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THE CARIBBEAN
Island nations could face “extinction”
12/1/2010
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Caribbean countries could be destroyed by higher sea levels and seek aid at UN climate talks.

More than 40 island nations warned that rapidly rising sea levels could cause their “extinction” if developed countries do not mitigate emissions levels that cause global warming.

Members of the Association of Small Island States, or AOSIS, whose members include nations from the Caribbean, Africa and Oceania, issued their statement as delegates at the United Nations climate change talks in Cancun, Mexico scrambled to draft a binding agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius. They also demanded a global fund for these countries to adapt to rising sea levels.

“We are going to be the first human species endangered in the 21st century. We are going to be in danger of going extinct,” said the group´s vice chairman, Antonio Lima.

The 15-member Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, bloc will be particularly affected by higher sea levels, according to a new study by Oxford University.

The research found that a 1 meter sea level rise by 2100 — now considered conservative by new estimates — could translate to the advancement of the shore by 100 meters, causing up to US$6 billion of damage a year.

Basic infrastructure, hospitals, schools, housing, farmland and tourism installations are at risk, particularly in the Bahamas, Belize and Trinidad & Tobago.

Damage could be even greater, as the study´s estimates did not take into account glacial melt, more intense hurricanes and other tropical storms, or the loss of coral.

Experts warned this year that rising sea temperatures is causing a massive “bleaching” or killing off of the slow-growing coral reefs that acts as a natural storm surge buffer for the island nations.

The island nation group said the 2-degree global warming limit should be lowered to 1.5 degrees, though newer estimates see temperatures rising as high as 4 degrees by 2100, which could be catastrophic for small Caribbean countries.
—Latinamerica Press.


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