Raise Your Voice, Not The Sea Level: The Caribbean on World Environment Day

Scanned film photo of the coastal area surrounding the Toco lighthouse on Trinidad's east coast. Image by Taran Rampersad, used under a CC license.

Scanned film photo of the area surrounding the Toco lighthouse on Trinidad's east coast. Image by Taran Rampersad, used under a CC license.

Planet Earth is our shared island, let us join forces to protect it.

So said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the launch of the 2014 International Year of Small Islands and Developing States. His message seems particularly relevant to the Caribbean – not just because World Environment Day this year (June 5) focuses on the impact of global warming on small island nations – but also because the host country is Barbados, a regional territory that is being recognised for its pioneering efforts in solar energy.

In keeping with this year's official slogan, “Raise Your Voice, Not The Sea Level”, Caribbean netizens weighed in on the issue of climate change and how it is affecting small islands. Guyana, which can be considered neither small nor an island, but certainly counts as a Caribbean territory, had one blogger with a personal perspective on the issue:

Slowly, slowly, people, we destroyin’ an amazing gift, a miracle, yet some can't see. I want to show you this beautiful thing today, World Environment Day, hoping to inspire people to clean up.

She posted snippets of her own journal entries, which offered a new perspective on how we consider the environment:

May 9, 2014: …the sun's risen, is casting golden light on the silver sea. The sea shimmers with such beauty, I can't take it in, I have to look away.

Nov. 20, 2013: Why does it matter to me, the health of earth, sky, sea? Because my health depends on it. Yours and your children's well-being too.

Oct. 13, 2013: In the past, they ran and played by the sea, in the open fields, in trees. What will children of the future talk about? ‘We clicked on websites'?

Mar. 5, 2013: They think I'm nuts, a crazy woman begging the sane. ‘Please don't use pesticide, weedicide, it will pollute the sea, the things we eat.’

Jamaican diaspora environmental blogger, Labrish, thought that solutions to the climate change situation might be found via ecopsychology and deep ecology:

In the face of the dire news on the latest climate change casualties that greet us each morning, how are we going to steady ourselves, build psychic, mental and emotional muscle to face it, and be supportive in our communities?

She referenced the work of Joanna Macy, an environmental activist and educator who has been trying to reconnect people with their wider communities and, by extension, nature.

Barbadian diaspora blog Bajan Reporter marked the day by republishing a statement by Mikael Barfod, Head of the European Union delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in which he addressed the challenges that small islands face when it comes to sustainable development – both economically and environmentally.

Havana Times offered a Cuban perspective on World Environment Day:

Its aim is to raise awareness about this delicate issue, which endangers the very existence of small countries (that could one day be left beneath sea-level). Many parts of the Cuban coastline could be endangered if this occurs.

The blogger thought it was important for people to realise that “the environment constitutes everything around us: biodiversity, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the mineral resources we use and society as a whole”:

In its insatiable impulse to amass wealth, humanity has degraded nature to such an extent that, should this trend continue, there might not be enough natural resources on the planet to sustain human life in a some years’ time.

The Twitter feed for #World Environment Day is here.


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