Hasta la victoria siempre

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Schita pentru o economie a viitorului

Daca aratam in postarea anterioara ca cercetatorul Ted Trainer a dovedit ca nu exista solutii tehnologice credibile care sa evite epuizarea resurselor energetice mondiale spre care duce consumerismului actual si cel estimat pentru urmatorii ani, azi prezint o schita a unei viitoare, alternative economii bazate pe o respingere colectiva a capitalismului consumerist. Textul ii aprtine tot lui Ted Trainer si se numeste sugestiv „The Simpler Way: An Outline of the Global Situation, the Sustainable Alternative Society, and the Transition To It”.

Pe scurt, situatia se prezinta astfel:
„Our industrial-affluent-consumer society is extremely unjust and ecologically unsustainable. The argument below is that these problems cannot be solved in a society that is driven by obsession with high rates of production and consumption, affluent living standards, market forces, the profit motive and economic growth. Most people do not realise the magnitude of the overshoot, the extent to which this society is unsustainable. Because this is so great there must be vast and radical system changes if the big global problem are to be solved. A sustainable and just world order cannot be achieved until we move to very different lifestyles, values and systems, especially to a new economic system.

The alternative we must work for is The Simpler Way, based on frugal "living standards", co-operation, high levels of local economic self-sufficiency, and zero economic growth. The final section below argues that the top priority for people concerned about the fate of the planet should be starting to build these new lifestyles and systems within existing towns and suburbs.”

Cu ce trebuie sa inlocuim actuala ideologie a „pietei libere”, care a nascut monstruoase nedreptati si inegalitati, si care a carei rapacitate ameninta viitorul omenirii si al Terrei? Cu simplitatea voluntara, cooperare, auto-suficienta economica locala, abandonarea idealului nesustenabil al cresterii economice perpetue.

Directiile pe care se impune sa le urmam sunt cele de mai jos:
„* Material living standards must be much less affluent. In a sustainable society per capita rates of resources use must be a small fraction of those in Australia today.

* There must be mostly small scale highly self-sufficient local economies.

* There must be mostly cooperative and participatory local systems whereby small communities control their own affairs, independent of the international and global economies.

* A very different economic system must be developed, one that is under social control, geared to meeting needs as distinct from maximising profits, not driven by market forces, and without any growth.

* None of this is possible without radical change in values, away from competition, self-interest and greed, and to cooperation, participation, giving and non-material satisfactions.”

Adica scaderea pretentiilor materiale, accent pus pe productie locala si comunitati auto-suficiente, descentralizare, cooperare si democratie directa (autogestiune), productie axata pe satisfacerea nevoilor materiale de baza-nu pe profit, abandonarea eticii capitaliste individualiste.

Sa detaliem, alaturi de Ted Trainer, cateva dintre aceste propuneri.

Satisfacerea nevoilor de baza, suficiente pentru un trai decent
„Living more simply does not mean deprivation or hardship. It means focusing on what is sufficient for comfort, hygiene, efficiency etc. Most of our basic needs can be met by quite simple and resource-cheap devices and ways, compared with those taken for granted and idolised in consumer society.
Living in materially simple ways can cut enormous amounts off the money a person needs to earn. Consider housing. A perfectly adequate, and indeed beautiful house for a small family can be built for around $5000. This indicates how The Simpler Way will liberate people from slavery to consumer-capitalist society, enabling most time to be put into more fulfilling activities than earning money.”

Auto-suficienta locala
„We must develop as much self-sufficiency as we reasonably can at the national level, meaning less trade, at the household level, and especially at the neighbourhood, suburban, town and local regional level. We need to convert our presently barren suburbs into thriving regional economies which produce most of what they need from local resources.
The domestic or household economy already accounts for about half the real national output, but this is ignored by conventional economics which only counts dollar costs. Households can again become significant producers of vegetables, fruit, poultry, preserves, fish, repairs, furniture, entertainment and leisure services, and community support.

