Features — 22 August 2018
Too much tourism brings problems

It would turn one’s stomach if one were to imagine what’s inside the belly of those floating beasts, those bilges filled with water contaminated with oils and lubricants and spilled diesel and detergents and soap, and waste from people. Squeamish isn’t always good because on some matters you can’t play the ostrich. We have to know that there is effective monitoring of those massive ships, these floating towns with 2,3,4,5 thousand people on board. We need to make sure that the waste on those ships stays on those ships, not leak into our waters.

How does Harvest Caye handle the load? Those little cayes weren’t made for that quantity of traffic. Are Placencia and Seine Bight safe from the toxins and the algal blooms that result from effluent, liquid waste that is dumped (or seep) into the sea?

This Stake Bank development, will it be standard practice that tourists do their bathroom business on board ship, before they come on shore? What will happen to Belize City and the surrounding cayes and reefs if the sewer system on that Stake Bank isn’t 100% efficient?

I am told that in the early part of the 20th century, “bathing kraals” were common on the shores of Belize City. We are in the holiday months of July and August. You bet the children in PG, Dangriga, and Corozal Town, are bathing in the sea in front of those sparsely populated towns. On any given day the sea in front of Belize City should be dotted with a thousand joyful little heads, frolicking in pristine waters.

The BWS website explains that treatment of waste water in Belize City is “provided by a two-cell facultative lagoon system and the treated effluent is discharged into the Caribbean Sea via canals cut through a mangrove wetland. The lagoon cells operate in series and are designed to provide 10 days hydraulic retention time in each. The system presently serves some 37,500 consumers and treats about 1,500,000 gallons of sewage per day.”

Condemn me for inexpert conclusions, but I don’t think that is sufficient. It’s not that I don’t believe that our engineers and technicians are capable, but I know how we cut corners when it comes to waste disposal. Indeed, every country does.

If waste isn’t disposed of properly, it could overwhelm the environment. www.epa.gov says that “wastewater contains nitrogen and phosphorus from human waste, food and certain soaps and detergents. Once the water is cleaned to standards set and monitored by state and federal officials, it is typically released into a local water body, where it can become a source of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.”

But there is also the matter of pathogens associated with the human gut. www.pollutionissues.comsays waste water “can contain body wastes containing intestinal disease organisms… In many parts of the world, including in the United States, health problems and diseases have often been caused by discharging untreated or inadequately treated wastewater. Such discharges are called water pollution, and result in the spreading of disease, fish kills, and destruction of other forms of aquatic life. The pollution of water has a serious impact on all living creatures, and can negatively affect the use of water for drinking, household needs, recreation, fishing, transportation, and commerce.”

So, even in the richest country in the world, they have their difficulties. There’s a lot of dangerous stuff in the bellies of those big ships. We must make sure that that extra which comes on those ships, stays onboard, to be properly disposed of when they get back to their home turf.

I am one who was more for “regular folk” tourists to come and enjoy the beauty of our country. You know I’m not with those elitist types who only want to cater to the rich and famous, the high end people. But I had to yield. In this instance more wealth and smaller numbers is better. It has to do with the waste produced. It is more or less the same, whether yu rich or yu poor. But volume counts because we have to deal with it.

We know we don’t have the best waste water treatment system in the world. We know it costs a lot to improve our system. While we work toward that glorious day, when nothing impure enters our rivers and creeks and sea, we have to ensure that we are not compounding the felony. We don’t need any overload.

Accepting the difference between   “I” and “we” in sports

I heard a white female sports commentator, and a black male sports commentator, on ESPN, being a little harsh with Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott, because he said he is not with kneeling during the American national anthem, as a form of protest to white racism in America. Dak said he believes in protesting injustice, but that sports should be left out of it.

The hosts of the show argued that Dak failed to acknowledge that the kneeling had won $90million in support for programs to address injustices in America, and had inspired many other initiatives too.

The author of the kneeling during the playing of the US national anthem before NFL games, Colin Kaepernick, is, like Dak, from a group in America that is called “Black Americans.” But they have different backgrounds, weren’t cultured the same way.

Kaepernick is the child of a white American mother and an African American father. His father abandoned him before he was born and he was adopted by white Americans.

Prescott’s father is African American, and his mother is Native American/English. His parents divorced when he and his siblings were very young. Dak was raised by his mother, but his father was a part of his life.

Dak’s mother was a very strong woman. There’s a comment by Dak’s brother, Tad (I can’t recall the source for this comment), which says a lot about their upbringing. Speaking for the Prescott boys, Tad said: “We see both sides of everything, and we know what there really is to be upset about. Our mom taught us the difference between the need and the want.”

Maybe Kaepernick’s mom is a strong woman too, but it is not likely that she would have/could have forced her vision upon her adopted multiracial son. I have read that she and his dad (her husband) are very supportive of his career and his decision to protest in that fashion.

There is something else about Dak’s mother that we cannot overlook. They say she was a woman (she died of cancer some years ago) who loved football (sports). This brings me to the critical weakness of Mr. Kaepernick’s protest.

There are two “types” of sports¯there is individual, and there is team. There is a huge difference between the “I” in individual sports and the “we” in team sports.

Muhammad Ali was in an “I” sport (boxing), and so were Tommy Smith and John Carlos (athletics). These men put their careers on the line for their beliefs. Muhammad Ali believed that the Vietnam War was an atrocity, and he used his career to say that. In the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Smith and Carlos protested directly against racial inequality in the USA.

Colin Kaepernick and his colleagues have a great cause (racial injustices), but they’re in the “we” game and you can’t kidnap your team. There are people on a team who might have other issues. Immediately Kaepernick kneeled, we saw a female soccer player go to her knees to protest the treatment of LGBT people in the USA who want to get married. Watch people who are gung ho on kneeling to protest racism in America, get upset when people kneel to protest laws that stop gay men from marrying.

On a roster with 20 or 50 people, you can have as many different causes. A sports team is not a political party. We understand that in politics there are strange bedfellows. The political party has to find a way to keep all these strangers under their tent.  In sports you leave your beliefs in your house. Of course, the team has to be concerned about personal and collective issues. But a team is about the business of winning games, not in effecting political change.

There is only one instance in sports where the business of the team gets trumped. That’s when nations meet nations. To a large extent, countries will gloss over political and other differences with other countries of the world. But there are times when the difference is so great, a nation will tell another nation, “I don’t want to play in your yard.” A nation has that right. A nation has every right to “use” sports for the end of protecting its political interests.

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Deshawn Swasey

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