Student - December 11, 2015

Meanwhile in… Aruba

In the news: Rising sea levels are an urgent problem for Aruba. The island’s Prime Minister Eman said so at the climate conference in Paris last week. Do Arubans themselves see it that way?

Commentary by Omar El Hage, student of Business and Consumer Studies

‘This was the first time I had heard the Prime Minister talking about the danger of rising sea levels in Aruba. I myself see it as a major threat to our island. I can already picture it: beaches will partly disappear and buildings will be flooded. That is a disaster. Our economy largely revolves around tourism. If this happens all the tourists will stay away.

This may sound negative but it is difficult to see it otherwise given the way the climate is changing at the moment. Among my friends in Aruba hardly anyone seems really concerned about it. They realize it is an issue but as long as they can’t see the effects, they do not worry. The big problem is that if you only go into action when the effects are visible, you are too late.

You can already feel the effects of climate change in Aruba. My grandparents complain about it when we skype. There used to be a lot of trees on their land. Nowadays the drier climate makes that difficult. I am curious to see how their land looks when I fly to Aruba in two weeks’ time. The government is trying to make our country completely self-sufficient in terms of energy supply. We aim to achieve that by 2020. That’s a good initiative. It is gradually getting through to people that keeping up our current lifestyle is not an option. Just like many others I hope that this time a binding agreement will come out of the climate conference. An agreement that halts and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Back home the future is seriously threatened by climate change. That is a strange thought. We’ve got to take steps in Paris now so that Aruba and the rest of the world have some chance in future.’