March 7, 2010
By Carol Matroo
Preserving the environment concerns everyone and the Catholic Church of Trinidad and Tobago is doing its part to protect and promote authentic human development and environmental ecology which are inextricably linked.
To protect the earth, the Catholic Church has drawn up a draft framework towards an Environmental Policy for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain entitled Reconciliation With Creation.
The draft framework was revealed two weeks ago at the Our Lady Fatima RC Church, Bushe Street in Curepe, two weeks ago.
Chairman of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice, Leela Ramdeen, said the church has always urged mankind to care for, preserve, develop and restore the environment because they were given the responsibility to “cultivate and care for” God’s creation.
Ramdeen said the draft framework was a call to reflection and action to address the environmental/ecological crisis which Pope Benedict XVI described as a “moral crisis.”
The Pope, in his peace message for 2010, said “Our earth speaks to us, and we must listen if we want to survive.”
She said the objectives of the draft framework were to bring the gospel and the teachings of the church to bear on the issue of environmental/ecological justice, to raise awareness of the church’s commitment to promote human and environmental ecology, to identify resources and ways in which people could preserve the earth and to motivate individuals and organisations to take responsibility for their environment.
Keynote speaker, agriculturist and COP’s shadow minister of agriculture, Wendy Lee Yuen, said as the world’s industrialisation was increasing, so, too, were the carbon dioxide emissions.
She said pollution levels had reached unacceptable heights and burning fossil fuel only exacerbated the carbon dioxide level.
Lee Yuen said climate change was bringing rising sea levels, arctic warming, increasing green house gases (carbon dioxide and methane) and frequent cycles of El Nino which contributed to droughts, noting that 2010 was the hottest year recorded thus far because of El Nino.
These factors, she said, were causing a noticeable decline of coastal wetlands, higher risk of flooding, severe heat and drought and increased forest and bush fires. She warned that the grasslands were changing into deserts, the water levels were declining, crops were failing and animal production was being severely depleted.
Lee Yuen Said the oceans were heating up which was fuelling more storms and coral reefs were dying also because of the warming of the oceans and noted that the loss of bio-diversity increased vulnerability to climate change and diseases.
In this country, the Government has stated its policy to advance the use of alternative fuels and has committed to the reforestation of 33,030 acres of land in ten years. Carbon dioxide emissions in TT increased by 278 percent from 1998