Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Sacrificing for the environment this Lenten season

Published:Friday | February 27, 2015 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor

From living Styrofoam-free for a day to reducing bottled-water consumption, Jamaicans have been challenged this Lenten season to make a sacrifice for the environment, in the interest of, among other things, a secure climate future.

The call has come from the Jamaica Baptist Union, the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, which have collaborated to launch what is being called a 'Carbon Fast'.

"We are asking people to consider changing, in small ways, for the good of the environment, bearing in mind that our behaviour is a part of what is causing the problem with the environment," said Baptist and physicist Professor Michael Taylor, one of the organisers of the initiative.

"The carbon fast is a call to look at the environment and what we can do in its favour," he added.

Climate change, for example, which manifests in impacts such as sea-level rise and warmer temperatures, is fuelled by human activity, including fossil-fuel consumption.

 

adopting new actions

 

The fast, which will run through to April 29, is designed to have participants mull such actions while making light work of meeting the challenge through the adoption of new actions.

To make this happen, organisers have built a website - http://carbonfastjamaica.com - that is complete with resources, including a 40-day guide to successfully completing the fast.

Among other things, each week has been given a theme, notably

'Simple Living', 'Forest and Food', 'Energy and Transportation', 'Water', and 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle'. In line with each theme, is a slew of recommended actions for each day, including:

n Sorting plastic items for deposit;

n Supporting a beach clean-up during or after Lent;

n Beginning a 'Paperless Monday' effort;

n Taking shorter showers; and/or

n Doing repairs instead of throwing things out of the home.

"People agree that the environment is important, but they don't know what they can do. This then becomes a tangible thing that people can do for the environment," Taylor said.

The initiative, meanwhile, has won the endorsement of the Climate Change Division (CCD).

"It is important to connect environment and climate issues to moral and spiritual issues," said Gerald Lindo, senior technical officer for mitigation at the CCD.

"It is about the way we live our lives, and because there has been so much inaction at the high level of discussion on climate change, a part of the movement is to reawaken people's moral sense."

Small island developing states, including Jamaica, have been using the morality card to make inroads at the level of the international climate talks, given their small size, struggling economies and high vulnerability to climate impacts.

"People are dithering in the negotiations while people are dying, losing homes and so on. So we need to remember that it [climate change and the environment] has a moral element and so the fast is a good thing and as many people as possible should get involved," noted Lindo, himself undertaking the fast.

Now over a week in, it appears to be gaining traction. Up to February 23, the website analytics revealed 1,119 page views from 349 users from 10 countries, primarily Jamaica.

Taylor said his hope is that Jamaicans will come away from the experience with "a recognition of the importance of the environment [and] that our quality of life and actions - whether they be individual or national actions - have an impact and we should be aware of that impact".

"We are apart of the created order as human beings," he concluded.

pwr.gleaner@gmail.com