Earth Day will be recognized globally on April 22nd of next week, but festivities have already begun to bring awareness to environmental conservation. For as we learned today, Earth Day is every day, as we should all seek to protect the earth and its natural resources daily. Today the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Belize held its annual Earth Day fair, where booths dedicated to public awareness on Earth protection were on full display. The global theme for this year’s Earth Day is The Face of Climate Change.
Devon Saldano – Coordinator:
The main objective of Art Day is to raise awareness for whatever environment issues that we’re focusing on. Each year we have a specific team, and from that team everything matches up. The team for this year is addressing “The Face of Climate Change – If not now, when?” So as a result of Climate Change, we have all our booths, all our competitions, everything. Our shirts, as you can see, focus on Climate Change.
In short, climate change refers to a long-term shift in the earth’s atmosphere; one that has the potential to negatively affect our environment, community and even the economy. We’ll get into that a bit later, but first, here’s more about climate change and how it occurs.
Carina Paz – UB student:
Today we’re focusing on the Climate Change, and we all know that we as humans are having some great impacts on the world’s climate, and how temperature rises in the world because we are using so much fossil fuels. We’re contributing to deforestation, and many things that affect the temperature of the world. What is Climate? We have here some brief explanations. What is Climate Change? Climate Change is simply the rise in the temperature. What causes Climate Change? We have the changes in the Earth’s orbit, using the amount of energy received from the Sun, ocean changes and volcanic eruptions.
At present, the effects of climate change aren’t all that visible, but within the next twenty years, Belize alone will see grave damages to its various sectors. Irrigation demand that will not be satisfied due to lack of water and then in the coastal areas – beaches will become eroded and ocean acidification will occur. Other effects will be stronger storms, infectious diseases, weather related moralities, a prolonged dry season and decrease in rainfall. Not to mention loss of habitat, loss of species and rise in sea level. The Environmental class expounded on the possible rise of our marine levels.
Diva Montero – UB Student:
When the earth gets warmer, obviously the ice caps have to melt and the oceans will rise. This model depicts a simple way of how this happens. This is before when there is a lush core reef. As you can see here, there are animals, there are people inhabiting, and there’s rich farmland, because the plants are growing and all that. After a few decades, or a few hundred years, the Barrier Reef will die completely because the Barrier Reef needs a certain depth for it to survive, as right there. But this is completely inundated, so the Barrier Reef will die out.
When the water floods, it will bring in sediments, such as dead coral and sand and dirt which are in the sea. This will push back, and the sand will cover the land. Eventually, if this continues to rise, it will contaminate the river with salt water. and animals cannot survive on salt water, neither can plants.
So what is being done in Belize to mitigate the effects of climate change? Climate Change Officer in the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Colin Mattis, explained.
Colin Mattis – Climate change Officer:
For the national level, Belize has been doing wonderfully in trying to avoid the use of fossil fuel to produce energy. There’s hydro. There’s biomass. There’s wind energy. There’s solar energy. The people of Belize will know that the use of hydro-power for energy in Belize is something that has been happening for a long time. But a lot of research and investigations are currently being carried out to try to facilitate the use of biomass, wind, and solar, so that Belize can not only avoid the use of fossil fuel even more, but be energy independent, and not be dependent on the import of energy from its neighbours.
Colin further shared how you can play a part in this fight.
Colin Mattis – Climate change Officer:
There are some other things that even the local people can do. Like, for instance, more car pooling, to use less of the cars that we use every day. For instance, I was asking one of the students hoe many people can fit in a bus. She said 72 people can fit in a bus. Then I asked her, which one will be better mitigate the effects of climate change, having 72 people driving 72 cars, or having 72 people fit in one bus? And she said that the bus is better. So these are some of the things that we’re trying to teach people. Avoid the use of transportation that use fossil fuels if you can. You could do more walking. You could do more riding. You can catch a bus. You can car-pool.
And while the Earth Day awareness Fair is held once every year, the NRM department shared with us some other environmental works happening at this moment.
Joaquin Magana – NRMP Lecturer:
Presently, apart form our day, we have other outreach community projects. we also have projects that the University is sponsoring. We have a couple of projects that are focusing on water-sheds. They’re looking at in what state the Belize River is, looking at the nutrients and the heavy metals. And also they’re looking at wells up in Corozal, in the North, to see how these wells are being affected by climate change.
Devon Saldano – Coorinator:
The Environmental Club at UB tries to raise awareness, and get the community involved in whatever task we’re doing. Sometimes we do outreach projects in terms of the Green Walk, helping with cleaning up everything. We also try to incorporate our paper recycling and our composting shed, which we have at the back there. So basically, we just try to do a lot, and raise environmental awareness, and once again have the community involved.
Tomorrow we’ll you tell you about an innovative means of recycling; we’ll also bring you an event on empowering today’s young generation.