Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Burning Season

As soon as the rains stop, the fires start. It's particularly prevalent at this time of year as folks clean up for Christmas. Upper class households with regular garbage collection burn, communities with no garbage collection at all burn, construction sites burn, government agencies burn, official projects using taxpayer money to "spruce up" burn vast areas of land - and complaints to public health and environmental agencies yield not an iota of action.

The Gleaner covers this today at http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20081223/lead/lead3.html

In my neighbourhood (middle class, very central), fires are burned at dawn and dusk every day, unless it's raining. I go to bed with a headache and wake up with one. And like many such areas, our garbage collection service is regular. On a recent drive to the western end of the island, I counted over thirty large fires - not including the small, four-breadfruit-leaf-dem type of fire at the side of the road. As noted in the Gleaner story, some fire-setters use vehicle tyres to give a good, black and highly toxic smoke.

Where are the public health and environmental agencies? Where are the public health inspectors, the environmental wardens, the police? Is there any more fundamental right than that of drawing unpolluted breath?

1 comment:

Freakytype said...

There is so much ignorance in Jamaica...and so much hunger - who can care about the environment when they can barely care for themselves?
The environment has become a luxury. Environmental issues didn't even mean anything to me until recently -and I was an uptown Kingston girl - so I can just imagine those who live in rural areas right along the very precious natural resources -