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Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Essay Topic "Climate Change in the Caribbean"

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Essay Topic

 

Running Head: CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE CARIBBEAN

Climate can be defined as the long term atmospheric conditions which focus on atmospheric characteristics such as temperature, pressure, wind, precipitation and humidity (Rahil, 2005). Since the early days of recorded weather, the earth's climate has undergone change. Today, it is believed by many scientists, though not all, that the rapidity of alteration of our climate results from anthropogenic activities. Additionally they have observed that because of these activities we have to face very negative impacts within the Caribbean including increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes, flooding, loss of coastal lands and associated infrastructure due to sea rise, and extreme heating which negatively affects agriculture, still a main economic activity for many Caribbean states.

 

 

As far as recorded history can take us, human beings have always done things considered beneficial to them. Our ancestors have exploited the Earth's resources such as animals, land and even people, without thinking of or understanding the effect on people in years to come. Today, population growth necessitates the need for development in many areas of human life, however, awareness of the impacts of these developmental policies are now better understood. According to Atwaroo-Ali (2014) there are four major human activities that have resulted in climate change: Pollution, Deforestation, Industrialization and Depletion of ground water.

Pollution can simply be defined as when an undesirable physical, chemical or biological change occurs to the environment (Wilson, 2012). Climate change is largely the result of atmospheric pollution. One of the major causes of this form of pollution is developmental activities associated with industry, fossil fuel generated power, vehicular emissions, and lack of public awareness. Fossil fuel combustion can result in the release of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrous oxides, three gases which result in very harmful impacts on the Earth atmosphere. Releasing these pollutants into the atmosphere can result in Global warming, which is strongly linked to climate change (IPCC, 2014).

Global warming refers to increases in the average global surface temperature (Concise Encyclopedia, 2014). Global warming can cause severe droughts, increase the intensity of evaporation and modifies rainfall patterns. Melting of polar ice caps resulting from global warming can result in drastic sea level rise leading to coastal flooding. As Caribbean islands have limited lands and most flat lands are coastal in location, this means that much of the Caribbean's most usable lands will be lost to sea level rise.

Extreme weather conditions associated with climate change can have severe social and economic impacts on Caribbean states. According to an article on climate change by Diane Abbot (2014), a single occurrence of heavy rainfall in the mountainous areas of St Vincent caused a flood which destroyed citizens’ homes and took lives. It exerted a heavy financial cost on the Government with an average of EC$330 million in damages. The country's small resource base, population and economic generating activities, also heavily dependent on the natural environment, were placed in a difficult position for recovery. This is typical of most Caribbean states.

The increase in temperature affects the farming industry by interfering with crop development. Higher temperature would hold back growth development. In some cases it could cause the rate of growth to increase, however, the yield may be reduced. Reduced yields places higher economic burden on Caribbean governments’ food import costs, which effectively takes resources away from other developmental areas. According to Wilson (2012) the doubling of carbon dioxide by reduces the yield of cane sugar and corn by 20-40%.

These changes will have drastic effects on the Caribbean Environments, making them less attractive as tourist destinations. It is possible that beaches may be destroyed, other accommodations such as hotels and resorts may be damaged and the increase in temperatures may result in making the atmosphere uncomfortably hot for visitors. This will have a negative economic impact on most Caribbean states, as tourism is a major source of their Governments’ income.

 

In spite of the many negative environmental impacts that we have caused as a result of our developmental needs, it must be understood that we cannot terminate the progression of Caribbean development. There are many changes to our lifestyles which can be made to begin bringing these impacts under control. One of the things is the reduction of green house emissions that go into the atmosphere. As vehicular emissions are a leading source of these gases, avoiding driving vehicles unnecessarily through using mass or public transport where possible or carpooling can have a significant impact on reducing the impacts of climate change on the environment. By participating in this exercise, it not only provides a significant move towards achieving a sustainable environment but carries tremendous health benefits associated with walking to and from short distances.

We should regulate and monitor the practice of deforestation. Tropical forest trees trap about ten per cent of the green house gases, removing them could result in these gases being emitted into the atmosphere. Caribbean governments and Non-Governmental Groups (NGO’s) should promote reforestation in areas that have been affected by this practice, such as our vulnerable hillsides. This may not only reduce the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide but also control flooding associated with hillside deforestation. Areas that have been used for mining must be planted with vegetation immediately after it has been used.

Fossil fuel based energy for industrial use can be replaced with less/non-polluting alternatives such as wind, wave, solar, and hydroelectricity. All of these sources are widely and constantly available in our Caribbean environments. Domestically, governments can provide citizens with access to grants in order to encourage conversion of more energy efficient and less polluting devices and appliances such as energy saving bulbs.

Groups such as the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) or any other similar organization should educate the public through avenues such as public lectures, clean up and reforestation campaigns to bring awareness to the effects of climate change and the solutions to help prevent it. Most people may not be aware of the effects of their daily life on the earth’s climate. Additionally, such organizations could run informative television advertisements on popular television networks, visits and inform schools across the Caribbean about the situation, have awareness campaigns across various organizations including workplaces as an effective means of creating awareness of climate change and the need for sustainable approaches. Lastly, media such as pamphlets, flyers, newspaper advertisements can be very effective.

In the final analysis, we see that we have contributed to the change of the climate because of our developmental needs, because of the fact that we cannot terminate progression of creating industries to improve the standard of living; we must insert changes into our lives to assist in improving the current situation without negatively affecting our developmental needs. We have seen that both industry and citizens of a county can make these changes as a whole in order to improve the standard of living not only for us, but the generations yet to join us. For these reasons, making changes now is essential in reducing and preparing for the negative effects associated with climate change, without negatively affecting the developmental needs of our Caribbean environment.

BIBLOGRAPHY

Abbot, D. (2014). Climate Change in the Caribbean. Trinidad Express, 10 February 2014.
Atwaroo-Ali, L.(2014). Biology for CSEC ® Examinations. 3rd Ed. London: Macmillan Education.

Concise Encyclopedia (2014). Definition of Global Warming. Retrieved from http://www. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/global%20warming on 21/10/2014

IPCC (2014). Summary for Policy Makers. Retrieved from  http://report.mitigation2014. org/spm/ipcc_wg3_ar5_summary-for-policymakers_approved.pdf on 21/10/2014.

Rahil, V. A. M. (2005). New Caribbean Geography: with map reading and CXC questions. La Romain, Trinidad: Caribbean Educational Publishers.

Wilson M. (2012). The Caribbean Environment for CSEC Geography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Additional internet readings from
Bacairquality.ca, http://www. bacairquality.ca/101/pollution-climate-causes-html
Epa.gov,  http://epa.org/acidrain/what/Ucsusa.org,  http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions,

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