Global Warming To Eliminate Tourism in the Caribbean

hispaniola-con-6m-subida-del-mar.gifOver the years, many island nations have fought hard to be heard in the international arena about the effects that global warming is already having on them. Some islands have already been lost in the Pacific, and the forecast is that many more will go in the coming decades, especially if nothing is done to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions globally. Now, in the Caribbean, the picture is looking bleak as well. Today, the top newspaper in the Dominican Republic reported that global warming will eliminate tourism by 2050 under business-as-usual.

The Caribbean islands, for the exception of Cuba and Haiti, are largely dependent on tourism. Coastal development for the purpose of tourism is growing in the region at a high rate despite a recent regional decline in tourism. In the Caribbean, tourism accounts for 15% of the gross domestic product, with higher rates in many islands, and over 2.4 million jobs (about 16%). It has also pushed populations towards the coasts. For example, in the Dominican Republic, over 50% of the population lives near coasts where a 6-m sea-level rise would plunge them into the sea.

Recently, the Dominican government received a report detailing that, under their estimates, sea-level will rise by 6 meters under business-as-usual by 2050, eliminating the tourism industry and sending the country into complete chaos. The same would happen around the Caribbean. The fast development the region is seeing may be completely obliterated by global warming, and the same case goes for much of the rest of the developing world. The outcome would be to put billions of people in situations of poverty, hunger, and violence.

There are good reasons why people in the developing world should have high hopes. One reason is that, aside from what governments are doing (whether it be block negotiations or push for tough measures), industries are rushing towards making a profit out of solving the climate, and that’s a great thing. Companies like Ausra, eSolar, Solel, Nanosolar, Google, Honda, GE, Vestas, Aracruz, and many others are working hard to make renewable energy, transportation, and products cheap, feasible, and appropriate for smart, sustainable development. We are already seeing every major industry making significant investments in the solutions we need. Of course, this doesn’t mean we don’t need governments to step in. We especially need huge subsidies to shut down coal plants globally and replace fossil fuels with renewables.

Another good reason is that people are standing up everywhere. We are seeing people getting together to deploy solutions, taking action to shut down fossil fuel projects, and even elect leaders who will do something about global warming. The fact that climate criminals in Washington are hindering progress should be no reason for us to lose hope. Within a few years, we may be seeing ourselves agreeing that the entire world can be carbon neutral within two decades – and that’s where we need to get ourselves for the sake of uncertainty, urgency, and the billions of people who will have to suffer as a result of something they didn’t do. The good thing is, as I show in this recently released report, that we can do it while booming economies and improving the quality of life of everybody. Let’s do it!

14 Responses to “Global Warming To Eliminate Tourism in the Caribbean”

  1. 1 kent beuchert Dec 30th, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    I have to laugh at those who religiously believe that reducing carbon emissions will
    have much effect on any global warming trends that the Earth is now experiencing.
    They stick their head in the sands when obvious and conclusive evidence surfaces that clearly show that current warming trends do not fit the well known characteristics of warming due to greenhouse gases : the differences between surface and airborne temps are far to small to be the result
    of greenhouse warming. The conclusion : reducing carbon emissions will have little, if any, effect on global warming; therefore, more direct techniques are required, such as space based shields.
    I wonder how long before the dimwitted media catches the significance of this?

  2. 2 Carlos Rymer Dec 30th, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    As far as I understand, the evidence is that greenhouse gases are warming the planet everywhere, not just at the surface. The oceans are warming, the soils are warming, the troposphere is largely warming, and the stratosphere is cooling (proof). Where’s your evidence that greenhouse gases are not to blame. The IPCC has said it 4 times, national academies from countries that refuse to take action have said it as well, and even Bush and Exxon have said it. So what’s your evidence? You should stop denying it and take responsiblity for what we’re doing. Climate chaos is human-caused.

