Sep 14, 2020 08:00 AM EDT
The Caribbean is now bearing the dire impacts of climate change: rising sea levels, increased ocean temperatures, busier hurricane season, lesser rainfall, and increased diseases.
According to an ADB report, climate change poses a severe threat to Caribbean SIDS due to its size and location despite its low contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
On Saturday, Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer for the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, presented the Virtual Island Summit’s panel discussion on Climate Change, COVID-19, and the Caribbean. Civil Societies Role painted a grim picture.
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Dire Effects of Climate Change in the Caribbean
In his presentation, Fuller cited the following:
- Temperatures have increased to one degree Celsius since 1960.
- The region has been experiencing a decline in rainfall over the last 100 years. The rains, however, are occurring in a shorter period but in more massive outbursts.
- Sea level rise occurred at a rate of two to four cm every ten years for the past 33 years. According to a report, a beach in Belize eroded vertically for more than 200 yards, washing out homes and inundating roads. He said that it is the same scenario all over the region and is bound to get worse. The trend poses a danger to the region’s freshwater resources and its coastal population that is highly dependent on tourism and agriculture.
- Increasing temperature and lower rainfall will adversely affect agricultural production and threaten food security as rice, maize, and beans are likely to decrease production at 20 percent.
- The effect of climate change in agricultural production will cause more importation of food. The importation of food has made the Caribbean one of the world’s most obese regions because of the processed foods they are consuming.
- Increase in hurricane activity across the region. The region has experienced 40 tropical cyclones in the last ten years. Twelve of which became a hurricane. Eight of the storms were intense with a category three, four, and five.
- Rise in vector-borne diseases. Trinidad, Tobago, and Barbados have the highest incidences of leptospirosis.
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James Fletcher, the Managing Director and Founder of Soloricon, urged everyone to address climate change issues.
He recommends the following actions to help curb climate change:
- Protect the Caribbean’s land-based ecosystems
- Improve the land use plans taking significant consideration of where structures should be built and how it should be built. Buildings and high-density infrastructure in the shorelines will be flooded in 20 to 50 years due to sea-level rise and storm surge.
- Governments should invest in resilient public infrastructure and installing early warning systems.
- Lawmakers and key officials should adopt an evidence-based approach to policy-making.
- Empowering civil societies by providing them with more resources and provide spaces in which they are included in policy-making.
ADB cites that the cause of inaction to climate change in the Caribbean is high. Loses related to climate change in the region could total US$ 22 billion annually by 2050, an estimated 10 percent of the current Caribbean economy.
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