Express Editorial : Daily

World Environment Day 2020 arrives with the news that notwithstanding the dramatic Covid-19-induced reduction in carbon emissions, the level of carbon dioxide in the air is at its highest in recorded history.

The point to recognise is that it is going to take a lot more than a couple of months of decreased industrial activity to alter the ominous trajectory of climate change and everything that comes with it.

On Monday the 2020 hurricane season officially arrived with impacts yet to be unfolded. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, a hurricane disaster is a real threat for undoing what has already been achieved. Given Trinidad and Tobago’s location in the shadow of the South American continent at the southern end of the Caribbean, we are usually sheltered from the worst the season can bring. However, our experience of storms and devastating flooding should be enough to make us prioritise preparation at the institutional and individual levels.

One worrying development linked to Covid-19 anxiety has been an apparent increase in slash-and-burn farming as more and more people move to secure their food supply and earn income. This problem is particularly acute in the Northern Range which is also under pressure of illegal quarrying which the regulatory authorities have failed to halt. Repeatedly, it is left to communities to confront illegal and sometimes dangerous law-breakers. It is a shame that the entire chain of government, including the Minister of Energy and the Director of Mines, allows the free-for-all in the quarrying sector. For this and more the Environmental Management Authority must take responsibility. While there are many good professionals at the EMA, the authority’s general policy direction belies a willingness to genuflect to the State at the expense of effective environmental management.

Perhaps it is too much to expect the EMA to stand up to governments willing to overlook the environmental impact of certain foreign investment and vanity projects. Certainly, the political nature of some of the key appointments at the EMA militates against such independence.

Today’s World Environment Day is an opportunity for the Prime Minister and his Road to Recovery team to review their plans and proposals from the perspective of the environment. Every initiative should be put to the test on a scale that weighs the pros and cons in terms of the impact on the environment and the future well-being of T&T.

For the rest of us, today is also an opportunity to rebalance our lives and bring it more in harmony with the needs of nature. The youth who are witnessing the devastation of their natural inheritance are already leading the way on the environment. The older generation whose lifestyles and values have created much of the mess must join them and accept their lead.

This year’s World Environment Day theme of “Time For Nature” calls our attention to the urgency of this moment. T&T’s environmental problems are a symptom of a deep-rooted culture of neglect, disrespect, and ignorance about the value of the natural environmental.

Continuing to refuse to change our collision course with Nature is to accept that our fate is sealed.

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Newly-released video of the police involvement in the Beetham protest in which the pregnant Ornella Greaves was killed calls for a serious review of the statement by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith that no officers were around when she was shot.

While the public is yet to see the video on which the Commissioner has based his claim, new video clips being shared on social media show a large number of police officers, with guns drawn, descending on protesters and shooting in the midst of the protesters with their hands up chanting “Don’t shoot”.

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines “unreality” as “the quality of not being or seeming to be real”.

Will what awaits us after August 10 subdue the unreality that normally pervades a general election campaign in Trinidad and Tobago? Will we be real?

My principal but probably vain hope for the general election, to be held on August 10, is that it will not polarise the country further.

Realistically, one cannot hope for more, and it is mamaguy to feed us dreams of unity and overcoming, while our leaders are likely to engage in verbal warfare, way beyond the so-called cut and thrust of political debate.

I met Sophia Chote only once, but was enchanted by the intellectual sophistication and emotional maturity of her columns. Her writing reminded me of the quali­ties that one found in the thinkers of the romantic movement of the 19th century: a belief in democracy and republicanism, an appreciation for the sublime and transcendence and, most of all, a belief in the power of imagination.

I don’t know why Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar thought it necessary to appeal to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to invite a team of observers from The British Commonwealth and/or Caricom to witness the conduct of the general election that will take place on August 10.

This letter is addressed to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. Sir, following the recent protests staged by the people of severely challenged communities over the killing of three residents, you have made a masterful response and appointed a committee to undertake an analysis of the situation and make recommendations on the way forward.