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COMMENTARY| Beyond Anger: Climate Mischief Afoot Against The Wellbeing Of SIDS 

Updated: Jun 30

As I read Baroness Scotland’s impactful column in the Sunday Gleaner of June 23, entitled "Small Island Developing States Need Finance to Tackle Climate Crisis," I confess to being restrained by the Biblical injunction in the Epistle to the Ephesians: "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Ephesians 4:26). 

I am an active Christian with eclectic tastes, so though the specific wording "Be ye angry and sin not" isn't a direct quote in other major religions, I know they teach similar ideas about managing anger healthily. 

Here are some examples:

In Islam: The Quran emphasizes self-control and seeking refuge in Allah during anger. The Prophet Muhammad advised taking steps to calm down, like performing ablution or sitting down. 

For Hinduism: The Bhagavad Gita teaches emotional control and detachment from anger. It emphasizes understanding the impermanence of situations that trigger anger. 

In Buddhism: Anger is seen as one of the "three poisons" that cloud the mind. Buddhist teachings focus on recognizing anger, understanding its source, and letting it go through practices like meditation. 

All major religions offer guidance on managing anger constructively, even if their phrasings differ from the Ephesians verse. 

That said, I must confess that having just read Baroness Scotland's fine piece, I am just about two of five notches down from the heights of sinning in the way that Paul, the writer of Ephesians, portrays anger-spawned human sin. Now, I better appreciate the historical mindsets of “great souls” like Martin Luther, Vladimir Lenin, Fidel Castro, Sam Sharpe, Nanny of the Maroons, Norman Manley, Alexander Clarke, Henri Christophe, Thomas Paine, John Locke, Marcus Garvey, Thomas Jefferson, Fitz Jackson, Nigel Clarke, Colm Imbert, Eric Williams, Franz Fanon, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Mia Mottley, Princess Joseph (of Saint Lucia), Alfred Sangster, Chelsea Dixon, Fitzroy Wickham, and Mahatma Gandhi. 

I am therefore writing to commend Baroness Scotland's insightful, evidence-based article on the urgent need for climate finance for Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Her piece eloquently highlights climate change's severe and disproportionate impacts on these vulnerable nations and underscores the critical need for immediate and substantial financial support.

Her piece eloquently highlights climate change's severe and disproportionate impacts on these vulnerable nations and underscores the critical need for immediate and substantial financial support. The devastation caused by extreme weather events, such as the 2017 Hurricane Maria in Dominica and the 2019 Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas, is a stark reminder of how a single cyclone can derail a small country's growth trajectory for years, if not decades. These catastrophic events have caused immense human suffering and economic damage that can take generations to repair. For instance, Hurricane Maria wiped out 225% of Dominica's GDP, while Hurricane Dorian left parts of The Bahamas looking like a war zone.

Despite contributing only 1% of global carbon dioxide emissions, SIDS face immense challenges in accessing climate finance.

In 2019, they received a mere $1.5 billion out of the $100 billion pledged to developing countries. This lack of adequate financial support forces these nations to seek financing on unfavorable terms, leading to high debt burdens, a vicious cycle of unsustainable debt, and limited access to further finance.

The Commonwealth, home to two-thirds of the world's SIDS, has been a steadfast advocate for these nations. The Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub has successfully unlocked $330 million for the most vulnerable members, with another $500 million worth of project proposals in the pipeline. This initiative is crucial in helping SIDS build resilience against the impacts of climate change. However, the intense lobbying for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) by well-funded Jamaican Money and Political interests poses a significant threat. These unproven and potentially inappropriate energy policies could derail the progress SIDS have made towards sustainable development. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) should not be pressured into adopting energy solutions that inevitably produce harmful levels of radioactive waste, which, due to the immutable laws of physics (such as E = mc²  and ²³⁸U → ²³⁴Th + ⁴He), would exacerbate their already challenging circumstances***.

  Moreover, the fatalities due to excessive atmospheric heat-generated stress, exacerbated by climate change, have been affecting citizens from SIDS who embark on religious pilgrimages. This tragic loss of life underscores the urgent need for global action to mitigate the impacts of climate change and protect the most vulnerable populations.

As we approach critical international forums such as the UN General Assembly and COP29, the world must heed the call for increased climate finance. Every commitment made by world leaders is vital, and every failure to meet these commitments is an affront to the most vulnerable. As Scotland poignantly stated, "If we are to achieve this, the world must keep its promises. Every commitment to climate action and finance made by world leaders is vital – but every failure to meet those commitments is an insult to the most vulnerable, and every example of inaction is an act of violence against those who need us to succeed, now and for generations to come". The Commonwealth's upcoming Heads of Government Meeting in Samoa will be a pivotal moment to reinforce our collective commitment to building a resilient and prosperous future for all. The urgency for action underscores the reality of life on many small island developing states, which are at the forefront of climate disasters and facing unprecedented challenges despite contributing the least to the climate crisis.

The Commonwealth is doing its part. The Climate Finance Access Hub in Mauritius has been a source of pride. Through this initiative, member states receive assistance in applying for climate funds, using data from leading scientific bodies, including The CSIRO, the British Space Agency, and CARIRI. Several small islands, including Fiji, have benefited from the Hub. For example, Fiji received USD 5.7 million to create a nature-based seawall, and Antigua, Dominica, and Grenada received USD 21.8 million. At the recent SIDS4 conference, there was a concerted effort to ensure that while the vulnerabilities of small island developing states are recognized, their strength and resolve are brought to the fore. The conference showcased their struggles and resilience and the fact that with concrete action from the international community, SIDS can have a bright future. 

Here's the thing: 

Facing this hour amid these dire circumstances, building or pandering to personal, acquisitive wealth cannot even appear to take precedence over building and sustaining planet-wide human resilience. The Commonwealth must promote and help find financing for green energy solutions like solar, biomass, and wind. Not one thing about SMRs is green or renewable. The urgency of Earth's current needs demands green energy solutions, ensuring that SIDS can thrive without compromising environmental integrity. We are not just talking about the next meeting or the next conference. We are discussing the future of our planet, nations, and humanity. We are grappling with compelling action to address the climate calamity and maintain a more survivable ecosphere.

*** A word to the wise:

²³⁵U: Uranium-235, is a naturally occurring isotope of uranium, the fuel (for SMRs).  It is less abundant than uranium-238.

²³¹Th: Thorium-231, is a decay product of uranium-235.

⁴He: Helium-4, also known as an alpha particle, is emitted during this unstoppable decay process, whether within or without any SMR .My given equation represents the alpha decay of uranium-235, which has a half-life of approximately 703.8 million years. In this decay process, the uranium-235 nucleus emits an alpha particle (⁴He), transforming into thorium-231. 

What can we do with that waste on or in the sovereign seas of any

Small Island Developing State?

Thank you for the benefit of your time.

by Dennis A. Minott, PhD. 

June 25, 2024

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