The Environment Should Be Our Friend

Leaked EPA document

All over the world some strange occurrences are being witnessed in the environment, in many instances with contradicting explanations. Barbados has been under attack by a species of Sargassum Seaweed for nearly 3 months and the authorities seem impotent to mobilize a response. If it was not a serious matter it would be funny. Isn’t tourism our business any longer?

Recent reports indicate that “mercury emissions are rising globally, largely from coal-fired power stations, waste incinerators, and the mining of gold and silver in developing countries — where millions are affected directly through mining or contaminated food. Exposure to the most toxic form, methyl mercury, found in seafood, can result in permanent brain damage. The UN is working on setting up a legally binding instrument on mercury emissions”. In Barbados we import a lot of salmon.

Barbadians are a passive lot when it comes to matters of the environment. It is a ‘we don’t give a damn mentality’. One wonders if this talk about greening the economy is to be taken seriously. Suppose we must though, we have established a ministry of the environment. Former minister of the environment Elizabeth Thompson was in the news today (25/8/2011) wagging her finger at Barbados of the need to advance plans to transform to a green economy.  Failing which, accessing development financing in the future from the international lending institutions may dry up.

Barbados aspire to be first world, we boast of being the number one developing country but can we honestly lay claim?  How many Barbadians are aware of the Detox Campaign which was recently waged against Puma and Nike? Now the environmentalists of elsewhere have turned their attention to Adidas.   It appears “product testing results reveal chemicals on certain clothing from top international brands, which like a smoking gun, places them at the scene of the toxic river pollution scandal we are campaigning to stop”.

The question which some people ask is whether the earth has the capacity to purge itself. Let us hope so for the sake of mankind.

0 thoughts on “The Environment Should Be Our Friend

  1. I think we have to get Donville the Doer to tackle the excessive vehicle emissions, importation of banned chemicals,improve surveillance of foods imported and ban backyard burning. Dead Dennis aint doing a thing for de environment.

  2. David wrote “In Barbados we import a lot of salmon.”

    In Canada we import a lot of Salmon from China. It is labelled product of China so we know it is likely farm raised and “toxic”.

  3. The comments to this very serious issue is like a pock mark on this blog. The topic does not allow political spinners to fulminate so there is little interest. A lady recently recently on the call in programme said that she saw tear drop like formation in the caribbean sea. These tear drops indicated that the sea bed was denuded. The recent earth quake in the US spread over 22 states. People remember that our quake stated in south america and came through the caribbean sea bed. What hurts me is that we have a fool like liz thompson having a major say in this environmental thing.

  4. The heavy and indiscriminate use of pesticides and herbicides have already affected our environment. Monarch butterflies whose habitats were scattered around the island have now almost disappeared. Insect life is the biggest indicator of the state of our environment. If they can no longer exist how much longer can we?

  5. Grow wunnuh own food. Stop eating the imported crap that the white merchants import. Eating, eating-out, and gourmet cooking is highly overated and part of our problem. In fact I believe that the less business the majority black population of Barbados transact with the minority elite so-called business class the better their lot will be.

  6. “The heavy and indiscriminate use of pesticides and herbicides have already affected our environment”

    Can “organic” food crops be grown in Barbados commercially and in quantities to feed the local population?

  7. “Are we buying what Dr. Nurse from the CZM is telling us about the invasion of the seaweed.”

    David what did he say?

  8. This morning I got an offensive text message from LIME inviting me to Barclay’s Park to clean up seaweed.

    What about mobilizing clean-up crews of unemployed persons, who have children to send back to school, and paying them instead of having them line up outside of Welfare offices and constituency offices asking for hand outs.

    Let those otherwise employed do-gooders who want their friends to see them on tv cleaning the beaches stay at home. Make this an opportunity for unemployed people to earn some money and feel good about themselves rather than force them to embarass themselves by asking for charity from politicians.

    I would ask you to cast your minds back to the preparations for the Loud show: do you remember how grateful those young men felt for the opportunity to do just a few days work.

    Tell those do-gooders to stay at home and clean up their immediate surroundings.

  9. There seems to be a weighty concern that aggressively removing the seaweed can interrupt the ecosystem which feeds on it. The plan is to shift the weed to the backside of the beach.

  10. David
    I don’t care what they do with the seaweed. My concern is that removing it should be turned into an opportunity for some unemployed people to empower themselves by bringing home a pay cheque for at least a few weeks.

