Did you ever get the feeling that Bermuda has outgrown its skin? For a tiny island, it seems we have adopted many of the practices common in a larger country such as the United States. We drive large SUVs to work, generate large amounts of waste, engage in a “throw away” lifestyle and have a very active commercial/residential construction industry. All this for an island of 22 square miles. Yet Bermuda has been showing signs that it is bursting at the seams.
“Sustainability” is the key here. This word is thrown about often. Many things are not sustainable, such as my wife’s spending habits and my newborn’s voracious appetite, but in the context of the environment, this word has a very large part to play for Bermuda’s future.
We cannot afford to overlook the importance of our environment given our tiny size — we are more intrinsically linked to our environment here than in larger countries, as land here is a much more finite resource and what we all do affects our neighbours more quickly. The path to environmental sustainability has been largely neglected by successive governments. We can and must do more.
The late Bermuda resident and futurist James Martin placed a value on the environment — he called it “natural capital”. Natural capital would include trees, the ocean, even the air we breathe, and can be considered assets that ultimately belong to all of us. Unfortunately, this natural capital is often exploited by corporations and ignored by governments to the detriment of the people. They are more focused on the short term — a very human fallibility.
Bermuda’s natural capital belongs to all Bermudians, yet we, too, are losing touch with what really matters, which is ensuring that Bermuda remains an environmental going concern for our children and all generations of future Bermudians.
Given that Earth Day is tomorrow, I thought it quite timely to share some ideas as to how we can get the ball rolling for Bermuda’s environmental sustainability: