lunes, 21 de diciembre de 2009

Tren a París

Bueno, de vuelta a París. Este viaje empieza a acabarse, o quizás a no acabarse nunca. Quizás esto es sólo el principio. Tengo que abrir mi mochila y ver todas las tarjetas de los contactos que he conseguido, todos los nombre, direcciones, organizaciones, publicaciones, libros, mapas... Ordenar todas las ideas en mi cabeza.

I feel outraged. I have just realized I don't want to witness island nations go underwater in my lifetime. Our lifestyles sinks other people's homes. And to achieve this, carbon concentration in the atmosphere cannot go above 350ppm, or 1.5ºC. George Monbiot thinks the only way out at this point is to have a severe economic downturn worldwide in the next few years. Well, if oil prices go up quickly, there could be another economic crisis in a couple of years, and then another one soon later, and then maybe people would wake up and start considering changes in their lifestyle. I am all for education, but we don't have 50 years for values to develop in young people and children. We have very little time left.

I have for the first time understood how much my actions impact the environment. I have seen myself as part of the whole, my contribution, meaningful, "agencyful", in the things I do, the decisions I make. Seeing myself flying over what Al Gore calls the "thin layer that is atmosphere", and filling it up with carbon dioxide, like a cream in a birthday cake. This year I decided not to fly and thought my lifestyle would be jeopardized. But it hasn't. My standard of living has neither worsened nor made my life more difficult. It has in fact made my life more creative and happier indeed. And it has of course made me feel that I am doing as much as I can to get the things I believe in right. Still a long way to go. Respecting the ecosystems we live in is a matter of making the right decisions. A matter of not letting oil take over our lives with up and downs, econnomic downturns which cause so much human suffering, polluting the air, the soil and the water, driving wars of conquest and throwing human rights and all post-WWII conventions into the dustbin. Same with everything else. With commodity items such as plasma TVs, video machines, computers, greener cars whose production creates more carbon dioxide than the car will be able to safe in efficiency in its entire lifespan. And people believe in this things. I used to believe in them just two weeks ago. It's called green growth, and it's the most radical thing that the world is trying to pursue today. Anything but to change the system.

We inherited the system. It worked for as long as resources were plenty and the climate was stable, but the system is now driving itself out. But because humans are inherently so culturally inflexible, when things start going wrong we try to fix the problem at the tip of it, ie.: carbon becomes a problem for the biosphere and we create carbon markets, carbon credits, carbon offsets, which do fairly nothing to drive down emissions but create huge profits, now estimated at around 100 billion dollars. And who benefits? Big multinationals, where vulnerable people are once again left behind. Namely, one of the most important financial mechanisms in the Kyoto Protocol, the Clean Development Mechanism, only gives money to huge projects in developing countries. Rich nations pay the poor to stop them from developing the "dirty" enterprises they would otherwise create, while the former are allowed to continue emitting GHG as much as they want.

An on top of that are our souls, so concerned with acquiring material wealth that we have forgotten about the important things that this world brings us: talking, listening, singing, playing, sharing, caring, engaging, involving, respecting, encouraging... How much do they cost? Well, they are actually free. So the best things in life are free, and we are willing to pay a high price not to have them, the price of changing the climate, endangering our own existence, running around anywhere looking for the best offer, the best sale retail, the fastest two-day holiday to Berlin with Ryanair, the best beauty product to remain young and famous and successful... But getting old with no dignity is not advertised anywhere. We need a cultural shift, an emphasis in those things that are important, matters of the heart (Tracy Chapman), not matters of the wallet.

martes, 15 de diciembre de 2009

Copenhagen night

Yesterday was such a tiring day. I was in the Bella Center the whole day, shopping around, speaking with people, now that I have a clearer idea of what the big picture about climate change is. I waitied one hour in the cold to get into the venue. I could not believe how many people were there. I was actually luckly it took me "only" one hour. Some people queued for nine hours and could not get it at the end! I think there was a little bit of trouble and no explanations from nobody. This is surprising, the Danes have been very organized so far.

I saw Al Gore, and took a few pictures. Some people went crazy about it. There was a lady who tried to convince the security guards to let her in the packed room for like half an hour. I spent the day shopping for contacts, and I think I got a good outcome.

Then in the evening I went to this UWC meeting in the Danish office and had some interesting chats with friends of friends! (so typical). I got lost in the way there and in the way back... And finally met up with Ellie to have one of the most exciting nights of my life!

We headed to Christiania, which is a very alternative neighbourhood in Copenhagen, appartly it used to be a free state from Denmark. Everyone had told us to go there. When we were approaching the place, there were police tracks everywhere blocking the access to the barrio. There was a helicopter flying over! It was like an American movie! Broken grass on the road, and two cars drove back in an runaway manner. We waited for a while to see if the thing went down, but it only got worse. Ellie filmed some, and this Danish guy who had a camera filmed us for a while... Asked us questions about Denmark, COP15, Christiania... I felt like such a journalist! I tried to inform about the situation :-) I love being in front of the camera... It reminds me of the good old days :S

After a while we decided that was not gonna get better and we left the scene. Found a pottery shop in the way and the guy was working, so we knocked on the door and asked to go in. It was such a brilliant place, he makes really nice things, real craftmanship. He started as an apprentice in his twenties when he got fired from the bank he was working in and after he went to art school to apply it to his potery! It was a nice conversation, one of those I will remember, connected with the place and the moment I am living.

hey!! It was started snowing! :-)

The name of the place is Per Bo, and that is the name of the guy too :-). Highly recommended to any passers by! And got my Christmas presents!

Then we passed all this huge police trucks and dogs, and the helicopter!... At some point we heard things braking, and there was a crew all over the streers... Then the journslists arrived and when we got into a kebab place we saw everything on TV! The little Pharmacy with the unicorn we had seen in our way there was surrounded by policemen now.

Hence our little rap, The cop in the pot. That's what it's gonna be called :-)

And this morning I get up and my host tells me that she was trapped inside Christiania! The police had retained them inside and threw tear gas! She was really scared, and that went on for a few hours...

For some reason that is exactly what I was expecting from such a place, as alternative as you can get ;)

lunes, 14 de diciembre de 2009

De vuelta a Suecia

Son las 23.03. Estoy sentado en el tren de vuelta de Copenague a Malmo. Hay un grupo de americanos sentados al lado de mí y hablan sobre el estado del sistema sanitario en Arabia Saudí. Uno de ellos trabaja para Shell y otro para Siemens y están hablando de caputa y secuestración de carbono. Bueno, no todo podía ser perfecto... Estábamos andando por la calle y no había nadie, 5 grados bajo cero calculo, quizás algo más, pero desde luego menos 0 porque la el agua de la acera estaba congelada. Había tres hombres en la calle y uno ha preguntado “What do you think the average emissions compensation is?” (¿Cuál es la media en la compensación de emisiones?) Me encanta lo que está pasando, lo que estoy haciendo. Me encanta este trayecto. Cada día tengo la oportunidad de aprender tanto. Me pregunto si el mundo será así dentro de unos año, de unas décadas, si todo el mundo hablará de emisiones, de partes por millón...

