To The Minister of the Environment, The Hon Etienne Sinatambou

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The environment’s a burning issue – not least in California – that’s ignored as much here as anywhere else. When there should be a plethora of activity, the only project your Ministry currently boasts of is ambient air-quality monitoring. While your temerity to move the state pension age to 65 may be explained by a reticence to take unpopular but necessary measures, leaving the environment to degrade still further doesn’t chime very well with the Boss’ aim of bequeathing a country fit for future generations. Admittedly, you may have little idea of how long you’ll occupy the eco-seat but you might ensure things are more than just ticking over.

What the country needs is overall beautification rather than mere cosmetic measures – although the services of a pedicurist could benefit those of your colleagues singularly adept at putting their feet in things. Thinking of which, an oral hygienist could also be useful. Indeed, the Assembly would be a good place to start – not so much to beautify the members, those fine specimens of man and womanhood – but to clean up their inner souls, which appear distracted from Socrates’ concept of the soul as the seat of wisdom and excellence of character, bent as they are on hurling insults at each other.

How attractive it would be if every new building was fronted by greenery, even in town centres, and if millions of trees were planted all over the country! And to build a lasting legacy, how about creating a coastal walk all around Mauritius? The Etienne Way would attract international fame and boost the tourism industry as few other measures could, as well as mollify opposition to further hotel development. Inevitably there would be practical difficulties and opposition from vested interests but what are functionaries for but to overcome them? And you could go down as a man of vision. What’s the use otherwise of the effortless superiority that comes with studying in Oxford and the Sorbonne?

The environment’s importance is not just that people need to breathe and eat in order to live but, as they become distanced from nature by living in flats and far from the countryside, as food for the inner man. Moreover, when people communicate through machinery rather than face-to-face even with those within walking distance, they are in danger of extinguishing the very humanity that is at the root of their being. It may be good preparation for living on Mars – as may become necessary once the planet’s been destroyed – but by then life will no longer be worth living. Mind you, not even St Barrack gets everything right. He reckons having astronauts living on Mars will make life better for people on earth. It’s difficult to see any logic in that assertion unless he envisages the Donald and many other world leaders being shot into space.

Apollo was scandalised when I told him that, in a formerly leading European country, more than a third of young adults don’t know that bacon comes from pigs or eggs from hens, and even more don’t know that milk comes from cows, let alone goats and sheep. Meanwhile, might one suggest you get off your ass, another noble beast, and at least sort out waste disposal? Currently, there’s nothing but talk. Household rubbish needs effective sorting and recycling measures. Come to think of it, so do politicos. In both cases, an incineration plant is one obvious solution for what can’t be otherwise salvaged.

Yours sincerely,

Epi Phron

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