Editor’s Note: This summer, the PICCC has been joined by Joseph Anastacio, a Palau native and current University of Hawai’i student, serving as an intern through the Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES). Below, Joe describes some of the climate change impacts he has witnessed in Palau.
I am sad that this will be my last blog; however, I am very glad to have worked at the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative. My experience has taught me numerous things about communicating, working with others, and climate change. I have worked with many good people who work very hard for the sake of generations to come. With that, I end my blogs with a slightly different topic: culture. To me, culture is the way of life taught and passed down through generations. Climate change and culture are connected in many ways. I am very fortunate to have experienced the Palauan culture growing up.
The Palauan culture, although it has changed over the years, has one foundation- to help one another. There are times in a person’s life where they need others to help; for instance the birth of the first child, where people gather not only to celebrate new life, but to help the new parents financially and to build relationships. Buying a home is another example when a person or family needs assistance and people come together to help. Help is also offered during the last stage of a person’s life, when relatives gather to say farewell and release the person from worldly things they left behind such as debt or obligations between families. There are also times when people contribute to the community by participating in group cleanups, helping others tend farmlands, or working together to create ideas for projects and rules for the good of the villagers.
Climate change threatens many people around the world. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, it affects the ocean surrounding Palau, the economy, and the people. It might affect the beautiful environment tourists and Palauans rely on. The economy will be impacted since tourism is the key contributor. It will create problems for families who depend on farming and fishing for sustenance. There will be implications on families, potentially making it hard to continue cultural practices because times have changed and money is more important than ever. Climate change poses a threat to an entire culture.
Palauans work together in many ways. One example is working to cultivate an area for farming. Women were called throughout a village to come together to clean and prepare a patch of land for planting. Many of these areas of land have been inundated by seawater in recent years. During my internship, I have learned of a new tool Palauans may use to better manage natural resources in light of climate change. The PICCC hosts a mapping tool that enables us to collect information from people, such as Palauans and government agencies, to better understand the extent and circumstances of specific situations regarding climate change. This map-based tool can incorporate aspects like local knowledge and scientific data to display past and present features such as agriculture, sea-level rise, and weather patterns to aid and educate local people as well as natural resource managers.
The core foundation of Palauan culture that I initially mentioned is essential. Helping one another is extremely important in life and especially now, considering climate change. I have found within the last two months of my internship that a lot can be accomplished through helping one another. Everyone has a role. You can be a woman trying to plant taro, a student working to improve communication, or an organization that helps other organizations or agencies. We all play a unique part. The PICCC staff works together and helps one another, which results in a lot of good work. The organization also has Steering Committee members who point the ship in the right direction.
I want to thank the PICCC for accepting me and helping throughout my internship. I am very happy to have joined such wonderful people. I wish for everyone to come together, and help one another.
University of Hawai’i, Hilo