"Be prepared for the effects of climate change"April 3rd, 2011
Urgent action is needed to combat climate change, the world’s greatest challenge. But in addressing this problem, our first step is to understand it, writes Genitta Pascal, a 19-year-old from the Caribbean island of St Lucia.
Climate change is one of the most talked about environmental issues of the day.
Most individuals believe that it is happening faster than ever before in the Earth’s geological history.
From the beginnings of civilization, humankind has always attempted to use the environment to its advantage. It has tried to explore, exploit, control and dominate its environment.
The single human activity which has had the greatest impact on our climate is the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected that climate change will reap major consequences on sectors such as agriculture which in turn will have a direct impact on the costs of livestock and crop production.
High temperatures can cause heat stress in plants which can alter phenological events such as flowering. Whereas water is essential for plant growth, excessive rainfall can result in waterlogged soils which can cause plants to rot. Reduced rainfall can lead to droughts which is also disastrous to plants.
Animals are also being affected by climate change. Pigs, one of the most prolific of all animals in the Caribbean, tend to become very languid. Other animals suffer from delayed puberty and irregularity in the menstrual cycle – some develop skin cancers under tropical conditions and are susceptible to heat imbalances.
Scientists tell us that climate change will be with us for a very long time. Clearly therefore the world has to be prepared for the long term effects of a problem that is of our own making.
However in addressing this problem, our first step is to understand it. Urgent action is now needed to combat the world’s greatest challenge.
Though we can only adjust our behavior we cannot alter it entirely. Individuals and countries must set out plans to tackle this issue, which has as no definable boundaries. No one nation can resolve this problem on its own.