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HomeNewsArchivesClimate Experts to Address V.I. Prospects at UVI Conference

Climate Experts to Address V.I. Prospects at UVI Conference

Dec. 17, 2008 — When participants leave the one-day conference on climate change planned for February on St. Thomas, organizer Lawrence Lewis hopes they'll have more than a better understanding of what's going on with the earth's weather systems.
He wants them to have begun planning what to do about it.
Lewis, the conference organizer, is special assistant to the vice provost for research and public service at the University of the Virgin Islands, which is sponsoring the meeting on the impact of climate change on the territory. The conference will take place Feb. 6 at the university's St. Thomas campus.
The deadline to register is Jan. 15. The cost is $50; lunch will be provided. The conference will feature presentations by two regional experts on the subject.
Keynote speakers for the conference are Leonard Nurse, a researcher from the University of the West Indies on Barbados, and Ulric "Neville" Trotz, senior advisor of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center in Belize.
Nurse was part of the United Nations' scientific team that enabled former Vice President Al Gore to received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for climate-related efforts.
The conference goal is to heighten awareness of what climate change could mean for the Virgin Islands and to develop guidelines, policies and procedures to address potential threats to the islands' ecology and economy. Scientists have warned that results of global climate change could include a melting of the polar ice caps, oceans rising by a half meter to a meter, shrinking land mass, diminished food production and stress on living species that could endanger or eliminate some.
After Nurse and Trotz share ideas about what Virgin Islanders can expect to happen in the territory as global climate changes continue, the attendees will take over and talk about what can be done about it, Lewis said.
"How do we fit in with all this? What do we do?" are the questions Lewis hopes government officials and concerned citizens will consider. "Any responsible person has to think ahead and determine how such changes will affect their job, their children, their children's children."
While the idea of global climate change has received solid support from the world's scientific community, the idea that it is caused by man is still controversial. However, that's almost beside the point, Lewis said. The bigger question is, what should humans do to prepare for the effects?
That's what Lewis hopes happens at the February conference — people sitting down to begin planning for how to deal with, for example, rising, warming oceans, more severe storms or less arable land to produce the world's food supply.
The conference is open to anyone interested in climate change in the Caribbean. It will be particularly important for public policy makers, such as members of the V.I. Legislature and other political leaders, Lewis said. Others who should be equally concerned include community activists and individuals involved in agriculture, tourism, coastal development, fishing and marine interests, and construction.
Following the conference, a follow-up meeting of local policy makers, along with the keynote speakers, is planned to enable local decision makers to respond to climate change.
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