Fenner in the News - As extreme weather ravages the Pacific, there is much to do and no time to waste

1 March 2022

In the past decade the two most intense cyclones recorded to date in the southern hemisphere ripped through the Pacific. Tropical Cyclone Pam, the second worst, devastated Vanuatu in 2015 while in 2016 Tropical Cyclone Winston, the worst, ravaged Fiji. Both not only caused extreme environmental damage but economic damage worth 64% and 20% of the respective nations’ GDP.

Pam and Winston fit the global pattern for cyclones: there are proportionately more of the really nasty category 3, 4 and 5 cyclones, driven by warming oceans. And, sadly, there is no doubt that as our climate continues to change, the Pacific should brace for more extreme weather events. This is confirmed in the newest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released on Monday.

The report shows climate change is already pushing some human systems and ecosystems beyond their tolerance and adaptation limits. It paints a stark picture; that climate change is adversely impacting every region in the world. More worryingly, the report shows that the most vulnerable people and ecosystems will be the worst hit, including in the Pacific. Pacific Island countries and territories are the least responsible for global warming and biodiversity loss yet they are facing the harshest consequences that will continue to worsen in years to come. Their future is uncertain if the world fails to pay attention to the report’s warnings.

Read the full article by ANU's Mark Howden and Ofa Ma’asi-Kaisamy at the Guardian website