Trinidad and Tobago Express
WHILE the rest of the world observes Earth Day today with various ceremonies, one local environmentalist is predicting harsher times if something is not done soon about this country's level of carbon emissions.
Earth Day in Trinidad and Tobago will pass like any other and while no major events have been planned, local environmentalist and economist, Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, feels that if people do not pay attention to the environment, major conflict is inevitable.
He says the current indiscriminate use of global resources means that a survival "war" is likely to erupt for whatever is left, warning that Trinidad is likely to become "a carbon rogue state" if the present rate of industrial growth remained unchecked.
The 2007/2008 United Nations Development Programme report states that this country's emissions measured 24.9 tons of carbon dioxide per person in 2004. This compares with the 20.6 tonnes per person in the United States.
Environmentalists say that carbon emissions are directly related to the greenhouse effect: sunlight enters the atmosphere and warms the earth, and while this is critical to life, the problem occurs when that sunlight becomes trapped because of the amount of greenhouse gases in the air. The earth then becomes gradually warmer. This global warming can lead to polar ice melt, increased sea levels, coastline erosion and climate change.
John Agard, chairman of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), said sea levels measured in 2007 showed that the waters on the north-western coast were rising at 1.3 mm per year and the south-western coast at 1.6 mm per year.
He said the incremental increases were possible due to accelerated climate change and global warming.
The EMA has submitted a number of standards and penalties to manage carbon emissions to Cabinet.
EMA managing director Dave McIntosh says the Authority has suggested the imposition of high fines to serve as a deterrent. Industrial first-time offenders would be fined $10,000, with an additional $5,000 fine for every day the pollution persists.
He said Cabinet was expected to decide on the report within the next two months.
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