Head of the Climate Change Branch at the Meteorological Service, Clifford Mahlung, has said that Jamaicans must play their part in limiting the human causes of climate change, in order to protect the environment for current and future generations.
Speaking at a climate change sensitisation session for journalists held on April 19 at the Wexford Hotel in Montego Bay, Mr. Mahlung said climate change is already affecting the country, with more frequent and stronger hurricanes, which are having a devastating impact on the economy and its citizens.
“When we get a hurricane here in Jamaica, the whole island comes to a standstill, everything stops. The damage, if it is a very strong one, whether it is high winds or the rainfall, it destroys our agricultural products, so our economy gets a direct impact,” he noted.
Mr. Mahlung urged citizens to heed the message from the various education programmes being undertaken on the issue to assist in minimizing the impact of the phenomenon.
“We have to be very cautious and conservative in our use of anything that will create a greenhouse emission. Don’t cut down the trees, if you cut down one, plant back two. That is the type of attitude we now have to inculcate at the community level,” he stated.
The education session formed part of activities for Earth Day, which will be observed on April 22.
Organised by the Met Office in partnership with the Voices for Climate Change Project being implemented by Panos Caribbean, and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the session sought to encourage reporters to be balanced in their coverage of climate change issues, including garnering the views of scientists and other experts.
In her address, Regional Director at Panos Caribbean, Indi McLymont-Lafayette, stressed that while it is not easy to immediately stop many of the effects of climate change, “differences will occur when communities and individuals make changes and adapt to best practices and we educate ourselves about the threats and remedial actions that can be taken”.
She noted that while “we can’t easily change the climate or stop it from changing in the future, if we change our fuel-thirsty lifestyles now, we may be able to slow down the effects and learn to adapt better to changes in the future."
“We have a moral responsibility to pass on to the future generation an environment that is no more degraded than we received it. Actions we now take could reduce our vulnerability to current extreme events and natural hazards,” she added.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter