New Guinea’s Northern Province Governor Gary Juffa …he asked what about the climate |
change activists and West Papuan advocates? Where were they? Image: David Robie/PMC
A recent Andy Marlette cartoon published by the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, depicted a bathtub-looking Noah’s Ark with a couple of stony-faced elephants on board with a sodden sign declaring “Climate change is a hoax”.
The other animals on board floating to safety were muttering among themselves: “The elephants won’t admit that these 100-year events are happening once a month …”
At the other end of the globe in Wellington this week for the second Pacific Ocean Climate Conference at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, I encountered a fatalistic message from a Tongan taxi driver counting down the hours before the tail-end of Tropical Cyclone Gita struck the New Zealand capital after wreaking a trail of devastation in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.
He had it all worked out: “We don’t need climate conferences,” he said. “Just trust in God and we’ll survive.”
However, a key takeaway message from the three-day conference was just how urgent action is needed by global policymakers, especially for the frontline states in the Pacific – Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, where none of the sprawling atolls that make up those countries are higher than 2m above sea level.