[Coral-List] Public perceptions about climate change

Karl & Michele michka at fellenius.net
Fri Oct 30 19:04:09 EDT 2009

Same small island state observations here in Vanuatu. The capital has
doubled with vehicles and emissions in the last 5 years. Rubbish and
vegetation fires are commonplace, and the general trend of expats buying up
coastal properties and manicuring them and burning rather than composting
vegetation, continues. When locals overwhelmingly see expats having their
organics burned and driving the latest model pick-up or SUV they are less
likely to take notice of other more aware expats and locals doing things
differently. Expat numbers may be comparatively small but their influence is
substantial in the way they act. Many can't get away with it for financial
or regulatory reasons at home so they do it here instead.


Karl Fellenius, Director &
Michele Dricot, Manager

Vaughani Shores Vanuatu
Pangona Estates, Efate
Postal Box 3158
Port Vila

office       +678 29273 (AWARE)
mobileK   +678 7773329
mobileM  +678 7773326
email       VaughaniShores at vanuatu.com.vu
main web http://www.diveVanuatu.org

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Douglas Fenner" <dfenner at blueskynet.as>
To: "Tupper, Mark (WorldFish)" <M.Tupper at CGIAR.ORG>; "Szmant, Alina"
<szmanta at uncw.edu>; "John Bruno" <jbruno at unc.edu>;
<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Cc: "Richard B. Aronson" <raronson at fit.edu>
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 6:00 PM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Public perceptions about climate change

Thanks for the very interesting observations, Mark!!
    I work in American Samoa, which has a population of about 65,000 people.
I've often heard it said that we are so small that anything we do will have
no effect.  I've also heard it said that the small island nations that will
suffer the most are the least to blame.
    After thinking about it, I realized that any group of 65,000 people
anywhere in the world can say the same thing- oh we are so small that
anything we do will have almost no effect.  Any other group of a small size
can say the same thing, a city block in any big city or a small town or
village in the countryside anywhere.
     If we all say that, we will not avoid some pretty nasty climate change.
Kiss our reefs (as we know them)  goodby.  So we all have to do our part, no
matter how small an island, village, or block in a city.  Let's get to work
on it.
     (And 3 cheers for the priest giving a sermon on it in church!  Many
people listen to their religious leaders.  That's a real leader.  Aren't we
supposed to be good stewards, entrusted with the earth, to take good care of
it for future generations?  We aren't doing very well.)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tupper, Mark (WorldFish)" <M.Tupper at CGIAR.ORG>
To: "Szmant, Alina" <szmanta at uncw.edu>; "John Bruno" <jbruno at unc.edu>;
<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Cc: "Richard B. Aronson" <raronson at fit.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 1:12 PM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Public perceptions about climate change

Dear All,

It's interesting that here in the Philippines, inhabitants of some of the
smaller island provinces (e.g. Bohol, Camiguin, Calamianes Islands, etc.)
generally believe strongly in climate change and sea level rise. Many of
them claim that their waterfront properties have been altered already by
rising sea level, and many fishermen also believe that increasing sea
surface temperatures have changed migratory behavior of their target fish
stocks, particularly yellowfin tuna. Of note is that these opinions
generally belonged to people with 10 years or less of formal education and
very little exposure to media coverage of climate change. One group I talked
to in Camiguin said that the first time they heard it about global warming
in a formal sense was when their priest gave a sermon about it in church.
They further said that after hearing the sermon, they finally had a name and
a cause for something they had known was happening for many years.

Unfortunately, as I sat there with them discussing the problems of carbon
emission, which they blame on "city folk" in Manila, the USA, and China,
piles of garbage outside every door in Camiguin were burning, causing a
thick haze that made an otherwise fairly pristine island look like Los
Angeles. When I asked them if 14,000 homes burning trash on a small island
might be a bad idea, their response was yes it was bad for the air, but the
island was too small to contribute to global climate change. So, they would
continue to burn their trash until a proper garbage collection and disposal
program was implemented, as they wanted their island to remain clean and
litter-free. In this case, the issue is not about belief in climate change.
It's just that climate change is "Somebody Else's Problem".


Dr. Mark Tupper
Scientist - Coral Reefs and Reef Fisheries
The WorldFish Center
Los Baños, Laguna, PHILIPPINES
Tel +632 580-5659 (2889) GMT +8
Mobile: +63 917-524-0864
Reducing poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture.

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