Opinion: Air conditioning terrorism

POSTED: 09/28/11 12:08 PM

We know, we know. This is the umpteenth time we are bringing up this subject. But hey, enough is enough.

We have wondered for a long time why it is so that the temperature in public buildings is always near freezing point. We experience this in the Parliament building, the government administration building, the courthouse, and the airport – just to name a couple of big energy consumers.

Yesterday, people were shivering in the Parliament building. Again. We don’t bother to ask for an explanation anymore because the answer is always the same: the company that has installed the system is looking into the situation. Not once was that statement followed by something like, and they expect to have everything under control by the end of the day.

Nobody seems to be aware of the fact that running air conditioning systems at breakneck speed and at temperatures the CIA routinely uses to break down prisoners who refuse to become talkative, costs money. Lots of money. It is a very expensive way of air conditioning terrorism.

Energy, apart from sunshine, is not free. GEBE, when it is not suffering power cuts, is supplying all these buildings with tons of energy. The electricity meters are spinning like there is no tomorrow, and like the bill at the end of the month has already been taken care of by unsuspecting tax payers.

It is of course possible that the government does this stuff because it never pays its electricity bills. We don’t know whether this is so, but it certainly could explain why the people who manage these buildings do what they do with their darn airco systems.

Has nobody ever thought that creating huge temperature differences between outside and inside could lead to health problems? Apparently not, otherwise somebody would have taken some kind of action. Right?

Somebody would have said: hey, it’s far too cold here, the country is broke, and saving energy is good for the planet in general and for St. Maarten’s bottom line in particular.

The thing is: nobody did. So the courthouse, the Parliament building, the government administration building and the airport remain some sort of freezones that we might as well deport to Antarctica because nobody over there would notice a difference in temperature.

We have also brought up the possibility that these air conditioning systems are under the control of women of a certain age who suffer from hot flushes. Men don’t have them of course, but women do. It is, by all standards, an extremely disagreeable condition, but it is also not an excuse for freezing all other people to death.

Our advice: make a trip to Dick Luttekes and ask him about an implant that offers total relief from hot flushes. The implant is done every six months and it is an absolute hassle-free solution. The government ought to consider paying for this medication, because it would earn the money back in a heartbeat from savings on energy costs.

Also, it is about time to establish an Association Against Abuse by Air Conditioning. Surely, working in temperatures that are no threat to someone’s health and general wellbeing is a human right. It has to be.

But you know what? Nothing is going to happen. The government will not do anything about energy saving, because it does not feel the need. There is no real concern about the potential impact of air conditioning systems working overtime in St. Maarten on global warming. There is no real concern about what it is costing the tax payer to maintain these ridiculous temperatures. There is no real concern about negative health effects, even though we have at least two parliamentarians with a reasonable knowledge of this issue. Maybe it is possible to sue these two MPs for willful neglect.

Bottom line is: for visits to the Parliament, the courthouse, the government administration building and the airport – not to mention numerous other offices across the island – protect yourself and bring a thick jumper and a pair of wooly gloves, if you’re really no able to stand the cold.

Other than that we have no complaints. Welcome to the Caribbean, welcome to St. Maarten.

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