  3. 3 R Margolis Dec 31st, 2007 at 12:24 am

    As an engineer, I must admit to a fascination with such macroprojects (i.e., space shields), but my guess is that a lot more research would be needed to ensure we do not overcool areas as well as maintain control of the device. And don’t even start on the political issues on such a project… ;-)

  4. 4 Brad Arnold Dec 31st, 2007 at 4:29 am

    1. It is very unlikely that mankind will cut emissions so fast and drastically that a climate catastrophe will be avoided.

    2. The last severe global warming episode ended because ocean life removed the excess carbon from the air over thousands of years.

    3. I suggest we improve nature’s ability by seeding an extensively tested genetically modified organism into the ocean.


    “We now have evidence from the Earth’s history that a similar event happened fifty-five million years ago when a geological accident released into the air more than a terraton of gaseous carbon compounds…we have already put more than half this quantity of carbon gas into the air…and as a consequence the Earth is now returning to the hot state it was in before, millions of years ago, and as it warms, most living things will die.” (The Revenge of Gaia)

    “But getting billions of humans to make serious cuts in CO2 emissions anytime soon may be even less realistic politically. As Dr. Lovelock and Dr. Rapley write: Processes that would normally regulate climate are being driven to amplify warming. Such feedbacks, as well as the inertia of the Earth system — and that of our response — make it doubtful that any of the well-intentioned technical or social schemes for carbon dieting will restore the status quo. What is needed is a fundamental cure.” (New York Times, Oct. 1)

    “A rapid cutback in greenhouse gas emissions could speed up global warming…because current global warming is offset by global dimming – the 2-3ºC of cooling cause by industrial pollution, known to scientists as aerosol particles, in the atmosphere.”

    “Last time Earth suffered a carbon-induced fever, it was the oceans that helped saved the day…the last severe global warming episode 55 million years ago was accompanied by several thousands of years of ocean plant life kicking into high gear…unfortunately, this process is slow and thus lags the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere…”

  5. 5 Sol Shapiro Dec 31st, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    I join kent beuchert and R Margolis in calling for study and deployment as needed of a process called “climate change geoengineering” which can with high probability stop global warming in short order. There are a number of approaches to reducing absorbed solar flux including space shieldes, particulates in the upper atmosphere and increased the reflectivity of the Earth; as well as approaches to take the excess CO2 out of the atmosphere such as carbon sequestration in soil. What is needed is open discussion of the need for such study so that the world’s governments will put sufficient funding into the activity and to include international oversight of possible deployment under the Kyoto replacement treaty.

  6. 6 Carlos Rymer Dec 31st, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    I agree that anything that could get the job done should be looked at, but we also have to think about what we’re doing other than global warming in relation to fossil fuels. It’s not an issue of “get global warming solved the quickest way possible.” We’ve got disempowered people here as a problem; we’ve got congestion as a problem; we’ve got subsidies that could go to better uses as a problem; we’ve got corporate money making our decisions as a problem; we’ve got smog, mercury, and lung cancer as a problem; we’ve got conflicts over oil as a problem; we’ve got high fossil fuel costs as a problem; we’ve got an unsustainable model based on fossil fuels as a problem. That’s why we don’t just want to stop global warming the imaginatively quickest way possible. We need a revolution that will solve all this and bring an end to poverty, to corporate control of governments, to unsustainable practices, and to all the ills of society. That’s the revolution that a renewable energy, energy efficient, and people powered society will bring. Please understand this and decide that mirrors or sulfur or ocean algae growth ain’t the way.

  7. 7 R Margolis Dec 31st, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    “I ain’t in this for your revolution…” Han Solo, Star Wars ;-)

    I often wonder if much of the public’s hesitation for more immediate action on the carbon issue is that they keep hearing about social revolution as a siginificant goal of the climate movement. Any combination of solutions will have big social and economic impacts already and require amelioration. I would think that disempowered and impoverished people will need more electricity not less to give them health and economic opportunity.

