• JIS News

    As the nation marked World Environmental Health Day on Sunday (September 26), the Webster Memorial United Church on Half-Way Tree Road hosted an environmental and sustainable living forum as part of its harvest sermon.

    The event explored current environmental issues and encouraged citizens to become stewards of the environment by adopting eco-friendly practices.

    General Secretary of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Rev. Norbert Stephens, in his address said that “proper stewardship of our environment leads to sustainable living and concern for the environment, which causes us to respect human life and dignity”.

    “The challenge is we are not all practising this. God has given us the freedom to use the resources he has provided but he also challenges us to use them responsibly,” he noted.

    Rev. Stephens said that in mitigating the effects of poor environmental stewardship, individuals must introspect and find ways they can adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle.

    “To positively impact the environment we need to, at times, sacrifice convenience; we can carpool, walk some distances and avoid plastic or polystyrene pre-packaged natural food items sold in grocery stores,” he suggested.

    He said that institutions such as the church play an influential role in bringing about positive behavioural change to safeguard the environment.

    “The role of the church is to help people understand what the key elements and risks of our actions or inactions are, and this area applies to environment protection. I believe that institutions like churches should retrofit their operations to incorporate eco-friendly practices such as using solar panels and rain harvesting,” he said.

    Pastor of the church, Rev. Astor Carlyle, who moderated the proceedings, noted that “the earth is speaking to us through all the natural disasters happening globally, and we need to do better in safeguarding the gifts God has given us”.

    “We need to start making deliberate choices that will benefit the environment and preserve it for the future generation – recycle, reuse and conserve. With the population growing and resources being depleted, this has  serious implications on food security and social welfare,” he contended.

    Rev. Carlyle said adopting a sustainable eco-friendly lifestyle may seem difficult, but it starts with one small act after the other. He charged persons to think about how they are contributing to the degradation of the environment and how they can correct their actions.

    “Caring for the environment starts with small and simple activities such as planting a tree, starting a backyard garden, practising proper waste management and limiting your usage of plastics,” he pointed out.

    Coastal and Environmental Engineer, Danielle Dowding-Gooden, who formed part of the discussion panel, noted that poor environmental practices have resulted in climate change and rising sea levels, causing coastal loss.

    “Our marine life is suffering, including our coral reefs, which help to filter water, create sand, and serve as barriers that break the force of storm surges and high waves,” she pointed out.

    For his part, Director of the Meteorological Service Branch within the Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change and President of the Regional Association of the World Meteorological Organization, Evan Thompson, said reports highlight the drastic increase in local temperatures and changes in weather patterns.

    “So, what we are seeing in the meteorological service is that temperatures are rising throughout the day and even throughout the nights. We are getting more intense drought periods and more severe flooding,” he shared.

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