RAISE YOUR VOICE, BUT NOT THE SEA LEVEL:Dr. (Mrs) Ajantha Perera, Assistant Professor, Fiji National University

To watch the sun go down at the beach front is a longing in the hearts of most people. But for Fiji, this is an everyday occurrence.  Beach represents, romance, beauty, richness, serenity. Little do most people realize that the sea is slowly encroaching into our land. There are natural barriers that prevent sea waves from entering into the land. These barriers are the corals, the mangroves, the sea grass beds. But man has been too busy using even these barriers to make money, thereby destroying them.

I still remember the day in 2004 when tsunami wave struck most parts of the South East Asia. Thousands of people died within seconds. People never believed that Sea waves would come inland so forcefully so fast to take the lives of our loved ones. The very sea we loved took our loved ones away, and left us crying. When research was done, one thing became apparent that most deaths occurred in areas where the coral reefs were damaged due to them being extracted in large scale for housing construction.

Global warming is news of yesterday for most Pacific islanders. Even the smallest child of the South Pacific knows about global warming as it matters to them. Yet, most families build their homes adjacent to the beach front, most hotels are built almost on the beach. Each time a building is constructed on sand it loosens the soil in the beach that sea erosion is aggravated. Time has come to rethink on our town planning. Structures must be put up away from the beach; and a buffer zone should be maintained between the built area and the sea. This will stabilize the beach front and thus prevent sea from eroding the beach.

Most of us do not believe that we contribute to global warming. Yet each time we breathe out carbon di oxide we add to the green- house gases. Carbon di oxide likes sun light so much that the molecules of carbon di oxide retain the heat from the sun thereby warm up the atmosphere. So, all who breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon di oxide contribute to global warming. In other words all those, who are born to this world, contribute to global warming. But we do have a solution. Plants take up the carbon di oxide to make food, therefore more trees there are, and less carbon di oxide will be present in the atmosphere.

This opens up two new possibilities, firstly those who love the beach, who also want to prevent sea erosion can plant mangroves along the beach front. The others can plant fruit trees and food crops in their own gardens. Birthday is a good day to plant trees. Make sure that you put your name next to it, to claim its ownership.

The World environmental day is approaching. This year the theme is Raise your voice- but not the sea level. Get ready for action. Plan ahead as to how you can show your gratitude to the environment that provided us with air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat. Go to the beach watch the sun go down, enjoy the cool breeze, let creativity come into your mind to plan for the world environmental day. Raise your voice to sing a new song, a new meaningful song on behalf of the environment.

The students of Fiji National University have designed a rainwater harvesting system to collect water from the roof. This is a way to save as much as possible the water that comes down as rain for use in watering the plants, for washing utensils etc. Rainwater when collected through a filter can be used even for drinking purposes. In Yasawa –i-rara the people believe that rainwater tastes better.

I have tasted it, it certainly does. With climate change it is expected that drought seasons will be prolonged. Having a rainwater harvesting system, at home, in school, at work place, in industries, will certainly help you to adapt to climate change. Do not contribute to the sea level rise; instead raise your voice to spread the news how best we can avoid it.


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