One down, one to go

  • Fridays for Future: teenaged Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, centre, takes part during the Climate Strike, on Friday in New York City (Photograph by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP)

    Fridays for Future: teenaged Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, centre, takes part during the Climate Strike, on Friday in New York City (Photograph by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP)

  • Hard at work: a parks department employee pauses during the clean up in the wake of Hurricane Humberto on South Road, Paget, near the Botanical Gardens on Thursday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Hard at work: a parks department employee pauses during the clean up in the wake of Hurricane Humberto on South Road, Paget, near the Botanical Gardens on Thursday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)


Green shoots of encouragement could be found from one end of the island to the other in the wake of Hurricane Humberto. The resolve of Bermuda in genuine times of stress yet again proved unbreakable — not so much a show of arrogance in the face of imminent danger but a sign that our commitment to putting on our best face under pressure is real and fixed.

There has been the odd injury and there has been some destruction to homes and property.

But when you put this into the context of what happened in the Bahamas last month with Hurricane Dorian, and what happened in Barbuda and Puerto Rico two years ago with Hurricane Irma, we have much to be thankful for — not least tender mercies and a game plan that is solid gold.

The heroes there are many, but it never gets tiring dishing out the plaudits to those who go over and beyond to put Bermuda back into good working order as quickly as possible after such an event.

Belco has been in the news for much of 2019 for fuel adjustment rates, the prospective sale of parent company Ascendant, and a Canadian power and utilities company called Algonquin.

But, just like the atheist who cries out “Oh my God” in times of tragedy when insisting the rest of the year He does not exist, Belco has been restored to MVP status with its round-the-clock efforts.

In hurricane season, there are no four words as biblically meaningful as “Let there be light”.

As of yesterday evening, 95 per cent of the island had its power restored. Belco has even called emergency linemen out of retirement and has employed the services of Algonquin’s Liberty Power subsidiary based in America to join the restoration effort.

Added to our list of heroes are the Emergency Measures Organisation, the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Department of Marine and Ports, the Bermuda Police Service, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and, finally, before we get put on blast, the Department of Parks!

It is a common sense of purpose that we can call on and likely will be required to call on again when Tropical Storm Jerry comes rolling through sometime tomorrow evening.

What Humberto, Jerry and the eight or more other storms/hurricanes that have formed in such short order in and around the Caribbean show is that climate change is real.

And what grates is that the awareness and determination in Bermuda to tackle the issue is following a disturbing pattern.

Tens of millions around the world launched a demonstration against climate change on Friday, following the lead presented by teenage activist Greta Thunberg, who came to worldwide attention 12 months ago when she skipped school in Sweden to protest at her country’s parliament.

The 16-year-old won many admirers and then became the founder of Fridays for Future, a youth movement that has been embraced globally — so much so that demonstrations could be found in the most far-flung corners of the world, including Afghanistan where not so long ago women could not show themselves in public, let alone demonstrate.

In Bermuda, the estimated attendance for the rally that congregated at City Hall before moving to the grounds of Cabinet was a mere 60. The racial demographic was on a scale worryingly similar to that which paraded through Hamilton last month to celebrate gays being seen as people, too. In a country where race is served with the morning Cheerios, that is a pertinent observation.

Blacks did take part in the Pride parade but they were outnumbered at least 10:1 by members of the white community, which, for a country that is approaching 65:35 black, is alarmingly instructive.

However you think about gays, whether they were “born that way” or whether homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice”, climate change knows no colour — and it affects us all.

So why are we seeing the same demographics?

Education.

There is no excuse for schoolchildren in Bermuda not to know who Greta Thunberg is, and her relevance to our futures. Where are the Minister of Education and the Department of Education on climate change? Where is the minister responsible for the environment? Why are only private schools engaging with Fridays for Future Bermuda, the local spin-off from the global movement?

Where were the public-school students when 60 from private schools were determined to have their say, despite the inconveniences created by the passing of Humberto?

There were even some at Warwick Academy who “doubled their money” by staging a demonstration outside their school first thing Friday morning before joining the bigger protest in Hamilton. Climate change requires no less than the committed effort the country puts forth when we have natural disasters, especially when it is linked inextricably to the creation of those disasters in the first place.

There is enough information in our midst to prove this. We only need to be more aware and do something about it. Not just whites and expatriates. Not just private schools. Not just the youth. But all of us.

Yes, we are but a speck on the atlas at a time when even the leader of the free world refuses to get his bright-orange, Twitter-fuelled barnet around the topic of climate change and carbon dioxide emissions.

But the protests in the United States are growing more and more vociferous by the day — and they will continue throughout this week as the United Nations holds its climate action summit in New York.

We can do far worse than take our cue from them. Otherwise, our readiness for the next big storm can be rightly described as closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

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Published Sep 23, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 23, 2019 at 8:31 am)

One down, one to go

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