Neighbourhoods would contain many small enterprises such as the local bakery. Some of these could be decentralised branches of existing firms, enabling most of us to get to work by bicycle or on foot. Much of our honey, eggs, crockery, vegetables, furniture, fruit, fish and poultry production could come from households and backyard businesses engaged in craft and hobby production. It is much more satisfying to produce most things in craft ways rather than in industrial factories. However it would make sense to retain some larger mass production factories and sources of materials, such as mines and steel works and railways.

Almost all food could come from within a few hundred metres of where we live, most of it from within existing towns and suburbs. The sources would be, a) intensive home gardens, b) community gardens and cooperatives, such as poultry, orchard and fish groups, many small market gardens located within and close to suburbs and towns, d) extensive development of commons, especially for production of fruit, nuts, fish, poultry, animal grazing, herbs, bamboo and timber. (...)”.

Un avantaj esential al viziunii propuse de Trainer este o independenta crescuta fata de sectorul financiar. In cuvintele sale,

„One of the most important ways in which we would be highly self-sufficient would be in finance. Firstly The Simpler Way requires little capital. Most enterprises are very small, and it will not be an expanding economy. Virtually all neighbourhoods have all the capital they need to develop those things that would meet their basic needs, yet this does not happen when our savings are put into conventional banks. Our capital is borrowed by distant corporations, often to do undesirable things, and not to improve our neighbourhood.
We would form many small town banks from which our savings would only be lent to firms and projects that would improve our town. These banks could charge low or negative interest, or make grants.
We will couple the banks with Business Incubators which provide assistance to little firms, such as access to accountants, computers and advice from panels of the town’s most experienced business people. These two institutions will give us the power to establish in our town the enterprises and industries it needs, as distinct from being at the whim of corporations and foreign investors who will only set up in our town if that will maximize their global profits, and in any case will not set up firms to produce what we need.
We can therefore take control of our own development and make sure that it is determined by what will benefit the town, cut its imports, minimize ecological impacts, eliminate waste and provide livelihoods.”

Pe scurt, importanta auto-suficientei economice locale, va insemna ca:
„The alternative neighbourhood would be full of familiar people, small businesses, industries, farms, lakes, common projects, animals, gardens, forests, windmills, waterwheels, and familiar people and therefore full of interesting things to do or observe. Consequently people would be less inclined to travel on weekends and holidays, which would greatly reduce national energy consumption.

This shows how the solution to many problems will mostly involve carrots rather than sticks. We will reduce travel not by penalties but by eliminating the need for most of it, by ensuring that work and leisure sites are close to where we live.
To repeat, a high level of domestic and local economic self-sufficiency is crucial if we are to dramatically reduce overall resource use. It will cut travel, transport and packaging costs, and the need to build freeways, ships and airports etc. It will also enable our communities to become secure from devastation by distant economic events, such as depressions, devaluations, interest rate rises, trade wars, capital flight, and exchange rate changes.”

Autorul dezvolta aceasta idee, prezentand inclusiv detalii tehnice despre cum va functiona o astfel de localitate in sectiunea „Land Areas and Footprint”.

Cooperare si participare comunala
„The third essential characteristic of the alternative way is that it must be very communal, participatory and cooperative. Firstly, we must share many things. We could have a few stepladders, electric drills, etc., in the neighbourhood workshop, as distinct from one in every house.
We would be on various voluntary rosters, committees and working bees to carry out most of the windmill maintenance, construction of public works, child minding, nursing, basic educating and care of aged and disadvantaged people in our area, as well as to perform most of the functions councils now carry out for us, such as maintaining our own parks and streets. In addition working bees and committees would maintain the many commons. We would therefore need far fewer bureaucrats and professionals, reducing the amount of income we would have to earn to pay taxes. (When we contribute to working bees we are paying some of our tax.)
Especially important would be the regular voluntary community working bees. Just imaging how rich your neighbourhood would now be if every Saturday afternoon for the past five years there had been a voluntary working bee doing something that would make it a more pleasant place for all to live.
There would be far more community than there is now. People would know each other and be interacting on communal projects. Because all would realise that their welfare depended heavily on how well we looked after each other and our ecosystems, there would be powerful incentives for mutual concern, facilitating the public good, and making sure others were content. The situation would be quite different to consumer-capitalist society where there is little incentive on individuals to care for others or their community.”

