Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

What’s wrong with our politicians

with 3 comments

(Please note the absence of a question mark)

Last Wednesday, I eventually called a halt to an online discussion, which was threatening to get off-topic, by promising to dedicate a separate post to the subject today.

I think the problem is that we need altruistically-motivated public servants who enter politics to try and make the World a better place. Unfortunately, most of us get ideologically-driven career politicians who seek power in the World because they think they know best.

However, with my thanks to Christine, blogging at, for bringing him to my attention, the President of Uruguay may well be a rare exception. I cannot put it better than Christine does at the start of her own post about a speech he gave at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June this year:

President José Mujica of Uruguay [is] so unusual because here we see a political leader speaking the truth about our current situation…

The contemporaneous subtitling (i.e. simultaneous translation) is not very good and makes it harder than it need to be to fully appreciate what he says. However, his passion and his intent are clear; and make it well worth watching despite this. Nevertheless, thanks to the wonders of Google, I have tracked down a transcript of the speech made by a blogger in Uruguay (who was also appalled by the on-screen translation); but…
I really do think you should watch it. Therefore, even though I am sure the translator would not mind me reproducing the text in full here, I have not done so.

For an opposing view, by someone who considers president Mujica to be a dangerous misanthopic Communist, please visit ExPatBob’s blog. I am most certainly not a Communist sympathiser, but I find it very hard to fault President Mujica, when he says stuff like this:

I ask this question: what would happen to this planet if the people of India had the same number of cars per family as the Germans?… Does the world today have the material elements to enable 7 or 8 billion people to enjoy the same level of consumption and squandering as the most affluent Western societies?… Are we ruling over globalization or is globalization ruling over us?… Today, man does not govern the forces he has unleashed, but rather, it is these forces that govern man… And no material belonging is worth as much as life… I’m not talking about returning to the days of the caveman, or erecting a “monument to backwardness”. But we cannot continue like this, indefinitely, being ruled by the market, on the contrary, we have to rule over the market.

3 Responses

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  1. Climate Change is a clear and present danger, it is a greater threat than the Cold War which we prepared for spending trillions. Fossil fuels are diminishing and getting more expensive to extract, energy security in a turbulent world is another priority so the course is clear, change is inevitable I think some UK politicians are serious, this is despite my cynicism, and that the current plan is at least a plan.

    The current plan of a third of alternative energy, new nuclear, and gas takes us to 2050, railways to be electrified and HS2 cover some of the transport and gesture to electric cars, energy efficiency and recycling are a start. None of this will stop climate change, Labour and the Libdems at least realise that the rest of the world needs to make the effort.

    My lifestyle of living off the grid, harvesting wood and even building hydro power in my dingle is not remotely a model for everyone, yet even though I will be off to volunteer for a poor community concerning climate change l still produce tonnes of CO2 being part of UK society. Also, weaning people off private transport and cheap energy is as big a battle as implementing change, people need to be on board.

    The goverment could do more, and cheaply, legislation for everything from fridges to homes to cars and ensuring those standards were constantly improved would mean that new homes were low carbon. Fuel duty legislation is a cheap method that works, you have the choice between £0-£500 tax and I know of people who buy a polo rather than another landrover because of it.

    Micro-solar is too expensive and it is being paid for by the poor or the unlucky [living in shade] but it has limitations. At 3mw per house and say a quarter of all homes, something like 6 million, is very bad value for money even if it were possible. [What is the output compared to 1 nuclear of 6 million solar?]

    Electric cars [cars making up a big chunk of output] may come down in price in the coming decade, but they don’t solve congestion and all the costs of road expansion. The cheap alternative is for all new house building to part of local retail and business. Legislation is a cheap way to ban out of town shopping centres and recreate communities and curtail that 100 year love affair with petrol. The benefits would include vibrant high streets, parents home for kids at 5pm, short commuting times, well, all those things people miss.

    I used to be anti-nuclear, but the safety record is not bad, it is at least better than the coal industry. The fuel is secure, the number needed is a couple of dozen, but real long term cost is much higher than publicised, power stations always cost more and take longer to get running and the 3rd police force has rights that are close to those of a secret police force. Our civil liberties will suffer.

    If I ruled the world, or Britain, I would have problems making a decision which is rather odd for me. What would be in our collective Low Carbon Manifesto? How much would it cost? and does anyone have some decent ideas? I think the argument is beyond doubt for the majority, lets ignore the nay sayers and start offering solutions. I think the real problem are the committed but naive : recycling is going do diddly squat, and those solar panels feel nice but won’t make the real impact we need.


    24 September 2012 at 10:22

    • With the greatest of respect, Jules, I think all UK political parties are equally entranced by the Pied Piper of Consumption. I am disgusted by the Coalition government’s hypocrisy, greenwash and double standards; but I do not think anyone else (apart from Plaid Cymru and/or the Green Party) would do anything significantly different. Having said all that, I really do hope that the Lib-Dems can reign in the stupidity of George Osborne; who epitomises everything that is wrong with the Conservative Party when it comes to this issue.

      I am pro-nuclear but I do not know how the cost of a single nuclear plant compares to the equivalent number of domestic Solar PV installations? However, I think the important question to ask is how does the cost of installing Solar PV on every suitable building compare with the cost of duplicating the national grid to provide centrally-generated low-carbon energy of all kinds (including Nuclear)?

      Martin Lack

      24 September 2012 at 16:42

  2. Globalization is colonization, without regulation.

    As I said many times developing thorium nuclear is a no brainier. But it has the plutonium nuclear types against itself. Plus all the fossils. And all the money goes to the banks. (As Jules say) coal kills hundreds or thousands times more than plutonium nuclear… plus ravages the biosphere. And Carbon Capture Storage, is a new rapture suggested by the fossils to capture the minds of the naive and easily fooled, making them believe that they have a magic wand….

    Patrice Ayme

    24 September 2012 at 17:10

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