Features — 09 August 2017 — by Colin Hyde
A big pause

The Page B story in last Friday’s Amandala, “We’ve already exhausted the amount of resources that Earth can produce in 2017—at the fastest pace ever”, should encourage all Belizeans to take a big pause. We are a small nation, our consumption and pollution are but a drop in the ocean, but it is our drop, so we should be concerned.

In the story, an excerpt from the Business Insider, written by Ashley Williams, there is a quote from Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, the CEO of the Global Footprint Network and co-creator of the Ecological Footprint. He said, “Research shows that humanity’s demand is about 70 percent faster than what Earth can renew”. And there is this quote from the Global Footprint Network, to further expand what Wackernagel said. Here goes: “Humans would need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to accommodate our consumption level.”

You know you just have to face the truth. Greed is a huge factor in this ecological footprint. Here’s another quote from the World Watch Institute: “Comprising only about 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans use about 25 percent of the planet’s coal, 26 percent of its oil and 27 percent of its natural gas”. But there is no satisfaction there. They want more and more and more! In that incredible world, there are pastors who use Jesus’s words to help them amass mansions, many mansions, and jet planes. It’s SHOCKING…Their dogs have more material goods than most people!

In our part of the world we can’t comprehend why a slogan like “Make America Great Again” resonated, how it could have carried the day in their (the USA’s) last election. We know what they were talking about. They were talking about material wealth. Really, how much do these people NEED?

You know you just have to face the truth. There is a truth about population size. There are seven billion people on the planet…seven billion people to feed, clothe, and shelter. Hmm, I shouldn’t be having this discussion because I am my parents’ seventh child. In the beginning, God told man and his wife to multiply.

Ah, my friend, Mr. Shak, he says that there is only one explanation for people who have few children—SELFISH. He says that people in this world who have few children are people who don’t like to SHARE.

Mario Fernandez, a Belizean chemist who was my superior for a couple years, says it’s not so much to do with selfish. He says that families of old used to have many children, of necessity, because that was the only way to secure the family line. Mortality rates were very high in the old world. Thanks to modern medicine, the odds for a child making it to adulthood are far greater now than in the past.

Hmm, to limit population means sex without procreation. Now how some people achieve that runs the gamut of human imagination. The church teaches a thing called “rhythm.” This must be the least effective method to do it without producing another mouth to feed. Regular-secular people promote a thing called contraception, a device that is proven to be very effective. And there is this other group who take no chances. Their methods are one hundred percent effective. But a lot of people sneer at it, so it’s not really consequential.

We know that in the beginning, this multiplying had a lot to do with human beings taking control of the earth. Families had to be large because labour was needed to do things. The traditional farming family had to be large. Hands were needed to fall the forest and plant/harvest the corn and ground food.

Bill Lindo says that we need to increase our population 2 or 3 times, if we want to become materially rich. If you are in the production sector, you make things to sell. For people who process food and drinks, make music CDs and books, the more people to buy, the more likelihood of you paying your bills.

But it is built into this world that a little bit of everything is good, and too much of anything noh good fu nothing. There’s this story where Peter and company were having a bad day. Jesus came by and told them where to cast their nets…and their nets were filled with fish to the point of bursting. There are still fish stocks in the world, but everyone in Belize believes that infomercial with the guy who explains that the total catch is getting smaller, and the size of the fish and lobsters is getting smaller.

When my mother was a young girl, she and her dad used to pick up one pound lobsters on the shoals. One day my mom was with her dad in his sailboat, Victory B, and he stopped by Emily (Cay Glory) to visit with some friends who were working that “grouper bank.” My mom said she saw a man paddling a dory that was full, to the gunnels, with roe. Those fish stocks aren’t there anymore.

Fish stocks have been depleted because there are more mouths to feed. The technology has something to do with it too. Nets have been around a long time, from before Jesus’ days. But some of these nets of today are HUGE. This 2014 www.dailymail.co.uk story is almost beyond belief: “The CornelisVrolijk…is one of the largest trawlers in Europe: a mighty 370-ft long, capable of hauling in 150 tons of herring and mackerel each time she throws her giant nets overboard.” The world’s fish stocks just don’t have time to replenish after such assaults.

Ms. Williams’ story alerts us to the finiteness of the world’s core resources. Human beings will find other sources of energy and all that, so the greatest concern isn’t the oil and the coal that the Americans are hogging up. The greatest concern has to do with the world’s water and the world’s trees,the consequent degradation and pollution that go with consumption, especially those who are consumed with greed.

Little Belize, we are “a drop in the bucket”, but we must commit to being the best country we can be. We must shine our light. The conservation groups are some of our most important NGO’s. We cannot let go of our mangroves and our forests. True, we need development, but the cost must not be like the cure that is more painful than the disease.

There is the garbage and there is the human waste. Respect to our political leaders for improving the disposal system for solid wastes. But we can do a lot more here. Most of us know the right thing to do with garbage but we won’t do it until it becomes “culture.” A nation needs effective leadership to turn correct practice into a way of life. Garbage must be separated…vegetable waste, animal offal, paper, metal containers, and plastics. Vegetable waste must be turned into compost. Animal and fish offal must be turned into feed by a competent agent. Paper must be recycled. These things are basic. The garbage dump must handle most of the plastics and metals.

Most human communities (all) are located near to rivers and the seacoast. Our treatment plants for human waste are not that effective. The water quality in our rivers and on our sea coast is getting worse. Who in heck wants to bathe in infested water? The website www.beachapedia.org says that “Swimmers in sewage-polluted water (or even just ‘normal’ urban runoff) could contract any illness that is spread by migration and inadvertent ingestion of fecal-contaminated water.

Viruses are believed to be a major cause of swimming-associated diseases, and are responsible for many cases of gastroenteritis, hepatitis, respiratory illness, and ear, nose, and throat problems. Gastroenteritis (commonly referred to as ‘stomach flu’), which can also be caused by bacteria, is a common term for a variety of diseases that can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, nausea, headache, and fever. Other microbial diseases that can be contracted by swimmers include salmonellosis, shigellosis, and infection caused by E. coli (a type of enteric pathogen). Other microbial pathogens found at varying concentrations in recreational waters include amoeba and protozoa, which can cause giardiasis, amoebic dysentery, skin rashes, and pink eye.”

That’s the story about our water that is near to civilization. It isn’t good and it’s getting worse.

A farm improvement that was introduced some time ago is the biogas digester. Animal wastes are collected in a large tank, fermented, and the gas produced is collected to run lights. There are pockets that are ready-made for the biogas digester. Belize City collects much of its waste in a sewer lagoon. Belmopan also has a sewer system. It is natural that all areas where people live in close proximity will have sewer systems. Human waste isn’t good for producing gas but in the correct system it can be turned into fertilizer for tree crops. Then we can drink and bathe in once again pristine rivers, and bathe in once again pure waters on the coast.

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