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  • Editors gather for the launch of the book “Global Change and the Caribbean: Adaptation and Resilience."

    Editors gather for the launch of the book “Global Change and the Caribbean: Adaptation and Resilience." | Photo: UWI Press

Published 1 June 2017

“Global Change and the Caribbean” eschews the "woe is we" narrative to focus on local solutions to local problems.

A new book on climate change aims to present Caribbean realities, and responses, as they really are, moving beyond academic theories and predictions.

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The book, “Global Change and the Caribbean: Adaptation and Resilience,” was launched last week in Jamaica. One of the book's editors, Dr. Thera Edwards, told teleSUR Thursday that the publication aims to present the "rapid change in the Caribbean region, both that being forced by global warming and climate change, and that driven by globalization and population growth," in conjunction with the "adaptation strategies and the development of community resilience structures which focus on the social and economic needs of the people without further deterioration of the region’s fragile environmental resource base."

The project was born out of the sixth British-Caribbean Geography Seminar Series, which took place at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica in June of 2014. The resulting book looks a range of issues from banana farming in hurricane-prone Dominica, to 500 years of Caribbean tourism, as well as community action from Tobago to Jamaica.

Dr. Edwards highlighted these themes in an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner. “One of the important things is that it doesn’t just look at Jamaica," she said. "A lot of times people talk about the separateness of some of the Caribbean states, so looking at different islands and countries in a comprehensive volume is important. It shows where there might be some differences in terms of contexts but also commonalities in terms of what we are facing regionally.”

Much of the discussion surrounding small island states, or SIDS, can be fatalistic. Dr. Edwards says the editors eschewed this narrative to focus on the real effects of climate change, as opposed to predictions, to examine regional responses to current concerns. The book is significant for its focus on problem solving via local adaptation, resilience and social transformation.

The book is timely because the region has suffered tremendously as a result of climate change, and its response has sometimes been wanting.

In recent years, a sargassum seaweed infestation made its way through the Caribbean, presenting a direct threat to the Caribbean tourist industry. In 2015, it prompted the Caribbean Tourism Organization to join forces with the University of the West Indies, UWI, to host a symposium on the environmental pest.

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It was UWI's Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles who revealed that it would cost US$150 million to remove sargassum seaweed from Caribbean beaches, an effort he estimated would require 100,000 in man power.

“We must show our children enjoying our beaches and give visitors the assurance that the weed is not killing us and that life goes on. We must let people know that we in the Caribbean are not sitting on our hands but trying to find solutions to the threat presented by the sargassum weed,” Sir Hilary said.

His proactive language is echoed throughout the book, according to its editor. “We are also moving beyond the talk of SIDS and their vulnerability to adaptation how and what we are changing about our approach and the resilience of the region. So we are not just looking at the ‘poor us, woe is we’; we are looking at how are we holding up,” said Dr. Edwards.

“Global Change and the Caribbean: Adaptation and Resilience” was launched in Jamaica on May 25. It will be available from UWI Bookshops on all three campuses, and directly from the UWI Press website.

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