Our planet is getting warmer because people continue to burn fossil fuels which in turn adds heat trapping gases to the atmosphere. These are what people call greenhouse gases and they are causing the Earth’s climate to change as we see in the news every day, the melting glaciers, the stronger storms and the heatwaves.
According to the 2020 Global Climate Report from the National Centre for Environmental Information (NOAA), “every month of 2020 except December was in the top four warmest on record for that month”.
They also stated that ‘the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.13degrees Fahrenheit (0.08C) per decade since 1880 but the average rate of increase since 1981 has been more than twice that rate.
These changes in temperature have an impact on all aspects of human life, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and not least the effect of heat on the physical body itself.
In a recent discourse held by Friends of the Earth – Grenada, Dr Lindonne Glasgow was emphatic in how rising temperatures in Grenada are impacting on the population.
She had established that temperatures were increasing in Grenada by monitoring the data of the meteorological office which was confirmed by the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) in Barbados.
Dr Glasgow participated in a study with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) in August and their findings clearly showed that there was a relationship between:
- heat and death;
- heat and hospitalisation and
- heat and visits to the Emergency Room in Grenada.
This was the first time this kind of study has been conducted in Grenada and its findings need to be taken extremely seriously. Heat waves have been shown to be uncomfortable for everyone, but for infants and young children, the elderly, and people who are already sick, they can be especially dangerous.
Extreme heat can cause illnesses such as heat cramps, heat stroke, and even death. A 2003 heat wave in Europe caused about 50,000 deaths, and a 1995 heat wave in Chicago caused more than 600 deaths.
In fact, heat waves cause more deaths in the United States every year than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined. Surely this serves as a warning for this small island State particularly as the Health System has shown it has great challenges.
The question is – how can we, the ordinary people mitigate against rising temperature on our islands? What can we do that might prevent a greater increase in temperature in Grenada?
The answer is incredibly simple – we need to stop cutting down trees and we need to plant more and this is a solution every person can participate in; saying it again, STOP cutting down trees and plant as many as you can.
Reforestation is the most cost-effective way to prevent global warming, according to research presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, trees absorb carbon dioxide (reminder: which makes up 82% of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere), so planting more trees can help reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. In fact, we could remove roughly two-thirds of human-made carbon just by letting all forests regrow, according to a study published in the Journal of Science.
Trees are also good for shade, studies have shown that you may feel 10 to 15 degrees cooler in the shade despite being exactly the same temperature as the non-shaded area. This is because you are not suffering solar radiation, your body is not being toasted by the sun’s rays.
Therefore, Friends of the Earth-Grenada is making another plea to all individuals, the Ministry of Climate Resilience, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry that employs the debushing people: since Grenada is now suffering its highest temperatures ever recorded, trees are our saviours in more ways than one. Keep planting them, stop cutting them down, protect our mangroves, stop cutting them down for coals.
As Jaron Pazi from Treedom told us,
“Trees do more than absorb carbon. When planted in sustainable agroforestry systems, they result in enhanced biodiversity, water retention, soil health, food security and economic development for local communities.”
The above reflects the views of Friends of the Earth-Grenada