Tarde en el Klimaforum

Estoy sentado en la mesa de ordenadores del Klimaforum. A veces olvido lo que se aprende simplemente hablando con la gente. Acabo de reencontrarme con Ulrik después de más de seis años , y ha sido genial. Nunca había tenido esta conexión con él. La conversación es bastante directa, nada más encontrarnos hemos empezado a hablar sobre cómo reducir nuestra huella del carbono, sobre la filosofía que hay detrás del moviemiento medio ambiental, donde están los problemas, y las posibles soluciones.

Hay algo muy importante que he aprendido en una de las charlas. En un mundo cambiante, no saber lo que cada país tiene y lo que consume no tiene sentido, porque es más difícil organizarse para los posibles riesgos. Creo que si había algo para lo que vine a Copenague es para saber eso. Porque a veces con tantas prediciones apocalíticas te dan ganas de olvidarte de todo y mirar para otro lado, tener una vida mejor sin el conocimiento, que tanto daño nos hace. Pero es precisamente el conocimiento para prevenir lo que vamos a necesitar tanto en las próximas décadas. Recuerdo el representante de Suiza comentar cómo en Zúrich han elegido por voto popular que para cierto año (dentro de 20 ó 30 años), los habitantes de Zúrich utilizarán 2.000 Watios de energía en lugar de los 10.000 que usan ahora. Parece que después de esta decisión ha hecho que algunas compañías se establezcan en la ciudad (tal vez hay otras razones detrás), puesto que representa un modelo de negocios más sostenible, más viable a largo plazo. No tiene sentido tener una compañía durante dos años. Si la comunidad, la ciudad, el país, no se adaptan a las condiciones del futuro, se hundirán. Hay que ser inteligente en este viaje, saber entender, calcular y prevenir. Ahorrar energía y recursos tiene sentido desde el punto de vista económico, y desarrollar empresas que necesiten muy pocos recursos y energía tendrán ventaja. Por supuesto estas empresas también tendrán que tener proveedores que desarrollen un modelo similar, puesto que de otra forma se verán negativamente afectadas. Los precios del petróleo y las energías no renovables vas a crecer muy rápidamente. Tal vez no dentro de mucho llegue el día en el que simplemente no podamos pagar el autobús para ir a trabajar... Y seguro que habrá conflicto. Se necesitarán personas que sepan lidiar con estas situaciones, para poder crear condiciones distintas que se adapten a las nuevas situaciones.

Todo lo que hemos construido durante más de medio siglo, y seguramente durante los últimos 200 años flota sobre el petróleo. La democracia flota sobre el petróleo, y si éste se acaba, simplemente nos quedaremos varados en medio de una cuenca seca, sin saber a dónde ir.

Una de mis grandes deudas con el movimiento medio ambiental es no dejar de volar. Este año lo he hecho, pero para el año que viene tengo preparado por lo menos un viaje de larga distancia. Creo que no es suficiente, que para reducir nuestra huella del carbono a dos toneladas, que es lo que se estima que cada persona puede usar para limitar el calentamiento global a menos de 2ªC, no nos podemos permitir tal lujo. Eso significa que tal vez sólo puedo hacer un viaje de ida a algún sitio. Es algo que me lleva preocupando mucho tiempo porque sé que es lo más difícil para mí. Puedo comer ecológico, comida producida localmente, comida que use menos materiales en el envasado, comer menos carne y menos pruductos lácteos, reciclar todo, comprar poca ropa, no tener televisión, ni utilizar muchos aparatos eléctricos, comprar cosas de segunda mano, usar bombillas y aparatos de energía eficiente, no tener un coche... Pero lo de volar me va a costar mucho más, y volar es lo que produce más emisiones por persona en este momento. Estoy conectado a los vuelos de una forma especial. Un avión me llevó a África por primera vez y para poder volver necesito volar. En avión fui a Oslo, donde decidí lo que quería estudiar, a Inglaterra, donde estudié, a Ciudad del Cabo, que tantas alegrías me trajo, y a tantos otros sitios. Según Ulrik lo que se puede hacer es volar a un lugar para quedarte un tiempo, aprender del lugar, dejar que te cambie. Volar una vez cada tres años. Sería suficiente ver a la familia cada tres años, y comunicarte por Skype el resto del tiempo. Pero yo creo que esto en la parte más difícil, no ver a la familia y los amigos cada tanto tiempo. Hasta ahora lo único que me satisface cuando me planteo volar es utilizar un vuelo para reducir emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero en el lugar donde voy. Por ejemplo, modificar la utilización de la energía del lugar a donde voy. Educar a la comunidad, a un ayuntamiento, el vecindario para que reduzcan su consumo. Entonces mi viaje estaría justificado, porque mi trabajo ha reducido más consumo del que yo he producido con mi vuelo. Creo que tiene sentido. Eso excluye por supuesto los vuelos de fin de semana, y seguramente los vuelos para vacaciones, aunque todo depende. En un mes podría dar tiempo ha hacer algún trabajo que la gente no haría de otra forma, como plantar árboles. Una semana de trabajo manual, que también es muy bueno para la mente, y tres semanas de viaje. Todo gira en torno a cambiar las actitdes, ver la vida de una forma más lenta, más tranquila, en lugar de tenerlo todo aquí y ahora, y más, y cosas nuevas media hora más tarde... Una vida que utilice pocos recursos. El verano pasado conocí a un chico checo, Jirka, que cada fin de semana que podía y cada vacaciones se las pasaba trabajando en granjas ecológicas. Es donde coincidimos. Yo lo hice también en mi tiempo libre, pero la diferencia es que yo no tenía un trabajo a jornada completa y tenía más tiempo para relajarme después del campo de trabajo. Pero fue diferente. Trabajar con las manos no es tan malo como parece, sino que realmente relaja, es bueno para pensar, para entender las cosas con más calma. Creo que hacerlo una vez a la semana me libraría del estrés. Es algo positivo, y quizás no sea tan difícil hacer llegar el mensaje a más gente. Es otra nota para la esperanza. Y hay cientos de cosas que se pueden hacer.

Estoy muy contento de haber visto a Ulrik porque me conecta con el pasado y da al presente más sentido, que la gente a la que conocí no desaparezca de repente, y que la amistad crezca aunque sea en la distancia, tranquilamente.

Tenemos la idea de que una vida con pocos recursos es miserable, como lo fue la de nuestros abuelos, pero precisamente a lo que lleva es a la creatividad. Tren a Copenague en lugar de avión, con todo lo que ello conlleva. Visitar a Sofía y a Aude, la espera en París, el paisaje de Bruselas, las cervezas y el chocolate, conocer gente y expandir lo que allí viví, y aprender en el viaje, intentar compartir coche a la vuelta, visitar a Jen y entender cómo nuestras vidas se vuelven a conectar. Nunca habría pasado en un avión.

Cuál es el pensamiento estándard para todo? Cómo se puede modificar? Eso es lo que quiero hacer, informar sobre las alternativas, y crear nuevas cosas en el camino.

Domingo de Copenague a Malmo:

Estoy sentado en el tren a Copenague, desde Malmo. Llegué ayer por la noche a la ciudad sueca. El tren nos dejó en la estación sur, una vez en la vida cierran la estación central por obras. Desde allí un autobús nos llevó al centro de la ciudad. Siempre hay algo que se me olvida hacer, o comprobar. Ayer fue la ruta del autobús 5. Miré la del 35, pero éste no circula después de ciertas horas, algo que obviamente no se me ocurrió pensar. Así que tuve que andar hasta la casa de mi anfitriona.

