Saturday, October 25, 2014

Nicolas Maduro Turns Green

Pumping nearly-free Venezuelan gasoline. (Photo: Flickr)
Believe it or not: The leader of major oil exporter, who spends billions of dollars every year to pay people to burn gasoline, is denouncing oil production for destroying the planet.
Barbarous, savage and anti-human?
Preparing for a fracking job. (Photo; Wikipedia)

But Venezuelan Pres. Nicolas Maduro doesn't mean all kinds of oil production, of course. Maduro has denounced hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', which he calls "barbarous, savage and anti-human."

Fracking does have its special dangers, including causing small earthquakes, consuming lots of water and maybe polluting groundwater. But its greatest danger is that, like all hydrocarbon production, it pumps carbon into the atmosphere, driving global warming. According to data from The Guardian, in 2010 Venezuela produced 5.8 tons of carbon per person per year, compared to 1.6 for Colombians and 2.3 for Brazilians.

“What stands out is the squandering of petrol at the cheapest price in the world – two cents of a dollar per liter – which does not even cover production costs,” Juan Carlos Sánchez, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told IPS News in 2012.

Since then, the price of gasoline in Venezuelan has plummeted as inflation there has soared, making the country even more wasteful.

Big, new, gas guzzlers in Venezuela. (Photo: Flickr)
Add to that galloping deforestation, and Venezuela manages to rival even some rich, developed nations, such as Switzerland, in its pollution.

But all this irresponsibility and selfishness hasn't stopped Venezuelan leaders from denouncing other nations behavior.

"We have no doubt that (failure of anti-climate change agreements) is due to the irresponsible attitude and lack of political will of the most powerful nations," late Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez said at a climate conference in 2010. (Nor has their hypocrisy stopped leftists from non-judgmentally quoting Venezuela's leaders as they spout off.)

Chavez was right about other nations' irresponsibility, of course, but that doesn't change his own hypocrisy.

Maduro's real complaint is not the fracking is destroying the planet, but that it is destroying Venezuela's economy. Fracking has enabled the United States to become a huge petroleum producer, pushing world oil prices below the level at which Venezuela can meet its expenses - including the cost of giving away gasoline.

All of which reminds me of a time while I was living in Caracas when, as a journalist, I was covering some sort of chavista revolutionary conference held in a central Bogotá high-rise. As I was looking over the event's program, which included speeches denouncing genetically modified foods - which haven't harmed anybody, as far as I know - I looked out a window at hillside slums, where towers of black smoke showed where garbage was burning - pumping carcinogenic toxics into the air. But nobody cared.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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