Click here to print page

Is this a warm-up to the real fight?

Kahlil A

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

The world is facing a global pandemic which has resulted in a global lockdown aimed at slowing the spread and flattening the curve. However, is this the only thing that the lockdown is doing? This approach has yielded many positives, as it has resulted in a decrease in infections as well as a decrease in the number of lives lost; therefore, commendations should be given to the fighters of this pandemic.

The issue at hand, unfortunately, highlights a lack of readiness for a major global natural disaster and begs the question: What if we face a greater threat than COVID-19?

A major reason for the reactive approach towards COVID-19 can be attributed to the lack of knowledge about the virus; however, what if we actually have knowledge about the next imminent threat to humanity? What precautions will be put in place to limit, if not stop, its impact?

Fortunately for us we do have knowledge about the next global crisis that can impact us. Unfortunately, we are doing very little, to nothing, to stop it. This imminent threat is known as climate change, and here are four reasons it must be taken seriously:


1) Increased hurricane intensity and frequency

We have to first ask ourselves the question of how hurricanes are formed. The simple answer to this is that hurricanes are formed over warm water; the warm air will rise resulting in the cool air falling below this warmer air, thus creating a cyclic movement. The key takeaway is that hurricanes need warm water to be formed and, with the increase in the global temperature, sea surfaces are getting warmer and warmer.


2) Increased drought

Jamaica has grown accustomed to an annual drought period in the calendar year. This is as a result of the increase in atmospheric temperature. This increase results in an increase in evaporation from the soil; therefore causing a suppression in rainfall. This suppression will lessen the ability of soils to absorb water, thus increasing the likeliness of a flood with heavy rainfall.


3) Extinction of biodiversity

The increased frequency of forest fires in sections of the world, namely Australia, Brazil, etc, has resulted in the loss of billions of biodiversity. It should be noted that climate change has also caused the bleaching of the coral reefs due to an increase in water temperature, which places the reefs under additional pressure, thus increasing the likeness of death. These reefs are important as they provide a habitat to many flora and fauna, as well as protect the coastline from erosion. As well, reefs contribute to research in the medical field.


4) Creation of economic recession

The COVID-19 pandemic is reported to provide a major shock in economics of many countries. However, the World Economic Forum ranked climate change as the biggest risk to economy and society. This is attributed to the number of economic decisions which come from climate change — fallout from a hurricane, costs of shipping water to drought-affected areas, costs of repatriation of invasive species, cost of lost natural resources, etc.

It is said that the novel coronavirus originated from an interaction between a wild animal and a human; however, the question can be asked: Was that interaction as a result of human invasion into the animal's habitat or was it a result of human destruction of the habitat due to the potential economic benefits?


I want to implore all Jamaicans to stay awake; the impact made by the novel coronavirus is nothing close to the impact in which climate change can have on not only our economy, but life as we know it.

The ball is in our court; let's make a change before it's too late.


Kahlil A Hutchinson is president of the University of Technology, Jamaica Students' Union Council. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or