Sunday, September 29, 2013

Becoming greener - the Peter O'Connor commentary

File: Quarrying near the Asa Wright Nature Centre
Over the past several weeks we have seen our country embracing “Green”, which, as Kermit the Frog used to sing on “The Muppets”, is not necessarily an easy thing. 

But as they say, “No pain, no gain”, and the benefits of becoming green, and greener, far outweigh the difficulties some of us face in embracing the Green that is flowing our way, steadily increasing our awareness and acceptance as it flows in like a cleansing tide.

There is a growing number of people who are committed to saving Planet Earth from creeping destruction of its natural resources, water sources, and even the air we breathe. Acceptance and appreciation must rise for us to understand that they cannot keep killing the dwindling numbers of small animals which try to survive in the rapidly disappearing forests of our islands.

So this column is in appreciation of the actions of our government over the past year, but especially the past few weeks, in taking decisions and passing legislation in support of saving our natural heritage. 

The Environment was a plank on the Peoples’ Partnership election platform during the 2010 campaign. It probably did little to win them the government, because we do not really care about the environment.
Forests and wetlands are nuisances with “snake and mosquito”, hillside are to be bulldozed, and “rivers does bring flooding” (sic), and why should we be confined to specific places for discarding garbage when we are accustomed to dumping anywhere we are?

So the few of us who understand that preserving nature really is important to our children’s wellbeing, although we supported the Partnership, maintained our skepticism regarding any government or corporate, or indeed public concern with our environment—other than everyone’s presumed right to abuse and destroy it.

And for two years our skepticism appeared well founded. We saw no apparent interest or activity on the part of the government regarding environmental and sustainability issues. 

Then in February 2012, National Quarries Company Limited, owner of “Scotts Quarry” in the Arima Valley, brought their bulldozers over the hill which shielded the quarrying from the sight of Asa Wright Nature Centre. Then NQCL began destroying the forest in full view of the overseas visitors who consider Asa Wright an international shrine to bird watching enthusiasts. Dynamite blasting of the hillside would follow if this was not stopped.

Responding to the immediate local and international outcries (and thank you “Locals” for the clamour of your voices notwithstanding our small numbers!), the Minister of Energy was at Asa Wright the morning
after the “mark bus’”, and although he had in tow the CEO of NQCL, who bumptiously attacked environmentalists even as he stuffed himself with Asa Wright’s breakfast, Senator Kevin Ramnarine realized that NQCL had to return to their former, relatively concealed work area. And it was so ordered. 

Then a couple of weeks later, the Minister of Energy and the Minister of Housing and the Environment (as it was then) Dr. Roodal Moonilal hosted a consultation with the quarrying industry and environmental groups, following which the Ministers announced that all new quarries would require a Certificate of Environmental Clearance. This was one more step to try and mitigate against the widespread destruction of our forests. 

The government then took some criticism for the river straightening at Grande Riviere, where thousands of turtle eggs were destroyed, and while I thought some of it was unfair, it made them conscious of international concerns and our growing support for our natural heritage.

The issues at Asa Wright and Grande Riviere may have spurred the Government on, seeking to catch up with the Region in terms of taking a responsibly sustainable approach to our land and the seas around us. 

And they began to move in the direction of sustainability, and towards the protection of our forests, wildlife and marine resources, taking action where previous governments only made platitudinous statements as they set up the various UN required environmental agencies, but never intending to give them teeth or to protect anything.

Holding on to destructive livestyles of logging trawling and hunting in the face of the opportunities and well being which conservation will bring is like insisting we keep our typewriter factory operating in the face of digital technology. Those times have passed, a new understanding is sweeping the globe, and we are blessed to have the resources to embrace this new thinking. 

We can join this movement at its crest, and become one of the world leaders in the conservation of our blessings, and become a nation living in harmony with nature and enhancing harmony among our peoples.
Or we can ignore it all.

No comments:

Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai