But…Can It Be Business as Usual?

April 27th, 2019

Perhaps it’s just me, but the year 2019 seems to have been one of considerable upset for the world. A second, extremely fierce cyclone has arrived in Mozambique (the first one killed over 900 people, although it hardly received mainstream media coverage). On the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, which I visited in late 2017 and was really longing to visit again, a series of suicide bombs hit churches and hotels on Easter Sunday morning. President Trump and his cult followers just won’t go away, and nor will Brexit and the Brexiteers. What hell!

Extinction Rebellion was established in 2018 but has rapidly gained support beyond the UK.

Extinction Rebellion, established in 2018.  has rapidly gained support beyond the UK.

Then in London, persistent and furious protests have been taking place – what is called the Extinction Rebellion. This non-violent movement has a sense of urgency, and its mission is to wake people up. In case we didn’t notice, they are alerting you to the fact that:

Climate breakdown and ecological collapse are a direct existential threat to us all. You, your family, and everything you love are at risk. Without immediate and decisive action, we face extinction.
The Extinction Rebellion is a necessity. Our political establishment has failed to protect its people from pollution, prevent further mass extinction of species on earth and prevent the possibility of human extinction in the near future. Therefore we must rebel to protect the livelihood of citizens and our natural world, or risk losing everything we cherish.
After several days of protests, Londoners were apparently greatly inconvenienced while commuting to and from work and driving up and down. The city’s Mayor Sadiq Khan (who worries about air pollution continuously) plaintively tweeted that, while he “shares the passion” of the protesters, it’s time to go home now, boys and girls. “You must now let London return to business as usual.
The Mayor has started an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London recently. But protesters are a bit of a nuisance!

The Mayor has started an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London recently. But protesters are a bit of a nuisance!

Ah, but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? It can’t be business as usual.*
Those who measure these things report that, despite all the pledges made at various conferences, greenhouse gas emissions actually rose last year, with coal-fired power plants leading the way – mostly in Asia. Transportation (a sector largely ignored in Jamaica) was also a major factor in emissions; in particular, planes and trucks – and in the U.S., factories also.
Meanwhile, to the south of us, indigenous peoples are making a desperate stand against the new Brazilian President, who is “opening up” what is left of the Amazon rainforest. They are on the front lines.
Now, it’s one thing to be a “climate change denier,” and we can’t worry about them too much. Perhaps they will come round one day. Most of us know by now that it’s not just “the weather.” It’s quite another thing, though, to know that it is happening, to acknowledge it, to make grand speeches about it, and then to actually…do nothing meaningful to adapt to it, let alone mitigate against it.
A tweet from the National Water Commission: "Worsening drought conditions have been negatively impacting a number of systems islandwide. In addition to the sharp fall off at our largest storage facilities (Mona & Constant Spring), there are several systems that have been experiencing significant reductions."

A tweet from the National Water Commission: “Worsening drought conditions have been negatively impacting a number of systems islandwide. In addition to the sharp fall off at our largest storage facilities (Mona & Constant Spring), there are several systems that have been experiencing significant reductions.”

Here on our island, let’s take one example: Water. Or should I say the lack of it? With our reservoirs currently just one-third full, and persistent drought (the odd rainy day doesn’t make up for it), our political leaders are happily talking about building a #newJamaica. High rise apartments are popping up all over the capital city; while on the north coast, thousands of hotel rooms are to be built. There is also the planned new town in Bernard Lodge. All this with a finite (and dwindling) water supply.

Have we planned for this, over the last two or three decades? Clearly not. Is this sustainable development? Clearly not.

Oh, and meanwhile, let’s eat all the parrotfish out of the sea. When they are gone, along with our coral reefs and beaches… Well, we shall worry about that when the time comes. “We can fix it back afterward” seems to be the motto. We, humans, are in control!

Our Prime Minister recently declared that after the thousands of hotel rooms are built – “after that” – we will have to start concerning ourselves with environmental matters.

By that time, Mr. Prime Minister, it will be too late.

* To be fair to the London Mayor, he did declare a “climate emergency” last Christmas and he has a plan. How much of it will come to fruition before the year 2050, who knows? (2050, Mr. Mayor? Where will we be by then, one wonders?)

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