Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Caribbean islands brace for challenges of climate change

Desmond Brown in IPS: Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas remembers how quiet – even uneventful – this tiny twin-island federation was for the first four decades of his life. But over the past 10 years, St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as the rest of the Caribbean, have seen radical climatic shifts. There is no question in Douglas’s mind that these changes are the direct results of climate change.

“Growing up, I knew nothing of hurricanes, (but) in the last decade St. Kitts and Nevis has felt the wrath of hurricanes like never before,” said Douglas, who has been the head of government here for the last 17 years.

Yet the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis are “hardly unique” in experiencing these hurricanes, Douglas said. “We can remember only too well the brutality of  (hurricanes) Ivan and Emily” in Grenada in 2004 and 2005, despite the fact that at the time, Grenada was considered “very safely nestled in the more southerly reaches of our archipelago”, he told IPS.

In July 2005 Hurricane Emily left a trail of destruction in Grenada, which was still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Ivan the previous year.

Those who live in the region face multifaceted and troubling ramifications as a result of climate change, Douglas, who has primary responsibility for the environment and climate change in the quasi-cabinet of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), told audience members from across the region during a climate change seminar earlier in September....

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