If I Buy Freedom and It Doesn’t Work, Can I Return it and Get My Money Back?

“We know that freedom isn’t free, but how much does it cost? Is there a discount on freedom? Can I use a freedom coupon? Where is my buy 2 countries, get 1 free card? If I buy freedom, and it doesn’t work, can I return it and get my money back…I have the receipt!”

I as a former resident of Torrington, Connecticut, United States of America, since 2001 would have contributed about $6,812 to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond. The website nationalpriorities.org has been tracking the U.S. cost of war since 2001 and allows Americans to see how much of their tax dollars, down to local populations, have been contributed to the efforts overseas.  Torrington’s citizens since 2001 have paid out $119,212,900 (15-aug-2014) to a multiple-front war. Since there are about 35,000 residents in Torrington, and about 1/2 are working or paying income taxes, 1/2 of all Torringtonians have contributed over $6,000 to the war on terror. But the real question is are we safer now because of the war on terror? Have we made the world safer? Is the war on terror actually producing more terrorist organizations? How long until it’s finally over?

Since September 11th 2001, there has been a liquidation sale on “freedom” worldwide when then president of the United States, George W. Bush and his administration, soon announced a global war on terror. At first the cross hairs were focused on Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their sympathizers. Then, Bush decided to put Osama Bin Laden on the back burner and continue what could be seen as a Bush family legacy – Iraq. The American military’s focus switched rapidly to Iraq, where the regime of Saddam Hussein was suspected to have had weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda.

Before, during, and after the deposition of Saddam Hussein, investigators claimed that Iraq did not possess high caliber (nuclear material) weapons of mass destruction nor had been working with Al Qaeda. In fact,  Al Qaeda and other extremist groups were natural enemies of Saddam’s regime. If Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein had been working together, why would they have kept it secret? Their unity would have been seen as a sign of strength in the region. Luckily, their distinct ideologies did not allow for a military or political union – their conflicting personalities and dislikes were greater than their hatred for the United States.

Under current president Barack Obama, who more or less has been progressive concerning local and social matters within the USA, has not only continued the legacy of Bush-era military campaigns, but has amplified a seek-and-destroy, extrajudicial drone program that could be considered crimes against humanity. Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are what I would like to call “Drone Zones” in that no real formal declaration of war has been made, but are part of a continuous bombing campaign in which civilians are unfortunately part of the casualties.  These bombing campaigns are simply not effective in changing hearts and minds. Whose ideology is going to favor Westerners when their neighbor, perhaps a civilian, had been killed by them?  Spreading democracy doesn’t come from without, but from within.

So what is freedom in 21st century terms? Which country is most free? Is freedom being able to do literally whatever you want? Or is freedom being able to have social and economic mobility in the form of one’s access to a good education, housing, food, medicine, and other facilities or amenities that First World inhabitants encounter with less difficulty.

Spreading freedom and democracy as part of a bombing campaign can be seen as a vice, like any other, freedom is aggression, anger, addiction, greed, censorship, gluttony, hatred, hysteria, lust, perversion, vanity and wrath. Although this may not be our ideal of what freedom is, the countries that suffer from “American Freedom” by way of military operations, heavy policing and lengthy occupations, fear cultural infiltration or annihilation.

Freedom, by way of material objects, is in a sense purely economical, in that freedom is for the rich; oppression is for the poor. If you live in a conflict zone, and you are rich, you might have more freedom to leave, through legal means or not, than a poor person. If you live in a country where women’s access to reproductive services are restricted, as a rich person, you might have the freedom to travel to another country where women’s reproductive laws are different. This is not to say that a poor person cannot escape a conflict zone or access healthcare, but the pyramidal structure of modern and post-industrial human society shows that the upper echelon of society, the wealthy and powerful, are the ones who make and break the laws.  Materialistic freedom in terms of commodities is not universal.

Human beings are political property of the state in which they were born, reside or had resided. A stateless person is one who has no rights, and paradoxically has total freedom, yet no freedom. On the other hand, something like spiritual freedom is closer to universality in that one’s beliefs and thoughts are tangible within one’s mind, where no one else can truly restrict their beliefs, whether they practice them or not.

Spreading democracy and freedom after the Second World War was a bit different than how it is done today. After Mussolini, Hitler, and Hideki Tojo were disposed of, and the war had been won by the Allied Forces. After obliterating the Axis Powers, the Allied Forces wanted to help their former enemies rebuild and prosper – and they did.  Italy, Germany and Japan became stable economic powerhouses in which their citizens currently enjoy high personal income, well developed infrastructure, universal healthcare, stable borders, and relatively few internal conflicts that lead to deaths or executions. The citizens of these counties are generally considered to be free.

The Second World War cost the United States more than 4 trillion dollars (in 2014) according to some estimates. After about a five-year campaign, the U.S. and its soldiers were treated like true liberators, like “winners” of WWII. They are still considered the greatest generation of humans to ever walk the Earth. As we fast forward to 2014, after 10+ years of war in the Middle East, combining the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, all military operations, and  everywhere else terror resides, 4.4 trillion dollars is the current cost of war (total cost of all services related to conflicts), and Americans are not treated as liberators, nor winners, and things are worse now than when we started.

What does the future hold now that Hussein, Bin Laden, Hosni Mubarak, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, and other life-term dictators have been disposed of? Will the countries of Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq become economic powerhouses like Germany, Japan, or even South Korea? Not likely. The reason: the war economy. Peace and stability is just as important a factor to the global economy as war and conflict zones.

Now that there are currently more heavy conflict zones since before the U.S. and Allies’ invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, defense contractors are making more profits and bigger sales than ever. For the profit-driven industry of arms dealing, shame from not being able to reduce violence and bring about stability after a military campaign is less important. As long as the guns are firing and the bombs are dropping, there is profit to be made. Therefore, it is conducive to the industry to provoke or procreate areas of conflict. It is even better if they could sell arms to both sides of the conflict through conspiracies and inside deals. If both sides have the same weapons, one will be forced to upgrade.

With respect to dark-horse terrorist organizations with plenty of cash, the rise of ISIS or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is currently driving a wedge in concurrent conflict zones in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. They plan on taking over territories that roughly stretch from Morocco to India, to eliminate all borders between “Islamic” countries – high hopes for a group with few allies and many enemies.

Current conflict zones: Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Nigeria, Mali, Columbia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, Kurdistan, Pakistan, India, North & South Korea, China, Japan, South Sudan, Mexico, Egypt, Ukraine, Russia, Central African Republic, Libya, and many more, including the United States.

As military hardware reaches a level of surplus, state and local police forces worldwide have been either given or have been purchasing this equipment. In the before mentioned conflict zones, it is not uncommon to see the military acting as a civilian “peace-keeping force” (like what we have seen in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt). Yet in recent years, many countries like Spain, Italy, Malaysia and the United States have riot police or S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons And Tactics) who use military equipment on a regular basis to intimidate and scare local populations from demonstrating, protesting, and having their voices heard. This is an undemocratic way of maintaining social justice and order in that people will get the sensation of an authoritarian police state – people will stay home, be complacent and compliant, and be afraid to speak ill of the government for fear of persecution. This makes the U.S.A no better than the countries it invades to “spread democracy” if it continues to terrorize its citizens.

As the world has recently seen how the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri rang out and connected with other oppressed people as distant as Palestine, it is important for all people to try and invest in other industries, besides the arms trade, that aim to save lives, not take them.

Recycling Everything is Good For The Economy and The Environment.

¨Why is it everything for the economy regardless of the Earth´s destruction? We are in the 21st Century. We could do better. Environmentalism is good for the economy¨

 

Recycling is a noble and necessary cause for industrialized human societies. The problem is that people generally forget about the devastating effects of solids floating in our oceans, the exponential growth of landfills, and the excess of energy needed to produce more and more physical products from scratch. Since 1/2 of world´s 7 billion people now live in cities and urban areas, the garbage we produce is concentrated in landfills in which a mountain of material wealth is buried and forgotten. City dwellers see some of the garbage dispersed in the vast landscapes of concrete and steel, which looks a bit unattractive when not placed inside the trash containers, but when the trash is inside the containers, which are always filled to the brim, they are taken away and sent to who knows where – out of sight and out of mind, and we continue to throw potentially useful material away.

The idea of garbage, waste, rubbish, trash or whatever you want to call it, is useless to the Earth in that products made out of plastic, rubber, metal and glass will not disintegrate for it to use; that is why we as humans should recycle and continue using them.

The problems people face in advanced and industrialized countries with regard to recycling might not be their fault. The problem is that there is a general lack of innovation and lack of profit-driven advancements in the use of recycled materials. There are no universal methods for recycling in many places. Just look at any state, city or town in the United States: There is a different method and process for garbage and recycling collection in each municipality. This also occurs in some places in Europe in that there is no universal method or financial resources for collecting all that is recyclable. Some towns collect and recycle batteries, cooking oils, used cell phones, organic materials, some towns have public ashtrays (so cigarette butts don´t float among the streets), some towns don´t recycle at all, some have organized a weekly collection of large household furniture, etc. The lack of universal practices within individual states and countries make recycling an impossible task for most people.

There are a few ways to incentivize people to recycle:

1) Make it illegal to not recycle: Fining people for not recycling is not a new idea, but not recycling is much like throwing garbage in the street, which also carries a punishment of a fine.

2) Containers: If people have the resources, they just might use them. Organic material, plastic, glass, paper, metal, electronic equipment (including batteries), oils, and cloths (clothes, furniture cushions, etc) seem to be the majority of the things city dwellers throw out. It seems like a lot of different containers, but the initial sorting these materials could be profitable later on.

3) Innovation: Scarcity and abundance of materials is wealth – like having fresh water and good soil in the desert. The amount of food and organic material that is thrown out by people who live in areas with an abundance of sun (i.e. Southern California, southern coast of Spain, Arizona, and Egypt) can be used as compost for agriculture if treated properly. In the ¨sea of plastic¨ or ¨Europe´s salad bowl¨ in southeast Spain, there are cultivars of tomatoes and cucumbers who use the discarded husks or hairs of coconuts as a growing medium. It is an organic solution to recycle a material that normally would be buried in a landfill.

An unorthodox but innovative way of recycling comes from Sweden in that they incinerate some of their garbage to produce heat and electric energy for homes. Sweden recycles 96% of its rubbish while the remaining 4% is put in landfills, which eventually gets used. They recycle so well that they actually have to buy garbage from their neighbors to continue producing energy for heating by incineration.

Electronic material, which is probably the wealthiest item city dwellers constantly throw into the trash, is very easy to dispose of, but difficult to recycle. The amount of components that make up something as complex as a computer, mobile telephone or television: precious metals, glass, plastic, wiring, and rubber, make it so much more difficult to recycle. This is why there should be a separate container and resources to recycle electronic materials.

Much of the industrialized world´s electronic equipment goes to places like Nigeria and Thailand where toxic landfills are inhabited by local people who try to scavenge as much material wealth as they can. Places like Lagos, Nigeria, receives about 10,000 tons of trash, garbage, and potentially recyclable material each day. Although there is a community of people who live in a squalid shanty town within the landfill, they depend upon it, since they sell small quantities of useful materials, but it is simply too much garbage – and most of it is absolutely useless.

The paradox with electronic equipment is that although we use less material, we produce more garbage. One example of this paradox is how far we have come technologically with television and computer screens. In the 1980s-1990s, television and computer monitors were heavy, bulky, and expensive. Now in the 2000s, monitors are lightweight, use less materials, and are cheaper. People are buying more computers than ever, and more than ever they end up in landfills. Compare cellular phones in the 1990s to cellular phones in 2010: Large, bulky, and expensive mobile phones from the 1990s were few; small, lightweight, and relatively cheap (except for the iphone) mobile phones in the 2000s are cheap and more abundant than ever. There needs to be a revolution in how we recycle electronic equipment or risk a pandemic in which places like the Olusosun Landfill in Nigeria become commonplace elsewhere.

