Andrew Smith, Photography Editor
Jamaica's south coast is becoming increasingly susceptible to sea-level rise because of its low elevation (much of it is below seven metres), a scenario which leaves locations such as Kingston, Portmore, Black River and Portland Cottage at high risk. This is according to Professor of Applied Atmospherics, Anthony Chen, who is also a member of the 2007 Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change team.
Professor Chen is also the former head of the Climate Studies Group at the University of the West Indies, Mona. He was speaking yesterday at the National Environmental Education Committee's National Forum on Climate Change at the Hilton hotel, New Kingston.
The professor emphasised the need for Jamaica and the wider Caribbean to tackle the issue of climate change. Such an increase in sea level, combined with the increased frequency of hurricanes can cause devastating effects on coastal development.
Critical facilities at risk
For his part, Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee, director - Mona GeoInformatics Institute, noted that with the island's two international airports and power-generation facilities located on the coast, many of the country's critical facilities are at risk. Dr. Lyew-Ayee called for information that exists to be utilised by engineers and other planners.
Dr. Mark Collins, director of The Commonwealth Foundation, also emphasised the human and social effects of climate change. In terms of health, he noted that the incidence of yellow fever, dengue fever, and respiratory tract infections was on the increase. He also stated tha The Commonwealth Foundation has provided grants for hurricane rehabilitation, such as funding for roof straps for houses in St. Thomas following the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, he is of the view that these funds could have been spent better on prevention.
Against this background, Jamaica's Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, gave the assurance that the Government will be sensitive to the issues concerning climate change and called for effective partnership among the Government and civil society to result in effective sustainable development.
Correction & Clarification
IN THE article 'Jamaica's south coast at risk', published on Page A2 on Friday, November 9, it was stated that , "according to Professor of Appllied Atmospherics, Anthony Chen, 'Jamaica's south coast is becoming increasingly susceptible to sea-level rise because of its low elevation (much of it is below seven metres)'." We wish to confirm that these remarks were incorrectly attributed to Professor Chen.