Understanding the Law
June 27, 2008
Oil Watch

Many of us who watch cable television are bombarded every day with discussions about the escalation in the price of oil. It has become a crucial issue in the presidential campaign in the United States of America. While one candidate is calling for the release of the ban on offshore drilling in the USA, the other candidate is calling for alternatives to fossil fuel and less reliance on oil. The debate has become more intense with the escalation in the price of gas at the pump. {{more}} While the average price of petrol is $4.07 in the USA, in SVG it is $14.00 per gallon. The hike in price has come about as a result of the demand for oil around the world and especially in China and India.

Oil crisis is nothing new and there was a similar situation in 1970s when several Arab nations tightened their control on the supply of oil. Today it is the operation of the economic problem of demand and supply that is at the core of the price hike not because of the cost of production. The producers of oil are the ones to benefit. However, there is the issue of oil usage and the effect that it has on the environment. It is well known that when fossil fuel is used carbon is released into the atmosphere causing damage to our environment.

Here in SVG our dependence on oil for so many things and especially for the generation of electricity is causing worries for our people. For the last two months fuel charges have been higher than the electricity charges. With the carnival celebrations, it is expected that fuel charges would be even higher for next month. The more electricity that is consumed collectively, the higher the fuel charges. What are we doing to relieve the strain on our slim resources?

Tackling the problem

We have to grapple with the problem by reducing our use of electricity in our homes. It would be a difficult decision because you would have to consider whether to switch off the dusk to dawn light that you keep to light up against burglars. Well, I doubt that apart from an electric toaster, that you are not using electricity for cooking. You would have to make the sacrifice to buy the gas cooker because you would save some money in the long run. The electric water heater could be replaced by a solar water heater. After the initial cost for the equipment, you would have no other expenses for heating. Get in the habit of turning off lights when you leave a room, unplug transformers or any gadget that you are not using. Look out for the tips from VINLEC. Conserve energy!

In terms of the use of vehicles, you would have to cut down on your travelling. Make sure you include all that you need on that grocery list so that you would make only one trip per week or month to the supermarket. Perhaps you can car pool with or use public transport when it is convenient.

Role of the policy makers

The next level is at the policy makers. The need for alternative fuel may be better under taken at that level. Perhaps there could be more exploitation of hydroelectricity or wind power. The heat of the sun is ever present; we need to trap it for more than heating water. The scientists need to put on their thinking caps to come up with something to save humanity. The present way of life must take a different course if we are to survive!

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]