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Pacific Climate Change Warriors Block World’s Largest Coal Port

A Pacific Climate Change Warrior paddles into the path of a ship in the world’s biggest coal port to bring attention to the impact of climate change on low-lying islands. Courtesy of Dean Sewell/Oculi for 350.org

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 18 2014 (IPS) - Climate Change Warriors from 12 Pacific Island nations paddled canoes into the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle, Australia, Friday to bring attention to their grave fears about the consequences of climate change on their home countries.

The 30 warriors joined a flotilla of hundreds of Australians in kayaks and on surfboards to delay eight of the 12 ships scheduled to pass through the port during the nine-hour blockade, which was organised with support from the U.S.-based environmental group 350.org.

"Fifteen years ago, when I was going to school, you could walk in a straight line. Now you have to walk in a crooked line because the beach has eroded away." -- Mikaele Maiava

The warriors came from 12 Pacific Island countries, including Fiji, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Micronesia, Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Niue.

Mikaele Maiava spoke with IPS about why he and his fellow climate change warriors had travelled to Australia: “We want Australia to remember that they are a part of the Pacific. And as a part of the Pacific, we are a family, and having this family means we stay together. We cannot afford, one of the biggest sisters, really destroying everything for the family.

“So, we want the Australian community, especially the Australian leaders, to think about more than their pockets, to really think about humanity not just for the Australian people, but for everyone,” Mikaele said.

Speaking at the opening of a new coal mine on Oct. 13, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that “coal is good for humanity.”

Mikaele questioned Abbott’s position, asking, “If you are talking about humanity: Is humanity really for people to lose land? Is humanity really for people to lose their culture and identity? Is humanity to live in fear for our future generations to live in a beautiful island and have homes to go to? Is that really humanity? Is that really the answer for us to live in peace and harmony? Is that really the answer for the future?”

Mikaele said that he and his fellow climate warriors were aware that their fight was not just for the Pacific, and that other developing countries were affected by climate change too.

“We’re aware that this fight is not just for the Pacific. We are very well aware that the whole world is standing up in solidarity for this. The message that we want to give, especially to the leaders, is that we are humans, this fight is not just about our land, this fight is for survival.”

Pacific Climate Change Warrior Mikaele Maiava from Tokelau with fellow climate change warriors at the Newcastle coal port. Courtesy of Dean Sewell/Oculi for 350.org

Pacific Climate Change Warrior Mikaele Maiava from Tokelau with fellow climate change warriors at the Newcastle coal port. Courtesy of Dean Sewell/Oculi for 350.org

Mikaele described how his home of Tokelau was already seeing the effects of climate change,

“We see these changes of weather patterns and we also see that our food security is threatened. It’s hard for us to build a sustainable future if your soil is not that fertile and it does not grow your crops because of salt intrusion.”

Tokelau’s coastline is also beginning to erode. “We see our coastal lines changing. Fifteen years ago when I was going to school, you could walk in a straight line. Now you have to walk in a crooked line because the beach has eroded away.”

Mikaele said that he and his fellow climate change warriors would not be content unless they stood up for future generations, and did everything possible to change world leaders’ mentality about climate change.

“We are educated people, we are smart people, we know what’s going on, the days of the indigenous people and local people not having the information and the knowledge about what’s going on is over,” he said.

“We are the generation of today, the leaders of tomorrow and we are not blinded by the problem. We can see it with our own eyes, we feel it in our own hearts, and we want the Australian government to realise that. We are not blinded by money we just want to live as peacefully and fight for what matters the most, which is our homes.”

Tokelau became the first country in the world to use 100 percent renewable energy when they switched to solar energy in 2012.

Speaking about the canoes that he and his fellow climate warriors had carved in their home countries and bought to Australia for the protest, he talked about how his family had used canoes for generations,

“Each extended family would have a canoe, and this canoe is the main tool that we used to be able to live, to go fishing, to get coconuts, to take family to the other islands.”

Another climate warrior, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the Marshall Islands, brought members of the United Nations General Assembly to tears last month with her impassioned poem written to her baby daughter Matafele Peinam,

“No one’s moving, no one’s losing their homeland, no one’s gonna become a climate change refugee. Or should I say, no one else. To the Carteret islanders of Papua New Guinea and to the Taro islanders of Fiji, I take this moment to apologise to you,” she said.

