Meeting discusses turning Climate Science into services

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Climate Change is a threat to Solomon Islands. Photo: SIVB

Climate Change specialists, representatives from relevant ministries and other key spokespeople working at a community level, met this week in Honiara to discuss how science and community can form better working relationships to best safeguard our futures and livelihoods  in the Pacific.

 The meeting essentially asked the key question: what does climate change mean for me? A case study on the impact of Climate Change on cocoa in the region allowed for a more focused discussion.

 A SPREP Climatologist, Phillip Malsale, said that everyone needs to turn climate sciences into something simple so that people can act on it. “It’s time to connect climate science to the community”

 “We need to be asking questions like: how can changes in temperature affect cocoa, what are the temperature range limits and what are the estimates for future changes so that we can prepare?”  Said Michael Grose Research Scientist at CSIRO Australia

 There are a number of ways that this can be done and then communicated to a community level.

 “We need to not just look at one possibility but look at them all. Today, tools exist like the Climate Futures Tool that allows us to get an idea of estimated changes in a region. But that only goes so far, then you need to take the information to a ground level,” Mr Grose added.

 Knowledge that science can directly help farmers and in reverse knowledge that farmers have can help scientists.

 “Blackwort is a fungus that affects the growth of cocoa. We have many micro-climates in the Solomon Islands and we find that some cocoa hybrids are affected more than others. We are trying to encourage farmers to grow plants that are less susceptible to Blackwort,” said Helen Tsatsia of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

 Climate Change is not just a discussion limited to scientists and farmers. We are all connected somehow.

 “Climate Change will affect business in the Solomon Islands so it’s very important for our planning. Businesses need confidence in their futures if they are not well informed in what the environment will be like in the near future then this will negatively affect their business decisions,” said John Kanai Ta’amora of the Chamber of Commerce Solomon Islands.

“Cocoa is one of the major exports in the Solomon Islands. We would like our export sector to grow strong so we need to know our options. So some of the climate experts internationally came in during the recent Chocolate Festival and talked with the farmers too,” said Samantha Maeke of the PHAMA Project, AusAID.

This week’s meeting provided an opportunity for people from a variety of climate science backgrounds as well as spokespeople in pacific communities to meet together.

“We are using science to make decisions. It’s really about learning from each other,” said Karen Pearce, a Communication Specialist at the meeting.

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Ednal Palmer is a former Chief Reporter and Assistant Editor of The Solomon Star Newspaper. Seeing the need to have an active Online News Service for the growing internet users in and outside of the Solomon Islands, he took the bold step in initiating this leading Online News Service.