ln 2007 the lntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated ‘with very high confidence’that up to 2080 many millions of people are projected to experience floods on an annual basis due to sea level rise. The report highlighted that while the majority of these people will be from the low-lying mega deltas of Africa and Asia, small islands will be particularly vulnerable. The people of Kiribati and Tuvalu reside on small atolls in the Pacific that are presently exposed to increasing storm surges and droughts. Many of these nations’ atolls are particularly vulnerable due to high population concentration, accelerated coastal development, shoreline erosion and increasing environmental degradation.
Presently these two nations are being financially assisted to adapt to these climate events. Little is known about the psychological and social effects of adaptation on populations, especially in settings like these where there are very limited mental health resources and no baseline data on well-being. This paper will report a recent study of how the Pacific people themselves perceive the problem of climate change, how they describe their individual and community adaptation and what coping mechanisms they are putting in place to address the changes they are experiencing in their way of living. The study informs knowledge of preparedness and coping skills, resilience, and coping strategies in the face of climate change.