CLIMATE CHANGE IS FOR REAL – by Francis Quamina Farrier

CLIMATE CHANGE IS FOR REAL – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Francis Quamina Farrier

So it’s been raining in Guyana on and off since New Year’s Day 2017. Fact is, it has been raining more than not raining; and there seems to be no pattern as to when, how and where the rain will fall. The most certain thing about rainfall over the past three decades, is that there is no pattern; the rain falls at all odd times, and also in all odd places and in many cases, resulting in flooding. My question to you is; “Should it rain tomorrow morning, will you be singing that popular song by The Carpenters, “Rainy Days and Mondays always gets me down”?

Guyanese used to joke about it raining whenever Test cricket comes to town, but it seems now that whenever a group of boys or girls go out anywhere to play bat-and-ball, the rain comes.    

Just take note of the heavy flooding in many sections of Georgetown as well as in the Regions over the past two decades. Only recently, Region Eight suffered from heavy rainfall, causing many rivers in that highland region of the country to overflow their banks, resulting in devastating floods and lots of human suffering in the populated areas.

So let me say it; Climate Change is for real. If you are forty five years or younger, I suggest that you take some time out and sit and have an in-depth discourse with an older person about what the weather pattern was like back then in British Guiana. They will most likely tell you about the two rainy seasons and the two dry seasons, which came around like the sun comes around every day on schedule, never missing a beat, even when obscured by clouds, it is still there. In those long-gone days, one could have arranged an out-door activity without needing to have a Plan B, just in case it rains.

The two rainy seasons were in May and June, referred to as “The May/June Rains”; that was the big one. The smaller rainy season was during the latter weeks of the year. The older folks will tell the youngsters that rain never fell in August when they were children. During the August school holidays, youngsters went on visits to different areas from where they lived. Scouts took field trips and hikes into the hinterland. No one packed a cloak or umbrella. It was the Dry Season, and so no rain whatsoever.

But in more recent decades, things have changed; there is climate change, the governing party changed, party members changed their party allegiance; some went to this party and others to that party; there were many who also changed their religion; many changed their partners; many changed their citizenship. A few even changed their gender; so why not the weather? (Really, I shouldn’t have made that last statement). Change is inevitable and so we need to face whatever challenge change brings; Climate Change included.

We see what happens in Georgetown and in most coastal areas of the country when there is heavy rainfall; areas which are below sea level at high tide, become inundated. Those of us fifteen years and older can recall that terrible experience in 2005, when most of the East Coast of Demerara and West Coast Berbice  were under over eight feet of flood water due to heavy and continuous rainfall. The ground floors of low lying buildings became water-logged. There was lots of human and animal suffering. Items in homes were destroyed. Some animals died in the flood water. Others died of starvation because there was no grass to eat, since most of the grass was submerged. It was terrible.

During the past three weeks, many areas in Region Number Eight were inundated after heavy rainfall. What is very worrying about that situation, is that Region Eight is one of the highest areas of Guyana, with many hills and mountains which are hundreds and thousands of feet above sea level. Yet they were floods in many areas and people suffered terribly. The rivers just could not take off the water from the incessant rain and so that resulted in the floods.

The weather pattern has certainly changed over the years, and those responsible for getting assistance to those who suffer from floods, are greatly challenged. The Civil Defense Commission which is tasked with getting needed assistance to those affected by floods and other disasters, did an excellent job in this recent case in Region Number Eight, according to reports coming out of that highland region. People suffered initially, but help was there to ease the suffering, and from reports, the water is receding and things are slowly returning to normal.

Guyana though small and relatively insignificant on the world stage, still plays a  vital role in the international drama of maintaining a healthy production of Climate. This country is regarded as one of the bastions of keeping the lungs of the earth clean and healthy with our pristine forests. We have, for the better part, kept our forests intact. Guyana has also given to the world, the Iwokarama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation, for scientific study of flora and fauna, and climate. That came about when President Desmond Hoyte, while attending a meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, in Malaysia in 1989, proposed the idea of setting aside a section of a virgin rainforest as a living laboratory.

Guyanese need to be proud of that Iwokarama Project, and continue to make our own individual contributions as dedicated players in this unfolding Climate Change drama, even as we recognize just how lucky we are from the wrath of Mother Nature. There is on-going education here in Guyana about a Green Environment, and how individuals and groups can make their contributions.

