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Editorial: We've Had The Warnings - But What Are We Actually Doing?

Three years after the Paris Agreement on climate change and global warming there is renewed focus on this controversial issue with a major United Nations conference now taking place in the Polish city of Katowice. This is the first such meeting since the landmark report in October by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which declared drastic action is required to avert a world disaster precipitated by climate change. Given the importance of this issue to a country like The Bahamas, we draw attention to it again in these columns.

Since many of the islands of our archipelago are low-lying and prone to flooding, coastal areas are vulnerable to rising sea levels as a result of global warming that is also likely to damage our coral reefs. Many consider this menace to be potentially worse than the effects of hurricanes. Higher sea levels constitute a real threat to the living conditions, property and even the lives of thousands of our fellow citizens. Severe flooding would also hamper our vital tourism industry.

The 2015 Paris Agreement, now ratified by 184 countries including The Bahamas, set out a global plan to limit global warming to less than two percent above pre-industrial levels. The goal of the Katowice conference is to agree a work programme to ensure the agreement’s effective operation by cutting greenhouse emissions, not least by reducing radically the use of fossil fuels to create energy. This is described as a mainly technical meeting but it is of considerable significance since some 30 heads of state were due to make statements at its opening session.

It has gradually become clear most people accept the existence of climate change and global warming. The World Meteorological Organisation warns that average global temperatures have increased substantially over the last 20 years and the incidence of deadly wild fires, heatwaves and droughts is clear for all to see. However, despite the judgment of those claiming to be the world’s leading climate scientists, sceptics remain unconvinced that the actions of humans materially contribute to this. Nonetheless, in light of all the evidence it can be reasonably inferred that excessive carbon emissions pumped into the atmosphere are likely to have some damaging effect through pollution of the environment.

For the doubters – including perhaps even President Trump who announced the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement - the intervention by Sir David Attenborough, Britain’s legendary expert presenter on wildlife and natural history, at the Katowice conference could prove to be telling. In a strongly worded speech - as someone recently persuaded by the strength of the scientific evidence - he issued a stark warning that the world was facing a man-made disaster. It could lead, he said, to extinction of much of the natural world and a collapse of civilisations; and, as such, it was the greatest threat to the world in thousands of years. It was, therefore, essential for governments to co-operate in the drastic cutting of greenhouse gases and air pollution.

Some will have been shocked by this apocalyptic view by such a respected figure who has become convinced humanity is affecting climate change and that there is a link between the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere and the growth of human populations and industrialisation. It is not yet clear what effect his remarks will have on the deliberations at Katowice. But, reportedly, there are already murmurings about some of the main players not living up to their Paris Agreement obligations to cut greenhouse gases.

For The Bahamas - categorised as a Small Island Developing State - already vulnerable to the effects of global warming, this should surely be a stark warning that the issue ought to be given the utmost priority. As a signatory of the Paris Agreement, we are committed to taking action on climate change. We believe we should work together with our CARICOM partners in coordinating protective measures on a regional basis in face of the likely long-term danger and at the same time develop more effectively alternative renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

We hope as well that those responsible in government for such matters will have noted the announcement by the World Bank at the Katowice conference that it is doubling its investment to support action related to climate change and is making $200 billion available to help countries to counter the impact of global warming in their territories.

Now is the time to build up our sea defences across-the-board. If we are strapped for cash, as the Government will undoubtedly claim, World Bank funding should be sought in order to launch such a nationwide project. Above all, given the seriousness of the situation facing the planet and the specific danger to us in The Bahamas, today’s FNM Government owes the public a report about how as a nation we are meeting our international obligations under the Paris Agreement. We also need to know what action is being taken to protect our own country against the likely long-term effects of global warming.

Comments

ColumbusPillow 11 months, 1 week ago

A 2018 worldwide survey of tide gauge data over the last 100 years may give Bahamians some peace of mind. The survey revealed that in general, there is NO EVIDENCE FOR, DANGEROUS SEA LEVEL RISE BEYOND ONE FOOT PER CENTURY! Also there is no observed relation between CO2 level and sea level rise. There is a determined effort to frighten people into demanding terrible energy policies; giving up abundant, reliable and AFFORDABLE oil/natural gas for weather dependent, doubly expensive wind and solar energy. We are close to the minimum amount of CO2 necessary to enable plant growth through photosynthesis. This planet is presently greening because of increasing CO2. Crop yields are increasing greatly.

