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Oil Drilling In The Bahamas

EDITOR, The Tribune

According to The Tribune (September 24, 2014), the Prime Minister stated on September 23 at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City that:

“I want my presence here today to signal that for the Bahamas, climate change is serious business. This threatens our very existence. Here is what the scientists say, 80 per cent of my nation’s land mass will be lost if the sea level rises 1.5 metres. They also say that with a warming of 3.7-4.8�C by 2100, as currently predicted, the Bahamas we know would be no more. It is with this sense of urgency that I address you today.

“The Bahamas accepts the science on this issue. We have signed on to all the agreements, yet emissions into the atmosphere continue to grow,” Perry Christie said.

Mr Christie said in order to save the Bahamas, there needs to be a comprehensive plan to reverse upward emission trends and a significant amount of money to turn the plan into action.

“Every day the sea is rising, the coral reefs are dying; yet so far all the world has done is talk. The fact is that nothing the world has done so far has stopped this upward trend in global emissions,” he said. “We must look at each country’s vulnerability to climate change, its debt and more importantly honour the principle that ‘the polluter pays’. Looked at like this, the Bahamas qualifies for funding and we expect our fair share.” It is fair to say that Mr Christie’s words were well chosen, accurate and compelling. Well, except for the part of demanding “our fair share”. Here’s why I find that statement problematic.

Ok, Mr Christie. You say you’ve seen the science. The science says, unequivocally, that the rapid warming of our climate is mainly due to the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which is directly related to the burning of fossil fuels. But, you and your government somehow consider it prudent to allow for oil drilling in your territorial waters. This act alone should disqualify the Bahamas from receiving one penny of internationally-committed money earmarked for climate change mitigation. You say you understand the science. Then why do you choose to ignore it?

I think we all know why.

Now, this argument I’ve made above does not yet take into consideration the very real potential, if not likely, disasters to the Bahamian way of life and the complete destruction of the Bahamian economy.

It was another BP oil company, not that many years ago, who swore up and down that they were using best practices, international safety standards, etc, that turned the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding Gulf States into one of the greatest man-made environmental disasters in human history.

Are we to believe that Bahamas Petroleum Corporation (BPC) can do any better? Why would anyone believe this?

Consider these facts; Over its lifetime, a single oil rig can:

Dump more than 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluid and metal cuttings into the ocean.

Drill more than 50-100 wells, each dumping 25,000lbs of toxic metals, such as lead, chromium, mercury and potent carcinogens like toluene, benzene, and xylene into the ocean.

Pollute the air as much as 7,000 cars driving 50 miles a day.

This is before an oil spill, which could devastate the tourism economy, which accounts for 80 per cent of the Bahamas Gross Domestic Product, and severely impact all aspects of Bahamian life, including our food. How can anyone in their right mind continue to even flirt with the idea of drilling for oil in Bahamian waters?

There can be no justification for putting the entire Bahamas, its economy, its health, its food, its very existence at such a great risk. Only an addicted gambling fool would do something like this to their own people. Those who make these decisions will be the first ones packed, with suitcases full of money, standing at the airline gates when the flood waters rise, and the Bahamian people have taken to the streets because they have no jobs, no money, no food, no hope. Those politicians and businessmen who are pushing for oil drilling will be on the first flights out when catastrophe strikes. Mark my words.

The very fact that a political leader in a democracy would even consider making such an important decision without a referendum, where the people get to voice their opinion, should be grounds for prosecution. At the very least it shows their utter contempt for the spirit of democracy and at worst should qualify them for universal ridicule.

Worse, the leading news organisations in the Bahamas “report” on this matter as if the science and relevant facts that most of our country may be underwater in mere decades, doesn’t exist.

According to BPC’s own website:

In March 2013, the Government of the Bahamas announced it would not pursue a referendum, deciding instead to first acquire the data required to make an informed decision on energy development, prior to any form of public consultation (if any). This decision removed crucial uncertainties and provided clarity and direction for future decisions by the Government, the Company and potential partners.

I wonder how that happened?

A true and honourable statesman would say something like:

“My fellow Bahamians, the science is in. The use of fossil fuels contributes substantially to greenhouse gases which are causing the ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise. To do our part in securing our own future, we have decided that we cannot support drilling for oil in Bahamian waters. In addition, the very real possibility of an oil spill would devastate our fisheries, our beaches, our health, and our tourism sector which is the economic engine of this country. To allow oil drilling in Bahamian waters is both irresponsible and hypocritical.”

In fact, after reading the words Mr Christie so eloquently delivered at the UN climate summit, one would expect that something along these lines would be in his very next speech to the Bahamian people.

What happened on the way home?

NORMAN M TRABULSY JR

Nassau,

November 2, 2014.

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