Protecting environment a global mission

In his letter to the Caymanian Compass published on Wednesday, 23 September, Mr. Randy Kinsey suggested that the Department of Environment is wasting Government funds in developing a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the Cayman Islands.

The DOE wishes to refute this claim on two counts. Firstly, no additional funds have been acquired from the Cayman Islands Government for the execution of this project, which is also being undertaken in the other Caribbean UK Overseas Territories. The workshops and consultancy hours necessary for the development of the strategy and stages thereof have all been funded through money acquired from the UK Department for International Development and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center, which is itself funded by the Governments of Belize, Barbados and Italy, with projects funded by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility.

Secondly, Mr. Kinsey is of the opinion that spending any time and money on forming such a plan (whether it be in the Cayman Islands or otherwise), is a waste. Whilst this is not the forum to engage in a lengthy debate on whether climate change is happening and what the cause is, the Government of the Cayman Islands is engaged in such an endeavour because together with the vast majority of countries worldwide, we find the facts and the evidence for climate change, the projected adverse effects, and most importantly the observed trends of local impacts too compelling to ignore.

Further there is a growing body of evidence that indicates that taking action to prepare for climate change now will be less costly and more effective than remedial measures in the future.

The DOE and the other institutions involved in this project have based their stance on the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (http://www.ipcc.ch/), an intergovernmental body of hundreds of scientists, which assesses on an objective and transparent basis the latest research and literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change and in fact includes review of work that does not necessarily support the global warming hypothesis. In contrast, the sources cited by Mr. Kinsey in his letter are not credible; Alan Carlin’s report was rejected by NOAA because it was full of discredited, unoriginal research – Mr. Carlin is an economist with no expertise in climate science (see http://mediamattersaction.org/factcheck/200907090001). Gary Novak has also conducted no research into climate change and has merely selected choice segments of individual papers to try and back up his claims. This illustrates why the scientific community has not abandoned the rigours of peer reviewed publication practices in favour of looking to opinions posted by persons on the worldwide web.

We agree with Mr. Kinsey that the Cayman Islands will be able to do little to influence the rate at which global sea surface temperatures and sea levels will continue to rise. The IPCC has concluded that small island states are especially vulnerable to the projected impacts of climate change. Like many SIDS governments worldwide, the DOE, its National Climate Change Adaptation Working Group partner agencies and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center are therefore working to devise a strategy that will reduce the vulnerability of these islands to these impacts. Additionally the strategy will help the Cayman Islands address more successfully, and with less cost, the current impacts of extreme weather events to which they are exposed, such as tropical cyclones given their position in the hurricane alley of the Caribbean.

Mr. Kinsey also suggested that the efforts of the Department of Environment would be better spent on developing a recycling plan and energy policy for the Cayman Islands. Whilst the DOE fully supports and encourages the creation and implementation of both due to their key role in achieving sustainable development for the islands, it would like to make clear that with respect to the recycling plan, it is the Department of Environmental Health and not the DOE that has responsibility for its creation, and that the DOE produced a position paper on a National Energy Policy for consideration by Government over a year ago.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide these clarifications.

Gina Ebanks-Petrie – Director, Department of Environment

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