DARRYN BOODAN-editorial-pic

RIGHT now, Trinidad and Tobago is facing a potential catastrophe. No, I don’t mean our unsustainable fixed exchange rate, or our almost bankrupt National Insurance Board, or that there won’t be Carnival next year.

I am referring to the oil storage vessel Nabarima which is currently anchored off the coast of Venezuela across the Gulf of Paria.

Around September, reports began to surface that the Nabarima’s engine room was badly damaged, with the vessel taking in water and listing. If the Nabarima sinks, the potential oil spill would destroy the entire western coastline from Chaguaramas to Icacos.

So naturally it took the T&T Government almost two months before they could “inspect” the stranded vessel.

Regular readers of this column will know that the reason the Nicolas Maduro regime has been slow to deal with this crisis is that they are masquerading as a government.

And that PDVSA, the state-run oil company, is really in other business rather than producing oil.

In fact, neither Maduro nor Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) has issued a single public statement so far on the Nabarima, something our own Government hasn’t even publicly pressed them on.

As we know, Dr Rowley reserves his outrage for British parliamentarians concerned about T&T nationals being stranded abroad.

But apart from highlighting how afraid our Government is of Maduro, the Nabarima issue is yet another glaring example of how blind the modern-­day environmental movement is to the economic system truly endangering the planet. Contrary to what hippies and deranged UWI professors believe, it is socialism not capitalism which has proven to be the worst offender of environmental damage.

In fact, the Nabarima issue pales in comparison to the ecological disaster which is currently unfolding within the workers’ paradise under Maduro. A recent oil spill along Venezuela’s western coastline back in August left widespread devastation to coral reefs. Maduro’s environmental agency, the aptly named “Ministry of Eco-socialism”, didn’t bother with bourgeoisie procedures like investigating the cause of the spill or collecting data on the damage.

The Ministry of Eco-socialism has also had little to say about Maduro opening large swaths of tropical rainforest to mining companies from countries such as Russia, China and Canada. Between 2016 and 2017, an estimated 200 hectares of pristine rainforest were lost. Venezuela is experiencing a deforestation disaster.

You haven’t heard about any of this because environmentalists are busy with nonsense like protesting Starbucks or ­living off sunlight. But Venezuela’s horrendous environmental record is not unique, it mirrors that of other countries which worship Marx and Engels and have no toilet paper.

For example, the granddaddy of socialism, the former USSR, was responsible for one environmental catastrophe after another. The most notorious one occurred in 1986 when the reactor at the Vladimir Lenin nuclear power plant located in Chernobyl exploded during a routine “safety test”. Typical socialist mathematics calculated that 31 comrades died as a result. Unofficially the death toll was in the hundreds of thousands, with large swaths of neighbouring Belarus being made radioactive and unliveable to this day.

Today 75 per cent of all surface water in Russia is polluted, over 200 cities suffer from severe air pollution, and illegal logging, causing massive deforestation, is worth an estimated one billion. All of this is a consequence of totalitarian Soviet state central planning. But hey, as nitwit Bernie Sanders pointed out, the Soviets had nice subways, so it all evens out.

In China, that other well-known bastion of social equality and no press freedom, air pollution levels remain among the worst in the world. Cancer rates are so high in certain cities they are known as “Cancer Villages”. More than half of China’s surface water is so polluted that it cannot be treated to be made drinkable. And about a quarter of China’s land has been lost to desertification destroying vegetative land cover. The current Covid-19 pandemic is also a testament to the rather lax procedures in China’s laboratories.

And no list of tyrannical countries would be complete without every moron’s favourite hell hole, Cuba. Some people who ridiculously hold up Castro’s dictatorship as a model of sustainable living are forced to ignore Cuba’s shady nickel mining industry which has destroyed the coastline and contaminated the large swaths of land near Moa. But that doesn’t look cool as a Che T-shirt.

This is not to suggest environmental disasters don’t occur in capitalist countries. Of course they do. But besides being about the free exchange of goods and services, capitalism is about the free exchange of ideas—ideas that spawn things like environmental journalism, justice systems that hold people to account and scientific innovation that helps in the preservation of the environment. Socialist centrally planned economies, on the other hand, run everything like the Licensing office and inevitably treat with the environment as they do people. Which is “tell them do as I say, not as I do”. Or else I’ll put you in front of a firing squad.

Right now any hope of preventing an oil spill in the Gulf lies with ENI—the Italian energy company which owns 25 per cent of the Nabarima’s cargo. ENI is trying to protect its reputation and help transfer oil off the vessel while PDVSA acts like it couldn’t care less.

To save our environment, we need more greedy capitalists like ENI and fewer power-to-the-people companies like PDVSA.

• Darryn Boodan is a freelance writer

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