Barbados Plays the Climate Card

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen – 1 August 2022

Barbados is a small island nation with a checkered history – once a British colony growing tobacco and sugar and now an independent republic that has de-throned Queen Elizabeth as Queen of Barbados with her acquiescence, replacing her with a President and Prime Minister under an as-yet unwritten Constitution.  

This small island nation, comprising only 167 square miles [ 432 km2 ] with a population of nearly 290,000, defaulted on its $ 8 billion international debt and under the direction of its latest Prime Minister, Mia Mottley and her adviser Avinash Persaud, began a years-long negotiation with international bankers to try to restructure the debt in a way more favorable to Barbados.  To do so, they played the Climate Card.

The story is covered in a magazine-length story co-written by ProPublica and the New York Times. ProPublica is a co-operating partner in the Covering Climate Now climate propaganda cabal.

Boiling the story down to the basics, Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, a member of the most-elite of Barbados’ elite, managed to get international bankers to realize that Caribbean nations were prone to being hit by Atlantic hurricanes, and should have a clause in their debt structure that allowed respite from their loan payments when forced to spend to recover from hurricane damage – Mottley quoted a lot of IPCC nonsense to get them to agree:  Nonsense like “Now, though, experts believe that global warming could drive a fivefold increase in strong hurricanes, suggesting that hits from Category 4 and 5 storms will become an annual near-certainty”.

A hurricane clause for international debt is a good thing, and it is unconscionable that these island nations haven’t always had one.  But let’s make one thing clear:  Barbados is famous for not being hit by hurricanes [link from the official bardadosweather.org ].  For Caribbean sailors, it is considered one of the hurricane safe islands, second only to Trinidad and the ABCs.

The last hurricane to ‘hit’ Barbados was on August 18, 2017 – Tropical Storm Harvey  (later to become Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas) brushed Barbados as a storm. “Winds left residents throughout Barbados without electricity, with the majority of outages occurring in Christ Church, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, and Saint Michael. Flooding washed one house off its foundation, while water entered some houses, forcing some people to evacuate..” [ Wiki ]

Historically:

July 2, 2021: Hurricane Elsa passes just south of the island.

July 23, 2020: Tropical Storm Gonzalo passes 12 miles to the southwest.

August 3, 2012 – Hurricane Ernesto passes 35 mi (56 km) northwest of Barbados

October 30, 2010 – Hurricane Tomas skirts the southern coast of Barbados as a tropical storm

October 4, 2001 Hurricane Iris passes 25 miles to the south.

September 1, 2007: Hurricane Felix passes 70 miles to the south.

August 17, 2007: Hurricane Dean passes 65 miles to the north.

September 7, 2004: Hurricane Ivan passes to the south as a Tropical Storm.

August 4, 2004: Tropical Storm Bonnie passes 20 miles to the north.

September 23, 2002: Hurricane Lili passes 45 miles to the south

October 7, 2001: Tropical Storm Jerry passes 30 miles to the south-west.

Beginning to see a pattern?  Hurricanes have skirted around Barbados at least since the turn of the century.  No hurricanes have hit Barbados since 1950, though Hurricane Janet in 1955 came close enough to cause some damage.  New York City gets hit by hurricanes more often than Barbados. 

Mottley is quoted as saying:  “I can’t do these things if I have to spend money on augmenting water supply because of the climate crisis,” she said.”  The ProPublica/NY Times piece cites the usual villains of climate propaganda, pointing out that Barbados  “is among the half of Caribbean islands the United Nations already describes as water-scarce, with seawater seeping into its aquifers and rainfall that might drop by as much as 40 percent by the end of the century.” 