The Pacific Islands Forum describes climate change as the “single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.”

“Climate change is an immediate and serious threat to sustainable development and poverty eradication in many Pacific Island Countries, and for some their very survival. Yet these countries are amongst the least able to adapt and to respond; and the consequences they face, and already now bear, are significantly disproportionate to their collective miniscule contributions to global emissions,” it says.

Pacific Island leaders have recently stepped up their language, challenging the Australian government to stop delaying action on climate change.

Oxfam Australia’s climate change advocacy coordinator, Dr Simon Bradshaw, told IPS, “Australia is a Pacific country. In opting to dismantle its climate policies, disengage from international negotiations and forge ahead with the expansion of its fossil fuel industry, it is utterly at odds with the rest of the region.”

Dr. Bradshaw added, “Australia’s closest neighbours have consistently identified climate change as their greatest challenge and top priority. So it is inevitable that Australia’s recent actions will impact on its relationship with Pacific Islands.

“A recent poll commissioned by Oxfam showed that 60 percent of Australians thought climate change was having a negative impact on the ability of people in poorer countries to grow and access food, rising to 68 percent among 18 to 34-year-olds,” he said.

Edited by Kitty Stapp

 
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  • TomHarrisICSC

    Very interesting but is there a single coral island in the Pacific where sea level rise is greater than the rate of coral growth? I am not counting islands that have destroyed their own coral by their domestic pollution emissions and civil engineering choices.

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  • cunudiun

    This question is a straw man. The paleontological record shows that rising sea levels have drowned coral reefs many times in the past, and at the projected increasing rate of sea level rise over the rest of this century, much of the world’s coral is in danger of this happening again. Many Pacific atolls are no more than a metre above high tide. The fact that the rate of coral growth is expected to slow due to ocean heating and acidification makes the problem even worse.

  • TomHarrisICSC

    No, the opposite is true, at least for the Maldives – the paleoclimate record shows that sea level has been far higher seven times since the end of the last glacial period without submerging the island – see
    http://www.climatescienceinternational.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=563:ipcc-sea-level-claims-challenged-at-scientific-conference-in-india&catid=1:latest&Itemid=2

    http://www.climatescienceinternational.org/images/pdf/mrner-mumbay-proc2011.pdf is useful as well as it dispels a number of myths about sea level rise in that region.

  • RealMrTea

    Tom is a paid Troll for the Oil and Gas industry…. Yahh I know that gets thrown out a lot, but he REALLY is…

    http://www.desmogblog.com/tom-harris

    As you will see… He is willing to say anything as long as it leads to Oil/Coal/Gas companies (his benefactors) not having to do anything, or pay taxes….

  • cunudiun

    It is much more complicated than that. Many of todays coral atolls are built upon the long dead remains of earlier coral atolls that were submerged by rising seas in prehistoric times.

    Myth: Coral atolls grow as sea levels rise
    What the science says…

    Thousands of coral atolls have “drowned” in the past when they were unable to grow fast enough to maintain a presence at sea level
    www[dot]skepticalscience[dot]com/coral-atoll-intermediate[dot]htm

    Your question, “Is there a single coral island in the Pacific where sea level rise is greater than the rate of coral growth?” also invites a different answer than the first one I gave: Of course not, because once they become submerged, they are no longer islands.

  • cunudiun

    And you cite a non-peer reviewed paper by Nils-Axel Mörner, in which 13 of his 17 references are to his own work. Mörner apparently is another Heartland Institute favorite, like yourself.
    http://www.desmogblog.com/nils-axel-morner

  • TomHarrisICSC

    Please read my question again: “Is there a single coral island in the Pacific where sea level rise is greater than the rate of coral growth?” I didn’t say anything about them being submerged.

  • TomHarrisICSC

    The above poster, RealMrTea, follows me around the Web, posting the same groundless smear against me whenever I post. The anonymous RealMrTea knows I have told him and others many times that we are not funded by oil but gas but he/she/it continues to say this anyways apparently in the hopes that his reading audience does not know it. Shame.

