Bermuda’s per capita carbon footprint is bigger than China’s
Climate change could destroy Bermuda’s reefs and marine life, a youth climate summit was told yesterday.
Mark Guishard, the Director of the Bermuda Weather Service, also said Bermuda had a larger carbon footprint on a per capita basis than China - one of the world’s worst polluters.
The warnings came on the first day of the Youth Climate Summit as Dr Guishard and young activists broke down the impacts of climate change and what could be done to stop it.
Dr Guishard, the Director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said that the island’s marine ecosystem could be harmed if water temperatures continued to rise - and Bermuda’s tourism and fishing industries along with them.
He added that hurricanes and storms were likely to become more frequent and more powerful as oceans warmed up.
Dr Guishard said: “All of you in the audience have experienced more hurricanes affecting Bermuda in your lifetime than your parents would have seen when they were your age.”
Dr Guishard was speaking during the livestreamed event, hosted by the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.
The Youth Climate Summit, which will continue for the rest of the week, invited experts and activists from around the world to speak on environmental conservation, sustainability and climate justice.
Dr Guishard said that the earth’s climate, which was separate from the weather and involved long-term changes in the atmosphere, naturally kept the earth warm - but the addition of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide was causing the planet to overheat.
He added that warmer oceans could cause rising sea levels and coral bleaching, which could destroy the ecosystems that Bermuda relied on.
Dr Guishard said that Bermudians had a “carbon footprint” - the amount of carbon dioxide created by individual action - larger than individuals in China, which has one of the largest carbon footprints of any country in the world.
He explained that this was because of the food and fuel that had to be transported to the island, which created greenhouse gases through the shipping industry.
Dr Guishard added that reliance on local markets, as well as personal changes to transport such as walking and carpooling, could significantly cut down on emissions.
Aaron Crichlow, the founder of environmental and community outreach charity Bermuda is Love, said the group had tried to improve the sustainability through events such as trash collections and community gardens.
He added that the number of people who came to assist showed a genuine care for people to better their communities.
Mr Crichlow said: “Bermuda is Love was only started last year and lots of positivity and collaboration has occurred from it.
“It doesn’t matter how many people are involved or how many people are benefiting - as long as you’re helping somebody and as long as you’re helping yourself, even you are making a change.
“If you see that there’s a problem you want to tackle or something that you don’t like about the world and you want to change that then you have just got to start it. Once you do that, good things will happen.”
The summit was moderated by Bermudian youngsters Erika Furbert and Dreas Ratteray.
Andrew Fagerheim, a young climate change activist based in New York, and Sonika Poudel, an agricultural sciences student from Nepal, also appeared at the summit.
Sessions, which run until Thursday, will be virtual and youngsters aged 13 to 22 can participate in a Q&A through written messages over Zoom.
On Friday and Saturday, viewers will meet local organisations, choose a topic to advocate for and work with their peers to create an action plan that will be carried out for the next 12 months.
The volunteer projects will be managed by a Youth Climate Advisory Board.
Today’s summit will look at how climate change affected the environment, as well as who was hit the most and why.
Isabel Rivera-Collazo, an assistant professor of biological, ecological and human adaptations to climate change at the University of California, San Diego, will lead the discussion.
Youth campaigners Somnima Ghimiral, from Nepal, and Jerome Foster, from New York, will also take part in the discussion.