EDITOR, The Tribune.
Battered and bruised, The Bahamas is now the most recent island-nation to experience global warming’s wrath. Our scattered, low-lying islands and atolls are just a few feet above sea-level which puts us in a position of acute risk to the impacts of climate change. Hurricane Dorian’s unprecedented power is a dark foreshadowing of the changing weather patterns of the future. Aside from the increase in frequency and intensity, the sea-level rise so closely associated with climate change threatens to wipe The Bahamas off the map entirely.
And so, we are faced with a sink or swim dilemma that has never weighed so heavily on our merry shores. Plastic is one of the most pervasive pollutants on Earth. Single-use plastics are accelerating climate change and effectively, sinking the Bahamas. Plastic production is ever-expanding and it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage. From production to refining, to the way it is managed as a waste product, plastic is lethal and halting production could be huge for our survival.
Marine plastic pollution has really taken centre stage and become a major global concern. Strangely, however, the protracted correlation between plastic production and climate change has not been a focus. Disposable plastic packaging or ‘single-use plastic’ makes up for 40% of the current plastic industry. Annually, around eight million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans which is the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck’s entire load into the ocean every single minute (The Global Citizen, 2019).
It has long been clear that plastic threatens the global environment and puts human health at risk. But it is also equally as clear that plastic, like the rest of the fossil-fuel derived economy, is putting the climate at risk too. Ninety-nine percent of plastic is made from fossil fuels and in order to decelerate the rate at which climate change creeps in we must end plastic production or we’ll literally be swimming in it (The Guardian UK, 2019).
Befittingly, the Ministry of Environment & Housing (MOEH) is gearing up to launch its Plastic Ban on January 1, 2020. MOEH will impose laws to inhibit the importation and distribution of various single-use plastics to reduce our environmental impact and move towards progressive, green alternatives. I am thrilled to see our government finally steering us away from the choking clutch of plastic. The Bahamas will be joining many other progressive countries and cities around the world that have taken a stance in this war against plastic, including The United Kingdom, Taiwan, France, Canada, and Trinidad and Tobago, to name a few (The Global Citizen, 2019).
I applaud Prime Minister Minnis and his delegation’s recent trip to the United Nations in New York, where he urged the global community to reduce its plastic waste to keep us afloat. Many of us are entirely convinced that “The Bahamas is not a real place” – we have trouble keeping the lights on and may be struck by the intention of a stoplight, but lo and behold, we can get rid of plastic knives and forks ahead of other “first-world” countries. At least we’re doing something right.
Now we are bracing for a new kind of storm, the ‘conscious capitalism’ kind, where we are about to take a huge leap towards sustainable living. The removal of plastic from our day-to-day existence in the capacity that we currently know it will be an enormous step for us! Many of my friends from abroad have contacted me and congratulated us on taking this bold stance in helping to reduce plastic use and waste on our shores. Hopefully many Bahamians and residents will be inspired to act in the hope of creating “a bright and wonderful future” that generations of happy young Bahamians can look forward to.
October 2, 2019.