  • cunudiun

    Are you really that thick? If the “sea level rise is greater than the rate of coral growth” then eventually the island becomes submerged and it wouldn’t be an island any more and I wouldn’t be able to name it. Can you give assurance there aren’t many submerged former coral islands? In other words, your question is completely meaningless, and I already answered it anyway in terms of rates of sea level rise and gave the link in my earlier post. Of course you ignored that and asked the same question again. Do you really think most readers are that stupid?

  • RealMrTea

    Tom,

    What have I posted that is “groundless”?

    On the contrary, what I have posted is the unabashed truth, and more importantly it is the WHOLE truth…

    You are funded by groups like the Heartland Institute, which are funded by BiG OIL/GAS/COAL.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heartland_Institute

    http://heartland.org/tom-harris

    Obfuscating how you are paid only shows further how hard you work to keep your ACTUAL funding hidden..

    Might I remind you, we KNOW you have recieved money from the Heartland Institute (only because it was leaked) and you defended receiveing money from oil companies, and exclaimed that the David Suzuki foundation did also!!! (even though THEY receive money mostly from individuals, and the remainder from across the business spectrum)

    You knew that because they (like almost ALL REAL non profit organizations) reveal who their donors are, and their donors are proud to be listed…You though not only don’t list where your money comes from, when .I asked you previously how your funding was broken down (average donation, number of individuals, number of groups (like Heartland) and number of corporations)… You answered with numbers that would mean your firm (err group) gets more mioney per year than exists in the worfd… And then slithered away…. Again….

    I have asked you to back up your claim (of getting money from OTHER than those connected with Oil/Coal/Gas interests) MANY times now…And you have NOT answered, given various excuses….. and slipped away… EACH and EVERY time…..

    I have told nothing but the truth about you, and even though you “elude” to something else… every time you are pressed to the truth… You run away… Using a different excuse each time…

    You purport to be for “science” but in reality your “Core Priciples” reads like a Oil companies marjeting “to do” list…Which is exactly what it is.,..

    Core Principles

    1. Global climate is always changing in accordance with natural causes and recent changes are not unusual.

    2. Science is rapidly evolving away from the view that humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ are a cause of dangerous climate change.

    3. Climate models used by the IPCC* fail to reproduce known past climates without manipulation and therefore lack the scientific integrity needed for use in climate prediction and related policy decision-making.

    4. The UN IPCC Summary for Policymakers and the assertions of IPCC executives too often seriously mis-represent the conclusions of their own scientific reports.

    5. Claims that ‘consensus’ exists among climate experts regarding the causes of the modest warming of the past century are contradicted by thousands of independent scientists.

    6. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant – it is a necessary reactant in plant photosynthesis and so is essential for life on Earth.

    7. Research that identifies the Sun as a major driver of global climate change must be taken more seriously.

    8. Global cooling has presented serious problems for human society and the environment throughout history while global warming has generally been highly beneficial.

    9. It is not possible to reliably predict how climate will change in the future, beyond the certainty that multi-decadal warming and cooling trends, and abrupt changes, will all continue, underscoring a need for effective adaptation.

    10. Since science and observation have failed to substantiate the human-caused climate change hypothesis, it is premature to damage national economies with `carbon’ taxes, emissions trading or other schemes to control ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions.

    This list would be comedic if the issue weren’t so serious, and you were not in the middle of this….

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/10/13/nasa_earth_just_experienced_the_warmest_six_month_stretch_ever.html

    While you are a part of this…

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dark-money-funds-climate-change-denial-effort/

    IIn fact, I have learned enough about you in the last week after catching you trying to post with some scientific authority, that I have few questions left (except where “specifcally” do you get your funding….

    And of course how do you sleep at night?

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Tom_Harris_(Canadian_engineer/PR_specialist)

    I hate liars and people with ulterior motives I am not sure why it bugs me soi much, but being a science and engineering guy (BTW not paid in any way by anyone with any interest in climate change either way, but rather to engineer systems) and watching you tell lies and half truths and cherry pick data that is obvious to anyone that takes the time to look at it, while I know you are being paid to do it, sticks in my craw….BIG TIME…

    Tom, I don;t like liars. I don’t like cheaters. I don;t like people with ulterior motives. Want to get rid of me? Stop being that.

