Posted in climate change

The Weakest Link

 

A Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) report warns the Caribbean to prepare for increased drought due to climate change. The Caribbean accounts for seven of the world’s top thirty-six water-stressed countries and FAO defines countries like Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Kitts and Nevis as water-scarce with less than 1000 m3 freshwater resources per capita. These island nations already encounter drought events every year, with low water availability often impacting agriculture and water resources. Governments and utility companies across the region have implemented measures such as bans on watering lawns and washing vehicles, and water schedules. However, in an interdependent world and considering that drought is intensified by climate change, there is critical work to be done at international level.

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Dare To Disobey In The Name of Climate Action

We are living in what is known as the anthropocene. Human activity is altering Earth’s natural cycles and spurring on climate change at unprecedented rates.

The islands of the Caribbean are home to over 40 million people, who are all directly vulnerable to climate change

The biggest culprits?

Dirty energy companies

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Burning of oil, coal, and gas is the primary cause of the increased concentrations of toxic gases in the atmosphere. It is estimated that about 3 million people die each year because of toxic particles and 87  percent of all human-produced carbon dioxide emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels. Small Island Developing States are facing increasing temperatures, sea-level rise, and increased hurricane intensity; climate change effects that threaten lives, property, and livelihoods.

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A Climate Promise is a Comfort to a Fool

“Don’t give something and then take it back, otherwise, you’ll get a boil on your eye,” is a very common saying in Trinidad and Tobago. It speaks to the practice of keeping one’s promises and being true and genuine in all giving.

On Earth Day 2016, 177 countries officially made a climate promise by signing the Paris Agreement. Signatories now need to make the move to ratify the agreement without delay and set their countries on the pathway toward 100 per cent decarbonised economies. Contrary to local belief, failure to ratify and live up to this particular promise will not disfigure those responsible for making it. Instead, it will further render Earth and all living things that call this place home exposed to the devastating effects of climate change.

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Stop Melting My Ice-Cream and Taking Lives

It is three minutes to midnight and we are losing all chances of redeeming ourselves from the atrocities we have inflicted upon the Earth.

Stepping out of the house and onto the street is now akin to moving from the pot and into the fire. As the maxi zips along the Priority Bus Route, I notice something. During my 30-minute air conditioned commute from Tunapuna to Port-of-Spain, I count eleven persons in the same stance; arms crossed over their chest, visibly using the palms of their hands to protect their arms from the heat of the sun. This stood out because I too have found myself attempting this futile coping mechanism.  If you listen carefully, you may hear your epidermis being scorched.

Why?

Progressively, each month is being recorded as the hottest month on record. Data released from Nasa confirmed that February 2016 was the most ‘unusually warm month’ ever measured globally. Global surface temperatures across land and ocean were 1.35 degrees Celsius above the February average — based on a 1951-1980 baseline.  This crushed January 2016’s heat levels and not surprisingly, 2016 is already set to be the hottest year on record.

This is no coincidence, this is climate change. 

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Sharks: The Dark Knights of the Sea

Written by – La Tisha Parkinson

Sharks are often considered to be the terrifying beasts of the sea, ready to attack without a moment’s notice. As such, the idea that sharks can be beneficial is often difficult to grasp. However, in the past four hundred and thirty-six years, there have only been seventy-six confirmed, unprovoked shark attacks in the Caribbean, that averages to be much less than one attack per year. Therefore, it is fair to say that sharks inhabiting Caribbean waters do not pose a threat to humans. Now, we must ask ourselves, how are sharks beneficial to the Caribbean? In this piece we will examine the important role sharks play in coral reefs in the Caribbean.

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Caribbean reef with healthy corals, Bermuda, 2013 © Catlin Seaview Survey

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A Trinidadian and a Jamaican walked into COP 21…

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It’s easy to spot Caribbean people.

They tend to be the ones walking as though they’re dancing, speaking as though every word is part of a melody, and unable to keep their hands out of the conversation. These musical talents were put to use in the ‘1.5 to stay alive’ campaign and the live performances by Aaron Silk (Jamaica) and Adrian Martinez (Belize) became a major attraction. We followed the sound of  music to the Caribbean Pavilion at the UNFCCC’s COP21 in Paris. The song brought a message from the people of the Caribbean asking world leaders to agree to a maximum 1.5 degree temperature limit in order to give us a fighting chance against climate change.

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¿Fenómeno del Niño? Sí, claro y ¿las energías renovables?

