martes, 23 de septiembre de 2008

Environmental crisis: how far will we get?

Alejandro Rutto Martínez

La Guajira, Colombia / Environment – It is 7 o’clock on a Wednesday evening and suddenly the sky starts to turn white around the Universidad de la Guajira, in Maicao. Somebody beside me wonders what is going on and before I can answer, another one of my neighbors steps forward: "this is not a passing cloud, or fog. They are particles of sand that float in the air.
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They come from a neighboring mill. Every single house in the neighborhood have suffered damages caused by the saltpetre. Without having had the issue in mind, we end up talking about the multiple facets of environmental pollution.
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For several decades now, experts in environmental issues have been issuing an insistent warning: the world is about to reach its limits, and sooner or later, nature will make us pay, and we will have to pay dearly for the boldness of having abused nature, which has been so noble and generous and has provided us with everything our species has needed in order to live.
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Nonetheless, having a good life doesn’t seem to be enough according to the religion of the avaricious. That is why the planet has been plundered, stricken, victimized and spoilt… and the consequences are there to be seen. Today we don’t speak of environmental crisis as a future event, but as an imminent, devastating fact, and in some cases, irreversible.
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The matter is no longer a far-off, hypothetical and ethereal tomorrow, which will probably never come. It is a phenomenon of our days, evidence we can see as part of our normal daily life. For those of us who live in hot lands, television is generous in showing us the images of other regions, thus we have witnessed the melting of glaciers which were considered eternal. The announcement made in the past that the poles would melt has started to happen and the consequences will slowly show in the coastal regions of the world.
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But there’s more to it than that. Global warming can be felt and not only in the thermometers. The land, the oceans and the skin suffer from the excessive heat. And, according to what the experts are announcing, temperature will continue to rise. What will happen to the planet when the temperature reaches maximum limits? And how will the inhabitants of the zones where average temperatures are 37°, without global warming?
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And there’s even more: intensive rains in normally dry and semi-arid areas such as the Guajira. Sudden downpours, without announcement of grey skies, thunder and lightning. And the subsequent floodings of areas where poverty is the constant companion of the inhabitants.
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Further still: shores that have suffered deforestation because of the action of man; rivers carrying garbage and chemical waste (also because of the irrational and ill-fated action of man), and finally the shocking scene of our times: rivers dying of thirst and which only show signs of life during the rainy season. And there’s more… a lot more: acoustic contamination, progressive destruction of the ozone layer… and so on.

Close to the cemetery, in Maicao, several Wayüu women sell petrol bottled in disposable plastic bottles. The smallest bottle is worth $1,000. Behind, in a shop run by Paisa shopkeepers, they sell the same bottle filled with purified water at $ 1,200. Holy Jesus! Today water is more expensive than fuel. The world is reaching its limits, and this is a fact, not a
tale.
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Alejandro Rutto Martínez is a prestigious Italian-Colombian writer and journalist who also teaches in several universities. He is the author of four books about ethics and leadership and has been published in three anthologies of Colombian writers. You can see his writings in MAICAO AL DÍA, a page where you can find writings, chronicles and pieces of beautiful Colombian literature. This article was published in: http://www.articulo.org/autores_perfil.php?autor=525

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