Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Global Apartheid

When the Berlin Wall and the iron curtain crumbled, most people were happy. Finally people in the East would be free to move as they wished. Before the fall of the wall the few that managed to come over were allowed to stay and were perhaps interesting in the political game. But after the wall came down, suddenly the people from the former Communist countries were not welcome anymore. Now there are no longer any political reason to let people from Russia, Ukraine or Kazahkstan come here. The funny thing is that we criticise dictators for not allowing their population to travel, but if we don't give the visa to come here, how can we put the blame on the dictator. Blatant hypochrisy.

Similarily we honor those that helped Jews flee from the Nazis, and we honor other heros, real or invented, as the Scarlett Pimpernell who helt French nobles to flee from the revolution. But how is it today. Any person that helps a refugee from another country is guilty to trafficking, human smuggling or whatever it is called. As such they are subject to sever prison sentences. I am aware of that some of them - perhaps the majority - are crooks that take benefit of desperate people. But that misses the point. Firts there are also real saints among them, and secondly and perhaps more important, it is our refusal to allow these people entry that is the breeding grounds for these crooks. You might claim that those that are real refugees can always get asylum. But that is in theory. Most of them will never get the opportunity to even apply for asylum unless they get into the country illegally. Airlines don't let them on the plane, and if they do they are punished.

The limitation of free movement of people is a global Apartheid. I and most other rich people can go where we want, live were we want, work were we want. How can we deny other people the same rights.

Movement of people would have a major impact on the appaling inequality of the world.
1) Movement of people has an equalising impact on salaries. They go up in the countries from which people move and they go down in countries where they go
2) The remmittance of migrants to their home countries play a major role. In some countries it corresponds to 10 percent of the GDP.
3) Many migrants go back home. They often come with funds for investments, technical know-how, innovations and entrepreneurship
4) Migrants often maintain links in their old country, links that can be used for trade or investment.

Yes, I know about "brain-drain". But brain-drain is a problem of the existing system. We aleady allow medical doctors, nuclear scientists and top-notch professionals to come and live here.

On my way

I am on my way now. For another two month trip. I go by train now to Istanbul. From Istanbul ferry to Bandirma and then bus to Kyccukuyu wjere mybicycle is wating. I will stay a few days with friends and then contoinue along the Turkish coast. Proceeding over to some Greek Islands, towards Italy and home in some way.

Monday, February 16, 2009

How the cow and the wheat conquered the human being

We all know the story. We, the humans domesticated plants and animals and thereby created agriculture. Have you ever thought about taking the opposite perspective? That is to see it as an evolutionary strategy of the cow or of the wheat.

The cow saw these humans roaming the plant with forceful weapons (that is a bow and an arrow). She was afraid that she could be exterminated. And "if you can't beat them join them" as Mother Cow always told her subjects. So the cow decided to make the human being dependent on her. In this way she could give the human som service - meat, milk and hides - in exchange for protection.

And even more important, the human would expand the glory of the cow to almost all the corners of the planet. Cows don't like rubbing noses with polar bears or swimming in the ocean very much, so there were limits for cow expansionist. In India we can still see the traces of the religion the Cow so insidiously established to sway the lowly humans to take care of her. So now the cows fills the earth. The wheat had a similar strategy.

The cows are now getting quite worried for several reasons. One is that some people don't think there should be no cow-man cooperation in the future. They believe man should free himself from the dependency of the cow. Another issue is that man blame the cow for causing climate change. In Denmark the cows will now pay a special green house gas tax, as if cows ever liked greenhouses. But ultimately the cow is mostly worried for that in the process she has become so dependent on man. And man seems bound to exterminate himself by wreckless behaviour. And if man goes, cows will also go. Representatives of all cows are about to meet in a big cow-how to try to figure out what to do to save the human being from herself.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

dangerous or good?

I found this diagram about increase of productivity in the Swedish Forestry sector. I am a bit unsure about property rights so I don't dare to put the picture itself in my posting, but please look at it.

It expresses the number of kubic meters of timber that is "produced" per work day.

I think there are many different reactions on such a picture, such as:
- What an amazing productivity increase! We humans are really smart and our wealth increases all the time. Old time forest work was really hard and people broke their backs, sawed themsleves in the leg or got frost bites. Now they can sit comfortably in a nice machine. The moderna technology uses all parts of the tree in an efficient way.
- Ha, compare this graph with the salaries of the forest workers - how much did they get and how much was just increased profits.
- This is the danger of technology in a nutshell. Of course we can and will hurt nature more when we increases our powers ten times. Instead of a small-scale mosaic forestry this kind of mechanisation leads to large scale devastation. This increase of productivity has also led to the depopulation of the country side.
- Why do we cut down trees? Couldn't we let nature just be and make paper out of oil, power out of nuclear?
- The Swedish forestry sector is healthier than ever, but for some reason my investment in Swedish forestry stocks are just plummeting. why is that?

What do you think?

We are the happy owners of about 40 hectares of forest and I am currently busy taking down next year's firewood - with 1960s techologies......

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Which climate do you want ?

I sent the following as a letter to the editor to Financial times.

Humans have always dreamt about controlling the weather. Raindances, prayer and rituals have been used to call rain, to protect the crop from frost to avoid earthquakes etc. When we cut forests in the tropics what was earlier a tropical forest becomes a dry grassland. When we drain fields and wet land we create floods. On the big scale global warming shows that we can indeed influence the climate, even if it is not an effect of a explicit desire of a warmer climate. This means that we now have to agree on what weather we want to have. Should it be 2 degrees warmer or 5 or shall we keep it as it is. All is possible it just depends on what we want to pay. Can we get 5 degrees warmer here in Sweden and keep it like it is in the tropics and deserts. This kind of production is the real growth market. Instead of seeing it as a cost we should see it as a production for humanity, similar to the production of parks and other public goods. I can already see how the capalists rally for taking care of this growth segment in the market, and how they call for privatisation of the service. GDP increases, welcome to the new world.

Solar energy in Sahara?

We hear about that a rather small area of the Sahara desert would suffice for the whole European energy needs. This is still more an theoretical example to show the pootential of solar energy, rather than a real proposal. But the example also shows that the pattern of colonialist thinking doesn't disappear so easily.

Now, we don't want these people here in "our" Europe. We are afraid of their habits, culture and religion as well as the possible impact on our salaries and jobs. But we do, once again, see that they might have something that we could use and then we are all for "cooperation".

Why would we not cover parts of Spain, Italy or Greece with those solar panels? If the Libyans and Algerians could produce cheap electricity with solar panels, wouldn't it make more sense to use that electricity to desalinate water and use for irrigation, and sell that grain to the hungry Europeans? Or for them to produce the aluminium of the world, or the chemical fertiliser....

It is tiring that Europeans and Americans tend to see other people mainly as suppliers of things we need or consumers of stuff we want to sell. And not as fellow human beings.

Now, this posting is surely not against the development of photovoltaic cells, I think they are great and they do have potential. The posting is about the imbalanced thinking.