Rising Temperatures, Rising Challenges: How Saba is Combatting Climate Change

Have you been trying to beat the heat lately?

In recent decades, there has been an increase in global temperatures, with 2023 being the warmest year so far. The global average temperature rose by 1°C from the 1900’s to the present. Near-record heat can also be expected until October, especially in August and September.

These temperature changes are a direct effect of climate change, with the potential for even more catastrophic consequences to occur.

Earlier this year, KNMI visited Saba to share information on their report which forecasts climate scenarios about climate change.

How will climate change affect Saba?

According to the research done by KNMI, the temperature and wind speed on Saba will increase, with less precipitation occurring, making way for more intense heatwaves and dry periods. As ocean temperatures rise, hurricanes will also develop more strongly, with the possibility of rapid intensification which would mean a shorter preparation time for Saba.

With the potential for more droughts, stronger hurricanes, and rising sea levels, there may be delays in the arrival of food and other imports to the island.

What is PES doing to prepare for, and adapt to, the effects of climate change?

During a recent presentation to the Island Council by Justin Simmons-De Jong, it was shared that in collaboration with BZK, EZK, I&W, and island governments of the Dutch Caribbean islands, a climate agenda will be formed. Priorities identified were accelerating the change to renewable energy and building climate-resilient infrastructure, improving water and waste management, stimulating sustainability, protecting the ecosystem, accessing funding, monitoring of the necessary measures, and more collaboration.

Saba has already made many steps moving towards self-sufficiency to prepare for climate change, having completed two solar parks with a battery storage system, plans for a third solar park, the use of grey water cisterns and improvements to rainwater management, with the RO water plant and Saba Splash providing safe drinking water. Another way that PES has been preparing for climate change is by ensuring food security on the island, through the Hydroponics farm and Hell’s Gate farm, and promoting backyard farming to encourage residents to have more accessibility to locally grown food. This will assist greatly in times when food may not be able to be imported, due to issues with accessing the harbor for example.

Despite Saba’s impact on climate change being relatively low, steps are still being made towards adapting to the effects on the environment. Through plans listed in the Nature and Environment Policy Plan (NEPP), such as restoring coral reefs which can act as buffers for hurricanes, better management of the natural environment will occur. Bridging local knowledge with scientific data will also assist in creating a tailor-made climate plan for Saba.

What can you as a citizen do to help curb the impact of climate change?

As a resident of Saba, there are many ways in which you can prepare for climate change and help ensure Saba is on the right path to a more sustainable environment, such as following the recycling program by utilizing specific waste bins.

Furthermore, this can also be achieved in the future through the application of sustainable construction methods such as reusing topsoil or rocks when preparing land for building and utilizing more energy-efficient architecture, with proper ventilation and insulation to reflect heat, as briefly mentioned during the presentation with IC.

Most importantly, residents can educate themselves further on the effects of, and how they contribute to, climate change. Spreading awareness and letting the community take a more active and informed role will also assist.

Common myths about climate change:

Myth #1       Climate change is not real
Fact: Climate change has been ongoing and affects every region on earth, causing rising sea levels, warming oceans, changes in rainfall patterns, and more powerful, extreme weather events.

Myth #2      Changes in small degrees have no effect

Fact: Every bit of change in global warming can cause extreme heat and rainfall to become more frequent and more intense. These can severely impact length of the seasons, agriculture and human health.

Myth #3      Humans do not cause climate change

Fact: There is a great consensus amongst scientists that human activity is the leading cause of climate change, with the burning of fossil fuels, the release of greenhouse gases and deforestation doing the most extensive damage.


Last working visit for Van Huffelen
Saba government attended Crisis and Disaster Management conferences

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