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Porcupine 11 months, 1 week ago

Your comments border on criminal. "Moreover, there is no quick and easy explanation for this sudden emergence of massive loss around the globe. Yet, something is dreadfully horribly wrong. Beyond doubt, it is not normal for 50%-to-90% of a species to drop dead, but that is happening right now from Germany to Australia to Puerto Rico’s tropical rainforest.

Scientists are rattled. The world is largely unaware of the implications because it is all so new. It goes without saying that the risk of loss of insects spells loss of ecosystems necessary for very important stuff, like food production."

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Porcupine 11 months, 1 week ago

Dear Editor, If you truly place a high value on words, than you have missed the mark. You state, "This is the first such meeting since the landmark report in October by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which declared drastic action is required to avert a world disaster precipitated by climate change. Given the importance of this issue to a country like The Bahamas, we draw attention to it again in these columns." Most of the experts, sidelined though they are, have clearly stated that the damage has been done. Sea levels are already rising. Massive methane releases are already taking place, the Gulf Stream has already slowed down, frequency and intensity of storms have increased...................

You further state, "Since many of the islands of our archipelago are low-lying and prone to flooding, coastal areas are vulnerable to rising sea levels as a result of global warming that is also likely to damage our coral reefs." With all due respect, out coral reefs are already dead. This is due to a rise, and rising, Sea Surface Temperatures, and increasing ocean acidifacation. This is already happening. Not a futuristic event. I have followed this for 25 years. There are no surprises here for those who HAVE been paying attention. Your following statement leaves much to be desired. "Now is the time to build up our sea defences across-the-board. If we are strapped for cash, as the Government will undoubtedly claim, World Bank funding should be sought in order to launch such a nationwide project." Now is not the time. The time was two decades ago when the science became irrefutable. We are not cash strapped. We simply choose to spend our cash in the liquor stores, the web shops, on new gas guzzling cars, braided hair, and consumer-oriented pursuits of pleasure. And now, you are suggesting that other people's money be used to bail us out of our predictable fate. A fate resulting from an adolescent worldview. A worldview that says a prayer to the almighty may just do the trick. Or, the worldview that nothing but me matters. The worldview that an hour in church each weekend will guarantee salvation. For whom? We are not a serious country. Some call it slack. I call it immature and wholly irresponsible. Your editorial exemplifies these complaints.

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ColumbusPillow 11 months, 1 week ago

So much alarmism! The media has been corrupted!

Knowledge is our the best defence against this wave of fear.

Check out the relationship between photosynthesis and CO2.(BOTANY). No CO2..no plants...no life. Check out the GEOLOGIC record; most climate changes are periodic as a result of at least a dozen natural factors such as changes in this planet's orbit. Human activity has had only miniscule effect.

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sheeprunner12 11 months, 1 week ago

Like those who said that Jesus was coming from 200 years ago ....... smh

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ThisIsOurs 11 months, 1 week ago

Jesus never said he was coming in 2000 years. He just said he was coming. Actually he also said no man would know when, so anyone who says they know "when", don't listen to them. As to sea level rise and the Bahamas he also said "woe to those who live in the isles". Now you don't have to believe in Jesus that's fine but both of us see Maria, Sandy and Irma. Something happening, it don't have to be what they say, but these storms getting worse, it could just be a cycle who cares, we in the bad part, it would be wise for Minnis to stop pretending like the national plan didn't exist, thank the PLP for starting it and get on with the work. Don't leave us with captain Stephen telling us 24 hours before touchdown that he "going back to his office to write an evacuation plan"

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joeblow 11 months, 1 week ago

... not only has the media been corrupted, science has as well, and there are many reputable scientists who are not on-board the global warming train. There are multi-billion dollar industries springing up around new 'green industries' because of the fear mongering!

We can agree that something is going on, but anyone who claims to have the answer is simply not telling the truth. It may just be a part of a cycle as ice ages were!

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truetruebahamian 11 months, 1 week ago

Columbus pillow you are a fool to think that one foot per century is negligable.

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proudloudandfnm 11 months, 1 week ago

When 90% of the world's climatologists say you have a problem, listen to them. And not to hannity or limbaugh or trump.....

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Economist 11 months, 1 week ago

As one who grew up on a small island I am acutely aware of the environment.

Many islands are only two or three feet above high water mark. Three or four inch rise would make a major difference.

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sheeprunner12 11 months, 1 week ago

ThisisOurs is talking sense ............. that NEMA fella is a menace to our country ....... And these Cat 3-5 storms are not only getting worse, but more frequent ....... storms and rumours of storms in divers places ........... Everyone can remember Donna, David, and Andrew for 30 years ...... then things went haywire after Y2K ....... We have become numbed to Cat 3+ storms like murders.

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