In Search of Paradise Lost

Welcome to Eden Is Broken, a personal narrative devoted to the fate of Caribbean nature in the Age of the Superstorm. An exploration of island paradises past and present, this website places special emphasis on the step-by-step recovery of Dominica’s rainforest and wildlife in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

roosevelt

The site is named in honor of Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. The Prime Minister’s seventeen-minute address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2017, just five days after Cat 5 Maria made landfall on the once-pristine Nature Island of the Caribbean, was delivered as an appeal for immediate disaster aid– as well as a global wake-up call in the face of catastrophic climate change. Key points of the address are excerpted here:

With physical and emotional difficulty, I have left my bleeding nation to be with you here today because these are moments for which the United Nations exist…In the case of Dominica, it has been two years since we lost lives and endured substantial physical and infrastructural damage from the ravages of the floods and mud slides of Tropical Storm Ericka.

To deny climate change is to procrastinate while the earth sinks; it is to deny a truth we have just lived.

It is to mock thousands who in a few hours, without a roof over their heads, will watch the night descend on Dominica in fear of sudden mud slides and what the next hurricane may bring…

But what is our reality at this moment? Pure devastation, as Dominicans bear the brunt of climate change. We are shouldering the consequences of the actions of others. Actions that endanger our very existence and all for the enrichment of a few elsewhere…

We dug graves today in Dominica. We buried loved ones yesterday and I am sure that as I return home tomorrow, we shall discover additional fatalities, as a consequence of this encounter. Our homes are flattened. Our buildings roofless. Our water pipes smashed and road infrastructure destroyed. Our hospital is without power and schools have disappeared beneath the rubble. Our crops are uprooted. Where there was green there is now only dust and dirt.

The desolation is beyond imagination. Mr. President, fellow leaders– the stars have fallen. Eden is broken.

The nation of Dominica has come here to declare an international humanitarian emergency. One that is centered in Dominica, but also encompasses many of our neighbors, including our sister isle Antigua, which had to evacuate its citizens from Barbuda.

The time has come for the international community to make a stand and to decide whether it will be shoulder to shoulder with those suffering the ravages of climate change worldwide. Whether we can mitigate the consequences of unprecendented increases in sea temperatures and levels; whether to help us rebuild sustainable livelihoods; or whether the international community will merely show some pity now, and then flee, relieved to know that this time it was not you.

We will rebuild our Garden of Eden again for our children and for future generations.

Navy continues evacuations from Dominica
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Molina

Eden Is Broken is dedicated to all of those affected by Maria’s wrath, to the long road toward recovery of the livelihoods and ecology of the island– and to Dominica’s national bird: the Imperial amazon, a parrot species older than the island itself.

One of two parrots native to Dominica, the Imperial– known locally as the Sisserou– is the island jewel at the heart of this site, just as it comprises the center of Dominica’s national flag. The fate of the Sisserou and the ecological health of its only island home are inextricably woven with the future prosperity of Dominica’s people.

sisserou
Dominica’s flag with Sisserou as National Emblem

Please join me in search of the Caribbean’s imperiled Edens, from the time before Columbus, to the aftermath of Maria– and beyond.

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