80.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, June 26, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesDestruction of the Reefs Are the Virgin Islands’ Next Economic Crisis

Destruction of the Reefs Are the Virgin Islands’ Next Economic Crisis

Dear Source:
A hefty report concerning the future of the world was released at the end of September. Few Virgin Islanders paid attention. The International Panel on Climate Change issued the first of three reports to be released in upcoming months. This report had two hundred and nine authors, 50 review editors and more than 600 contributing authors. This assessment of the scientific basis of climate change contained 2216 pages.
The tone was calm, maybe, to avoid the vitriolic attacks made on the IPCC by fossil fuel interests in previous years. Still, the report contained enough dire warnings that the media should have covered it more thoroughly. Instead in the weeks after the report’s release (Ironically, National Energy Action Month) the mainstream media in the United States, and the US Virgin Islands, dedicated its national coverage to speculation about who looked dumber – Republicans or Democrats – in the Washington D.C. follies. Virgins Islanders were being feed a daily bulletin about whether Mitch McConnell or Henry Reid blinked.
While the shenanigans were going on in DC, one of authors of the IPCC report Professor Hoegh-Guldberg, of the University of Queensland, said about coral reefs, "This is an eco-system that has been around for tens of millions of years and we are wiping it out within a hundred. It’s quite incredible." The reefs he is talking about are the reefs that the federal government estimates to bring $4 billion of economic activity to the Caribbean each year.
One of the upcoming reports will have a chapter dedicated to the effects of climate change on small islands like the Virgin Islands, so, I decided to only review here this report’s summary for policymakers.
This summary, 27 pages, places emphasis on definitions. The terms defined are related to “the degree of certainty in key findings.” They range in confidence levels from very low to very high and, when possible, probabilistically with quantified likelihood (from exceptionally unlikely to virtually certain).
The first section after the introduction is Observed Changes in the Climate System. This is an unfortunate title because most people believe that “observed changes” refer to the “instrumental era” from 1950 on when direct readers of temperature and other variables became wide spread. With a reference to the Middle Ages, the reader knows that some temperature reconstruction has been made. However, the mistake does not carry pass the title. In the text the data used to arrive at conclusions is clearly stated.
And conclusions are strong. The first highlighted statement says, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.” Note the word “unequivocal” here. Note also the date –1950 – the age of instrumentation. The scientists are not talking about projections, they are talking about observation. The scientists support the statement with charts and texts under the following subsections – Atmosphere, Ocean, Cryosphere, Sea Level, and Carbon Cycles.
The authors further state, “Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence).”
In Drivers of Climate Change the authors define what radioactive forcing is and how men and women are active agents in forcing causing climate change. Though radioactive forcing is interesting reading, the average reader might need some more background reading before understanding exactly it works. Yes, it is the greenhouse effect, but it gets complicated when you try to measure it.
A section – Understanding the Climate System – covers evaluating climate models and quantifying climate system responses. One wishes that the people on the conservative front who spend a lot of time critiquing the models actually spent time learning to understanding them.
The last section analyses what the climate could be like in the future.
The report takes into account the uncertainties involved in predicting the climate’s future and also criticism of climate data such as that relating to the Middle Ages climate, use of ice core data and the recent temperature respite from its rapid increase. But the language of the report points in one direction. The earth’s climate is probably going to increase by more than 2 degrees centigrade within this century. That increase will affect profoundly how the population of the world lives. To limit climate change, the report states, “will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”
To go back to what one of the report’s contributors — Professor Hoegh-Guldberg — said about coral reefs. He was quoted in the Australian newspaper The Independent that over half the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed and their destruction is being accelerated.
He adds, "If we go in the direction we are now, we are lost with no chance of recovery. But if we listen to what the IPCC report tells us, and take that advice, and get on and form the partnerships to do it, we can turn the situation around. But if we wait another 10 years, we’ll be too far gone."
But, Professor, we might be in trouble here. Policy makers are too busy playing games; they didn’t have time to look at the report.
Don Buchanan
St. Croix

