Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Guyana and Climate Change/Sea Levels

Apparently the Jesuits ( ) are still around and have formed an online group called or something like that. A bookclub member who is also a member of the local Human Rights group helped organized Rev Dr PedroWalpole from the Philippines to share his experiences about rising Sea-levels and how climate changes affect small communities.
He struck me more as an ageing hippy than a serious ecologist or priest and I was not too sure I agreed with his radical view of throwing away all the textbooks and teaching science based on what the community that he was in needed/experienced. Hmm, all well and good to impose these radical views on some poor community for which something/anything is better than nothing, but as I get older I begin to appreciate what a good job the nuns did beating the 3 R’s into us (reading, writing and arithmetic) as it is truly appalling to see the younger generation/s sadly lacking in these basic skills necessary for critical thinking and analysis. This is   the second Millennium Development Goal - primary education for everyone.  However, I agreed with him that although Science might indicate a course of action, it was Social Research methods that had to find a way of ‘selling’ that idea to the policy makers and empowerment of the community is necessary so that they are not passive receivers of someone else’s will.
My textbook suggests three strategies for adaption to sea-level rise which are: retreat, accommodate and protect. Guyana has inherited the latter strategy from its previous Dutch and English masters but the Rev Dr seem to suggest that the former might be a better strategy as the sea-level does not rise steadily and there are dangers of storm surges. These contribute to devastating phenomena such as Hurricane Sandy earlier in the year which knocked out parts of New York City; who apparently were warned a couple of years ago about that possibility and they had considered putting in Oyster reefs to prevent damage but didn’t actually do it.
Interestingly sometime back in the 40’s an English engineer F E Hutchinson, had designed a comprehensive plan to drain the many areas in Regions 3, 5 and 6; but sadly these measures were never implemented as the major economic power in Guyana at the time - sugar- needed the workers to be dependent and impoverished to continue to provide cheap labour. (from The West on Trial). And previous to Hutchinson, Governor Gordon Lethem had proposed and got subsequently rejected a comprehensive drainage plan. Back to the present day: continued reinforcement of parts of the Seawall will only make adjoining areas more vulnerable, this then leaves – retreat. The German government had apparently commissioned a study whereby everyone moved to between Lanaballi  (just behind Parika) to Ituni,  that area fortuitously has most of the raw materials necessary for developing a new State within a state – first time I heard about that plan. Sadly the Wild-Westers got there first and the madness that is Madhia – an illegal miner decided to throw up a town of sorts – complete with gross pollution of waterways and other environmental and social disasters rule the day. Not helped by other mining companies operating almost independent of the Government – now who’s going the bell the cat and tell these people to heed some new idea??

I also learnt that the ocean/s are not flat and level but have internal surges depending on the temperature – there was nice picture of the East Coast of the US preceded by a red alert and to a lesser degree, the northern coast of South America.


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