16 Jul 2006

Chavez backs Green Party

'One car each? Our planet won't stand that - that model of capitalism, extreme individualism and consumerist egotism. The destructive so-called developmentalism destroying the planet is, quite frankly, a thing of stupidity - una cosa de tontos.'

apologies if you have seen this already, food for thought if you haven't...when my partner Sarah met Chavez when he spoke in London he told her that he wanted to work more closely with the Green Party and he wore a Green Party of England and Wales flag as a scarf that he was given by green Member of the European Parliament Jean Lambert.

Caracas is a big dirty city, where petrol is a fraction of the price in the Uk or even US and citizens love their big dirty cars however there is big investment in rail and a push for organic agriculture, Chavez is aware that the oil economy is ecologically dangerous and unsustainable....he is like all politicians imperfect and constrained but is may be the one leader with an awareness and sympathy for green politics.

una cosa de tonto

One car each is lunacy

If the entire world adopts the energy-consumption patterns and lifestyles of the developed countries, we're heading for disaster.
Hugo Chavez

July 11, 2006 12:00 AM | Printable version

Whenever I visit a world capital or a major city, I do a survey - a survey of cars. You know, a president is like a prisoner: you get off the plane - welcome, welcome, welcome - you're shuffled into a car, voom, straight to the hotel, you get to see the streets, jump out, into a room, wait, you have 10 more minutes, off you go, voom, you've arrived. From one place directly to the next, and then in the evening back to the hotel, and that's it.

So, what do I do? I look out and I count the other cars - across the world, in New York, in Washington, in Vienna. In every big city, it seems that 96% of vehicles on the streets are standing in long lines like worms, going at the speed of a tortoise, burning who knows how many litres per kilometre because they're barely moving.

They're stuck, and they can't turn the engine off because they'd only have to restart it yet again. And they're only trying to travel 3km or 5km within the same city. Again, in 96% of vehicles - cars for six people or the smallest ones for four - you see only one person travelling: the one behind the wheel. And this vehicle is three metres long by two metres wide, roughly speaking. This is the extreme of capitalist individualism. Everyone wants to have a car and drive around the streets like an idiot: alone in their car, burning litres and litres of fuel, polluting the atmosphere.

Are we to blame? No. It is the fault of the capitalist propaganda fed to us via television since we were children. A child in front of a TV is in danger. Shown a nice new car - luxurious! A scantily clad woman - very pretty! Women as sexual objects, interposed with this and that and the luxury car. What is not shown is that decent people are those who help a disabled child, tend the elderly and sick, or cut their bread in two to give to the starving. TV tells us that decent people are well-dressed and own luxury cars.

Mind you, everyone has their own car: husband, wife, each has a car, and when their son turns 18 or 20, he gets one of the cars, and whoever doesn't have a car feels unhappy. Then there are people who feel inferior because they have to get on a bus or a tube or a tram, take public transport.

This model is unsustainable. Scientists have calculated precisely what will happen if the entire planet adopts the energy-consumption patterns and lifestyles of the developed countries of the north. The US, for example, accounts for only 5% of the world's population yet consumes 25% of the energy produced. It's sheer madness.

Anyway, let's suppose we all wanted to live that way and that, by some magic, we could. Let's suppose that Nicolas Maduro, the president of the Venezuelan national assembly, was a magician and we could all wake up tomorrow with a US standard of living. "Ah," someone would say, "Nicolas, you've produced the miracle of the century. Look, we're all making a good living we all have a car and a house."

If that were to happen, do you know what else would have had to happen simultaneously? We would need to have found seven or eight planets like Earth in order to sustain that way of life. We have invented telescopes, the most powerful telescopes ever, yet we haven't been able to see, in the Milky Way or any other constellation or galaxies, a single other planet like Earth. Not yet.

Do you know how many hours of electricity they get in Haiti? Two hours a day. The US automobile sector on its own consumes much more fuel than all the countries of the Caribbean put together. It cannot be sustained.

We must discourage the use of individual vehicles, and the congestion charge introduced by the mayor of London seems a good idea.

Before my recent visit to London, I attended a round-table discussion at the presidential summit in Vienna. Concern over the energy crisis, which the world is only just beginning to experience, took precedence. We have been studying the question a great deal due to our status as an oil-producing country. We have research centres in Opec countries, and many experts in the field. So I addressed the presidents on how Opec was not producing enough and so on, and I said to them: "The first thing you all have to ask yourselves is the following. What is the model of consumption we have and what is the model of consumption we can support?"

Our current environmental approach, the management of solid waste, is not feasible. Buildings that are closed on all sides, virtually windowless or with impenetrable dark glass, are artificially lit by spotlights and light bulbs burning 24 hours a day. This is not feasible: 90% of vehicles on the streets of London, Vienna, Madrid, New York and Caracas carry only one person is lunacy. One car each? Our planet won't stand that - that model of capitalism, extreme individualism and consumerist egotism. The destructive so-called developmentalism destroying the planet is, quite frankly, a thing of stupidity - una cosa de tontos .

This is an edited version of an article that will appear in the second issue of the Drawbridge quarterly magazine, published next week.

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