Viata publica a unei comunitati evident mai mici in comparatie chiar cu municipiile actuale va fi una impregnata de spirit civic, luarea in comun a deciziilor, cooperare si intr-ajutorare, punerea in comun a ustensilelor necesare muncii.

Trebuie subliniat insa ca un astfel de stil de viata nu este opus tehnologiei moderne, care va continua sa isi gaseasca locul in viata sociala, chiar daca numai acolo unde este cu adevarat necesar, in cercetarea medicala sau sprorirea productiei agricole. Totodata, chiar daca se va reduce consumul de energie electrica, aparate electrice si electronice utileprecum PC-ul sau TV-ul vor continua sa existe: „Based on records from my homestead, a family of three could meet its electricity needs on about .6kWh/day. (Lights, computer, small black and white TV, duct fans, some machinery, but no air-conditioning, electric stove, fridge or washing machine.) This is about 1/50 the typical Sydney household use. The town would therefore need 200kWh/d for domestic needs. The half of this that does not have to be stored might come from a combination of solar PV, solar thermal and wind.”

Merita subliniat ca Trainer nu vorbeste de o abolire a industriei, ci doar de o reducere a sa, inconformitate cu resursele naturale pe care le avem la dispozitie. La fel, nu este vorba de o abolire a statului si a companiilor de stat:

„Only a little heavy industry will be needed, e.g. basic steel, railways, buses, and thus mining and timber industries will be small. There will be little need for shipping or air transport. Most cooking would be by good or gas produced from biomass. (...) it would make sense to retain some larger mass production factories and sources of materials, such as mines and steel works and railways.”

Avantajele adoptarii „Caii simple”
„The Simpler Way will deliver many deeply rewarding experiences and conditions such as a much more relaxed pace, having to spend relatively little time working for money, having varied, enjoyable and worthwhile work to do, experiencing a supportive community, giving and receiving, growing some of one’s own food, keeping old clothes and devices in use, running a resource-cheap and efficient household, living in a supportive and caring community, practising arts and crafts, participating in community activities, having a rich cultural experience involving local festivals, performances, arts and celebrations, being involved in governing one’s own community, living in a nice environment, and especially knowing that you are not contributing to global problems through over-consumption.
Only if these alternative values and satisfactions, which contradict those of consumer society, become the main factors motivating people can The Simpler Way be achieved. Our main task is to help people to see how important these benefits and satisfactions are, and therefore to grasp that moving to The Simpler Way will greatly improve their quality of life. This understanding will be the most powerful force we can develop for bringing about the transition.”

Cu alte cuvinte, valori tipice ale stilului de viata downshifting: timp liber, renuntarea la materialism si consumerism, viata sociala si culturala, grija fata de mediu.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Este energia regenerabila o solutie?

Energia regenerabila se referă la forme de energie produse prin transferul energetic al energiei rezultate din procese naturale regenerabile. Astfel, energia luminii solare, a vânturilor, a apelor curgătoare, a proceselor biologice şi a căldurii geotermale pot fi captate de către oameni utilizând diferite procedee. Sursele de energie ne-reînnoibile includ energia nucleară precum şi energia generată prin arderea combustibililor fosili, aşa cum ar fi ţiţeiul, cărbunele şi gazele naturale. Aceste resurse sunt, în chip evident, limitate la existenţa zăcămintelor respective şi sunt considerate în general (a se vedea teoria academicianului român Ludovic Mrazec de formare anorganică a ţiţeiului şi a gazelor naturale) ne-regenerabile. Dintre sursele regenerabile de energie fac parte: energia eoliană; energia solară; energia apei; energia hidraulică; energia mareelor; energia geotermică etc.

