Letters — 17 July 2008 — by Christina L. Salisbury
July 17, 2008
“One can determine the current value of most anything by counting the number of people fighting over it.” Anonymous
As displayed in last week’s public consultation, oil in Belize is a topic which has grown in importance since UBAD’s Oil Forum last November. The forum discussed the potential benefits of the discovery of oil, but it was also revealing about our sense of values. Mr. Godwin Hulse gave us the Belizean perspective that oil is for everyone – the late Mr. Jim Cavanaugh gave us the American perspective of individual land ownership and the rights Americans expect. Young Belizeans can now see the choices more clearly, as they are tugged and pulled between these opposing viewpoints.
Belizean roots are essentially communal; even the Anglo-Saxon perspective was communal, for England was/is an island. Island people have a sense of limits, recognizing the benefits of working together in a small space. The African and Mayan traditions are communal – recognizing that in the larger sense, what is good for the community is good for every individual.
North American forbears from Europe were people who leaped out of constraining circumstances into what was (they thought) an open-ended situation on an endless landmass with huge resources. They are only now beginning to recognize their limits. Our Earth is really an island in the sky, and cannot support a huge population whose philosophical base is individualism and endless growth.
The oil industry in Belize, even if it is for all-of-we, will net only short term gains, unless we invest the returns wisely. Ironically, the best investment we can make with our oil money is to teach ourselves to live without it. The industry’s most optimistic reports indicate that oil products will be unavailable, or prohibitively expensive within a few decades. We need to shift from a dependence on oil-based products to our bountiful God-given renewable resources – sun, soil, wind and wood. The oil revenues could buy us the time to do so.
We can take a bold leap into the future and begin to think, plan and act on population equilibrium, appropriate technologies for small communities and the development of lifestyles and expectations that stay within the limits of the Earth’s resources. By doing this now, we can avoid the errors of the “developed” nations that, with their high consumption demands, will suffer greatly in the coming time of transition.
We can act with more intelligence – let us turn ourselves around and take another path and not be confused by the rap the commercial entities are laying on us. Let us learn to utilize the renewable resources we have, yet stay within Nature’s guidelines for a better life together.
Christina L. Salisbury