End Times News Update
Sign: Roaring Sea and Waves
Scripture: Luke 21:25
News Source: My Way News

Encroaching sea already a threat in Caribbean

May 7, 2:22 PM (ET)

TELESCOPE, Grenada (AP) – The old coastal road in this fishing village
at the eastern edge of Grenada sits under a couple of feet of murky
saltwater, which regularly surges past a hastily-erected breakwater of
truck tires and bundles of driftwood intended to hold back the
Atlantic Ocean.

For Desmond Augustin and other fishermen living along the shorelines
of the southern Caribbean island, there’s nothing theoretical about
the threat of rising sea levels.

“The sea will take this whole place down,” Augustin said as he stood
on the stump of one of the uprooted palm trees that line the shallows
off his village of tin-roofed shacks built on stilts. “There’s not a
lot we can do about it except move higher up.”

The people along this vulnerable stretch of eastern Grenada have been
watching the sea eat away at their shoreline in recent decades, a
result of destructive practices such as the extraction of sand for
construction and ferocious storm surges made worse by climate change,
according to researchers with the U.S.-based Nature Conservancy, who
have helped locals map the extent of coastal erosion.

Dozens of families are now thinking about relocating to new apartments
built on a hillside about a 10-minute walk from their source of
livelihood, a tough sell for hardy Caribbean fishing families who see
beachfront living as a virtual birthright.

If climate change impact predictions come true, scientists and a
growing number of government officials worry that this stressed swath
of Grenada could preview what’s to come for many other areas in the
Caribbean, where 70 percent of the population live in coastal

In fact, a 2007 report by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change said the devastation wreaked on Grenada by
2004’s Hurricane Ivan “is a powerful illustration of the reality of
small-island vulnerability.” The hurricane killed 28 people, caused
damage twice the nation’s gross domestic product, damaged 90 percent
of the housing stock and hotel rooms and shrank an economy that had
been growing nearly 6 percent a year, according to the climate
scientists’ report.

Storms and beach erosion have long shaped the geography of coastal
environments, but rising sea levels and surge from more intense storms
are expected to dramatically transform shorelines in coming decades,
bringing enormous economic and social costs, experts say. The
tourism-dependent Caribbean is thought to be one of the globe’s most
vulnerable regions.

“It’s a massive threat to the economies of these islands,” said Owen
Day, a marine biologist with the Caribsave Partnership, a nonprofit
group based in Barbados that is spearheading adaptation efforts. “I
would say the region’s coastal areas will be very severely impacted in
the next 50 to 100 years.”

Scientists and computer models estimate that global sea levels could
rise by at least 1 meter (nearly 3.3 feet) by 2100, as warmer water
expands and ice sheets melt in Greenland and Antarctica. Global sea
levels have risen an average of 3 centimeters (1.18 inches) a decade
since 1993, according to many climate scientists, although the effect
can be amplified in different areas by topography and other factors.

In the 15 nations that make up the Caribbean Community bloc, that
could mean the displacement of 110,000 people and the loss of some 150
multimillion- dollar tourist resorts, according to a modeling analysis
prepared by Caribsave for the United Nations Development Program and
other organizations. Twenty-one of 64 regional airports could be
inundated. About 5 percent of land area in the Bahamas and 2 percent
of Antigua & Barbuda could be lost. Factoring in surge from more
intense storms means a greater percentage of the regional population
and infrastructure will be at risk.

In eastern Grenada, people living in degraded coastal areas once
protected by mangrove thickets say greater tidal fluctuations have
produced unusually high tides that send seawater rushing up rivers.
Farmers complain that crops are getting damaged by the intrusion of
the salty water.

Adrian George is one of the coastal residents preparing to move into
an inland apartment complex built by the Chinese government following
the devastation left by Hurricane Ivan.

“I’m now ready to move up to the hills,” George said in the
trash-strewn eastern Grenadian village of Soubise, which is regularly
swamped with seawater and debris at high tide. “Here, the waves will
just keep getting closer and closer until we get swept away.”

One response in the wealthier island of Barbados has been building a
kilometer-long breakwater and waterfront promenade to help protect
fragile coastlines. In most cases, international money is pouring in
to kick-start “soft engineering” efforts restoring natural buffers
such as mangroves, grasses and deep-rooted trees such as sea grape.
Some call that the most effective and cheapest way to minimize the
impact of rising seas.

But in the long run, “we need to move our centers of population,
infrastructure, et cetera, out of the areas likely to become
vulnerable to rising seas,” said Anthony Clayton, a climate change
expert and the director of a sustainability institute at Jamaica’s
campus of the University of the West Indies.

Where to rebuild will be yet another challenge, with the region’s
islands mostly rugged and mountainous with small areas of flat land in
coastal areas.

Even with the Caribbean so threatened, many islands have been slow to
adapt, and awareness of the problem has only recently grown. Last
year, the European Investment Bank announced it would give $65 million
in concessionary loans to help 18 Caribbean nations adapt, while
conservation groups try, among other projects, to restore buffering
mangroves and set up fishing sanctuaries to help fringing reefs
recover. The Caribbean Community Climate Change Center in Belize is
managing the regional response.

Yet not everyone is convinced that climate change is as dire as forecast.

Peter De Savary, a British entrepreneur and major property developer
on Grenada’s famed Grande Anse Beach, said the availability of
capital, energy costs and the health of the global economy are far
more imminent concerns than rising sea levels. He notes that most
existing beach resorts will have to be rebuilt anyway in coming
decades due to normal wear and tear so projected climate change
impacts won’t require much attention.

“If the sea level rises a foot or two it really doesn’t make any
difference here in Grenada because we have beaches that have a
reasonably aggressive falloff,” De Savary said. “If the water gets a
few degrees warmer, well, that’s what people come to the Caribbean
for, warm water, so that’s not an issue.”

Shyn Nokta, who heads Guyana’s office of climate change, said there’s
ample evidence the impacts will be less benign. Warming ocean waters
have helped to significantly degrade the region’s protective reefs,
and threats to Caribbean coral are only expected to intensify as a
result of ocean acidification due to greenhouse gases. Rainfall also
has become increasingly erratic.

Many are also girding for climate change’s impacts on an already
fragile agriculture sector and drinking water quality and

“The weather and climate system in the region is changing,” Nokta said
from Guyana’s capital of Georgetown, which sits below sea level behind
a complicated system of dikes and is extremely vulnerable to flooding.

Inequalities in income will play a big role in determining how the
suffering is meted out island to island, said Ramon Bueno, a
Massachusetts-based analyst who has researched and modeled climate
change economic impacts for years.

“A low-income family living by the shoreline, with limited access to
clean fresh water and earning a living from tourism, fishing or
agriculture is vulnerable in a way that a middle- or high-income
professional living in good air-conditioned housing at higher
elevation inland is not,” Bueno said.

That portends a dire future for people such as Allison Charles, a
subsistence farmer in Grenada’s coastal village of Telescope, a fact
she said she’s well aware of.

“It’s hard now. Already our plants are getting burned by the salt
water coming up the river,” Charles said in her village, framed by
Grenada’s rugged hills. “I can’t really imagine what the future will

Source: My Way News