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Climate change affects already seen on island

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - Climate change is a global concern with significant impacts for islands. Living on an island we enjoy the tropical weather and the sunshine, but if we want to continue enjoying our sunny skies we must be cognizant of climate change.

Climate change is a set of observations made by scientists around the world that describe significant changes to the earth's environment and particularly the climate. Depending on the area climate change can mean severe weather patterns for different parts of the world. It could mean flooding in areas that normally don't see rain, drought in areas that typically see a lot of rain.

National Park Service Park Ranger Ben Hayes said, "But for Guam the climate change is affecting this island our island in several ways and actually we have seen some of the things already occurring that have to do with climate change and one of the most recent that occurred last year was the coral bleaching outbreak."

This is happening all over the island as a result of the rising temperature of the ocean. It is also helping to cause the ocean level to rise according to Hayes as much as eight millimeters in ocean level rise a year over the past several years. He said, "And that could mean significant changes for our coastline here in Guam and we have also experienced the beginning of ocean acidification and that means as the ocean is absorbing the carbon dioxide in the air which is produce by carbon pollution across the earth."

This causes the PH level of the ocean to increase hurting the ability of the coral reef to grow and thrive. "But the main thing to remember we are all connected to what's happening across the globe now Guam does not produce a lot of air pollution relative to the whole earth output of air pollution yet we are affected by it," he said.

Making the decision to learn about the effects will have a positive impact on the island and globally, but choosing to ignore it may carry severe impacts especially on islands. One island in particular not far from Guam called Kiribati may cease to exist as the sea level continues to rise leaving 140,000 island residents homeless in estimated twenty years.

"The National Park Service Climate Change is a very important issue and as the director of the Park Service has stated recently climate change is the greatest threat to national parks that we have ever experienced," Hayes explained.

The National Park Service is committed to raising awareness through public education in hopes of creating change by showing how we are connected to the effect of climate change and sharing what we can individually and globally. It is as simple as experiencing the resources and understanding how important our ecosystem is, then controlling how much carbon pollution we emit through recycling, using energy-efficient products and reducing how much power we use.

Hayes said, "Ignoring climate change will be the most costly of choices for us and our children so it is our responsibility to protect our environment."
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