  11. B.U David:I would hope ‘POSTINGS’ like that above are not a ‘one day
    wonder!’ People and politicians should constantly be reminded about the dangers to our environment; our future is at stake.
    Some of us are aware of ‘postings’, ‘RE- monsanto’ and the dangers our environment.
    I have not come across one politician who has publicly denounce
    such practices.It is my belief that no politician would speak out
    while in office, no matter how he feels about the subject in private.
    Just cast our minds back to how good DDT was; the warnings by many ‘doctors/scientists’ about the dangers of many drugs, appproved for use today.
    We have also read about the threats to the livelyhood of employeees working in such firms, who have stuck their necks out to warn the world of the dangers many of those drugs tested and found to be a serious threat to the ‘person’, yet many are still is use today Has anyone seen the exploding melons growing in China for consumption and perhaps export; ‘the tainted milk issue in China and God knows what else!
    I think the tide has swung against us; I cannot see how it can be turned around.
    The seaweed we are seeing on the coast has been spotted some time ago off the coast of Canada, up North. I have never known or heard of so much seaweed to be deposited on beaches around the world like what we are seeing now. Is it because of chemicals?” Are our eco-system now being threatened or is this an on-going process?
    Technology: Is making strides; has anyone stopped to think how this is impacting the environment?
    Who and what are responsible? My answer is somewhere!
    Who are the real people behind the economy?
    I have read for some time, the high level of mercury in salmon for many years; the high level of sulphur in diesel and the high level of lead in petrol.
    Lead in petrol was discontinued by majority of countries, now being replaced by MPTE.This can have a devastating effect on the environment; it is not easily broken down; yet it is still widely used. For many years we have seen an increased in many types of cancer and other diseases. We tend to gloat about the advances in medicines and yet we cannot find a cure for cancer. We observe Billions of dollars spent to send people to the moon yet we cannot find a cure for ‘the cold’.
    This is all about money and who controls money.
    I am outa hey!

  12. When last have you seen butterflies, local honey bees, doctor bubies? Are they bordering on extinction in Barbados? People get vex when I say Dr Denis Lowe and his Ministry aint doing a thing to protect de environment.

  13. Wi-fi, Birds + Bees and Electrosensitivity – All in the National News – Again
    As people all over the country and the world wake up to the true scale of the problem that Mobile Phone Masts, Wi-fi and other “wireless” microwave technologies have become we welcome the continuing Press coverage.
    The Independent on Sunday [06-05-07] contained an article entitled “Town rejects mast to save bees after IoS report” following on from previous reports linking the decline in bee colonies to Mobile Phone Masts – with the interesting addition that “This was supported yesterday by Ferdinand Ruzicka, emeritus professor at the University of Vienna. He revealed that two-thirds of the beekeepers he surveyed who had a mobile phone mast within 300m had suffered “unexplained colony collapse”.

    Professor Ruzicka believes the radiation may increase the insects’ vulnerability to disease.” One link that wasn’t mentioned, but is the subject of other Scientific studies, was another article in the same issue entitled “Britain’s maligned moths suffer drastic decline” – (David Attenborough, championing the “Moths Count” campaign might be interested to know that the number of moths in at least one area appears to have dropped substantially in the last 2 years since the introduction of 3G Mobile Phone Masts. The poor creatures initially sat on the ceiling in line with the signals from one mast, obviously disorientated, before being found dead a day or two later. If this is typical it is not surprising they are in decline!). Finally 2 more letters corrected some points from the previous weeks’ letters about Wi-fi.

    The Independent on Sunday [29-04-07] continued with a piece entitled “Scientists demand inquiry over Wi-fi ” quoting Professor Henshaw of Bristol University as saying that “‘The research hasn’t been done – we cannot assume that wireless networks have no effects'”. The BBC had a similar piece “Wi-fi laptop fears for children” this had the bizarre advice from Professor Challis that “we should also discourage children from placing their laptop on their lap when they are using wi-fi”. Hmm. Features were also in the Daily Telegraph “Warning on wi-fi health risk to children” and on Sky News “Warning Over School Wi-Fi Systems” in the preceding week.

    A second article entitled “Birds and bees are hit by phone waves ” highlighted the crucial point that birds and bees both navigate using the Earth’s natural electromagnetic field and that so much artificial “electrosmog” from Mobile Phone Masts and Wi-fi etc. are causing birds and bees to get lost [and eventually die exhausted elesewhere].
    The Sunday Times also had an article entitled “SPARROWS may be disappearing from British gardens” in similar vein to the Independent on Sunday.

