GUEST EDITORIAL: Tomorrow is too late
In early May 2013,- I wrote in part and in this newspaper the following;
“It’s up to us (local environmentalists) to educate and prod those in power to wake up and do something about the changing climate. The limited resources allotted to this Island both by nature and those devised by mankind need to be used wisely.”
Since that time I’ve come to learn that there are a few (but growing in number) caring people on Island and in government who do understand the seriousness of the approaching environmental problems and are at least talking about doing something to prepare for the effects of climate change.
For example at the end of May the Am. Samoa 350 Environment Youth Group (as well as other interested youth and persons) were invited to the ASG-EPA “Water Month” celebration. Those in attendance were made aware of the various governmental agencies (Local and Fed) that provide services to the public.
A few weeks later ASG-EPA invited the Am. Samoa 350 Youth Group to tour their new building. Proudly pointing out the LEED (in Energy & Environmental Design) system, its Solar system, and how the building is near zero in energy purchasing requirements. (In fact on many occasions it sells energy back to ASPA).
The many considerations to the design that make the building and the surrounding grounds eco-friendly and energy efficient is a standard that the government (ASG) would be wise to employ in all new public construction. Our local businesses would do well to consider LEED type energy saving systems in their building projects as well. (I’m pretty sure Wall-Mart didn’t go solar because they are environmentalists).
Anyway, after the tour of the testing lab and as we were leaving the building I noticed a bottled water system for the staff's drinking purposes. The irony of that fact is that after several million dollars and many years of promises and while standing in this state of the art building with its modern lab, and with an agency that is dedicated to protecting the Public and the Environment, they are forced (as are we) to drink bottled water.
When you are forced to buy bottled water from a grocery store the price ranges from a low of $3.79 to a high of $5.33 per gallon (12 & 16oz. bottles). ASPA water (if and when you can drink it) costs a little over a half a cent per gallon. (the current wholesale price for a gallon of gas is $4.06 per gallon.)
Not only are you paying nearly 100 times (or more) for bottled water over ASPA water but you are also contributing to the degradation of the environment. Water bottles are plastic. Plastic is manufactured from petroleum-based materials. (although there is a recycling program underway)
Lots of blame to go around for these problems and until now ASG, the ASG-EPA, and ASPA has pretty much failed the public. One can only hope that with this new administration’s theme of “People First” and with Utu “Abe” Malae back at ASPA, and Ameko Pato at AS-EPA things will be steered onto a proper course.
The damage to the planet’s eco-system from the use of petroleum (Fossil Fuel) products (to date) has not been factored into what the use of these materials does to our food supply. Until now the true cost of pollution of our air, seas, and land masses has not been factored however, there will be a day of reckoning and nature will and is responding to the careless human excesses of the past.
In the Pacific Ocean, an area the size of Texas (Northern portion of the Pacific High) is jam packed with discarded plastic materials. (This phenomenon can clearly be seen from space.) In the Western parts of the United States and Australia fires have and are driving up the price of food as farm and pasturelands have been destroyed. Heat waves are raising havoc with the natural rhythm cycles of animals, plants and both fruit and forest trees (all things that we eat or help us breathe). Many of our cousins living on low laying islands and shores are already feeling the effects from melting polar caps and raising sea levels as they are forced to change their lifestyles.
Somebody is going to have to pay for the reckless damages being inflicted on the planet, and its not going to be the insurance industry. Insurance companies bet, and make their money on calculating risks. Their recent position on environmental damage is to stop insuring and “Raise awareness to the risk of climate change, transition to a low carbon economy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because that will ultimately create a more resilient society.” (if these guys are backing off, how long before FEMA does the same?)
We’re all in the same boat and it’s beginning to leak faster and faster. We’ll have to bail faster and faster to keep up… OR, we can figure out where the leaks are coming from and begin to make repairs.
The local 350 chapter is concerning itself with devising strategies that can be effective in spreading the climate change message. In particular its effects (now and in the future) to the Pacific Islands and our Territory.
We invite you to join with us in this effort: R. Dale Long- 733-2014, Sandra Purcell- 258-8095, or on our Facebook page - Am. Samoa 350