El tren acaba de arrancar. Como era de noche, ayer no pude ver el mar que separa Dinamarca de Suecia. Estaba agotado, y llegaba tres horas tarde. Ayer fue la manifestación por la justicia climática. Ahora lo sé. Ahora estoy convencido de muchas cosas, y esto hay que hablarlo con todo el mundo. Hay que hacer cosas desde ya. Por fin vi a Vandana Shiva, al coordinador general de Greenpeace, a una modelo danesa embajadora de Oxfam, a gente que está sufriendo las consecuencias del cambio climático. This is so much about people. Y esto creo que lo puede entender todo esto.

Acaban de anunciar por megafonía que quedan sitios en la parte delante del tren, y que la gente que está parada en los pasillos debería sentarse ahí puesto que se va a subir más gente en la próxima parada, Malmo Sud. Qué organizados son los suecos. Lo primero que vi nada más bajarme del tren anoche fue una tienda de IKEA. Es mi primera vez en Suecia, un país que he admirado durante tanto tiempo. Ayer la calle estaba llena de gente, en los bares, gente escandalosa. Copenague me ha parecido un sitio mucho más tranquilo.

Mi anfitriona es genial. Ayer tenía a otras dos personas alojadas en su casa, una chica de San Francisco que está estudiando en Budapest. Un máster al que también le he quiñado el ojo alguna vez. Todo son conexiones estos días. El otro chico era un parisino que se he metido 20 horas de autobús en el cuerpo para estar un día en Copenague, para una charla sobre el Tíbet y el deshielo en el Himalaya. Y ya se ha marchado esta mañana. Cuando yo llegué estuvimos de charla 3 horas. Es geneial conocer a tanta gente en este ambiente, todo el mundo tiene algo que decir sobre el medio ambiente, y se aprende mucho. Y me encanta pensar que gente con vidas tan diversas hace algo por mejorar el mundo, aunque tengan muchas contradiciones, aunque haya muchas cosas que no hacen, hay otras muchas que sí que hacen. Yo también. Así es. Así somos todos, y es fantástico. Sólo hay espacio para la esperanza.

Ahora estamos cruzando el puente que une Dinamarca y Suecia. Es una distancia muy corta, pero es un puente que une dos países, dos naciones, dos culturas. Es grande, sin barreras, sin fronteras. A la deracha hay un parque de turbinas de viento, tan danés... Y el sol que tímidamente asoma en el horizonte...

jueves, 10 de diciembre de 2009

I have just made a plan of what I will be attending until the end of COP. Intense days... I will miserably miss them, and this, all this, there is so much going on and so little time... And I have to meet up with people as well!

I stayed in this evening after the pizza and did not go back for the movie. Next week I will be in Malmo so everything will just take longer... Coz now my hosts live 10min away from one of the main venues and 30min away from the other, so it's obviously very handy, and to Malmo I reckon it will be at least 50min, not to talk about the fact that trains will not run every 5min!

I went to that book presentation on Tuesday afternoon. The main speaker, Nicholas Stern was not there, and there was actually nobody speaking. We got a lot of really nice food and drinks :) I met this Turkish guy who is living in Barcelona and also came as a Friends of the Earth delegate. It was all very interesting conversation, I am enjoying having just-environment eternal conversation here. I will miss it a lot. Now it seems clear that Barcelona is the best place to do environment stuff. Yesterday I met an Italian guy who is also doing the same program as the Turkish guy, and it's the program I was gonna do this year! Maybe I will do it next year, since King's hasn't taken me! But I actually think I want to do something else...

I really enjoyed that bar. At some point the Turkish guy and his friends left and I decided to stay on my own. I read the chapter in the book of the only speaker who was there. That was a great beer :) At the end I went to the guy and asked him to sign the book. I told him that I am thinking into going into Ecological Economics so that his signature could have a huge impact in my life! But he only signed with his name. So yes, I won't be becoming an Economist any time soon :P

What else? Well, the REDD thing seems to be a scam and won't help emissions go down. Carbon trading doesn't work and Canada wants to actually increase their emissions. Not a rosy picture. Some key scientists have already stated that "no deal is better than a bad deal". Maybe we'll have to wait to Mexico next year, although I won't be going there, so this is my chance to make something of it.

It was not a bad day for me at all, as I found a project I fell in love with instantly! It's called and I felt so inspired! It's about producing maps with different themes (from biking lanes, to community change, to green business, to unused resources for low income people) and using them to educate the public. There was a really good presentation by a Taiwanese company, Delta, which produce 40% of the world's laptop adaptors. They have shown on maps where employers can reduce energy consumption (for example by taking the steps instead of the lift), by how much, and how much CO2, and other similar things. The project is based in New York and they take interns! It was started in the 1995 Social Forum in Copenhagen and it has spread now to more than 55 cities around the world. I spoke with the lady at the end of the lecture and after a little while she referred me as her "next intern"! So that's good, although getting there is not going to be so easy, but we'll see how it goes.

I also learned that staying below the 2ºC increase temperature means 3.5ºC in Africa (coz temperature won't be the same all over the world), and this is really sad news. So now I'm really up for the 80% cut by 2020, which... well, you know.

Hmmm... this December 10th really leaves me thinking... what will the world look like in 30 years? Will we still stay here? Will emissions have gone down? Was any relevant agreement ever reached? Where will I be? Will I be starving? Protecting myself from the sun? Or will we actually have made it, and if so, how did we actually make it?

Relaxing day, at last!

Yesterday I had a day for myself. The week up to then had been very tiring... So I woke up at eleven and went with one of my hosts, Freia, to try to buy chorizo in the supermarket as I had promised everyone I would cool "lentejas" for the night.

We went into town with the bikes and I really enjoyed the ride as Copenhagen is such a bike-friendly city. And we stopped by the zoo! They actually have elephants here! Which came such as a surprise to me, as I would never expect that... Silly, as I knew there used to be lions in Europe... if you have a thick skin or a lot of hair, you can live anywhere! The elephants can be seen from the park that has the zoo, the only animal that can be seen for free! It was a nice view, it took me back to Africa for a few moments, elephants are such majestic creatures, big, slow, solemn...

Then we went to the supermarket and they only had organic chorizo (ho ho ho), and not that expensive as I thought it would be (especially for being organic), but thought I would find it cheaper in a supermarket near the place where I am staying. I didn't in the end, so I thought I'd cook vegetarian lentejas and remain in accordance with the philosophy of the conference :-)

They seemed to like them, although maybe they just wanted to show gratitude :S I think they were not bad... Then I gave them the chocolate I got in Brussels and the little lizard Gaudí-style :) I am having a lot of fun with these people... we are 6 in the house now, Emma from Australia and Niell from Canada who are together and then the Danish couple Freia and Andreas, and a friend of them, Marcus is sharing the living room with me at the moment, but he does not count as CoachSurfer I gues... All the Danish people speak Spanish, and Andreas and Marcus speak it perfectly... Andreas even has an Argentinian accent, and Marcus has no accent, so that makes it a very valuable Spanish I guess, although that's relative... I get along with all of them and I actually think I will miss them... I might ask to stay a little longer, as I am supposed to leave on Saturday... Marcus is now playing songs by Serrat! :D

Today the guys are making pizza and I made some salad :) Later on I am supposed to go a film with Rajenda Pachauri (Chair of the IPCC) in Klimaforum, but I'm not sure the pizza will be ready by then...

