When Ulamila Kurai Wragg visited New York in 2009 to speak about the frightening climatic changes taking place in the Cook Islands, some audience members stunned her.
“I was hearing, ‘There’s no such thing as climate change. What proof have you got?’ ” Wragg recalled.
“The experience I had in New York was not easy to forget,” said the member of the Cook Islands delegation to this month’s United Nations climate summit in Cancun. She described her experience while on a break from negotiations during the two-week summit, which drew 15,000 and ended Dec. 10.
Those comments galvanized her to continue speaking to Americans, and in April she visited universities in nine states, including U.C. Berkeley. She told audiences of:
- Waves from sea surges now breaking in front of homes and on roadways;
- More frequent and more powerful typhoons that have destroyed or damaged many island buildings and scoured away beaches;
- The 15-island nation’s first-ever water rationing last year;
- Soil erosion from unprecedented flooding harming fish populations; and
- Rising water temperatures killing parts of the coral reef — which provide fish with food and shelter.
“In the islands, there is a lot of fear among the people,” said Wragg. “That these things are happening, and the frequency and consistency of them.” The Cook Islands, population 19,000, are in the South Pacific, northeast of New Zealand.
Read more (Contra Consta Times)