Sea water is not seeping into Barbados’ aquifers.  Barbados, which is a mountainous island and not a sand-covered coral island,  reliably receives 55 inches of rain a year, most of it in the six-month rainy season June-December, some years more, few years less.     There is no climate crisis in Barbados and there should not be any water supply shortage, except for poor governance of municipal water systems:

Maybe Barbados is threatened by sea level rise?  Despite being an island nation, Barbados has no reliable tide gauge record.  In fact, there are no reliable even medium-term (10-30 year) tide gauge records for any of the islands of the Windward Islands chain.  Regional sea level rise data is also not dependably available.  If we judge by the data from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean has been seeing the widely accepted 8 inches per century of sea level rise.    Barbados is a mountainous island with bluffs at least ten meters (30 feet) or higher on most of its coast.  Even the relatively low-lying Bridgetown has an elevation of about 40 feet. 

And how did Barbados get so far in debt?  The NY Times gives this story:

”For at least a decade before Mottley was elected, a mixture of poor management and corruption had eroded the country’s economy. As Barbados’s former central bank governor DeLisle Worrell described it to me, the country had developed a “dysfunctional” fiscal culture in which government agencies and departments took loans and negotiated deals without consulting the central bank, accumulating sprawling debt and a backlog of need. On the touristed southern end of the island, sewage erupted from neglected pipes as funding to fix them lagged. The country’s response was to print more money and borrow more from abroad, to stanch the economic bleeding. In 2013, during Worrell’s term, Barbados took one of the largest commercial loans in its history — $150 million — from Credit Suisse at 7 percent interest; within a year, it had grown to $225 million, and by 2018, the interest on the balance was 12 percent. The money didn’t last, and the sewer lines weren’t fixed.

Bottom Lines:

1.  Barbados is a small Caribbean island with a large burgeoning population.  Barbados suffers all the disadvantages of small island economies (listed here) – such as “growing populations, limited resources, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks, excessive dependence on international trade, and fragile environments….growth and development is also held back by high communication, energy and transportation costs, irregular international transport volumes, disproportionately expensive public administration and infrastructure.”

2.  Barbados, having gained full independence, has suffered at the hands of its own government – corruption both rampant and often the expected norm.  However, having inherited the benefits of over 300 years of British governmental rule, “Barbados is the 52nd richest country in the world in terms of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita, has a well-developed mixed economy, and a moderately high standard of living. According to the World Bank, Barbados is one of 83 high income economies in the world. Despite this, a 2012 self-study in conjunction with the Caribbean Development Bank revealed 20% of Barbadians live in poverty, and nearly 10% cannot meet their basic daily food needs.” [ Wiki ]

3.  Barbados is in the Windward Island chain – facing the west-bound Atlantic cyclonic storms every year.  For reasons not understood,  Barbados has been spared a major hurricane hit since 1831 –The Great Barbados Hurricane.

4.  It is possible that Barbados may suffer from climatic changes in the future – anything is possible.  But climate does not currently show any signs of threatening Barbados in any way.

5.  Adding a Hurricane Clause to international loan agreements is a good thing – even if Barbados doesn’t really need one, the other Caribbean nations have benefitted by Barbados’ example in demanding one.  Further, like all areas prone to hurricanes, building code standards  should be raised to require “hurricane proofing” of  basic structures and homes.  Governments should assist their poor to upgrade their homes to these standards.

6.  Apparently, in the international monetary and banking worlds, playing the Climate Card can be very successful – in spite of real-world evidence to the contrary concerning Barbados. 

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

I have done humanitarian assistance work on many small Caribbean islands and have visited others as far south and east as St Vincent (absolutely lovely, despite its volcano) and Trinidad.  Life is both easy and hard in Paradise.  Paradoxically, when hit hard by disasters, the poorest people bounce back pretty quickly, they have so little to lose and so little to regain.  In Barbados, considered a comparatively rich nation with a fairly high standard of living, 20% of the people live in poverty of a sort that those of us in North America and Europe have a hard time dealing with. 

It is true that if Barbados is hit by a hurricane like that of 1831, its infrastructure and economy will be devastated.  Barbados would not bounce back like New York City did after Superstorm Sandy. 