Yesterday was the best day lecture-wise so far... I wish I had known that lectures there are better than in the Bella Center earlier... By the way, Papua and New Guinea and Tuvalu seem to be somewhat blocking the negotiations, asking whenever they can the voting system to be changed... go them!

I attended a lecture about de-growth and transition towns, and found it quite exciting. This guy Tim Jackson works for the UK government and amazingly enough the government is interested in this kind of idea! This lecture is linked to the one I went to today. It was a lot more extensive and with another good contribution from a Swiss guy. I can actually say that today has been of the most productive days of my life. I have learned that since the world cannot cope with the consumption we are used to in the West, there will be a turning point. The world we know and are used to will not be like this not long from now. Peak oil is a point in mind. So we have to learn to live with less and our lives could actually be dramatically altered, as we will not have access to what we have today. Transport will be more expensive, also food, electricity, etc. The third speaker, a very old man who works for the Danish Institute of Technology, focused on work and in particular in less working hours. Apparently, Roosvelt through the New Deal tried the American workers to work from 40 to 30/hours a week, but the Congress did not pass the bill (surprise surprise). This would have had a dramatic effect in how we understand many things today. Keynes had predicted that we'd work less, but in fact we work more than our parents, and possibly earn relatively less. The guy had a final quote, because when people realized they could not have sex all the time, they invented work, "The sexiest proposal at COP15 will be to have to work less and work less".

But it all has a point. Increasingly since the 1960s the average American worker would like to work less and get income deducted. There would be more employment without the need of some much growth, and this is the key question. The American economy needs to grow at 2% to keep up with employment, and the whole system feeds on this. Companies and governments contribute to create a culture of consumerism to keep up with growth, and this is where we are.

Tim Jackson with the thought that one way out, maybe, which no one has thought or explored so far is to do with getting negative returns to investment (it has a word, but cannot find it in my notes), which means, getting less money when you invest, or, the opposite of the current system. But it has a point, because that means that there would be a higher social and environmental return to it, it's like destroying money but guaranteeing a better and sustainable society... I have lots of thought on this idea. It obviously needs a cultural shift, which will not happen any time soon! Other ideas came into the equation, like setting limits, knowing what we have and what we need as resources, because if something goes wrong, at least we can plan for it...

Ha ha ha... I have just received finally an e-mail from King's College!!! Everything happens for a reason... :D I have not been accepted in the Masters I applied for, but I have been offered an alternative! And I think today is the first time that this would be good news, because I have been clinching to the idea that this was a good thing to do, until today... :D I have checked the Masters programme again and actually the one I applied for does not make any sense at all... and the one I have been offered does! Not sure I want to do a Masters next year anyway... I have a lot to think :)

Pizza is ready! I have to leave this very intensive two days to come back later or tomorrow...

martes, 8 de diciembre de 2009

Encounter with Wangari Maathai


I have the guy who led us to the queue sitting in front of me. Actually, I find amazing the good humour of the Danish people, they are all smiley and friendly any time of the day or evening, including early ours in the morning! I find them rather helpful.

So yes! I have met Wangari Mathaai :D Actually, it was nothing extraordinary. She reminds me of some many of other African women I have met during my year in Africa, deligent, good-willed, and good spirited! It's just a really good vibe. She gave a presentation about the work of the Green Belt Movement. There were not many people, perhaps 30, and I took the last round question. She had just talked about the need to teach kids from an early age about environmental education and include exams to test their knowledge. I replied I don't really think that it is about environmental education since it is already taught in many schools around the world, but rather about respect and human values. I asked her is she thinks there is a chance that this can be taught in school through formal education. She didn't really answer my question but gave a speech about respect and mentioned some Japanese principle sounding something like "Mofainai", which embodies the concepts of respect, gratitude and not wasting. Maathai expects from COP that the REDD initiative is supported, that a financial mechanism as proposed by Charles Prince of Wales is passed (I don't know anything about this), and that there will be an emphasis on the protection and regeneration (reforestation) and afforestation of indigenous forests and avoid plantations (which I think are considered as forests under the Kyoto Protocol, but feel free to correct me on this).

I had groups of people shouting "Offsetting doesn't work" and people dressed as trees shouting "Sweden wants to take the whole of the EU in its failed forest policy", adding, "When you see a Sweden delegate, tell them what we think about their forest proposals". It was all very amusing. I mean, very serious, but I am already convinced, so it is nice to think that other people also have a chance to know :)

I have had a very laid back day. I could not fall asleep last night as I had some many thoughts in my head and had not eaten a lot, so I feel dreadfully tired today. When I was in the plenary session this morning I could just not take any notes that made sense, and left early. Then I went to a session about the inclusion of the carbon aviation into the ETS (European Trading System) of a new treaty on carbon trading and well, if you agree with cap and trade, it can be good news from someone. Any planes entering or leaving EU space will have to enter the scheme, so obviously this has a huge impact in global terms. At the end of a session an American lady (I assume she was not Canadian) complained this rule violates a country's sovereignty over its air space. Duh!

Then I took a while to walk around. I met a guy who works for the University of Cape Town's water management department, finally changed money, and went to the Post. While I was eating I got an invitation to the release of a book called "Changing Climate, Changing Economy", co-authored by Nicholas Stern, who is the author of the famous Stern Review. I will also get the book for free (apparently), and I really need to go home early, so no excuse not to attend, it's right next to the central train station, and it's in my way home!


lunes, 7 de diciembre de 2009


I quite like the idea to be writing the whole day actually... The whole thing is very well set up, and there is good Internet wireless connection through the venue, and plugs everywhere, including the meeting and seminar rooms, so that means that people can be connected for the whole day. I have seen people writing live what is happening in the different events in Twitter, Facebook, GoogleSpreadSheets and places like that.

On a later note from the main convention centre following the official agenda of the negotiations, I will be commenting on this later.

From the FoE meeting the main points are that the Danish government has launched a weak proposal and that there is even internal division. The Greenland Dialogue seems to be more promising and there is also relevance to a India-China-Brazil and maybe South Africa agreement, but I don't know much about these.

The one thing that I am exploring now is what is called LULUCF, which sets the rules for Land Use, Land Use Change and Forests under the Kyoto Protocol. Apparently lulucf allows dodgy accounting of emissions from forests so that developed countries' cut in emissions is inaccurate as these have been destroying their own forests. The main issues under the KP on forests is forest management, afforestation (plating in tress wehre the has never or not recently been a forest) and reforestation (where there has recently been a forest).

Lesotho (LDCs), Sudan (G-77+China) and Grenada (ASIS) have just expressed concern for the need to implement environmentally sound technologies and the expansion of capacity building.

This afternoon there will be a VERY interesting side event called "Yes he can": President Obama's power to make an international climate commitment without waiting for Congress. Which is exactly what we need.

10.54 local time

Tuesday day 2

7.46 local time

I have arrived early for the FoE meeting and the centre is still quite empty. I feel really full of energy despite (or perhaps because of the fact) that I have been sleeping less than 6 hours over the last week.

Yesterday I attended two new side sessions and I got mixed feelings. The first one was about new market mechanisms to develop during any post Kyoto Protocol. I found it hard to follow as they used a lot of economic technicisms I am not aware of. The main points were crediting and trading and I am not sure how much different this is from the currents Clean Development Mechanism except that it allows for bigger projects. Some people in the audience (namely a guy from Namibia in charge of development the first CDM project in the country, planting 1 million trees and develop a comprehensive water policy for it) also complained that CDM paper work should go through the company who pays and not through the UN, which I find particularly disturbing because as I see it there is the potential of lowering of standards.