Many of us complain when it is too hot or too rainy, never pausing to recognize just how much Guyana is blessed. We never experience the wrath of snow storms and blizzards which take the lives of many humans and animals. There are no hail storms in which ice cubicles come pelting down from the sky, doing much damage, especially to vehicles. Guyana does not experience deadly hurricanes as some of our Caricom sister countries. No earthquakes in which the earth opens up swallowing up humans, animals, and buildings. No tornadoes that come twisting, swallowing up all in their path.

There are no fires which consume dozens of acres of forests and grass lands. We never had a tsunami in which dozens of people and hundreds of animals are washed out to sea to their deaths, including the devastating damage to property. There are no avalanches or land slides to really talk about. There are those countries which suffer from heavy fog, while others have to deal with exploding volcanoes which spew fiery lava, which in some instances, pour down into populated areas and take lives and property.

The Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat erupting

Flying in an helicopter over the city of Plymouth, Montserrat, two years after that devastating eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills Volcano on July 18, 1995, and seeing just the tip of the tallest buildings peeping above the ash, tears came to my eyes knowing that I had previously walked in the streets below and just could not fathom that such horrific damage could have been the result of a volcano errupting. Can you imagine Georgetown covered in ash with only the top of the St. George’s cathedral, the Stabroek Market and a few other tall buildings visible? Could you imagine the General Post, the National Cultural Centre and other buildings, totally covered in ash. We Guyanese need to recognize that our Beautiful Guyana is very blessed weather-wise.

However, blessed though Guyana is weather-wise, that does not mean that Guyanese ought to accept what could be prevented. Some of the floods which impact Georgetown in particular, are for the better part, preventable; if only we would take better care of our environment – our drains and canals in particular. During the post-General Elections of 2015, the massive clean-up  campaign of the city of Georgetown, was well-received by citizens as they saw the transformation of the “garbage city” to a much cleaner capital. But as we celebrate our 51st Independence Anniversary, are we as pleased about the current state of Georgetown? Not everyone is, because there are obvious signs of careless and illegal garbage disposal.

So when next it rains, you may just ‘throw back’ and relax with some soothing music; such as Brook Benton’s “Rainy Night in Georgia”, and recall when Brook arrived from America and took Georgetown by storm when he performed at the Strand DeLux cinema at Wellington and Charlotte Streets.  On the other hand, if you are busy around and about town or country, and it’s raining cats and dogs, you could sing to yourself that popular Burt Bacharach song “Raindrops keep falling on my Head”, from the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” with Robert Redford and Paul Newman.

So whatever you do, know that Climate Change is for real. And if we are to “give jack he jacket”, we will salute former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, and take a first or other viewing of his 2006 Academy Award Winning Video documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, which shows in a most dramatic way, the facts of Climate Change. So just get real with whatever you do, and be a part of the solution, however small it may be.

Also read:

8 in 10 People Worldwide Fear ‘Catastrophic’ Climate Change: Poll

Majority of respondents say ready to change lifestyles to prevent environmental calamity

Nadia Prupis, staff writer – Thursday, May 25, 2017 – by Common Dreams

Many people now see climate change as a bigger threat than other issues like population growth, weapons of mass destruction, and artificial intelligence, among other concerns, the poll found. (Photo: Rainforest Action Network/flickr/cc)

A majority of people in eight countries say they are ready to change their lifestyles if it would prevent climate catastrophe, a survey on global threats released on May 24, 2017 found.

The poll of 8,000 people in eight countries—the U.S., China, India, Britain, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, and Germany—found that 84 percent of people now see climate change a “global catastrophic risk.”

It comes as President Donald Trump goes to Italy for his first conference with the Group of 7 (G7) to discuss inequality and the environment. Anti-poverty groups are urging the president not to pull out of the Paris climate deal, as he has threatened to do.

On climate, “there’s certainly a huge gap between what people expect from politicians and what politicians are doing. It’s stunning,” Mats Andersson, vice chairman of the Global Challenges Foundation, which commissioned the survey for its annual Global Catastrophic Risks report, told the Thompson Reuters Foundation on Wednesday.

