Magazine article New Internationalist

Dominica

Magazine article New Internationalist

Dominica

Article excerpt

Dominica is known as 'the nature island of the Caribbean'. This is no mere Tourist Board slogan: the island's beautiful volcanic mountainscape, replete with river valleys and tropical forest cover, plunges spectacularly into the ocean at innumerable points.

But in 2017 nature bit back, and bit back hard. The hurricane season in September of that year brought Maria, a Category Five storm with almost unheard-of wind velocity, which spent an entire terrifying night having its way with this small outpost of humanity on the edge of the Atlantic. In the morning, when Maria blew off to Puerto Rico, it left wrecked infrastructure, forests stripped of foliage, houses without roofs and children suffering from levels of PTSD usually associated with military conflict. That said, Dominica, which is more dependent than most on its immediate environment (for agriculture, fishing and low-intensity tourism), has shown resilience and fortitude in bouncing back.

Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit tried to rally both the island and international support by pointing to the connection between carbon-induced climate degradation and megastorms like Maria - many fear that such disasters are becoming the new normal. In the rough and tumble of Caribbean-style democracy, Skerrit is not everyone's cup of tea, but he has been good at standing up for the island and at hustling money from otherwise fractious international donors (from the Bolivarian Alliance countries and the Chinese to the North Americans and the EU). Like many other leaders of small-island states, he eloquently makes the obvious point that it is not countries like these that produce the clouds of carbon that are heating the oceans and generating ever-stronger hurricanes.

Skerrit's Labour Party government has set itself the ambitious goal of building Dominica into the world's first climateresilient society - no small order for the second-poorest nation in the region (after Haiti). …

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