The EnergyClimate Era

Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist Thomas Friedman in his recent book, “Hot, Flat and Crowded” focuses on five key problems that are intensifying in the world.   They are: the growing demand for ever scarcer energy supplies and natural resources; a massive transfer of wealth to oil-rich countries and their petro-dictators; disruptive climate change; energy poverty, which is sharply dividing the world into electricity haves and electricity have-nots; and rapidly accelerating biodiversity loss, as plants and animals go extinct at record rates. Friedman defined this period in human history as the “Energy Climate Era”.
 
The Cayman Islands is already witnessing some of the problems identified by Friedman. Local author Frederick J. Burton in his recent book
 
“Threatened Plants of the Cayman Islands: The Red List” writes that there are 415 species and varieties of plants believed to be truly native to the Cayman Islands. The majority of native plants are exquisitely adapted to the dry forests, shrublands and wetlands in which they have evolved. Many are incapable of surviving naturally outside these complex natural communities. Yet the Caymanian landscape is being subjected to large-scale deforestation.
 
Based on Mr. Burton’s research, by 1998, Grand Cayman was already 37 per cent deforested. Cayman Brac was close behind at 26 per cent. Even Little Cayman, with a far smaller human population, had suffered 19 per cent loss of its natural vegetation cover. The deforestation of the Cayman Islands is ongoing and appears to be accelerating. As a result, at least 46 per cent of the Cayman Islands native plants are now threatened with extinction.
 
Burton’s findings should concern us all; as should the deteriorating conditions of our coral reefs, the declining levels of marine life in our waters, the increasing volume of effluent that drains into the North Sound and how we dispose of solid and toxic wastes, metals and aluminium. The higher the George Town landfill rises the greater our concern should be about the state of our natural environment.
 
In this issue, we focus on the environment including the development of a National Energy Policy that addresses carbon emissions and bio-fuels, waste to energy and strategies pertaining to renewable energy. Any policy that is developed should ensure stable and adequate energy supplies at the least economic cost, should reduce Cayman’s dependence on oil through the development of renewable and alternative energy sources and technologies and minimise the adverse environmental effects and pollution caused by the production, storage, transport and use of energy.
 
All readers are encouraged to join the growing list of businesses and individuals featured in this magazine that have signed the Chamber’s Environmental Pledge. Introduced in 2007, the pledge includes easy-to-adopt daily actions that reduce our carbon footprint and save money in the home and at the office. Please refer to the first annual Chamber of Commerce Green Guide – a listing of member businesses that offer environmentally friendly products and services. We’ve done our best to list as many businesses that offer green products. If you’d like to be featured in next year’s issue, please let us know.
 
Protecting and preserving our environment is everybody’s business. Please do your part to keep Cayman clean and green and thank you for supporting the Chamber’s efforts to make the Cayman Islands the best place to live and conduct business.

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