By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ, & Director, CREDI
Visit rcsocialjusticett.org for our columns, media releases and more.
T&T is caught up in the worldwide change in weather patterns. It is clear that human activities contribute to climate change.
Recently Rev Lennox Toussaint and I were talking about Baron’s 1994 calypso ‘Mother earth crying’. Here are some of the lyrics:
Mother Earth is crying, she say to stop the polluting…oy oy oy
Mother Earth is dying, we got to stop the polluting…oy oy oy
Whole attitude got to change, and priorities rearrange
We got to become more competent
The way we protect the environment
And fight, fight for all that it’s worth
Fight to save Mother Earth…oy oy oy…
Today the things we nurture could determine the future
And pray what would the picture be
See grandson and granddaughter fighting, chaos and disaster
As Mother Earth protest violently
Wake up, wake up people and be part of the struggle!
The planet earth in serious trouble
We got to end this melancholy refrain
We cannot afford to lose Paradise again
That’s why I’m pleading….”
Years later, in 2015, Pope Francis wrote his powerful encyclical, Laudato Si, On care for our common home. The earth, he says, “now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.”
Take note of Rishard Khan’s recent article in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian ‘Met Office: Prepare for harsh dry season’. He said: “Citizens must brace themselves for a hot 2019 as this year’s dry season is forecasted to be a harsh one with below average rainfall. The T&T Meteorological Office, therefore, is advising citizens to be dry season ready, have a water plan, a heat plan, and a bush fire and air quality plan.” See: http://www.metoffice.gov.tt/.
Khan reports that Meteorologist Gary Benjamin, of the T&T Met Office, said in an interview “the country is expected to enter El Niño conditions. El Niño is the term used to describe the war-ing of seas surface temperatures, which occurs every few years and typically is concentrated in the central east equatorial Pacific.”
And while we are urged to stock up with emergency water supplies to last three–seven days, the Met Office warns that we must do so safely as this could “increase the breeding areas for mosquitoes. The drier and hotter conditions are also expected to in-crease the potential for land-fill, bush and forest fires later in the season and would result in reduced air quality during any of the fires…The Met Office expects a high-er number of hot days from late February to May and temperatures exceeding 34 degrees Celsius in Trinidad and 32 degrees Celsius in Tobago.”
During the dry season, let’s look out for each other. As the Met Office states: “Heat on extremely hot days can be harmful to your health. Persons with heart, respiratory and serious health problems are more at risk during extremely hot conditions as heat can make these conditions worse. Have a heat season plan: for babies, elderly and socially isolated persons, young children and young livestock…”
And see the ads on social media by the Minister of HealthTerrence Deyalsingh: ‘Healthy Me, Healthy You…Healthy T&T…As we enter our dry season…Remember to keep hydrated…Drink WATER.”
We will need to manage our water resources prudently. In November 2018, Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte said the ministry and WASA “have a plan in place to deal with 2019’s predicted harsh dry season”. He pointed out that T&T has aged infrastructure: “It’s not just one line, we have 7,500 kilometres of pipe throughout the country…the issue of changing all of the pipes will be a very expensive process and it would need to be done on a phased basis.”
While in 2017, 20,000 leaks were repaired, he hopes to increase this to 30,000 this year. He and WASA need our help. He said, when you see a leak, take a picture and forward it to the WASA app. Crews to fix leaks have been increased.
While most of the dams are at the required levels, he said: “Ultimately we need everyone to be on board in conserving their water supply…conservation is really a habit, you can’t really get into conservation only during the dry season; you have to conserve water all around.”
As Pope Francis says, let’s rethink our way of living with the earth and with each other.