The Caribbean Regional Climate Conference: June 1 – 2, 2021

The Caribbean Regional Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) is hosting a free online conference on June 1 and 2 with the University of the West Indies (UWI), supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs). You can register here.

I am not quite sure whether the theme is “Look to the Future” or “Reimagining the Future.” In any event, how can we not try to envision the future as the huge wave of climate change threatens to dominate and swamp all our other considerable fears – COVID-19, rising crime, etc. – not only in Jamaica but across the region? We can make grand speeches all we want; but ultimately, we have to face up to it.

Looking to or reimagining the future that we have created is daunting. It’s time, however, that we clean up our own mess, like a teenager being told to clean up his/her bedroom. Except that it will take much, much longer.

I will give you one tiny example of how climate change has hurt one small bird – a stitch in the tapestry of our planet. The Bahama Warbler was featured in BirdsCaribbean’s ongoing “Endemic Bird of the Day” recently. Although recorded as living on Grand Bahama and the Abaco islands, now it can only be found in the Abacos. It has moved onto that dreaded IUCN Red List in the “Endangered” category. The cause of this was, basically, climate change in the form of Hurricane Dorian – a horrific Category Five storm that arrived in the Bahamas on September 1, 2019 and lingered agonizingly over Grand Bahama for around 48 hours before moving on. Human casualties were high, and the costs were in billions of U.S. Dollars. And, despite searches and surveys, the little Bahama Warbler is no longer to be found on Grand Bahama. It has been “extirpated” – a word I hate, meaning totally destroyed or eradicated.

This little bird can now only be found on Abaco, the Bahamas. Illustration by Josmar Esteban Marquez Alvarado, BirdsCaribbean.

The marvelous Professor Michael Taylor, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at UWI and a leading climate scientist in the region, has been sounding a warning cry for years now (and yes, Professor Taylor, the nights are getting hotter!). He will set the context on the first morning. After that there are concurrent sessions to choose from, on topics from agriculture and fisheries to health, and an IDB presentation on Women and Climate Change.

Very important, too, is a session on June 2 on “Climate Information and Services.” I quote from the website:

The numbers suggest that the Caribbean will be one of the earliest regions affected by many of the more extreme effects of climate change, with cities like Kingston slated for climate departure within a few years. With the likelihood of more frequent extreme weather events, the quality and speed of weather data collection along with secure means of storing this data is essential.

So, set aside some time if you can, and sign up today. It looks as if it will be quite interactive. Make your voices heard. We need to not only look and imagine – we need to move forward into a stronger, cleaner future on a planet that is truly thriving.

Because we do want to have a future, don’t we?

Volunteers walk under the wind and rain from Hurricane Dorian through a flooded road as they work to rescue families near the Causarina bridge in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. The storm’s punishing winds and muddy brown floodwaters devastated thousands of homes, crippled hospitals and trapped people in attics. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

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