Climate change and Jamaican politics: The future is not in good hands

Excuse me if my mind doesn’t think in straight lines. The world has just been treated to the so-called ‘COP21’ summit/forum, and sustainable energy use. Now everyone, who isn’t out playing golf is parsing the agreement and wondering if it will make a difference or would it just be another piece of bureaucratic hot air and waste of paper (hopefully, not, as the document was in PDF form and only available online?). In our little corner of the planet, the Caribbean, we’re often blissfully ignorant of the bigger issues that major countries are focused on or actions that they take that may have detrimental effects on us. We tend to get riled up if one of our citizens gets caught up (and then we rale about “How badly they treat us…as if we don’t matter…”), but otherwise we look on a bit goggle-eyed.

So it is in Jamaica, where no election was called before Christmas–as the government had teased us to believe it would be–and instead we are now in the season of incessant electioneering. One feature of this that has struck me is the ‘fickleness of youth’ factor that seems to be a dominant theme. In part, youth (as represented by candidates or elected MPs) has been treated sort of shabbily. Look at the ordeals that have been endured by some of the more notable representatives of that cohort–Lisa Hanna, Damion Crawford, and Raymond Pryce to name a few who are in the government’s ranks. Whether one likes all they do or not, they represented one end of the political spectrum (the other being closer to the Jurassic Park end). That image is not one new to the governing party:

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The PNP and its leadership as often portrayed (Courtesy: Clovis and Jamaica Observer)

Nor is it one that they like, particularly. But, politicians become extraordinarily thin-skinned when the needle comes close.

Now, in fairness to processes, some of the young elected MPs have not done credit to themselves, and whether it’s a ‘shell game’ or other kinds of trickery, they’ve ended up biting the hand that feeds them (even though they said they were not into any feeding):

Courtesy: Jamaica Observer

You just don’t help your case by not being able to speak with a clear voice.

But, it’s that aspect that leads me to think about ‘climate change’. That ‘voicing’ of opinion is part of the lexicon of politics. Jamaican politicians are good at airing their opinions, so much so that the registering of hot gas emissions over the island has reached record levels in the past six months. (I requested the data from NEPA under the Access to Information Act, but the usual delays mean that it’ll be a few months before I’m told that it’s not available due to some Officials Secrets Act restrictions.)

Enter again fickle youth, this time in the guise of one Dwayne Vaz. Well, he’s now famous for inciting a crowd from a party political platform with the near utterance of the ‘g’ word, and the playing of a song from the infamous ‘Vybz Kartel’.

Courtesy: Jamaica Observer

Unwlling or unable to see the danger and folly of ‘going there’, public opinion has ganged up to show that this is not where most people want to see political rhetoric heading in Jamaica. Let’s leave that to the so-called ‘land of the free, home of the brave’ and we have no need to trump that country on that count.

I guess, fearing for his political future, young Dwayne did not want to see the painful consequences of any ‘Vaz: Hector me?’, so cut his losses with an apology crafted right out of ‘Law Student Tomes 101’ (where else does one find phrases (my stress) such as ‘I also made it clear in my presentation that I was in no way blaming anyone for the fire and so any coincidental or misunderstood conjoined comment about weapons…’?)

While, this hot air rises above the island, we note that the ruminating leadership has been exhibiting that deadly silence which borders on condoning what was said. So, as with COP21, we have to wonder whether there is any real hope for climate change.

While I understand that flags may help to light a spark under the tinder dry political rivalries that exist in Jamaica, I’m honestly more worried that ‘learning from your elders and betters’ is going on in such a way as to hold little hope that youngsters will kibba yuh mouth and not actually light fires.