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Jun 26, 2007

W.W.F. looks to raise awareness on climate change

Story PictureA quick look around the global media scene shows there is no shortage of major issues facing our planet: AIDS, drug abuse, poverty, racism, gender based discrimination, and terrorism to name a few. But the cause that has most recently captured the public’s imagination is global warming–or as it is more scientifically called–climate change. Stewart Krohn reports.

Stewart Krohn, Reporting
According to the United Nations, the jury is no longer out on the issue of climate change. The most recent report by the organisation’s top scientific panel says, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of the snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level.”

All that spells bad news for Belize and other small coastal and island states …. And this morning our own top scientists spelled out exactly what we can expect in the coming century: higher temperatures, rising seas, stronger hurricanes, eroding beaches, dying coral, smaller fish harvests, and lower crop yields. It’s almost enough to make you move to the North Pole—if it wasn’t melting, that is.

And while the predictions may be grim, there are measures that we can take to mitigate the effects.

Sylvia Marin, World Wildlife Fund, Central America
“Maintaining healthy reefs, maintaining healthy mangroves, avoiding construction and development in areas that are very fragile and where the impact of climate change is going to be major on tourism, on agriculture, and on coastal communities.”

That’s the advice of Sylvia Marin, Central American representative of the World Wildlife Fund, which is funding a major initiative to raise awareness on the climate change issue.

But creating awareness does not automatically convert to action. W.W.F. Belize representative Nadia Bood believes that to move policymakers, you have to speak their language.

Nadia Bood, World Wildlife Fund, Belize
“The current trend right now in Belize is more focused the on economic—the money short-term benefits from tourism and fisheries industry. So I think if we can put some monetary values on these resources, show them that if we continue in this current track we will be losing much more in the longer run, and we’ll have to invest more into protection, implementing protection devices.”

On the regional level the Caribbean’s point man on the issue is Belizean Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the CARICOM Climate Change Centre.

Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Dr., CCCC
“Before, scientists were only talking about what is happening, and as you know most scientists only look at it from a scientific point of view, but not from the economics of things and in the real world you have to look at economics and for the first time a dollar value was put for action as well as for no action and when you look at that, we saw that to take action it was a very small amount of the global gross domestic product. If we didn’t take action, it could be almost a factor of then more.”

With small countries lacking the financial resources to deal with such a long term challenge, it will be up to the industrialised nations, more responsible for greenhouse gases, to foot the bill. In the meantime, enlightened conservation legislation and enforcement of laws already on the books would be a solid first step toward solving a problem that is likely to be with us for a very long time. Stewart Krohn for News Five.

Belize is not alone in its gap between what the scientists are saying and what the government is actually doing, as most of the world has yet to take meaningful action on the issue. According to Dr. Leslie, CARICOM leaders are showing heightened interest in climate change … which is not surprising since the region is among the world’s most vulnerable.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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