On the other hand, almost all of the Windward Islands have been slammed by hurricanes over the years and yet are thriving. The tourist drought caused by Covid was bad, but things are recovering nicely.    

Human development on Monserrat was almost totally destroyed over the last two decades by its volcanic activity.  St Vincent has an active volcano, erupting last year. Most islands (not Barbados) in the Windwards are volcanic in nature.

Like I said, life in Paradise is both easy and hard. I wish Barbados well but fear for it; the reins of its government are in the hands of experts.

# # # # #

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John Garrett
August 2, 2022 7:01 am

KIp,
Thanks for the interesting article.

At one point or another, I have sailed most of the Caribbean chain from the USVIs down to Grenada, though I have purposely avoided the windward bash out to Barbados. As you know so well, the various islands have very differing topographies, economies and cultures. You are so very right when you state “Life is both easy and hard in Paradise… 20% of the people live in poverty of a sort that those of us in North America and Europe have a hard time dealing with.”

It is very sobering and eye-opening to see fishing villages where raw sewage flows down the streets into the sea, where women do laundry in streams, and where desperate “boat boys” paddle miles into the ocean on abandoned, recycled windsurfing boards in an attempt to intercept visiting yachts. There are places in the Caribbean that really aren’t all that far removed from the Neolithic Age.

Pro Publica is so crooked it makes the Mississippi River look straight. Their pieces almost always reflect either willful ignorance or intentional proselytizing. Nothing they produce can or should be trusted.

Last edited 12 days ago by John Garrett
HotScot
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 10:30 am

It makes me wonder if small island communities like Barbados/Bermuda etc. might not benefit from renewable energy.

I only say that because I presume Barbados doesn’t have coal or gas reserves and the island is likely powered by imported fuels.

Is there a case for a kind of nationalised renewables scheme whereby the objective is to supplement imported FF powered energy rather than the obsessive western objective of replacing FF’s with renewables?

It might make sewage processing a viable proposition.

HotScot
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 11:07 am

There goes my theory then. 🤣

They seem to well provisioned for Oil/Gas, they just can’t manage to run a sewage treatment plant.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  HotScot
August 2, 2022 11:32 am

Additionally, how many hectares of wind turbines and solar panels would be needed, and how many hectares are available on the island?

HotScot
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
August 2, 2022 12:04 pm

Offshore wind?

Makes no odds though. The island seems to have plenty of oil and gas for its needs so my question is redundant.

Yooper
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 4:38 pm

How about geothermal?

MARTIN BRUMBY
Reply to  Yooper
August 2, 2022 7:39 pm

I’ve visited a number of countries with geothermal plants. Even Iceland and New Zealand, ideally situated with volcanic hot rocks, seem coy about sharing the information about exactly what the costs are.

I wonder why?

John Garrett
Reply to  Yooper
August 3, 2022 3:55 am

St. Lucia investigated installing a geothermal generating system in the ’80s by drilling a well into a dormant volcanic site on the island. I have visited the site and am relying on the information given to me by the Lucian guide. It was discovered that the powerfully corrosive sulfuric acidity inherent to that volcanic site rapidly degraded the steel pipe that would be used to transfer the subsurface heat to the surface.

Unfortunately, I am not conversant enough on the subject of geothermal energy to explain how and why Iceland has successfully tapped this source of energy while the Caribbean islands with volcanic locations have not. I don’t know if the problem is a matter of cost or physical/engineering impracticality.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_power_in_Iceland

Bill Toland
August 2, 2022 7:01 am

I must congratulate the government of Barbados for their imaginative efforts to avoid paying their debt. If they are successful, expect many more countries to play the climate card in the future.

Last edited 12 days ago by Bill Toland
Gary Pearse
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 10:33 am

If I were a consultant on the subject, I would council Barbados and every other third world country to use this “card”. I would advise that the damage to the world economy was caused 100% by Western advanced countries with their Climateering and the impoverishment cancels their debt. Start loading 3rd world debt on to the now swooning 1st world economies.