 Written by – Xiomara Acevedo


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Extraer, extraer y extraer uno de los verbos preferidos en cuanto a las tendencias de desarrollo económico de América latina. Colombia sin ser la excepción también debe generar el debate sobre la sostenibilidad a futuro de este tipo de visiones que priorizan la acumulación de dinero en detrimento de la salud y el ambiente de sano de cientos de comunidades. Y no solo es dinero, el extractivismo también deja una cuota en la atmósfera cuyos impactos más de una/o sentimos en el país.

De seguro usted ya escuchó que en el país están el 60% de los páramos del mundo e incluso el más imponente: El de Sumapaz. Los páramos son áreas eco sistémicas que aseguran el agua en el país. Sencillo. A pesar de esto, la minería en los páramos es una realidad a lo largo del país puesto que la facultad de decidir o no si se extraía se sopeso en términos de “crecimiento económico”. Sin embargo, hace unos días nos enteramos que la Corte tumbó el artículo 51 del Plan de Desarrollo, así que esas tales “licencias ambientales exprés” no es que no existan sino que ya no deben figurar tan “rápidamente y a la ligera”.

Guiar hacia un desarrollo resiliente es el compromiso internacional asumido por Colombia en su contribución nacional y determinada (NDC) ante la Convención Marco de Cambio Climático de Naciones Unidas la cual presentó 2 meses antes de la COP21. Reducir sus emisiones en al menos un 20% hacia 2030 e introducir una serie de cambios en las actividades sectoriales que más GEI (gases de efecto invernadero) producen son varias de las apuestas.

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Renewable Energy is the bombdiggity

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Let’s face it, fossil fuels are failing.

Over the last 18 months, the price of oil has dropped by nearly 70 percent to a recent $32 USD per barrel, and analysts predict further decline. Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, has reported its lowest annual income in over a decade, the world’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil, has reported its smallest quarterly profit in more than a decade, and British Petroleum’s 2015 loss was its biggest ever. This may sour the caviar and foie gras of some but it signals great news for the climate change movement, and progress in this movement equals a host of advantages for the earth and all those who inhabit it. For instance, as oil and gas tycoons scramble to stabilise their bottom line, investors are turning toward alternative forms of energy.

The renewable revolution is happening.

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Climate vulnerable and fossil fuel dependent

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Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) contributes less than 1.0% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Nevertheless, its annual emissions per capita ranks second in the world, surpassed only by Qatar. The islands’ hydrocarbon industry has been the pillar of its economy for over one hundred years. However, cracks are turning into gaping holes in this pillar.

Similar to other small island developing states, we are faced with the climate change challenge. We are vulnerable to the impacts of increased temperatures, rising sea level, coastal erosion, drought, intense and more frequent weather storms and hurricanes, and the introduction and spread of more diseases.

At the same time, the economy is suffering due to global fossil fuel divestment, which is taking critical foreign investment out of our pockets. The world is beginning to turn its back on fossil fuels, slamming T&T’s economic pillar with a sledgehammer. The hydrocarbon industry, which accounted for 42% of GDP in 2014 is pulling in less and less revenue due to falling prices and we have experienced four consecutive quarters of negative growth – an official recession.

It seems to be a contradiction of severe proportions. Do we, A, hold on to what we know, continue explorations in order to further pillage Earth and emit toxic gases into the air,  killing ourselves slowly? Or B, step onto the divestment train?

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Without a doubt, I choose B. Why? We need a paradigm shift and we need it now. As a matter of fact, the shift is overdue. 

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Economic incentive for fossil fuel divestment

 Written by – Daryll Griffith

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When you think of the Caribbean islands you think of sandy beaches filled with palm trees and rich biodiversity. This imagery is not entirely wrong, however, the Caribbean has a history that is deeply rooted in the production and consumption of fossil fuels. The Caribbean region has been involved in the exploration of oil for over one hundred years and while most of its nations are net importers of energy, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), is the largest oil producer in the Caribbean and one of the largest natural gas producers in the Western Hemisphere.

Focusing on the imagery of palm trees swaying in the Caribbean breeze and the abundance of sunlight, it’s hard to imagine why there hasn’t been more emphasis on these alternatives in the past to provide the energy we need. The reasons are tied to Development Economics and History in the Caribbean.

The graphs below show the relationship between the rising and falling prices of both Oil and Natural Gas compared to a graph of total Government Revenues for T&T from all sectors over a period of twenty-three years. Looking at the fluctuations it’s noticeable that there is a positive relationship between energy prices and Total Revenue.

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