Preparing for the disasters of today is the first step in adapting to the disasters of tomorrow

Commentary/Letter to the Editor

"Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided," warns we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise. This study was carried out by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, on behalf of the World Bank. The report, urges "further mitigation action as the best insurance against an uncertain future."

One of the points I missed in the recently presented Governing Program of the National Alliance/Democratic Party/3-Independent Members of Parliament coalition was the issue of climate change.

Erick Fernandes, World Bank Adviser for Climate Change and Natural Resource Management, even today the global climate is changing, and so regions must adapt to in order to maximize their resilience to the changes. Erick Fernandes explains, "Preparing for the disasters of today is the first step in adapting to the disasters of tomorrow."

New report outlines disastrous effects were global temperatures to rise by four degrees. Latin America and Caribbean predicted to be one of the regions most affected by temperature spike. Adapting to changes today will increase the region’s resilience to future disasters.

Increased high-intensity cyclones, reduced arable land and the loss of low-lying regions are just some of the possible consequences for Latin America and the Caribbean if global temperatures were to rise 4°C by 2100, according to the new study ‘Turning down the Heat.’ An increase double that of the internationally recognized 2 degree Celcius target, widely considered being the tipping point after which environmental damage will be irreparable.

Since 1998, the melting ice from the ice fields in Patagonia has contributed to around 2% of the global annual sea level rise. As temperatures rise, this rate is only likely to increase, with the report projecting sea levels to rise between 0.5 -1m by the turn of the next century. Such a rise could do untold

damage on the small, low-lying islands in the Caribbean, contaminating freshwater wetlands, vital for the islands’ water supply, and with projected losses totalling US$68.2 billion by 2080, much of which would be borne by the region’s tourism industry.

Already one of the Caribbean region’s most dangerous meteorological hazards, the frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones is predicted to increase. Nonetheless some of the countries in the region has embraced the challenge, with many countries implementing innovative and ecologically sound solutions, which live up to their environmental responsibilities.

Currently the World Bank is working with 130 countries worldwide to tackle climate change, doubling its lending for adaptation. US$7.2 billion worth of Climate Investment Funds are now in operation in 48 countries, 14 of which are in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Negotiations late last year on climate change have resulted in a number of significant achievements, which will benefit Small Island developing states.

There were positive developments coming out of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Doha Qatar from November 26 to December 8, progress was made towards the establishment of a mechanism that will address issues relating to loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. This will improve the capacity of these countries to adapt to climate change.

Our country has a lot to lose with respect to the impact of climate change, but also much to gain with respect to adaptation. Sint Maarten would be better off preparing today in adapting for climate change disaster in the future. Even though it may look like a humongous task, every beginning starts with the first few steps.

Roddy Heyliger