COLUMN – . . . Some waste of a project!
The recent impasse between the Government and the unions this week, and the threatened shutdown of the country brought back to me the famous story of how Solomon dealt with two women who came to him claiming that a child was theirs.
For those of you who don’t know the story, the synopsis is that both women had a child at the same time, but one of the children died, and each woman claimed that the live one was hers. So they brought the child to Solomon, both putting forward their cases convincingly.
Solomon, being the wisest man who ever lived, came to a decision: he pronounced that the child should be cut in half.
The woman, who was the mother of the child, obviously preferring not to see her child harmed, requested that the child be given to the other woman instead, so that the child would live.
When the country was on the brink of a national shutdown, the Government in this case gave up its right to fight in the interest of Barbados and gave in to the other side who have claimed a victory. But I wonder at what cost in the long term?
Having said, that I hope that this same Government will give up its rights to proceed with this Cahill waste to energy project. I say “rights”, but, from all I have heard, that term is questionable at best.
As a resident of St Thomas and a citizen of Barbados, I went to the town hall meeting which was organized by the Future Centre Trust at Lester Vaughan School on Tuesday night. I was surprised to find the hall full of concerned citizens when I arrived, and I’m sure they were not all from St Thomas.
We got a very eye-opening presentation from Professor Paul Connett about the hazards of this waste to energy process, which requires temperatures of 5,000 degrees to burn organic and other waste to produce energy. If the thought of those temperatures contained in a furnace in the middle of St Thomas is not enough to scare you, the information about the emissions on nanoparticles and other things that were over my head, would be enough to put the fear of God in anyone.
What was even more enlightening is that we have alternatives available to us, which negate the need for such a drastic plan. Mark Hill of Innogen shared that Barbados has enough solar and wind energy to produce electricity for a large percentage of the country.
Almost every house and property in Barbados that has hot water is now powered by the sun and a growing number of houses are generating their own electricity though solar voltaic cells (albeit they have to sell it back to the Barbados Light & Power). What would it take for every house in Barbados to have its roof covered with solar voltaic panels creating enough electricity to power the entire home?
In the same way that incentives were given to encourage the use of solar panels for hot water, surely they could be offered to encourage the purchase of solar voltaic panels. While that would no doubt reduce Government’s revenue from personal taxes, it would also reduce the same power bill that this waste to energy plant is purported to do –– and a lot more cleanly.
The town hall meeting showed me a number a things. One, I need to reduce my garbage output. I already take my plastics and bottles to B’s Recycling; but there is a business opportunity for someone to collect paper and ship it overseas for recycling.
When I see how quickly the newspapers pile up in my house, and the cereal boxes (we’re big cereal eaters), which all go to make up my numerous bags of garbage, I am now appalled. Then there is the organic waste that we generate!
As soon as I came back from the meeting, I talked to my husband about buying a composter to convert our organic material to rich soil that we can use in our herb garden. I am convinced that we don’t need a garbage incinerator. We need to start educating the public about how to reduce, reuse and recycle; and we need a collection system that facilitates that.
The second thing I realized is that, in addition to brilliant scientists, the room was full of ordinary citizens, all of whom were in agreement that this plant was not even an option for Barbados. That was even before we heard remarks from the former Chief Town Planner Lennie St Hill who shared that the Government did not even follow the proper procedure to change the proposed use of the land at Vaucluse in the first place.
So I am astounded at how an agreement could be written to start a plant on land which has not been approved for that type of development. What is even more amazing is the fact that the agreement is supposedly binding whether or not the plant goes ahead. Makes you wonder if the agreement is legally binding?
So, in the same way that this Government could back down from the unions in the interest of “saving” Barbados from the harm of a national shutdown, how much more should they be willing to give up the idea of this insane project in the interest of preserving their “baby” –– our beautiful island?
(Donna Every is an author, motivational speaker and personal development trainer. She is also the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and a mentor of the Barbados Youth Business Trust. Email: email@example.com. Visit www.donnaevery.com and www.facebook.com/DonnaEvery1)