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As global warming accelerates...

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has ust released its latest re!ort on global "arming# The re!ort, the $i$th in the last 23 years, contains $indings "hich are no sur!rise but "hich con$irm an indis!utable trend %% scientists are &' !er cent certain that global "arming over the last (0 years is due to human activity# )ven more disturbing is the indication that global "arming is ta*ing !lace at an accelerated !ace, certainly $aster than antici!ated in earlier re!orts# +reenhouse gases emitted $rom burnt $ossil $uels have risen to levels "hich have no !recedent in the last ,00,000 years# This emission o$ '0 billion tons !er annum is the driver o$ global "arming, "hich is res!onsible $or the rise in the level o$ the oceans# The results are evident in the $act that sea sur$ace tem!eratures are at their highest in the last 1,-'0 years# .ccording to the scientists, "ithin 20 years, global "arming "ill leave the .rctic Ocean $ree o$ ice during the summer, allo"ing shi!s to sail $rom the .tlantic to the Paci$ic# Previously this route could only be managed by icebrea*ers# The international community has not ta*en this dire threat seriously and, in /yoto and Co!enhagen, could only agree on voluntary !ledges to limit emissions $rom rising beyond t"o degrees Centigrade# They "ill have another o!!ortunity $or strong and binding action in Paris in 201'# 0ealistically, there is little chance o$ success in the $oreseeable $uture and hence, global "arming "ill continue# 1cientists calculate that $or every degree 2ahrenheit o$ global "arming due to carbon !ollution, the global average sea level "ill rise by about -#2 $eet# 3hen multi!lied by the current rate o$ carbon emission, it yields an estimated long%term sea level rise over one $oot !er decade# This "ould threaten u! to one billion !eo!le, es!ecially in lo"%lying coastal areas and relatively $lat islands# This may not seem li*e much, but "e must thin* about our children and grandchildren# In addition, as the sea rises and heats u! "e become !rone to stronger "eather disturbances such as that "hich caused large !arts o$ Ne" 4or* to be $looded# This !ossibility is gra!hically discussed in the latest issue o$ National +eogra!hic# The Caribbean is one o$ the regions o$ the globe that is most vulnerable to global "arming, sea level rise and "eather%related natural disasters# 5amaica has a considerable share o$ its !o!ulation living on the coast, "hich is also the main area $or im!ortant economic activities, in !articular, tourism# Our t"o cities %% /ingston and 6ontego 7ay %% and many im!ortant to"ns are on the sea $ront# In the case o$ /ingston, it is !rotected by a very narro", very lo"%lying sand s!it *no"n as Palisadoes# . severe hurricane or mild earth8ua*e could e9!ose a large !art o$ /ingston and Portmore to a tsunami, "hich could s"am! the Norman 6anley International .ir!ort or trans$orm it into an isolated o$$shore island reachable only by sea# In addition, the 1angster International .ir!ort in 6ontego 7ay could be submerged# .gainst those !ossibilities, "e should not discount the thought o$ building an international air!ort at :ernam$ield# It is not too early to thin* on these !ossibilities#

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