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How Climate Change Affects My Country, the Dominican Republic

Here’s a question: How does climate change affect agriculture, industry or tourism, and people impacted such as farmers, city dwellers, and the poor? Since I’m from the Dominican Republic as stated in a previous essay, it climate change affects the entire country in a variety of ways. One of the major economies for the island nation is, obviously, tourism. We pride ourselves on our many beaches, resorts, water parks, restaurants, bars, and all kinds of activities. We also have a lot of farmland, which farmers use to grow crops so their own consumption or sell them to markets, either on the island nation or around the world.

However, recently due to climate change, the Dominican Republic is starting to notice some pretty major changes. Not to say the heat was a problem before (summer is notorious for being the dry season, as well as days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and above being normal), but there have been many more wildfires recently. Back in April of this year, the Air Force was called in to Villa Altagracia (Altagracia Village) to deal with a wildfire that broke out. They used Bambi Buckets, able to carry water up to 1300 liters. This was due to the intensity of the fire, making it unsafe to go anywhere near the area. With climate change, the fire could have been bigger and way more devastating.

As stated before, the Republic is a very common tourist destination. Since it’s located in the Caribbean, it’s obviously a popular destination for people around Christmas/New Years. However, it comes at a price. Since the 1960s, there have been an increase of hot days, and hot nights. According to Worldbank.org, mean annual temperature has increased approximately 0.45℃, at an average rate of 0.1℃ per decade. While this wouldn’t really be an issue in the grand scheme of things, since there exists the chance of rainfall, that is actually a cause for concern as well. Worldbank.org also lists the following: The DR has experienced a slight reduction in total precipitation, with increased dry periods in the north of the country May – June and September – October, separated by a characteristic mid-summer drought between July and August. Not only has the temperature slowly increased throughout the decades, but it’s also causing less rain to fall.

Rain is very important for agriculture to thrive and survive. The DR HEAVILY depends on farmers to maintain a major part of its economy, since it’s an island nation, and exporting goods is, again, one of the main factors in maintaining the nation’s economy. Simply put, the less rainfall, the bigger chance the crops can die, thus ruining harvests and damaging soil. Two of the biggest exports, sugar cane and rice, are the backbone of the agriculture “scene”, for lack of a better word. Sure, rice is the most common food in the world, and the DR uses rice for 90% of meals like every other country, but it’s still a major export and is one of our major economic backbones. Thus, with less rainfall there is less rice growing which will heavily damage the economy.

In the end, climate change can heavily transform the country,  either instantly or over a long period of time. From wildfires suddenly propping up out of nowhere, to massive floods ruining vulnerable areas, it feels like the nation as a whole is going through a rough patch. I don’t know what the future holds for the Dominican Republic, but one thing is for certain – it will be really, really hot and humid. Bring a pair of shorts if you plan to visit.

 

WORKS CITED

Altagracia Wildfire: https://www.airmedandrescue.com/latest/news/dominican-air-force-extinguishes-forest-fires-bambi-buckets

Worldbank: https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/country/dominican-republic/climate-data-historical#:~:text=Since%20the%201960s%2C%20mean%20annual,have%20increased%20significantly%20since%201960.

Featured image: https://www.beachbound.com/blog/beachbounder/posts/the-perfect-dominican-republic-travel-guide/

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