The day before the winter Solstice, I stopped in my tracks at the sight of a dandelion in bloom under an evergreen shrub. On December 20th, a dandelion in bloom in a Boston suburb is of note. I pulled out my IPhone and bent low, to snap a few pictures. I wanted to show the contrast between the faded shrub branch and the flagrant yellow dandelion bloom.
It’s clear that mindfulness has sensitized me. A week ago, a lone mosquito did a slow solo across my dinner plate. My swat was automatic. I was surprised by its presence— grateful it was so sleepy and with no interest in attacking me. But still, it was unnerving to realize that a mosquito was still hanging around in December and to be reminded that of course, warming temperatures affect the life cycle of plants and insects.
A December bloom and a sleepy mosquito are clear signs of digression from the norm and raised my concern about the effects of climate change. But the effects of warming are minimal in my life compared to the experience of the fishing village of Vunidogoloa, on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island whose residents had to abandon their idyllic home to relocate to higher and drier land because of sea level rise, erosion and flooding.
My heart soared when I read of how the Fiji Islanders fierce concern about climate change and its effects were reported at the recent United Nations Paris Conference. The Fiji villagers contributed very little to climate change, yet their homes and everything they owned have been bathed again and again in rising and unruly tidal waters. Clear and certain of the need for change and adaptation both at home and at the global level, their Third Pacific Islands Development Forum issued a Suva Climate Declaration this past September. I am grateful for the clarity and wisdom of their words and want to share the first three points.
1.We are gravely distressed that climate change poses irreversible loss and damage to our people, societies, livelihoods, and natural environments; creating existential threats to our very survival and other violations of human rights to entire Pacific Small Island Developing States;
2. We express profound concern that the scientific evidence unequivocally proves that the climate system is warming and that human influence on the climate system is clear, but appropriate responses are lacking.
3. Our disappointment and frustration at the world’s failure to act runs
through this entire document. We in the Pacific tend to speak softly. It is in our
nature. But on this issue, we needed to cry out with one voice, enough is
enough. And we have. And it is all the more powerful for that.
You can download the entire text at here.
The Suvu Leaders of the Pacific did cry out and garnered support for a significant reduction of carbon emissions at the recent Paris climate change conference. I am grateful for the result:
a world-wide climate agreement involving 196 nations. I am grateful to begin 2016 with hope for our planet.