News this week that global carbon dioxide emissions possibly fell about eight per cent last year is but a drop of positivity in what has been a calamitous year for the planet. While greenhouse gas emissions declined infinitesimally, cognisance must be taken of the fact that this was only due to the lockdowns forced by the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in a temporary halt in industrial activity and airline travel.

The pandemic continues to plague the globe, but manufacturing and air travel resumed during the year, perhaps not at pre-coronavirus levels, but enough to make the good news transitory.

Meanwhile, natural disasters, nature’s response to the war humans continue to wage against the planet did not abate. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, referred to as brutal and record-breaking, produced 30 storms, 13 of which were hurricanes, six of them counted as major.

Wildfires and forest fires caused deaths and damaged ecosystems in Australia, India, the Canary Islands, Ukraine, China, Scotland, Poland, Greece, Turkey and Algeria. In the US, the annual California blazes were particularly devastating with close to 40 deaths and there were also fires in South Jersey and Florida which razed thousands of acres. Closer to home, fires in the Amazon rainforest were up 61 per cent from 2019. There were some 30,000 fires and those in the Brazilian Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland and home to the largest population of jaguars in the world, were the worst ever recorded.

Environmental degradation remains at alarming levels despite the mountains of evidence proving certain practices detrimental to the planet and all forms of life on it.

Oceans are overfished and polluted with plastic and other waste, forests are depleted to facilitate mining and farming, unsustainable river mining pollutes waterways, chemical fertilisers and pesticides poison the atmosphere as well as people and animals.

Science has been pellucid on the fact that fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – are the main and worst contributors to the raging climate crisis. Yet, these are being pursued with relentless vigour in the name of greed and profits. What is worse is the fact that at the end of the day, the projected riches with which fossil fuel companies woo gullible governments are limited after the owners of those companies corral the lion’s share.

Having chosen to seize wealth now rather than pursue protection from future environmental threats, fossil fuel companies have funded climate deniers, lobbied governments and flat out lied, to keep their industries operating. The only reason they have been able to continue to do this is due to the avarice of the relevant authorities.

Guyana is one of the countries which has succumbed to the lure of US dollar signs painted in the air and subscribed to the notion that the billions rolling in from oil exploitation will bring an end to all our woes.

According to Guyana’s Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040, in the next 20 years, “oil wealth would be channelled into productive public investments to deliver sustainable development benefits for the whole of society and into the future.” Furthermore, it envisions that by 2040, “a diversified and high value-add [sic] basket of economic sectors supports broad-based development and environmental responsibility… energy supply is reliable low-cost and low-carbon.”

The rhetoric about oil and gas lifting the country out of poverty and providing jobs sounds good on paper but it ignores the fact that fossil fuels are the worst polluters. And there is an embarrassing amount of naivety in projecting plans for low-cost, low-carbon energy in a country producing oil. Is the objective to produce it but not use it?

The United Nations has targeted 2021 as the year to build a Global Coalition for Carbon Neutrality and since 2015, most of the world committed to limiting global warming as per the Paris Agreement; recent regime change in America has revived hope for the latter.

Getting to net zero emissions of greenhouse gases involves taking such steps as turning to renewable energy and reducing or ending fossil fuel production and consumption. Ending the war with nature requires firm commitment; it is not possible to fence-sit in this instance.

—Stabroek News


Last Sunday’s column touched on multiple subjects about which there is a lack of straight answers. The range of coverage seemed well received, but there was a common observation: “you left out WASA”, referring to the notorious statutory body, the Water and Sewerage Authority.

The large gathering outside the Hall of Justice on Friday night should indicate to the authorities that the public ­anger that erupted following the kidnap-murder of Andrea Bharatt has not dissipated and is unlikely to do so.

With our two main political parties each having their vast majority support in one of the two major races in the country, tribal allegiance protects politicians from the full brunt of public opinion, the ultimate guarantor of democracy.

Accountability is therefore low in this virtually bifurcated society of repeated betrayals and broken promises by politicians. We live in national sin.

Coming out of the meeting between the Prime Minister and the 12 elected Assemblymen in Tobago—six PNM and six PDP—there is an attempt to negotiate the establishment of an interim arrangement of the THA structure.

The concept of interim arose out of the meeting preferring one of two options outlined by the Prime Minister as possible election scenarios

The outrage expressed by many people over the most recent case of the abduction and murder of a young woman is understandable.

We cannot believe there exist among us depraved people who are capable of committing atrocities, inflicting extreme violence on women with seemingly consummate ease and callous detachment.

The Covid-19 pandemic occurred at a time when humanity is at a cross-road. Climate change, the global plastic scourge, ethnic tensions and social divisions were magnified with the many lockdowns worldwide.

The world cannot continue to ope­rate the way it did pre-Covid-19. Honest introspection, coupled with the personal and political will to change, is mandatory for our survival.