What seems clear to me after 3 days of new information coming into my brain, is that offsetting should be totally removed from final text. Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries are allowed to buy carbon credits from developing countries who then have to invest that moneyt in green projects, neutralizing then the emissions of those developed countries. This means that there is not incentive to reduce emissions at home but only to pay (which is cheaper). Offsettings therefore stand in the way of achieving the 40% emissions cut by 2020.

Off to the FoE meeting...

7.57 local time

Reporting Live from the Bella Centre, Copenhagen

13.45 local time

Day 1 of the negotiations. As the last few days from my stay in Brussels and the trip to the Danish capital have been very hectic indeed, I will leave my experience from the Climate Express for the last day of the journay, as a wrap-up to tell this story.

I had planned to come and work in Copenhagen mostly as a volunteer as I had not fixed goals other than to know more about this whole thing and ride the Climate Express. However and almost by chance I have become fully involved with the work of Friens of the Earth (FoE) and I will spend the next two weeks reporting to them daily on "Climate Finance" and "Africa", and on the bilateral meeting in which Spain takes part.

This morning was the open ceremony of the Conference of the Parties in its 15th session, or commonly known as COP15. It is amazing how many accronims are used in these type of events... There are some 20 basic ones I am slowly getting used to, but it is hard to keep track of all of them, so please bear with me too!

There were speeches from the Danish Primer Minister (writing names is really boring, so you are further interested, please Google!), the Copenhagen Major, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) the chair of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change), the Chairman of the COp14 which took place in Poznan (Poland) last year, and the Danish Minister for Energy and Climate Change who during the session has become President of COP15.

I will just mention the parts that are interesting to mention. There was an introduction video which showed a girl who wakes up in a world hit by extreme weather events. She's in the middle of the dessert and in the horizo there is what seems a catergory-5 tornado and then a sweeping flood. Then she actually wakes up, and goes to tell her father the nightmare. He takes her in front of the TV so that the girl watches the video of the famous Canadian girl who silenced the UN with her amazing speech on the state of the global environment, Severn Suzuki, during the '92 Rio Summit. Here is the video:

The whole video was obviously not shown, but I kept this sentence:
"In my fear I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel".

I will not talk about the performance that took place afterwards by the Danish Girls Choir. Although the guy playing the trumpet along was good, worth having done a solo.

I also learned that South Africa made a significant commitment to the COP15 process yesterday so I am happy about that.

When individual countries had the chance to speak, Papua and New Guinea (PNG) asked for its turn. This is the funny TV-like part that everyone knows about the UN. They ask for a revision of the rule 42 of the convention that deals with voting. I am not sure what exactly this rule is about, but I think that there was never consensus to establish a voting procedure than consensus itself during the COP1, so consensus is still needed to reach agreement. Since we know that one or tow countries, ehem, Canada's only neighbour, ehem as it was addressed in the various conferences that took place in the Climate Express, ehem, PNG requested a passing bill to be set at 2/3 of all votes. When the chairlady replied it will be revised, PNG insisted and then Brazil demanded that the rule will not be discussed at this point as it takes up time of intervention (this rule has been tiredlessly discussed for 15 years and there has never been an agreement, so Brazil was actually right). Then Saudi Arabia, DRC and Sierra Leona supported. Sierra Leona did so to know that we know they are still a coutry, and speaking at a UN summit was Sierra Leona's national greatest achievement for decades (...) Palestina claimed at the end of the turn that its voice is heard in the high profile sessions of second week Wednesday, which the chair replied are guaranteed under UN rules (they can speak after all other parties, as Palestine is an observer of the UN and not a member).

Then countries representing groups spoke. The world (and the UN) is divided into groups for the FCCC, with one country as its representative: G-77 + China (Sudan; I need to know more about this group); Africa (Algeria); Saudi Arabia (Middle East); Lesotho (Least Developed Countries, LDCs); Granada (Alliance of Small Island States, ASIS); Environmental Integrity Group (I have not idea what this is, not least because only Mexico, South Korea, Monaco, Liechenstein and Switzerland are in it, Mexico speaking today); the Umbrella Group (Japan, Norway, Iceland, Kazajstan, Russia, Ukraine, US, Canada, New Zeland, with Australia speaking. I assume these are all developed coutries outside the EU and financial paradise-countries, and of course, Kazajstan), and finally the EU (Sweden).

On a key note, Saudi Arabia's speech was dedicated to the recent hickjacking of high profile climate related-documents from the University of East Anglia (my university!) and expressed concern over the change and elimination of some of them and what this means for the COP15 process and climate change (on another key note Saudi Arabia did not mention what its economy does to climate change).

The best intervention was actually Lesotho's, who asked for clear commitments, amongst these that developing countries dedicate 1.5% of their GDP to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, and other key numbers. Australia and particularly the EU were rather disspointing. It seems clear that there needs to be a 40% cut globally by 2020 in carbon emissions to stay below the 2ºC that science says we need to avert catastrophic climate change this century and beyond. The IPCC chair this morning says that emissions have to peak in 2015. Well, Australia and the EU pledged a 50% reduction by 2050 and the EU committed to a peak in 2020. Both representatives gave financial offering to developing countries well below what they need to adapt.

Woho, still haven't eaten yet, but running to the next lecture, "Benefits of New Carbon Market Mechanisms" by a guy from the UK. Then at 18.00 I am attending "Financing in Mitigation in Local Communities" (France).

15.00 on the dot local time

viernes, 4 de diciembre de 2009

París a Bruselas

Me han dado un asiento de pasillo y mirando al revés de la dirección del tren. Lo cual me da la oportunidad de ir al pasillo y ver el paisaje desde allí :-)

El único Thalys que había cogido hasta el momento fue de Colonia a París cuando me fui a vivir a Bruselas en octubre de 2008. Llegué a la estación de Colonia sin billete y la cola casi no me deja comprar para el siguiente que salía a Bruselas... El que finalmente no pude comprar porque no me hacían descuento en ese y me salí muy caro. Me tuve que esperar al siguiente (por lo que llegué tarde al curso de formación en Flandes). Cuando subí al tren, en los asientos había enchufes, y pensé “Bueno, por lo menos la espera ha merecido la pena”. Me puse a ver una película en “el portátil tranquilamente y mientras tanto llegó una azafata ofreciéndome chocolatinas. El vagón estaba vacío y tenía cuantro asientos para mí solo. Hasta que pasó el revisor y me dijo que eso era primera clase y mi billete era, por supuesto, en segunda. Mi nuevo asiento estaba en un vagón lleno hasta los topes, en pasillo y mirando a otra persona... Recuerdo pasar por Liége, que desde el tren se veía oscura y gris, y pensar “Que viaje tan miserable!”.

