Bureaucrat laments climate change impact

Born and raised in the village of Moata’a, Tile Tofaeono has seen firsthand the impacts of climate change. 

“I was brought up in Samoa. My village is quite near to the sea and I’ve seen a lot of changes compared to now. Even though we have done those seawalls, you can still see that the sea is still coming in,” he said to the Samoa Observer.

“The beach we used to play rugby on, it’s already gone, and all the marine life too. Climate change is something we have to consider because we have children, and if we don’t do something now, it will affect the children. 

“Although Samoa and Pacific Island countries contribute a very less percentage to climate change, we will not escape its impacts.”

Now acting as the Assistant C.E.O. of the Samoa Meteorological Office, Tile is able to better understand why such changes occur, through collected and analysed data. 

“Sea level rise depends on climate variability and also the impact of El Nino and La Nina. The melting of glaciers on land also impacts the rise in sea level. 

“After 2010, the air temperatures have increased, and most of the times the daily air temperatures have increased to 33 degrees Celsius. In the future there is likely for the temperatures will increase.

“I don’t know if anyone noticed that it hasn’t followed the trends. It seems to jump from 30-33 degree Celsius. I looked at the data from 2010 to 2016, the temperatures have increased.”

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He said in the past, living in an open fale was comfortable and people living in closed houses didn’t need air-condition, but this has changed. 

“Anyone can feel the heat even if you’re in a fale Samoa, you can still feel the heat. When I was brought up we didn’t have air-condition because it was cool, now we have to have air-condition in all the rooms because we can’t sleep at night because of the heat.”

Tile said it is important to talk about climate change now because we may not be here tomorrow, and our children will be the ones to suffer. 

“So if we don’t do it now, then who will do it? Donald Trump believes this is a normal cycle, but if we don’t do it, maybe by 2030, I’m already gone, you have time to see by yourself. And you will not be able to do anything.”

He said in 36 years, he's seen the changes, and is already thinking of what would happen in the next 36 years. 

“Life is just like a forecast, we are just predicting what’s going to happen in the future, no one knows exactly, but if we don’t prepare by that time, then it is a waste of time. But if we get there and we already know that this change is going to come, then we can adapt to that kind of life. 

“Samoans and Pacific Island countries believe in God, so it is quite hard for us to communicate these kinds of information to them that there are changes. They say, let’s go with the flow and whatever life throws at us, let’s just adapt to it, but we need to prepare exactly no one has seen the future. 

“Some elders when you talk to them about these issues, they laugh and are not so much worried because their time is running out. Their children will worry about it when they get it.”

Tile said what concerns him is how his children will adapt to the changes if they are not aware and prepared now. 

“I know because I was part of most of the projects and studies that were done, so I understand by thinking of how best my children can adapt to the changes.” 

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