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Puerto Rico and Climate Change

Hurricane Maria was a category 5 hurricane which cause a tremendous amount to several Islands in the Caribbean like Virgin Islands, Dominica and Puerto Rico. This class open my eyes to so much things that is going wrong in Puerto Rico. These things stem from the political systems that takes advantage of its people and adhere to United States wishes. These issues were made worse when Hurricane Maria hit. This Hurricane was one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Puerto Rico in the last hundred years and the reason for this is climate change. Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of these catastrophic events.

Climate change is the overall increase in temperature worldwide. This increase in temperature is primarily caused by the increase of certain greenhouse gases in the air. These greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, ozone and nitrous oxide. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution these greenhouse gases have been trapping more and more heat and not letting it escape our atmosphere. As a result, the amount of energy available in places adjacent to the equator has made it conducive for stronger more frequent storms to occur.

As many of us already know the industrial revolution is the cause for this large release of greenhouse gases, we have seen in the last 200 years. The main greenhouse gas released is carbon doxed and it has risen from 200 part per million in 1800 to over 400 part per million today. This means there is a lot more carbon dioxide in the air trapping even more heat on Earth. This can be seen from the graph below showing the gradual increase of carbon dioxide emission over the last 200 years.


Now the thing we have to notice is who is responsible for this increase in carbon dioxide emission and the answer is the western world also known as global north. These are countries like United States and many countries located in Europe. These countries benefited the most from the industrial revolution and introduced the most carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. However, the people who are being most negatively affected by climate change are not these people who contribute the most. People who live in the global south are suffering the most. This is due to the fact that most hurricanes start near the equator because of the warmer waters and higher amount of energy available. Also, the sea level is rising and many island nations in the Caribbean like Puerto Rico will have largest issues dealing with loss of coast lines due to rise in water as seen by the graph below. Another reason these countries like Puerto Rico are being more negatively affected than countries like the United States when it comes to climate change is the amount of founds available for infrastructure to help protect against climate change.


Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. There are estimates that hurricane Maria will cost Puerto Ricans over 130 billion dollars in total to fully recover. When the storm hit power went down in most of the island and took month to come back on more many people. This was due to the poorly constructed electric grid in Puerto Rico. As the class as shown me the Storm not only showed how poorly Puerto Rico’s infrastructure is its open people eyes to other issues Puerto Ricans have been facing for years like political corruption. They have also been facing a massive debt which the government is more focused on paying then helping their own people.

There are many things going wrong in Puerto Rico today and most be done to fix these issues. The main issues is the struggle between the people to become an independent country or stay as a part of the United states or even try to become a state. As it is now the amount of support, they receive from the United States is not much and in fact the United States is more focused on Puerto Ricans paying back their debt to them. How can a country which is only worried about profit and capitalism be responsible for the wellbeing of another country? They simply wish to reap all the benefits. In my opinion independency is what is necessary.

Unfortunately, this alone will not be enough to help Puerto Ricans get on their feet. There must be something done about the huge debt Puerto Ricans faces and most importantly somethings have to be done about climate change. The negative effects brought on by climate change are only going to get worse for Puerto Ricans. Hurricanes will get more frequent and more intense. How can a country with so poor infrastructure continue to survive? Something has to be done to fight climate change. The world especially countries who benefited the most have to implement plans which will reduce carbon emission and maybe even one day find ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere directly.

1 Comment

  1. This is a well conceptualized OpEd, however it needed a lot more proofreading, integrated links, and better use of multimedia (beyond charts) to bring it to life. It needed a little more polish, but the core idea is excellent.

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