On August 30, 1962, the eve of Trinidad and Tobago’s Independence from Britain, Dr. Eric Williams, described as Father of our Nation, is quoted as saying, “to educate is to emancipate.”
In his exhortation to school children, he continued by saying, “you carry the future of Trinidad and Tobago in your school bags.”
My name is La Tisha Parkinson, and I believe that education is the key, the master key, without which, doors will not open. While Trinidad & Tobago has been emancipated for fifty-four years, our minds remain in shackles. We willingly destroy our environment without giving any thought to the effects this will have on us in the future. Our yearning to be recognized by the world as a developed nation, has led us down a road of unsustainability, which leads to our own destruction.
For this blog post I was asked to consider the ocean issue I am most concerned about. I am most disquieted because many of my countrymen are apathetic, and those that are perturbed, are relatively inactive. My stance that our development has been unsustainable is not an exaggeration. Trinidad has almost entirely disregarded the environment. Tobago, which was always, in my opinion, an example of environmental stewardship, appears to be changing direction in the pursuit of development as well.
The effects of climate change are threatening our oceans, yet we continue to contribute to emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So much so, that globally we rank as the second highest emitter of this greenhouse gas, per capita. Sadly, there appears to be no seriousness in any immediate plans to switch to renewable energy.
Furthermore, our oceans are burdened by unsustainable fishing habits, plastic pollution, and the lack of public education. All factors are a common trend within the Caribbean region, with the exception of the lack of public education.
As a part of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network – Trinidad and Tobago Chapter, I have become more educated on environmental matters locally, regionally, and globally. Furthermore, this group of young people has helped me to find my voice, and continue to encourage me, and give me the confidence to use my voice, and share my opinions to help make a difference. I joined the World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council because I feel as though the Caribbean region is underrepresented on a global scale. Additionally, I hope that through the Youth Advisory Council, I will be able to help increase the level of public education about ocean and ocean related issues in my country and region, with the help of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network.
I do not identify with the term “environmentalist,” and I am not yet a “conservationist.” Instead, I believe that I am an “advocate.” I am an advocate for life, and in order to live, one must be educated. I nervously agreed to study Environmental Science in Form Six at Trinity College Moka, and that was the first time I truly realized how essential the environment is to our very existence. I am now a twenty-one-year-old Biology student of The University of the West Indies St. Augustine, and I am ready. I am ready to do all of the hard work, I am ready to make a change. Our young people are educated, and we are ready to change our future today!
Photo Credits: Daryll Peter Griffith