Miss American Samoa, Kauhani Mea’alofa Teisia Fuimaono says there are many things we can all do in our everyday lives as a Pacific family, to fight climate change and it is important to educate our people on what they can do to help.
In her research of the pre-pageant topic, Ms Fuimaono gave an overview of the impacts of rising sea levels on Pacific Island countries, including American Samoa.
“Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. According to the United Nations, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas,” Ms Fuimaono told the audience and judges of the Miss Pacific Islands pageant.
Like other Pacific Island neighbors, Ms Fuimaono says American Samoa has a fragile eco-system with the most common threat being rising sea levels causing erosion and coastal flooding.
The majority of the American Samoa population reside along the shoreline, and any rise in sea level will threaten homes and force her people to relocate, says Miss Fuimaono.
“Any lost of coastal land will disturb the delicate balance of our Territory’s ability to provide resources such as food and local building materials..”
“Most of American Samoa’s water supply comes from underground fresh water and so any rise in sea level will likely compromise our fresh water supply.. so it is important for us be sensible and take action.”
Miss American Samoa calls for that action to be taken by all Pacific peoples, in our everyday lives.
Ms Fuimaono believes that while there are high level policies and action to be taken by Governments such as American Samoa’s recent ban on styrofome and plastics, there are also many practical ways that we, as Pacific people, can help fight climate change.
Miss American Samoa paid tribute to the memorable Tuvalu Foreign Minister’s filmed speech to the COP26 summit, where Honorable Simon Kofe drove home the message while standing knee-deep in the ocean.
“But there are many things we can do in our everyday lives to help.”
“We need to clear our streams, and make sure trash does not pollute our oceans because it kills the coral.”
“We should not dump chemicals and waste water because, it contributes to damaging our coral reefs.”
“Replanting mangroves can also help delay or prevent erosion and we can keep our reef ecosystems healthy by not overfishing.”
Miss Fuimaono says her country, American Samoa has built sea walls as a protection from rising sea levels and coastal flooding, but when the Territory was hit by a king tide last July, it still caused a lot of damage to coastal areas, highlighting that sea walls are only a short term solution.
The recent floods in Auckland were touched upon as another very real example of the impacts of climate change on our Pacific people.
Miss American Samoa says her tiny island of American Samoa, like all other Pacific neighbours, are living through the effects of climate change, and calls for united action.
“I believe that any and all solutions to this problem, requires resolvement and commitment from all of us working together. Strength in unity is key because 98% of the Pacific is ocean. Our environment is our home. When we take care of our island, our island takes care of us.”