Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blog Action Day: Environment Trinbago

FreeFoto.comToday, Monday October 15th, I am publishing this post in solidarity with over 15,000 blogs worldwide, commemorating this day being denoted as Blog Action Day. This is an inaugural event and the chosen theme for this first Blog Action Day is the environment. The environment has had much global media coverage of late, particularly with all the concerns of global warming. Additionally, there has been the impact of the film An Inconvenient Truth, the corollary of former US Vice President Al Gore’s environmental crusade, for which he recently received the Nobel Peace Prize, sharing it with a United Nations network of scientists known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Blog Action Day and its environmental theme has the endorsement of UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme.

Coincidentally though, one aspect of Trinidad and Tobago which I believe does not get much coverage or is not given enough consideration by the public at large, is the environment. Some notable environmentalists/journalists who have done well to make the populace more environmentally aware are Dr. Julian Kenny, Eden Shand and Anne Hilton (please forgive me for omissions of other notable personages, which I am sure I have committed here).

Trinidad and Tobago along with the rest of the Caribbean islands have traditionally been heralded for their natural beauty. Yet somehow, in our developing status, we seem or are somehow forced to think much more of what might be deemed as more serious concerns, on issues such as economic development, crime and serious health issues like HIV/AIDS. While addressing these concerns are indeed critical and necessary, our environment, the very earth upon which we walk, air we breathe and water we drink, if ignored, we undoubtedly do at our own peril.

While admittedly there are environmental organizations and efforts in the country which are to be lauded, regrettably I do not see a widespread infrastructural approach to environmental issues and management in operation locally. For instance, while SWMCOL (the Solid Waste Management Company) boasts of its recycling programme, the average household in the country throws out all trash at home. Are our citizens in possession of any recycling bins for sorting bottles, plastics, paper etc? Walk through Port-of-Spain, go to any public or private agency or even at U.W.I. (University of the West Indies) and there are no receptacles for sorted trash.

A few years ago I remember going to Toco with a group of friends on the day after an extended holiday weekend and was sickened at the extensive and gross amount of trash that was strewn all over the beach. Hordes had enjoyed themselves at the beach and just left it in a disgusting state. The long and still ongoing battle between environmentalists and the government’s plans to build aluminium smelter plants in this country shows at least that we do not have a dormant or docile environmentalist movement.

Given the relatively sheer small size of Trinidad and Tobago and the other Caribbean islands, one might assume that we should more easily be able to manage our environment. Yet, our small size also merits that we should be even moreso conscious of protecting it.

Kudos to all the community organizations and individuals that help to promote awareness, action and protect the environment of our precious Trinbago. We who are here now and generations to come, are in your debt.

Short List of Community-based Environmental Organisations in Trinidad and Tobago

Asa Wright Nature Centre

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