THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am writing in response to Mr Ronald Mason's misleadingly titled article, 'Environment vs job, economic development' (Gleaner, Aug 18, 2013), where Mr Mason prioritised 'jobs, jobs, and more jobs' over the irreversible alteration of marine and terrestrial ecosystems along the south coast for the proposed port development.
If we look to the United States, to the post-Hurricane Katrina and Sandy economy, for example, we see the US is restoring natural wetlands and beach sand dunes, along with declaring 'no-build zones'. Their priority: to protect human life and property through improved management of the 'free' ecosystem services provided by natural features of the seascape and landscape.
The US is not looking to compromise development by restoring functional natural ecosystems; rather, it is looking to identify the most productive, valuable services of its coastal landscape, such as shoreline protection, along with other services such as sustainable fisheries.
As the Jamaican Government explores the feasibility of a new port in Jamaica, my hope is similar to Mr Mason's - that the public will be given the assurance that a proper environmental impact assessment will be conducted, one which is valid and transparent in valuing ALL services - natural, cultural, and socio-economic - of the Portland Bight Protected Area. That valid alternatives will be discussed. That cumulative effects across an already compromised seascape and landscape will be evaluated. And that the process will not merely be tokenism to endorse decisions already taken in the absence of proper, comprehensive assessments.
Can sustained economic prosperity exist in the absence of a productive, healthy natural environment? Who will reap the benefits of a new port? Who will bear the costs, and for how long?
Sherwood Content PO, Trelawny