Tag: Climate

Adam Bobbette - Climate Change Observatories 03

Climate Change and the Church

Adam Bobbette - Climate Change Observatories 02Our latest film – ‘Climate Change and the Church’ premiered at the charity’s AGM and Festival Day earlier in the month. Outgoing Trustee Ven Chris Liley caught up with Selwyn College PhD student Adam Bobbette on his return to the UK after a month-long research trip to the Solomon Islands. Adam was inspired to travel to Melanesia, after hearing the Most Revd George Takeli speak at Selwyn College last year, about the devastating effects of climate change across the Pacific.

In the film Adam explains a potential new role for the church in recording climate change using the 2,000 parishes across the province.

Adam says: “We don’t need to send people to the region to tell Melanesians about the changes in their weather patterns and coastal erosion. They are there already noting these changes themselves.

“What the problem is, is that no one is recording and logging these changes. The church can play a role here, gather all this information from their congregations and send it to the Anglican Church of Melanesia’s headquarters. This information can then be used by governments and international bodies to get a better picture of what is going on in the region.”

It is hoped that this project will be adopted by the Anglican Church of Melanesia’s Council of Bishops in November, and booklets for recording this data, designed, printed and distributed early in 2019.

The Melanesian Mission UK is very grateful to Adam and also to Selwyn College, Cambridge for funding Adam’s research project and travel to the region.

If you would like to support this project (the printing and distribution of the booklets, and the collation of data in 2019), please reference your donation to the charity ‘Church Observatory’.

Please pray for this project.

O God of land, sea and sky hear the cry of your people,
for homes and livelihoods destroyed by rising seas and warming earth;
caused by ignorance, apathy and selfish greed.

Inspire all people of goodwill to work for change of hearts and minds,
so that loving respect and valuing all creation may increase awareness of the wonderful gift of the world and its life.

We pray that you will enable us to overcome all that destroys and pollutes and build a world where all life is sacred,
and the earth enriched for all its inhabitants and those yet to be born.

In the name of the one who promised life in all its fullness
through sacrificial love, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Bishop Willie

Honorary Bishop urges world leaders to take action on climate change

Bishop WillieThe Rt Revd William Alaha Pwaisiho, Honorary Assistant Bishop of Chester, and Rector of Gawsworth and North Rode, has called for greater action to tackle climate change at the 29th annual session of the Crans Montana Forum.

Heads of State and Government, ministers, members of parliaments, international organisations and major businesses from more than 100 countries gathered in Brussels, to discuss topics as far ranging as fake news, global warming, globalisation, and maritime and port industry in Africa.

Bishop William, who is a Melanesian national, spoke about climate change and its impact on the environment. The Melanesian islands in the South Pacific have been badly affected by rising sea levels.

Addressing delegates Bishop William said: “Our planet earth is scarred and abused, our air and atmosphere is polluted with poisons and every human being is responsible, sooner or later we will be sorry. Well, it is now more evident where I come from in the South Pacific that small island nations are now suffering as the result of climate change and global warming. It is true today that entire communities have lost their livelihood since the rise of the sea level. Lands to plant food and wells to drink from are no longer useful, the ecology is now suffering.”

Last month the Diocese of Chester marked thirty years of its link with the Anglican Church of Melanesia. The link is thriving in both directions, with several new school partnerships in prospect.

Vanishing Worlds - Walande Island



Community leaders from the Pacific Commonwealth nation of the Solomon Islands are joining forces with scientists from the University of Southampton to warn of the impending destruction of entire villages at the hands of sea-level rise and extreme events.

Discussions are now underway involving the University and community leaders from the Solomon Islands and the Melanesian Mission, which has a 150-year history with the people of this 900-island nation, to plan a new research initiative to study the impacts of climate change on the Solomon Islands.

The University of Southampton will host a special seminar on the ‘Lost Islands of the Pacific’ on Monday, 25 September from 2.00pm (Main Lecture Theatre, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton).

The seminar will feature a short film telling the story of Walande Island, shot and produced by Alex Leger (a former producer with BBC Blue Peter), with commentary from Dr Ivan Haigh, Associate Professor in Coastal Oceanography. Walande was once a thriving island village with a population of 1,000 people, it is now virtually uninhabited, following a major storm and coastal flood in 1997.

Following the film, Dr Haigh will lead a discussion on the future of low lying Islands with special guests including Bishop William Pwaisiho and Rev’d Nigel Kelaepa, both of whom were born in the Solomon Islands and have witnessed first hand the impacts of climate change on their island nations.

Joining the discussion will be Professor Robert Nicholls (Engineering in the Environment), expert on the impacts of sea level rise, and Dr Cecilia D’Angelo (Ocean and Earth Science), expert on coral reefs.

Five islands in the Solomon Island chain have already vanished, forcing families to relocate to other, larger islands where they face local, tribal conflict.

