There are few among us who will
easily forget the successive
onslaught of storms named Mitch,
Keith, Iris, and Chantal. But
unknown by people my age, an
earlier generation lived through a
similar experience, beginning in
the mid 1970's. The big names of
that era were Carmen, Fifi, Hermine, and Greta...and
the man who guided us through those anxious days
was Chief Meteorologist Kenrick Leslie. Guess what?
Kenrick Leslie--Dr. Kenrick Leslie, that is--is
back...maybe for good.
Kenrick Leslie, Dir., CARICOM Climate Change Centre
"I left here the day after independence. I make sure I
Belize for its independence. I wanted to complete my PhD
meteorology. I was very fortunate that I got hooked up
the Allied Signal Corporation and they decided to pay
to complete my research work. And as such, I shifted
and went into laser physics with the purpose of applying
remote sensing of the atmosphere."
After working on both civilian and military applications
of lasers, including advanced research on star wars
technology, Leslie returned to his meteorological roots,
with studies of air turbulence and how it can be
detected by pilots. In late 2003 fate intervened when
Leslie returned to Belize to attend the funeral of his
colleague Justin Hulse. At that event he was
approached by Chief Meteorologist Carlos Fuller, who,
prior to Hulse's death, had been appointed Interim
Director of the CARICOM Climate Change Centre,
headquartered in Belize. With Fuller having to fill in
C.M.O. and unable to handle two jobs at once, he asked
Leslie to consider taking over the newly established
regional institution. Leslie agreed to take a leave of
absence from his post in the States and as of
December first, has been on the job in Belmopan.
"Right now the centre is involved in all aspects of
change. It is the administrative centre where we look at
different programmes, one, from a strictly
point of view, how do we model climate change that we
pass that information to decision makers and policy
in the next ten, twenty, fifty years from now. That's
aspect of it. But also you have the risk assessment. We
have the mitigation assessment, which encompasses not
climate directly, but the impact of climate on say the
economics of a country, the livelihood of people, where
locate buildings, what type of structural policies we
put in place."
Although Leslie is interim director there is a good
chance that the permanent post is his if he wants it.
The scientist has until May to decide whether or not to
return to his employer, the Honeywell Corporation, in
the United States.