And yet…

Staff Writer: Alexandria Weaver 

The Notre-Dame de Paris also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral, distinguished for its size, antiquity, and architectural interest is the most famous of Gothic cathedrals of the middle ages. 

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Façade of the Rouen Cathedral. Photo Courtesy: Culture Trip

 According to Britannica, the cathedral was initiated by Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris, who about 1160 conceived the idea of converting into a single building, on a larger scale, the ruins of the two earlier basilicas. The foundation stone was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163, and the high altar was consecrated in 1189. The choir, the western facade, and the nave were completed by 1250, and porches, chapels, and other embellishments were added over the next 100 years. 

On April 15, 2019, the 850-year-old structure erupted into flames. French judicial police believe an electrical short-circuit is most likely what caused the fire. The New York Times reported that authorities are still investigating the fire as an accident but are taking the outdated fire-prevention safeguards of the cathedral into consideration. 

Cathedral Fire

On April 15, 2019, the 850-year-old structure erupted into flames. Photo Courtesy: newslocker.com

According to CNet, “it took nine hours and more than 400 firefighters to bring the blaze under control and eventually put it out altogether in the early hours of Tues., April 16. No deaths were reported, but one firefighter was reportedly seriously injured. At around 7:53 p.m., the spire fell amid the flames. Less than 15 minutes later, part of the roof collapsed, Reuters reported.

In under 24 hours after French President Emmanuel Macron made a call for donation, nearly $1 billion had been pledged. As important as Notre-Dame Cathedral is to history and Catholicism, are the donations overboard? Couldn’t and shouldn’t that money be used for more pressing issues?

The Notre-Dame Cathedral raised $1 billion in less than 24 hours and yet the Pacific Ocean is filled with garbage that needs to be cleared. 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is three times the size of France. Photo Courtesy: thea-blast.org

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world and is located between Hawaii and California. Scientists of The Ocean Cleanup have conducted the mt extensive analysis ever of this area. 

As stated by The Ocean Cleanup, “floating at the surface of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is 180x more plastic than marine life. Animals migrating through or inhabiting this area are then likely consuming plastic in the patch. For example, sea turtles by-caught in fisheries operating within and around the patch can have up to 74% (by dry weight) of their diets composed of ocean plastics. 

“Through a process called bioaccumulation, chemicals in plastics will enter the body of the animal feeding on the plastic, and as the feeder becomes prey, the chemicals will pass to the predator – making their way up the food web that includes humans. 

“The United Nations reported that the approximate environmental damage caused by plastic to marine ecosystems represents 13 billion USD. This figure included the cost of beach cleanups and the financial loss incurred by fisheries.” 

The Notre-Dame Cathedral raised $1 billion in less than 24 hours and yet Puerto Rico didn’t have power for 11 months. 

Puerto Rico

A combination of NOAA satellite images taken at night shows Puerto Rico in July, top, and on Sept. 24, 2017, after Hurricane Maria knocked out the island’s power grid. Photo Courtesy: Time Magazine

 According to NPR, “the blackout in Hurricane Maria’s [Sept. 2017] wake was one of the largest everMore than 160,000 Puerto Rican homes were damaged or destroyed. Power restoration cost more than $3 billion and was mired in controversy: PREPA’s seen five CEOs in the 11 months since the storm. 

“For months following the hurricane, the Federal Emergency Management Agency helped repair the island’s power grid. However, in July FEMA’s assistance ended while about 16,000 homes remained without electricity, despite urging from Puerto Rico’s Congressional representative for the agency to extend its contract.” 

The Notre-Dame Cathedral raised $1 billion in less than 24 hours and yet Flint, Michigan hasn’t had clean water since 2014. 

Flint Water Crisis

Lead poisoning outbreak leads to State of Emergency in Michigan. Photo Courtesy: goldenacresdogs.com

As per CNN, “In 2011, the state of Michigan took over Flint’s finances after an audit projected a $25 million deficit. In order to reduce the water fund shortfall, the city announced that a new pipeline would be built to deliver water from Lake Huron to Flint. In 2014, while it was under construction, the city turned to the Flint River as a water source. Soon after the switch, residents said the water started to look, smell and taste funny. Tests in 2015 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Virginia Tech indicated dangerous levels of lead in the water at residents’ homes.” 

As explained by the CDC, “Within our bodies, lead is absorbed and stored in our bones, blood, and tissues. It does not stay there permanently, rather it is stored there as a source of continual internal exposure. As we age, our bones demineralize and the internal exposures may increase as a result of larger releases of lead from the bone tissue. Generally, lead affects children more than it does adults. Children tend to show signs of severe lead toxicity at lower levels than adults.  

“A person who is exposed to lead over time may feel: abdominal pain, constipated, depressed, distracted, forgetful, irritable, nauseous/sick. People with prolonged exposure to lead may also be at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and reduced fertility.” 

Millionaires and billionaires around the world are contributing to restore a part of a historical monument. However, African artifacts have went centuries without refurbishment since Europeans cut the noses off them to make them look less African. 

The cathedral was not burned to the ground; it is still standing. The money should go towards more humanitarian causes. Causes that will actually save lives so that those individuals can make history.  

These unfortunate events and realities have gone on for so long not because the money isn’t there but because the people who have it do not care. The human race should be more important than any building. The level of apathy is disheartening.  

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