Climate change has been an important subject for the people of Vanuatu long before Cyclone Pam struck. Unlike places such as Florida, where climate change and a couple other related terms are banned from official state reports, climate change had been widely discussed by government officials for years in the hope of adverting its devastating effects.
According to The Guardian, president Baldwin Lonsdale stated that climate change is responsible for more extreme weather conditions throughout the year, especially during cyclone season from November to April.
Lonsdale spoke at the United Nations conference this week in Sendai, Japan.
“This is a very devastating cyclone. I term it a monster that has hit Vanuatu. It is a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu,” he said on Monday.
“All the development that has taken place has been wiped out.”
The Inquisitr reported that thousands of people have been left homeless without food and water. Six people have been reported dead, but that number is expected to rise in the coming days.
The effects of climate change had been noted in the islands of Vanuatu for decades. Vanuatu’s prime minister said in 2012 that the temperatures there have increased by two degrees Celsius every 10 years, while sea levels have risen by six centimeters every decade.
Climate change was the hot topic at the United Nations General Assembly meetings of September 2012, where many island nations from the Caribbean and Pacific pleaded for help from the global community.
“The islands of our planet are at war against climate change, warming temperatures and rising seas,” said the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Entire nations that currently occupy this Assembly, whose representatives sit among us as friends and equals, may simply cease to exist as a result of our inaction.”
A plan to create a coral garden sponsorship program was initiated in 2014 on the Vanuatu island of Pele to promote tourism and climate change adaption. The program also provided income to support community management of the island’s natural resources.
“We see the level of sea rise. The cyclone seasons, the warm, the rain, all this is affected. This year we have more than in any year. Yes, climate change is contributing to this,” Lonsdale said.
“As the leader of the nation, my heart hurts for the people of the whole nation.”
UNICEF reports that as many as 60,000 children may have been displaced or affected adversely by the cyclone, and has requested funding for basic essentials like food, water, and health care.
[Image courtesy of UNICEF Pacific]