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,755FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more

Dear Source:
A hefty report concerning the future of the world was released at the end of September. Few Virgin Islanders paid attention. The International Panel on Climate Change issued the first of three reports to be released in upcoming months. This report had two hundred and nine authors, 50 review editors and more than 600 contributing authors. This assessment of the scientific basis of climate change contained 2216 pages.
The tone was calm, maybe, to avoid the vitriolic attacks made on the IPCC by fossil fuel interests in previous years. Still, the report contained enough dire warnings that the media should have covered it more thoroughly. Instead in the weeks after the report’s release (Ironically, National Energy Action Month) the mainstream media in the United States, and the US Virgin Islands, dedicated its national coverage to speculation about who looked dumber – Republicans or Democrats – in the Washington D.C. follies. Virgins Islanders were being feed a daily bulletin about whether Mitch McConnell or Henry Reid blinked.
While the shenanigans were going on in DC, one of authors of the IPCC report Professor Hoegh-Guldberg, of the University of Queensland, said about coral reefs, "This is an eco-system that has been around for tens of millions of years and we are wiping it out within a hundred. It's quite incredible." The reefs he is talking about are the reefs that the federal government estimates to bring $4 billion of economic activity to the Caribbean each year.
One of the upcoming reports will have a chapter dedicated to the effects of climate change on small islands like the Virgin Islands, so, I decided to only review here this report’s summary for policymakers.
This summary, 27 pages, places emphasis on definitions. The terms defined are related to “the degree of certainty in key findings.” They range in confidence levels from very low to very high and, when possible, probabilistically with quantified likelihood (from exceptionally unlikely to virtually certain).
The first section after the introduction is Observed Changes in the Climate System. This is an unfortunate title because most people believe that “observed changes” refer to the “instrumental era” from 1950 on when direct readers of temperature and other variables became wide spread. With a reference to the Middle Ages, the reader knows that some temperature reconstruction has been made. However, the mistake does not carry pass the title. In the text the data used to arrive at conclusions is clearly stated.
And conclusions are strong. The first highlighted statement says, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.” Note the word “unequivocal” here. Note also the date –1950 – the age of instrumentation. The scientists are not talking about projections, they are talking about observation. The scientists support the statement with charts and texts under the following subsections – Atmosphere, Ocean, Cryosphere, Sea Level, and Carbon Cycles.
The authors further state, “Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence).”
In Drivers of Climate Change the authors define what radioactive forcing is and how men and women are active agents in forcing causing climate change. Though radioactive forcing is interesting reading, the average reader might need some more background reading before understanding exactly it works. Yes, it is the greenhouse effect, but it gets complicated when you try to measure it.
A section – Understanding the Climate System – covers evaluating climate models and quantifying climate system responses. One wishes that the people on the conservative front who spend a lot of time critiquing the models actually spent time learning to understanding them.
The last section analyses what the climate could be like in the future.
The report takes into account the uncertainties involved in predicting the climate’s future and also criticism of climate data such as that relating to the Middle Ages climate, use of ice core data and the recent temperature respite from its rapid increase. But the language of the report points in one direction. The earth’s climate is probably going to increase by more than 2 degrees centigrade within this century. That increase will affect profoundly how the population of the world lives. To limit climate change, the report states, “will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”
To go back to what one of the report’s contributors -- Professor Hoegh-Guldberg -- said about coral reefs. He was quoted in the Australian newspaper The Independent that over half the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed and their destruction is being accelerated.
He adds, "If we go in the direction we are now, we are lost with no chance of recovery. But if we listen to what the IPCC report tells us, and take that advice, and get on and form the partnerships to do it, we can turn the situation around. But if we wait another 10 years, we'll be too far gone."
But, Professor, we might be in trouble here. Policy makers are too busy playing games; they didn’t have time to look at the report.
Don Buchanan
St. Croix