Friday, September 7, 2012

Environment: A Ministry Found. ... and Lost?

A Bogotá garbage truck trashes the air. 
When Colombia brought back the Ministry of the Environment last year, many of us had hopes that this fundamental part of Colombia would receive new importance.

However, Pres. Santos' first pick for minister, Frank Pearl, had no notable experience in environmental issues. And now, with a second chance, Santos has selected Juan Gabriel Uribe, the editor of El Nuevo Siglo newspaper, with no particular environmentalist background, either.

Deforestation is taking a huge toll on
Colombia's biodiversity.

It makes one suspect that, for Santos, whose family is the historical owner of the El Tiempo newspaper, this is a case of friendship getting the nod over experience.

This is potentially tragic for one of the world's ecologically mega-diverse nations, where biodiversity has the potential to contribute a huge amount to the economy and where environmental health has a huge effect on the people's quality of life. But deforestation and other problems continue raging on.
Will polluters' 'total impunity' change?

Under Pearl, previously an academic and peace negotiator, the ministry did stand up to big corporations on several controversial mining projects. But I saw no notable new laws or major new green initiatives.

Perhaps this new man will be better. But I'm not betting on it. One comment he made to El Tiempo does sound encouraging, however. He wants to emphasize urban environmental issues. Does that mean that Colombian cities will actually do something about air pollution?

We can only hope.

See also: A Minister From the Wrong Environment

Valuable environmental experience? Juan Gabriel Uribe published the Nuevo Siglo newspaper. 
A bus kiosk sign asks 'Who pollutes Bogotá?' The answer is in clear sight.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


franco said...

It is criminal the lack of focus on pollution in Bogota. I ride a bike and when I arrive to work after a 40 minute ride, my face is black with soot and dirt and my lungs hurt. Busses openly spew clouds of fumes and it does not seem to matter to anyone...

Miguel said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm with you 100%.

I've made another blog, in bad Spanish, about the pollution issue:

and videos linked to there.

The fact is that pollution laws exist, but the authorities just don't bother to enforce them.

Perhaps we cyclists can pressure them to take action, and we'd appreciate your help and support.