Barbados is a testament to climate change

A tiny Florida beach town is rebuilding after a hurricane. Is it becoming a preserve of the rich?

When the eye of Hurricane Irma approached Barbados island on Wednesday, the mayor of a little beach town was not in full command of the situation. He did not expect the worst. In spite of an evacuation order and the storm, residents here had come out to mingle with the rest of the world and enjoy the nightlife and the hot weather.

“You’re not going to leave this island anytime soon,” he said. “It’s on the radar, it’s coming, so I think it’s going to pass us by.”

When the storm arrived with a vengeance on Tuesday night, and the waves were rolling in at high tide, he decided to order the town’s residents inside. At that moment, the storm hit with a force that would have seemed unthinkable just days before.

“We are devastated to hear that Barbados has been badly hit and with no warning what so ever,” U.S. President Donald Trump said when the hurricane made landfall on the island.

The small town has been ravaged. Every home in the area has been destroyed. More than 40 people have died across the island. More than half the homes have been damaged and there are thousands missing.

What’s happened here is a testament to climate change.

“The weather patterns of the Caribbean are very much dictated by climate,” said Paul Hannon, a senior researcher at the University of Miami. “And Barbados has been particularly vulnerable because of climate change.”

For years, the Caribbean and the U.S. have had a very close relationship. The Caribbean climate is more like the climate of Florida’s Gulf Coast than that of the West Coast. Many people have chosen to move here because of this.

It was a decision that was made by wealthy people, Hannon said, and they are leaving because climate change has made it unsafe.

“Now all the houses are sitting empty,” he said. “The people who are staying are mostly young, middle-class people who want to be on the front lines of the climate crisis.”

He believes the climate crisis is the number one reason

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