Save Rotuma from fossil fuel dependency

I have become used to daily reports in the press about fuel shortages all around the world. Asia in particular is suffering from acute diesel shortages in part because their electricity systems are inadequate and everyone is relying on generators to do business. This article, however, made me cringe.

It seems the tiny Pacific island of Rotuma has no running water because of a fuel shortage on the island. Rotuma who? That’s what I thought. Their own website is here and a respectable Wikipedia article here.

Why should this matter to us? Because these are our neighbours. When the basics of water for drinking and hygiene are not available, it’s not just inconvenient, it’s a major health hazard. It is insane that a basic infrastructure like this is dependent on shipments of fuel from outside, when localised alternatives are available and possibly cheaper.

If simple compassion is not enough to move you, consider who will most likely be picking up the pieces when their health collapses? Who will be dealing with poverty in the Pacific and forced immigration from such a situation?

I have no doubt that the island functioned well without reticulated water for most of its years of human occupation. But now the good people are used to reticulated water and could still have it in abundance without the need for fossil fuel.

This is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. We need to wake up and make sure that our nearest Pacific neighbours are ready for the shocks associated with peak oil.

8 Comments Posted

  1. The fuel supply issue on Rotuma seems to be about a lack of shipping rather than peak oil. This was on the Rotuma site, but they seem to be more interested in soap rather than bio-diesel:

    “THE National Strategic Committee on Bio-fuel intends to install coconut oil plants in the outer islands of Fiji this year as a way to develop sustainable economies in the islands.”

    “Committee chairman Viliame Yabakivou said 80 per cent of the production of coconut was in the province of Cakaudrove and 20 per cent in the outer islands including Rotuma. Oil plants have been installed at Cicia and Lakeba in the Lau Group, with another two to be installed in Gau and Rotuma later this year.”

  2. Yeah, I know Sam. The oil production plateau has actually been affecting the market since 2005, hence all the price rises since then. Believe that? I have a bridge in Brooklyn I think you might be interested in…

    Yes, poor budgy!

  3. “This is the proverbial canary in the coal mine.”

    So how’s the canary been managing for the last couple of years?

    Fiji’s Rotuma Island runs out of fuel
    By rnzi.com
    Aug 4, 2006 – 2:25:00 PM

  4. Presumably “fuel shortage” means “cant afford to pay for diesel”.

    One only need look across the Foveaux Strait to see somewhere that could be a much more local example in times to come…

  5. Much of NZ’s aid money goes straight to NGOs though, they just need permission to ‘do their thing’, which takes government out of the equation, somewhat (as much as the government wants to be, obviously).

  6. Sorry Frog. Fiji is not on my list of worthwhile donor recipients at the moment. If they’d like to do a UDI, or find a way to secceed and unite with another of the polynesian countries I’d feel differently, but what’s happening there is all down to the Commodore – HE must be the one who looks after his people.

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