Pentru unii, energia regenerabila poate fi o solutie de salvare de la o disparitie iminenta a stilului de viata consumerist. Se stie ca resursele planetei sunt insuficiente pentru a permite tuturor un stil de viata afluent, materialisto-consumerist. Totusi, oare progresele tehnologice, in speta utilizarea surselor de energie reinnoibile, nu pot reprezenta calea de iesire, astfel incat consumerismul sa poata continua fara insa a duce la accentuarea degradarii mediului inconjurator?

In articolul sau „Renewable Energy: No Solution for Consumer Society”, publicat in The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, vol.3, no.1, (ianuarie 2007), Ted Trainer explica de ce raspunsul la intrebarea de mai sus este, cel mai probabil, negativ. Aceste surse de energie se dovedesc cu totul insuficiente, astfel incat evitarea unui dezastru planetar inseamna echivaleaza cu evitarea principalei sale cauze, consumerismul.

Sa urmarim, cu cateva exemple, stadiul in care s-a ajuns cu folosirea energiei regenerabile si ce sanse de viito are ea.

Energia eoliana:
„An examination of wind maps indicates that the annual quantity of wind energy that is available could well be considerably greater than demand, but the important question is what fraction of this can be harvested in view of the variability problem; that is, sometimes there is little or no wind. In the past it was usually assumed that for this reason wind might be able to contribute up to 25% of demand. However, the Germans with far more wind mills than any other country, and the Danish with the world’s highest ratio of wind output to electricity consumption, have run into problems “integrating” wind into the grid while wind is supplying only about 5% of demand.

A mill at a good site might run over time at 33% of its maximum or “peak” capacity, but this should not be taken as a performance likely from a whole wind system. Sharman reports that even in Denmark in 2003 the average output of the wind system was about 17% of its peak capacity and was down to around 5% for several months at a time. The E.On Netz report for Germany, the country with more wind mills than any other, also says that in 2003 system capacity was 16%, and around 5% for months. They stress that 2003 was a good wind year.”

Asadar, tari care au inregistrat progrese mondiale in utilizarea energiei date de vant, ca Germania si Danemarca, nu au reusit decat performante modeste.

Energia solara:
„After wind, Europe’s best option for renewable electricity will probably be solar thermal plants located in the Sahara region. These will impose significant transmission losses but their big advantage is their capacity to store energy as heat to generate and transmit electricity when it is needed. However, the magnitude of the potential is uncertain, and especially doubtful in winter. Solar thermal trough systems do not work very well in lower solar incidence. Even in the best locations output in winter is about 20% of summer output. The winter incidence of solar energy in the Sahara is not that impressive, perhaps 6 kWh/m/d towards Libya and Egypt and a long way south of the Mediterranean.
Solar thermal dishes perform better than troughs in winter, but they cost more and their big disadvantage is that because each tracks the sun it is difficult to take heat via flexible couplings to a central generator or store. They are being developed with Stirling engine generators at each focal point, meaning that heat energy can’t be stored to generate electricity when it is needed. Central receiver or tower systems can store, but like troughs they have reduced winter performance.
It is likely that solar thermal systems will be located only in the hottest regions, will have to supply major demand centres by long transmission lines, and will not be able to make a large contribution in winter.”

Evident, doar cateva regiuni de pe Glob sunt suficient de incalzite si expuse razelor solare incat sa se inregistreze un cumul semnificativ de energie, in cea mai mare parte, anotimpul rece scazand considerabil cantitatea de energie obtinuta astfel.

In concluzie, o economie mondiala bazata primordial pe energia eoliana sau solara intampina cel putin doua obstacole decisive:
„Renewables could provide a considerable fraction of electricity demand, probably in excess of 25% in some countries, but a) much of the generating capacity would have to be duplicated in the form of fossil or nuclear plant for use when there is little sun or wind, b) the amount of coal use still required would far exceed safe greenhouse gas emission limits.