Imagine if each municipality, town or city had a massive recycling facility in which employees delicately sorted materials into different types of metals, plastics, glass, ceramic, organic material, wood, and electronic equipment. A facility of this type would create an almost endless source of full-time employment, much like the people to retrieve the rubbish in the first place. A better understanding of the materials that people discard will permit the exploitation of these materials again.

Plastic bottles, although recyclable, are one of the most abundant items that end up in landfills. Architects recently demonstrated how many plastic bottles New Yorkers contribute to landfills by building a massive structure with them. Each hour, the residents of New York City throw out more than 50,000 plastic bottles instead of recycling them. The structure is large enough to shelter about 50 people. This project demonstrates not only how much recyclable material is wasted, but also what else can be done with these materials instead of simply throwing them out.

Although Americans in the United States would like to think that it still leads the world in innovation, technology, and socioeconomics, it is evident now more than ever that it is beginning to lag behind its allies in Japan, China, Northern Europe, specifically Germany, and the countries of Scandinavia. Americans waste more than any other people on Earth. Culturally, things in the United States are bigger than in other countries (cars, houses, product packaging, etc)  Predetermined obsolescence of cheap products is also a concept that keeps Americans buying, which also drives the economy. Marketing has a lot to do with the amount of garbage Americans produce in that packaging for small items is large so that it catches the customer´s eyes from a distance.

The packaging for our blenders, x-box, mobile phones, televisions, baby toys, sunglasses, picture frames, tweezers, cans of tuna, boxes of cereals, and everything else people by from places like Wal Mart will be thrown in the trash. They must all be recycled along with styrofoam! What a retched material. Styrofoam is trademarked, whereas the non-brand name for this material is expanded polystyrene foam or EPS foam, whose name makes it sound like what it truly is: an almost impossible to recycle material. EPS foam for take-out foods should be regulated since it is almost impossible to recycle or biodegrade. Places like Oakland, Albany, New York, and San Francisco, have banned EPS foam for take-out foods.  The alternative is to use paper containers which are both recyclable and biodegradable.

Environmentalism involving clean energy and recycling in the United States is facing a lot of backlash in that people who have a stake in the most profitable industries like coal, petroleum, and petrochemical think that it will interrupt their profits, but once people realize that there is money to be made in recycling and innovation, it should catch on. The problem is that many of the policies made by lawmakers outweigh the small ecological movements that haven´t had a chance to grow. The countries of  Japan, Scandinavia, Northern and Central Europe have culturally recognized that recycling is a basic human activity that is part of living in a civilized society. These places have realized that they can be both rich countries that provide healthcare, clean energy, non-GMO food, free education, paid vacation and maternity leave, and great recycling programs without compromising their economy. American culture needs to change from: everything for the economy regardless of the Earth´s destruction. We are in the 21st Century. We could do better. Environmentalism is good for the economy

 

By: Opton A. Martin

 

H.O.P.E. for Ghana’s Economic Future Needs to be Strategically Planned for Ecological Sustainability

“Success is Limited when Extravagance Exceeds Sustainability”

Building bigger, higher and faster is not always the solution for economic, social and cultural advancement. New construction projects have to be intelligently planned with a special focus on the environment, social ecology and sustainability.

The Republic of Ghana is a country whose ancient and modern history is something to be proud of: the ancient kingdom of the Ashanti, whose rich language, history and culture formed an empire that mined and traded gold with merchants from North Africa and the Sudan; the independence movements of African nations, where Ghana was at the forefront of self-governance post-colonization and Pan-Africanism ; and its growing sectors in telecommunication and tourism puts it at the top of the list as one of the most stable and friendly places in Africa to live, work and visit.

It seems like recently,  at least for its metropolitan dwellers, that parts of the Republic of Ghana are rapidly converting into an African Silicon Valley in that there is cultural emphasis and economic investment in the field of information and communication technology.  A new project currently in the works is called HOPE City, which is to be built close to the region of Accra, the coastal capital city of more than 2.2 million people.

HOPE (Home, Office, People, and Environment) is a current project for a technology park that has a goal to house 25,000 people,  offer employment opportunities to about 50,000 people, and construct the tallest building in Africa. Construction of HOPE City began in 2013 and has plans to include schools, restaurants, a university, a hospital, tech centers and more.

With a price tag of about $10 billion, this ambitious project can be a complete success not only if it all goes according to plan, but if it is ecologically sound. One important factor that owners, developers and urban planners often forget to include in their blue prints are aspects of ecological sustainability.  HOPE City is an excellent place to display how an African based and African-owned entrepreneurial enterprise can empower the skilled, educated and eager millennial generation in investing their time and energy to making their homeland truly great.

Ghana is a perfect place to continue this ICT revolution in that it has a lot of benefits many other countries in that region of West Africa do not share:

>RLG Communictions is a state-of-the-art Ghana-based tech company that makes laptops, computers and mobile phones.

> Ghana is engaging in government transparency to reduce corruption.

> The Akosombo dam in Ghana produces a lot of  hydroelectric energy for Ghana and for export.

> Ghana is a relatively stable democracy with an ever diversifying economic system: minerals, petroleum, ICT, agricultural goods, tourism, research and  manufacturing.

> Its rich culture, use of local languages and English, can help it relate it to its neighbors and their economies.  Nigeria for example could benefit from a fellow West African technology and logistics hub to build upon their own economy by trading and diversifying.

The 2020 vision for Ghana includes rapid industrialization in all industries in order to propel it into the 21st Century as a stable and technologically advanced democracy. A few things to beware of would be an excessive waste of natural resources, income inequality, and the suppression of freedom of speech. All of these factors can hamper socioeconomic growth in a place where the plight of Sub-Saharan Africa could be completely turned around.

Although Ghana has been experiencing growth from the extraction of hydrocarbon fuels, they should make it their philosophy to power HOPE City from sustainable and renewable energy sources by installing wind turbines and solar panels nearby.  In addition to energy needs, proper recycling and urban architecture must be conducive to pedestrian traffic in order to reduce dependence on personal vehicles (include a commuter rail in the project?). New structures should also adapt the idea of including rooftop and vertical gardens. The leaves of trees and plants reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, while helping to maintain a lower temperature anywhere from 3ºC   to 11ºC  by a process known as transpiration. Reducing the temperature by a natural process  reduces the energy needed to cool structures, and provides an ecological environment that adds to the livability factor of a new human development.

Income inequality should be tackled by providing living spaces that are as I mentioned before, friendly to pedestrian traffic. A sprawling, ever-expanding cityscape, where personal vehicles are necessary for obtaining necessities (food, clothes, medicine, hospitals, schools, etc.) is not sustainable. As we are currently seeing in the United States, one of the most developed countries in the world, that urban sprawl is one of the causes of income inequality, crime, and poor health.

Freedom of speech, expression, religion, assembly, and the freedom to promote digital and print media, are probably the most important aspects of evolving a state socioeconomically and culturally. New ideas need to be diffused unhampered by repressive forces in order to influence more people to do better than their predecessors. The government of Ghana will have to allow for people to freely and openly criticize, protest, and demonstrate without fear of repression.

As time goes forth one can only hope and imagine what a techno-ecological revolution could bring to not only the people of Ghana, but to all those in West Africa whose skills and entrepreneurship could propel themselves beyond what no other has done before.

 

By Opton A. Martin

Perspective of a system in which everyone can benefit: clean energy, full employment, and reduction of illegal immigration.

Could Spain and Nigeria be great business partners for resolving unemployment and energy crisis?

 

The recent global economic crisis has left its mark on the most prosperous of nations and the least. Governments all over the world decided to “rescue” the banks by giving them loans and injecting an absurd amount of money to prevent what would be another economic catastrophe.

What happens to average citizens now that the banks and governments are back on their feet? We still have to resolve the difficulties of unemployment, climate change, and irregular immigration, and very few people in the public eye have real solutions to these problems. Politicians adopt the rhetoric of their political parties; maintain circular arguments, which have no specific solutions, in order to confuse the public.

One of these countries suffering from high unemployment, climate change, and irregular immigration is the Kingdom of Spain, which is one of the ten largest economies of the European Union (five times larger than Greece). It is recorded that over 25% of the viable workforce is unemployed – double the average in the European Union.

