Caribbean climate change

Posted on: November 21, 2009

Climate change on caribbean islands is terrifying to those in the know, and extreme to because of the small island effect. I attended a climate change panel discussion and film screening two nights ago, of the new film “The Burning Agenda” directed by Owen Day and narrated by Che Rodiguez.

What was most interesting to me was seeing the point of view from the caribbean people, and hearing issues regarding women, migrants and indigenous communities. Hurricanes, floodings, erratic weather patterns all impact revenue sources in these countries: farming is affected, crops are lost, tourism lost especially when coral systems are affected. Lives are lost and houses disappear, wrecked under these anthropogenic natural disasters. Guyana, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados were some examples featured.

Watch this video for an idea:

At the discussion, I had a chance for the first time, to listen to someone from First Nations (the indigenous people of Canada), and meet her too – her name is Lynzii Taibossigai, and she’s from the M’Chigeeng First Nation located on Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world. I’ve added her on facebook to learn more about her community, and will be writing about it soon.

No one is illegal also spoke during the panel discussion, represented by two undergraduates from York University. They spoke about living in a world where conversion of the natural world to cash and flow of money from the poor to rich in exploitation goes on – bringing to light issues of Canada’s move to create “permanent temporary workers”, lower refugee migration rates, in “state facilitated exploitation”. To quote a comment: Canada currently accepts 11,000 refugees a year, and up to 60% of this number will be cut in a time of ever-accelerating migration rates – along with policy change that makes it virtually impossible for refugees to become normal citizens of a country – all this without public consultation.

We should be aware of what and how countries are implementing policies that affect people of the world, and stand up against exploitation. In an ever globalised world, it seems that we have been starting to draw the line ever more clearly against who we are and who ‘they’ are – producing second class citizens and permanent temporary workers.

A lady from East Africa also spoke on the dangers of films like these that only portray the men’s point of view – there was no representation of women, the voice of women was lacking. She also brought up the issue of how climate change decisions involve a lot of money, and this money is brought into the picture because of energy (biofuels, clean energy, etc). When people buy land in a country they do not live in or know the issues of, they cannot represent that land and its issues in meetings like the UN Climate change meeting in Copenhagen, and this allows issues to go unresolved.

“What do you study?”
“Climate change”
“Oh, so you’re going to read the weather on the news?”

This intriguing quote came from a masters student in York University, a Trinidad and Tobago citizen who finds that most people in her country know not of climate change, and that even the word climate change emerges only from grade 12 onwards for students. Her wish is for children to know about this earlier, which means education is working. “No one should be deprived of a nationality, a home, a country” – she says, when speaking about how vulnerable caribbean islands are to disappearing from sight when sea levels rise.

“It’s not about whether we believe climate change is real – in a world where we cannot deny that everything is changing, we have to change too, to adapt.”

“It’s not an individual choice, but a global necessity”.

“The fat cats are not going to move unless you kick them in their butt” – old man’s comments on moving politicians.

The world is not degrading because there are more people, but because there is more consumption, and majority of this consumption still comes from the industrialised nations, whose populations are not the ones that are booming”

Was there with Annie, and also met Lucas? at the discussion; nice bloke who had been travelling through SEA and who was pretty involved with climate change and issues like these.

I realised I get energy from these seminar/discussions and from meeting people from different sectors talking about issues I don’t know about – I think its the learning that gets me all energised and invigorated.

It’s almost the same way I get energy from my surroundings, and why ten gloomy days in a row make me feel down and like I need to do something to get myself energised again. (:


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