by Seth Ampadu -Superintendent Minister of the Methodist Church – St. Lucia
Recently, the news media across the globe has been full of stories concerning ecological and environmental disasters of one kind or another, from global warming to endangered species to destruction of the rainforests to nuclear accidents.
I am of the view that some are real and some are imaginary, but it’s not hard to notice that the ecological and environmental issues receive very little attention in our respective countries across our Caribbean region especially our country St. Lucia.
It seems to me the media is silent about these environmental challenges because it will not “sell their papers to make money”.
We must understand that climate change in our world is gradually having a disastrous effect on the lives of millions across the globe especially in the poorest parts of our world. Climate change is “a change in the pattern of weather, and related changes in oceans, land surfaces and ice sheets, occurring over time scales of decades or longer. This can cause impacts such as species extinction and the displacement, decrease or loss of habitats, which may lead to deterioration of biodiversity and ecosystem services
There is no doubt that the world is facing a very serious ecological and environmental crisis. Key environmental problems include air pollution, the destruction of the ozone layer, vast quantities of toxic waste, massive levels of soil erosion, the possible exhaustion of key natural resources such as oil and coal, and the extinction of plants and animals.
The sad thing is that, we think this crisis is likely to have catastrophic effects in the future. Even today, the negative effects of the crisis are evident in the form of growing deserts, increased rates of cancer, and the loss of plant species which could hold out cures for diseases such as AIDS and Cancer among others.
The truth of this ecological and environmental crisis, however, reaches far beyond our own neighbourhoods and work-places in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe etc.
This will gradually affect generations to come. Poisoned water crosses borders freely. Acid rain pours on countries that do not create it. Greenhouse gases affect the earth’s atmosphere for many decades, regardless of where they are produced or used.
Recently I drove to the southern part of our country and it seems some of our beaches have been badly affected by “seaweed”. This is bound to negatively impact the important tourist industry. The impacts of changing climate on the Caribbean and the islands of the Pacific are increasingly being manifested in economic and financial losses.
The question one would ask is, as people do we care about the state of our environment?
Do our leaders have concrete plans to help to minimize this long term effect?
Do the various religious groups teach their members to care for the environment?
Research shows that changes in climate can occur through both natural and human-induced causes. Global climate varies naturally over time scales from decades to thousands of years and longer. These natural variations can originate in two ways: from internal fluctuations that exchange energy, water and carbon between the atmosphere, oceans, land and ice, and from external influences on the climate system, including variations in the energy received from the sun and the effects of volcanic eruptions.
Humans are however the major inducers and sufferers of climate change. This is because increases in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulting largely from burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, have led to an observed and projected warming of the earth, known as the enhanced greenhouse effect. This is why many scientists regard human-caused (anthropogenic) global climate change to be the most important environmental issue of our times.
The effects of climate change are diverse and severe. The specific results of climate change may include insecurity and conflicts: Climate change may pose threats to the security situation in a country through increasing water scarcity; decreasing food security; increasing climate-induced migration; and the increase of poverty.
It can also have consequences on human health. This is because the health of communities depends on sufficient food, safe drinking water, comfortable homes, good social conditions, and a suitable environmental and social setting for controlling infectious diseases.
The importance of the above impact areas to individual and national lives cannot be over-emphasized hence the need for concerted efforts towards climate mitigation. I therefore call on all of us to be conscious about how we treat the environment.
Let us all resolve to keep the environment clean by stopping the cutting down of trees, burning bushes, littering that chokes our gutters, urinating in public randomly, making sure that our car engines are in good condition and start planting trees in our neighbourhoods.