Off The Charts

BY now, you have probably seen the satellite imagery of Hurricane Irma which has revealed a large, organized and dangerous mass of swirling cloud with wind speeds exceeding 185 miles per hour. The space-based imagery allows the beauty of this Category 5 hurricane to be safely and cooly observed from a distance, which must conflict with the terror being felt as it continues to blast its way across the Caribbean.

The sheer size of a hurricane, which easily dwarfs all the islands in the chain, is remarkable and we should hope and pray for the safety of our Caribbean people. Thanks to technology, including the brave souls who fly reconnaissance aircraft into stormy conditions, we can measure and, hopefully, better understand these powerful weather events.

The insignificance of our islands in comparison to a large storm should allow us a moment of reflection. While we struggle to maintain a semblance of order and control in running our affairs and deal with our ills and inadequacies, we are continually buffeted by stormy winds both local and foreign.

Sad but true, we might even be better off psychologically if bad weather was a more regular feature of our existence. If we were always busy securing property and livelihoods from impending storms, floods, tides and other natural dangers, do you think we would exercise better judgement? Would we still have the time to tolerate our questionable behaviour?

How dare I say so? Let’s see:
* The callous littering of our landscape (and backyards, too) is disgraceful;
* Building resorts along the seafront and near the high-water mark is unsustainable;
* Pretending that we have another beautiful island to inhabit if we destroy this one is mindless.

These actions and behaviour tell a story. Even without advanced computer models, we can use our accumulated knowledge of events to predict and perhaps avoid unfavourable outcomes. Who thinks we should continually bear the controversial expense involved in de-silting rivers instead of investing in education or programmes for planting trees to protect rivers and slopes? If we started covering our gutters and drains and placing more bins at street corners, would we still tolerate littering?

Environmentalists have long predicted the expected rise of sea levels, the lifetime required for the breakdown of plastics in the environment, plus the cleanup cost and health impact of easily-forecast events. Large-sized problems demand large-sized changes from regular people, more so from big thinkers or leaders. Incremental changes may help, but applying the same short-term fixes and ignoring lessons from the past places us on a slippery slope, just waiting for the perfect storm.

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.


About the Author
Dr. Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia, offering expertise in systems analysis, design, and development.

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