JAMAICA OBSERVER – The Caribbean Sea is expected to come closer and closer inland over the next several years, posing a threat to millions of people across the region.
Experts say the rise in sea level around the world will be as much as two metres more than it is now, but it will be higher in the Caribbean than most other places.
It could mean the disappearance of entire stretches of land along the coast, along with the buildings and equipment on it.
It’s a frightening prospect for the region, which earns most of its income from industries that are located on or near the coast, including hotels, airports, seaports and fishing. It could also mean the disappearance of entire islets or cays.
“Approximately 1,300 km square metres of land area will be lost. That’s equivalent to Barbados plus Antigua & Barbuda plus St Vincent & the Grenadines, plus Anguilla,” St Lucia’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology Senator James Fletcher said yesterday at a working meeting with journalists and artistes in this eastern Caribbean country.
He was referencing data that has been published about the impacts of a one-metre sea level rise on Caribbean islands.
“Over 110,000 people could be displaced and 149 tourism resorts damaged,” he continued.
He also listed the projected loss or damage of five power plants, the loss of one per cent of agricultural land, the loss or damage of 21 Caribbean airports, the flooding of land surrounding 35 seaports, and the loss of 567 kms of roads.
It gets worse with the projected two-metre rise. Land the equivalent to the size of Martinique plus Guadeloupe plus Grenada could be lost.
By 2050, Fletcher said, Caribbean countries may have to rebuild or relocate sea and airports at costs anywhere between one and six per cent of GDP.
“The effects will be far-reaching. Food security will become a bigger issue, there will be increased salination of fresh water sources, marine health will be compromised, an there will be health impacts,” he said.
Fletcher’s ministry is hosting the working meeting, along with Panos Caribbean, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and other partners.