By Dickson Igwe, Contributor
Anyone who understates the climate change threat is living in ‘wonderland’. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the September 2017 floods brought the climate change reality to the British Virgin Islands, in a very ‘rude awakening’.
This writer firmly believes that climate change brought on the September 2017 natural disasters that wrought havoc on the territory.
However, the aftermath of disaster saw prolonged suffering as a result of a total lack of preparation, and a culture that reacts to change, but that does not engineer change.
Human beings are driving these disasters with a careless and irresponsible planetary interface: a disregard for how their material existence and excessive consumer culture damages the only environment people possess: earth, the human habitat.
The culture of the Virgin Islands and most of the Caribbean is reactive and not proactive. As much as experts preach about the impact of consumerism on the environment, most residents could care less about the environment as they dance to the music of the material culture.
But, in today’s world of climate change, nimbleness, innovation, sustainable living, proactive cultures, and good and effective governance alone, will prevail against the natural catastrophes that are predicted to become regular, even annual, events.
Now, an October 2018 report from the United Nations undergirded by the world’s most prominent scientists stated that the world had less than a decade to implement policy that will stop a dramatic and irreversible deterioration in the earth’s environment.
Global warming, caused by pollution and gasses getting trapped in the atmosphere, and the depletion of the ozone layer, as human beings increasingly burn fossil fuel energy, is causing sea levels to rise dramatically worldwide.
Rains and hurricanes are getting more intense. The polar regions’ ice caps and glaciers are melting, dumping hundreds of billions of gallons of water into the world’s oceans and seas, causing rising sea levels.
Coastal flooding and storm surge is going to get worse as each hurricane season gets increasingly intense.
In the USA, 40 percent of coastal citizens are already threatened by rising seas. Low-lying island chains such as the Maldives and the
The Bahamas are under severe threat, sinking, as sea levels rise.
Overheating and sun exposure is going to lead to millions of heat-related deaths worldwide.
Severe hurricanes and coastal flooding are set to become annual events. The world’s cities and towns by the coastline will have to build sea walls, canals, dams, and various types of flooding prevention infrastructure, costing hundreds of billions of dollars, over the coming years, or these societies will simply cease to exist.
Potable water supply will become a challenge, especially in low lying regions as reservoirs, water plants, and desalination facilities, become damaged by flooding and hurricanes.
Seawater flooding is already threatening the water infrastructure in Miami, Florida. In the British Virgin Islands, the September 2017 disasters impacted water infrastructure. It set back water distribution and supply.
Weather-related insurance is set to skyrocket in natural disaster-prone regions. This has implications. The cost of living for example in the British Virgin Islands, already high, will become higher still with climate change.
In the British Virgin Islands post-Irma, insurance premiums are on the rise steeply. In some instances, premiums will double. This may cause people to forego home insurance which could cost them dearly down the road.
Populations in affected regions such as these Virgin Islands – which is on ground zero of climate change – will have to adapt, becoming much more ecologically aware, adopting sustainable lifestyles, and minimal carbon footprints.
Not becoming environmentally savvy means suffering climate change misery in financial, physical, and human terms, both now, and in the immediate future.
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