El tren ofrecía Internet (6 euros la hora), así que ahora he vuelto a mirar si éste lo ofrece. Parece que no hay Internet pero Thalys ofrece Internet gratis a los viajeros de primera clase. Antes de la salida he comprado el billete de vuelta de Colonia y París y no había en segunda, pero con mi descuendo en primera no me salía tan caro. Así que a la vuelta tendré Internet gratis en el tren :-)

Me acabo de acordar que todavía no he desayunado...Me queda todavía un montón de comida “de viaje”. Me apetece comerme un gofre belga cuando llegue, algún bombón y una cerveza... Eso es Bélgica para mí! ;)

París es para mí una encrucijada. Pasé muchas veces en avión en escala a Johannesburgo, así que tiene un significado especial. Nunca visité la ciudad mientras vivía en Swazilandia; sólo conocía el aeropuerto Charles de Gaulle, y el Hotel Sofitel que me dieron la primera vez que viajé a África, cuando cancelaron mi vuelo... Qué recuerdos! Al día siguiente 16 horas en una habitación con juguetes y películas de Winnie de Poo en francés para niños... Y 24 horas más tarde... África!

La primera vez que visité París de verdad fue en febrero de 2008 cuando volví de Madagascar. Me quedé tres días en un youth hostel y visité la ciudad. Practiqué francés. Y hoy me he vuelto a dar cuenta lo mucho, a mi sorpresa, que me gusta hablarlo aunque sea para preguntar direcciones. También me sorprende acordarme de tantas cosas, puesto que hace mucho que estuve en Madagascar y nunca lo he vuelto a practicar desde entonces. París me gustó mucho, como decía Chiara, es una ciudad hecha para impresionar. Nunca pensé que me gustaría tanto, y ha sido grato volver, aunque sólo sea de pasada. Y por tanto esta entrada está dedicada a Aude Esperándieu!  

Día 2. En el tren haciq París

8:02 Falta una hora para llegar a París. Me acabo de despertar y quizás este no sea el mejor momento para estar escribiendo. Estamos parados y todavía no ha amanecido. Me dieron el asiento mirando hacia adelante (la mitad de los asientos están enfrentados así que la mitad del vagón va sentado en contra de la dirección del tren.), pero no me sirve de mucho si no puedo ver el paisaje. Creo que he de empezar a acostumbrarme a las pocas horas de luz del norte de Europa, y sobre todo en Dinamarca. Copenague está a la altura de Edimburgo, lo cual es bastante al norte, y le calculo que como mucho habrá 4 horas de luz según nos aproximamos al solsticio de invierto el día 23 de diciembre.

Parece que esta noche ha sido luna llena. O tal vez es ya luna menguante. Me acabo de dar cuenta de que creo que no sé decir luna menguante en inglés, a menos que se diga “luna decreciente”. ¿Alguien me orienta?. En París voy a tener que correr un poquito. Sólo tengo dos horas desde que llego hasta que sale el tren a Bruselas, y tengo que cambiar de estación e intentar comprar el billete de vuelta de Colonia a Parías, ya que en España no lo pudieron emitir. El ordenador no lo encontraba. Resulta que el día 13 cambian el número de plazas y de asientos que se pueden vender en el extranjero así que estaba bloqueado. En la estación de Murcia lo intentaron durante casi una hora pero nada, y en Barcelona me dijeron directamente que no se podía, y que además en Francia estaban en huelga indefinida (sorpresa sorpresa...) así que el servicio era todavía peor (no sé hasta que punto creermelo ya que en Murcia no se habían puesto tan dramáticos. Que lo intentara al llegar a París, así que eso haré.

¿Mi viaje más largo? Este no, que además se me ha pasado muy rápido. 12 horas. El más largo fue el de Nambia, aunque no fue directo, y fue muy peculiar. Así que los más largos han sido el de Barcelona a Milán que hice el 19 de julio de este año, y que luego continué hasta Trieste y Ljubljana en Eslovenia para unos días más tarde ir al concierto de Bruce Springsteen en Udine (Italia) el 23 de julio. También el trayecto de vuelta de este verano europea, de Zúrich a Barcelona. Ambos duraron 14 horas. Es curioso porque tanto el viaje posterior a llegar a Milán y el anterior a llegar a Zurich fueron divertidos. El segundo más que el primero. Una de esas historias que contar.

Cogía el tren (me acabo de dar cuenta que este humilde tren se acaba de convertir en TGV) en Múnich después de haber llegado desde Praga el día anterior. Decidí pasar por la capital de Baviera puesto que mi antigua compañera de piso Christin seguía viviendo allí y eso era mejor que viajar directamente desde el sur de la República Checa donde estuve durante el verano a Zúrich via Viena en mismo día. Como el billete de Zúrich a París es más barato comprarlo desde España, le pedí a un amigo que me comprara el billete y me lo mandara. Llegó unas tres semanas antes de que saliera el tren. Hize todo el recorrido a Múnich y sólo cuando el tren arrancó de repente me di cuenta de que Suiza no formaba parte de Schengen (la unión aduanera de la Unión Europea -menos el Reino Unido e Irlanda y más Liechenstein, Noruega e Islandia) y por tanto iba a necesitar pasaporte. No lo había cogido cuando salí de España pues pensé que no iba a ir a ninguno de los países fuera de la Unión Europea, pero nunca se me pasó por la cabeza el tema de Suiza. Además por allí sólo iba a estar esperando al tren a Barcelona, unas tres horas. Ahora pienso que fue de todas formas una idea errónea, porque Eslovania estando tan cerca de Croacia, habría sido muy fácil visitar el país un día, y ahí sñi que habría necesitado el pasaporte.

El caso es que me tiré la mayor parte de las cuatro horas que dura el viaje de Múnich a Zúrich pensando que me iban a detener. Estaba todo el rato atento a que pasara el revisor pidiendo pasaportes. Cuando me pidió el billete pensé que lo haría, pero no lo hice. No se me ocurrió que pasada esa prueba podía estar tranquilo porque por ejemplo que tren que fue de Barcelona a Milán, al entrar no nos pidieron documentación pero sí cuando el tren llegó a la frontera con Francia. Así que yo seguía intranquilo. Había una señora delante de mí y de repente vi que buscaba algo en el bolso, y pensé que era su pasaporte, y que el momento había llegado! Pero era un hilo de coser! :S Me sentí un poco ridículo la verdad. Acababa de pedir por SMS la dirección y teléfonos del consulado español en Zúrich por si acaso. Al llegar a Suiza iría para que me expidiera un documento rápido (si es que eso se puede hacer), para que me dejaran salir del país. Según llegábamos a la frontera me ponía más nervioso. Iba mirando la hoja de ruta del tren que ponía el tiempo que el tren hacía en cada parada y parecía que en el lugar donde ya debería ser frontera o el último de Alemania no paraba más de lo normal, por lo que pensé que eso era indicativo de que no iban a pedir documentación. Finalmente ya pude ver alguna bandera Suiza ondeando y me relajé más, aunque seguía pensando que tal vez al llegar a Zúrich nos pedirían algo. Pero razoné que en las paradas en Suiza no había controles, y que si alguien se había subido en Múnich y se bajaba antes de Zúrich, debería ser comprobado al bajar del tren.

