Many of our Latin American countries located throughout South America have undergone extreme environmental changes. Climate change has affected agriculture, migration and the economy. One of the countries that has been impacted by climate change is the Dominican Republic (DR). The country is located in the Caribbean region and despite its small size, it is one of the most diverse and tourist friendly places to visit. Indeed, to maintain its beauty DR acknowledges that the environmental changes largely affect its growth in every aspect. DR has constantly participated in the National Policy on Climate Change, therefore informing the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and ratifying the Paris agreement. In addition, according to Germanwatch Global Climate Risk Index 2014, DR is among the top countries exposed to natural disasters, ranked 8th out of 183 countries. This means DR is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Discussing the effects of global climate change and its prevalence in Latin American Countries can help us spread awareness and develop solutions.
Living in the Americas, we can get carried away in its industrial society, keeping us from seeing the effect of climate change worldwide. It is important to be aware of phenomena in other countries caused by climate change. The Dominican Republic is very much exposed to both rapid on-set disasters and slow on-set processes. For example, some rapid on-set disasters are storms, cyclones, and floods which constantly threatens the lives of town dwellers. The slow on-set processes are sea-level rising and desertification. This is extremely devastating because the island is small and many people are forced to move to higher ground, living in cramped and limited places. According to IOM Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Division, in regard to DR, “the period 2008 – 2014, 95,004 people have been displaced as a result of natural disasters such as floods, storms and cyclones (Wooding and Morales, 2015; Melde, 2015). Some communities have already been relocated as a consequence of sea-level rise and coastal erosion (Melde, 2015).” This means that many residents in DR are constantly re-migrating and forced to move. In addition, as worldwide sea level rises it also exacerbates coastal flooding and beach erosion.
The Dominican Republic is the top second poorest country in the Caribbean. The poverty levels are extremely high and many people struggle to make ends meet. The country is one of many that struggle in money distribution and investing in land renovation becomes very expensive. Climate change has drastically changed weathering and many towns in DR are barely managing. For example, in Climatelinks, a Global Acknowledged Development Practitioners states, “the island is in the center of a hurricane belt, where intense storms often damage hotels, coastal infrastructure and beaches, leading to significant loss of tourism revenues. Storms also damage fish nursery areas and coral reefs, threatening coastal fisheries.” This is the consequence of climate change. It is fair to say that if we do not take better measures to prevent global warming, our Caribbean countries will be in great trouble.
Despite the climate change policies and plans that have been developed at the international level, there are still many issues that need to be addressed regarding small countries like the Dominican Republic. Studies have found that these countries in areas of higher weather deviancies are harder to analyze because of their unpredictable weather patterns. This is troublesome and in support, the USAID on Dominican Republic reports, “The study found that sensitivity to climate change manifests in the following ways: Increasing temperatures will continue to strain agricultural systems and groundwater availability and quality due to the possibility of hotter and drier conditions in Yaque del Norte, where precipitation is projected to slightly decrease.” This means that because of the increase in temperature in Yaque del Norte (located in DR) the agriculture and water availability are constrained.
To conclude, it’s important to be aware of how climate change impacts small, minor countries like the Dominican Republic. Therefore, tackling the vulnerabilities and further creating solutions. Some solutions are reducing pollution in car emissions. It is clear that many of these Latin American countries strongly rely upon diesel fuel which pollutes the atmosphere and creates an unhealthy environment. Some clean fuels to consider are compressed natural gas (CNG) or Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). The second solution is using less methane gas. In DR the majority of manufacturing processes use methane. They are emitted by the production of coal, natural gas, oil or the decay of organic wastes (landfills). There are many more mitigation steps that can be done but the main purpose is to build resilience within the smaller countries. Moreover, it is very important to help countries like DR that are more prone to geological disasters which are caused by climate change.
Kreft, S., & Eckstein, D. (n.d.). Global climate risk Index 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/8551.pdf
Climatelinks. (2017, June 30). Climate risk Profile: Dominican Republic. Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://www.climatelinks.org/resources/climate-risk-profile-dominican-republic
Dominican Republic climate CHANGE vulnerability Assessment Report. (2014, September 13). Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1862/Dominican%20Republic%20Climate%20Change%20Vulnerability%20Assessment%20Report.pdf
United States Environmental Protection Agency, E. (2021, April 14). Overview of greenhouse gases. Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases