Mise en ligne: 9 janvier 2008

Would improving life standards while preserving environment be possible ?, by Antonio de la Fuente

Andrés Rabago, a Spanish cartoonist said that if cows would produce oil they would also be considered
sacred also in Europe. It is next to cows that we looked for a valid alternative to oil, in order to compensate the unbalance between the increasing demand and the price of fuel. Indeed, we now speak of bio-fuels, which are essence of cane sugar, corn, soja and palm trees. As the price of the barrel of oil is reaching a 100 dollars, and as we are lacking oil wells and oil refineries, producing new ideas seems to be the only solution.

In order to face the raise in price of oil and the strong dependence of the US towards the so called black
gold, President Bush decided to invade Iraq, and to produce fuel from plants. This idea, which at a first
glance could seem to be quite innocent is currently bringing major changes in Latin America’s map : the
price of the soil and of cereals are rising, while the rests of the Amazon forests are turning into smoke.
Africa is producing more than 10 % of the world’s fuel, and receives back as a compensation only high
corruption and contamination. Nigeria for instance is the first African oil producer, which has been
extracting oil from the soil in the last half century ; nevertheless, it still needs to buy its fuel because of the
lack of oil refineries on its territory. Meanwhile, the majority of the Nigerian population lives with less than a
dollar per day.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the world market has triplicated its volume, which has brought up a
selling out of the natural resources, still located in the South of the world, as well as an increase in the CO2
emissions. These two elements contributed to the acceleration of the climate change.
Although growth produces a reduction among poors across the world, it does not mean it reduces

India and China are now growing about 10% per year. China’s growth is now dragging along Africa’s, which
is now reaching a 4% growth rate. China has invested in Africa for extracting the natural resources it needs and to unveil its industrial power ; in the last weeks, China’s CO2 emissions were registered higher than

The challenge humanity is now facing is obviously huge : « How to improve life conditions of populations, while
preserving environment ? », How to separate economic growth from the increse in the energy expenditure ?
Would that be possible ?

The current issue of Antipodes is trying to take a closer look to emerging countries such as India, China
or Brazil, which are basing their development on a model that doesn’t take into account envorionmental
issues. Do they have an other alternative ? What is the price of the « growth no matter what » ?

Translation : Chiara Tripepi, DEEEP