The Descendants

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The Descendants

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new study led by Michiel Schaeffer of Climate Analytics details a scenario in which global mean temperature is allowed to increase to 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In this scenario the sea rises…between 2 and 4 m over the coming three centuries, while ambitious mitigation targets which limit warming to 1.5 degrees could substantially slow down the rate at which it occurs, resulting in a rise of 1.5 m by 2300, and possibly less than that.

A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change reports that last year the world’s nations combined belched nearly 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil. That’s 2.4 million pounds (1.1 million kilograms) of carbon dioxide released into the air every second. Scientists say it’s now unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple of degrees, the international goal.

Ghost crab, Falmouth, Jamaica, by Ted Lee Eubanks

I thought about the implications of climate change and sea level rise while walking a beach near Falmouth, Jamaica, last week. Jamaica is wholly unprepared for sea level rise. This is not to say that Jamaicans are not aware, but the country is poor. The Caribbean as a whole only accounts for about 2 percent of global carbon emissions, yet the impacts on these islands will be dramatic. Who is going to pay to keep the Caribbean above the high tide line?

For example, who is paying for the carbon cost of cruise traffic to and from the islands? According to,

…a cruise liner such as Queen Mary 2 emits 0.43 kg of CO2 per passenger mile, compared with 0.257kg for a long-haul flight (even allowing for the further damage of emissions being produced in the upper atmosphere). That means it is far greener to fly than cruise. In addition to the increase in CO2 emissions, there is often a need to fly to the departure points of the cruise, clocking up even further carbon emissions.

Bridled tern, Goat Island, Jamaica, by Ted Lee Eubanks

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