused by the sudden heavy rain cost millions of dollars.

The global fear is that global warming will melt the polar ice caps causing sea level to rise. It means a lot for us in this part of the world because many of our islands are low-lying. Global warming therefore threatens our very existence.

Also disappointing is that while small island nations such as Fiji have ratified the Kyoto treaty, large developed countries such as the United States of America and Australia have not. The two refuse to ratify the treaty for various reasons, in particular their protection of large business interests in their countries.

There is a lot of pressure on them from within their own countries and from the international community to change their minds. Many want and expect them to be taking the lead in such important international campaigns to protect the environment.

Some scientists believe it is too late to save the world. The damage caused by the emission of greenhouse gases is so huge it would take an extraordinary effort by everyone to control the problem. They claim that at least 50 percent in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is needed to stabilize the environment. The Kyoto treaty would achieve very much less than that.

But the Kyoto treaty is a start. It is a commitment by concerned countries of the world to do something about global warming. A small start but a start nevertheless.

The worst we can do is take a defeatist attitude by lying back and expect the worst to happen. Our collective responsibility is to save the world and make it safer for our children tomorrow.

If we do not do anything today, there is little chance someone will do something tomorrow.

We have been entrusted with looking after our planet, to make it safe to and clean to live on. And we have to set the example for future generations to take this responsibility seriously.

It is up to us. We fail, we pay.

February 17, 2005

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