    As for “evil corporations”, they seem more followers than leaders. If the price of renewables becomes lower than fossil fuels when carbon finally gets regulated, then Exxon will build windmills and solar panels (maybe some sequestration and nuclear for baseload). My experience is that they have less of a grand agenda than most folks think.

  8. 8 Evan Webb Dec 31st, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    i think the public’s hesitation about immediate action is that they don’t know what “action” means and, more importantly, don’t care. so long as there’s television and cheetos and beer, who cares? i don’t ever think there will be a majority of folks taking significant action (read: more than a lightbulb) on the climate issue, and i think we give up that fantasy…

  9. 9 Richard Graves Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    This comment thread seems to have gone a little kooky, probably because of who started it. I am sorry, Kent, but the only one we should laugh at is you. Calling the media dim-witted when you refuse to believe every scientific body of note on earth on warming and then call for a space shield to stop the global warming you don’t believe in. I understand it is New Years, but please don’t drink and comment here. Next, Brad – it is quite obvious by now that Lovelock is a little unhinged – and one of the big issues with global warming is that we are conducting an uncontrolled experiment on our only home. Heard of the precautionary principle? Want to trust the governments of the world to geo-engineer the world for the better or release a genetically engineered organisms into the largest eco-system in the planet and without unforeseen and possible catastrophic consequences? I would tell you to go back to reading science-fiction where your ideas seem to come from, but in fact, science fiction spends a lot of time exploring the folly of humanity’s efforts to ‘re-engineer’ our home.

    Besides the solutions we are advocating that R Margolis has a right to be skeptical of, would reduce the health and ecological burdens of fossil fuels, increase employment, launch a new green economy, and maybe make the world a little more fair. If that combination of factors isn’t enough for us to launch a new, green economy why should we embrace some hideously expensive experiment that more than likely kill us all off?

  10. 10 Richard Graves Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Oh, and Evan. We don’t need a majority to act, we just need to be right, smarter, and get enough people together to make the impact we need. The civil rights movement didn’t have a majority when they started, which we are starting with. Rather we need to pressure the institutions that shape our society and our economy to make the change we want.

    You take down the grid, you kill people. You don’t care? You would if you had to watch them die.

  11. 11 R Margolis Jan 1st, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    How did I get labeled as an advocate for geo-engineering? ;-) I said it was intriguing, but so many factors (both technical and political) are out there that would have to be dealt with make it impractical. I would advocate for fusion power before promoting geo-engineering. :-)

    My biggest skepticism is that solar, wind, and efficiency can do the job alone. When I go through the numbers, Asia and Africa swamp the US even if they are efficient (i.e., 25% of US per capita which is half the per capita of Switzerland). My guess is that some kind of baseload source will be needed (sequestered coal or LNG, fission, fusion, something that makes power 24/7 with little or no net carbon).

    In the meantime, best wishes for 2008 to the climate movement.

  12. 12 Anonymis Jan 4th, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    i think that global warming would mainly affect the islands with plainer surface. But the Dominican Republic and Haity are very mountanous countries. Some places might flood like punta cana, but Dominican Republic Has mountains that reach 10,000 feet in height.

  13. 13 John Olela Aug 11th, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    I think the industry is really under threat especially the longhaul destinations along the coastal lines of Africa. Mind you these are countries whose developmental needs and the state of technology will not facilitate reduction of emmission of the greenhouse gasses.I encourage initiatives by travel companies in the developed countries to levy some charges on the tourists to fund projects like afforestration to increase the CO2 sink.

  1. 1 Global Warming To Eliminate Tourism in the Caribbean « Carlos Rymer's Personal Blog Trackback on Sep 28th, 2009 at 9:04 pm
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About Carlos

I'm a youth climate activist who has worked on campus, state, and national campaigns to cut global warming pollution. I helped push Cornell University to commit to climate neutrality, New Jersey to pass ground-breaking legislation to cut emissions 80% by 2050, and the Dominican Republic to move forward on clean energy. More about me at my site:

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