En Zúrich no había ningún puesto de control y todos salimos del tren sin contratiempos. Pero yo seguía empeñado en que Suiza no había firmado Schengen y que necesitaba el pasaporte, y que pasaría la noche en el calabozo! Aunque sinceramente, si he de pasar una noche en un calabozo, que sea uno suizo. Cuando llegué a Zúrich llamé al consulado pero era fuera de horario de oficina y sólo atenderían llamadas urgentes, por accidente grave o detención. Entonces vi que en la misma estación había un puesto de policía y pensé ir para que me detuvieran y así poder solicitar servicios diplomáticos! A mi en ese momento lo que me interesaba era que me deportaran a España, en el tren para el que yo tenía billete :-) Pero finalmente descarté la posibilidad de la policía y me fui a ver un rato la ciudad. Pensé que en alguna librería encontraría un libro de viajes donde explicaría lo del pasaporte. Pero no encontré ningún libro. Me metí en un supermercado para comprar comida pero no sabía si aceptarían mi tarjeta de débito española (no iba a cambiar dinero a francos para una compra), así que al entrar pregunté a la chica de la caja y me dije que sí. Compré tranquilo pero al ir a pagar había dos chicos catalanes delante de mí y cuando le dieron su tarjeta de crédito a la cajera, ésta les pidió el pasaporte. Pensé “Ahora sí, me van a detener!” Y estuve a punto de dejar la comida e irme, pero decidí que si tenía que ser, mejor ahora. Pasó la comida y le di la tarjeta pero a mí no me pidió nada. Tal vez porque ya le había preguntado al entrar...

Poco antes de la salida del tren me fui para la estación (sin haber encontrado en toda la ciudad una triste tienda de suvenires... como se nota que los suizos no necitan vivir del turismo...). La estación de tren de Zúrich es una estación abierta y el último andén da a una calle, es decir, que cualquiera se puede meter en el tren que para en ese andén y sería muy difícil poner una barrera temporal. Ese era mi andén. Y cuando ya estábamos subidos en el tren, la revisora nos pidió el billete y los DNIs... Nada de pasaporte.

Tres días más tarde ya en Murcia, me acordé de comprobar mis dudas. Suiza había firmado el acuerdo de Schengen en 2005 y éste había entrado en vigor a principios de 2008. :S :S :S :S :S :S

Así que esta entrada está dedicada a Javi Arabit ;)

miércoles, 2 de diciembre de 2009

REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation)

Entering the province of Tarragona I read an article in this week's Time magazine, called "Keep the Jungle Alive",by Andrew Marshall, and it is hence dedicated to Anna (Lynn) Handley.
REDD is one of the big bets in Copenhagen, in essence, paying countries to keep forests intact. Forests are one of the largest source of carbon absorbtion from the atmosphere, so conserving them ensuresthat carbon will not be released hence contributing to global warming. Currently, forest destructionaccounts for 15% of global carbon emissions, and all forests store 300 billion tones of carbon dioxide,or 40 times the world's annual emission, so there is every reason to save them. This makes Indonesia, alergaly developing ocuntry the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide behind the US and China, as since 1950, more than 740,000 square km of forest have been destroyed or degraded (Greenpeace).

A project at Ulu Masen, in the tsunami-hot Indonesian province of Aceh, the first UN-based project that protectsexisting forests with the revenues from emissions trading. Under the Kyoto Protocol, a carbon market was createdwhereby companies and rich countries (Annex I) would buy "carbon credits" to projects in developing countries(Annex II) so that their emissions would be offset (although this is problematic, but more on this latter) However, The Kyoto Protocol did not consider carbon trading money to go into existing forests and it can only help restore destroyed or degraded forests. However, it is difficultto bring back forests that have partially or fully being damaged and it is wat eassier to protect existing forests(and this will be one of the big changes for a global agreement on climate change discussed at Copenhagen).

Now, preserving Ulu Masen over the next 30 years will prevent 100 million tons of carbon dioxide entering theatmosphere (or 50 million flights from London to Sydney). Thre are side advantages, such as the money financing the development of poor communities, protecting biodiversity and endangered species.

However, critics assert that carbon trading does not reduce emissions. This is becasue basically companies andAnnex I countries can "buy their guilt" out of the problem. Paying money when flying to finance the construction of solar-panelled houses in South Africa does not actually mean that the plane is not producing carbon dioxide.The carbon will be released anyway, so it does not help to tackle global warming. Cris Lang, who runs the websiteREDD-Monitor in Jakarta says that "funding REDD schemes through offsets or other market-based mechanisms would bea disaster". There must still be a reduction in emissions. And working out reductions according to a base year is important. The EU uses 1990 and the US 2005 (when emissions where obviously higher than in 1990). So it's not the samepledging emission cuts by 20% compared to 1990 and to 2005.

(Next stop: Tarragona)

Día 1

Parada: Orihuela. Tierra de Miguel Hernández. Siempre lo pienso cuando paso por aquí en Cercanías. Pero ahora no voy en Cercanías, sino en el Talgo, y el tren no va a Alicante, sino a Barcelona. No encuentro mi reproductor Mp3 así que lo más seguro es que viaje son música estas tres semanas. Pero creo que así es mejor, porque me podré concentrar más en los sonidos que hay a mi alrededor. Me había agenciado toda la discografía de Paul Simon para la ocasión, pero creo que habrá de esperar.

Me acompañan dos empanadillas (me acabo de comer una :-) y el paisaje, que por cierto me han dado mirando hacia adelanta y en medio de la ventana :-) Y eso ya me pone muy contento de por sí.

De momento, un viaje en tren. Mi viaje favorito, del que sólo cuardo fotos impresas, que son las mejores. Fue el viaje a Namibia en la Semana Santa de 2002, de Windhoek a Tsumeb. 400Km al norte de la capital y 18 horas de viaje (Que es mejor que tardar 44 horas para los mismos km, pero eso fue en Madagascar, y no fue en tren. Y esa es otra historia). Iba con Manuel y Jacob, los dos primeros años de Swazilandia, español y noruego. Queríamos ver el norte, y la reserva de Etosha, que es una de las más importantes de África, tal vez después de Masai Mara, Kruger y Okovango. El tren iba a durar unos 8 horas. Era un tren nocturno. Conseguimos billetes para estudiantes, y justo antes de salir de casa de nuestro amigo Sebastian que nos alojaba (un antiguo profesor de química de Waterford Kamhlaba), y llegábamos tarde, o eso, o Sebastian era un conductor muy rápido. Pero resulta que era una hora menos, y no nos habíamos dado cuenta en los tres días que llevábamos en el país. Resulta que Nambia es el único país de toda África del Sur que cambia la hora en otoño y primavera. Y aquel tren fue el único horario que teníamos de referencia.

Aunque Namibia me pareció un país bastante organizado para los estándares africanos, el principio del viaje fue una pesadilla. Salío una hora tarde, y cuando estábamos sentados (al menos los asientos estaban rotos y podíamos acostarnos... No hay mal que por bien no venga), el tren comenzó a ir hacia atrás y enganchar más vagones. Quizás los trenes en Europa hacen esto de forma suave, no lo sé, pero allí era terrible porque todo el tren se convulsionaba hacia adelanta y atrás, y era imposible estar tranquilo. Luego seguía un poco hacia adelante, pero en seguida volvía hacia atrás y enganchaba más vagones. Así durante hora y media.

Después de unas cuentas horas de viaje, el tren se detuvo en un lugar en medio de la nada, cuyo nombre no recuerdo muy bien, pero era algo así como Okiwarango. Allí nos tuvimos que bajar del tren y esperar tres horas hasta coger el siguiente (esto no estaba ni en el billete ni en el horario previsto). En aquel pueblecito vi salir el sol, iba yo con mi poncho que me regaló Lau, justo detrás de una máquina de tren que tenían puesta en la estación. Hacía frío, el amanecer de la estepa africana.

