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Egerton Chang: Sex decriminalised, oil, and our geothermal savior

Published:Sunday | August 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

'Amnesty Inter-national backs worldwide decriminalisation of prostitution' was the headline in The Independent, written by Doug Bolton and published August 11, 2015.

Human-rights group Amnesty International has voted to support the decriminalisation of prostitution at their biennial International Council Meeting.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty's secretary general, said about the resolution: "We recognise that this critical human-rights issue is hugely complex and that is why we have addressed this issue from the perspective of international human-rights standards."

Amnesty now joins a mounting list in their support for decriminalisation, including the World Health Organization, the United Nations AIDS programme, UNAIDS, and the respected medical journal The Lancet.

Supporters see the decriminalisation of prostitution as just allowing two consenting adults to have sex without the intervention/interference of the Government.

They see the shame and criminalisation that envelops prostitution as serious obstacles to preventing abuse, trafficking and the spreading of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.

It is argued that legalising the selling of sex has the advantage of removing the stigma and criminalisation of prostitutes, most of whom are in a less powerful position than their clients, while curbing the demand for the industry.

Amnesty says its policy will call on countries "to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence".

While there are strong points, both pro and con, the success of the promoters hinges on whether they can present convincing arguments that prostitution should be treated as a job just like any other.

Will the advocacy of these groups be as vocal and persuasive (some say strong-armed) as those pushing for full legalisation of homosexual acts, including gay marriage?

What do you think?

 

OIL

 

On Jan 18, 2015, I wrote:

"There is evidence to strongly support the prognosis that oil prices will remain low for a period, at least throughout 2015. Moreover, some experts believe that for the medium/long term, oil prices will not attain prices of more than US$100 a barrel."

One of the benefits of this period of low oil prices to Third World countries, such as Jamaica, is that they provide a breathing space with not as much pressure on foreign-exchange resources.

Let's hope that this time is not squandered, and further, that the belt-tightening measures in place are not released (by more than a notch).

While for a few months since oil prices were creeping upwards, such that it would upset the apple cart and we would see high oil prices sooner than later, in the last month the price of oil has fallen more than 20 per cent.

In Business Insider of August 9, 2015, Myles Udland wrote:

"The price of oil has collapsed again.

"And now the oil market is looking at a future that is 'unprecedented'."

As Goldman Sachs sees it, the balance of power between the market's largest and smallest companies has become distorted.

While, in the past, smaller oil companies faced higher hurdles to entry with massive investments in platforms and equipment, fracking companies are able to produce oil cheaply and therefore open and shut down production with relative ease. The barrier to entry has been virtually removed. As a result, Credit Suisse notes that, despite the massive drop in the US oil rig count, production continues to rise.

ConocoPhillips and Total have both said the cost of production for US shale will fall 30 per cent, and that 80 per cent of shale oil produced will make financial sense to produce with prices below $60 a barrel at the end of this year.

For the time being, countries that depend on oil revenue to meet spending commitments have continued pumping oil, practically without regard to price.

It is also to be noted that bear markets in oil prices last between 11 and 28 years, while bull markets usually last less than 10.

The opinion of many industry experts is that the downward pressures on oil prices will dampen any upward movement, thus suppressing prices for at least the next two years.

It is up to the Jamaican Government to ensure that these not insignificant savings are not squandered, while bearing in mind that this windfall cannot last forever.

 

Jamaica's Geothermal Wealth

 

Jamaica literally sits on one of the largest geothermal energy sources in the world.

Less than 190 miles and within its territorial waters, defined as its Exclusive Economic Zone, west of Negril Point between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands lie the largest spread of super-heated hot water vents in the world, capable of producing well over 52 gigawatts, or some 52,000 megawatts of energy. The technology to develop and harness this vast source of clean renewable energy is available in the form of repurposing deep ocean oil rig platform.

So says Silbert S. Barrett, ASCE (Aff.M.), sustainable strategist for funding major infrastructure at Brittenwoods International, in an article published on Linkedin on July 31, 2015.

The Cayman Trough is the world's deepest underwater volcanic rift, found on the seabed between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. Three miles below the surface, great volcanic chimneys gush subterranean water hot enough to melt lead.

Researchers on this expedition concentrated their efforts at two sites, one of which, the Piccard vent field, is the deepest known hydrothermal site, at nearly 5,000 metres (3.1 miles) deep. The fluids gushing from some of the vents at this site were found to be just above 400?C (750?F), among the hottest vents known.

To reiterate: "The technology to develop and harness this vast source of clean renewable energy is available in the form of repurposing deep ocean oil rig platform."

Is this the 'oil' that is to be Jamaica's economic saviour?

 

Black Dog Again

 

In my last column, published July 18, 2015 titled 'Black dog fi monkey', I wrote about the ludicrous problems I was experiencing with LIME (black dog) with regard to the installation of a phone (with ADSL) in Ewarton.

Even after the problem with regard to the 2002 balance was resolved, the line still has not been installed. A further four weeks have elapsed and still no line in Ewarton. Bear in mind that it is over three months since our application was initially made.

And even with the Digicel (monkey) DX250 Wi-Fi modem, there has been only intermittent and often non-existent service. In fact, over these same three months, in addition to the irregular service, there has been no service on at least three days.

With day-to-day 'roadblocks' like this, can anything productive be done in Jamaica?

Black dog and monkey fi tru.

- Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and e_rider69@hotmail.com.