Climate Change and our Caribbean Countries

As  Caribbean people, we are full of vibrant colours that describe our warmth, culture, creativity, racial and ethnic blends and traditional song and dance. Are we not well advised to be ever encouraged to safeguard our Caribbean? Yes! Well, let’s really take a look at what is happening. And we only need keep our lens on 2017.

Even as this article is being written, the rains can be heard beating upon the rooftops and the trees blowing in the wind. The twin-isle of Trinidad and Tobago has been experiencing non-stop days of heavy rains and so the earth can hardly hold the water without some puddles forming; add to that some jammed waterways and we have unprecedented flash flooding.

Climate Change and our Caribbean Countries

Flash Flooding Trinidad & Tobago

 Unprecedented Weather

Would that not describe the experience for our Caribbean countries for 2017 thus far?  No!  It has been at least three centuries since an island was made “unlivable.”  La Times put it so nicely in an article entitled “Once there was an island known as Barbuda.  After Hurricane Irma, much of it is gone.” http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-hurricane-Irma-barbuda-20170907-story.html

What is the cause of this unprecedented weather? It might cause one to smile, the way Wikipedia described the Hurricane Season… “The season has been hyperactive, featuring both the highest total accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) and the highest number of major hurricanes since 2005.”  Of course, though, there must be a reason now for the hyperactive season.   Many within the respective field have proposed a simple mathematical equation:

Hurricane Intensity has a positive correlation to sea surface temperature  

+Sea Surface Temperature (SST) = +Hurricane Intensity (HI)

Climate Change and our Caribbean Countries

Barbuda decimated by Hurricane Irma http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/island-barbuda-left-a-rubble-11124904

And of course, there must be a reason for the increase in sea surface temperature.  Many within the respective field have suggested climate change. Read more here: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-climate-change-definition-causes-effects  

Anthropogenic activity refers to human activity that causes warming of the atmosphere by anthropogenic greenhouse gases (AGHGs), especially CO2.  This happens mostly when we burn fossil fuels, that is, coal, oil and natural gas.

It is the global warming that leads to the rise in sea temperature and general changes in weather patterns leading to increased chances of flash flooding and exposure to Category 5 Hurricanes in our Caribbean countries.

Are we to blame?

Well, in all fairness, if we are talking about global gas emissions, then our contribution might well be in proportion to or even smaller than our individual size metrics when compared to the metropolis.   

Let’s consider this; “How the Caribbean islands are coping after hurricanes Irma and Maria” a matter explored in https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/21/caribbean-islands-hurricane-irma-maria-puerto-rico

We have an island that is already being declared “once was.” We have a Prime Minister tackling a mind-boggling situation within our region; “I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time because it is devastating … indeed, mind-boggling,” Mr. Skerrit said.  Overall, we have “flattened landscapes, flash floods and loss of life” all of which we as a region can hardly afford at this time, or anytime for that matter and surely not on this scale.

One online article asked, “Do hurricanes feel the effects of climate change?” We all know the answer to this and our Caribbean countries sure do.

Climate Change and our Caribbean Countries

Dominica devastated by Hurricane Maria – https://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/hurricane-maria-damages-dominica-s-main-hospital-leaves-war-zone-n803711

Smallest contributors Greatest Impacted

Where does this leave us? In speaking with someone recently, they mentioned the need for installing an air-conditioning system. And guess what? Someone suggested solar air conditioning. How fantastic! And there we have it, as small localized places and regional communities begin exercising environmental safety.  Could you imagine the great effects we would have if each Caribbean country had citizens where each and every one exercised environmental safety? In such a community every single decision we make as a Caribbean citizen would be made with an understanding that we are literally securing the future of our individual countries and our region. We would be safeguarding any more additions to the Caribbean country that “once was.”

Thankfully, even with that conversation had, the movement has already begun.  Even on the governmental levels, some movements have begun:

  • Introduction of CNG vehicles,
  • Use of Solar Energy, and
  • C.A.R.I.C.O.M. discourse on go green initiatives.

In commenting on Barbuda, it was noted; “The damage is complete,” said Ronald Sanders, the Antigua and Barbuda ambassador to the United States. He told Public Radio International, “It’s a humanitarian disaster.” So, in commenting on the weather patterns for 2017, is it not worth stating, “The damage is informative,” showing us clearly that attitude and behaviour changes are essential if we are to survive and thrive in the future.

In response to Anguilla, the UK foreign office minister, Alan Duncan, said: “The initial assessment is that the damage has been severe and in places critical.”  Is this not true for most of the affected Caribbean countries? If it is true for 2017 and there are not efforts to begin positively impacting current climate change, then what are we left to expect for 2018 and beyond?

It is time now, for each and every Caribbean citizen and those of the Caribbean Diaspora to pick up the go green mantle and do our part for a better and brighter tomorrow.

By Kerriann Toby


Kerriann Toby holds a Master of Counselling and Bachelor of Psychology. She is a dynamic therapist, trained mediator; and educator since 2000. In addition to being a trained educator, mediator and therapist, she is a certified Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) Professional. Kerriann has also trained in cyber counselling and holds clinical registration with Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) & Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).

In mid-October 2015 she initiated operations of KarryOn geared toward the provision of a variety of enhancement and developmental services for the individual, groups and the organization; e-Coaching/Counseling, Mediation, EAP Services and the creative presentation of psycho-social information. She can be reached at karryonservices@mail.com.

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