[The author is one of two winners of the first Pacific Island Times Journalism competition at Yap Catholic High School. Five members of the Journalism Club at the school entered the competition.]
We islanders are on the front line of climate change. Our waters which were once peaceful and predictable are now devouring our shorelines. The heat, once tolerable and a blessing is now now often unbearable and deadly. The weather once happily anticipated is now dreaded.
It’s not an over-statement to say that if this continues, there may be no more pacific islands. In the near future, where our beautiful islands once stood, there will be a vast ocean. The heat will most likely be everyone’s enemy. We must act now and preserve our island nations for future generations.
Already, the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere is rising along with other green house gases and is slowly destroying the ozone layer. It will continue to do this unless we take a stand and act now. You might think that you cannot contribute but you can in the little things you regularly do. You could limit the amount of energy you use daily by turning off unused lights and electronics, reducing water waste and walking places instead of driving. You might think this is crazy but you can train yourself to do these things subconsciously as a habit. So yes, you can do something!
As islanders, we once lived simple lives and it is not too late to turn back. I am not saying we should destroy infrastructure and limit our contact with outsiders, but we should try to take better care of our homes. We do not have to have ecologically friendly appliances or be professional environmentalists but we must find ways to help our islands. This is our first and only home so we should prioritize caring for it. If we choose not to, we may very well become refugees in a foreign land that we are not familiar with or comfortable in.
If we are capable of starting political scandals and rumors, we are surely capable of maintaining small islands. Sure, you have heard it multiple times, but you can make a difference! You can help make the island environments better for all the organisms that use them and that includes you. You can change your ways for the better and you do not have to even try that hard. Remember that change begins small and slowly but if we nurture it, it might just help us reverse climate change. We can and will be able to make our islands a better place.
This change is one way we can give back to our islands. In the past, they have provided all of our needs, nourishment and resources. Now we must be cautious of how we manage and conserve them for ourselves and the new generations to come. We must sustain their natural beauty and keep them safe from more harm. We should also be mindful that these islands are where our culture originated. If we want them to thrive we must cultivate and protect them.