Environment and Climate Change Stories: Jamaica, the Caribbean and the World: May 13, 2017

Indigenous peoples fighting climate change and the fossil fuel industry; an island up for sale; migratory birds and hurricanes; trafficking in wildlife and more in this week’s bunch of articles. Click on the highlighted links for more information!

Jamaica and the Caribbean:

Petre Williams-Raynor
Petre Williams-Raynor of Panos Caribbean.

Jamaicans learning about climate change in China… 35 professionals from developing countries (including Panos Caribbean’s Petre Williams Raynor) are now in Nanjing, China for a three-week course on climate change. The programme at the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Regional Training Centre at Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology is financed by the WMO.

Clifford Mahlung, Jamaica’s climate change negotiator par excellence. (My photo)

…and making their mark in international climate talksIn March, Dr Orville Grey, senior technical officer responsible for adaptation in the Climate Change Division, was elected co-chair of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) at a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Bonn, Germany. Meanwhile, Jamaica’s hard-working climate change negotiator Clifford Mahlung, a veteran of many climate change fora, has been appointed co-chair of the Adaptation Committee, representing Small Island Developing States. Click on the links to see what work these Jamaicans are doing at UNFCCC.

Dr. Orville Grey representing small island states at the Bonn Conference on Climate Change in August, 2015.
Balliceaux Island in the Grenadines.

Balliceaux Island (population 25,000) is up for sale. The private island is in the Grenadines, very close to Mustique and Bequia. The selling price for the 320 acre island is US$30 million; it is being touted as having major tourism potential. The indigenous Garifuna people, however, who regard St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Yurumein) as their ancestral homeland, are extremely unhappy at the sale, declaring that it should be declared a national memorial and cultural centre in recognition of their forebears, many of whom were killed by the British there, or deported from there to Honduras, in 1797.

Last week was Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week. With all the wet weather we have had in Jamaica (although some islands are actually experiencing drought) we need to be especially vigilant. Minister of Health Christopher Tufton recently emphasised that the most effective way to keep mosquitoes at bay was to destroy breeding sites.

The Cuban Solitaire. (Photo: Bill Hebner)

Abstracts for the BirdsCaribbean Conference in Cuba are due by midnight tomorrow (Sunday May 14th)! Hurry!! Full details are here: https://sites.google.com/site/birdscaribbeanconference2017/call-for-papers

Seabirds are already so endangered. Now, a new study by Duke University shows that the increasing number of hurricanes have had an impact on the population of the iconic Sooty Tern, a bird that is widespread across the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic. This bird’s migration track is actually the same as many Atlantic hurricanes, but in reverse – so they are struggling agains the wind.

The Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata – a different race in Jamaica) lives at sea and only comes to land to breed on offshore cays. It’s very common summer resident in Jamaica while breeding, but numbers have fallen drastically. (Photo: animalia-life.club)

The World:

Wildlife trafficking remains a huge problem globally (including in our region). On March 24 a U.S. citizen was arrested at Los Angeles Airport, when his luggage was found to contain 93 birds from Vietnam. Only a few survived. Some of the birds were endangered species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Some of the poor little birds seized at U.S. Customs in March – smuggled all the way from Vietnam.

Have you heard of the Pacific Climate WarriorsThere is probably no region in the world that is feeling the effects of climate change more than the Pacific islands – right now. The Warriors from 15 nations paddle their canoes as a form of resistance against the fossil fuel industry. In so doing, they honor their ancient traditions of canoe building, and pay homage to their connections to the water and their beautiful history of voyaging. They are currently heading towards the Canadian Tar Sands, and are seeking a meeting in Vancouver tomorrow with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who broke some promises recently by approving tar sands pipelines. Their Raise a Paddle campaign will release a short film on their journey on May 14.

Raise a paddle! Pacific Islanders are taking action against climate change. (Photo: 350.org)
It’s very hard to keep cool these days. (Photo: diGJamaica)

Heat is a killer: The hotter summers – as each year seems to bring record-breaking temperatures – are taking their toll on our health, across the globe. Several recent studies have shown that, even if we by a miracle manage to stick to the ideal 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Agreement, by 2050 those who live in big cities such as Lagos and Shanghai will likely be hit with some deadly heat. ISET-International is one organisation that is studying this topic.

Plastic roads! We seem to have found a million ways to recycle plastic. Now here’s another one: roads made of plastic pellets. MacRebur, a startup headed by engineer Toby McCartney, wants to use recycled waste plastics as a binder, mixed with a little bitumen and broken rocks. Such roads have already been built in Cumbria, UK. These roads are 60 per cent stronger and ten times more long lasting, says MacRebur.

Can forests be a path out of poverty? This was the topic at the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) meeting on May 2. Successful examples of sustainable forest management are few and far between, it seems. There’s no doubt, however, that deforestation creates greater poverty worldwide – except, of course, for those who benefit from developments, who may not be rural dwellers.

Currently more than 80 states have tuna fisheries. The UN has begun celebrating World Tuna Day to highlight the importance of sustainably managed fish stocks in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Last but not leastThis report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is really worth a readThe Ocean and Us – How Healthy Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Support the Achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The important UN Ocean Conference will take place from June 5 – 9. (Did you know the UN held its first ever World Tuna Day on May 2? With the decline in the health of the Ocean, fish stocks – including the highly migratory tuna – face growing threats and an uncertain future).

Brandon Hay, Scientific Officer at the Caribbean Coastal Area Foundation (C-CAM) working with children at C-CAM’s Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival in Salt River, Clarendon last week. The activities were funded by BirdsCaribbean. (Photo: C-CAM)


7 thoughts on “Environment and Climate Change Stories: Jamaica, the Caribbean and the World: May 13, 2017

  1. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your
    blog. You have some really good posts and I think I would
    be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load
    off, I’d love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a
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    1. Oh, thank you! Such a kind comment. If people just receive and understand one message, I am happy. But I know full well I don’t have all the answers…


      1. Very much so! It seems that too often in our region these developments are “under the radar.” We have to be vigilant! I have learned this from experience with our “Save Goat Islands” campaign, led by Jamaica Environment Trust.


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