By D. Markie Spring
The aftermath of climate change often fuels optimism!
Continuously, climate change and global warming reminisce to create ecological and social variations – championing environmental degradation, changes in the cryosphere, geological events and extreme weather patterns on earth, which include rising temperature driven by human activities.
The author of a number of published works, D. Markie Spring was born in St Vincent and the Grenadines and now resides in Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. He has an MBA from the University of Leicester, England, and a BA from Saint Mary's University, Canada
Let me reiterate, climate change is expected to severely impact developing countries far greater than developed countries, with soaring temperature, variations in precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, and continuous frequent weather-related disasters; changes that pose risk for agriculture, food, and the supply of water and menace to undo many years of development in the fight against hunger, poverty, diseases and the lives and livelihoods of billions of people residing in developing countries. More so, addressing climate change demands unprecedented global cooperation across borders, including governmental and non-governmental organizations.
As intended, my focus is St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and the region. However, some researchers and practitioners alike use acidification of the oceans, temperature rise, and cloud cover as the indicators for climate change within the region.
Here, according to the acidification process, the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, forms carbonic acid and depletes the pH of the water. To date, it is reported that the ocean had already absorbed 50 percent of the carbon dioxide we have manufactured since the industrial revolution. More so, the lowering of the ocean pH has significantly affected small marine life that forms shells, which play a crucial role at the bottom of the marine food chain. It is scientifically proven that acidification damages coral reefs; hence, it is safe to conclude that the impact of marine bio-diversity and the coral reefs have significant implications for the people who rely heavily on the already depleted fisheries for their survival.
According to a report from Caracas, the collapse of sardine fisheries in the southern Caribbean during a ten-year period is driven by global climate changes.
Coupled with this, researchers from both Venezuela and the US linked ecological measurements in the southern Caribbean to global climate change indicators. These indices were uncovered to correlate to changes in wind and ocean current circulation patterns. Hitherto, these sardinella aurita fed on plankton, which has been on the decrease since 2005 and responsible for the collapse – not withholding overfishing; hence, sardines have plummeted by 87 percent as revealed by the study.
Additionally, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a rise in annual mean surface temperatures somewhere between 1.4 and 5.8 deg C between 1990 and 2100. The report further indicates that a mid-range temperature rise will create a devastating effect on food security. Not only would this phenomenon affect the tropics and mid-tropics but mid-latitudes as well. Moreover, the British foreign minister stated in October 2006 that an increase in temperature by 2 to 3 deg C will decrease crop yields by 30 to 40 percent in South Asia, Middle East and Africa. Interestingly, higher average temperature will also stimulate the emergence and re-emergence of pests and diseases, and multiply the vectors that transport these diseases.
As evident in St Vincent and the Grenadines, rising temperatures have impacted a wide range of crops; influencing farmers to discontinue cultivation practices – not withstanding lack of precipitation. In this capacity, fruits such as mangoes and breadfruit are falling to ground prematurely. Furthermore, lack of precipitation in the dry season has resulted in dry rivers beds; hence, marine life is dying and, therefore, affect the environment in which we live.
Creatively, we can reduce the level of ocean acidification by burning less fossil fuel. From an SVG and Caribbean perspective our best practice is maybe to reduce the amount of carbon into the atmosphere by discontinuing burning our forests and garbage. Moreover, to reduce direct radiation of the sun energy to plant crops, SVG can adapt and practice afforestation – ideally, planting new trees that can withstand harsh weather conditions and which form a canopy that is thick enough to shelter small and vulnerable plants from direct radiation from the sun.
Married to this idea, is a reservoir and rainwater harvesting system that can be used for irrigation purposes, especially in the dry season and high temperature recording days. In addition to this, the system can be use by livestock, particularly in areas where there is no running water.
Now, is the time to make the change; today is the time to educate and mobilize residents about the sustainability of our environment.
Climate change and global warming are real phenomena – look around!