Recently, austerity measures that the government and companies have taken in order to lower the unemployment rate and external debt seems to be contrary to popular opinion as many employees have to work more hours, take a reduction in salary, pay more taxes, take less vacation time, and among other things, accept a hike in costs of transportation and energy. All of these factors contribute to the reduction of local spending and consumption.

Although local industries like tourism, hospitality, and manufacturing are growing, there is still a market for diversifying exports to less industrial countries that desperately need the building blocks for their economies. It should be mentioned that Spain is the only European country that has a boarder that physically touches the African continent (Ceuta and Melilla). Spain has an advantage should it choose to invest in the market of exporting renewable energy.

Increasing exports of renewable energy to countries that lack facilities to produce sufficient electricity can lower the unemployment rate both in Spain and the destined country because it opens doors to other industries. Fabricating solar panels and wind turbines for export and developing the logistics for new agricultural industries (energy efficient greenhouses and water treatment plants) are necessary for elevating the standard of living.

The most industrial countries in the world have been investing in clean energy projects to reduce global warming and climate change, but started they too late, and are not working fast enough. As the price of petroleum based products fluctuate dramatically because of oil embargoes, high tariffs, reductions in production due to sabotage, oil spills, wars, and scandals involving stolen petroleum, now more than ever is the time to abandon fossil fuels, and embrace clean energy to meet our energy needs.

The least industrial countries of the world also want to increase their economic output in order to lift their citizens out of poverty. The problem is that there is a direct correlation between rich countries with large populations and their excessive demand for petroleum and natural gas. This sends a bad message to the countries that have the largest reserves of petroleum.

Inversely, the countries that export the largest quantities of the world’s petroleum, like those that pertain to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are known for their low levels of human rights, high levels of poverty, and lack of economic diversity, which puts the environment and their socioeconomic structure at risk. It should also be mentioned that with the exception of hydroelectric dams, no country included in OPEC currently has a clean energy program. Perhaps they are going to wait until the oil wells run dry before investing in alternative forms of energy.

Popular belief states that if a country or region wants to lift itself out of poverty, it must produce and export more commodities, but it is not that easy. The fact is that less developed countries lack the infrastructure necessary to produce enough electricity, which impedes further industrialization: without sufficient electricity; there is no industry.

Nigeria is an example of a country that depends heavily on the export of petroleum for its GDP. It also suffers from an energy crisis. To put the country profile in perspective, Nigeria has a population of about 170,000,000 people, but produces less electricity than Ireland, which has about 4,800,000 people.

Nor money, nor time should be an obstacle for not having already installed some form of clean energy in Nigeria or any other country. The once world’s largest wind farm in the year 2009 is located in Roscoe, Texas. Roscoe Wind Farm, with a price tag of about $ 1.000 million, has 634 wind turbines that stretch beyond 400km2 of land. All of this took about two years to construct and gives electricity to about 250,000 homes.

For Nigeria and other countries in the African continent to diversify their economies for inter-continental trade, they need to resolve their energy crisis. To start, Nigeria would have to import wind turbines and solar panels. This year, Nigeria has opened its doors to investors, professionals and companies for the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo. With luck, we will see not only companies interested in selling modes of alternative energy, but also those involved in ways of developing a domestic industry for African clean energy.

With respect to wind turbines, the United States, Germany, Denmark, Spain and India are home to companies that fabricate and install wind turbines in their home countries as well as in foreign countries. Due to high unemployment in Spain especially, they should be at the forefront of investments in the export of wind turbines and solar panels to open markets in Africa; they should do it before other countries in the European Union especially Germany since they have already recovered from the economic recession. Spain produces about 20% of all of its energy from renewable sources.

The current administration of Spain and other highly industrialized Western nations have recently reduced their investments in clean energy. They have taken two steps back in their attempts to reduce human dependence on fossil fuels and produce new employment opportunities in a necessary and burgeoning industry. If Spain would intend on doing more business with companies and government in the north and west of Africa by exporting wind turbines and solar panels, both partners would grow economically. Perhaps with new-found economic industries and resources less Africans would not have to risk their lives traveling by raft or crossing the Sahara to get to the barb-wired fences of Ceuta or Melilla. Unemployment is exacerbating xenophobia and racism in Europe and North America with far-right political parties blaming immigrants for ills in society.

