Expert forum here considers impact of climate

About 50 government experts, academics and others from Central America and the Caribbean are gathering here today for a forum on vulnerability to climate change.

The forum is supposed to address the impact of climate change on the coasts and the maritime zones.

The session is being moderated by Costa Rican officials because the country holds the presidency of the Climate Vulnerability Forum. Participating from Costa Rica are representatives of the environmental ministry and the U.N. Programme for Development.

There have been similar forums around the world since 2009.  Participation is mainly by developing countries.

José María Figueres, the former president of Costa Rica, is a trustee of a related organization, DARA, which produces something called a climate vulnerability monitor that seeks to show climate damage country-by-country.

DARA said in a release that climate change already has caused more than $1 trillion in losses and that climate change and carbon economy are linked to 5 million deaths each year. The fatality figure appears to include all those who die from the effects of air pollution and hunger and communicable diseases that are linked to climate change.

The organization is seeking reductions of emissions to slow climate change and said that the cost would be $150 billion a year.

Countries in the Caribbean basin are affected by an increase of one degree C. in temperature which raises the temperature and increases the level of the sea, said the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

The purpose of the forum is to exchange ideas, said officials here. There is no doubt that some island states face a serious problem if predictions of sea-level rise come true.  The oceans have increased more than 400 feet since the end of the Ice Age, and Costa Rica lost large tracts of land, such as the plains of Nicoya where megafauna used to roam. That is now the gulf of Nicoya.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the world’s oceans are rising about 3 millimeters a year and that the rate may be increasing. Scientists estimate that if the ice at both poles were to melt, the oceans would rise some 20 feet.

Although some aspects of climate change are controversial, hardly anyone disputes the fact that oceans are rising. However, most of the current emphasis has been on trying to reduce carbon dioxide in the hopes of reducing the mean temperature instead of mitigation of  the  certain devastation of a higher ocean.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional has mapped the potential effects of a higher ocean on the peninsula on which Puntarenas Centro stands.

The institute said “A significant increase in the level of the sea, in addition to make a big part of the cities of Puntarenas, Quepos, and Golfito on the Pacific uninhabitable and drastically affected the current port installations, would cause big conflicts in the tenancy of land and the strip adjacent to the beaches and would reduce the capacity of the state to protect the coastal ecosystems that are important for the sustainable development of the nation.”

The  country has a 1,100-kilometer Pacific coast line. That’s about 680 miles. There are 200 kilometers (124 miles) on the Caribbean coast.

In addition to melting ice, the sea rises because warmer water expands.

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