When I heard the forecast of the arrival of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, it felt like hearing a report from the Puerto Rico Climate Change Council.
The mission of the Puerto Rico Climate Change Council is to generate scientific reports on the current and potential impact of climate change on people living in vulnerable communities, infrastructure, ecosystems and wildlife populations. Their reports are often highly technical and unattractive to the general public. However, the news about Hurricane Maria was called climate change everywhere.
Describing the atmospheric phenomenon as a ferocious one that followed the passage to another historically intense, gaining forces by the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and threatening to flood the coasts by the surge in the swell, I had nothing else to conclude that what I listened was the statement that we are already living the new hostile climate that has been talked about for decades. This time it was reporters who presented this report in a natural way. Finally, climate change was a relevant issue for all.
However, prior to the threat of Hurricane Irma and the arrival of Hurricane Maria, scientific data reflecting this potential impact were never translated into a common language. There has been no intentional campaign in Puerto Rico for this data to be considered in generating public policies that encourage prevention and adaptation; to halt the development of any project in vulnerable areas, or to achieve the operation of electricity generating plants by means of renewable resources.
The lack of translation of the results of scientific studies on climate change and its imminent impact on our environment is a serious ofense. Given this information, we must raise the voice of alert to achieve action towards adaptation and prevention. It is necessary that in Puerto Rico we make a transition from academia to action; that we develop public policy with this information; that we collaborate with every sector and that, once and for all, let not the political agendas lead the reins of our country, the reins of our future.
On the road to reconstruction, it is important that we take into account the track record of destruction and impact left by Hurricane Maria. Within the misfortune that we live we have this in our favor, a clear idea of areas not suitable for development and deficiencies in our infrastructure. Keeping this impact in our minds is important when proposing redevelopment measures.
My suggestion is one that incorporates not only studies of climate scientists but also food security, alternative and collective transportation, the development of renewable energy and natural resources as assets for economic development in reconstruction models. Only in this way will we promote opportunities to rise even stronger than we were as the Enchanted Island.
We are all part of the ambitious country agenda that lies ahead of Hurricane Maria. It is not cost-effective to work with independent agendas, obviating reality. I assure you that at the end of the road we will meet face to face and we will have no choice but to accept that our scientists were right: the threat to climate change for Puerto Rico is real and we are already experiencing its severe impact. Considering climate change right now is a matter of life and death.