This paper will discuss how the rising sea levels will impact the Bahamas through a literature review. Additionally, this paper will present primary research, which includes recent measurements of sea levels/beach erosion from several beaches. Interviews with Bahamian residents and environmentalists will also be presented to understand how natives view this phenomenon. While climate change may not be concerning to all, the natives of the Bahamas have considerable cause to worry. Beaches, economies, and the tourism/agricultural industries will suffer losses as a result of rising sea levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects a 11-98 cm rise by 2100. If this trend continues, the country would disappear due to rising sea levels. Approximately 80% of the land is less than three feet above sea level, with shorelines advancing and retreating. According to CaribSave, the entire Bahamas chain is in peril. If major preventive measures don’t begin soon, the critical Bahamian tourism industry, which accounts for 60% of the nation’s $8 billion economy, could face annual losses of almost $900 million by 2050. As the Bahamas is considered one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, small changes in sea level can have a huge impact on the environmental, social and economic well-being of every Bahamian.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change, Climate change is defined as follows:
a change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer and encompasses any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. (Climate Change, Sea Level Rise Spurring Beach Erosion, 2012)
When the question arises on the difference between global warming and climate change, one can argue that the two are the exact same thing. According to Cliamte.gov, Global warming refers only to the Earth’s rising surface temperature, while climate change includes warming and the side effects of warming—like melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, or rising sea levels. Said another way, global warming is one symptom of the much larger problem of human-caused climate change. Global warming is almost always referred to as a man-made way of warming the earth as a result of rapid increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from people burning coal, oil, and gas (Climate Change, Sea Level Rise Spurring Beach Erosion, 2012). While, climate change can be caused by man-made changes to the environment, it is more often referred to when discussing the natural changes, the earth makes, such as ice ages (NOAA, 2015). Other than burning fossil fuels, humans can cause climate changes by emitting aerosol pollution—the tiny particles that reflect sunlight and cool the climate— into the atmosphere, or by transforming the Earth’s landscape, for instance, from carbon-storing forests to farmland.
It has been proven time and time again that every small change one part of the world can cause drastic results on other parts of the world. Understanding that although, we as a human body many be divided by border-lines, laws, and water; we must all team up and start changing the way we as a people handle climate change. In this fast pace society where technology is ever- evolving, we must team up for the sake of preserving not only man-kind, but cultures as well. Countries like the Bahamas, require help from all parts of the world to ensure that their livelihood and culture can still be embraced and practiced in a country that has not succumb to rising sea levels due to climate change (“The Tribune”).
As one of the world giants, and its close proximity to the islands of the Bahamas, The United States of America has one of the largest roles to play in the battle of Climate Change for the Bahamian people. In 2017, President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order, intended to shift the direction of the U.S. environmental policy (Dennis & Eilperin, 2017). Despite the many benefits from this bill may have to offer, such as, more jobs for the American people and increase the cash flow into the country; this move will all but ensure that the U.S. does not meet its non-binding international commitments to address climate change and will diminish the country’s position as a leader on the issue cultivated under the Obama administration. The executive order undercuts a key part of the nation’s response to climate change, without offering even a hint of what will replace it. This decision can hurt economies as well as potentially terminate smaller countries. Not to mention that, in the Caribbean, many of the economic functions are particularly dependent on the coastal access and resources. Tourist infrastructure is targeted predominantly to coastal sites where inappropriate, siting, design or management can augment vulnerability.