Today’s temperature in Belmopan was forecasted at 102 degrees Fahrenheit at its highest but weahter.com says it really will feel like 111 degrees in the capital. Meteorologists say the readings are not record breaking however even officials can’t argue that there is a slight change in weather patterns. And while we might find it difficult to bare with the temperature, researchers say that climate change will have far more reaching effects than temperature anomalies. In fact The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year between 2030 and 2050- most deaths caused by malaria, diarrhoe, heat exposure and under-nutrition. With these alarming numbers ,countries all over the world are increasing their efforts to build a resilience to the effects of climate change. Experts in our region are doing just the same through the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (5 C’s). What is difficult for developing countries like Belize, however is the lack of financial resources to carry out those initiatives. One way to work around that says Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of 5C’s, is to build strong partnerships. One of those partnerships was formalized yesterday at the signing of an MOU at the 5C’s center in Belmopan.
“The signing is a culmination of efforts between the universities in Kentucky and the center over the past ten years plus. We started out with the University of Louisville, Kentucky and the we migrated to Western Kentucky University. As you know, a number of students from Belize have done their graduate studies at Western Kentucky University and as a result, we found that our relationship with them, even though it started out in Louisville, it began to grow much faster in terms of our efforts in getting research done in the areas of climate change. The center does not have the wherewithal in terms of human capacity as well as financial so we find ways in which to get our work done by collaborating with other institutions. And in this case, western Kentucky brings quite a bit to Belize because climate change is not just a question of temperature, but it affects things like health, water and other area especially in the areas of health. Western Kentucky University has been working with us to bring in programs especially in villages such as Gales Point, in the Red Hills and so on. But also in advancing our research in the modeling to understand the impacts of climate change.”
The Western Kentucky University has been doing research in Belize for a number of years primarily in the area of the effects of climate change on health.
“We are going to look into water quality, how do you protect your fresh water supplies. We want understand how the climate is affected. We want to engage you in Belize and across the Caribbean with the similar partnership we created in Iceland so you can understand what’s happening in the north Atlantic is driving what happens here and vice-versa. We want to study how us the health of your populations, particularly rural populations. Many of the Belize population do not live in large cities, they live in small communities. How is there health being affected by climate change? Lots of different research opportunities that we will seek funding partners from across the globe to help us identify these problems.”
Emmanuel Pech – Plus T.V Reporter
“Where does a small country like Belize fit into this equation of finding a solution to this global problem which is Climate Change? “
” Well, you happen to be locatedc right in the middle of where the effects of climate change are being felt. To make a long story short, as the polar icecaps melts and the warm waters of the Caribbean mixes with the cool waters of a melting icecap, it changes the climate of the Caribbean and in the North Atlantic as well. Belize, because it’s a large costal country in the Caribbean contortion, you are affected by a few inches of a rising sea level affects you and affects your climate ; the contamination of your fresh water supplies with your salt water, your climate is changing. It is 109 degrees today and its only April. so many dimensions that we need to know about. Belize is the home of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre which brings us to your capital city to begine this partnership.
One of the main goals of this newly signed agreement is to engage in student exchange programs to mould their university students and ours to become global citizens.