Wednesday 2 June 2010

Bolivia, Waste and Being on the Train

At last week's Carbon Conversation (Transport and Travel) - we were working out our consumption of fossil fuels and the resulting emissions in terms of our car, bus, train and aeroplane use.

Christine asked us first to talk about either a favourite or a nightmare journey. I spoke about coming up by train this evening from Lowestoft to Norwich through the Broads with its big skies, swans and waterways. The train is filled with people returning from work, and there's a group or two of young people chattering away, on their way out for the night. The walk to St Benedicts Street, first to the Bicycle Shop, where Naomi surprised us and we conversed over coffee, then onto Christine's for the conversation 'class', and later walking back to the station with Charlotte, past the restaurants and nightclubs, for the last train home.

This is what I discovered on the way back home that night. An opened but barely touched chicken and bacon salad in its plastic container complete with black plastic fork. No I didn't finish it. Although such things have been known.

So what's this got to do with Bolivia? I took the following picture there in 1992. It's of a group of condors up in the Andes. You can make out one of them lifting up some carrion.

Bolivia keeps cropping up in conversations at the moment. This South American country has an indigenous President, Evo Morales, and is where the The People's Agreement of Cochabama has just been forged at the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Bolivia, along with other ‘poor’ countries, was kept out of the behind-closed-doors meetings of the ‘rich’ countries at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference last December. I learned all this when I was invited as a Transitioner to a meeting of the Socialist Workers Party a few weeks ago. The discussion was on climate change and what socialism might do to address it.

The indigenous people of the Andes come from a no-waste culture, underpinned by maintaining right relation with the living systems all beings depend on. The condor is the sacred bird of those high altitudes.

Well, you could say that Bolivia is a long way away and let them get on with it. The trouble is that the heavy use of fossil fuels by the 'rich' countries is melting Bolivia's glaciers and threatening the water supply of at least two cities. Take a look at this excellent article by Naomi Klein, author of Shock Doctrine, on A New Climate Movement in Bolivia.

We can read all sorts of (true) statistics about how 'we' waste a third of 'our' food in this country. But there's something about seeing it right there, on the Norwich to Lowestoft train at 11 o' clock at night on a Wednesday after Carbon Conversations, that brings it right home. Because everything comes home to us in the end.

Pics: The Train to Carbon Conversations; Wasted Food; Condors, Bolivia 1992; A Path through the Bolivian Andes - from the plane, 1992. Boarding the one coach train from La Paz to Arica (Chile). All photos by Mark and Charlotte

1 comment:

  1. Did you hear about Uruguay's new president? Apparently he has declined to live in the palace preferring to be at home and attend to his normal farming duties in tandem with new responsibilities. Part of the inauguration process is to declare personal assets and his only one is a 1987 VW Beetle. Now that's wthe kind of representative I'd like for a president.