Switzerland and Cambodia: Unlikely Peers!!

One Point Zero
Howard Fairbank
Wed 31 Aug 2016 05:42

ANL Bindaree's position today:     25:37.20N 123:58.90W
'From the Bridge'

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                                                         Felix our ‘Cook’                                                               No more meat for One Point Zero reasons!

Most important news of the day is that I managed to get into Felix’s Galley, have a good chat with him, and arranged to have vegetarian from her on out!  It takes a while to be able to get into the heart of The System here!  Interestingly I ‘met’ Felix in the gym yesterday: He was walking sedately on the treadmill, complete with his cook’s attire, in between meal preparation!

Socializing is going better, and I have realized that an adjustment was needed as the makeup of this crew is very different to Cap Capricorn. We have 12 Filipinos, 5 Rumanians, 2 Croatians, 1 Slovakian, 1 Monrovian, and then the Polish captain!  A very disciplined hardworking ship!  Yesterday the duty free store was opened and there was a big rush for liquor, cigarettes, etc…Its all very, very cheap: A bottle of Chivas Regal about $12!  I have decided to go without alcohol and I think I was one of the only crew not ordering liquor. I did weaken for a few slabs of chocolate though!  The simple life and what a few simple ‘luxuries’ can mean for one hey!

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While 500 miles south west of us, it’s blowing 100 knots around Hurricane Lester and ‘his westward mate', we have almost windless conditions and pretty calm sea making for very comfortable progress!  Yesterday we changed to high sulphur fuel oil as we are now outside USA 200 mile zone, and free to pollute everywhere except the USA!  Ha-ha, isn’t this crazy?!  The Planet is a seamless system and bad stuff wherever it is, is bad stuff for all. This is a classic case of no world ownership and each country just saying: Well I’ll just look after myself!  Just like us I suppose?  Maybe it’s a human thing to not look after the ‘whole of our big home’, just our smaller homes??!!

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                   It’s not the size that counts!  Small steering Big Ship!                                                         The navigation table!

 ‘Visions of a ‘One Point Zero’ Switzerland
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         The magnificent Eiger, Switzerland!

Following from yesterday’s blog on the Switzerland Referendum news, here are some thoughts on what some of the issues could be:

The Swiss in demanding 5.8 Global Hectares (gha) per person today are ‘in the range’ of its fellow European ‘most developed’, capitalist society, peer group. (Germany, France, UK, etc. ) A small country in area, with a population of just over 8 million people, its development brought with it a period of aggressive conversion of the natural wilderness into areas of intense ‘productive’ human activity. This has reduced its available bio-capacity down to just 1.3 gha per person. According to the Footprint Network  the total Plane bio-capacity is 2.8 gha per capita. This is arrived at by taking the total earth’s tapestry of diverse bio capacity areas and then dividing it by ‘all of us’! 

So that, says Switzerland, even with all its amazing natural landscape, is a ‘bio-capacity poor’ country, (well below the planet average) and if nations would be required to be self-sustaining in a sovereignty context, Switzerland would be seriously disadvantaged with its ‘poor’ bio-capacity. Essentially Switzerland is a rich economic nation, but a poor bio capacity nation. 

Given this picture, the focus would need to be almost exclusively on reducing the 5.8 footprint associated with its population and also the tourism element that brings vast numbers of people in to use its natural resources for high impact consumption pleasure. 

In pursuit of a sovereign One Point Zero goal, the Swiss would need to reduce their average person ecological footprint down to this 1.3 level. (a 77% reduction)  Now interestingly, there are no fully developed nations that have a footprint anywhere near this level, and the Swiss would be looking to be ranked with West African countries, Cambodia, and just above Bangladesh!!  

Now I’m not implying that this new vision for Switzerland would necessarily be to become like one of these ‘developing’ countries, but in pointing this out we could find some useful insights for a possible path ahead. 

These low footprint countries are low down on the adoption of the western world ideology, and Switzerland is right near the top!  The Swiss GDP / capital at $88 000, is one of the highest in the world (US is $50 000) and these 1.3 footprint countries that are the footprint benchmark for a One Point Zero Switzerland have GDP / capita that are no more than $2000!  

These low footprint countries also have a very low Gini coefficient (a measure of the wealth distribution between rich and poor.)  So in these countries the average footprint of all people would be very close to the footprint of the average, and the average is one of low consumption. This all makes sense because if ‘nobody’ has huge amounts of money, ‘nobody’ spends huge amounts, and thus ‘nobody’ walks a heavy footprint! 

Capitalist countries, of which America is the icon, usually have higher Gini coefficients, with the wealth / income spread widely amongst the population. This also translates into a wide range of ecological footprints within these nations. For example, the wealthiest 1% are significantly wealthier than the middle 50%, and much, much more than the poor, and also have significantly heavier footprints. Many studies have shown that the more income one earns, and the more wealth one accumulates the more one consumes, and the heavier one’s footprint.

