The Caribbean and Climate Change: Does anyone care? By Rebecca Theodore
As the debate on climate change continues to gain momentum, it has aggressively anchored onto the shores of the Caribbean, changing tides, and personalities and bringing with it many conspicuous results. In hushed aberrations, water is suddenly exuding from distant fountains. Gathering clouds and rising storms cascade in turbulent forms. Rivers cry of desolation and forest echo parched whispers amidst a solitary greenness. Yes! Climate change poses a colossal threat to human and economic development in the Caribbean. Climate change is now evident in every segment of the Caribbean economy.
And as all living things lament for their existence, the spacious sea joins in the combat. They are unable to hold that grip, for their rising level increases hurricane intensity, threatening lives, property and livelihood throughout the Caribbean. Temperatures are increasing, ocean waters are warming and expanding, glaciers and ice sheets melt, and sea levels are rising. The rising of ocean water level increases the salinity of coastal aquifers, reducing the availability of fresh water through wells and springs and freshwater is in short supply.
The winds are wailing and their weeping is answered in the agony of the waves. The harmony of the trade winds grow fainter beneath an elegy that grows stronger as migratory and resident birds search for nest and foliage that have been devoured by the spirits of the woodlands. Waves no longer smile and dance or play with the golden dawn or silvery moon, for as the sunset dims, they have grown cumbersome and bold and there is no cerulean radiance. Instead, low-lying islands are rapidly vanishing under the waves leaving only billows of foam and whiteness. There is no conscientious tenderness and no elegance of beauty as temperatures rise and storms become more severe.
Roaming clouds peep behind the opaque darkness and the ashen sky dialogue in confusion. Glazed sunrise with meteor eyes now ride on the backs of clouds as stars flick and abscond into the bare pavilion of the heavens.
Spellbound mountains reverberate while thunder growls and fire burns in their cavernous breast. Sitting above the plains in dumb fold scrutiny, they too wonder for the seasons no longer pray at their knees. They still obscure the plateaus with their shadows but they have lost all splendor and are no longer the grandeur and exaltation of the isles.
Barbados, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico, are now highly dependent on imported food and agricultural products. Prices are spiking upwards as climate change exacerbates droughts and floods. Money for poverty alleviation and other social services, or for economic development are instead diverted to efforts to recover from the impacts of climate change; forcing proponents to conclude that climate change is the number one reason why the UN millennium development goals fail to reach its intended goal of combatting poverty on a global scale. And these devastating impacts are continuous regardless of the fact that Caribbean nations have contributed little to the release of the greenhouse gases that drive climate change in the world at large.
Negative health impacts continue to create great heat stress for the elderly, worse sanitation conditions from limited water supplies and contaminated water from floods. The spread of water and vector-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, malaria, and diarrhea are rampant as higher temperatures devastate agriculture and ecosystems.
The colors of the Caribbean are burning red, orange and yellow. Blue is no longer the sapphire that glows in the light, or the rhythm of beating steel pans. There is no gleam of pure logic for even the rubicund of waters stain the prodigal of blue. Out of a madness woven within a trap of colors, green is the new color of the night.
Indeed! sudden climate changes in the Caribbean are leading to adverse effects on the Caribbean’s charming beaches, coral reefs, orchards, marine life, and local flora and fauna.
And despair sits silently as the land continues to be eroded, while climate denialism thrives because of well-financed effort on the part of conservative groups and corporations in the United States to distort global-warming science. The want for profit is considered far more important than the current state and preservation of the planet that we inhabit.
Climate change is repressed by greedy corporations yet the moral compass of conservative politicians yearns for representation. Are they hearing the weeping and the heavy silvery rain that pelts and washes away economic and human development and accommodate poverty and pain in the Caribbean?
Lo! The voice of climate change sings in the deepest shade. The rough bleached algae entwine my ankle. Does anyone know? Does anyone care?