    “Don’t tell me what you believe in – Show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe in.” ~MLK~

  • RealMrTea

    More BS.. bought and paid for by Oil companies to protect there money interests…

    Here is what REAL climate scientisis (not paid industry “public relations” people) have to say…

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Coral_atolls_and_rising_sea_levels_that_sinking_feeling.html

    And this is from the encyclopedia…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issues_with_coral_reefs

  • TomHarrisICSC

    How silly saying “you defended receiveing money from oil companies” when we never have. But then RealMrTea knows this very well as I have told him repeatedly on other Web sites.

  • TomHarrisICSC

    Again, smears that are no more than logical fallacy falsehoods. Typical from the anonymous RealMrTea.

  • TomHarrisICSC

    then eventually the island becomes submerged. Yes, IF the rate continued. I am asking about islands that are not submerged in the present, of course.

  • cunudiun

    My point is, why aren’t you asking me about all the islands, including the ones that are presently submerged, instead of cherry-picking only those islands (the still unsubmerged ones), which you claim support your case?

  • TomHarrisICSC

    Because the only islands people live on are ones that are not submerged. If they are in no danger of submerging, then there is no problem.

  • RealMrTea

    Yes Tom,

    You did…. AND exclaimed that the David Suzuki foundation did “also”… Oooops….

    And I have caught you in NUMEROUS lies… OVER, and OVER, and OVER… on other web sites…

    I am all to HAPPY… to have people click your name… and look at your posts, and our interactions….. In FACT, I think they will be VERY enlightening!!!!!

    You can also answer the questions that I have askeed you over and over…that you have never answered….

    1. Does the International Climate Science Coalition recieve money from the Heartland Institute or any other group, foundation, or individuals funded by Oil/Gas/Coal companies? YES [ ] NO [ ]

    2. What is your average donation amount? —————-

    3. How many corporations fund ICSC? —————-

    4. How many groups fund ICSC? (like the Heartland Institute) —————-

    5. How many individual contributors fund ICSC (yearly)? —————-

    6. Why doesn’t ICSC release it’s funding sources? (like non profits do) —————-

  • cunudiun

    So which Pacific islands are you saying are not in danger of submerging?

  • TomHarrisICSC

    show me where I have ever said ICSC has received money from oil companies. I never lie but I also don’t yield to bullies like you either.

  • TomHarrisICSC

    Maldives for one. The most important question is which are and why.

  • RealMrTea

    First… the proof is here…

    http://www.transcontinental.com.au/story/946011/web-leak-shows-trail-of-climate-sceptic-funding/

    And a GREAT conversation (that I described) of you stepping all over yourself here

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/10/16/samuel-levin-we-cant-afford-to-ignore-climate-change/#comment-1641952652

    Where you expressly defend getting funded by Oil companies, saying that the David Suzuki foundation did it also…

    It has gotten a bit cluttered since we conversed, but it is still there 🙂

    PS: You can EASILY clear all this up… Come on Tom….You are the executive director. Knowing this information is a big part of your job… I will even simplify it for you.. Lets take it slow….And start with a simple question….

    Question: Has the ICSC received any money from the Heartland Institute in 2013 or 2014?

  • RealMrTea

    Tom,

    Still waiting for answers…

  • RealMrTea

    And waiting….

  • cunudiun

    Not according to the World Bank.

    Concerted Efforts Needed to Support Maldives Adapt to Climate Change, World Bank Report Findings Indicate
    www[dot]worldbank[dot]org/en/news/press-release/2013/06/19/concerted-efforts-needed-to-support-maldives-adapt-to-climate-change-world-bank-report-findings-indicate

    PS. Wrong ocean, by the way. Maldives are not in the Pacific, but no matter.
    (I posted this 5 days ago but it is still marked pending. So trying again without the active link.)

  • RealMrTea

    To bad you slithered away AGAIN….. It says everything……

  • TomHarrisICSC

    I can not be bothered answering the questions of anonymous bully boys, like you. Bug off.

  • RealMrTea

    Translation:

    I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me…..

    considering who you are, and that your (fake) group is funded by the Heartland Institute (and Oil/Gas/Coal lobby) that is probably a wise move…

    http://www.desmogblog.com/tom-harris