Many people now see climate change as a bigger threat than other issues like population growth, weapons of mass destruction, and artificial intelligence, among other concerns, the poll found.

Still, those fears also ranked high, and the survey found that about 70 percent of respondents would support a new global organization designed to address international risks.

“Whether it’s the specter of nuclear conflict over North Korea or the planet tipping into catastrophic climate change, the need for effective global cooperation has never been greater,” Andersson said.

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Comments

  • demerwater  On May 26, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Climate is always changing. It has always been changing. It will continue to change, always.
    I vividly recall L. P. Cummings trying to articulate, in terms that the Lower Fourth Form would comprehend, the solar system and its continuous changing of speed, direction and dimension.
    If the whole system is always changing, it is reasonable to relate this macro phenomenon to the micro climate across a 270-mile strip of land, on a continent, of a planet, in the system.
    It was my good fortune to work for many years in a position where it was my responsibility to collect and interpret weather data like rainfall, hours of sunshine, relative humidity etc.
    Jimmy Singh, a Civil Engineer with GUYSUCO was a guiding and stimulating presence.
    The data supported the conclusion that the weather across the estates followed a 7-year cycle; and in each cycle there would be one very wet year; and one very dry year. There was a similar period of erosion / deposition on the sea shore.
    I subscribe to the view that there is a cycle and balance to everything in nature – the pendulum, the sine wave, day and night, the tides, wet and dry years etc. Some colleagues started to explore the idea that there might be a larger cycle,- for argument sake, a 49 year cycle.
    Which brings me to my question concerning climate change – global warming specifically.
    Is global warming the indication of a permanent change? Or merely a ‘hump on the road’? I liken it to 500-mile trip I used to make regularly. I averaged 50 MPH consistently; but I will confess to flooring the gas pedal on some stretches of roadway.
    Is global warming a temporary stretch? Will the pendulum change direction (balance)? Will global warming be a recurring wave (cycle)? Or is it a permanent new direction?
    As Mother Nature proceeds with her delicate balancing act, can we look forward to abnormal cooling in another place locally; or at another time globally?
    Pardon the cliché; it is the best I can do.
    Only time will tell.

  • Ron Saywack  On May 26, 2017 at 7:23 am

    “So when next it rains, you may just ‘throw back’ and relax with some soothing music; such as Brook Benton’s “Rainy Night in Georgia”…”

    Ah, this 1970 Brook Benton classic is one for the ages.

    Brook’s voice was as smooth as silk. He was a legend in his time, and of all time, and holds a special place alongside the very best the world has ever known.

    • Francis Quamina Farrier  On May 28, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      Wonderful, Ron Sayack, in posting this music video with Brook Benton singing that beautiful old classic “Rainy Night in Georgia”. Thanks.

      • Ron Saywack  On May 29, 2017 at 3:01 pm

        Good day, Francis:

        Great article; I enjoyed reading it. I was particularly delighted to see you mention the Great Artist; and thought it fitting to share the aforementioned masterpiece with those who might not have been aware.

        Cheers, Ron.

  • walter  On May 26, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Since “Climate Change” has now turned into a cash cow, hard to believe/trust any government claiming collecting huge taxes will make it go away. Here in Canada it seems the present LIBERAL government is busy opening new bank accounts in Panama, as their first move to solve the problem.

    • guyaneseonline  On May 26, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      Walter:
      You wrote: “ Here in Canada it seems the present LIBERAL government is busy opening new bank accounts in Panama, as their first move to solve the problem (climate change) …”

      This comment is ridiculous and irresponsible and really has no place on this forum, or any other forum for that matter. There is no such this as the Liberal government considering (or have considered) opening up a Panamanian bank account to combat climate change. What utter nonsense!

      You may have heard about the Panama Papers, but maybe you have no clue what it is all about. As you would know, The Panama Papers was anonymously leaked in 2015. It contains the names of wealthy individuals from around the world who hold or have held secret bank accounts in Panama. But nowhere is there evidence of either Mr. Trudeau or his Liberal government having set up any such Panamanian offshore accounts.