A partie de entonces el viaje mejoró. El tren en el que nos montamos ya no era todo de asientos, sino de compartimentos, como los que había antiguamente en España y todavía quedan en Europa. Así que tuvimos un compartimento para nosotros solo. Entonces el tren comenzó a parar, de vez en cuando, y la máquina se marchaba, y tal vez volvía una hora después, y allí nos quedábamos en medio de la llanura. O tal tardaba dos, nunca se sabía. La gente aprovechaba para salir y pasear por aquel campo, sin mucha prisa. Fue una especie de viaje de libertad, nunca sabías lo que iba a pasar.

Recuerdo que dentro del tren había una mujer de la etnia herero con un vestido típico rosa fuxia. Era como viajar en un museo, a los ojos de un europeo (que seguramente vemos en todo lo distinto un museo). Cuando el tren se ponía en marcha, iba tan lento que podía abrir la puerta del vagón y sentarme en las escaleras para que me diera el aire en la cara. Era como montar en moto, pero en tren.

Espero poder ir poniendo las entradas en el blog cuando vaya parando en las distintas ciudades, pero voy a intentar en Alicante y Valencia ver si me funciona el WiFi :-)
(Bueno, finalmente ni Alicante ni Valencia me dejaron conectarme, así que me he tenido que esperar a llegar a casa de Sofía :-) Por lo que le dedico esta entrada a ella! )

martes, 1 de diciembre de 2009

Ready to ride the rails

Packing day. Almost ready to go, except for all the lessons I have this afternoon! I am well excited, but not having worked out properly how long it would take me to get everything tidied. Still deciding whether I am taking my traveller's blue backpack or my very confy green suitcase with handle and wheels... I think I will be pragmatic and take the latter. Barcelona tomorrow, and will be seeing Sofía! Stop 1, 5 hours and then night train to Paris. I am trying to figure out how I will be writing until I get to Brussels as it is not so easy to get power to use the laptop inside trains. But I have a little idea. We'll see how it works! :-)
Still need to get the presents for my hosts! They will be four, counting Aude in Brussels. There is Andreas, a Danish guy who will host me from 5th-11th, which is really very reasonable! Then there is Anna, who will host me from 12th-15th, and who actually does not live in Copenhagen or Denmark for instance! But in Malmo in Sweden across the bridge, and I think it will be quite fun to travel to and out of Denmark for the day :-) Then there is Lisa who will host me for the last 2 days of the time I'm in the Danish capital. I am really looking forward to meeting all three, as I don't know then and can already say they are very nice people!
Don't have the return tickets so that gives me a little bit of window to figure out how long I want to stay in Cologne in the way back, although I do have to get the return from Paris to Barcelona before I leave Spain, so I have until tomorrow evening to decide on this. The main point is that I am trying to see if I can hitchhike.

I have never taken the train from Barcelona to Paris, although I have taken the train running from Barcelona to Milan (July'09) and Zurich to Barcelona (August'09), in super reclinable seats, although they do exagerate with that statement a bit. But I did sleep quite a lot. Just didn't like the French police to wake all us up in the middle of the night when the train crossed the border into France, asking for our IDs (Schengen who?). The one from Zurich was better as the conductor asked us to give her the IDs during the night so that the police would not bother us. I slept like a baby, remember stopping in Bern and Geneva and people coming into the train and I was just not bothered at all.
Time to eat last regular lunch at home for a while! ( I need to work out the format later...)

domingo, 31 de mayo de 2009

That German verb

I like this article because it reminds me of a German verb, which means at the same time "to create" and "destroy". So let's create good things by destroying bad ones.

I can't find the article I saw this morning in some newspaper and thought that was quite good.
I searched in google for environmental news and got this:
From my early start as an environmental concious mind, I worried about whether information has any impact on environmental behaviour. After all what I have read and seen (and researched myself), it looks like it does, but it also seems that just information (and especially that in newspapers or TV) is not enough. That may be good to make people aware of the problems, but I am even in this case sceptical, because I don't think people who read it change their behaviour necessarily. In fact, if I think of the reasons that led to my environmental consciousness, reading articles in newspaper had little to do with it, if at all. My consciousness developed because I was living through a time in which I became sceptical of the economic and social system in which I we are living. This was toppled with info about the uncertainty on how actions impact the environment, and how turning points could alter the info we have about the system. We regard systems as entities with fixed rules, but should those rules change, we would find that predictions do not work. So I got very scared, because suddenly I realised that nothing is certain, and that we have to take care of the world we live in. Then, living in England, it was sort of easy to have a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. I realised I could take small steps to make my life greener, and little by little, I change my habits while learning much more about the environment. I took a lot of interest in recycling properly, started to buy organic food (which is England is not much more expensive than standard food), switched off someone else's computer screen, flew less, bought products that were produced more locally and used less packaging, and began to appreciate those aspects of my life that were already green, like using public transport, saving water... In a way it was the most amazing journey of my life, because for the first time I really worried about something, I became very passionate. With time, this has faded away a little, and I miss it, even if this will probably be my greenest year ever, as I decided not to fly at all (because I believe I can have a good lifestyle and have fun without the need to fly) and so far, I am doing well :-)

jueves, 28 de mayo de 2009

Don't worry, be happy

I was watching the CNN yesterday. There was a note on a new report from an EIA, stating that Carbon Dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere could increase by 40% by 2030. This is bad news. However, the article (taken now from the website notes that "its analysis is based on current regulatory and legal requirements and does not assume enactment of laws or international treaties requiring reductions in greenhouse gases. Any such action would force shifts away from fossil fuels and less carbon pollution being released". So we know what to do.

I need to know how reliable is this site. I hope someone can guide me on it. Is it a Canadian article? There seems to have the maple leaf as its logo.
The full article is at:

Flying elephants

Can elephants fly?

Once I knew no Czech. Now I know how to say "flying elephants" in Czech, amongst other things. It is funny how I thought of this name for this blog. This time I write because I want to, because I feel like it. Like Eduard Punset has tought me, I have 60 years of extra life, the ones that medicine has reclaimed in a century, so I better find something to do with them.

As a matter of intentions, I am planning to have this as an environmental blog. I want to write down my thoughts on what the environment is and how we human relate to it. I began by studying International Development, and in my search of what development is I found a great flaw: developing is literally destroying life on this planet, and so it cannot be a good thing, despite what the great majority of the world's population think and say. THE WHOLE POINT IS: LET'S UNDERSTAND WHAT A BETTER LIFE FOR EVERYONE IS, AND DO IT, BUT LET'S DO IT RIGHT. LET'S MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE NOT THE LAST GENERATION.

The environment is everything: plants, animals, water, air, science, law, customs, culture, history, religion, industry, genius, policy, people. It is hard to think of a planet in which our needs are met without compromising the needs of future generations when the way all social, economic and political systems are based on greed. Rather, they should be based on rights. All rights are relative. People have been fighting for rights forever. Sometimes they were achieved, and sometimes they were crushed. Whether this generation's capitalism is responsible for helping people to achieve more rights is debatable, but my belief is that we do not need to scrap capitalism altogether and go back to the Middle Ages. It all has to do with making our lives more happy-efficient. I believe I can live in happiness and dignity without using someone else's right to drink water or live under climatic conditions that have governed human life forever.