“There Needs to be a Paradigm Shift…”

I met Ian Rampersad at the Threatened Island Nations conference last week- an innovative, creative, caring advocate and spokesman for the interconnectedness of climate change and human rights, in his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago and abroad. Ian recently wrote a paper covering these issues- an excerpt that touches on individual story and thus finds its way here. Ian spoke with me about his Caribbean home’s changing climate, which includes an ever-lengthening dry season and an increasingly extreme wet season, with flooding rains that leave individuals stranded for considerable periods of time. Ian’s most memorable thoughts during our time together? “There needs to be a paradigm shift- a recognition about what climate change really is and what it’s doing to individuals all around the world.” A notable selection from Ian’s paper is copied below. The above picture- of Columbus Bay in Trinidad and Tobago – shows the dwindling and quickly eroding rock formation referred to as the “three sisters”- this formation used to be much larger and protected the island from the weather events highlighted below. As the naked eye can see, these spindly formations no longer offer much protection.

A recent article by Radhica Sookraj, a reporter for the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Newspaper, clearly illustrates how the very severe effects of climate change are currently affecting the people of Trinidad and Tobago. The Article details a visit by various Government Ministers to the fishing village of Icacos on the south-western peninsula of Trinidad. The erosion observed was most evident at the Icacos main road where toppled telephone lines hung over the roadway which led straight into the ocean. Coconut tree-trunks littered the shoreline as the sea lapped directly onto the roadway.

“A resident of the area, Wilber Isaac, said the area once had a light house but this too had been claimed by the sea, ‘there used to be a savannah here, but that too has gone’ , he said. ‘Two houses already collapsed into the sea and each day more and more of the coast is falling into the water.’” The Article further described stagnant pools observed around houses where mosquitoes buzzed, and residents say they were unable to leave their homes at nights as the mosquitoe problem was so bad.[1]


[1] Trinidad Guardian 2010 Radhica Skookraj

Ian Rampersad- voice for human rights and climate change interconnectedness

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One response

  1. andy meakins

    This post is an important one because it’s reiterating the power of individual story in the climate change debate. A human effected by climate change in their lifetime is a powerful thing. It’s interesting to see the devastation that is occurring now. So many in the fortified western world feel the real effects of climate change will be far off into the future sometime, and thus are not as concerned with it. In a country that doesn’t have the budget to build that extra sea wall or a new heightened barrier reef, the roads and beaches simply wash away. The impact on them is now.

    May 31, 2011 at 7:30 am

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