By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
The Bahamas is at risk of losing 80 percent of its landmass in the next eight decades due to the current pace of global warming,according to Bahamian T Oneil Johnson Jr.
I want to make this abundantly clear, The Bahamas is perhaps one of the most vulnerable countries to sea-level rise, he stressed, as he spoke on the topic, Climate Change - the Reality of Our Warming World to the Rotary of Club of Grand Bahama via Zoom.
Mr Johnson - who has a Masters Degree in Foreign Impact of Hurricanes and Climate Change on Education said Climate Change is real and threatens The Bahamas, the Caribbean and other small countries.
He noted that sea level is projected to rise by as much as one metre by 2100. Eighty percent of The Bahamas landmass is less than one metre above sea level, he said.
The Bahamas is at risk of losing 80 percent of its landmass by 2100 if sea level continues to rise the way that it is, Mr Johnson warned.
Sea level rise, which we are hearing more and more about in The Bahamas, is perhaps one of the most vexing concerns for small island developing states because most of us are very low-lying.
Countries, such as Guyana is at risk of losing 90 percent of its landmass if sea levels were to rise one metre, and Guam, the US Territory is already experiencing the impact on sea-level rise, Mr Johnson pointed out.
The US, he added, is also at risk of losing 40 percent of its landmass in Florida.
Mr Johnson said greenhouse gases caused by pollution in the atmosphereare responsible for global warming, which is causing glaciers to melt around the world.
He noted that countries such as China and the US are mainly at fault, with the former accounting for more than one-quarter of global emission of greenhouse gases, and the latter 14 percent, while the rest of the world contributes less than 22 percent of emission.
Mr Johnson indicated The Bahamas emission is 0.001 percent. So obviously, we are not causing global warming and we are not causing climate change, he said.
Most of the information on climate change can be obtained from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (ITCC), which is an international agreement containing information regarding CC, said Johnson, who noted that Bahamian Dr Dell Thomas is a contributing author to the panel on CC.
It is unbelievable to know the state that the world is in, said the senior officer in the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management ,and Reconstruction in Grand Bahama.
Other threats of climate change, he mentioned are ocean acidification and more intense hurricanes.
Referring to Hurricane Dorian as one of the strongest recorded in the Atlantic basin in modern history, Mr Johnson said the increase in ferocity and strength of these systems as they pass through The Bahamas is a serious concern for climate scientists.
No longer are we seeing weak Category Three storms like Jeanne, Wilma and Ike - we are now seeing these explosive Category 5 storms, like Dorian and Irma. And it begs the question, is Dorian going to be our new reality? I think last year was a humbling experience for The Bahamas and it shows us we must really take serious action, he said..
Climate change also impacts all sectors of the economy from Agriculture, Tourism, and Education.
Caribbean countries are experiencing extreme drought more than ever before, such as Barbados, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, and the Grenadines, said Johnson.
He stated that the Tourism sector is going to be crippled by the sun, sand, and sea.
According to exit surveys, tourists are now complaining about the heat in Caribbean countries. This is, of course, very concerning because we are expected to see an increase in temperature,and tourism is the lifeblood, the bread and butter of many economies in our region, he said.
In terms of education, Mr Johnson said ifThe Bahamas has more hurricanes children are going to be out of the classroom for more extended periods.
Mr Johnson said that all is not lost as there are things that can be done to mitigate the effects of climate change, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by requiring countries like America, Japan, European Union by resorting to more environmentally friendly means of doing business, with renewable energy.
Adaptation by reducing The Bahamas vulnerability and enhancing resilience is another weapon in the war against climate change, according to Mr Johnson.
This could range from building sea walls, which I am totally against, to research, preventative measures, and passing legislation and environmental laws, mangrove rehabilitation and restoration, he said.
Mr Johnson commended the government for the establishment of the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management, and Reconstruction and Disaster Reconstruction Authority. It is the first institution of its kind in the region, he said.
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