LANDSLIDES, road collapses, destroyed houses, properties and livelihoods lost to floods. We are, by now, used to this litany of disasters every rainy season.
However, the severity, frequency and impact of the bad weather of the last few weeks – most of which has been linked to ordinary precipitation events – suggest something is amiss.
We may quibble over how to interpret the data relating to these short-term atmospheric events. We may call, as St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen has done, for better disaster management policies.
But we cannot deny that we are not paying enough attention to the profoundly disturbing challenge posed by climate change which lies behind all of this.
Even the war against the covid19 pandemic, which is the top priority of governments and societies all over the world, is to some degree tied to global temperature increases. Many are the scientists who see covid19 as simply the latest chapter in a story in which mankind is facing more and more coronaviruses owing to changes which have affected the migration of pathogens between species as well as the concomitant incursion of urban sprawl into the natural environment.
Covid19 has crippled us, but the planet may well be on the edge of a bigger catastrophe if action against climate change is not taken.
On Monday, it emerged that a group of more than 200 reputable health journals in the US, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia have agreed to issue a joint warning to world leaders ahead of the UN General Assembly and the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow this November.
While the world has been transfixed by issues such as vaccination and mask mandates in the fight against covid19, these publications note that a global increase of just 1.5C above the pre-industrial average and continued loss of biodiversity “risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.”
You would not guess any of this judging from the actions of our leaders and their engagement of the population on any of these issues. One gets the impression that many regard them as niche, esoteric concerns to which token gestures can be made.
But we are getting more and more proof that God is not a Trini: we are suffering more from relatively minor events which, by all appearances, have already put our disaster response under strain. And things will only get worse.
Apart from focusing on single events like storms and heavy rainfall, we must turn our attention to awareness of the long-term problems, such as sea-level rise.
That we are a small country does not make the threat any less. In fact, it magnifies the need for us to come to grips with it and to inform government policy, including diplomacy, with our understanding of it.