One of the favorite beach areas in Barbados now being claimed by the incursion of the sea. In addition, coral reefs off the shore are dying from higher acidity and tiny jellyfish ('sea lice') are making themselves a nuisance to tourists.
Dying coral reef off one of the Caribbean islands.
Barely 40 years ago in Barbados I had been waging a months long debate with Barbados Advocate conservative columnist ELC - otherwise known as Jimmy Cozier Sr. - over the threat of climate change to the island. After an article of mine appeared in The Advocate warning of the impending risks: sea level rise, coral bleaching, more mosquitoes carrying new diseases etc, ELC lampooned each as over the top, total exaggerations. "What will he regale us with next? Martian invasions?"
Of course, that was close to the time (late 1970s) over half of the Caribbean’s reefs still had live coral growth according to a recent report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Today that number is at 8% and steadily dropping in some parts of the region. The coral reefs that were once bountiful throughout the Caribbean are falling victim to climate change, reckless overfishing, and wanton pollution.
So now the island - as well as the rest of the Caribbean - has seen the extent to which my predictions have been manifest. This has been recorded in the spread of new mosquito borne diseases (e.g. Zika, dengue), beaches having been reclaimed by the sea, and the dying coral reefs throughout the region.
Indeed, in the latest Earth & Space Science News (p. 13) we learn that "from 1982 to 2012 the region experienced an accelerated seasonal warming in sea surface temperatures" of up to 0.21 C per decade. Given three decades in that interval, it translates to up to 0.6C in sea surface temperature rise. This increment would easily explain the extent of coral bleaching in and around Barbados, as well as the rest of the Caribbean.
Flash forward to two weeks ago and we learned of the launch of the National Training Workshop in the Use of Climate Change Impact Tools and Models for Decision Making at the University of the West Indies.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Minister of the Environment Ricardo Ward said the workshop - developed by the Caribbean Weather Impacts Group- presented a “much needed and long overdue effort” to address the challenge of climate change.