This is the Sunhak Peace Prize blog.
Before introducing main achievements of the laureate, let me explain the background
I’d like to call President Anote Tong a hero confronting global warming at the forefront of climate change.
However, global warming is not only an issue for him.
All human beings have to take responsibility and solve problems together.
Now, let’s see why he is selected as the first Sunhak Peace Prize laureate and think about the global crisis due to climate change.
Sunhak Peace Prize Committee has focused on climate change and food security as the most pressing non-peaceful crisis future generations will be faced with. Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) has released the Fifth Assessment Report. According to the report, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases increased to dangerous levels and the ‘scientific hypothesis’ that climate change results from human activities became a ‘scientific fact.’
The most serious threat of climate change is ‘global warming.’ Even now, Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are getting warmer and the amount of snow and ice are being reduced. Consequently, the sea levels have been rising and islands are being gradually submerged. People in island countries are at the risk of losing places to live.
Climate change is an urgent matter directly related to the survival of humanity
2013 abnormal climate phenomena all over the world
There are direct impacts of climate change like heat waves, droughts, floods, and forest fires as well as indirect impacts like soaring prices and food security issues, etc. These issues are significant threats particularly to the livelihood and survival of the most vulnerable group of the poor.
The major cause of climate change is global warming
Surface temperature change over the past 100 years
The excessive amounts of carbon dioxide and methane emitted from human activities such as world urbanization, industrialization, and deforestation have accelerated global warming and those are considered as the major causes of climate change. Especially, the concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are unprecedented levels in the last 800,000 years.
Sea level has been rising as a result of global warming
Sea level change over the past 20 years measured by satellite (CSIRO)
In the 20th century, the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) rose by 10 to 20 centimeters according to satellite measurement data. However, the annual rate of rise over the past 20 years has been 3.2 millimeters a year, approximately twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated in the current trend, the temperature of the earth will rise 3.7 degrees Celsius on average and the sea level will rise by 63 cm by the end of this century.
The low lying small islands will be in danger of submerging.
Kiribati is at risk of being submerged.
Most of island countries are especially vulnerable because of their geological formation, and the destructive forces of human induced climate change are already causing havoc in their lives and lands. The warming of the oceans destroy coral reefs and the sea eco-systems which the livelihood of many of islanders depend on and changes in rainfall patterns increase droughts in some areas and more rainfall cause flooding in other areas
The problems on this earth caused by climate change have been raised for several years, whereas our sense of urgency is not high enough yet. However, the president of Kiribati Anote Tong spoke up about the difficulties facing his nation and the seriousness of the crisis of climate change around the world, and he moved into action for seeking solutions.
The founder of the Sunhak Peace Prize Rev. Sun Myung Moon insisted that “the future of humankind lies in the preservation of the Pacific Rim region. We should protect and save the oceanic realm, which is a lifeline upon which humanity’s future depends, from the environmental destruction and conflicts that are worsening by the day, and to shield its natural resources for the sake of peace in the future.” He met leaders of island countries suffering in the Pacific Rim region and helped them to solve perplexing problems by supporting educational social services and coping strategies in harsh environments.
President Anote Tong actively calls global attention to the crisis of climate change in international conferences and leads the human rights protection for climate refugees and marine conservation. Therefore, the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee selected him as the first laureate of the 2015 Sunhak Peace Prize.