Wednesday, January 24, 2018

State of the environment–a failing grade


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The Express ran the first in a series of weekly columns submitted by the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) on January 19. These articles seek to highlight not just local environmental issues but those which affect the population on a global scale. Questions and comments can be e-mailed to

The quality of our environment has been degrading for decades. We have seen the effects of pollution on land, in the atmosphere as well as in the aquatic biosphere.

Deforestation, slash-and-burn land clearing and illegal quarrying have become par for the course, so much so that we have accepted flooding as a natural consequence of heavy rainfall.

The degradation of our hillsides has the domino effect of pollution of our waterways through erosion and heavy sediment deposition.

Add agrochemicals, organic waste from farms, questionable industrial effluent and petrochemicals to the mix.

Rivers in which some of us have caught fish or splashed around in our childhoods, no longer hold the same attraction.

Legislation has not stopped the tide of littering and the indiscriminate dumping of solid waste in rivers and along some of our roadways. It is not uncommon to see garbage piled high next to no littering signs.

The air we breathe may likely cause harm to our health or the environment from substances routinely released into the atmosphere.

Air pollution is not a subject that is frequently discussed but we all feel the effects of smoke, odours and fumes, which can prevent our enjoyment of private property and public spaces.

People usually suffer in silence when confronted by dust and discharges from the exhaust systems of motor vehicles.

Noise remains a critical issue in the country as various bars and clubs located in or close to residential areas frequently breach the prescribed standards of the Noise (Pollution Control) Rules.

This also applies to house parties and people indiscriminately releasing fireworks.

Some drivers seem not to be aware of laws pertaining to loud music emanating from their vehicles.

Biodiversity is still threatened by illegal hunting and harvesting of wildlife as well as the destruction of habitats in coastal and forested areas. Increasing urbanisation, which necessitates land for housing and other developmental and recreational activities, has led to the destruction of habitats.

There are mounting pressures on our country's natural resources and, as a consequence, some environmental assets are significantly degraded.

Demand for homes leads to the stripping of land for construction aggregate and lumber; increased pressure for leisure activities results in solid waste pollution and more facilities for sewage