EU ruinables peaked in 2017 and Germans and British are showing reluctance to replace aging windmill and solar farms that are being retired and investors are backing away as dozens of ruinable companies have already gone broke. The revival of fossil fuels and nuclear is not a stop gap measure! Perhaps they think it is, but when beleaguered governments find all their most immediate problems problems are miraculously solved by FF and nuclear they won’t let go of it. This will be helped by new heads of state coming in and saving the day as the current mentally ill crop is ousted (I’m not singling out Biden here. The rest are as bad or worse). The 3rd World kicking them when they are down will help.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 2:48 pm

My point (and perhaps I was a bit too angry in my comment) is that climate-policy-caused inflation, damage to industry and employment, chronic fuel and fertilizer shortages (and everything else) and sky high prices, because fuels are at the base of the pyramid of human activity, is already savaging ordinary citizens in developed economies, and this is just the beginning.

A couple of billion people already at the margin are directly subjected to this add-on economic tsunami. The worst for all is yet to come. Surely most of the 3rd world has a clear actionable case for this. In any case they will be in no shape to service debt anyway. They can’t just print more money like the developed economies and spread it around. I’m going to bet you may give me a different answer a year from now.

Paul C
August 2, 2022 7:16 am

Well thought-out opinions. I have also sailed the eastern caribbean, and wholeheartedly agree that fresh water should not be an issue on Barbados. I have never in my life been so drenched by (warm) rainfall as in Barbados. Wet from head to toe including every stitch of clothing, I know why the roads have open gutters/drainage ditches about 18″ wide and deep. Small populations of the remote islands make them dependent on imports of industrial products. I recall the number of rusting hulks (I think it was Dominica) that were left to decay just off the beach, as salvaging the steel was too costly with no industry in the region. Poverty in paradise. Many poor, many happy, rum was cheap! Smoking was common – even tobacco.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 8:37 am

You should have saved the seeds.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 8:47 am

‘I sailed the Windwards in the 1970s, when many islands were still protectorates and other dependencies of European nations.’

What luxury! (h/t Monty Python).

Believe it or not, Barbados produced oil and had a small refinery in those days. I know because I once flew in to do a small ‘perf’ job on one of the island’s few producing oil wells. There were sufficient shaped charges in the shop, but I had to bring in a box of blasting caps and a roll of primer cord in my carryon luggage to do the job.

John Garrett
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 11:02 am

Kip==> LOL

Last edited 12 days ago by John Garrett
Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 11:51 am

No, not in the past 40 years, or so. The good news is that airline security is a lot tighter these days. The bad news is that the current administration doesn’t seem to mind if people wander across the border each year with enough fentanyl to ruin millions of lives.

Paul C
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 12:46 pm

Sailed there in the early years of this century. Didn’t have any mangoes, but did visit the crater of La Soufriere. The volcano steamed a bit back then, and vegetation abounded on the crater floor in contrast to the barren ridge. Very different now – must have been climate change 🙂 . It was interesting to see the smartly dressed schoolchildren in traditional English school uniforms. Something we rarely see in England nowadays! Everything shut on Sunday too – how last century! French islands used the Euro, and had their own problems.

Gunga Din
August 2, 2022 7:41 am

Hmmm … So if Barbados ever does get hit directly it will be because of “Climate Change”, Hurricanes lost the ability to read a map?
Barbados needs cash to buy them a GPS?

Last edited 12 days ago by Gunga Din
Gunga Din
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 8:56 am

All for “The Cause”.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 9:35 am

Anything for “The Cause”.

observa
August 2, 2022 7:51 am

Nice spot for a holiday they tell me if it’s a bit chilly in your neck of the bergs-
Mysterious deep-sea Arctic shark found in the Caribbean (msn.com)
You can’t make this stuff up doomsters. LOL.