There are weighty reasons why we are not likely to have a hydrogen economy. If you make hydrogen from electricity you lose 30% of the energy that was in the electricity. If you then compress, pump, store and re-use the hydrogen the losses at each of these steps will result in something like only 25% of the energy generated being available for use, e.g., to drive the wheels of a fuel-cell powered car.”

Dupa ce Trainer se refera si la alte surse de energie regenerabila, aungand la aceleasi rezultate ca mai sus, conclude:
„All of the above references have been to the difficulty or impossibility of meeting present energy demand from renewables. That is not the focal problem for the evaluation of the energy viability of consumer-capitalist society. The crucial question is can renewables meet the future demand for energy in a society that is fiercely and blindly committed to limitless increases in “living standards” and economic output. The absurdity of this commitment is easily shown.
If 9 billion people were to rise to the “living standards” we in rich countries will have in 2070 given 3% p.a. economic growth, then total world economic output would be 60 times as great as it is now!”

Pe scurt, o crestere de 60 de ori a activitatii economice mondiale echivaleaza cu un dezastru ecologic imposibil de reparat de folosirea energiilor alternative.
Singura solitie de evitare a catastrofei ramane abandonarea consumerismului de tip Occidental:

„Such multiples mean that the problems cannot be solved without enormous reductions in the volumes of industrial/commercial producing and consuming going on, perhaps to 10% of present levels. The numbers are so big that no plausible assumptions regarding technical advance, energy conservation, etc. could show that the problems can be solved without moving to a zero-growth economy on a fraction of present GDP.”

Mai exact,
„consumer-capitalist society is grossly unsustainable. It involves rates of resource use and environmental impact that are far beyond sustainable levels, and could never be extended to all the world’s people.
Consumer-capitalist society is also grossly unjust, imposing a global market system which delivers most of the world’s wealth to the corporations and consumers of the rich countries. A market economy inevitably gears the productive capacity of the Third World to the effective demand of the rich and cannot attend to the needs of people, society or future generations. Again it is obvious that Third World problems cannot be solved until the rich countries stop taking most of the world’s resource wealth; as Gandhi said long ago, “The rich must live more simply so that the poor may simply live.” That is not possible in a society committed to affluence and growth. Thus considerations of sustainability and of justice both lead to the conclusion that the problems cannot be solved without huge and radical systemic change.”

Capitalismul consumerist este un devorator de resurse naturale si un sistem profund nedrept si inegal. Iesirea din impasul ecologic nu poate fi continuarea pe panta progresului si dezvoltarii economice, adica acolo unde duce capitalismul, ci abandonarea economiei bazate de profit si o reducere a cresterii economice. Redistribuirea actualelor realizari economice, laolalta cu o reducere a activitatii economice in general, par solutii indicate.

„a good society cannot be an affluent society. (...) The only way out of this alarming and rapidly deteriorating situation is to move to some kind of Simpler Way. This must involve non-affluent (but quite sufficient) material living standards, mostly small, highly self-sufficient local economies. Economic systems under social control and not driven by market forces or the profit motive and highly cooperative and participatory systems. Obviously, such radical systemic changes could not be made without profound change in values and world view, away from some of the most fundamental elements in Western culture, especially to do with competitive, acquisitive individualism.”

Standarde materiale decente, economii locale, auto-suficiente, aflate sub control social, ce presupun un grad ridicat de participare democratica din partea comunitatilor, aceasta este schita pentru o posibila societate eliberata de valorile sinucigase ale consumerismului si singura care poate promite un viitor indelungat al umanitatii pe Terra. Daca un astfel de viitor ne dorim, e clar ca nu pe utilizarea consistenta a energiilor regenerabile trebuie sa ne bazam, in speranta desarta ca ne va salva de efectele dezastruoase spre care ne conduce capitalismul consumerist.
In urmatoarea postare, vom vedea mai in detaliu in ce consta solutia propusa de Trainer.