…or not to develop
Once more, we’re faced with a variant of Hamlet’s existential question: “To be or not to be?” This time, cutting down a swathe of mangrove trees on the western bank of the Demerara River for a shore base posed the question, “To develop or not to develop?” This isn’t a new question, and goes back to the French Revolution’s “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” that unsettled the old “nasty, brutish and short” lifestyle. Rousseau cried out in agony for the “Noble Savage”: “Man is born free but is everywhere in chains”.
So, do we want to remain as Noble Savages? We’re still scraping the bottom of the Human Development Index (HDI) at 122nd out of 189 countries! And your Eyewitness doesn’t see much nobility when some have to scavenge garbage! He thinks we have to balance our drive for a “better life” versus the “old way”. Wasn’t Rousseau followed by the “Romantics”, like Wordsworth, who despaired over the encroaching, grimy industrialisation on beauteous Mother Nature?
Well, for the longest while, no one bothered about such sentiments in what wasn’t even Guyana then. The Dutch cleared most of the coastland of mangroves that had kept the Atlantic out, when they moved out of upriver Essequibo River to establish sugar plantations here. They replaced the mangrove with sea dams, and then sea walls. And if it weren’t for that, there’d be no Guyana!! And no Georgetown, where most of the “woke” live, and stroll on tiled walkways laid over the filled-in canals that once drained the mangrove swamp on which the city was built. Ever wondered why there’s a “Water Street”?
Anyhow, two centuries down the road, all hell’s breaking out about the abovementioned mangrove clearing. Minister Edghill patiently explained that the developer of the shore base will be constructing steel-plated revetments that would do an ever better job than the mangrove in keeping out the rising Demerara River. It’s like those sections at Mahaica/Mahaicony where the mangrove trees are being washed away and we have to spend billions to build concrete or rip-rap sea walls to keep out the Atlantic. And no one says anything…cause it’s Mother Nature destroying the mangrove?
The “woke” chatterati class have now moved the goalposts on the mangroves: they aren’t only keeping out the rivers and ocean from inundating us, they’re “carbon sinks” that suck up carbon dioxide. Leave the mangroves like we should leave our oil under the sea!! The laws of Florida were invoked to show how the “developed” USA protects their mangrove. As if the US left their oil underground. And that Tampa didn’t moved 44% of their mangrove to be as developed as they are!
Compromise? The developer should replant an equivalent number of mangrove trees to stop the Atlantic at Mahaica.
…by inviting FDI?
Ever since the Independence Movement swept the world following WWII, “development” was the cry! Problem for us in Guyana was our leaders dithered over which of the two available models of development – capitalism or communism – they’d pick. The capitalists, led by the US, insisted that we needed capital (what else!) to make the necessary investments, while the commies just as fervently said the Government should nationalise everything and produce “for the nation”.
Well, we don’t really need to be told which system came out on top, do we? Here’s Russia – after 70 years of communism – fervently trying to encourage investment, while China way back when, accepted western investment! And the rest, as they say, is history!! Yet, here in Guyana, some folks are arching their eyebrows to their hairlines because President Ali made a pitch for American investors to put their greenbacks to develop our agricultural potential.
So, like the Luddites, they want us to keep on planting bora in our back gardens?
Gwan da side!!
To plug their plans for the US to come out of their Great Depression, several leaders guaranteed “a chicken in every pot” for every American.
Here, some scoffed when Pres Ali promised universal tertiary education.
What say they now?