Alasdair
August 2, 2022 7:57 am

Very interesting. My thanks.

Maybe a bit off thread; but I noted how Barbados achieved its independence WITH the agreement of our Sovereign. (not much agro there it seems). Also that the Island was relatively rich compared to other islands having been under the rule of Britain for many years👍👍; but this started to fall apart once independence was achieved. 👎👎

An example perhaps of the GOOD side in Britain’s imperial past? Certainly wrt. the reputation of other Colonial countries. ??

Fran
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 12:35 pm

Likewise in India in the 1950’s & 60’s when I was growing up – the beaurocrasy set up by the Brits to administer the country was still working pretty well. Villages had “panchiats” (5 elected officials) who reported to the District Officer who ran everything from the police force to the vaccinator.

Drake
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 3, 2022 8:43 am

The British colonized, the Spanish conquered.

The legacy is ongoing.

Shoki Kaneda
August 2, 2022 8:16 am

If that doesn’t work, they should try racism.

Brad-DXT
August 2, 2022 8:19 am

Kip, I am going to steal part of your last sentence.

“I wish Barbados well but fear for it; the reins of its government are in the hands of experts.”

We all should fear being under the hands of “experts”. The elite experts don’t have the general population’s welfare as their guiding principle.

fretslider
August 2, 2022 8:22 am

Barbados Plays the Climate Card

Pieces of eight…

August 2, 2022 8:30 am

The “debt crisis” has been going on for decades. It is always the same scam.

Money is lent out at a high interest rate. Some of the principle is used to make payments. The rest goes into a couple of untraceable offshore trusts.

There was never any hope the original loan would be repaid. But the high interest rates were too good to pass up.

August 2, 2022 8:41 am

A lot of Canadian banks in Barbados because of a sweetheart tax haven set up to shield the shipping fleet of a previous Canadian Prime Minister.

A Canadian Company can set us a subsiduary in Barbados. They pay 3% tax on international sales to Barbados and the profits then can be repatriated to Canada tax free.

August 2, 2022 8:56 am

Plenty of lawyers offices in Barbados serving as corporate fronts to shell companies. Small offices with a lawyer and a clerk taking sales orders for hundreds off diffferent companies. A lot of it is for show to satisfy the regulations with the real work being done back in Canada.

It was a shock first time there to see the huge offices maintained by the big 5 Canadians banks. Until you learn it is all about the tax. Average Canadians need not apply.

Cant recall it has been awhile but there was some cozy reason Barbados liked the deal so I doubt the financial situation is as black and white as the government argues.

Philip CM
August 2, 2022 9:01 am

CAGW being the lie, leads to the lies of conforming, which then leads to the lies for advantage.

A Ponzi scheme of tissue thin lies bankrolled by a deliberately misinformed taxpayer.

God help us!

Factchecks
August 2, 2022 9:02 am

Barbados is a flat coral island. Make your own assumptions about how well researched the rest of this is if that verifiable fact is wrong.

John Garrett
Reply to  Factchecks
August 2, 2022 9:48 am

From the well-known producer of Caribbean sailing guides:
http://doyleguides.com/barbados/

Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbados#Geography_and_climate

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Factchecks
August 2, 2022 10:52 am

GET A NEW JOB– you’re great at pouncing but hor$e$h!$t @ factchecking!

Kip- “not a sand-covered coral island”

Wiki- “the island is composed of coral roughly 90 m (300 ft) thick,
where reefs formed above the sediment.” rising 1″/1k yrs; limestone
to the NE, up to 1100′ (340m); caves; coral reefs around the island.

Kip was right! I’ve PROVEN how POORLY you researched & verified your
ERRONEOUS FACTS!!!!!

Last edited 12 days ago by Old Man Winter
LdB
Reply to  Factchecks
August 2, 2022 7:51 pm

Probably rename you account to notfactcheck.

