No More Cayes - What is Global Climate Change? Print E-mail
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Written by By M&M   
Friday, 25 October 2013 00:00

All this talk about Global Climate Change, all this talk about going green, about the people creating machines to make global changes to the Earth’s crust and atmosphere, about the ice breaking in the north so what is Global Climate change?  It is defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as "a change of climate which is attributable directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods."

Causes of Global Climate change  
Scientists believe that the main cause of unnatural changes to the environment of the Earth comes from the actions of humans. However, other circumstances have had severe impacts on GCC such as the expansion of a global economy and the development of new technology. The human activities, moreover, having a direct result on the build-up of Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s) in the earth's atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

According to the World Future Council, Carbon dioxide is produced when coal, oil and natural gas (fossil fuels) are burned to produce energy. Fossil fuels are responsible for 80 to 85 percent of the Carbon dioxide that is being added to the atmosphere. Methane produces gas by cultivating rice, ranching cattle and sheep and by decaying material in landfills. Human activities have increased the concentration of methane in the atmosphere by about 145% above what should be present naturally. These GHG's trap heat radiated from the earth this results in a "greenhouse" or warming effect.

 How does this all affect Belize?
According to meteorologist Ann Gordon, climate change impacts on the Caribbean is to cause: sea level rise which includes saltwater intrusion into freshwater aquifers and coastal flooding and erosion; increased temperatures leading to heat stress, coral bleaching, biodiversity loss, increased emergence of vector borne disease and changes in rainfall patterns that may result in droughts and floods, increase in the intensity of storms and a decrease in fresh water availability.

Carlos Fuller, Int’l Regional Liaison Officer, from the Climate Change Center goes on to tell that Belize is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change. He defends his point by stating that globally temperatures have risen by zero point seven degrees Celsius (0.7). However, when using the Belize weather data, studies show that over the past forty years temperatures have risen by one degree (1) Celsius. In other words, Belize’s level of warming is far exceeding the global average putting us at a greater disadvantage than other countries.

Our main impact being that of Coral bleaching, from since 1995, Belize has been faced with four major coral bleaching incidents, with the first still under recovery.Moreover Fuller adds that over sixty percent of our reef is affected by global warming.

Additionally Belize’s lands have not been secluded from climate change, recently inland has experienced a bark beetle infestation that has infested about seventy-five percent of the Pine forest. Flooding has been severe and more intense than before; washing out areas in Dangriga and Dengue outbreaks have increased. All this due to the rise in temperature of one degree and it is predicted to rise by up to two degrees in a few more years. Can we imagine the outcomes then? The production of rice, beans and corn are likely to fall by twenty percent. Sugar cane and citrus productivity will also decrease by ten percent.

Other affected areas will be health, water, and the wider economy causing prices of natural commodities to increase.  Fuller alerts the nation, that Belize is heading towards a rise of six to seven degrees Celsius and if this happens it is predicted that Belize will lose every one of its beaches by the end of the century.

The horrible thing about this all is that there is really not much the wider population can do to change the effects of climate change ?since Belize itself is rarely contributing?. Fuller adds that Belize’s gas emission accounts for less than one hundredth of the global emission. Belize’s forests are absorbing more of the carbon dioxide of the world than Belize actually emits?. However, even though we are helping the environment we are still being affected.

We might not have many options as to how to decrease global climate change but we can surely do something to protect our own air. We don’t need to add more to it.  We must all simply take into account our surroundings and try to preserve our trees and forest reserves.

By protecting the world we protect our future.