My family is from Guyana, a country that resides on the northern coast of South America. While normally a majority of the country relies on fishing for the economy over the last few decades, there have been problems arising due to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere creating warmer temperatures and an increase in moisture in the environment. The warmer planet and melting glaciers contribute to sea level rise. According to a study called “Impacts of Climate Change on Guyana and the World at large Part 1: Observed climate change”, it states, “Tide gauge data in Guyana from the period 1951 to 1979 indicated a mean relative sea-level rise of 10.2 mm per year. This is more than five times the global average over a similar period.” Long story short, it’s because of greenhouse gases we’re starting to see a massive rise in the amount of coastal flooding. Not only that, but we are also seeing a rise in the amount of annual rainfall. The thing about Guyana is that despite its overall landmass, about 90% of the country’s residents live along the coast. What makes things worse is that Guyana sits a few meters below sea level due to the coast being relatively flat, and it leaves lower areas more prone to frequent amounts of rainfall. That in turn makes draining the runoff very difficult.
It’s not just the homes, but the coast and geographic regions are also affected, and a huge chunk of the economy receives damage as well. In the second part study called “Impacts of Climate Change on Guyana and the World at large Part 2: Impacts of Future Climate Change”, it states “Approximately 75% of the country’s economic activities are located on the coastal area, where the major economic activities, such as agriculture, fisheries, and industries are found. These sectors are extremely sensitive to extreme weather events and sea-level rise and are therefore highly vulnerable to changes in climate.” With 75% of economic activity and 90% of the populace residing on the coast all clustered together, Guyana as a whole could face catastrophic greater effects due to climate change.
Sometimes the effects of greenhouses gases can have a more drastic impact on inland areas as well. For instance, in the study, they talk about how a temperature increase as slightly as 1.5 to 2.5°C (34 – 36F) is likely to cause major changes in the environment. With the temperature increasing about 1.5°C in the last couple of years, Guyana has been suffering from varying moments of severe droughts that alternates with heavy rainfall and flooding. With the average temperatures rising, it has been predicted that further devastation is along the way. Guyana is known for having a lot of rivers and waterways, so the combination of decreasing precipitation along with increasing evaporation can lead to the fluctuation of the water levels of the rivers. With all of these factors considered, the major rise in sea levels, the intense surges of rainfall and storms, and the overall location and topography in Guyana takes a devastating toll on the residents.
According to the second study, climate change can lead to increased flooding that can cause catastrophic long-term effects on food and agriculture. Settlement areas and valuable agriculture such as farms and rice fields would be the most affected by the destruction created by floods. In addition to that, heavy rainfall and drought can lead to reduced soil moisture or cause increased soil erosion, resulting in the loss of crops. These natural disasters can also have a negative effect on the fauna as well. It can cause a spike in the frequency of insects and other pests, as well as create heat stress in livestock because of the higher temperatures. With all of these factors combined, Guyana will continue to suffer unless we do something about climate change.
Lcds.Gov.Gy, 2020, https://www.lcds.gov.gy/index.php/documents/climate–changeinformation/understanding–climate–change/235–understanding–climate–change–impacts–ofclimate–change–on–guyana–and–the–world–at–large–part–2–impacts–of–future–climate–change/file.
Lcds.Gov.Gy, 2020, https://www.lcds.gov.gy/index.php/documents/climate–changeinformation/understanding–climate–change/234–understanding–climate–change–part–1–impacts–ofclimate–change–on–guyana–and–the–world–at–large–part–1–observed–climate–change/file.