    Friday’s Daily Mail [27-04-07] focussed on Electrosensitivity sufferer Sarah Dacre and her difficulties in living in electrosmog. Entitled “The woman who needs a veil to protect herself from modern life”

  14. “Cell Phones Don’t Increase Cancer Risk in Kids.” From USA Today to CBS News, variations of this hopeful-sounding headline now abound after yesterday’s release of a new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

    But experts have some serious concerns regarding the methods and conclusions of the first study evaluating the connection between cell phone radiation and brain cancer in children and teens. Not only was the study flawed, they note, but it was also financially supported by the cell phone industry.

    “To have moms assume that kids using cell phones are safe is the wrong conclusion to make,” Devra Davis, president and founder of the consumer advocacy group Environmental Health Trust, told The Huffington Post.

    After looking at brain tumors and cell phone use among about 1,000 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 19, European researchers determined that kids who averaged one or more weekly cell phone calls over a period of at least six months were not at an increased risk of developing a brain tumor compared to peers that were non-users. Overall, less than 15 percent of the children and teens had spent more than 4 years as a cell phone user.

    “It’s ridiculous to think that because you didn’t find a significant increase in brain cancer among kids that now cell phones are safe,” added Davis. She likened the study to looking at 16-year-olds who smoked as children to see if they had lung cancer. “You’d find nothing,” she said.

    Dr. Keith Black, a brain tumor expert at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, agreed. “It usually takes decades of exposure for a person to be at an increased cancer risk,” he told The Huffington Post, adding that the extent of the exposure observed in the study was extremely small.

    “It’s interesting that most of the studies that have shown a correlation between brain cancer and cell phone use have tended to look at long-term exposure — at least 10 years — and at higher doses such as using a cell phone for 60 minutes or more each day,” said Dr. Black. “Studies that have tended to not find a link looked at short-term use — maybe an hour or so a month.”

    Unlike ionizing radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays, which are strong enough to damage the DNA in cells, far less is known about the cancer-causing potential of radiofrequency waves emitted by cell phones. What’s more, most of the studies thus far have only looked at adults. Adults, however, absorb about half as much radiation while using one of the devices compared to children.

    The latest addition to the conflicting assortment of studies was partially supported by money from mobile communication companies. However, senior author Martin Roosli of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel, Switzerland, told HuffPost that the industry “did not have any say” in how the study was conducted. The author of an accompanying editorial that affirmed the finding is employed at the International Epidemiology Institute, which has reportedly received funding from the telecommunications industry.

    Published yesterday, the study also comes on the heels of Tuesday’s unanimous ruling in San Francisco that will soon require all local cellular retailers to post radiation exposure warnings on every phone and hand every customer education material. The city’s mayor is expected to sign the ruling into law within the next week, with more cities likely to follow San Francisco’s lead, according to Ellen Marks, director of government and public affairs for Environmental Health Trust. Berkeley, Philadelphia and New York City are among those looking to impose similar legislation.

    In an interview with The Huffington Post, Marks suggested that cities had been waiting to see how San Francisco fared. Their legislation had been previously tabled after a lawsuit from the cell phone industry, which claimed that the measure violated their first amendment rights.

    Such a warning is not unprecedented. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission already requires a safe distance warning with every cell phone. (For example, a Blackberry is not to be held closer than an inch from the body.)

    “But it’s in very fine print and hidden in a manual. Nobody reads them,” she said. “People have right to information to make safe choices.”

    Roosli acknowledged that some uncertainty still remains concerning more intense cell phone use over longer-time periods. “We studied mobile phone use as reflective of the early 2000s. At that time it was quite expensive for young people and most did not use mobile phones a lot,” he said. “So things might have changed.”

    Still, he maintained that the study “does not indicate that there is some major risk” and that people “can be quite confident that less than five years of moderate mobile phone use does not cause cancer.”

    The World Health Organization (WHO) came to a different conclusion after evaluating the evidence. They determined that mobile phones are a “possible carcinogen,” listing use of the devices in the same category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform, CNN reported.

    Overall, there are an estimated 4.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, according to the WHO. That number is growing, with use among children in particular on the rise.

    Both Dr. Black and Davis admitted that they still own two cell phones each, but are careful to use a headset or speakerphone, and only make calls in areas with good reception.