The production of clean energy in Africa would have a two-pronged effect. First, in addition to being able to produce alternative energy locally, more industries will be possible thus, empowering the local workforce. After proper investment clean energy should be fabricated locally as many of the raw materials to make wind turbines and solar panels are mined locally. New urban centers should spring up, which can alleviate the congestion of the squalid slums of mega-cities like Lagos or Luanda.

Second, African nations can modernize their social and economic life without dependence on fossil fuel industrialization of the 20th Century, while maintaining its status as the inhabited continent that contributes the least to global warming.

There are plenty of social and political battles to confront; people of the world have to realize that we are all suffering the consequences of global warming and the rise in ocean sea levels from the contamination of fossil fuels regardless of where we live. We cannot separate social and economic problems from ecology.

Now more than ever is the time to take advantage of such an old technology like harvesting the kinetic energy from the wind, and such a new technology like photovoltaic solar cells to resolve the problems of the 21st Century.

 

By  Opton A. Martin

Perspectiva de un sistema en el que todo el mundo gana: la energía limpia, el pleno empleo y la reducción de la inmigración ilegal.

 

La reciente crisis financiera mundial ha dejado su huella en los países más prósperos y en los menos. Gobiernos de todo el mundo decidieron rescatar a los bancos ofreciéndoles préstamos para evitar lo que sería otra catástrofe financiera, según dicen.

¿Qué pasa con los ciudadanos ahora que los bancos y gobiernos están en tierra firme? Todavía hay que resolver los problemas de desempleo, el cambio climático y la inmigración irregular, y poca gente con influencias tienen soluciones reales. Los políticos siguen con la retórica banal, la cual no ofrece soluciones específicas.

España representa una de las grandes economías de la Unión Europea pero padece de un nivel de desempleo del 25%, el doble de la media de la Unión Europea. Últimamente las medidas económicas que el gobierno y las empresas han tomado para bajar el nivel del desempleo son contrarias a la opinion popular. Multitudes de empleados tienen que trabajar más horas y aguantar medidas de austeridad como reducción de los salarios, subida del IVA o reducción de días de vacaciones entre otros, por no hablar de la subida de costes de transporte y energía. Todos estos factores contribuyen a la reducción del consumo local.

Aunque industrias como el turismo y las industrias manufactureras están creciendo hay que diversificar los productos que se exportan a los países en desarrollo, que desesperadamente los necesitan para sus economías. Teniendo esto en cuenta es posible que España tenga ventaja en el mercado para exportar la energía renovable al extranjero.

Aumentar las exportaciones de energía renovable a países en los que no hay suficiente electricidad puede reducir el desempleo y abrir las puertas a otras industrias. Producir módulos fotovoltaicos, turbinas eólicas para exportar o desarrollar la logística para la industria agrícola en otros países (como los invernaderos o la potabilización del agua) es necesario para elevar el nivel de vida.

Los países más industriales del mundo ya están implementando medidas para detener o reducir el calentamiento global con inversiones en la energía limpia, pero no la suficiente velocidad. Como el precio de productos derivados del petróleo fluctúa dramáticamente dependiendo de los embargos, tarifas, reducciones de producción, derrames de petróleo, guerras y escándalos relacionados con este recurso natural, ahora más que nunca es el mejor tiempo para abandonar la dependencia de la energía derivada del petróleo y del carbón y hacer una campaña mundial para promover la producción de la energía limpia.

Los países con menos industria quieren desarrollarse en este campo para que sus ciudadanos salgan de la pobreza y participen en

el negocio del comercio mundial. El problema es que la correlación entre países ricos y el consumo del petróleo envía un mensaje equivocado a los países que con grandes reservas petrolíferas. Del mismo modo que los países que exportan la mayoría del petróleo, como los de la Organización de Países Exportadores de Petróleo (OPEP), son conocidos por su falta de derechos humanos, sus altos niveles de pobreza, y por la falta de diversidad económica, lo cual pone en riesgo al medio ambiente y al desarrollo socio-económico. También debe mencionarse que, excepto por las centrales hidroeléctricas, ningún país en la OPEP tiene proyectos de energía limpia. Tal vez vayan a esperar hasta que los pozos se sequen antes de implementar programas de energía limpia.

