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CARICOM negotiators will insist on a climate accord that need the region's needs.
CARICOM negotiators will insist on a climate accord that need the region’s needs.
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By Kimani Wiseman

I am living in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and climate change is having a negative impact on my life and the environment. Climate change refers to significant changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, and other measures of climate over several decades or longer. Droughts are having a devastating impact on SVG and in 2020 we experienced one of the worst droughts in living memory, which caused a lot of farmers to lose their crops and animals because of the high temperatures and lack of rainfall.

NBC Radio quoted the Barbados Met Services as reporting that the drought conditions were the worst in 72 years.

This drought resulted in a shortage of fruits and vegetables and prices went sky high. Fruits and vegetables are essential for human health because they provide vitamins and other nutrients for a healthy body. Livestock farmers were negatively impacted by this drought because a lot of the grass had died. The agricultural sector saw losses of EC$16 million.

Droughts also disrupt the supply of water, which affects cooking, showering, washing, and even drinking water. Humans need six to eight glasses of water per day to prevent dehydration and to keep the body healthy. How am I supposed to get six to eight glasses of water during a drought?

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In recent years, temperatures during the day and night are extremely high, which is causing me to use the fan a lot, resulting in my electricity bill being extremely high. Heat waves can cause dehydration and other health conditions which can result in death. I remember a couple years ago the temperature used to be very good for exercising and playing sports. These days, it is difficult to exercise and play sports because of the high temperatures.

Lack of exercise can cause heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. Climate change causes an increase of rainfall and warmer temperatures, which are good conditions for the aedes aegypti mosquito. These mosquitoes live in the tropics and are responsible for spreading zika, dengue fever, chikungunya, etc. According to a report published by the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and the Environment, there were over 700 confirmed cases of chikungunya viral disease in SVG.

I was also a victim of chikungunya, which caused me and hundreds of other people to take a lot of sick leave, resulting in low productivity at various workplaces. Dengue fever was a catastrophe in SVG. iWitness News reported 655 laboratory confirmed cases of dengue fever in SVG in 2020. The publication further stated that six persons died as a result of the mosquito-borne viral illness. In 2016, some cases of zika were reported in SVG, which had caused a lot of panic because of microcephaly, which is associated with this virus.

Climate change is causing the ocean to get warmer, which is a good recipe for storms and hurricanes. As tropical storms travel across warm oceans, they pull in more water vapour and heat. This means stronger wind, heavier rainfall and more flooding when the storm hits land. Dec. 24, 2013, which started off as a beautiful day, turned into a nightmare for many Vincentians. Many Vincentians were busy cleaning their house and doing their last-minute shopping for Christmas, when, around 6 p.m., the weather began to deteriorate. A freak storm passed over the country causing destruction to many houses, crops and loss of lives. A lot of people spent Christmas and Boxing Day without water and electricity. People’s houses were flooded and 12 people lost their lives.

I love going to the beach and I have been observing that a lot of coastal erosion is taking place on a lot of the beaches. Climate change is causing a lot of ice glaciers to melt, which is causing sea level to rise, resulting in coastal erosion at various beaches. Scientists have already warned that earth’s temperature must not get past 1.5 degree Celsius higher than pre-industrialisation levels. However, industrialised countries are releasing a lot of greenhouse gases. CNN reported that the concentration of carbon dioxide in 2020 was 149% higher than pre-industrialisation levels. The Caribbean is staring down the barrel of a gun with climate change and to remove this gun, it is going to require “unity”. We have unity with CSME and we must unite with “climate change”. The bigger countries are emitting a lot of greenhouse gases which are accelerating climate change and disrupting our lives and the environment. The greatest rapper of all time, Tupac Shakur has a song named “Changes”. The song begins, “I see no changes”. Change is needed with the amount of greenhouse gases that is emitted. The Caribbean might be small, but we must let the bigger countries know enough is enough and remember “small axe does cut down big trees”.

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