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Sea Level Rise and How Climate Change is Impacting Guyana by City Tech Blogger Afraz Allie

One Effects of Climate Change Affecting Guyana.

The effects of climate change are currently being felt around the world with hundreds of thousands of people being killed or otherwise affected. One of the major causes, if not the root cause, of climate change is due to the greenhouse gases trapped in our atmosphere where they are contributing to the exponential warming of our planet. The higher temperatures and warming ocean waters has given rise to natural disasters that affect people globally.  If we continue to produce greenhouse gases from using fossil fuels, then dangerous weather patterns and situations like rising sea levels could become permanent, making it impossible to recover or reverse the heating trends. As such, this blog will discuss one of the effects of climate change which is the “rising seas and increase coastal flooding” and touch on how the impact is felt in Guyana.

Guyana is located on the continent of South America, closer to the northern end, and bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, Suriname, and the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the people live along the coastal plain which is approximately 5 feet below sea level and separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a five feet sea-wall. Over the past decade Guyana has experienced an increase in coastal flooding due to sea levels rising and an inadequate draining system to deal with the increasing volume of water that make its way inland. The sea-level rise is driven by two processes: an increase in the volume of the water already in the ocean, which occurs as the water warms and expands, and an increase in the mass of water in the ocean, primarily from the melting of ice on land (Hsiang and Kopp, p 19). Some researchers believe that it will take hundreds or thousands of years for the ocean to rise significantly. However, contradicting views were offered by Mr. Justin Gillis, author of “Climate Model Predicts West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Melt Rapidly”, stating that newer research concludes that this disaster will take place much sooner with “as much as three feet by the end of this century” and “with ice melting in other regions, too, the total rise of the sea could reach five or six feet by 2100” (par 5).

https://www.guyanagraphic.com/guyana/how-rise-sea-level-will-affect-guyana

At the same time, while it is still being debated about how much the sea level will rise in the future, the Guyanese people are currently being affected by this increase in sea level and coastal flooding. Example, the 2005 flooding resulted with an estimated US $465 million in damages, equivalent to approximately 59% of Guyana’s GDP (latinamerica.undp.org). Also, within recent weeks, several parts of Guyana’s low coastal plain experienced severe flooding, causing damages to some parts of the sea-walls, houses, plantations, and other infrastructures. Due to the frequency of high sea levels, the government is finding it difficult to pump the water out from the rivers and canals back into the ocean. Instead, they release the water inland causing it to flood communities and farmland. This is to prevent the structures containing the water from being breached or causing structural damages. Together with the over topping of the sea water over the sea-walls and the poor drainage of flood waters, the government might soon have to move its people more inland towards high grounds which make up about 75% of the country. Like most countries, politics play a major role in prioritizing what is necessary for the country and usually benefits the politicians over the welfare of the people. Hopefully this can change soon.

In conclusion, based on the frequency of flooding due to the rising sea levels and sea-wall breaches, it is evident that climate change is directly impacting Guyana and its people. Alone, Guyana cannot slow the rate at which our planet is being destroyed, but as people of this great planet, we can all come together and address this grave concern. Guyana is playing its role by not cutting down trees for revenue in the Amazon rainforest, which take up about four fifths of its surface (Bloomberg.com). Ironically Guyana is also getting paid to not cut down the trees as they started the Low Carbon Development Strategy (lcds.gov.gy) which allows them to be paid for conserving the rainforest. Instead of looking for other planets to take over and destroy, we should start with trying to fix the one we have.

Work Cited

https://www.latinamerica.undp.org/content/rblac/en/home/presscenter/articles/2015/12/04/widespread-floods-affect-livelihoods-in-guyana.html

https://www.lcds.gov.gy

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-05-16/guyana-is-making-money-off-rainforests-without-cutting-them-down

Gillis, Justin. “Climate Model Predicts West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Melt Rapidly”. Nytimes.Com, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/31/science/global-warming-antarctica-ice-sheet-sea-level-rise.html.

Hsiang, Solomon, and Robert E. Kopp. “An Economist’s Guide to Climate Change Science.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 32, no. 4, 2018, pp. 3–32. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26513494.

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you for a most informative piece on the effects of sea level rise in Guyana, a country that doesn’t often appear in climate change articles. I look forward to learning more about the initiative Guyana has started to preserve forests rather than cutting or burning them down. And I’d be interested to learn if and how climate change is affecting those Guyanans who don’t live on the coast. Thanks again.

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