Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 8th 2015 Contents A20
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt February 8, 2015
Trust the silver fox---former
prime minister Basdeo Pan-
day (and how we must
treasure his wit and breadth of
knowledge in this age of politi-
cians who don t read, and cer-
tainly not Shakespeare) to put the
"witness tampering" debacle
where it belongs. A wee brew in a
miniature teacup. He has said it
simply reinforced the need for
constitutional reform which will
bring more accountability.
Given the lack of separation of
powers between the legislature,
executive and judiciary we are
hovering between a monarchy and
banana republic in an increasingly
My emotions shot up and down
like a bipolar on crack when the
latest fracas over the fired attor-
ney general and national security
minister became the country s lat-
It was too much of a pap-
pyshow. Too much muscle was
flexed over too little. The PM may
have a point. Let the criminal
investigations show that. But to
pillory men before they were
proven guilty on a matter of form
rather than substance is to create
Aren t we tired of pappyshows
used as smokescreens to disguise
the rot everywhere, symptomised
by our toxic dumps, our 500,000
strong illiterate, and our everyday
murders? But like a battered peo-
ple we roar around the arena at
big shots being cut down to size.
There are some PMs who
have used their power and charis-
ma (our PM has plenty of both)
to be agents of enormous change.
Obamacare is now a word. It s to
do with the boring topic of
health. There was one African
Prime Minister who used every
speech he made, no matter what
the context, to speak of the
importance of using condoms to
prevent HIV/Aids even if he was
cutting a ribbon for a tea party. It
worked. The incidence of
HIV/Aids dropped in his country.
The late Raoul Pantin said he
saw Facebook as a means of pro-
moting democracy. With looming
elections posts are highly politi-
cised. It has also become another
mirror, no matter how opaque of
our society. What do we all see in
Take this FB post written this
week by a woman living in a
quiet, safe residential area.
"In the early hours of Tuesday
morning a thief terrorised our
neighbourhood. He ran from gar-
den to garden, including ours,
held up one neighbour at knife
point. Smashed down the door of
two others, rifled through the car
of one...People are afraid to sleep
at nights now. This man came
here when everyone was at home
asleep in their beds. Our children
did not sleep last night. We heard
the crashing down of the neigh-
bours door. The man used a pick-
axe! He used their cutlass which
he took from their tool room..."
Scroll down the newsfeed and I
see this in a public face dedicated
to T&T news page that is titled
"Proud to be a Trinbagonian."
"We have just been informed
that citizens of Trinidad & Tobago
can NOW apply for a FIREARM
License @ Trinidad and Tobago
Police Service. They now have a
dedicated team available to
process applications. For more
info on how you get your firearm
This was my comment on the
"Great, now we can be the
most murderous country in the
world instead of the tenth. Why
don t we order more books and
train teachers and social workers
instead? The bullet is for the cruel
and the dumb."
This was how a fellow Trinbag-
onian responded to my comment.
"How did we become what we
are in the first place? I personally
know people who grew up know-
ing hate and crime to be normal
and made a decision to not
become a statistic. It s clear the
only way these criminal elements
will only learn is when a bullet to
the face greets them when they
try to jump my wall or rob/rape
my family. And as for your bit
about the cruelty, I have no sym-
pathy for grown men who
CHOOSE to steal from and mur-
der innocent victims in this coun-
try. Desperate times need desper-
ate measures. I hope they never
reach your doorstep, but if they
hand to throw at them. I would
rather protect my family with a
The sad thing is I understand
his point of view.
Then I saw another post. A
video of a Jamaican woman who
took 30 children who looked like
they could be part of any of our
"at risk" areas. They were discon-
solate, liming on walls, susceptible
to gangs, drugs, not going to
school. She gave them love, food,
time, encouragement, and sent
them to school. She stuck with
them. Three of these street kids
whose parents were either dead or
in jail or abandoned them, went
to university. The others are still
in school. It s her dream to "let
them be all they can be."
If it weren t for her, there would
be 15 more boys on the streets
with guns, 15 teenaged pregnancy.
That s how you catch crime. At
the root. With attention. With
Leaders can do great things.
Our PM has a shine about her.
She has guts. She can fire big
men and hire big men, do as she
wishes. I wish I could start a
pappyshow of "being all you can
be." Target at risk boys and girls,
train social workers, parents, and
provide havens for children who
haven t got anything other than a
gun to feel like a proud Trinbag-
onian. We will gather around an
arena not filled with the dead or
the humiliated, but nurtured chil-
dren whose humanity will save us.
Less than two weeks ago, Panama
produced first power from a 215-
megawatt wind farm. When it s fully
on stream, it will have close to the total
installed electric generation capacity of
Dominica, St Vincent, Grenada and St
Lucia. In the wider Caribbean, renew-
ables are moving.
At the US-Caribbean Energy Summit
in Washington, international agencies
agreed US$90m in finance for 78
megawatts of private sector solar and
wind power in Jamaica. Energy Minister
Phillip Paulwell talks of revising his
renewables target to 30 per cent of
power generation by 2030, from the cur-
rent aim of 20 per cent.
With oil prices half what they were six
months back, does it still make sense to
invest in renewables? Almost certainly,
There s no guarantee oil prices will
stay low. Last week saw a slight bounce-
back to above US$50. Few people expect
a short-order return to US$100; but
plenty talk about the US$70s. Further
ahead, we can predict what we want,
but it s anyone s guess. Remember Fran-
cis Fukuyama, 1992, and the "End of
Next, there s PetroCaribe. The longer
oil prices stay low, the less likely
Venezuela is to continue this generous
arrangement. If PetroCaribe disappears,
the up-front cost of Caribbean oil
imports will be pretty much back to
what it was last July---full price at
US$50, in place of a 50 per cent blow-
back from US$100.
Already, with Venezuelan oil at under
US$50, the discount has been cut back
to 30 per cent.
Then there s the little question of car-
bon emissions. Energy prices aside, we
can expect increasing international pres-
sure to cut carbon emissions. Indeed, the
Caribbean nations, along with other
members of the Alliance of Small Island
States, have lobbied persistently for
international carbon cuts.
The difficulty is that lower gas and oil
prices will make it harder to raise
finance for renewables.
The likely cost of renewable energy
has to be weighed against alternatives.
And cost of the alternatives depends
heavily on oil and gas prices; which are
the Big Unknown.
The nightmare outcome is that energy
price volatility makes long-term thinking
all but impossible---whether in oil explo-
ration, LNG-based schemes, or renew-
Energy costs are an urgent problem for
the tourist-based economies of the east-
ern Caribbean. The price of a guest
night in a hotel can include up to US$18
in electricity costs. Low-income house-
holds spend up to ten per cent of their
income on electricity---sometimes more.
For the volcanic islands, running from
Grenada up to St Kitts and beyond, the
obvious alternative is geothermal power.
It is available as base-load 24/7---come
sun, come cloud, come calm, come hur-
Most of these islands can produce
enough geothermal power to supply their
current peak demand for electricity.
Dominica and Montserrat could produce
many times their own needs, with
potential to export to nearby islands by
But so far, there s only one 15-
megawatt plant on Guadeloupe, com-
pleted almost 30 years ago; and that s it.
Nothing in action beyond that pioneer-
If a monopoly power supplier---state-
owned or private---wants extra oil-based
capacity, it s easy. Call the nice guy from
Wärtsilä or whoever, check out the latest
Ring your friend at the bank and ask
for a loan. Talk to your engineers. And
get in touch with the regulator about
charges. If the sums work out right,
you re set. It s a well-trodden path.
Gas-powered capacity is a little harder.
On a small island, you re probably talk-
ing a variant on mini-LNG. It s not tried
and tested locally, but the sums are do-
Geothermal is a lot more difficult.
First, you ve got to test the resource.
Scoping is fairly cheap, but test drilling
is expensive. No two sites have the same
geology. You re talking risk finance.
If there s potential, you need detailed
engineering studies. These don t come
off the peg.
Then you need development finance.
Your friendly partner at the local bank
has no experience in lending for geot-
hermal. You re talking international. A
30-megawatt development may need up
to US$150 million in financing. For
Dominica, that is close to one-third of
You re talking international public-pri-
vate partnerships to get the ball rolling.
These are not easy to manage. Eastern
Caribbean governments are small affairs.
They aren t overbrimming with specialist
geologists and engineers. Or negotiators.
And you ll need negotiators. The
resource may be warm, green and cud-
dly. But developers are hard-nosed prof-
it-maximisers, who can blind you with
On Nevis (population 10k) a previous
island administration signed up with
developers who the current government
says: "had no money, they had no
expertise, they had no know-how, they
Now, the island is tied up in a court
battle as it struggles to switch partners.
And lawyers don t come cheap.
Dominica has spent more than US$20
million exploring geothermal potential. It
has drilled exploratory and production
wells. But last year, a former agriculture
minister Athie Martin led protesters with
scary talk of an "Armageddon."
Even "green" energy is not universally
PAPPYSHOWS DISGUISE THE ROT
GEO-POWER: TIME TO MOVE, BUT IT'S NOT EASY
Links Archive February 7th 2015 February 9th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page