La creencia popular difunde la idea de que si los países más pobres quieren salir de lo que el mundo occidental considera ¨pobreza¨, tendrían que exportar más productos, pero no es así de fácil. El hecho de que estos países tengan problemas para cumplir con sus necesidades energéticas básicas les impide seguir desarrollándose, el principal obstáculo es que si un país no tiene suficiente electricidad no puede tener industria.

Nigeria es buen ejemplo de un país que depende mayormente de exportaciones de petróleo para el producto interior bruto (PIB), pero al mismo tiempo sufre de una crisis energética. Para ponerlo en perspectiva, Nigeria tiene una población de más de 170.000.000 habitantes, pero produce menos electricidad que Irlanda, la cual tiene una población de alrededor de 4.800.000.

Ni el dinero ni el tiempo deben ser un obstáculo o una excusa para no haber instalado ya energía eólica en un país como Nigeria. El precio para construir el parque eólico más grande del mundo en 2009 fue $1.000 millones. Roscoe Wind Farm, en Roscoe, Texas, tiene 634 turbinas que abarcan 400km2 de tierra. Se tardó alrededor de dos años en terminar el parque eólico en Roscoe que da electricidad a 250,000 casas.

Para que Nigeria y otros países en el continente africano diversifiquen sus intereses económicos, habría que resolver sus problemas energéticos. Para ello habría que empezar por importar turbinas eólicas y placas solares. Este año, Nigeria tiene las puertas abiertas a inversores, empresas y profesionales para la exposición de energía alternativa de Nigeria. Con suerte, veremos empresas interesadas en el desarrollo de energía limpia local.

Con respecto a las turbinas eólicas, empresas con sede en Los Estados Unidos, Alemania, Dinamarca, España, e India instalan turbinas eólicas tanto en sus propios países como en otros. Debido a la alta tasa de desempleo de España, este país debe invertir más en la exportación de aerogeneradores y placas solares a los mercados abiertos en África, y debería anticiparse a otros países de la Unión Europea, especialmente a Alemania, que ya se ha recuperado de la crisis financiera mundial.

La actual administración de España junto con los países más ricos del mundo han reducido sus inversiones en energía limpia. Han dado dos pasos atrás en su intento para reducir la dependencia de la energía no renovable y de bajar el nivel del paro a escala nacional.

Si España hiciera más negocios con empresas o gobiernos del norte y oeste de África mediante la exportación de energía eólica y solar, crecerían económicamente. Tal vez habría menos jóvenes africanos saliendo de su país, y se evitaría que esas personas pasaran meses o años viajando a través de tierras hostiles para llegar a las vallas de Ceuta o Melilla.

La producción de energía limpia tendría un efecto doble en África. Primero, con más electricidad más industrias son posibles, especialmente en el desarrollo de nuevos centros urbanos, lo cual puede aliviar la congestión e inmundicia de mega-ciudades como Lagos o Luanda. El potencial de fabricar turbinas eólicas y placas solares en África se puede propagar de forma exponencial, y por lo tanto reducir la inmigración irregular. Aumentar las industrias africanas como la fabricación textil, los suministros médicos, la maquinaría y la agricultura son necesarios para la mano de obra local, por lo tanto, reduce la inmigración irregular.

Segundo, África puede modernizarse mientras tanto y mantener su posición como el continente que contribuye menos al calentamiento global.

Hay muchas batallas sociales y políticas por luchar, pero desafortunadamente la humanidad en su conjunto se está derrotando a sí misma con combustibles fósiles. No se puede separar la ecología de los problemas sociales o económicos.

Ahora más que nunca es nuestra responsabilidad sacar provecho de una tecnología tan vieja como utilizar la energía cinética del viento, y una tecnología tan nueva como la energía solar fotovoltaica para resolver los problemas del siglo XXI.

 

Por Opton A. Martin