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Several conversations surrounding different aspects of climate change have been top of the news over the last week. These include: changing hurricane patterns; sea temperatures warming; overall global warming; earthquakes and powerful tsunamis; polar melts; coral reef destruction; dangers of extinction of certain species that are important to agriculture, among others.

This seems like an overload in a short period of time, and everyone and every possible organizations locally, regionally, and internationally, are meeting to discuss further mitigation options. This may seem like a sudden emotional response, but I don’t agree. This is the effect of science, measurement, and rigorous assessment coming to the table at last. So the suspicions of previous “fringe groups” that faced the brunt of political denial, are at last being vindicated.

This is one of the main arguments that supports academic research in science and technology and their role in dispelling myths and finally provides a basis for action. The space between conjecture and reality has often been obscured by self-interest in writing great papers for personal academic kudos and personal advancement.

There is nothing essentially wrong except for the fact that research, buried in obscurity, does nothing to improve our human condition. So policies remain uninformed and subject to manipulation by many policy makers, naysayers, and the prospects of illegal enrichment.

Climate change, global warming, and environmental responsibility find themselves (even today) as small dispersed lobby groups whose main enemies are the huge oil and other fossil fuel global corporations. In the past this confrontation was an ugly war of the proletariat versus the robber barons. This confrontation took in the whole gamut of threats, purchase and burial of patents, strikes, and some more serious crimes possibly in the realm of the police, FBI, and Interpol.

Today’s scientific discovery and projections will prove to be an equalizer in the epic battle of the people versus the oil companies, and the new evidence brings us closer to a unanimous verdict: guilty as charged.

It however brings a conundrum for countries like Jamaica, but also offers us pathways previously unseen as options for policy consideration:

1. Oil and gasoline are fossil fuels and damaging to our environment.

2. Liquefied Natural Gas is a fossil fuel.

3. Nuclear is the most ecologically acceptable but politicians and people are skeptical, so I will leave that alone (at least for today).

4. Hydroelectric power is not an option for Jamaica.

5. Wind turbines (if improved) can be a useful but limited part of the system.

6. Tidal power is not an answer for Jamaica.

7. Hydro-thermal is not an option.

8. This leaves us with solar power that is increasing in efficiency and lowering costs every day.

I therefore see solar and nuclear as the two mechanisms to replace all fossil fuels and by which clean and affordable energy can be attained.

There is ongoing discussion about the transportation sector, and about buses running on LNG. So why not solar or hybrid, and what would the cost for those vehicles conversion or abandonment be? The same could apply to the reduction of importation duties on hybrid or totally electric cars and an environmental tax on the current fossil fuel vehicles at the port or the pump.

This cannot be a sudden knee jerk as we often do. So let us make gradual adjustments that facilitate total changeover of 2030, and work backward from there. This will allow a preferential duty on hybrid and electric vehicles as soon as the infrastructure at fuel stations and homes meet the international standard requirements for safety. I can assure you that this will be a better investment than the interim step to widespread LNG usage, and a later full conversion.

LNG requires liquefaction at the country of shipment, and regasification at the country of usage, and this adds two expenses to the shipping and handling. At the country of usage the gas will have to be transported by specific trucks to the service point, and poses a threat to other motorists and communities if mishandled.

Please allow me to make a personal observation. It is considerably easier to enjoy the benefits of corruption from oil, gasoline, LNG, than from nuclear and solar. So I ask myself: is that where the problem really lies?

Who will build the regasification plant? Who will own and operate the specialized delivery vehicles? Who will build pipelines where necessary?

Nuclear is a highly specialized field and is under scrutiny of the IAEA so there is an external monitoring body at a very high level. Solar energy technology is making the supply costs and efficiencies much cheaper and there is no monopoly or oligopoly that influences cartelization of pricing.

So where will the dialogue go? I have started it for some time with little success because people are afraid to step on toes and demand answers.

Where are the cojones?

James Moss-Solomon
Executive in Residence
Mona School of Business and Management

October 9, 2018

In just one week and two airplane rides, the media, the speculators, the “expert” analysts, and the political spin doctors are up at full speed. Contradictions of opinions, historical precedencies, former diplomatic maneuvers, and fairly obscure academics are having their one minute soundbites that will give rise to yet another book.

They all focus on the unstable and seemingly volatile President Trump, who has set them in a frenzy of analyzing the rationality of a man who thrives on chaos. The concept of cursing your friends and embracing your enemy seem so illogical, but economic indicators seem to be predicting positive outcomes, and today the Stock Market indicators are up.

The President was in a rough mood with the other members of the G-7 especially the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and capped it off by refusing to sign the communique, and suggested that Russia should be re-admitted. I wonder who had a Cold War for decades with Russia? Which countries supported the USA with embargoes that hurt their own economies? Who are NATO allies?

Who is the largest economy and who loses in a trade war? Who claims to be the champion of democracy, pillories Cuba, Iran, but warms up to North Korea? Today the Stock Market indicators are up. 

These could all be final examination questions in a number of courses: logic; financial analysis; psychology; international relations; and risk management. The correct answer when translated to short term gains could make millions for the accurate “punter” as this seems to be a horse race that has been tampered with, but we have not yet pinned it on the owner, jockey, trainer, or the groom; perhaps it may be the bookmaker.

Our fascination with the flamboyant, innuendos, social media misinterpretations, fake news, focus our attention on the unpredictable, and distracts us from real opportunities (like Barbados). So here are some exams for the second paper:

  1. If Barbados devalues, will there be any bargain buys or investment opportunities in US dollars?
  2. Will hotel prices be reduced to allow a lower budget visitor?
  3. Will the future of tax-incentives be continued, discontinued, or revoked?
  4. Will Barbadian workers in the service industries become more civil to non-white visitors?
  5. What will the increase in income taxes and the addition of more company social payments contributions mean for business profitability?
  6. Will wealthy Barbadians sell out and migrate?
  7. What will the net pay differential be for UWI lecturers in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad after the tax increase and minus the cost of living when expressed in US dollars?

These are just a few of the obstacles/opportunities for expansion or contraction in the surrounding countries and trading partners of NAFTA and CARICOM. It is also an opportunity to sit back and do nothing but grumble about not getting paid for goods and services by Barbados.

The situation impacts the sources of UWI and UHWI funding and both must find ways of implementing counter measures and projects so as to avoid a financial crisis that will impact the plans for educational expansion. It requires a well thought out strategy right now.

James Moss- Solomon
Executive in Residence
Mona School of Business and Management

June 12, 2018

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