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A Glimpse of Climate Change-Papua New Guinea

Updated on August 10, 2013

Climate Change and Impacts in Coastalines of Papua New Guinea

Introduction

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution the natural green house gases has been enhanced and for this reason, the earth is warming up. Now, what is climate change? Climate change is simply the addition of the excessive green house gases into the earth’s atmosphere that influences the troposphere level of the atmosphere to reflect back more of the radiated solar radiation back to the earth’s surface thus causing it to warm up. This addition of the excessive gases comes either directly or indirectly from human activities. “The sharp increase in the use of fossil fuels which release large amount of the greenhouse gases CO2 and CH4 into the troposphere, deforestation and clearing and burning of grassland to raise cash crops which releases CO2 and N2O into the atmosphere and the cultivation of rice paddies and use of inorganic fertilizers which release N2O into the atmosphere.”(Miller; 449)

The addition of these gases into the atmosphere has many implications to both the humans and their surrounding environment. These impacts include warming up of the sea temperature, the melting of the ice in the poles, changes in the weather patterns, sea level rising and many others. Papua New Guinea is the second largest island country in the world and by observing the impacts of climate change on the environment, sea level rise play a very big role. Rising sea level has so many implications on the coastal states, these implications affects all of the three aspects of sustainable development and that is the social, the economical and the environmental aspects. Resources on the coastal and the marine environment can be affected vary much as the sea level is rising and this is one of the biggest challenge that Island Nations are facing.

In this practical discussion, we will be looking into some of the Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies that can be used to minimize the impacts of climate change through the rising sea level. The field trip and observation sites are: Ela Beach, Lancron Naval Base, Harbor side and City Premises and Baruni Waste Dump within the city of Port Moresby. The identified Adaptations and Mitigation options after observation will then be put together and an estimated total cost of the measures will be calculated. What is adaptation? In simple term, adaptation is coping with environmental impacts using certain means so that one can live in the same environment despite the gradual changes taking place in the environment. Mitigation on the other hand is the reduction of impact on the environment by carrying out measures. A classical example of mitigation measure is the collection of rubbishes along coastline villages and that will reduce the impact of climate change to a single angle, meaning to say that erosion will be the only impact rather than having health issues into the list. Now, what are the aims of this practical?

Aims of the Practical

  1. To help the students become aware of the effects and implications of climate change on our physical environment.
  2. To help our students become more sensitive to the need to minimize the effects or impacts of climate change by proper planning, wise use of natural resources and supporting necessary management policies at both national and international levels.
  3. This practical introduces you to identify adaptation and mitigation measures or options due to climate change, variability and sea level rise impacts on ocean and marine environment and coastal land processes, landforms and developments in Port Moresby.



Objective

At the end of the practical the students should be able to:

Communicate a basic knowledge of what will happen to our physical environment as a result of climate change, variability and sea level rise impacts

Understand the impact of global warming, variability and sea level changes on mitigation and adaptation measures,

  • Be aware of the possible effects of sea level rise on the coastal processes
  • See the problems that we will face with our reef landforms as a result of climate changes.
  • Help students understand the impact of climate changes on our ecosystem
  • Understand the expression adaptation and mitigation measures in the context of climate change, variability and sea level rise impact on the city of Port Moresby

Results

The following table showing the results of recorded adaptation and mitigation measures along the observed coastline of Port Moresby:

Adaptations Measures

Mitigation Measures

  • Relocation of Houses to new sites
  • Building of Artificial Seawall for the protection of the shoreline erosion
  • Building of houses with high post
  • Natural Mangrove sea wall for the protection of the shoreline from
  • Building Bridges from House to house
  • Setting up of rubbish bins along the beaches to reduce the waste pollution into the oceans that can be carried out into the waters by the waves
  • Usage of banana boats as means of transport during disasters
  • Planting of pine trees alongside Ela Beach
  • Artificial Sea Wall
  • Natural Mangroves Sea Wall
  • Reclamation of the Land Area being covered by the sea

Discussion

Adaptation and Mitigation measures were observed and recorded during the field trip while touring the coastline along Port Moresby. According to the results, Table.1.0 is showing some of the recorded adaptation and mitigation measures where these measures include: artificial sea walls, natural sea walls of mangrove and sand, building of houses with long posts to withstand the high tides, boats for evacuation during disaster, building of bridges from house to house that can serve as an emergency route to the land during the time of disaster, the posts which were once made of pure wood now are being cemented into drums to withstand the high wave energy from the sea in terms of the rising sea level due to climate change. Huge boulders of rocks were deposited just in front of the artificial sea walls and that helps to minimize and slow down the process of soil erosion along the coastline.

