Memories of beautiful Samoa

Normal, Weekender

Pacific Island nations must be more conscience about the impact of climate change in their region, writes PATRICK TALU

ON Thursday last week our front page headline stated “Tsunami kills 142”. I read
further “Samoa devastated, PNG safe”.
I was shocked as I read how nature had devastated a beautiful island paradise I had just left a day before.
I thought of my PNG colleague Ahimsa Kibikibi from NBC Kundu 2 and the nine others from  Pacific island countries whom we had met in Apia. We were there to attend a Climate Change workshop organised by the Secretriat of the Pacific Region Environmental Programme.
I had hardly read the story when my friends who knew I had gone to Samoa started
calling and emailing to find out if I was safe back home.
The memories of Apia Park and the hotels that I went to with my Fijians colleagues for diner each night are still fresh in my mind.
I remembered the people relaxing and enjoying themselves at the famous Apia Park which was destroyed by the tsunami.
Fresh in my mind are thoughts of the evening stroll along the world’s longest sea wall built a decade ago by the Samoan government.
I found it hard to accept that nature could be so cruel to such a beautiful, peaceful paradise.
I sympathised with the families that had lost their loved ones. I wondered if any of those lovely, smiling people that I had met, working at the resorts and hotels, had survived the onslaught.
I thanked God that my friends and former school mates and two Papua New Guineans teaching at the Samoa Adventist College and the family that I stayed with were unharmed.
They informed me that they were moving to higher ground and camping in tents.
The effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and tsunamis, were part of discussions during the workshop I attended in Apia from Sept 21-25.
In a presentation at the workshop, Dean Solofa, an expert from the Meteorological Division from the Pacific Islands Global Observing System, and Anne Rasmussen from the Ministry of Natural Resources Energy and Climate Change in Samoa told journalists that Samoa, has been facing the real impact of climate change in which they saw more frequent rainfall, sea level rise and abnormal temperature variability.
The duo also mentioned the proneness and vulnerability to natural hazards and external shocks connected to climate change in Samoa.
Mr Solofa also stated that island countries that lie along the tropics of the South-western Pacific including PNG and Australia are mostly like to be hit by an earthquake or tsunami.
He particularly mentioned that PNG is more vulnerable to an external shock and huge scale cyclone as it is located at the hotspot where most of the high pressure cyclones are formed; the Pacific Ring of Fire plate.
Coincidently, the day after Samoa was hit by the tsunami, a disaster struck our nearest neighbouring country.
A killer quake which claimed the lives of more than 1,000, leaving thousands feared missing in the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.
It is a scary thought to see such disasters happening on our doorsteps.
The issue of climate change and its impacts are everyday talk for these islanders.
One can’t help but wonder how responsible we are as individuals in light of what we are doing to destroy our fragile earth and environment.
PNG has learnt some good and painful lessons from the Aitape tsunami in 1998 and Cyclone Guba in Oro recently.
As a concerned citizen and a climate change and environment reporter, it is my duty to inform and warn us to seriously consider our responsibilities and attitudes towards environmental issues.
Necessary changes must be made to ensure that we use our resources wisely and preserve and conserve our natural environment for the betterment of our future generations.