Show-business government – entertain the masses, but don’t talk about results
World Environment Day on Saturday, June 5, 2010 produced a frenzy of statements by our government Ministers and about a dozen newspaper articles faithfully regurgitating the government press releases. Environmental promises, pledges and symbolic gestures were many – but examples of accomplishments and real action were limited to only one that we can see: a clean-up of Carlisle Beach by LIME employees.
Again with one exception, absent from the recounting of the day in the media is any critical thinking or questions – especially about how Barbados, its people and its government performed during the past year in relation to the environment. The powers that be decided that World Environment Day in Barbados would be a feel-good bit of entertainment where no issue would be seriously discussed – and that’s exactly what Bajans received.
Feel good entertainment about the Environment with no action taken
After some introductory musical entertainment to attract a few onlookers, Patrick Todd, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce gave a speech at Heroes Square for what the Barbados Advocate called “World Environmental Day 2010 celebrations”. Todd’s speech had all the buzzwords – “sustainable”, “coastal marine ecosystems”, “green economy” – and contained some generally acknowledged truths, such as…
“We must facilitate the development of renewable energy resources such as wind, sun, biomass, solid and liquid waste and environmental friendly forms of fossil-based fuels such as natural gas. We must promote the recycling of our solid and liquid waste. We must protect our coastal waters and coastline and the purity of our water supply and atmosphere. We must also ensure the efficient construction of our roads and infrastructure through best-practice environmental and infrastructural technologies,”
Minister Todd as quoted in the Barbados Advocate story Todd: Take action on environmental protection
Minister Todd did not mention that his government has not delivered an Environmental Protection Act, and the lapdog reporters conveniently forgot about that little detail too.
You’ll notice that Minister Todd has to say “We must…” throughout the speech, not “We did…” or “We are…” and that pretty well sums up World Environment Day in Barbados. Next year the Ministers will probably still be saying “we must” rather than “we did” because like the BLP, the DLP are predominantly engaged in show business government: entertainment and symbolic gestures but little real advancement or doing. They keep making the same promises because we, the citizens and our news media, continue to allow them to do so without any accountability.
Dr. Lowe announces that the government will be making an announcement in the future… really!
Minister Todd’s World Environment Day speech was also given by Environment Minister Denis Lowe – in some sections almost word-for-word.
Minister Lowe’s comments were primarily an announcement that an announcement will be made in the future about the proposed building of a garbage incinerator waste-to-energy plant, a leechade treatment plant and the final decision about Greenland. Yes, that’s correct folks: Denis Lowe gave an announcement of a future announcement of a proposal. (See the Barbados Advocate article Aiming to reduce pollution.)
The move away from landfills to energy producing incinerators is a good thing and was proposed by Barbados Free Press in 2006. Glad to see the government sees the wisdom. Now if we only could have faith they can make it happen for a reasonable price.
National Park announced for about the 10th time
Earlier in the week, Dr. Lowe announced for about the tenth time that Barbados is planning to create a national park stretching from Archer’s Bay to Consett Bay. It is amazing how much entertainment mileage the government has received from announcing over and over again that they WANT to make a national park. No reporters ever ask “You announced this for the 8th time about three months ago. What have you done since the initial announcement two years ago? What has changed? What progress has been made? What is the timeline and milestone goals?”
No reporters ever ask “Why did you shelve the proposed Graeme Hall National Park near the city and instead create a park in a place that is so difficult to get to?”
Nope, the Bajan news media keeps covering the National Park story every time it is freshly announced. No questions. No analysis. No difficult observations like a timeline documenting each announcement against a timeline showing no action taken.
Where is the long-promised Environmental Protection Legislation?
Long ago, Dr. Lowe promised that the new Environmental Protection Legislation would be put forth in February of 2009. It never happened and this year on World Environment Day our Bajan news media never even asked Dr. Lowe about the legislation.
The Barbados Advocate printed an editorial “Protect the Environment“ where they try their best to call for environmental legislation without embarrassing the government. That was a tough job but the newspaper editors pulled it off without too much trouble… wouldn’t want to put those government advertising dollars at risk, you know!
World Environment Day a media success in Barbados!
World Environment Day in Barbados was a carefully staged feel good event designed to get the most positive media coverage possible for the government.
As a media event, it was a success. As a day to make Bajans think seriously about the environment, it may have been less than effective and even counter-productive because the government handed out self-congratulations to itself for nothing and the news media let them get away with it. Thanks to the government and our news media, Bajans learned that merely speaking “green” words is enough for a pass.