Date of Award

2002

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Timothy M. Hennessey

Abstract

This research exercise has assessed the threat of global change on select island nations of the wider Caribbean with a focus on the Lesser Antilles. That the Caribbean environment shall be impacted by climate change is certain, imposed in large part by marine affects. Changes in climate are the norm when one studies the history of the Earth. These changes include the glacial epochs and the contemporary climatic variation of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation. Accompanying global change will be variations in relative sea-level, modifications in storm climate, shifts in ocean circulation and altered precipitation patterns; science cannot determine today with certainty what will be the result of these adjustments. The Caribbean is particularly vulnerable to a projected increase in relative sea-level as it is made up largely of island nations that have far more coastal zones per unit of area than do continental countries.

In the context of this study, tourism is the most important source of external revenue for Caribbean island coastal areas, where the beaches are the principal attraction. Research assessments indicate that the majority of the world's sandy beaches are experiencing erosion. This situation has ramifications on the sustainability of Caribbean island shorelines to support coastal oriented tourism. Thus, the coastal challenge is to recognize the need for regional and local policy action as a proactive response to global change parameters despite scientific uncertainty or the absence of site-specific data. One of the policy tools uncovered in this study is the recognized and accepted international science-based standards regarding environmental auditing, investigations , and performance evaluation, by, for, or on behalf of, an organization from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The preceding standards could be regarded as analogous to the "dolphin safe tuna" moniker bestowed upon the tuna fishing and canning industry products some time ago.

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