Mr. Weatherman

Any resident who isn’t familiar with Mr. Weatherman should seek him out immediately. The meteorologist — whose real name is Brian Shields — creates daily YouTube videos that explain Atlantic storm activity in clear detail with a focus on the islands of the Caribbean. In so doing, he has filled a longstanding gap, a Beaconite believes. Too often, other weather reports about tropical storms and hurricanes focus heavily on Florida and other areas in the mainland United States. Not so with Mr. Shields. In his daily broadcast, he gives a brief update for each Caribbean island no matter how small — including this territory. His explanations of larger weather patterns are also extremely clear, allowing viewers to understand the atmospheric phenomena at play. To find his updates, simply google “Mr. Weatherman on YouTube.” The Beaconite urges you do to it now. Trust him. 

Sweet debate

A Beaconite recently engaged in a very interesting — if unexpected — political conversation at the Jost Van Dyke ferry dock. While waiting for the ferry to arrive, everyone at the dock started discussing development planning priorities. The government, of course, recently adopted a 233-page National Sustainable Development Plan that was drafted through the guidance of a consultant after extensive public consultations. At the JVD ferry dock, residents elaborated, raised interesting points about land ownership, how rights should be transferred through generations, infrastructure needs, tourism, youth development and more. One listener noted how ideas of national development change with every change in leadership, and she agreed with this reporter when she suggested that is why it is important to have a written plan that is updated every few years. In the Beaconite’s mind, development can be equated to a dessert buffet, where many options seem appealing. If a person takes one or two bites of every option, they will never finish what’s on their plate. Rather, it makes sense to finish one slice of pie while making progress on some ice cream. Perhaps a cookie is best split with a friend (aka the private sector and other partners). And it’s only logical to eat the popsicle that urgently needs to get consumed before it melts, while fruitcake can be saved for way down the line. All this is to say that the reporter appreciates seeing residents so passionately engage in discussion about the best way forward for the territory, which has a sweet future if it is clearly envisioned, appropriately revised, and passionately executed. Otherwise, there is certain to be plenty of bellyaching along the way that could be avoided.

Salt flares

A reporter who recently visited Dubai learned about salt flares for the first time. The United Arab Emirates employs cloud-seeding flights and uses salt flares to make it rain in the country. By shooting hygroscopic (water-attracting) salt flares into the atmosphere, scientists attempt to seed clouds to increase precipitation in one of the driest areas in the world, which sees less than 100 millimetres of rain in a year on average. Driven by economic diversification and a growing population, the UAE has seen a significant increase in water demands. The country relies heavily on desalination plants that use seawater. The reporter is faced with a stark contrast when she notes what happened in the territory with the passage of Tropical Storm Philippe: an overabundance of water during the hurricane season. If there’s one thing the reporter has come to understand about earth, it is just how precious water is as a resource, and how fragile the earth’s ecosystem is. When she studied environmental journalism in college, she visited Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. She learned then that even a difference of two inches in water levels affects its entire biology and can harm the organisms that live there. Water continues to be a crucial element for planetary survival and a formidable opponent in the hands of nature.