Thursday, June 16, 2011

Caribbean states face 'perpetual recession' from climate change

Laurie Goering in AlertNet: Many Caribbean states are likely to fall into perpetual recession as a result of climate shocks to their key tourism and agricultural industries unless they move quickly to shore up their defences, regional experts warned this week.

Worsening droughts and tropical storms, coastal erosion and flooding linked to sea-level rise and rising temperatures are already putting new pressures on the Caribbean’s economies, driving away tourists and cutting crop production, said Kenrick Leslie, executive director of the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.

With 70 percent of the region’s population and an equal share of its infrastructure along threatened coastlines, Caribbean nations could be spending close to a fifth of their GDP just to cope with climate impacts by 2080, said Murray Simpson, a University of Oxford researcher who has worked with the U.N. Development Programme in Barbados.

Higher seas could put major coastal airports, ports and power plants underwater, experts said at a University of London conference on responding to climate change in the Caribbean. And rising temperatures alone look set to seriously damage the region’s key reefs and reduce production of major crops like rice, beans and maize by at least 10 percent by mid-century. That could make life dramatically harder in a debt-burdened region where 38 percent of people already live in poverty, the experts said….

Hurricane Emily in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005

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