‘Champion, Champion, everybody knows West Indies are Champions!’ By now, everyone in the Caribbean region has witnessed the magnificent victory by the new ICC (International Cricket Council) T20 World Cup Cricket Tournament Champions, the West Indies in India last week. Of course we have also watched the brilliant Carlos Brathwaite of Barbados hit those sixes into the stands in the final nail-biting over of the match. Most of you have spontaneously burst into the well-known ‘Champion Dance’ once or twice after the win. Like Mr. Brathwaite and the triple champion teams, I am urging that we, the inhabitants of the Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS), hit fossil fuel use for six, out of our islands. We can become the champions of renewable energy use in the world.
But can we really do without fossil fuels? I mean, we use it every single day for almost everything, such as charging our many electronic devices, cooking, transportation and surprisingly, water use. Many might not know that the water sector is the largest user of fossil fuels on the islands. When you drink a glass of water do you know how much fuel you have just consumed? Electricity, generated by fossil fuels, is used to supply and distribute water to homes, schools and businesses daily.
Therefore, when you waste water, you are wasting the fossil fuel used to produce it, resulting in harm to the environment and by extension your personal health. We know gas and oil is not cheap, especially for those who have to commute to Bridgetown daily for work. As a SIDS, we are known to be highly dependent on fossil fuel imports in order to survive. We need to cut the metaphorical umbilical cord which attaches us to oil and break free from this tie. Petroleum has us wrapped around her little finger but we need to unwrap ourselves somehow. Fossil fuel use contributes to climate change, climate change in turn affects us with projected longer droughts and with longer droughts more energy may have to be used to find more water which we do not exactly have. This is why water conservation is critical.
We all have heard that Barbados is a water-scarce country and within the top ten in the world. This is why wise water use is important, especially during this time of drought. Saving water may save not only your life but the lives of your neighbours.
Whilst water-scarce countries do not have a lot of fresh water and going through a drought, we sure do have a lot of something else: sunlight or solar energy which can be harnessed for electricity. Do not get me wrong, solar power use has been a staple in Barbados for many years. We have even been lauded as leaders in solar power use in the world during the International Year of SIDS (2014) when the world celebrated small islands, especially during World Environment Day celebrations as the host country. We then need to up our game never the less and start the move away from our high dependence on petroleum.
But what can we do without fossil fuels you ask? I know what! We can survive at least a little bit longer on these little rocks in the sea. Let us be champions like our West Indies team and the exemplary Brathwaite, and break free from this fossil fuel choke-hold.