    “The best thing is to simply get in the habit of turning your phone off,” added Davis, emphasizing the importance of these precautions for kids. “Do you really want to run an experiment on your children like we did with tobacco?”

  15. I’m glad to see an environmental issue being discussed…so often we pay lip service to or gloss over issues coming from the natural world as if we are not part of that world. We also have a tendency to see the environment as a vehicle to be exploited solely for the benefit of the human race without seeming to recognize that exploitation incurs penalties. In a small land space with such a large population, I too think that we use far too many insecticides and herbicides. An individual spraying copious amounts of malathion may not realize that a few hundred yards down the road, individuals may be breathing in micro droplets carried by the wind. Or those individuals who spray the contents of a can of insecticide in a closed room to kill a harmless gecko lizard (poison lizard) without realizing that they have committed two grievous sins. First, they have removed a predator which consumes large quantities of potentially disease bearing mosquitoes and secondly, the toxins released may very well trigger the development of some underlying cancer years down the road.
    Bees do seem to be in short supply and when swarms are found, the reaction seems to be to destroy them. Bats are also not seen for what they are…very efficient consumers of potentially dangerous insects. I don’t see any companies in the Yellow Pages advertising the sale of bat houses (there really are such things), but I do see advertisements by companies willing and ready to eradicate bats through the use of some form of poison. Is this widespread use of toxins really related to the high incidence of many types of cancer on this island? These are issues which should concern us.
    Butterflies and humming birds (Doctor Boobies)can be encouraged by planting specific types of flowering plants..i.e. sage or Antigua heath. Our innate sense of order ( a very Barbadian characteristic now undergoing dilution) sees “bush” i.e. natural vegetation, as unsightly. We like a tightly controlled environment…neatly mowed lawns. However, an acre of bush has many more life forms in it than ten acres of relatively sterile lawns.
    The unprecedented deposits of sargassum weed on both sides of the Atlantic (beaches in West Africa are also being affected) is cause for concern. It is unsightly and as rightly pointed out by the authorities, may cause tourists to stay away…nobody wants to sun or swim on beaches covered with mounds of rotting vegetation. But more importantly, what does this incursion of weeds mean? If as many scientists think, oceanic currents which control the Sargasso Sea have altered, is this a temporary phenomenon? Will things go back to normal next year? Are there more significant climatic changes underway? Is the melting of the Arctic icesheet in any way related?
    Misery they say loves company…but if you all think we have it bad, consider the islands to the north with their many bays, now all clogged with the weed. Antigua, St Martin, St Barts on and on…. We can and should clean our beaches carefully without destroying our greatest environmental success to date, the many turtle nests…that will be an on going exercise as there are huge rafts of the weed several square miles in diameter on their way down. I don’t entirely agree with Mr Francklyn. Yes people can be paid to clean, but a community effort driven out of genuine concern and not just its cash rewards, has many spinoffs, not the least being an appreciation of the complexities of nature and underscoring the fact that contrary to the arrogant and widespread human belief of invincibility, we are still part of a system in which change is a constant.

  16. Dr Watson, you and I are voices in the wilderness. It seems the government is determined to start burning waste at a cost of $400 million dollars while we have sun which can be tapped with zero waste. A Permanent Secretary told me recently that the 10% waste which is not recycled such as tree trunks can fuel a WTE plant. THUS ANOTHER DECISION MAKER WHO WAS WINED AND DINED BY THE SELLERS OF THIS TECHNOLOGY WHO DOES NOT HAVE A CLUE.

    Recently, the Arawak Cement Scrubber broke down and production was not stopped while persons had to inhale excessive amount of ash. Do you all remember the amount of ash persons had to sweep up. Arawak was not fined!

    Can Dioxin be sweeped up of washed up.

  17. The Future Centre Trust is fighting a losing battle trying to get Barbadians understand an unhealthy environment leads to an unhealthy existence which leads to a higher death rate.

  18. Sacred Economics: Chapter 7, “The Crisis of Civilization”
    by Charles Eisenstein

    We have bigger houses but smaller families;

    more conveniences, but less time.

    We have more degrees but less sense;

    more knowledge but less judgment;

    more experts, but more problems;

    more medicines but less healthiness.

    We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,

    but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbor.

    We built more computers to hold more copies than ever,

    But have less real communication;

    We have become long on quantity,

    but short on quality.

