"I’ve never experienced anything quite like Hurricane Irma."
Sir Richard Branson has a message for climate change deniers: enough is enough.
While taking time away from helping in the disaster recovery effort in the British Virgin Islands, Branson spoke with The Economic Voice Limited about the latest in the rebuilding, his feelings on climate change, and how people around the globe can help in the efforts for years to come.
“I’ve never experienced anything quite like Hurricane Irma. We’re talking about wind speeds of over 200 miles per hour and it’s given me a lot of respect for nature,” Branson said while discussing the the storm that demolished his beloved Necker Island. “It literally devastated the British Virgin Islands.”
And while the Virgin founder noted that the islands and the people may have been physically damaged, “their spirit is as strong as ever.”
Still, Branson said, the islands have a long, long way to go in their recovery, which he estimated will cost upwards of $4 billion. The cost, Branson believes, is all thanks to climate change.
“Generally in the Caribbean there is no more than one hurricane every 10 to 12 years,” Branson said in the interview. “We’ve had three so are this year and a couple of near misses and I’m here at the climate change talks to go and thump the table and say, ‘Look, enough is enough. We've all got to pull together and turn our world into a world run by clean energy. Or else we’re going to find that year after year these events become worse and worse.’”
Branson further shared this sentiment on CNN, where his feelings on climate change deniers was made even more clear.
"Look, you can never be 100% sure about links," Branson told CNN’s John Berman. "But scientists have said the storms are going to get more and more and more intense and more and more often. We've had four storms within a month, all far greater than that have ever, ever, ever happened in history."
The businessman and philanthropist added plainly, “Climate change is real. Ninety-nine percent of scientists know it's real. The whole world knows it's real except for maybe one person in the White House."
Ironically, Branson made these statements as yet another devastating and massive hurricane, Hurricane Maria, barrelled its way through the Caribbean. It is the fourth major hurricane of the 2017 season, which still has weeks left to go.
As Branson said, "Sadly, I think this is the start of things to come."
Branson is asking his friends, followers, and fans to donate what they can to Virgin Unite, his charity that is giving 100 percent of all donations received directly to helping support local BVI communities. Learn more here.