Over the weekend, the raging Atlantic Ocean hurled its fury at several parts of Guyana, cementing the fact and reminding Guyana that the threat of rising sea levels to our coastlands is real.In many areas— which have never seen these unprecedented levels of floodwaters— was an awakening that the ocean has since risen and climate change is a stark reality. Whether we are science sceptics or not about exactly what is driving the process of “global warming”, there can be no doubt about the fact that temperatures over the last century have risen at least one degree Fahrenheit and this has literally fuelled the process that leads to rising sea levels.This, therefore, means that addressing the challenges of climate change will ultimately require taking action to reduce emissions and taking action to limit climate impacts in an effort to deal with the changes that are expected to occur.Assessing the impact of climate change on Guyana, the Office of Climate Change observed that there is little doubt that the earth’s climate system is warming as a result of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities, as evidenced by increases in global air and ocean temperatures, rising global sea levels, and widespread melting of snow and ice.Average global temperatures have increased over the past century, and warming over the past 50 years has been nearly double that of the preceding 100 years.On the issue of the impacts of climate change on developing countries, it was also observed that continued warming of the atmosphere at the current rate will result in substantial damage to water resources, ecosystems and coastlines, as well as having an impact on food supplies and health. According to the Stern Review, climate change is a grave threat to the developing world and a major obstacle to continued poverty reduction across its many dimensions. First, developing regions are at a geographic disadvantage: they are already warmer, on average, than developed regions, and they also suffer from high rainfall variability. As a result, further warming will bring poor countries high costs and few benefits. Second, developing countries – including Guyana – are heavily dependent on agriculture, the most climate-sensitive of all economic sectors, and suffer from inadequate health provision and low-quality public services.As a result of the extremely high tides overtopping and breaching sea defences, hundreds of families in affected areas in Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) have lost millions of dollars in damages and livelihoods.While the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and other local authorities battle to cope with the aftermath, calls are being made to move the capital city and other densely populated areas away from the coast.Apart from the existing sea defence structures, mangroves are also considered as a primary sea defence. The role of coastal mangroves in Guyana is to dissipate or reduce wave energy along the coastline. They not only complement existing structures, but help with environmental conservation and the cost of maintaining hard structures. As in many coastal regions around the world, mangroves also provide a natural defence against the raging tide and rising sea levels.While mangroves are subjected to cyclic erosion, studies conducted on Guyana’s coastal mangroves have proven that a mangrove bandwidth of 50 metres to 80 metres is required to reduce a 3-metre high wave to approximately 0.01 metre. In the areas where mangroves are not present, severe overtopping occurs (along Kingston and Sheriff Streets) which results in increased cost for maintenance works over a period of time.The Mangrove Action Committee, a volunteer group, identified a number of interventions to be implemented during 2018 that will seek to address these issues. They include public awareness and education programmes on the importance of mangroves, targeting youths through environmental clubs, and engaging the relevant Government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).It should be noted that mangroves are protected under the Forestry Act, and as such, it is illegal to destroy mangroves without permission from the Guyana Forestry Commission.While coastal flooding is by no means isolated to Guyana, ignoring scientific evidence and failing to adapt and prepare will mean lives and livelihoods will continue to be at risk.