Now, looking into the cost of building the artificial infrastructures as adaptation measures to climate change, we will first estimate the cost for building the sea wall all the way from Koki Village to Ela Beach. For a single block of concrete it costs K2000.00 where according to the count of blocks from the surface the total number counted was 450 bricks on the surface multiplied by 4 blocks vertically, the total number of blocks is 1800 blocks, this total number of blocks multiplied by the unit cost of a single block (K2000) will give a total expense of three million six hundred thousand kina (K3, 600,000).

Building houses on a long post along the coast is quite and expensive practice. Similar to building high covenant houses is the expense use in building the houses on the sea, in estimation it will cost twenty five to thirty five thousand kina on building a single house with long post on the sea. Considering the houses they are all modern houses that totally depend on materials from builder’s hardware and these materials are very expensive. Putting together all the houses with long posts along the village of Koki will give an estimated total amount of K2 million. This is quite an expensive practice with the integration of the issue of population increase and climate change. In addition to this, there is an identified health issue relating to climate change that will be very costy to the people of Koki and that is their sewage or human waste disposal. With the fact that the people use the sea as their latrine and the impact of climate change through sea level rise is encroaching their habitat, the rising sea level can transport their waste back into their houses. Consequently, the outbreak of epidemics as cholera can be quite expensive both to the government and the people of Koki Village. Now the bottom line is that the government and the community must work together to meet the cost of adaptation and mitigation measures which are now a day’s becoming expensive.

The use of outboard motors along the coastal villages is one of the adaptation measures that the people use to sustain their livelihood. The sea has become home to them for generations and they do not want to move on land. Their ignorance together with improve transport system, the people tend to adapt through the use of banana boats and outboard motors as the means of transport. This assisted in fishing, the fetching of water, transporting garden food from the market and even carrying passengers from point A to point B. Now, despite the fact that this an adaptation measure, in terms of sustaining the livelihood of the people in the village, more use of the outboard motors give off much of the Greenhouse Gases and at the end of the day this is contributing to climate change where the impact is boomerang, we tend to burn carbon fuel on our outboard motors emitting more pollutants to the atmosphere without knowing what we are doing and consequently we spend a lot of money building structures for adaptation measures relating to climate change and rising sea. By considering this, mitigation measures are not properly in place whereas we can see there are no limits to the number of boat used, there is also no control in the number of cars, especially the used cars in Port Moresby city. All these if the impacts of climate change are take into consideration, the government can standardized a certain number of these to be used in Port Moresby and this will be our mitigation measures in terms of carbon fuel emission through cars and boats.

In addition to this impact is the spill of engine oil use by the boats. These spills then add impact on the impact of rising sea level and the situation becomes worsen for the marine biodiversity along the coastal waters. With rising sea level, fishes, sea grasses and other marine organisms along the coast are affected and these are our responsibility to mitigate the impact, however, we are not playing this role, we on the other hand add more stress to the biodiversity by our activity of adding oil spills and waste pollution into the oceans. The government of the day must be the leading agency in this because at the end of the day the implications will be national where the government will become responsible when people are affected by the malfunctioning ecosystem that upsets the system of human beings through sicknesses and epidemic.

Port Moresby has its own waste management policy; the implementation of the policy is just not practicable. Mitigation measures identified in terms of the impact of climate change human activities were evident along the coastline residential area, however these measures cannot cater for the excisable amount of solid waste deposited on the beaches and into the sea. The impact of climate change thus causing the level of sea to rise where all the wastes that are disposed off into the seas are carried back to the shores where they become waste pollution and at the same time, marine organisms as turtle which at the first instant suffer from the impact of climate change are now also suffering from the wastes from human activities. These wastes include plastic bags, empty boxes, and empty tins of fish, domestic kitchen wastes and wastes from humans. Removing and controlling the amount of wastes into the sea is the best approach in reducing the impact of climate change on marine lives and the lives of the people and this has to be taken lead by the community of concern and the government of the day.

Natural protection system of the beach front is one of the effective ways to which adaptation from the impact of climate change can be done. Natural protection can include high grounds or specific and right species of vegetation being grown along the beach front. During the field trip some of these natural sea walls were observed. Mangrove is one of the natural sea wall to most of the beaches along Port Moresby’s coastline. The part of the field to Tatana village some of these mangroves were identified as natural sea wall to the impact of climate change through the rise of sea level.

