In 10 days Austrians are going to elect a new parliament. On the same day the people in Bavaria (Germany) are also going to the ballots but of course these events seem insignificant when compared to the upcoming presidential elections in the US and the great hopes for “change”. Indeed, we all need a profund change, a paradigm change in political objectives but is this going to happen?
Here in “old Europe” I guess most people are fed up with the established political parties, their stale language and lack of authenticity, their worshipping at the altar of “growth” and clinging to an economized society that undermines solidarity and has no future because it ignores ecological imperatives. Those of us who have a basic understanding of ecology and respect for nature, have uneasy feelings, because we understand that “global warming” is the understatement of the millenium.
Back in the 1980s, an Austrian scientist called the irresponsible burning of huge amounts of fossil energy, (bringing back the carbon that was taken out of the biological circle zillions of years ago) “like feeding an organism with its own excrement”. Rather disgusting language – sorry – but it serves a lot better to get the message than “climate change”.
Eminent climate scientists and biologists published scary statistics and have predicted dire global consequences if we fail to act (more storms, droughts, flooding are already happening…) but what is the political reaction? Empty speeches, declarations of noble intent during “climate conferences” (which produced even more greenhouse gases) and intensified lobbying by the energy industry, auto manufacturers, etc.
The sleaze here in Europe is now so thick (we used to think we still had democracy…) that former government ministers are routinely getting a job on the board of corporations as soon as they step out of office. The German economics minister usually ends up in the energy industry as a reward for never having passed any law that would truly change the status quo in energy politics like putting considerable subsidies into renewable energy instead of propping up the coal and nuclear industry.
The greatest threat is of course the decentralization of energy supply and control which would be imminent if the paradigm change in energy policy were really happening (the problem of “greenhouse” gases is not new, it has been known for more than three decades…)
The Greenwash has now become unbearable: From calling nuclear energy “renewable” and ignoring the half-life or Uranium (4,5 billion years…) and the eternal threat this poses to biological systems, the unsolved problem of the ultimate nuclear waste dump and its horrendous costs to “Carbon Capture and Storage” (CCS) which – again at astronomical cost and never proven to be feasible on a large scale – is supposed to transform the dirtiest carbon source into “clean coal”.
All this hypocrisy and frantic search for the “technofix” can be explained with a quotation by Albert Einstein:
“You cannot solve a problem with the same way of thinking that created it in the first place”
But of course this goes well beyond the question of energy policy: regarding the fantasy of “endless growth” and “individual freedom” (meaning not giving a damn about the consequences of my behaviour to the whole of society or to nature) as the highest priorities is no longer tenable. We must change our way of living and of thinking but can we evolve from being dumbed down consumers to becoming responsible citizens? Are we still capable to think for ourselves with this constant advertising and “managing of perceptions”by the PR-industry?
The recent Democratic and Republican National Conventions leave very little hope that the status quo can be changed and especially the McCain / Palin ticket is a very sad, though comical sight…. A self-styled, ignorant (doesn´t even know the neighbour states of Iraq or Pakistan) “war hero” and a gun-loving, hunting, creationist, climate change appeaser, who doesn´t even know what the “Bush doctrine” is…. Give me a break…
But this election campaign – like most others – is not dealing with issues, underlying problems, uncomfortable truths and failures, its sells images of people that in reality not do exist…