Forks, Wilson, Castaway Island & Peak Oil Dusko
back from my working trip to Fiji in May of 2006 has changed
my view of these formerly cannibal islands.
The chief product of this tiny island nation is most certainly
tourism. Tourism that will vanish as fleets of
Jumbo Jets become incapable of deploying hoards of backpackers
and honeymooners onto the islands. I had the
fortune of photographing a wedding on Malolo Island. It
was a place where everything is shipped in. I felt like
I was in Florida with all the ammenities I have come to
expect in a first world nation. All this from an island
barely bigger then a cul de sac. And the lifeblood of
it all is cheap fuel. The only exception being the main
mode of transportation. People travel the islands by boat,
helicopter and sea plane instead of automobile.
imagine a worst place to be during a peak oil crisis.
People here were once cannibals and I can see
a possible return to this. At the local market in Nadi,
the largest city, I was offered cannibal forks for
eating human flesh and the neck breaker. It's a device
used to kill human prey. The whole cannibal set could
mine for only 35 Fijian dollars or the equivilant of about
20 US Dollars. I handed the tourist gift set back
to the shop owner and told him I'd be back for it in 15
years if I was hungry and oil was scarce. But only if
he didn't try to eat me with the merchandise.
Fiji is an
economy dependent on handicrafts and hotels, but I did
see hope for this tiny country made of almost
three hundred islands. It is a former British colony with
many old rail lines covering the main island of Suva.
This light rail system was once used to harvest sugar
cane for export to other contries. If the fijians could
turn the sugarcane into a fuel source they'd be on to
something. Sugar cane ethanol is 5 times as energy rich
ethanol made with corn in the USA. So there is hope for
Fiji after all. Most of the old rail lines seemed slightly
submerged in dirt, but intact. Production of sugarcane
ethanol could come online quickly. The only proble would
be the profit. Fiji is divided into two distinct social/race
groups. The native Fijians and the Indo Fijians
brought there by the British to work the cane fields.
And this has caused polital tension in the past.
Right now most
of Fijis oil comes from Australia via the Middle East.
You can see the largest oil refinery in the
south pacific if you sail to any of the smaller Fijian
islands from the port of Nadi. I see a nation ready to
embrace a post peak oil economy smoothly and quickly.
The only downside is that western tourists will
probably be unable to afford self indulgent trips to these
beautiful islands. Fijians will surely survive
without our tourist dollars and probably be self sufficient
and better off because we won't be there ruining