As a whole The Caribbean isn’t a big contributor to our planet’s climate change dilemma. But the sad reality is that this region will be one of the most impacted.
What are the risks?
Around the world, humans are emitting unprecedented amounts of Greenhouse Gases into Earth’s atmosphere.
Greenhouse Gases trap heat from the sun within Earth’s atmosphere, which keeps our planet habitable! But Earth’s systems must be balanced, and too many greenhouse gases can change the world’s climate – which is what we’re witnessing today.
Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas that’s released into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide isn’t only warming the planet, it becomes absorbed by the ocean – changing its chemistry.
Here are some of the changes happening in The Caribbean as a result:
Rising Sea Levels
More Frequent/Intense Natural Disasters
Naturally, life on Earth is able to evolve and adapt to changes like these over time. The problem today is that humans are making these changes happen exponentially faster than ever before. And life on land, and at sea cannot keep up.
But climate change doesn’t only threaten ocean animals, it affects people too.
Economically, climate change will impact agriculture and tourism in the Caribbean – which are massive industries.
And intense hurricanes like Hurricane Maria in 2017, which cost the island of Puerto Rico over 40 BILLION dollars will become more frequent. This is happening because a warmer Atlantic Ocean allows these storms to gather more energy as they grow across the sea.
What’s being done, and how can I help?
The Caribbean will need to adapt to our changing world, and work to reduce the risks of natural disasters.
Healthy mangrove and coral reef habitat are the first line of defense against the flooding and storm surges that come with hurricanes. So restoring these ecosystems is crucial to mitigating the effects of climate change.
This is why it’s crucial to protect coral reefs from pollution and overfishing – because weakened reefs are more susceptible to coral bleaching and ocean warming.
Caribbean Islands will also need to protect their freshwater resources and agriculture by improving water storage technologies, and improving degraded farmlands.
So how can you help? You can help support healthy coral reefs by eating sustainably-caught seafood, preventing pollution, using reef-safe sunscreens, and voting for sustainable development in The Caribbean. The best defense against climate change is always a healthy marine environment, so any actions that you can take to protect the health of coral reefs and mangroves is key.