By Ivona Bradley

At the UN General Assembly, Sept 30, 2015, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves spoke of the “grave and gathering threat of climate change” and of “rising and raging seas”.

And at the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) meeting August 2018:

“We are on the front line of the climate change war and are thus are committed to exploring the vast potential of renewable energies such a geothermal to send strong signals to the world that we are firmly committed to a low carbon future.”

While the prime minister has been busy attending various international summits delivering impassioned speeches on the evils of climate change, begging for further financing, ostensibly to mitigate its effects and build “resiliency”, and in spite of the newly created “climate levy” imposed upon local hoteliers, the situation at home appears to be “business as usual”.

In other words, deforestation, sand mining at beaches, unregulated vehicle emissions, man-made garbage clogging up drains, rivers, and beaches, over fishing by foreign vessels, and the burning of tyres are just a few examples of the total disregard to not only human and animal health, but to the very environment that is supposedly of such grave concern.

The burning of tyres.

Burning tyres is especially insidious because this practice pollutes not just the air, but soil and water as well. When tyres are burned, they break down into hazardous compounds including gases which may include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s,) benzene, styrene, phenols, and butadiene, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur oxides (SOx), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals and oil. (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The average passenger car tyre is estimated to produce over two gallons of oil when burned. (Source: Rubber Manufacturers Association April 2003). Oil that exudes into ground and surface water as a result of tyre fires is a significant environmental pollutant.

The runoff oil produced by burning tyres, if uncontained, can be carried away by rainwater to local water sources contaminating them.  Additionally, the remaining residue can cause two types of pollution: immediate pollution by liquid decomposition products penetrating the soil, and gradual pollution from leaching of ash and unburned residues following rainfall or other water entry.

The health effects of tyre fires are numerous and include irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, respiratory effects, central nervous system depression, and cancer. Uncontrolled tyre burning has been proven to be 16 times more mutagenic, meaning capable of inducing genetic mutation, than traditional residential wood combustion in a fireplace, and 13,000 times more mutagenic than coal-fired utility emissions with good combustion efficiency and add-on controls.

A nursing mother can transfer the pollutants she inhales to her baby through the fat in her breast milk.  During breastfeeding, infants are exposed to higher concentrations of organic pollutants than at any subsequent time in their lives.

So much for the country’s National Economic and Social Development Plan (2013-2025) which includes the improving of physical infrastructure, preserving the environment and building resilience to climate change as one of its strategic goals to facilitate and guide optimal improvement of the quality of life for its citizens.

At a UN meeting Sept. 27, 2018, Gonsalves, citing Goal 17 (on global partnerships) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), told the gathered leaders:

“We have mainstreamed and prioritised goals related to clean energy, economic growth, sustainability, climate action and biodiversity.”

Sand mining.

Biodiversity. Forests are home to approximately 80 per cent of wildlife species, and yet the un-regulated deforestation, burning and clear-cutting of lands continue unabated, seemingly for the construction of more houses even though the island is currently overstocked with homes in various stages of completion, not to mention the rising number of foreclosures, which languish unsold and often un-occupied while the natural habitats of numerous species are destroyed.

Furthermore, the destruction of trees and green spaces not only contribute to the releasing of greenhouse gasses (which include carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere due to the reversal of carbon sequestration, it is also a major cause of soil erosion. The effects of soil erosion go beyond the loss of fertile land. It leads to increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers, clogging these waterways and causing declines in fish and other species. Degraded lands are also often less able to hold onto water, which can worsen flooding. Additionally, tree roots anchor soil, so when trees are cut down, soil is washed away during heavy rains. Landslides are thus more likely with devastation to farmland, roads, bridges, and homes. Memories of the Dec 2013 Christmas storm come to mind.

Despite the Minister of Works, Julian Francis’ comments and concerns regarding sand mining at beaches, https://www.iwnsvg.com/2018/05/24/govt-outlines-alternatives-to-mining-beaches-for-sand/ the practice continues. Sand mining promotes the destruction of natural beaches and the ecosystems they protect (e.g. dunes, wetlands), habitat loss for globally important species (e.g. turtles, shorebirds), the destruction of marine ecosystems, increased shoreline erosion rates, reduced protection from storms, tsunamis, and wave events, and economic losses through tourist abandonment and loss of coastal aesthetics. (source: Coastalcare.org)

The threats posed by sand mining are currently even more critical given the prospect of a significant rise in global sea levels over the coming decades.

The very “rising and raging seas” the PM spoke so passionately about.

At the UN General Assembly, Sept. 30, 2015, the President of the Seychelles, James Alix Michel stated that small island developing states (SIDS) are the “sentinels of nature and the guardians of the oceans”.

If this sentiment is to be taken seriously, the SIDS, and especially SVG, must do better, given that “Small size is no impediment to impactful contributions on the world stage,” as Gonsalves so eloquently told the Assembly.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

One reply on “‘Business as usual’ in SVG despite climate change impacts”

  1. I doubt Kenton Chance will publish my comment because he mixes pollution, environment and other such topics which he is honorably very concerned about with the topic of Global Warming, now being called Climate Change, which is nothing but a scheme of greedy bankers and politicians to get more money from the people, (in SVGs case, from the people and World Community).

    Although I agree with most of the sentiments of the author, this article is about three separate subjects:
    1) The terrible scourge of pollution
    2) Renewable Energy
    3) The big lie of Global Warming

    I would say four topics by adding Climate Change but the truth is that Climate Change has been occuring since the beginning of time, is driven primarily by the sun and is therefore beyond our control and another subject in itself.

    At present the Earth is experiencing a cooling phase and real scientists fear we may be going into a Maunder Minimum, also called a “Mini Ice Age” such as during the Victorian Era.

    The Carbon NAZI establishment has convinced most of the planet that CO2 is a pollutant. The author of this article has possibly forgotten High School Biology ! CO2 is a life-giving element needed by plant life for photosynthesis and to create oxygen for animal life to breathe, more specifically RESPIRATION. CO2 is vital for life on Planet Earth! To believe reducing CO2 emissions will save the planet will actually contribute to “killing” the planet. A few days ago it was approved that Bill Gates and the tax-payers will fund his project to spray tons of toxic sulfates into the earths atmosphere in an attempt to mimic a volcanic eruption to cool the earth. In other words Geoengineering to save the planet. These chemicals eventually fall to the earth and are mentioned by the EPA to be cancer-causing, but the Carbon Nazis are so forceful that we all have to suffer this whether we like it or not.
    The same people that are in favor of this geoengineering are also in favor of Fracking. Pumping toxic chemicals into the earths crust creating among other toxins, methane gas (which is a poisonous Greenhouse Gas, unlike CO2) in order to get oil for thier profits. This at the cost of poisoning communities and destroying the environment.
    I hope that someone with a greater science background than myself will write an article about the truth of the Global Warming movement for this site, instead of the quacks and fraudsters that get paid to perpetuate the lies so that they can get rich from our ignorance.
    I hope that we all love taxes because there will be alot more taxation so that we can get it to the politicians and bankers. The Yellow Vest Revolution in France right now is because of Global Warming taxes. The leader of France used to work for the Rothschild bankers (that own Exxon Mobile through JP Morgan Chase Bank) promote the Global Warming Agenda. There are other bankers that own these pollution corporations that also fund the Global Warming Agenda, but it is so much that a book cn be written about it.

    Do any of us ever ask why do these rich people support movements that are supposed to, on the surface, harm thier business interests? Look up “Cap and Trade” and “Carbon Credits” to begin understanding this better. You will then figure out why there is a war in Syria and most all the Middle East and why the antagonism against Russia.

    I

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