CLOS­ING SU­GAR FOR OIL: A Mon­u­men­tal Mis­take In The Mak­ing

Weekend Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

also in some cri­sis mainly due to the fall of oil prices. In that coun­try, the eco­nomic dif­fi­cul­ties have led to a dan­ger­ous po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion.

Fur­ther afield, even though to a less ex­tent, Rus­sia’s eco­nomic prob­lems are also trace­able to the fall in oil rev­enues.

There are many other ex­am­ples, but these will do for the time be­ing.

It is not likely that the price of oil will reach the heights it did in the 1970s in the fu­ture.

Since the oil cri­sis of the 1970s, coun­tries have been search­ing for al­ter­na­tive sources of en­ergy.

In the post-oil cri­sis pe­riod, an­other huge prob­lem has arisen that has forced the best minds in the world to deal with it - the phe­nom­e­non of cli­mate change.

The ev­i­dence is there to prove that our cli­mate is chang­ing rapidly. This is mainly caused by the heavy de­pen­dence on fos­sil fu­els. If noth­ing is done, the world can ex­pe­ri­ence more and more cat­a­strophic disasters.

This has fu­elled t he search for al­ter­na­tive sources of en­ergy.

In­deed, sci­en­tists have gone a far way in find­ing such sources. So­lar, wind, bio-fu­els, etc., have all made con­sid­er­able strides, and are poised to re­place fos­sil fuel as the most used prod­uct to gen­er­ate en­ergy for our in­dus­tries, trans­porta­tion, etc.

One of the main ob­sta­cles to the com­mer­cial uses of al­ter­na­tive en­ergy is now be­ing over­come. That ob­sta­cle was the de­vel­op­ment of bat­ter­ies to store large quan­ti­ties of en­ergy. Sci­en­tists have now de­vel­oped bat­ter­ies to per­form at the level of in­dus­tries and trans­porta­tion. It will do so com­pa­ra­ble to oil, keep­ing in mind that bat­ter­ies are be­ing im­proved all the time.

This means that oil is los­ing the strate­gic im­por­tance it held, and to a lesser ex­tent, it still holds.

How­ever, tech­nol­ogy is mov­ing so fast that it is pre­dicted that by the year 2020, al­ter­na­tive bio-fu­els will be cheaper sources of en­ergy than oil.

Many coun­tries in Europe have been set­ting dates to stop pro­duc­ing ve­hi­cles pow­ered by fos­sil fuel. France, for in­stance, has just an­nounced its in­ten­tion to stop pro­duc­tion of ve­hi­cles driven by fos­sil fuel by 2040.

An­other de­vel­op­ment that sug­gests that al­ter­na­tive en­ergy is go­ing to largely re­place oil is the fact that many big oil com­pa­nies are in­vest­ing heav­ily in com­pa­nies that pro­duce al­ter­na­tive sources of en­ergy.

The rea­son for this is two-fold. On the one hand, they have huge in­vest­ments in fos­sil fu­els and would like to en­sure max­i­mum re­turns for their cap­i­tal. There­fore, one of the rea­sons is to slow down the growth of al­ter­na­tives, to keep oil prices up.

On the other hand, they are rec­og­niz­ing the in­evitable and the need to stay ahead of the curve, so to speak.

While we must wel­come the oil find and try to max­i­mize our ben­e­fits, we must not lose sight of these facts.

We can be­come a ma­jor player in al­ter­na­tive en­ergy as well. Our po­ten­tial in bio-fu­els is sig­nif­i­cant.

Su­gar of­fers us the best op­por­tu­nity in this re­gard. Al­ready we have sunk cap­i­tal in the in­dus­try and that will give us a strate­gic ad­van­tage.

With su­gar at the base, we can also de­velop al­ter­na­tive en­ergy us­ing rice, co­conuts, soya, and other crops.

Pres­i­dent Granger has pro­fessed a com­mit­ment to a green econ­omy. He is on the right side of his­tory in his pro­nounce­ment.

How­ever, it is hard to see how he will suc­ceed in build­ing a green econ­omy when he has aban­doned the Amaila Falls Hy­dro Project and is now dev­as­tat­ing the su­gar in­dus­try. These sec­tors could go a far way in re­duc­ing our car­bon foot­print.

It is still not too late to pre­vent this in­evitable hard­ship that clo­sure of the es­tates would cause.

Pres­i­dent Granger has an op­por­tu­nity to re­verse this ill-ad­vised po­si­tion. We can be both a ma­jor player in oil and in al­ter­na­tive en­ergy. Let’s grab the mo­ment. Do not squan­der our fu­ture.

We can avoid this colossal mis­take by not clos­ing the su­gar es­tates.

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