‘Denying the truth we have just lived’

How many category five hurricanes will it take to convince naysayers like Donald Trump that climate change is real?

Would a  killer hurricane, like the ones that battered Barbuda and Dominica, have to demolish the White House before the billionaire who  now occupies  it realizes that we are facing a problem of global magnitude?

Perhaps Trump just doesn’t care.

But the message from  leaders of the hurricane-affected islands in the Caribbean is loud and clear and makes sense.

In the words of Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica, ” to deny climate change is to deny a truth we have just lived.”

Prime Minister Skerrit knows what he is talking about. In its fury last week, Hurricane Maria slammed into Dominica, tore the roof off his house and left Skerrit with a mattress to protect himself from flying debris. There were tears in his eyes when he related the disaster that had befallen his beloved “Nature Island”  in an interview in Antigua.

Trump and the unbelievers of his ilk would do well to pay attention to what Skerrit had to say when he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on the weekend.

Pleading with  the countries in the United Nations to come together to save our planet, the Prime Minister of Dominica, ,” said his and other islands in the Caribbean need help now to build their homelands back better.

“I come to you straight from the front line of the war on climate change,” t Skerrit said in his  emotional address at the General Assembly’s annual general debate.

And there have been human causalities in that war.

So far the death toll  from Hurricane Maria in Dominica  is 27.

For those at the United Nations who wanted to listen, Skerrit had a lesson on climate change – a simple lesson that was easy to understand.

Warmer air and sea temperatures have permanently altered the climate between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, he noted.

And he explained that heat is the fuel that supercharges storms, turning them into a devastating force.

Back in the fifteenth century, Christopher Columbus wrote of the beauty of  Caribbean islands he had sighted.

But last weekend  the prime minister of Dominica  declared that ” the  stars have fallen. Eden is broken.”

If the current trends of global warning continue, bringing with it rising ocean levels, in the not too distant future, some of these treasured islands  which  Columbus beheld on his voyages to the New World may no longer exist.

The new map of the Caribbean may be quite different as a result of climate change.

Can you imagine the Caribbean without Barbados or some of the other low lying states?

As Skerrit warned in his address to the United Nations, the most unfortunate reality is that that there is little time left to reverse the damage  and rectify this trajectory.

“We need action and we need it now,” he told the General Assembly.

“The nation of Dominica has come to declare an international

humanitarian emergency,”  he said.

Who is listening?

We hope his message is getting through to the major polluters  on the planet who have a huge responsibility to reduce the production of greenhouse gases and to assist the poorer nations  affected by climate  change – nations like those hard-hit by the recent hurricanes.

As Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness reminded  us in a speech on  Sunday night, climate change is real.

Skerrit concluded his address to the United Nations by urging ownership and responsibility for perpetuating harm that desperately begs attention.

Amid the growing problems of climate change, there is hope in the message of Pope Francis. In his encyclical, Laudato Si, he writes: All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning…”

To that we say Amen.