Climate change has been linked to changes in Atlantic hurricane behavior – storms are more destructive to the built environment and vital infrastructure, more harmful to the physical and mental health of island-based and coastal populations, as well as more deadly in their aftermath. According to a paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the escalating effects on population health represent a double environmental injustice.
Co-authors noted that socioeconomically disadvantaged and marginalized populations experience disproportionate harm and loss as more hazardous storms worsen the inequity. While the populations most vulnerable to Atlantic hurricanes, especially those in small-island states, contribute nearly nothing to climate change, they are most exposed to risks that are worsened by the carbon emissions from higher-income countries.
At a glance, the Caribbean’s 44 million residents generate 0.4 percent of the world’s total global carbon emissions. The Bahamas, specifically, produces below 0.01 percent. Because of where the 29 Caribbean islands are geographically located, they have endured the effects of wetter, slower-moving Atlantic storms, such as Hurricanes Dorian, Matthew, Irma, and Maria.
Co-authors of the paper included Dr. James Shultz, the director of the Center for Disaster and Extreme Event Preparedness and voluntary professor in the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences, Dr. Duane Sands, the Bahamian Minister of Health, Dr. James Kossin, atmospheric research scientist at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Weather and Climate, and Dr. Sandro Galea, dean and Robert A. Knox professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on December 27