By Jean H Charles
The red alert was on; the preparations were underway to displace the population in the zones at risk. The country, already on its knees following the earthquake, was braced for a strike by Tropical Storm Emily that had already caused one death in Martinique.
The island of Ayiti, baptized as such by the Tainos because of its mountainous structure, did what it has done for a millennium -- stopping the fury of the storm through its majestic mountains, exploding the eye of the cyclone and saving on the way Florida and the rest of the land on its trajectory.
The United States in general, and the western insurance companies in particular should reward Haiti with a special prize of recognition for preventing immense damage and compensation that would have resulted if the mountains of Haiti were not in the way to break down the strength of the elements.
Because of extreme poverty, which is the lot of the majority of the rural population, the vegetation cover in Haiti has been reduced lately to only two percent. Cutting trees to produce charcoal represents the cash crop that replaces coffee and coco as the annual source of revenue for that segment of the population.
The services delivered by the mountains of Haiti go behind the confines of the republic; as such there should be an international movement to replenish and maintain Haiti’s mountain ranges. They seem to have been placed there by God to remind humanity of His promise that never again He will send on earth another deluge.
I am witnessing in Haiti how, through the lack of leadership -- national and international -- eight million people are reduced to the life of gleaning and scrounging, eroding the very surface that sustains growth.
The Emily experience is a wakeup call to extend to Haiti the carbon exchange program, whereby the developed countries agreed to provide the less developed nations with funding to plant trees and save their forests, because the benefits go beyond the confines of the geographical frontiers of (in this case) the Republic of Haiti.
It is predicted that the hurricane season that lasts until November might produce twelve to eighteen named storms. Many of them will go through Haiti, if their direction is the same as Emily, and they will certainly face the same fate of explosion and reduction as soon as they meet the gorgeous mountains of the country.
Haiti has the glorious fate of serving as a beacon for humanity for daring to break the chains of servitude. It did not profit from that advantage -- its people are still in de facto bondage.
It is a bulwark against the intemperance of nature; this fact is not well known amongst nature aficionados; worse, Haiti does not receive any recognition for this international service.
Haiti’s environment, depleted by the misery of the Haitian people, deserves international sustenance; its maintenance is the business of the insurance business because whether the hurricane season creates havoc or relief in Florida will depend on the mountains of Haiti.
An astute investor could risk with reasonable confidence the filling of the mountains of Haiti with mahogany, cedar and all types of hardwood trees. The benefits will be compounded. The mature trees, twenty years from now will represent a fortune. The mountains of Haiti, replenished with trees, will continue to defy the hurricanes, saving Florida and coastal United States billion of dollars. This operation will contribute to the cooling of the atmosphere, postponing for a few generation the bubble theory of the melting down of the planet.
Emily, the hurricane that was, because of Haiti, shall remind us all that Mother Nature could create its own antidote to its unpredictable vagaries. We shall be humble, caring and hospitable to those antidotes. Haiti and its mountains need our compassion and our stewardship. They will be there like Michael the Archangel to protect us against Franklin, Gert, Harvey, et al, the next named storms for the season.
August 9, 2011