From the TUC

Where will I go, the sea is rising

26 Nov 2009, by in Environment

Three years ago, my daughter Aleena wrote this poem:

Where will I go, the sea is rising
Where will the animals go, the sea is rising
Where is the beach, the sea is everywhere
Where is the playground, beneath the water
What will I do
What can you do
What can be done
Stop burning rubbish
Stop using plastic bags
Stop greenhouse gases
Recycle, reuse, rethink, relocate, rubbish

It didn’t win any prizes but it touched my family’s inner soul. I am not an expert on climate change. I am a victim of climate change. I live on a small island in the Southern part of the Pacific Ocean called the Cook Islands. It is a country merely 3 metres above sea level and experiencing the impact of climate change every second of the day through the drastic changing climate patterns that have brought the havoc of tsunamis, cyclones and rising sea levels.

I live on the coast of Rarotonga with my family and if these climatic issues continue for the next three years or so, my family will all be forced to flee our beautiful paradise to relocate in New Zealand. Our drinking water tastes with a mixture of seawater now and is impossible to drink, so we are forced to purchase imported water or rainwater. Our vegetation is being affected too by rising sea levels and our root crops inland are being affected.

Our experience of climate change is such a daily activity that one wonders what will happen to our people now and in future if developed countries continue to ignore the reduction of Greenhouse gases emissions and the effects on our citizens.  Where will we go?  How are we going to survive in a foreign land?  Myself along with other Cook Islanders are very active in voicing our concerns about climate change.

I attended a Regional Climate Change conference organised by the ITUC in Indonesia a year ago. I was sad to learn what other neighbouring, and developing countries are experiencing too on the effects of climate change. Climate change is an everyday conversation in smaller island states including my country because we can see it clearly every day.  For us living here is scary because the rising sea level has risen enormously over the last 10 years. I am no expert to measure by how much it has risen but evidence is there for all to see.

I would like to quote my colleague David Ngatae’s view of climate change in the Pacific Islands. It’s from his speech to a public meeting in Copenhagen earlier this month – a plea to save us from drowning. David writes:

“Deep emissions cuts of greater than 40% by developed nations are required to keep the global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. This is the only scenario that is likely to ensure the survival of our islands”

GUEST POST: Helen Maunga is Vice President of the Cook Islands Workers Association, an umbrella organisation representing workers in both the public and private sectors. She will be joining the ITUC’s international union delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference in  Copenhagen next month.

2 Responses to Where will I go, the sea is rising

  1. Tweets that mention Where will I go, the sea is rising | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC —
    Nov 26th 2009, 3:22 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ToUChstone blog, TIGMOO. TIGMOO said: ToUChstone blog: Where will I go, the sea is rising […]

  2. Dangerous Davis | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC
    Dec 2nd 2009, 11:50 am

    […] pehaps re-read Aleena Maunga’s poem from the Cook Islands, which we blogged recently: “Where will I go, the sea is rising.” Related posts (automatically generated):“Windbys” damaging green jobs […]