Thu | Oct 17, 2019

UWI Professor supports action to tackle climate change

Published:Friday | September 20, 2019 | 12:32 AM
An abandoned bicycle stands in a space that used to be a house in a neighbourhood destroyed by Hurricane Dorian in Abaco, Bahamas.
An abandoned bicycle stands in a space that used to be a house in a neighbourhood destroyed by Hurricane Dorian in Abaco, Bahamas.

Professor Michael Taylor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is among an internationally respected group of scientists urgently calling on world leaders to accelerate efforts to tackle climate change.

The scientists are authors of a study published yesterday in Science, which points out that almost every aspect of the planet’s environment and ecology is undergoing changes – some of which are profound, if not catastrophic, for the future – in response to climate change. .

Professor Michael Taylor, dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at The UWI, Mona, wants an urgent response to climate change. “This is not an academic issue. It is a matter of life and death for people everywhere as most recently evidenced in The Bahamas with the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian,” he said.

According to Taylor, people from small island states and low-lying countries are in the immediate cross-hairs of climate change. “I am very concerned about the future for these people,” he added.

Taylor’s contribution to the Science study further demonstrates the effort by The UWI to lead global climate action. Earlier this year, the International Association of Universities (IAU) selected The UWI as its global leader in the mobilisation of research and advocacy for the achievement of a climate-smart world.

Fellow Caribbean scientist and a co-author of the study published in Science Dr Adelle Thomas of The University of The Bahamas and Climate Analytics support Taylor’s views on climate change.

“The current catastrophe being faced by The Bahamas is not an isolated incident. As evidenced by the widespread devastation felt throughout the Caribbean in 2017, extreme events are becoming more intense and small island developing states are faced with addressing existential threats. There must be international coordination and transformational change to limit global warming.”

The Science study also suggests that reducing the magnitude of climate change is a good investment. Over the next few decades, acting to reduce climate change is expected to cost much less than the damage otherwise inflicted by climate change on people, infrastructure, and ecosystems.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the ARC Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at the University of Queensland in Australia, lead author on the study, explains that “acting on climate change has a good return on investment when one considers the damage avoided by acting”.

The investment is even more compelling given the wealth of evidence that the impacts of climate change are happening faster and more extensively than projected even just a few years ago. This makes the case for rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions even more compelling and urgent.