Michael in Dublin
August 2, 2022 9:27 am

Financial aid is usually squandered or fraudulently stolen, especially when the government and appointed cronies are responsible for holding the purse and allocation to projects.

Perhaps competent younger men sent for a couple of years to manage small projects, guiding and training locals, would be much better value for money.

When I look at African countries since independence and the huge sums of foreign aid, I am flabbergasted. These countries squander far more of their own money though incompetence, mismanagement and corruption than they receive in aid from the US and EU countries.

Editor
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
August 2, 2022 5:13 pm

Ah yes, foreign aid: A means of transferring money from the poor in rich countries to the rich in poor countries. Or in the case of Barbados, to the rich in a rich country that still has poor people for whom nothing is done.

Drake
Reply to  Mike Jonas
August 3, 2022 9:05 am

“poor people for whom nothing is done”

There are very few poor people who are willing and able to work who remain poor in a society such as Barbados that is wealth overall.

After reading in this thread about the weather, averages essentially low of70 and high of 88 f, the song Monana comes to mind. When you don’t need heating or AC and can probably pretty much live off the land, a little handout of staples from the government makes life just wonderful, so no need to work.

Hell, just look at the US where the labor participation rate continues its downward slide due to free stuff. And the US mostly needs AC or Heat in most states.

Last edited 11 days ago by Drake
Old Man Winter
August 2, 2022 10:34 am

On my only trip there, it was the tropical paradise you say it is.
Like other islanders, they only have to prepare for seasonal rains
vs long cold winters, which tourists flock there to avoid. Besides
the sugar cane & tobacco fields, I noticed they do have pastures &
animal pens that would need some ground for crops, too. They are
trying to get more light industry going, which would help balance
their tourist economy.

Iain Russell
August 2, 2022 12:00 pm

Australia’s problem too – ‘experts’.

Amac
August 2, 2022 12:35 pm

Britain under Chancellor Denis Healy made such a mess of the economy it usd to call in the IMF to fix it.
That is all that happened in Barbados so they have to suffer the consequences. No free lunch.

DMH
August 2, 2022 1:06 pm

“Barbados, which is a mountainous island and not a sand-covered coral island, ….”

This statement is false. Barbados is about the only non-volcanic island in the Caribbean, it is not mountainous, and it is a coral island. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_Barbados

DMH
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 2, 2022 6:12 pm

Nonsense. You will have to do better than that.

caribbean_topo.png
Peta of Newark
August 2, 2022 1:48 pm

Well that was clever of them wasn’t it.

Basically, they’ve bought insurance.
Many would argue that that is a good idea – and it is.
The age-old adage about insurance goes that:
If you’ve got it, you’ll never need it
If you ain’t got it, come tomorrow you’ll wish you had bought some.

As the story points out though, Barbados is not gonna need that insurance – or if they did choose to have some, it would come with a very modest premium as Barbados is at low risk

But look what they’ve done – made out that they are a very high risk.
Lord help us.

We all know what happens next, those ever smiling and helpful chaps at the insurance company will ramp up the premium to try offset the extra risk.
So now they will never ever pay that loan off AND be paying extra high rates of interest to cover the ‘insurance’

In a nutshell, they have made themselves slaves to the City of London and the Gnomes of Zurich for an eternity.

Nice work Barbados

Drake
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 3, 2022 9:15 am

And economists are never right it appears. Heck, economists in the US have been saying that we could be in for a recession within the next 12 months. They said this in June, when I already knew we were in a recession just by being old and remembering what has happened in my lifetime.

When the 3rd quarter GDP numbers come out in October, will that be the October Surprise of the 2022 US elections? I mean, will all the economists be surprised that their lying about the definition of a recession, and claiming that we are not in a recession be proven wrong? I am about 99.9% sure that they will be proven wrong, but they are economists, so like climate “scientists” they are used to being wrong, so no skin of their a$$es.

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