Tomorrow is Earth Day, an event first observed in 1970 to raise awareness of the fragility of our planet.
Originally planned in the United States as a one-off event, Earth Day was so popular, it became an annual holiday observed in many countries around the world.
It would be easy to discount the importance of observing Earth Day here in the Cayman Islands, which is so small and so little populated that it cannot have much of an impact on the global environment.
However, Cayman has seen a surprising number of environmental issues arise over the past couple of years, highlighting the importance of Earth Day even here.
Hurricane Ivan uprooted many of Grand Cayman’s trees, which, compounded with years of land clearing for development, has left the island much less green, and with much less shade, than before.
Ivan created a lot of manmade debris and also seemed to increase the tendency of people littering, and there’s more fast food wrappers, empty soda cans and similar trash on the ground than ever.
Another Ivan problem concerned the toxic ash caused by burning pressure treated wood debris. The resulting ash contained arsenic, which threatened to seep into our limited groundwater supplies.
The ash ultimately ended up being encapsulated at the George Town landfill, which was already an environmental enigma as it continues to rise and threaten to become Grand Cayman’s highest point.
We’ve also had reports of coral bleaching in our reefs recently, something probably caused by global warming, but possibly exacerbated by stress caused by pollutants.
The issue of overcrowding at the Sandbar in North Sound has also been raised recently, with concerned environmentalists looking at the possible long term effects the overcrowding could have on the surrounding ecosystem, including the stingrays that frequent the area.
Dolphins have also been a big environmental topic, not only for the moral issues of having them in captivity, but for the possible effects their wastes could have on the ocean when they are brought here.
The Government, the private sector and grassroots organisations are addressing some of the various environmental issues we face.
Still, there is much more to do. Everyone can make an impact by changing just some of their lifestyle habits. Those interested in finding out how can visit the www.earthday.net website for a list of 10 things any person can do to help keep our fragile earth healthy.