Adaptation measures along the coastline of Port Moresby were seen as means that people inhabiting the coastline use to make their living continue in the same environment. The same groups of people who are carrying out adaptation measures are the ones that are enhancing the impact of climate change.


Wastes are being disposed off into the seas, more outboard motors were used and even the human wastes are disposed off into the sea without knowing a better science of the climate change. Now from the observations, there are presences of adaptation and mitigation measures along the observed coastline and estimated total cost would be (K3, 600,000+K2000, 000) =K5, 600,000 which include the artificial sea wall and the cost of houses with high posts, however, the people’s attitude towards adaptation and mitigation measures are not as keen as that of the scientists and other technical people. Most of the people living along these coastlines are villagers and street roamers.


Despite the fact that the expenses on building structures as adaptation measures are too expensive, the people are being ignorant. Wastes which are going to heat back to them as health hazard during high tide were not a problem to the people while it is still better and when it comes to breeding bacteria and viruses that lead to epidemic issues like cholera then it becomes a health problem for the community and an economic problem for the government where at the first place mitigation measures were to take place. According to Miller this is what he says about diseases related to climate change: “Global warming, which is leading to the spread of tropical infectious diseases such as malaria, yellow fewer and dengue (called “break bone fever by those who experience the excruciating pain in joints) to temperate areas. A 2000 study researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that each 1°C (1.8F°) rise in temperature causes an 8% increase in diarrhea in children under age 5 in developing countries.” (Miller; 408). “Physical adaptations in human beings are seen in response to extreme cold, humid heat, desert conditions, and high altitudes.” (Britannica 2010)


Coastal Erosion is the main issue that is now affecting the coastline giving rise to all the above adaptation measures. Now according to the Port Moresby Tide Chart for August 2011, possible areas to be submerged after 30 years are: Koki Market and the surrounding areas, Harbor City (Konedobu), Motuan Village starting from Tatana village and the Naval Base to the other villages along the coastline. These villages are situated on lowlands and compared with the others like Paga Hill and other higher grounds along the coast. It will also take 100 years for other locations like the Paga Hill and some parts of Downtown itself to be submerged. These are areas with relatively higher grounds.


The government and the community must think on the positive side of the coin where at the end of the day we will end up with less expense on our own mess.

Conclusion

In simple term, adaptation is coping with environmental impacts using certain means so that one can live in the same environment despite the gradual changes taking place in the environment. Mitigation on the other hand is the reduction of impact on the environment by carrying out measures. A classical example of mitigation measure is the collection of rubbishes along coastline villages and that will reduce the impact of climate change to single angle, meaning to say that erosion will be the only impact rather than having health issues into the list. Adaptation and mitigation measures are what we need in this event of climate change through rising sea level. Adaptation and mitigation measures total estimated cost along Koki to Ela Beach is estimated to cost a total of K5, 600,000.

Papua New Guinea is one of the most ignorant countries that are still need to improve in its attitude towards adaptation and mitigation measures yet this will play quite a great impact on our social, environmental and economical aspect of the society. Thus in conclusion, Papua New Guinea is still need to improve in how they perceive adaptation and mitigation measures in relation to natural disasters and climate change.

Recommendation

Climate change has reached its peak impacts on island and coastal nations all around the world where Papua New Guinea is one of these island nations. As countries of concern, what do we do? Now, according to the field trip there are many things that need to be done. Port Moresby is the capital city of Papua New Guinea and it should be the model of coastal towns and cities in the country. With this in mind and how the coastal environment is managed in relation to climate change, it is recommended that:

  • The government through the Department of Climate Change must now lead the country in terms of awareness on the impacts climate change, where this awareness must boil down to the very last person in a society. The department must be innovative and must be a leading example for the 80% illiterate people in the rural areas of the country. When people understand the science of climate change, they will began to appreciate the usefulness of adaptation and mitigation measures where consequently, they tend to contribute to more adaptation and mitigation measures.
  • The government must start looking into serious business of relocating the people of Hanubada and Koki Villages to areas where there is land. Right now their current location is just adding or enhancing the impact of climate change to the next mark. Epidemics and other health related issues are the challenges that both the people and the government are going to face.
  • Reduce the excessive use of outboard motor in order to reduce the emissions of GHGs into the atmosphere
  • The government must also regulate the number of cars used in the city where they are adding more of the GHGs into the atmosphere.
  • Waste segregation and recycling must be practiced in Port Moresby and the practice on burning the rubbishes must be cut down.


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