“Barbados… you decide”
Dudley Ellis of Harrison College took 1st Place honours and won a cool $1,250 in the Age 14-18 category of the 2011 national Canada-Barbados Environmental Essay Contest.
Hey, I’d be smiling too!
Here is Dudley’s winning essay…
Why is the Environment Important to Barbados?
Too very often we look at the environment as something that provides aesthetic pleasure for both locals and tourists alike. However, have we ever consciously taken the time to contemplate what Barbados would be like without a healthy environment? A disease-ridden, desolate and underdeveloped rock is what one could hazard as the possibility. The benefits to be derived from the environment are too numerous for one to exhaust. Among this myriad of advantages, things such as economic sustainability, improved general health of the populace and social inclusiveness are of key note.
Many people fail to see the bridge between the environment and the economy. Barbados, a country whose main foreign exchange earner is the volatile industry of tourism, must have a healthy environment if it is to continue. Our beaches, reefs, cane fields and caves are just some of the magnets that attract thousands of people to our small country year after year. Agriculture, industrial processing and even where one may reside are all decided by the environment. Poor management through accelerated soil erosion, depletion of arable land, contamination of both air and water degrade the environment to levels that make it unsustainable. If we destroy the natural resource we have today then what are we leaving for our future?
Dengue, tetanus, E. coli and pesticides in our water are some of the disastrous effects resultant from our neglect of the environment. Healthy surroundings not only reduce illness but allows for the cultivation of herbs and other plants that help to fight disease and promote life. Hotels who pump their waste into our sea, farmers who overuse fertilizers and pesticides and squatters who choose to live in areas where they can directly affect the water course are all writing a death sentence on our country. Even the cars on the road that billow black exhaust into our atmosphere create a plethora of respiratory problems that can affect Barbadians in the long run. Tell me, should a child develop asthma from smog inhalation that could have been avoided?
Since the environment impacts each of us, it is fair to say that all Barbadians are charged with the task of caring for it. Caring for the environment by planting trees, cleaning gullies and beaches as well as reducing pollution in its various forms nurtures a feeling of nationalism. When we as a country understand the true value of our surroundings then we can harness its maximum potential. This social inclusiveness has spillover effects such as improved waste management plans, reduced pollution and increased environmental longevity. Collectively, this augurs well for our development as a nation and a people.
Consequently, it is clear to see that the environment is of paramount concern for Barbados. Our economy, health and nationalism are all impacted upon by the state of our environment. The environment isn’t just our present but it’s our future as well. So I ask, “Barbados, tropical island paradise full of life and vigor or desolate, inhospitable death bed?” You decide.