This is the first of a two-part series on incentives geared towards reducing greenhouse gases in T&T, jointly written by six students of the University of the West Indies—Mathew Edwards, Saleem Abdul Aziz, Marsilio Mohammed, Keenan Ramnath, Darrel Lutchman, Avinda Bhairosingh and Faria Ramjohn.
“It is often been said that our quest for wealth has time and again generated much of the pollution that plagues our society and contributes to general degradation of our natural environment. “Living in a way that is less damaging to the Earth is not easy, but it is vital, because pollution is pervasive and often life-threatening,” says Dr Azad Mohammed, UWI lecturer and eco-toxicologist. Necessity is the mother of all inventions. This popular quote, originating from Plato, a renowned Greek philosopher, can be applied to the global crisis with which we are confronted today.
Street food like oysters are an integral part of life in T&T and more so with Carnival in the air. In this guest column, Daana Kanhai MPhil student of Environmental Biology from UWI warns us of the risks associated with raw oyster consumption.
“Environmental contamination resulting from human activities is an issue which is of prime concern for the scientific community because of the potential impacts on human health and the overall well being of ecosystems. Yet, to certain members of the public, this issue often remains an abstract concept until it becomes glaringly apparent that human health is being threatened. Here, I use the example of the mangrove oyster to illustrate how environmental contaminants in Trinidad can be a serious issue which has the potential to adversely and directly affect human health.
For decades we have neglected our environment, but it appears that there is hope for the future as the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has begun actively reaching out to young people through schools throughout the country. In this two-part series, Tisha Marajh, manager, Corporate Relations and Public Education/corporate secretary of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) tells us more.
In the second of this two-part series JOHANNES C Nonner associate professor at the Institute for Water Education of UNESCO-IHE in The Netherlands offers up some solutions based on his vast experience to the huge problem of flooding in T&T after a heavy rainfall.
Trinidad and Tobago is vastly different from The Netherlands. The socio-economic structure, the culture, but also the physical environment of the island states appear to have nothing in common with the Dutch mainland delta area in Europe. Trinidad and Tobago comprises two islands which have rocky mountain ranges and blessed with a pleasant tropical climate, whereas The Netherlands is part of a continent, is predominantly flat and, especially in winter, has a harsh cold climate. Despite this contrast the two countries still have a lot in common. Both states have a long coastline that may be threatened by rising sea levels as a result of climate change, are characterised by sensitive deltaic areas and have a fair amount of heavy rainfall leading to the occasional flooding of urban areas and the countryside.
In the first of this two-part series in our ongoing Cleaning Up The Mess space, JOHANNES C NONNER, associate professor at the Institute for Water Education of UNESCO-IHE in The Netherlands, tells us how a low-lying country with a long coastline is meeting the challenge of controlling its floods and at the same time protects its environment to enhance safety and the general well-being of the people in the country. An outlook to the options for Trinidad and Tobago and activities carried out so far are highlighted.
The Netherlands have been known for its focus on water management and environmental concern for many years. With more than half of the country lying below sea level, the land is protected from the sea and rivers by natural dunes and an intricate system of dikes. High tides in the North Sea and floods in rivers have challenged the robustness of the dikes. Who does not know the story of the little boy who put his finger in a hole in a dike to prevent it from collapse? Sea dikes were not strong enough in February 1953 when a combination of spring tide and an excessive north-westerly storm caused these structures in the province of Zeeland to fail.
This week as our guest columnist British High Commisioner to T&T, ARTHUR SNELL, continues his commentary on the UN’s ECLAC report on the Economics of Climate Change for the Caribbean. He tells us in this commentary that the British Government will spend at least £22 million on climate change and risk reduction up to 2015 (from a wider Caribbean programme of £75 million).
The British Government has prioritised action on climate change—we have committed to cut our national emissions by 80 per cent by 2050—this is one of the toughest targets of any major world economy and will require the UK to make significant changes in energy usage and production. We have also shown the strongest of leadership on finance. Our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income as official development assistance by 2013, the first major economy to meet that UN target, has enabled us to create an unprecedented £2.9 billion (TT$29 billion) UK International Climate Fund. Our ministers have agreed three broad priorities for our support under this fund:
This week our guest columnist is British High Commissioner to T&T, ARTHUR SNELL who writes a personal account on the recent launch of the UN’s ECLAC report on the Economics of Climate Change for the Caribbean of which the UK was a co-sponsor.
The launch of this interesting report (available online at the CEPAL Web site http://www.eclac.org/publicaciones/xml/8/39188/LCARL.250.pdf) helps us understand the risks and opportunities that climate change will have on key economic sectors in the Caribbean.
We know these are likely to be considerable: The World Bank has listed small island developing states as most at risk from sea level rise and recent modelling indicates that the northern Caribbean may exceed global average sea level rise by up to 25 per cent. Studies have already shown that inaction or failing to adapt could cost an average of five per cent of GDP across the region by 2025, more in some countries, and worsening with time. The time for action is now. We want this report to help decision-makers target their preventative and mitigating efforts.
The tragic dengue deaths including that of an eight year old girl earlier this year bring home to us that in T&T dengue is endemic, a permanent state of affairs in T&T, and occasionally we suffer from outbreaks which means a surge in cases of dengue. The Ministry of Health has advised that it is possible to reduce the conditions favourable for the breeding of the insect vector by cleaning up our environment, clearing weeds, emptying uncovered water tanks, cans, bottles, jars and vessels holding water, cleaning watercourses, and ensuring domestic hygiene. Our guest columnist in this two-part series is world expert on dengue, Professor Dave D. Chadee from the Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies who questions the dengue control strategies used in T&T.
This week in our Cleaning Up The Mess environmental series we would be remiss if we didn’t express our sympathy and salute the Japanese people who, last week were hit by the worst disaster in natural history. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by tsunami waves of up to 33 feet, caused partial meltdowns in three nuclear reactors, left close to 5,000 dead, 10,000 missing, millions without electricity, fuel and water, and now battling snowy conditions. Before the nuclear meltdown, the situation was horrific, yet contained, as the world marvelled at how Japanese people handled it in their characteristic civilised manner, demonstrating grace and civic duty even in the face of unimaginable loss.
As the year draws to a close, it is natural that those of us working on the Guardian Multi Media series Cleaning Up The Mess, on CNC3, in the Trinidad Guardian, and on our facebook page, take stock. When we began this series we had no idea what we would find. We only knew that our litter laws were unenforced. As we dug deeper, saw our virtually condemned unhygienic dumps which are unlined and unfenced, which send toxins into our water table, our produce and air.
We saw that not only are existing environmental laws unenforced, but there has been no waste management legislation for over a decade. We have repeatedly asked: If Barbados can recycle up to 70 per cent of its waste why do we dump 50 million plastic bottles every month? Reliable sources from the EMA have admitted that the Point Lisas Industrial Estate is “largely unregulated”. It remains an area of darkness and speculation, especially as so few studies are available regarding the actual pollution in this area.