      Cyril Bryan…. Editor

  • walter  On May 27, 2017 at 10:28 am

    I used Panama as an example, could be anywhere, I feel that if the LIBERAL government is involved the money will disappear, they need money as they wasted all that we had, and this scam will refill their pockets. Obvious I don’t trust them, and if they did stash money anywhere, possibly hide their names.

  • L. A. Phillips  On May 28, 2017 at 2:22 am

    When this issue was first raised, it was called “Global Warming”. Soon afterwards, the scientists found that the past observed warming had actually changed into an observed brief spell of coolness so, in order not to be embarrassed, they changed it to “Climate Change”.
    This makes eminent sense! Ever since the earth was formed and had an atmosphere, the climate has changed backwards and forwards, from hot to cold and then back again, and so on. The geologists have confirmed this from their investigations of the formation of the earth’s structure. More interesting is that some of these changes were very large and cataclysmic in nature, and most occurred before humans had appeared on the earth! There is no question or argument about “climate change”. It is accepted that the climate has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. What is still in question of the cause behind the changes.
    Reading Al Gores’ “An Inconvenient Truth” is a total waste of time. Al Gore is not a scientist; he is a politician! The so-called facts in his book are cherry-picked; he uses only those cases which bolster his point of view which he does not try to prove conclusively. The book should be called “A Convenient Lie”! He makes a ton of money by preaching to those who have already been brain-washed, but he does not practice what he teaches. On “Earth Day” (usually a Saturday) when everyone is asked to turn off all lights and any unnecessary electrical equipment for one hour (8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.), his southern mansion, acquired with his proceeds from his speaking tours, has been seen ablaze with lights!
    In the 1990s, the first predictions were issued by the IPCC, based on models which were created on the assumption that humans were the main and only source of global warming (as it was then called). All other possible sources of climate change were rejected, and the works of those scientists who suggested other sources were completely ignored and rejected so that there was deemed to be a unanimous consensus among the scientific community, a community which consisted of only those who had adhered to the gospel of the human cause of the climate change.
    Twenty years later, the IPCC reviewed the predictions and the then current status, and had to admit that their predictions were completely wrong! There had not even been any attempt to verify the accuracy of the models used – but verification of models is another story not to be explained here!
    Do humans contribute to climate change? Absolutely! Yes! Without a doubt! But are they the main source? Absolutely not! No! Ever since the earth was formed, there has been one element that has had a “life and death” influence of the earth. It called the sun! However, the IPCC scientists have completely ignored this factor and, until they admit it into their models, they will never get it right!

  • demerwater  On May 28, 2017 at 4:37 am

    I agree that the sun exerts one supreme (no heresy intended) influence on earth and its inhabitants.
    It is the source of all energy. The food chain is but a concentration of the energy of sunlight; starting with the plankton and ending up as the “dhall, rice and choka” on my dinner plate.
    I suppose if it were left at that level, the planet earth would be a much ‘happier’ and sustainable environment for ALL the creatures that are part of it.
    We would hunt and fish to eat; or prevent ourselves from being eaten. We would cut and clear enough area to live communally; or even solitarily – depending upon our preference.
    I have seen the former lifestyle in the South Rupununi; and a great example of the latter along the Soesdyke / Linden highway. Some friends, Ayube Hamid among them, had acquired a piece of land; and constructed a splendid rural dwelling – out of the material they had cut and cleared! I witnessed Ayube in a rare fit of rage; because someone had shot a wood-pecker.
    The colorful bird had survived a massive assault on its territory; only to die by the hands of those who kill for sport.
    We could obtain everything we need from plants; as our ancestors once did.
    But we human beings, evolved to become the only creatures who could carve out – literally – an existence anywhere on the planet; and even in space. Anacondas are not found at the north pole; nor polar bears at the equator. Human beings are everywhere; and we bring to the environment much that is good.
    We bring a certain amount of ‘baggage’. Here I will relate my grandfather’s ‘lecture’ after I had done something really bad. We will let that sleeping dog lie. He told me that I was like a good cow that would placidly allow itself to be milked; one whole bucketful. Then without warning or reason, it would kick down the whole bucket.
    What to do with this cow? You can’t send it to the butcher. You can’t teach it sense.
    And yet you have to “feed am”; make a pen, etc. etc.
    As the King of Siam sang, “Iz a puzzlement!”

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