Now Switzerland, like Australia and some of the Scandinavian countries, are almost anomalies in having low-ish Gini coefficients and yet high GDP / capita. Essentially ‘all people’ have a high quality (standard) of life and there are very few poor people. This implies that most people will have a heavy footprint, and it’s almost the pervasive culture of all in the nation!  In one way this makes change easier, if all want it, but in another way it’s part of the culture, and so it’s about an entrenched identity, and changing that, is a serious exercise in philosophical introspection!

This is the dilemma that the Swiss Government’s summary of the issue points to in wanting One Point Zero but without “economic disadvantage or reduction in standard of living”! 

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Does One Point Zero mean turning Success upside down?  It all depends on one’s view of the future and how wedded one is to the current Success. I sense most of the Swiss are very wedded to their hard earned Success, and its high standard of living ‘product’? So every effort will be made to keep the consumption machine going upward, and looking at somehow magically ‘just’ changing its engine!  

Is this possible is the million dollar question, and in my view this condition of the ‘same standard of living’ is missing the great opportunity for the human soul!!  I sense the only way to keep the same ‘standard of living’, by which is implied the western consumption centered, anthropocentric lifestyle, is for somehow magically not just Switzerland, but all the suppliers of its many imported goods, to be able to switch to a zero emission, electricity powered, economy.  

Given Switzerland’s geographical location and its natural assets, it would seem that a dream of a zero emission self-sufficient electricity powered nation is a ‘fact of impossibility’!  Maximizing zero emission energy would be a mandatory pursuit, just like the switch to electric car, but with a target of 75% footprint reduction, this would not be enough.  

I sense the answer lies in affluence and its linkage to very high footprint consumption, but this is a serious challenge to the heart of the affluent. It’s time to look at Nature and ask the tough questions? I have been doing that for many years myself, and making ‘corrections’ each time I meet with a Truth. Read more here. 

Food and what we eat is a huge footprint item: I sense we all know that meat is a huge no-no, and dairy products not much better. This because of the very bad ecological footprint related to cattle farming. The Swiss have a huge cattle farming culture and so this would need to be addressed, with citizens probably needing to move off their traditional meat centered dishes.  Just keep the Lindt Chocolate factory and its ‘special cows’ exempt!!

Rather than taking an airplane, I’m on a ship traveling to New Zealand today: For One Point Zero and ecological footprint reasons! While asking questions about ‘all these containers on board and what they have inside them?’ I was told I should work on the ‘90% rule’: That is 90% of goods moving around the world arrive somewhere along their journey by ship!  Ships are hugely heavy on ecological footprint, and so in a One Point Zero world, imported goods will largely become a thing of the past. That’s hard to imagine hey!  BTW:  My trip journey is for me, footprint free… Read the amusing story here. 

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Continuing in the context of my ‘No Fly’ ‘Trumped by Nature’ adventure:  There is no solution for low emission aircraft travel on the medium term horizon, and because of the fundamentals ‘the experts’ can’t see that changing.  Like most affluent societies, air travel is a big part of the affluent Swiss and just two intercontinental return trips a year would almost use the whole annual bio capacity allowance for one citizen!  That in the context of a Swiss One Point Zero Vision allowance. That being a big footprint debit, before housing, food, transport, work and entertainment footprints are ‘preferentially debited’!  Something significant will have to change.  How we see Standard of Life: We have to improve our standard of life, and become at one with Nature’s team! 

Am I being negative?  No, I’m being Howard, the pessimistic realist. The same guy that has used this same face to face with The Facts to find an exciting vision and then the drive, the adventure to overcome the seemingly impossible challenges / barriers to real Success. This is what The Chasm  is all about guys… One huge unknown and we should start getting the adventure spirit twirling around within! 

If I were Swiss, I’d vote ‘Yes’ without doubt, even knowing that this journey is a huge unknown, but knowing it is the right one for all of ‘US’….

In presenting the above I hope one sees that moving to a One Point Zero world requires Systemic Change. That’s change that requires a very significant change in our System of Life, Governance, Values, and Beliefs, and it will require Leadership, and Governments to work together with their people like never before.  But we need to want it, and tomorrow’s blog will try to present why we need it and should want it!  

One step at a time, but if the world can follow Switzerland’s example and move to a World One Point Zero Referendum - it is what we all owe Humanity, and I sense we will be amazed beyond comprehension what unity this will bring both the world and our souls!  

Without Nature We are Nothing!  Take a moment to just think about that statement.  Do YOU believe that??  This can stand with all religious beliefs. No conflict.  It is about how we contextualize ourselves on Our Planet. See here 

Time for gym! You lucky guys who can get out for a run in the open hey! Freedom is in the head though!