COLONIA, Yap - Climate change. An abstract word to many people in the developed nations stubbornly clinging to a combustible and destructive lifestyle, but an ever present and increasingly hardcore reality for the islands of the world.
This island, on the anniversary of its one-year pummeling by Typhoon Sudal, was the scene of what science experts, FSM officials and environmental personnel referred to as a "stocktaking excersize," an effort to compile trends, threats, data, needs and constraints as they relate to the current and present danger of the global effects of more erratic and extreme weather patterns.
"We must work together," said Yap Governor Robert Ruecho in his opening speech to the conference, "to fight the root causes of climate change. We all know that the industrialized countries produce and emit most of the gases and chemicals hazardous to our global environment. And our small islands, our people, are being affected by these hazards which we are not responsible for."
2004 marked a three-year running record for typhoon frequency and severity in Micronesia, topping records set in both 2002 and 2003.
"It is a must that we are united with one powerful voice behind such important efforts like the Kyoto Protocol," added Ruecho. "In this time and age, there is no room for inaction."
Both the U.S. and Australia - two of the biggest trading partners and foreign aid donors to the Micronesian region - have refused to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, citing economic barriers and a lack of scientific proof that global warming and the resulting erratic global weather shift is occurring.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency allocated nearly seven million dollars to Yap after the complete destruction of the island by Typhoon Sudal, widely reported as the most severe typhoon to hit Yap in the last 100 years.
Governor Ruecho referred to the event in an interview with the Alliance as "the most ferocious of them all…a mighty and unmatched devastation to our lives and environment."
As a result of the meeting, the FSM has developed its 2nd National Communication on Climate Change, a document that will be presented to other nations of the world in an effort to receive financial and technical assistance for adaptation and mitigation measures designed to thwart the effects of sea level rise, coastal erosion, floods and droughts, storm surges, typhoons and other consequences of industrial society.
The FSM is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has submitted its first initial National Communication.
Participants at the meeting, which included Governor Ruecho, and the new Lt. Governor of Chuuk, Elimo Johnson, focused on four areas of discussion and importance: the current national circumstances related to climate change; potential adaptation and mitigation measures that must be undertaken; green house gas production and its reduction; protecting and recognizing the vast coral reefs of the region and its primary forests as oxygen producers and carbon reducers; and raising public awareness on climate change issues.