The world is facing huge environmental threats and a climate change narrative that is changing the culture and way of life of geographically and ecologically vulnerable communities and societies.
Communities in the far north, like the Intuits of Canada, have seen their environments change more dramatically in the last decade than in a thousand years. This is the result of melting polar ice caps and rising seas caused by a depleted ozone layer.
In specific regions, especially in the tropics, warmer and rising seas are changing fish migrations and depleting fishing stocks, wiping out fishing communities while moving inland and generating flooding disasters. Mangrove and coral habitats for sea life are deteriorating rapidly, wreaking enormous havoc on Caribbean fishing and ecotourism.
Many of these changes are subtle and cannot be readily attributed to climate change. There is famine and desertification in Africa. There are hotter summers and warmer winters being experienced worldwide. There is the greater intensity of hurricanes and the heavier tropical rains during the hurricane season. Weather patterns are changing. The preceding geographic variables pose mysteries for scientists.
The sargassum seaweed that has inundated Caribbean shorelines and coastlines is impacting tourism by making beach and swimming destinations less attractive and less desirable for travellers. Less well-defined wet and dry seasons, and even changes in bird migrations and other wildlife behaviour, drive the climate change narrative.
In the VI
The Virgin Islands is very much part of the preceding environmental story. September’s floods, and hurricanes Irma and Maria arguably were part of climate change.
Consequently, any VI economic vision for the next 30 years must above all else pursue sustainability and an environmentally friendly ecology. Rebuilding without economic sustainability as the driving theme is simply a waste of time.
Dramatically shrinking the world’s carbon footprint is critical if mankind is to successfully and sustainably interface with his world. A new sustainable global culture is evolving: It is a new way most aggressively pursued by Scandinavian Europe. It is a culture that will deliver a better quality of life for mankind when all nations understand the present threat to human existence.
The new prosperity must be about humankind existing within an economic and social culture that places a pristine geography, and sustainable living, at the highest level of priority. A new economic idea must drive a new culture. Man and his environment can and must exist in perfect harmony.
The new economics of environmental sustainability will drive prosperity and human welfare into the middle of the 21st Century and beyond.
In Scandinavian countries, the pursuit of a sustainable economic model has been under way for decades. Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark are well ahead in the game, with bicycle lanes, car-free zones, clean-fuel public transportation, renewable energy, clean energy, recycling and reusable products. Scandinavian societies including Switzerland possess the highest quality-of-life metrics on earth.
The VI, meanwhile, has barely begun to rebuild after the devastation wreaked by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. There remains a sense of denial which is natural after such a terrible disaster.
The extent of the destruction after the September hurricanes is massive. Foot by foot and yard by yard, the VI ground shows evidence of the battering the territory received in September 2017.
Residents remain shell-shocked nine months after Irma. Rebuilding will take five to 10 years. However, rebuilding above everything else must be sustainable, green and ecologically driven.
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