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Cuba's climate is considered moderate subtropical, with warm temperatures prevailing. The annual average temperature is 25 C (77 F) in the summer and 22 C (71.6 F) in the winter. There are two very well-defined weather cycles: the dry season, from November to April, and the rainy season, from May to October. Average rainfall is 1,059 millimeters in the rainy season and 316 millimeters in the dry season, for an average annual rainfall of 1,375 millimeters. Annual relative humidity averages 78 %.

The strategic programme of economic and social reforms begun in 2008 by the government of President Ral Castro includes addressing environmental problems. This year, that approach became more visible as using renewable sources of energy, which are much less polluting than fossil fuels, became a higher priority. The authorities are directing investments so that by 2030 about 10 percent of the energy consumed in the country will come from wind, sun, water and other renewable sources, it was announced in October 2013. The ministry has also created an environmental research and management macro-project to consider climate change vulnerability and risk assessment in coastal zones from 2050 to 2100, which includes recommendations for adaptation measures.

The Cuban government recognizes adaptation to climate change as a matter of priority and has encouraged the creation of skills and knowledge aimed at confronting its impacts. This was expressed by Dr. Maritza Garca, president of the Environmental Agency of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA), at the opening of the second edition of the Workshop on Approaches and Tools for Disaster Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Change for Sustainable Development, October 18, 2016.

In 2017, Cuba will conduct a detailed investigation on climate change, after several adverse forecasts regarding the future of the island in the coming years came out. Cubas Environmental Agency (AMA in Spanish) will prioritize 90 projects related to climate change research, sustainable development, and meteorology this year, according to the islands official newspaper Granma. Forecasts warning that the Cuban weather will be dryer, warmer, and extreme have sparked the creation of national programs like Climate Change in Cuba: Impact, mitigation, and adaptation and Meteorology and Sustainable Development. Specialists foresee a possible increase in average air temperature of up to 4C, and declining rainfall from 15-50 percent.

Among environmental problems, climate change presents the greatest challenges to developing countries, especially island nations. Changes in climate and the resulting effects on human health call for examination of the interactions between environmental and social factors. Important in Cuba's case are soil conditions, food availability, disease burden, ecological changes, extreme weather events, water quality and rising sea levels, all in conjunction with a range of social, cultural, economic and demographic conditions.

Although much debate still surrounds climate change, island ecosystems-such as Cuba's-in the developing world are arguably among the most vulnerable contexts in which to confront climate variability. Beginning in the 1990s, Cuba launched research to develop the evidence base, set policy priorities, and design mitigation and adaptation actions specifically to address climate change and its effects on health.

In Cuba, as in other Caribbean countries, the effects of global warming will have the greatest impact on coastal areas, although the whole island will be increasingly affected by extreme weather events, such as heat waves, prolonged periods of drought and heavy rains. Potable water and fertile land will be scarcer and biodiversity will be diminished. Some 80 coastal settlements are likely to be affected and 15 could disappear by 2050 if the Cuban government does not implement adaptation measures in response to the prediction that, by then, 2.32 percent of the national territory will be permanently under water, according to the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment.

When Cuba studied the effects of climate change on the country's coastline, they discovered that a changing climate could cause sea levels to rise dangerously with devastating results. Estimates pegged the rise at as much as three feet by the end of the century, The Huffington Post reported. The risk brought a dire prediction: the potential loss of as many as 122 towns along the nation's coast.

In 2015, Cuba suffered from a drought considered to be the worst drought in 115 years by the National Center of Climate, affecting more than 70 percent of the Caribbean islands territory.

Nearly 1 million people have been affected in 2017 by intense and prolonged drought in Cuba, where reservoirs in 11 of 15 provinces are under half their capacity, the island's state television reported 30 April 2017. Of the more than 964,000 people affected in April - also the last month of the dry season - 663,000 reside in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, according to the report. Countrywide there are 296 water sources of which supplies are affected, with 62 of these completely paralyzed. The reservoirs on the island are registering 36.5 percent of their filling capacity. In the central provinces of Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila and Camaguey, where the drought is especially acute, reservoirs are below 25 percent.

Seventy-one percent of the territory on the island has been affected by the lack of rainfall, and authorities say immediate action including the installation of desalination plants, the excavation of wells, the replenishment of underground basins as well as saving and rational use of waters in sectors of high consumption are needed to address the current situation.

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Page last modified: 16-06-2017 19:28:23 ZULU