Over the last 20 years, there has been an acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise which, along with other climate change impacts such as more intense tropical cyclones, changes to rainfall salt water intrusion and coral decline, will plunge the Solomon Islands into an even deeper crisis.

According to Dr Ivan Haigh, Associate Professor in Coastal Oceanography at the University of Southampton, “Sea-level rise is one of the most certain consequences of climate change and, along with other climate-related changes, will impact the Solomon Islands, and other Small Island Developing States, harder than almost anywhere on earth.


“When you analyse the current data, and review a number of other factors and events, it’s possible to conclude that the Islands are facing an even greater danger from sea level than previously predicted,” says Dr Haigh. “Sea levels in the South Pacific are currently rising at three times the global average but we are also seeing further changes to storm surges and waves, as a result of variations in weather patterns. The combination of these factors and many others is having a lifechanging impact on several communities across the Solomon Islands.

“For example, Walande Island, off the southeast coast of Malaita – the largest of the Solomon Islands – was once a thriving village with a population of 1,000 people,” he continues. “It is now virtually uninhabited, following a major storm and coastal flood in 1997.

“On Ontong Java, around 4,000 people are currently being forced to abandon their homes to be resettled elsewhere,” Dr Haigh adds. “Here, climate change has seen crops reduce from three to just one per year. It is simply too hot to grow enough food to sustain the population and in the future, it is likely that fresh water supplies will be severely impacted by salt water intrusion.”

Robert Nicholls, a Professor of Coastal Engineering at the University of Southampton, says: “With the rate of sea level rise projected to increase significantly in coming decades, many low-lying islands will face a losing battle to future extreme storm surge and wave events,” Professor Nicholls explains. “However, determining which specific islands are most vulnerable is difficult because of the vast variations in the topographic size and shape of islands and their surrounding coral reefs and sediment supply.

“Data on these variables is often limited in the Solomon Islands and elsewhere,” he concludes. “A much better understanding of what is happening with the climate and other driving factors is critical if we are to address the implications of sea level rise and flooding and propose appropriate management and adaption options.”

Islanders fear for the future

Walande Ecologist, James Taluasi says: “(Rising sea levels) are threatening the livelihoods of these people. It is threatening the food security of these people and it affects their long terms life in the future. In fifty years’ time, there will be no family. It will disappear.”

Walande Community Leader Frederick Daoburi believes climate change is to blame for the crisis affecting small island nations in the Pacific. “It’s a new thing happening these days,” he contends. “Disasters like this never happened before.”

Walande resident Peter Wate is fearful for his children’s future. “I’m feeling scared about it. Even our children feel scared because it’s beyond our reach; it’s out of our control. We see the sea crawling up the coastal areas and this poses a big problem for our children in the future.”

Bishop William Pwaisiho MBE from the Melanesian Mission but now living in the UK has returned to his homeland a number of times to his beloved islands to witness first hand the devastation caused by rising sea levels. “Look over there, that’s the stumps – all that’s left of the village. Now it’s all under water. It’s tragic what has happened to a beautiful island village in Walande.”

The Most Revd George Takeli, Archbishop of Melanesia, is calling for urgent action to help tackle the crisis unfolding in the Solomon Islands: “I have come to the UK to share the plight of people in the pacific suffering from the impacts of climate change. Many are having to abandon their homes, villages and islands due to increasing sea levels, unpredictable weather patterns and increased air temperature. “Many communities are struggling to adapt to these changes, with limited relocation options, resources or support. As a region with a relatively low carbon footprint, we seem to be paying a heavy price for rest of the world’s over development and wastefulness.”

Editor’s Notes:

  1. Footage of the Solomon Islands by Alex Leger (a former producer with BBC Blue Peter), including interviews with Bishop William Pwaisiho, village resident Susan Fakaia, Walande Community Leader Frederick Daoburi and Walande resident Peter Wate is available on request from the University of Southampton.
  2. The Melanesian Mission is an Anglican mission agency that provides support to the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM), through Prayer, People and Giving. http://www.mmuk.net/
  3. Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from New Guinea island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea and eastward to Fiji. The region includes the countries of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
  4. The University of Southampton drives original thinking, turns knowledge into action and impact, and creates solutions to the world’s challenges. We are among the top one per cent of institutions globally. Our academics are leaders in their fields, forging links with high-profile international businesses and organisations, and inspiring a 24,000-strong community of exceptional students, from over 135 countries worldwide. Through our high-quality education, the University helps students on a journey of discovery to realise their potential and join our global network of over 200,000 alumni. www.southampton.ac.uk

For further information please contact:

Charles Elder, Media Relations, University of Southampton
Tel: +44 23 8059 8933
email: c.elder@southampton.ac.uk
Follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/unisouthampton

Katie Drew, The Melanesian Mission UK,
Tel: +44 1404 851656
email: katie.drew@mmuk.net
Follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/MelanesianM