Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Green Haiti is a saved Haiti...Part 1

I was trying to edit my post and somehow deleted it instead. Sigh... I think it might be best if I post my paper in parts. It's seem way to long to be a blog...I am second geussing this whole thing...

Man has been endowed with reason, with the power to create, so that he can add to what he's been given. But up to now he hasn't been a creator, only a destroyer. Forests keep disappearing, rivers dry up, wild life's become extinct, the climate's ruined and the land grows poorer and uglier every day.” [Uncle Vanya, 1897- Anton Chekhov]

All aboard the “Green” Train
Lately, it seems that everyone has gotten the “green” band wagon. You can’t turn the television on or open a magazine with out being accosted by and advertisement for another green product. There are websites such as www.greenhome.com and there are a surprising amount of magazines, such as, Positively Green and Organic Gardening that are dedicated to helping you live a more sustainable lifestyle. The popular cable channel HGTV, is having it’s annual dream home sweepstakes, in “which some lucky HGTV viewer” will win a fully decorated and landscaped home. Usually the home has a theme. 2009's theme was “Green”. According the HGTV website, the house will be built with environmentally friendly materials. Consideration has been paid to the construction and building materials, which are locally made and do not release dangerous fumes and can be rapidly re-grown or recycled. The home will come equipped with low energy appliances and come stocked with environmentally sound cleaning products. The water and energy consumption will be at 50% less than that of a conventional home and the air quality will be controlled by sealing off or exhausting unwanted dirt and fumes. Lastly, the landscape was designed to conserve water, as well as provide fresh herbs and produce for the homeowner. (http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv-green-home-2009-giveaway/package/index.html)

While some of the ideas and ads we are being bombarded with may seem contrived, the fact is that our planet will not be able to withstand the demands that we place her forever. The United States contains only 5% of the world’s population, but contributes 22% of the world’s carbon emissions. This means that as Americans, we contribute the equivalent of 54,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person per year—or about five times the emissions of the average global citizen. Scientists today refer to this measure of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted during daily activities as a “carbon footprint.”
(http://www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/activities/art19631.html)

So indeed, we are being bombarded with all this information and perhaps some people think that it is all just doomsday predictions being made by hysterics. However, the fact is that deforestation is happening at an alarming rate around the globe.

Global Ecological Woes
Brazil, which has the largest rainforest in the world, has suffered a devastating loss of trees and natural grasses. Between May 2000 and August 2006, nearly 150,000 square kilometers of forest—an area larger than Greece—and since 1970, over 600,000 square kilometers (232,000 square miles) of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed. (www.mongabay.com) The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. report states that the effects of deforestation can be classified in three ways:

1. Environmental effects: Decreased soil fertility from erosion; runoff soil into aquatic systems; premature extinction of species; loss of habitat; climate changes; release of CO2 into the atmosphere and acceleration of flooding.
2. Local social effects: Indigenous people, become victims of Transmigration—which is forced removal, and most times, lose not only their homes but also their way of life. In addition of losing all that is familiar to them, these same Indigenous people, who have spent generations living in total isolation, very often fall victim to disease after coming in to contact with logging industry employees. Soon, if the rampant deforestation that is happening does not cease, these native people will meet the same fate as their counterparts did after being “discovered” by foreigners. (i.e. Christopher Columbus)
3. Global social effects: Forest degradation and land clearance are significant causes of Forest Fires, greater chance of flooding and contaminated water sources. With the removal of so much forest and trees, the water from rains will not be absorbed, resulting in mudslides, flooding and disease.

Focus and Concentration
I am someone who, in general, cares about the world I live in and all that embraces, decent treatment of all humans and animals and being mindful of my impact on the planet. I have a faith that industrialized countries, with a sound infrastructure, will be able to make a positive impact as far as the environment is concerned. My focus and passion, however is for the country that is barely keeping itself afloat. A country, for example, like Haiti.
I am a first generation Haitian-American and I love Haiti. I can say with complete authority that my Haitian-ness makes me who I am. The older I get the more I feel as though it is in my destiny to be a part of the equation that helps save her. Haiti is in desperate need of help. Many people, I am quite sure, will say that Haiti’s environment, when compared to the socio-economic and public health issues that are plaguing Haiti, can wait. I disagree. I am convinced that once Haitian people learn to respect their environment, learn how to plan, preserve and cultivate their environment, the problems facing Haiti would not appear to be so insurmountable.
I grew up going to Haiti. I will always remember how I used to vie for that window seat; one of my most favorite parts of the plane ride to Haiti was that amazing view you got when you flew right over the island. There was such anticipation of my first glimpse of the lush green mountains and the blue, blue ocean. As the years have gone by that view has changed enormously. What was once green and lush is now brown and dry. Why? In the past 20-30 years Haiti has been gone through a radical deforestation, and today Haiti’s forests have virtually been eliminated.

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