How Does Climate Change Affect Jamaica?
RESPONSE: by Deon Clarke REVIEWED: by Sheree-Anita Shearer
From to time, we hear about climate change but what exactly is climate change, how does it affect Jamaica, and how can we reduce its effects? Today we will answer these questions and hope that the information provided will be beneficial to you. Knowledge is power and with new knowledge, maybe you can change the world! So let’s take a look at climate change.
What Is Climate Change?
Climate change can be described as the changes in the atmospheric conditions globally which are primarily caused by a number of activities such as the burning of coal, gas, and oil in order to provide energy for, our homes, our businesses and the transportation we use. I think you’re getting the picture now.
All of these things are extremely important to us, but at the same time, at what cost do we achieve these needs or wants? The greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane that are produced as a result of these activities, cause heat to be trapped and when this happens, the result can be devastating as normal atmospheric conditions can become severe or extreme. Imagine, hot weather getting significantly hotter or cold weather getting significantly colder to the extent of casualties for both humans and animals! At the same time, we still have needs and crave the convenience that these activities offer. It’s hard to imagine survival without energy. It’s certainly a hard one to balance, isn’t it?
Now that we understand what climate change is, let’s take a look at how it affects Jamaica.
How Is Climate Change Affecting Jamaica?
Over the past few years, the effects of climate change in Jamaica have been more visible. As such, the Government through its different ministries and relevant departments has intervened by implementing measures to help with adapting as well as to find ways to mitigate against the situation.
As a matter of fact, in April 2021, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honorable Andrew Holness was among 40 world leaders who was invited by United States’ President Joseph Biden, to a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate. He along with Gaston Brown, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the only other invitee from the Caribbean were expected to be key presenters in the fight against climate change.
The invitees were considered to be those that have shown strong leadership regarding climate, vulnerable to climate impacts, and those who are being creative or innovative to work towards a net zero economy.
Climate change has impacted Jamaica in several ways not limited to the following:
- Reduction in output of water resources as a result of longer periods of drought, an increase in temperatures, changes in the pattern of rainfall such as the duration and frequency
- The threat of more severe hurricanes
- Increase in heavy rainfall and flooding
- More severe damage to roads and other infrastructures
- Increase in agricultural pests as well as infectious diseases as a result of rising temperatures
- Erosion of the shoreline or beach areas due to rising sea levels, storm surges, and hurricanes
- Increase in soil erosion due to hurricanes and floods
- A reduction in the quality of water and soil fertility due to saline getting into the ground water sources as a result of rising sea levels
- Loss of marine life and resources as a result of the destruction of spawning areas due severe weather conditions
- A reduction in crop yields as a result of changes in the climatic conditions that affect agriculture such as drought, tropical storms and hurricane
- Potential massive disruption in food security, especially in times of drought and major storms and hurricanes
- Impact on the Tourism Sector, including changes in seasonality with more heat stresses, increased cooling costs, changes in insect and wildlife populations, loss and damage of cultural, heritage and archeological sites or infrastructures
- Potential of more death and injuries due to more frequent extreme weather conditions or events
- Financial Implications for all – general reduction in earnings or loss of income for individuals overall and GDP especially in agriculture when affected by hurricanes and storms and drought
Now, remember earlier I said this list is not exhausted especially when the ripple effects associated are considered. So, I’m sure the next question on your mind by now would be, what can you and I and the Government do about it? So, let’s look at that.
How Can We Reduce the Effect of Climate Change in Jamaica?
The aim of the Climate Summit (mentioned earlier), is to encourage the major economies of the world to keep the goal of having a warming limitation of 1.5 degree Celsius, job creation, to help vulnerable countries cope with the impact of climate, and to have net zero economies by the year 2050. So what can we do here in Jamaica? Here are some recommendations:
- Practice better management of our water resources
- Adopting farming practices that are sustainable
- Implementing water harvesting methods
- Planting more resilient tress that are able to withstand severe and unpredictable weather conditions
- Practice proper garbage disposal
- Reducing our carbon footprint by using alternative means of transportation, such walking or cycling as much as possible
- Reinforcing anti-dumping and anti-littering laws
- Frequent beach and drain clean ups
- Support laws that mandate industries to use climate safe methods
From a policy perspective, the Jamaican Government has so far embarked on the following:
- Implementing a Climate Change Focal Point Network (CCFPN) – This is a network which is made up of representatives of over 27 Ministries and Agencies whose objective is to mobilize resources through the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation
- Signing the Paris Agreement. This initiative seeks to guide how climate change is treated by limiting the rise of the global temperature to below 2 ̊ Celsius
- Partnering with the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change. This initiative seeks to regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Partnering with the agencies, such as the Japan- Climate Change Programme and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in an attempt to create actions for mitigation
- Providing support for the School Garden’s Pilot Project by implementing drip irrigation systems, and the promoting the restoration of school gardens
- Providing support in order to rehabilitate the Montego Bay Breakwater Structures.
So folks, as you can see, climate change is real and an impending danger. It will take a collaborative effort to mitigate, adapt and manage. As I had mentioned before, knowledge is power and with knowledge comes responsibility. So, now that you know, why not do your part to save your generation and the generations to come!
Thanks for reading and be sure to like, comment and share!
I also recommend you read How Hot Is Jamaica - By Month?
- "Get the Facts – Climate Change and its Effect on Jamaica", JIS.gov, https://jis.gov.jm/information/get-the-facts/get-the-facts-climate-change-and-its-effect-on-jamaica/
- "Climate Change Policy Framework for Jamaica", https://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Jamaica-Climate-Change-Policy-fwL-2015.pdf
- "PM Holness Among 40 World Leaders Invited To Climate Summit", https://jis.gov.jm/pm-holness-among-40-world-leaders-invited-to-climate-summit/
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