Least polluting countries most vulnerable

In the past week at the UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, a report paints an astonishing picture of Caribbean-wide devastation caused in the decades to come by rising seas. Sea levels mount in association with global warming because warming water expands in volume, and melting ice from land-based ice sheets and glaciers adds to the rise.

Airports, power plants, roads and agricultural land in low-lying areas, as well as tourist locations on islands from Bermuda to Barbados, and from St Kitts and Nevis to St Vincent and the Grenadines, will be all be lost or severely damaged, with dire implications for national economies and for the welfare of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people.

The report suggests that, just for the 15 mainly English-speaking Caribbean nations which make up the Caricom (Caribbean Community) regional grouping, the cost of the damage and necessary rebuilding caused by sea-level rise could by 2080 have reached a staggering $187 billion.

With a two-meter sea-level rise, by no means impossible, there would be “at least 233 tourist resorts lost” plus damage or loss of nine power plants, 31 airports, and the loss of 710km of roads. However, when a more sophisticated analysis was done on the impacts of erosion caused by rising seas, it was found that the damage leapt upwards, as one meter of sea level rise on low-lying coasts gives between 50 and 100 meters of erosion. A one-meter rise with erosion factored in would result in “at least 307 tourist resorts damaged or lost,” the report says.

Representatives and leaders of the Association of Small Island States (Aosis), spoke eloquently of the threat to them yesterday. “We are the most vulnerable countries in the world, although we pollute the least,” said Antonio Lima, Ambassador from the Cape Verde Islands to the UN.

carribean islands rising sea levels

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Posted by on December 5, 2010. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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8 Responses to Least polluting countries most vulnerable

  1. One Fly

    December 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Believe it. I saw this last week from the Benin and the rising gulf. It’s dramatic.

    • A Michael J. Scott

      December 5, 2010 at 2:22 pm

      Very disturbing indeed Tom. Thanks for posting the link.

    • Gwendolyn H. Barry

      December 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm

      it’s get so Al Jezzerra and BBC are the only place to go any longer to get the ‘whole’ story. ?

    • One Fly

      December 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

      But I’m confused a bit here as well. I think the fellow in the video said he was originally 200 yards away. I’ve seen islands in the Pacific that are under water now and we’re talking inches as you know. Has the water not risen in the Caribbean as well Gwendolyn? If it hasn’t something isn’t right.

  2. Gwendolyn H. Barry

    December 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I have to commend Holte for posting on the eco-meet in Cancun. It’s getting not much play in the media. The Caribbean is my home… I grew up on these seas. The rising waters and I would add the implications of the roving dead zones in “bathos” (the very deep ocean floors) from the previous and now the overwhelming BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mx.
    Thanks to MMA for bringing awareness to the environmental devastation and ongoing troubles in our Devil’s Triangle. 🙂

  3. Gwendolyn H. Barry

    December 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    No confusion…. the seas are rising in the Atlantic. More distribution of poisons at bathos worries me.

  4. mbarnato

    December 6, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    From 2002-2007 I did environmental research contracting at UC, and read many, many of the global climate change reports. Sadly, I think we will reach the tipping point beyond which there is hope for redemption of much life on our planet (including us, or course!). James Hansen at NASA has been pulling his hair out for years about this issue, and the Bu$h administration wanted only to silence him.

    • Gwendolyn H. Barry

      December 6, 2010 at 6:48 pm

      Thank you Maureen for saying so. It’s vital that people be informed of acute the situation is. Ty.