Apart from the smoke, two other things are coming out of the ‘Big Smoke’. First? The Big Smoke is reminding us Bermudians that Nature is real and cannot be ignored. Second? We – and I mean everybody who is resident on these isles – are often so involved with the apparently big and important stuff of SDO’s and pushing up mini-skyscrapers, that we forget little stuff like the need to maintain a reasonable balance with the realities of Nature.
Of course, we can forget about Nature. And Nature, being Nature, won’t react by immediately throwing a Ministerial style hand-on-hip hissy fit. Nonetheless, Nature does ultimately react.
Take the plan to build a big new mini-skyscraper hotel in the Par-la-Ville car park space. That idea starts out with two ways to tackle the building’s foundation works.
Way One? Just count the dollar cost. Pour on men and heavy machinery. Cut a massive hole in the ground and dump the stuff that comes out somewhere else. Then, start shooting up the mini-skyscraper. That’s how we’ve tackled and approached most building projects.
Way Two? Count the environmental impact and – with different equipment and more slowly – quarry out the Bermuda Stone that’s there and stockpile it – somewhere else – for sale and re-use until it’s all sold and re-used.
Way One? Gets the job done fastest, at least dollar cost, but with the greatest negative environmental impact. Way Two? Takes a bit longer, costs a bit more [but has a dollar recovery factor built in], and will have a smaller environmental impact.
Because we’re a 13,000 acre coral atoll, we cannot always adopt or follow methods common in bigger landmasses. Our forefathers didn’t. Our forefathers – black and white – passed down a clean island with a relatively healthy social fabric and strong community bonds. The 20th Century lot used their legacy to build the Bermuda of the latter half of that period. Now us 21st Century lot seem hell-bent on roaring off as though we can disregard what’s gone before, and also ignore some commonsense – as well as entirely Natural – realities.
Us 21st Century lot seem to have forgotten that Nature ultimately creates a balance. Us 21st Century lot got the horticultural waste and solid rubble mixing process out-of-balance. Nature’s response was the Big Smoke. The Big Smoke was a reminder that Nature always strikes, and strikes hard, for equilibrium.
The fact that we have only the Pembroke Marsh area as our national landfill space should tell us – all of us – that we need to take a strategic national approach when we make some of our grand plans. That’s the kind of broad approach and strategic planning that I’m recommending when we start tackling projects like the Par-la-Ville Hotel and – if it comes to fruition – the Southlands Hotel. We need to plan for impacts on the simpler to understand green environmental spaces as well as the impact on the more difficult to fathom human balance.
Rising undertones of human rumbles and grumbles about pay, living conditions, and opportunities for Bermudians suggest that something is not right in Bermuda’s natural human environment. The Big Smoke shows us what happens when natural pressure produces natural heat that begets natural fire. Exactly the same chain of responses occurs in the Human environment. Bermuda had Human environment Big Smokes in 1965, 1968, 1973, 1977, 1981. Today’s different human pressures can produce the same responses.
So. Way One? Way Two? The human factor?
Amidst the oft-heard complaints about the quality of Bermudian workers and institutions, the one most frequently aired is that Bermudians are not hard workers, and that foreigners always work harder than Bermudians.
All through the Big Smoke, there’s been a team of guys – and a few gals – who’ve quietly and efficiently taken on a long task. They’re the men and women of the Bermuda Fire Service.
Quietly and efficiently, they’ve tackled the Big Smoke. All through the day and all through the night, they’ve been on the scene since Tuesday 27th February. They’ve also continued to man the Hamilton and Port Royal Fire Stations and have stood ready to respond – instantly – to any other call for help anywhere else in Bermuda. Their crews have also responded to the usual traffic accidents.
Through it all, they’ve just gone on providing excellent efficient service. They’ve done it without moaning or complaining. Without any apparent organizational hitches or glitches.
All you smoke-stained Professionals of Bermuda’s Fire Service – I salute you.