TODAY is being celebrated as World Environment Day. Here in Jamaica and in many places, the day has gone by without recognition in many of the last 50 years since the idea was born at the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden.
For many, talking about the environment is not sexy. For others, it is seen as an inconvenience for academics and uptowners who are ‘comfortable’ economically and not for the poor man struggling to make ends meet each day. So why should we even care? Why should a business publication even focus on this topic?
The reason is simple. Our economic future, that is, our ability to earn and live on this planet, is inextricably tied to the environment. Sustainable growth that brings prosperity cannot be attained in the face of environmental degradation. Remember, we earn from exploiting resources on our planet. The farmer in St Elizabeth needs land and water to grow food. These come from the environment. They also grow raw materials for the manufacturing sector using resources found in the environment. The bauxite companies mine the red earth from the environment and process it to make alumina which we ship overseas to be processed into alumina which goes into a range of products from aircraft to cars, refrigerators, microwaves, and television sets.
Rare earth found in Jamaican bauxite has been explored, though not developed, and these are used in the complex electronics that are so essential to modern life. The newspaper you are reading this in is printed on paper that are made from trees. The gasoline to power your vehicle comes from the earth. The examples are numerous and we could go on and on showing the link between the environment and the economy and the fact that prosperity or poverty are all linked to how we treat our environment.
This Sunday, in even a limited way, we want to draw attention to the environment and hope to lead a new discussion around the need to protect it because if we destroy our planet, we will have no future to enjoy the spoils of our exploitation of Earth’s resources for economic gain.
As the United Nations Environmental Programme says about its theme this year: “In the universe are billions of galaxies. In our galaxy are billions of planets. But there is #OnlyOneEarth. Let’s protect it.”