Yesterday was Earth Day 2021, and it was heartening to note that it did not pass with a whimper here in our fair State. For example, notwithstanding the exigencies of the coronavirus fight, the Ministry of Tourism and Investment re-launched its Sustainable Tourism Initiative and appeared on our VOICE OF THE PEOPLE broadcast, among other media appearances. Of course, it was fortuitous that the appearance was on EARTH DAY. According to some literature from the tourism folks who are spearheading that effort, “The Sustainable Tourism Unit has revamped its Green Tourism Initiative (adjusted the indicators, made the process simpler, and developed a logo). Hence, we wanted to share this information through a “launch” of the Green Tourism badge/logo. What is absolutely amazing about this is that April 22nd is also Earth Day so we will also tie the information given with the theme – Restore our Earth (with focus on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems).” All well and good. We here at NEWSCO salute them for a most timely and worthy effort.
Remember, this initiative is on its second go around, after it lapsed for a while on account of the coronavirus pandemic. Ms Amiah Nicholas of the Ministry of Tourism explained quite eloquently on our broadcast yesterday what this new and exciting venture will look like. Seems, they have been reaching out to companies and businesses around Antigua and Barbuda with a view towards their going in to assess green energy needs, improved energy efficiency, waste disposal, and new and improved ways of bringing down costs and protecting the environment. At the end of the process, these companies and businesses will receive a Green Tourism badge which can be prominently displayed in their offices and places of business. We consider these to be badges of honour, and we urge as many enterprises as possible to participate in this Green Tourism Initiative.
The first Earth Day was celebrated some fifty-one years ago (April 22, 1970), when former American Senator Gaylord Nelson, inspired by students and other activists in the anti-war movement, organised a huge demonstration against the impacts of industrialisation on the environment.
Of course, the world has come a long way since then, but perhaps, not nearly as far along as we would like. The world’s carbon footprint is till too big. But important steps are being taken in an attempt to preserve a thriving Mother Earth for generations yet to come. We note that when Mayor Bloomberg took over as Mayor of New York City, one of his early initiatives was a tree-planting effort. His goal was the planting of one million trees all around the city. That effort met with some success. Here in Antigua and Barbuda, we note that Sandals Resorts is embarking on a tree-planting effort of its own – the goal is to plant ten thousand trees in our fair State by June of 2022. We applaud the Sandals plan and wish them every success. They are an example of exceedingly good corporate citizenship.
Trees give off oxygen that we need to breathe, and they absorb harmful carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – the biggest climate change problem that the world is facing. They also absorb pollutant gases like ozone, ammonia, nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide. Trees also help to bind the soil, reducing storm water run-off and erosion. The roots of trees, like our mangroves, prevent bottles, cans and other pollutants from entering our waterways. Trees also form the habitat for many species of wildlife. And they can provide protection during hurricanes. We note that the sturdy mahogany trees along Independence Avenue, around the Antigua Recreation Grounds, up Factory Road, and around the Botanical Gardens were planted early in the 1900’s to provide hurricane protection to the city of St. Johns. Those trees along Dickenson Bay Street (Back Street) were also planted with that idea in mind. They have stood us in good stead, and ought to be protected. Mr Peter Kelsick of Blue Waters, a civic-minded patriot, is of a mind that we ought to do more to preserve them. We wholeheartedly agree.
One of those beautiful trees fell on Independence Avenue, across from the top of Redcliffe Street, about three months ago, and not a drum was heard. We trust that the Sandals folks will see the replacement of the fallen mahogany trees on Independence Avenue as part of their tree-planting exercise. Mind you, trees are also things of beauty; a joy forever! The mahogany trees have enhanced Independence Avenue, the cenotaph, Back Street and so on and so forth. Just look at the mahogany trees on the Airport Road! We love them!
Sadly, even as we are celebrating the wondrous beauty and benefits of trees, there is a wilful and wanton rape of them in the North East Marine Management Area (NEMMA) by YIDA. We’re talking about the removal of the mangroves. Photos of the area show the mindless desecration that is taking place there. Seems, they have been given the green light by some of those in high places, who have obsequiously justified this reckless assault on Mother Nature. Nothing is sacred. All can be sacrificed on the altar of development. For shame! So notwithstanding the flowery, hifalutin speeches, delivered with much pomp and circumstance, and the gravest of faces, some of us here cannot shake the feeling that it is all lip service.
Meanwhile, here are a few areas of concern. The recycling effort, such as it is, here in Antigua and Barbuda needs to be strengthened. And if the many light bulbs adorning the top of the APUA building on High Street are not powered by solar energy, they need to be permanently turned off. Many of the light bulbs in our residences and workplaces also need to be replaced by energy efficient bulbs. So too, many of our appliances. We will be saving costs in the long run, and doing our part to help Mother Earth. In that regard, we trust that this Earth Day saw a greater resolve on the part of us all to . . . ‘pitch in.’ (Pun intended)
These are some of the needs of the hour. And remember, Earth Day is every day. Let us be good stewards.
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