Climate Disasters to Cost Billions

THE 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season may be over but there are lingering signs of the impact of climate change which scientists predict will result in an increase in the number and intensity of hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters.

According to a recent report by the United Nations (UN), every country in the Caribbean faces huge economic losses caused by rising sea levels over the coming decades, losing hospitals, airports, power plants, multi-million dollar tourism resorts, roads, bridges and farmlands.

According to the report by researchers at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, the damage in the 15 Caricom countries could amount to between US$4 billion and US$6 billion a year, with infrastructure costs running to tens of billions in many countries.

The study, which does not consider the costs of coral loss, or the possibility of increased hurricane or storm activity with climate change, indicates a rise of one metre, which would result in the sea encroaching by around 100 metres on average in all coastal states in the region.

This loss would force more than 100,000 people to move, erode beaches, contaminate fresh water supplies and degrade the tourism industry on which most countries have come to depend.

This year is on track to be one of the two hottest years on record globally, according to provisional figures for temperatures in 2010.

And the past decade has been the warmest 10 years since records began, the World Meteorological Organisation said.

Between January and October globally, temperatures were 0.55ºC above the long-term average of 14ºC — slightly higher than the hottest year on record in 1998.

Regarding the Caribbean, the organisation noted that Guyana and the eastern Caribbean were badly affected by drought — with rainfall for the period from October 2009 to March 2010 among the driest 10 per cent of recorded years

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