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Professor Taylor Weighs in on Hurricane Dorian and Climate Change Readiness

"HURRICANE DORIAN has come as a cutting reminder of the need for, in particular, small island developing states (SIDS) to press for climate change readiness, informed by the Special Report on 1.5 Degrees Celsius of Global Warming.

That report – the work of the leading authority on climate science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - puts the world on notice of a planet in peril, in the absence of significantly scaled-up actions to reign in the emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, while sharpening the adaptation response.

This is in the face of climate risks, including not only extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, the likes of which was experienced in The Bahamas this week, but also sea level rise and associated loss of livelihoods. This is in addition to the continued warming of the planet, which presents challenges for freshwater security and for the prevalence of diseases, such as dengue.

“To see yet another category 5 hurricane in the Caribbean and within two years of a string of category 5s that have passed, and certainly in the eastern Caribbean, is distressing to say the least. It speaks to what we have been saying about climate change being a kind of existential threat to the Caribbean region,” said Professor Michael Taylor, one of the lead authors of the special 1.5 report that was published last year.

“It is challenging our whole development, setting us back. It will certainly set back The Bahamas by years, and we don’t know yet what the death toll or devastation will be,” Taylor added.

According to the physicist, the hurricane, which sat over The Bahamas for more than two days, bombarding it with wind and unyielding rains, makes the case for concerted action on climate change – and now.

“It is making the case for even more urgent action by not just us (as SIDS) in building resilience, but by the global community in ensuring that small islands have a viable future. Climate change seems to be occurring a little faster than I think any one of us would be have anticipated,” he told The Gleaner.

“When I call for global action, it certainly means in light of the 1.5 report, which says there is still a slim chance of achieving 1.5 by the end of the century. Certainly, I think that what Dorian is doing is showing us that the world has to grasp that slim chance of 1.5 ,which will mean drastic reordering of greenhouse gases,” added Taylor, who is also dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of the West Indies, Mona. "


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