It has been a while, and this feature, which was going along on a weekly basis, has fallen behind badly! Blame it on January 2017… Anyway, here are Jamaican and global stories on the environment and climate change, for your interest. Click on the links for more info! (The cover photograph is of a Glossy Ibis and an Egret, perched on top of a mangrove which is a roosting spot for the egrets in Salt River, Clarendon, on World Wetlands Day).
The Jamaica Environment Trust has started a new Facebook page, Big Up Wi Beach, which it describes as “a network of beach users, managers, communities and regulators with the aim of promoting better stewardship of Jamaican beaches and access for all.” This focuses on an oft-expressed concern among many Jamaicans that public beaches on the island are becoming fewer, with so many fences and security guards flanking hotel and other private-access beaches. This compares unfavorably with islands such as Barbados, Grenada and St. Lucia, where all or most beaches are public – even those where hotels are situated.
- As noted in an earlier post, on January 30 the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) signed agreements with seventeen non-governmental and community-based organizations as well as one Government agency for grants totaling J$84.9 million to assist with adaptation to climate change. The EFJ is planning another Call for Proposals later this month. To keep up to date, please “like” the Facebook page and follow on Twitter @The_EFJ.
- Environmental wardens trained: The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has trained 165 residents from 30 underserved communities across the island as environmental wardens, responsible for helping enforce environmental regulations under the National Solid Waste Management (NSWMA) Act. The wardens will also educate residents on good environmental and waste disposal practices – such as no burning of garbage, please! Sounds like a good plan; I hope it will be extended to many more communities if successful.
- Speaking of burning, the issue of air pollution is becoming more high-profile in Jamaica. A Sunday Gleaner report and a Television Jamaica report this evening pointed to the health impact of burning garbage in and around the Riverton City dump in Kingston; residents of the Washington Boulevard area, as well as Portmore (which is already very dry and dusty) are increasingly suffering from asthma and other respiratory problems. This is an issue that JET and others intend to focus on.
- A multi-stakeholder committee to be chaired by Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee, Director, Mona GeoInformatics Institute, University of the West Indies will make recommendations regarding a possible ban on plastic bags and styrofoam containers, first proposed in a private member’s motion by Government Senator Matthew Samuda last October. Meanwhile the public-private entity Recycling Partners of Jamaica will continue its work, and Wisynco, which is a member of this initiative, is currently testing a more biodegradable form of styrofoam, which it manufactures.
- There was some very sad news recently. 37 year-old Canadian filmmaker, environmental activist and shark conservationist Rob Stewart died in a diving accident off the coast of Key Largo, Florida on January 31. Watch this moving and beautiful film, Revolution, which Rob made about his own activism here. It will really inspire you. Rob was in love with the sea and all that lives in it, and had a true sense of adventure. His film Sharkwater won several awards, and he was famous also for his campaign against the horrible practice of shark finning, which was devastating shark populations. Rest in peace, Rob.
- The Ocean Conference will take place from June 5 – 9, 2017 at the UN in New York. It will support Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #14: Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development. Our future health – and indeed, survival – depends on the health of our oceans. A preparatory meeting for this important conference will take place at the UN headquarters February 15 – 16 to consider all the elements and partnerships needed for its planned Call to Action. N.B. World Oceans Day is June 8. I hope we will recognize it in Jamaica this year.
- Researchers at the University of Houston in the U.S. have confirmed that, thanks to climate change, we can expect more dangerous storms in the future – especially in the Southern Hemisphere. The Earth’s heating is releasing more “kinetic energy” – that is, a whole lot of movement. Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast and South Asia are likely to suffer the most from this and other impacts of climate change.
- As temperatures continue to climb in the Arctic, a hurricane-force winter storm will push more warm air into the region, which is already experiencing abnormal weather. On Thursday, areas near the North Pole are predicted to be 50 to 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer than normal (which is around minus -30); that is, near melting point. This may be the third occasion since November (the fourth time in just over a year) that temperatures have warmed to this level.
- While the SDGs are very preoccupied with the issues surrounding water, decisions around water and sanitation improvements are made at the local level, across neighborhoods, cities, aquifers and basins. The Connecting Cities to Basins Project in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania is one example of the detailed and complex planning and implementation required for this city of some five million – 80 per cent of whom live in informal settlements. Click on the link for this long and interesting article. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Water Association (IWA) has also collaborated on this important issue, as there is more pressure on watersheds to supply more water to growing cities.