On Side: Hello EPA, Where Are You?

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By J. Karbar

Liberians are quick to forget, and our temporal newspapers, radio stations and other news media are no exception. They tend to forget the past and speculate about the future. The October elections are some eight months away and with so much speculation surrounding, not even the activities of the “Gboyo” or “heartmen” in the electioneering politics in this country are being warned of in the media.

Unsolved and unexplained murders, the controversial and questionable printing of new bank notes, with its accompanying high inflation; the monopolization of the
guilt of corrupt officials by her Excellency; and that “dirty disease” EBOLA, have all been forgotten.

On our way to town this morning, we were stuck in traffic between Nigeria House and Catholic Hospital Junction. Ours was the outer lane. The acrid scent of brake-shoes burning assailed our senses from the car immediately ahead of us. On the center lane, on the left of the car before us, was a bus with JFK identification marks. At every stop and go, spurts of black-gray smoke comes billowing out its exhaust, forcing us to wind our windows up. Sitting there in traffic sweating, a police car, lights flashing, siren wailings, goes by on the opposite side with a long train of cars following in its wake. Some cars in the center lane pulled out of line and joined the police convoy. The unfairness of it all provoked unfavorable comments in our taxi cab. My concern was the discomfort caused us by the smoking JFK bus and I thought aloud “EPA, where are you? Yor there only for Firestone and other concessions?

Where are you, EPA? We are told that our Earth, the magnificent, has endured billions of years of evolution, but that our modern industrial way of life recklessly jeopardizes its future. People in the know point to overpopulation, pollution, the depletion of resources and the destruction of natural habitats as sure signs that there is little time to reverse the destruction. EPA, what are you doing? One has neither seen nor heard of you in the print or electronic media. Must we reach crisis proportions as in India or China before you begin to act, or react? Only the ignorant fools, the blind, and or the selfish will not note how climate change is affecting our lives. As a young boy growing up in Voinjama in the early 60’s, monkeys could be heard and seen swinging overhead as we bathed and swam in the Zeliba River on the road to Sellega – we used to drink that water raw. Today you can’t bathe in it. The same love of swimming made me spend my 1966/67 vacation in West Point because of the proximity of the Vai Town Bridge where we used to jump from the pipeline below into the Mesurado River. That’s not possible today – just look at the number of toilets on the river. In Cape Mount and Nimba, I’ve seen how mines pollute rivers and streams and deprive locals from a major source of protein food, fish. In Grand Gedeh, whole forests are uprooted by gold diggers who change the natural course of a stream to dig the river bed.

In Lofa, the surface of the creek that lends its name to the city of Voinjama was rainbow colored by the sun due to a mix of substances dumped in the creek. On one bank of the creek is the Monrovia Parking and car wash. Directly opposite the parking is an automotive garage – no telling what they dump in that little creek. Long ago, I was introduced to the idea that you don’t see what you don’t know. Perhaps the people abusing Voinjeh do not realize they may be poisoning the many wells which line the banks of Voinjeh, their primary source of household water. Because many of us do not see because we do not know the effect of monoculture on natural vegetation and rush to establish rubber and palm farms around our villages, it is about time the GoL through the relevant agencies begin a national Public Awareness Program – the serious erosion taking place in Buchanan, New Kru Town and Virginia should serve as the catalyst…government could begin by legislating a ban on plastic bags.

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