What’s on the minds of the experts for World Environment Day?

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Every year on June 5, World Environment Day (WED) is commemorated. It is the United Nation’s principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness to broaden opinion and action for the protection of the environment.
For WED yesterday, OBSERVER media asked the experts in Antigua & Barbuda (1) What is the most pressing environmental issue on their minds locally/internationally and (2) what can we, residents, do to help protect and preserve the environment.
John Mussington: Marine Biologist

John Mussington

We are now in 2017 and the sand mining continues in Barbuda, with them recently taking down the last ridge of sand which was something quite unique in this part of the region. The taking down of that last ridge is very significant because we now have no protection whatsoever in terms of storm surges, hurricanes and ground swells in Barbuda, so we are totally exposed on our south-west coast. We are part of the environment and all of us should be environmentalists in terms of how we treat the resources we have. Too often policymakers do things without caring about the consequences, all they’re concerned about is the profit and as a result of that we are actually losing this world.
We need to apply the same care we give to valuable, material things. And, everything we do, from the goods we use, buying paper rather than plastic, the way you consume, don’t do things in excess, these are the things you do to preserve the environment.
Greg Scott: Diploma in Environmental Sciences.
Greg Scott

We have to ensure developments are undertaken to work with the environment so that it is not destroyed and can be enjoyed by future generations. We are going to face development all the time and unless we are going to make an effort to develop with sustainability in mind then we are going to have nothing left eventually.
We need to be conscious of the three R’s…reduce, reuse and recycle. Everything you use, reduce the consumption, whatever you use, reuse what you can and recycle and not only will you save money but it’ll reduce the impact on the environment. It takes little baby steps and it might not be visible right away but if everybody’s doing it then you’ll notice a reduction in water consumption, in power consumption and so on. The use of plastics definitely has to be reduced.
Dale Destin: Climatologist
Dale Destin

Removing the forest causes temperatures to rise to the extent it impacts the food chain.  The issue with the mangroves, I hear it. I am not in a position to say how it should be approached, but I know its value…they provide a buffer to things like the storm surges and they sequestrate carbon and store it. So, when you remove them, they die and carbon goes back into the atmosphere and that has a negative impact on the atmosphere. Now, we cannot ignore US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal because if the US goes back to polluting the atmosphere as they did before then the direct impact on climate in that it will warm at a faster rate so then we wouldn’t have the pull to our shores for tourism because if it is warm is Ohio where it is may usually be cold, they don’t have to come to the Caribbean…plus, some countries in the tropics export exotic foods to those places but once they get warmer they will be able to grow them so the demand will decrease, food will be harder to grow in our climate and it becomes more expensive when we have to invest in new seeds and things like that.
Everett Christian: Economist
Everett Christian

Environmental protection and economic development are not mutually exclusive, they can go hand in hand and so whenever we undertake development, they should accrue to the benefit of the nation and the people of the nation, not just on the short-term basis, but on the long-term basis. What’s happening with the Yida project, the impact is immediate. It is not something that’s going to happen five years from now, it is going to impact us immediately and I think it is important that we give greater priority to that. Tourism is our primary industry, and if our coastlines are destroyed the existing properties can find themselves being destroyed and having to rebuild, having to relocate or just abandoning those properties. It is significant, we are talking about literally billions of dollars – that is the possible economic impact so yes, we need to protect the environment.
This government, led by the prime minister, needs to step up to the plate and do something to protect our environment and not just give platitudes about environmental protection.
Tahamby Smith: Environmentalist, president of Environmental Awareness Group
Tahamby Smith

We need policymakers who are actually inclusive in terms of including key stakeholders in decision making. In terms of building awareness, more information needs to be peddled because a lot of persons simply don’t know, are unaware and one great thing is to immerse persons in what you’re trying to raise awareness about.
The average person needs to get off of their couch, come out of your comfort zone and be informed. Right now, go outside, take two pictures and post them up, enjoy the environment.
World Environment Day was first held in 1974 and has been a flagship campaign for raising awareness on emerging environmental issues from marine pollution, human overpopulation, and global warming, to sustainable consumption and wildlife crime.

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