Yesterday March 17 I went to the Congress Nederland CO2 Neutraal, the central role of the speakers was in charge of Dutch astronaut André Kuipers who for half an hour told us the experience of traveling into space. A not passionate, but very informative presentation on the craft of being an astronaut, whose main objective is to travel into space and conduct experiments in a wide range of subjects: physiology, biology, microbiology, medicine, technology, physical development and earth observation in a weightless environment, Kuipers through several slides showed the daily life of an astronaut in space, the trip lasted six months.
Kuipers told the audience the long process of preparation astronauts must follow before embarking on the trip, because the trips are made in ships assembled in Russia (spacecraft Soyuz TMA-4) and instruments of European technology and American, astronauts must learn the management of all devices installed on the ship to perfection if at some point of the trip they have to do manual repairs. They also require physical preparation, not at the level of professional athletes, but their bodies should be equipped to perform many tasks under special conditions, thus underwater training that is approximately the situation of zero gravity according Kuipers.
Kuipers travel into space twice, he said that the ship goes around the earth in 1.8 hours and they see day and night many times in the 24 hours, so they lose control of time but they can always check with installed devices. The photos of the Earth, the spacecraft of humanity, were wonderful, beautiful, inspiring, but it was also heartbreaking because from space was easy to verify what Extractivism is doing with our planet, he showed photos taken in 2004 that were compared with 2013 photos and the devastation of the Amazon in South America, the desert encroachment in Africa, the growth of cities in Europe and America, the pollution in China and India, put the sand in the eye. Something very important was that due to melting of the North Pole and parts of Siberia, it is created a new navigation route, very economical and is causing many environmental changes in the region, also photos showing thousands of fishing boats near the coasts of every continent whose consequences are clearly seen in the disappearance of marine species and generally in the disappearance of biodiversity.
There is much to say about Kuipers talk, but what caught my attention was his life on the spacecraft. During those months, six astronauts must share almost everything, even the purified water from their urine, recycling, maintenance of the entire ship, the dimensions of the sleeping spaces , exercise spaces, work spaces, all done in a small space that does not give many possibilities, but it is used efficiently.
The austerity with which astronauts live is a message that the organizers of Nederland CO2 Neutraal should take into account. Because, the other part of Congress for me was disappointing, with the exception of a young man who is adopting forests through a foundation in Costa Rica. First mistake, the venue for the Congress away from the city center, from the 300 participants 90% were in the car and I did not see any electric car, there were enabled three large parking lots for visitants, when the event finish I was expecting to see many people take the bus, after a long wait I count 7 people including me. The first presentation culminated with the novelty of an electric car that will be released soon and that surely will be used to go to the next congress of Nederland CO2 Neutral.
At the end the organizers gave a publication under the name of the Green Guide, whit companies that sell clean and green products and services, also a chapter on CO2 offsets, that provide polluting companies possibilities to continue doing the same. A last a chapter of awareness with four examples, bee – keeping, manufacturing cardboard through recycling, reducing energy consumption at work and finally a lamp and a plug of the Waka Waka project. Four projects that should be hundred, because it is at this level that we will reduce the CO2 emissions, is the change in attitude, is changing our lifestyle.
This new century is characterized by the constant bombardment of new products, which according to its merchants, are environmentally friendly as they have a green label, which guarantees low power consumption. In a short time we have seen ourselves in the “need” to acquire the latest novelty, because they have many more possibilities and also they are more efficient. This has produced a very large economic expansion, which has benefited producers in developed countries, but it is damaging the environment and nature in developing countries.
What the climate needs to prevent its collapse is a contraction of the means used by mankind. This change requires a different view of power that mankind has on nature, with the destruction of forests to build more cities, with the extraction of raw materials from the ocean depths or the Amazon to benefit more cars and highways . It is to change that way of life based on the promise of infinite growth, a way of life indefensible under the principles of sustainability.
If you do not think about how we need to address the structure of our economy, we will never get to the cause of the current problems. What the climate needs to prevent its collapse are a set of rules that promote change and which do not affect the rules of nature.
It is in our hands, and what we can do not require a technological revolution or a revolution of the infrastructure, it simply means that we consume less, and now. Green Consume only means replacing the power supply with a different one, and only involves an efficient model of consumables. The reason for putting all the eggs in the basket of green technology and the basket of efficiency is precisely because these changes are changes within the logic of the market, and indeed, we are encouraged to go out and buy new cars, washing machines and houses labeled as green and more efficient.
Consume less, however, is not a change in the amount of energy we consume. But it is a change in relation to how often we drive a car, or how often we fly; see if our food has to be transported by plane and if the goods we buy are made to last a long time and have not to be replaced in two years.