    These are times of fast foods but slow digestion;

    Tall men but short characters;

    Steep profits but shallow relationships.

    It’s a time when there is much in the window

    But nothing in the room. –Authorship unknown

    The financial crisis we are facing today arises from the fact that there is almost no more social, cultural, natural, and spiritual capital left to convert into money. Centuries of near-continuous money creation have left us so destitute that we have nothing left to sell. Our forests are damaged beyond repair, our soil depleted and washed into the sea, our fisheries fished out, and the rejuvenating capacity of the earth to recycle our waste saturated. Our cultural treasury of songs and stories, of images and icons, has been looted and copyrighted. Any clever phrase you can think of is already a trademarked slogan. Our very human relationships and abilities have been taken away from us and sold back, so that we are now dependent on strangers, and therefore on money, for things few humans ever paid for until recently: food, shelter, clothing, entertainment, child care, cooking. Life itself has become a consumer item.

    Today we sell away the last vestiges of our divine endowment: our health, the biosphere and genome, even our own minds. Pythagoras’s dictum, “All things are number,” has nearly come true: the world has been converted into money. This is the process that is culminating in our age. It is almost complete, especially in America and the “developed” world. In the “developing” world (notice how these terms assume our own economic system as the destination of other societies) there still remain people who live substantially in gift cultures, where natural and social wealth is not yet the subject of property. Globalization is the process of stripping away these assets, to feed the money machine’s insatiable, existential need to grow. Yet this strip-mining of other lands is running up against its limits too, both because there is almost nothing left to take and because of growing pockets of effective resistance.


    Various pundits have observed that Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was not so different from the financial industry’s pyramid of mortgaged-based derivatives and other instruments, which themselves formed a bubble that, like Madoff’s, could only sustain itself through an unceasing, indeed exponentially growing, influx of new money. As such, it is a symbol of our times — and even more than people suppose. It is not only the Wall Street casino economy that is an unsustainable pyramid scheme. The larger economic system, based as it is on the eternal conversion of a finite commonwealth into money, is unsustainable as well. It is like a bonfire that must burn higher and higher, to the exhaustion of all available fuel. Only a fool would think that a fire can burn ever-higher when the supply of fuel is finite. To extend the metaphor, the recent deindustrialization and financialization of the economy amount to using the heat to create more fuel. According to the second law of thermodynamics, the amount created is always less than the amount expended to create it. Obviously, the practice of borrowing new money to pay the principal and interest of old debts cannot last very long, but that is what the economy as a whole has done for ten years now.

    Yet even abandoning this folly, we still must face the depletion of fuel (remember, I mean not literal energy sources, but any bond of nature or culture that can be turned into a commodity). Most of the proposals for addressing the present economic crisis amount to finding more fuel. Whether it is drilling more oil wells, paving over more green space, or spurring consumer spending, the goal is to reignite economic growth — that is, to expand the realm of goods and services. It means finding new things for which we can pay. Today, unimaginably to our forebears, we pay even for our water and our songs. What else is left to convert into money?


    I sometimes read the financial website Zero Hedge for its remarkable insight into the pretenses and machinations of the financial power elite. In that website’s dim view, no asset class except physical gold and other physical commodities is safe today. I agree with its logic as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. If the system breaks down to the point of hyperinflation, then the institution of property — as much a social convention as money is — will break down too. In times of social turmoil, I can’t imagine anything more dangerous than possessing a few hundred ounces of gold. Really the only security is to be found in community: the gratitude, connections, and support of the people around you. If you have wealth now, I recommend, as your investment advisor, that you use it to enrich the people around you in lasting ways.

    In the meantime, before the collapse of the current system, anything we do to protect some natural or social resource from conversion into money will both hasten the collapse and mitigate its severity. Any forest you save from development, any road you stop, any cooperative playgroup you establish; anyone you teach to heal themselves, or to build their own house, cook their own food, or make their own clothes; any wealth you create or add to the public domain; anything you render off-limits to the world-devouring Machine will help shorten the Machine’s life span. And when the money system collapses, if you already do not depend on money for some portion of life’s necessities and pleasures, then the collapse of money will pose much less of a harsh transition for you. The same applies on the social level. Any form of natural wealth, whether biodiversity, fertile soil, or clean water, and any community or social institution that is not a vehicle for the conversion of life into money, will sustain and enrich life after money.

The blogmaster dares you to join the discussion.