Our Readers' Opinions
October 2, 2009
Are we ready for Climate Change?

by Renwick Hewitt 02.OCT.09

Climate change has a slow and insidious impact on our way of life and survival. This phenomenon has or will impact on the entire world. No one can escape it. Like it or not, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be impacted by climate change. Are we ready?{{more}}

The United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) defines Climate Change as “change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”.

Climate change comes about because of man made activities. These activities include an increase in industrial development, destruction of our forest, increased use of fossil fuel or gasoline and diesel, increased burning of charcoal or wood, agricultural products and many more.

These activities produce green house gases (CO2) which have the ability to absorb many infra-red wavelengths of sunlight, which changes the composition of the earth’s atmosphere causing an increase in atmospheric temperature which contributes to climate change. The direct effects of climate change are increases in air and sea temperatures, an increase in hurricanes or more intense storm activity, sea level rise, an increase in droughts or rain in geographical regions. The indirect effects are Vector Control Disease transmission, heat stress, allergies, dermatitis, water borne disease transmission, food borne disease transmission, food and water security, social and economic dislocation, population displacement.

Although we contribute very little to climate change in terms of greenhouse gases, we are or will be greatly impacted on negatively by the forces of nature. Already there is a rise in sea level. The Grenadines are affected by this sea level rise. Layou, Barrouallie and Calliaqua are areas that will be affected by the sea level rise and the bleaching of the coral reefs, as a result of the increase in ocean temperatures.

This year, St. Vincent had an increase in rainfall. During the dry seasons, we had more wet days than dry days. With more rains, we may have more landslides and flooding, leading to a loss of life. Do we want more rains than we can handle? I think not!

Climate change is every body’s business. All of us are contributing to the cause of climate change. As citizens, there are simple things that we can do. We can change our aerosols, stop cutting down trees to burn charcoal, reduce the amount waste going to the landfill, stop burning garbage, reduce use of fossil fuel, reduce use of pesticides and fertilizers and many more.

All sectors have a part to play in reducing the impact of climate change on St.Vincent and the Grenadines. Our buildings, the health sector, coastline, food security, agriculture, water supply, industry, settlement and population are likely to be affected.

So, are we ready for climate change?