Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Litter & dumping in Barbados

Nicholas Cox of the Barbados Advocate has a thought-provoking piece in today's paper.

Lots of issues here:

Environmentally "bad" and "good" behaviors as a function of income, education as a means to alleviate "bad" behaviors, individual obligations to "do something" when they are able... This is all The Tragedy of the Commons, no?

I was thinking about these same issues recently, in anticipation of an upcoming lecture (Mark your calendars for October 6). The issues that I'll be talking about (litter, beach erosion, tourism, species protection) are very similar to those that we deal with here in southeastern N.C. And, indeed, the problem seems to be different depending on the socio-economic status of the adjacent populous.

Here's an example: Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach are only separated by about 15 miles. CB is about twice as big and there are roughly twice as many people in CB than in WB, yielding the same population density. However, the people who live at WB are much better off. The median household income at WB is US$67,083 vs. US$45,194 at CB (source: city-data.com)

OK, who has been to both? Did you notice any differences in environmental quality? How does the causality flow?

Other examples?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having been to both beaches I'd say there is some decreased environmental quality in CB when compared to WB. However, some of these differences aren't as great as they appear to be. Perhaps what people notice more than the "trash" is actually the nature of the structures around CB which seem to be more "run down" than WB. This could lead to some people not being as concerned with trying to keep the image of the CB area as clean as they perhaps would in WB. Also, due to the orientation of the beaches and inlets, the water off of WB appears more clear than that off of CB and is thus percieved as "prettier" and in turn cleaner. This could lead people to be more inclined to try and maintain these images of WB as clean and pretty than they would in CB.

By that point there would be more trash on CB than WB and in my experience this has been true. This may be inpart to there being less trash cans on CB than WB which would relate to how much the town and town members are willing to spend on this particular problem, relating back to the economic differences of the two areas.

However, having lifeguarded in WB for four years now I can say for certain that a large number of people who come to WB have no concern at all for the trash that they carry to the beach. I constantly have to call to peoples attention the trash that they are leaving on the beach. To which there normal reaction is one of being greatly bothered by having to throw away in a readily available trash can what they had earlier carried to the beach.

To this issue, having seen the same types of people on both beaches, I'd say that the general group of people visiting the two beaches are similar but that there are perhaps slightly more people willing to clean up the trash that others leave on WB than there are on CB, which I'm sure would relate to the economic differences between the two beaches, but perhaps also to the convinient number of trash cans on WB.

hunter hay