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Wladimir Kruythoff

Wladimir Kruythoff

Founder & CEO Infinite Observations

Macro-Economic Implications of Increased Re-occurrence, Intensity and Duration of Hurricanes in the Caribbean Due to Climate Change – The Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary of St. Maarten, The Hague, The Netherlands

On the 4th of April 2019, Infinite Observations CEO Wladimir Kruythoff addressed the then Honorable Minister of Plenipotentiary, Mrs. Drs. Jorien Wuite, Honorable Deputy Minister of Plenipotentiary Mr. Micheal Somersal, Members of the Cabinet Of the Minister of Plenipotentiary and distinguished guests.

He explained that “the island chain, better known as the Caribbean, stretching for hundreds of kilometers from South America to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, is home to more than 44 million mostly mestizo (racially and culturally mixed) inhabitants. Today, through genetic heritage from Arawak, Carib and Taino descendants along with African and Europeans, their presence, through us, still endure in many forms.”

He then explained that “there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that the last decades have proven our existence has come under threat from frequent and intense hurricane natural disaster due to climate change from increased anthropogenic emissions.”

During the presentation he “highlighted the relationship between hurricane natural disaster and anthropogenic climate change and how we can mitigate the macro-economic impact of hurricane natural disaster through risk management, data science, advanced analytics and machine learning.”

He further explained that “the “natural” greenhouse effect is being offset by an “enhanced” greenhouse effect associated with human activity (or anthropogenic emissions). The burning of fossil fuels primarily raises the concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, water vapor, aerosols and  the receding of the ice caps and snow in the polar regions. These higher concentrations have the potential to warm the atmosphere by several degrees, hence the term “global warming“. The increased warming of the atmosphere influences Earth’s oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns (or weather conditions).”

In various slides he showed that “Astronomical Forced Climate Cycles (a.k.a. known as Milankovitch cycles), the trajectory of  precession, obliquity (or the variation of the Earth’s rotation angle) and the orbital eccentricity, whether the trajectory is elliptical or circular, all determine the solar forcing (or incoming radiation) and do NOT influence global mean temperatures on a human time scale.” The same applies for “Variations In Solar Output, [which] are NOT the significant control mechanisms for increasing global mean temperatures.” 

He also explained that “Water vapor is a very potent greenhouse gas together with Aerosols (or CCN) and anthropogenic aerosols (sulfates, organic carbon, black carbon, nitrate). In addition, as an effect of land-use change, the Terrestrial albedo effect (Earth’s reflectivity) results in a decrease of surface albedo and the intensification of global warming and the carbon cycle of the terrestrial climate system. This climate system consists of four major reservoirs: (1) the atmosphere (2) the oceans, (3) the terrestrial biosphere (e.g. freshwater systems, non-living organic material, soil, plants, fossil fuel deposits) and (4) marine sediments and sedimentary rocks. These four reservoirs all contribute to global temperature rise due to large concentrations of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

Other reasons such as “rising oceanic acidity due to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations pose a threat to marine ecosystems and the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) which is driven by differences in water density, temperature (thermal) and salinity (haline). Increased global mean temperatures are causing the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) to slow down, becoming less effective, leading to colder winters and warmer sea surface temperatures (SST) that contribute to hurricanes. The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) and anomalies as El Niño and La Niña further contribute to the formation or dissipation of hurricane development. 

Then he drew the following relationship by askingWhat does anthropogenic emissions, rising SST’s, global warming and climate change represent? Extremely active, above-normal hurricane seasons. What is so extraordinary about these storms? Hurricane Irma is among the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, together with hurricanes Jose, Katia and Maria. Some of these storms were so powerful that they registered on devices designed to detect seismic activity. In addition, major storms are falling outside their normal range (distribution) (Ophelia became the easternmost hurricane on record when it struck Ireland), and at strange times of the year (Tropical Storm Arlene hit in April and was the northernmost hurricane on record for that time of year).

He also stated that “As temperatures continue to rise, these rare events are becoming increasingly normal (less rare).

The frequency and intensity of natural catastrophes have a profound social and political impact on governments, foreign investors, and other stakeholders’ policies and decision-making processes.  The ensuing initiatives implemented to prevent and/or mitigate their devastation are increasingly important. Natural disaster risk management is (1) making conscious choices to reduce vulnerability. Step (2) is preparedness: considering structural and non-structural measures. Re-evaluate the wind loads that directly influence the design quality and land-use planning by simulating and modeling disaster scenarios and developing contingency (or recovery) plans which will eventually reduce the recovery time necessary to regain or exceed pre-disaster functionality.Mr. Kruythof then took Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, as an example and showed how the island could become more resilient based on structural and non-structural mitigation measures by analyzing models performed by the ZineQx software Infinite Observations developed.  

After showing the analyses, he said that “[if] reconstruction and rehabilitation should take between 2,5 to 5 years after a disaster than the losses can be cancelled out and lead to economic growth. However, if the recovery period is prolonged, it will have a significant adverse impact and the long-term economic growth will stagnate or decline. A situation that is known as a poverty cycle.”  

He went on to say, “hurricane natural disaster as a result of climate change is a complex of direct (physical infrastructure) and indirect losses (or follow-on socio-economic losses), which together form the equity of a nation which is greatly affected without proper planning prior to a catastrophic event.

He said the following about the ZineQx platform: “This is a powerful application that leverages the ability to run simulations, evaluate disaster scenarios, and modify policies and expenditures to aid the recovery process, thus becoming resilient. Resilience is (1) rapid (the shortening of the recovery process), (2) robust (increasing the functionality in the face of hurricane disaster), (3) redundant (creating and having alternative pathways for the country to keep it functioning after a natural disaster), (4) resourceful (having the capacity to identify problems, establish priorities, and mobilize resources as condition arises that threaten to disrupt our nation). The most important resource in any nation is its people. Climate change is not a national issue. The Caribbean is among the most severely impacted by climate changes. Island governments must adopt more sustainable methods in order to avoid considerable human toll, physical infrastructural damage and economic loss. However, these islands possess the least means to adapt to the challenges of climate change. This means international cooperation. However, the island can only become resilient if the recovery period is short. This cannot be achieved if triangular discussions need to take place (meetings between the Government of Sint Maarten, the Government of the Netherlands and the World Bank). It can only be achieved through all-inclusive consultation and planning sessions where the government can harness the resourcefulness of its people.

Just before concluding, he explained thatThe final step is to model the influence of and analyze the physical damage and  the secondary (or flow-on effects) using the actual data of SIDS. With the aid of data science and machine learning we can then make predictions about future hurricane disaster and how to strengthen specific economic sectors.

He concluded by saying that “climate change is the result of many factors. As anthropogenic emissions escalate, global sea surface temperatures rise, which lead to increased hurricane damage and in turn catastrophic macro-economic losses. It is imperative that Caribbean islands develop contingency plans through planning and policy in order to adapt to the challenges.“.

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