Sunday, January 13, 2008

Burning tires in paradise


We spent our weekend working downwind of a neighbor's burning. Here the common practice is to throw a tire in the mix of burning brush to support combustion. So house, laundry and our lungs were filled with burning tire smoke for two solid days. I had a two day sinus headache. And that doesn't even compare to the environmental impact of this practice. Who cares about global warming and air pollution? Throw another tire on! Never mind that 85 % of a tire is carbon--making them another source of greenhouse gas emissions. Never mind that burning tires emits serious levels of carcinogens and mutagenic material into the air. According the EPA, our neighborhood should have been evacuated or we should all have worn respirators this weekend.

Mr. Wizard has fought this battle more than once. He has argued vehemently with hired workers that they are never to burn tires on our land, and he has met consistent incredulity. "But that is what we do here..." He has to repeat the mantra frequently: no tire burning, no tire burning, no tire burning...

Here on the Nature Island, not only do we have the inevitable pollution of a refinery imminent, but we have the ongoing and time honored practices of tire burning, noise pollution, and general littering to cope with. There is a disconnect here between the goal of preserving the island and all things natural, and the reality of entitled destruction. Sometimes it seems to me that the island is honored only as long as an eco tourist with dollars is listening.

Please, Dominica, don't just pour your energy into developing a tourist "product". Pour your energy into education and environmental protection. Into changing the prevalent destructive practices. Into saving this green jewel before it is too late.

And stop the refinery. There is no such thing as a non-polluting refinery, Friends. A frequent argument for the refinery is that it will bring jobs. But it will also cause jobs to be lost! When the resident whale pod moves on because of polluted waters, whale watching will die here. When the reefs are destroyed, the dive industry will die. When the air is full of refinery belched emissions, the entire tourist industry may die. When the first environmental "accident" occurs and there is a spill, the fishing industry will be seriously impacted.

livingdominica: who is so hoping that the neighbor is done burning. cough, cough, wheeze...

10 comments:

Steve said...

You should 1) tell them where the official tyre dumps are, and 2) perhaps arrange to take them there?

Jen said...

The issue, in this case, is not tire disposal, but the use of tires to facilitate the burning of brush. It is used to keep the pyres burning. This is a wide spread practice here.

Islander said...

The same thing is happening in my neighbourhood. The more we talk to these people the less they listen

Jen said...

Thanks, Islander!

I am sorry you are having to breathe this also, but it is nice to hear we are not alone.

BTW, I like your blog and have put a link on Living Dominica.

Eric said...

Thanks for your comments against the refinery. Pass along the message: A refinery is a good enough reason to forget the nature island and not to even visit it. All refineries leak oil into the ground and into the water. Refineries create hazardous waste. (Just what part of this is P.M. Roosevelt Scarry not understanding?)

zooms said...

o.k. so if the lumber people pay for old board, wood etc,. how about encouraging the tyre people to do the same thing? Just a thought, there must be money to be made by someone somewhere , though i know recycling hasn't really taken off in the here as yet.

Jen said...

I understand that some areas of Dominica are putting old tyres to good use and building rammed earth retaining walls with them.

But they still like to burn brush with them.

zooms said...

This is strange to us. We use the ashes from our 'slash and burn,' together with pen manure- where a sheep or cow has been tied- to fertilize our crops. I cannot imagine the burned tyres being very good for growing anything.
Have to say, I think all the old tyres in Grenada end up at
'Perseverance'
the islands refuse dump,
where,
they burn them.

Eric said...

Jen

P.M. Rosevelt Scarry needs to be asked bluntly just what part of the island he intends to ruin. Already, that area (I don't know the name) has a tank farm. Those polute also. What could be done is to photograph the mess already created. I am sure there are spills now. (Do you ever get down that way? Hint. Hint.)

Oh, it is certainly odd the P.M. has the name of Roosevelt, the environmental President!

Anonymous said...

well Eric the oil refinery is now going to be located in Antigua. They got the gig so tell them that.