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Global Warming and The Bahamas

Published: Thursday March 30th, 2023

Global Warming and The Bahamas

Allan Wright, Nathan Rolle, Antoine Clarke

Climate change indicates both physical and operational risks for any economy, thereby causing desolation to smaller island nations, like The Bahamas. The build-up of greenhouse gases (CO2) in the atmosphere damages the ozone layer, which results in more exposure from the sun. The damage causes environmental changes–being a catalyst for physical disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and bushfires. Data regarding the global atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as CO2 shows that the concentration has risen by about 48.0% since 1850 (NASA, 2021). This CO2 exposure results from typical everyday industrial activities that release the gases into the atmosphere, thereby releasing excess heat energy. Since the 1970s, it has been observed that more than 90.0% of the rest of the trapped heat has been absorbed into the oceans. Progressively, the oceans have warmed up over the past century, but the rise in ocean temperature is still accelerating. It is estimated that the top part of the ocean is warming up about 24.0% faster than it did a few decades ago, and that rate is likely to climb in the future (Borunda, 2019).

The Bahamas’ location in the Atlantic Hurricane Belt increases the country’s vulnerability to these severe weather events. Currently, over 80.0% of the country’s landmass is within 5.0 feet (1.5 m) of mean sea level and this is detrimental to both the population and the economy, since the majority of the coastal areas are inhabited with smaller bodies of water housing our exotic sea life. As demonstrated in Table 1, four major hurricanes have struck the Bahamas since 2012, despite the country’s smaller ‘carbon footprint’ relative to other countries that contribute on a larger scale to climate change (Goodman, 2019). Over the years, the value of damages and losses are projected to increase. The 12 major hurricanes that have struck The Bahamas between 1980 and 2018 have had profound effect on the country’s well-being, and its economy, as they have caused an accumulated $2.5 billion in damages, equivalent to 30.0% of the country’s GDP (Hartnell, 2018). The most significant hurricane, Dorian, resulted in damages of 1.0% of GDP. Dorian became a major alert for the Bahamian community, as more citizens became aware of the catastrophic effects of climate change, and demand solutions in mitigating global temperature.