Safety First

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Emperor's New Clothes: A response to Dr. Lorna Inniss

One of the three offending groynes in Road View/Mullins as it appeared yesterday
"Inniss said while her agency did not engage in back and forth arguments about the coastline, given the expertise that was required to fully understand the issues involved, she said though that she was confident in the skills of the engineers within the department.

"The West Coast requires a significant amount of expertise which goes beyond the opinions and ideas one would get from just looking at a beach. You cannot look at a beach and determine that you know what is happening, that is why we have engineers who we call on and use," said Inniss.

She said the problem of erosion was not just one that suddenly sprung up: "From the 1960s there has been an obvious erosion trend on the West Coast that we would have seen from photos, from our models and other works on the coast.

"To blame any new construction is in my view quite short sighted." ...Barbados Today 09/28/10
There you have it folks, according to the CZMU's Dr. Lorna Inniss, we are all just plain too dumb to look at the beach and figure out what might be going on with it. I guess we always knew that the CZMU regarded us with such contempt and condescension, but we never thought they would actually put it in writing. Why does this all suddenly remind me of the Hans Christian Andersen story I read in primary school - "The Emperor's New Clothes?" In case readers of this blog have also forgotten the story - it was about two weavers who promised an Emperor a new suit of clothes invisible to those unfit for their positions or incompetent. When the Emperor paraded before his subjects in his new clothes, a child cried out: "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

Just for the record, let me restate that at least three coastal engineers (one local and two foreign - all with more coastal engineering experience than Dr. Inniss/Dr. Brewster and their team) have looked at the problem in Road View/Mullins and have concluded that the groynes at St. Peter's Bay have contributed to beach erosion in the area. So we are not just going on "look[ing] at a beach and determin[ing] that [we] know what is happening" as Dr. Inniss sarcastically characterized it.

The time has now come for Dr. Inniss and her cohorts at the CZMU to put up or shut up. If they have exhaustive scientific studies on which they based their approval of the groynes at Road View, we are calling for them to be made public. One of the central grievances in this whole fiasco is that it has been widely bandied about that no such studies exist. As a matter of fact, we know that one of the central figures in the development boasted to a visiting journalist this year that such studies were not needed. There is a lot of other anecdotal evidence corroborating this allegation, besides, CZMU's own promising last November to now do the very same research which should have been done before the groynes went in.

So, Dr. Inniss' trotting out CZMU's expertise and skill is meaningless if it were never utilized in the first place. We want to see the scientific research and engineering skill so that others more qualified than we are can evaluate it and determine whether or not the groynes are exacerbating the beach erosion problem in Road View/Mullins. We want to see The Emperor's New Clothes!

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  1. Dr. Inniss is mad because since Yahoo! Travel republished this story a week ago ( )it has been shared over four thousand times on Facebook.

  2. What a tragedy this all is. Barbados is such a special place that should transcend the persuit of profit. My family has been making the trip from Canada for nealy 40 years because of its people, its environment and its beauty. We were not of money, but my parents recognized the value in an annual vacation in more than monetary terms and we saved and did without so we could visit your beautiful island.

    When I first brought my young children in 2007 it was shocking to see the groynes in a place I considered one of the most beautiful on the island. They brought visions of the beach coasts in some areas of the USA; they are unnatural and unattractive. I asked my husband why anyone would spend the money they were asking to buy at St. Peter's Bay to look at those. They scared the children.

    As someone who has worked in the Environment, albeit in Canada, for over 20 years, I can not understand the CZMU's thinking on them. The ocean gives and takes. Perhaps that is a lesson we all need to learn