The role and function of ports cannot be viewed simply …

Even before the end of June, the Summer of 2019 was already being labelled one of the hottest on record. North Americans, some stripped to the waist in public places, were trying to deal with temperatures that often exceeded 107ºF/42ºC … hotter than mostwould have experienced in a lifetime.

Meanwhile, in Europe, as daytime temperatures climbed above the 42ºC mark, people of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France et al watched temperature records broken in successive days. June 2019 was declared ‘the hottest June on record’ (Records at the Royal Meteorological Institute in Belgium date back to 1833). At the same time, Baghdad, Iraq was scorching at 43ºC in the shade. As temperatures rose, so did the death count directly (including heat exhaustion and heat stroke), indirectly related to the heat wave. Drownings in France, for example, were up 30% as more people went to the water to escape the heat.

Earth will survive

The Summer of 2019, with its record-breaking temperatures across the planet, may well become the watershed (pun intended) moment in history when mankind came to realise that the Earth will most likely survive climate change at the rate that it is occurring – but that mankind will not.

Have we been too passive, unconcerned, disinterested, unmoved by the warnings of scientists the world over?

The Caribbean region depends heavily on a clean, green, pristine environment for economic survival because Tourism is the main pillar of the national economies of nearly all the countries in the Caribbean Sea. Tourists seek after lush, verdant, clean, scenic, spaces. Environmental disasters therefore tend to have a greater impact on the peoples of the region for this reason. Environment protection is therefore a bread-and-butter issue.

Lion fish

Ports must protect

Portside Caribbean has relentlessly kept the challenge of controlling the proliferation of non-indigenous species in focus. In this regard, the transport of non-indigenous aquatic creatures in ballast water has been addressed. Realistically, one small bug, a thousand miles from home, could ultimately destroy the economy of a country.

The role and function of ports cannot be viewed simply or limited to merely receiving ships; storing and delivering cargo … as important as that is. Ports must also apply local and international regulations and controls in order to avoid environmental catastrophes. In this regard, responsibility for the ships entering and using the port cannot be avoided or treated as trivial.

As regards invasive species, the port is, at once, the first and last line of defence. []

  • First published July 1, 2019

Mike Jarrett, Editor-in-chief