Once again, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, is right.
This is to say his worries about the impending threat of climate change on our low-lying homes in the Pacific Ocean, as a result of the world’s wealthy nations having brazenly heating up the atmosphere over the years with their hazardous greenhouse gas emissions, are quite justified.
In any case this is not a new concern.
Back in 1992, much concern was raised globally about the threat of rising sea level caused by greenhouse gas emissions, so that an international body was formed to look at how to combat the problem.
The Kyoto Protocol was born.
It became the international treaty governed by the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (U.N.F.C.C.C.), whose job was to “commit State Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the premise that (a), global warming exists, and (b), human-made carbon dioxide emissions, have caused it.”
Who signed the Kyoto Protocol?
Samoa did. First on 16 March 1998. Second on 27 November 2000 as the treaty had specified. And later still on 29 November 2000, when the treaty was ratified.
In the end, a total of 192 countries signed and ratified the 1992 Kyoto Protocol, also known as “the treaty that’s the closest thing we have to a working global agreement to fight climate change,” the official statement announced.
But then which country did not sign?
Only three did not. They refused to sign. They were Afghanistan, Sudan, and guess who the last one was - The United States of America, arguably one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases – if not the biggest of them all - one of which is human-made carbon dioxide.
Now getting back to Prime Minister Tuilaepa, and his expressed concern about the threat of sea-level rising to Samoa – and indeed the rest of the vulnerable, low lying island nations of the world that are not in any way able, to protect themselves against this very threat – there is nothing to say except to agree that from here the future is indeed bleak.
According to a 2016 report from Microsoft Corporation Earthstar Geographics, a huge glacier in the South Pole called Larsen C’s shelf has been “retreating past this line called the compressive arch, and the shelf is likely to collapse.”
And should that happen, the report explains: “The crack along Larsen C which now reaches over 100 miles in length, and some parts of it are as wide as two miles. The tip of the rift is currently only about 20 miles from reaching the other end of the ice shelf.”
And at this time, Adrian J. Luckman of Swansea University in Wales, who is leading another research team called Project Midas, and has been monitoring the rift since 2014, has warned: “Once the crack reaches all the way across the ice shelf, the break will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded.”
“And because of the amount of stress the crack is placing on the remaining 20 miles of the shelf, a complete break is expected soon.”
Indeed, Mr Luckman, warns: “The iceberg is likely to break free within the next few months.”
“The rift tip has moved from one region of likely softer ice to another, which explains its step-wise progress.”
Mr Luckman explains that “ice shelves, which form through runoff from glaciers, float in water and provide structural support to the glaciers that rest on land.”
“When an ice shelf collapses, the glaciers behind it can accelerate toward the ocean. Higher temperatures in the region are also helping to further the ice shelf’s retreat.”
“If the ice shelf breaks at the crack, Larsen C will be at its smallest size ever recorded. And if the front keeps on retreating, the northernmost part of the shelf could collapse within months.”
“It could also significantly change the landscape of the Antarctic peninsula,” Mr Luckman says.
And according to Eric J. Rignot, a glaciologist, and professor at University of California Irvine, and a senior scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “At that point in time, the glaciers will react.”
“If the ice shelf breaks apart, it will remove a buttressing force on the glaciers that flow into it. The glaciers will feel less resistance to flow, effectively removing a cork in front of them.”
So what is all that likely to lead to?
We are not sure. All we are led to believe, is that the scientists who have been examining the deterioration that has been caused to the ice shelf at the Antarctica, are of the opinion that human-made carbon dioxide emissions were indeed responsible.
On the other hand, whether or not the damage in question had been caused over the last fourteen years since the Kyoto Protocol had been established and given the go ahead, had also not been ascertained at this point.
And lastly, the scientists had not given a crystal clear indication as to whether or not they believe the damage caused is irreparable.
Incidentally therefore, perhaps that is where Prime Minister Tuilaepa, should be kind enough, to elaborate on.
After all, on the front page of the Samoa Observer dated 29 January 1917, under the headline - P.M. Tuilaepa schools Trump on climate change – he was quoted as having sent a message delivered during a press conference for the United States President, Donald John Trump.
The response was “in relation to (Trump’s) denial of climate change …”
Said Tuilaepa: “A leader cannot say that the country is not affected by climate change, when everyone else in the community is facing it and living with the impact of climate change.”
Now what is he talking about here? Is he referring to Donald Trump as the President of the United States or America, or himself as the Prime Minister of Samoa?
We’re not sure.
Another quote from him: “The thing is up until now, they still haven’t fully recovered from the impact of Cyclone Katrina.”
“Imagine having a strong tornado during the cold weather,” he said.
“This can affect the power outrage. Even if you stay in a hundred-storey apartment, when the elevators don’t work, you will be stuck there and many lives can be affected too.”
“There are a lot of things that we don’t know.”
Along the way, it appears that Tuilaepa is now interested only in the “rich and powerful Trump” whose “threat to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement”, has obviously become a non-issue at this point.
According to Tuilaepa, such a withdrawal “is unlikely to happen.”
He said: “The truth is, that can never happen. There is that phrase we always hear, common sense will finally prevail.”
And lastly he said: “You see Trump did not introduce anything new to do for America as President.”
Now is that so?
Well, perhaps he’s been travelling so much these days, he is no longer aware about what Donald Trump has been doing for his country over the last two months or so.
In fact, Trump has been quite busy reveling in the limelight, if he really wants to know.
First, Trump has made known his plan to build a wall between America and Mexico with the idea of stopping once and for all Mexicans, from sneaking into America in the middle of night, and then end up living illegally in America.
Second, Trump has made it clear the wall in question will not cost the American people a penny, since the total cost will be taken care of by the Mexican government.
Third, Trump has put a stop on immigrants of seven countries in the Middle East from moving to America with the idea of living there, in his bid to end the wanton violence that he claims is perpetrated by refugees in America.
Fourth, Trump has allowed himself to be sued by a former contestant of his pet project The Apprentice, who had previously accused him of sexual assault.
Fifth, Trump has allowed himself to be shamed publicly by the United States Federal Appeals Court, who has ruled unanimously that the U.S. will remain open to refugees and visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries, rejecting a bid by the Trump administration to reinstate a travel ban in the name of national security.
Sixth, Trump has defied the Court and the Judicial System, by tweeting within minutes of the ruling, “SEE YOU IN COURT. THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”
And so, if Prime Minister Tuilaepa still thinks “Trump did not introduce anything new to do for America as its President,” perhaps he should sit down and think again.
So stay tuned.
Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless.