La Rioja Argentina

26 october 2019

On our trip through South America I drove through all countries that are listed here as restless (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina)

In Argentina tomorrow (27/10) are the elections, so from tomorrow it can also be over with the peace.

Last week an article appeared in the NRC that explains a lot:

The figures presented in the article provide a good basis, but what is missing is eg . what can you buy with a minimum income (what are the costs of living and what part of the minimum wage do you need for that).

What is also missing is the ratio of above-average rich and minimum wage. The distribution poor / rich is a much more important problem than democracy. The point is that the politicians and the surrounding circle can enrich themselves disproportionately if they are elected. Corruption and behaviour of multinationals (mining / transport / energy) are a very important factor that does not narrow the gap between rich and poor. This is independent of any political system and the left is just as bad as right. The people here are not against democracy but against the self-enrichment politicians.

What concerns me is how can we help these countries to achieve the sustainability that we all strive for throughout the world. In terms of energy (generation / supply), this is a continent of unprecedented opportunities to make it more sustainable. Electrification is, if possible, even more obvious and simpler and cheaper than anywhere else. My estimate is that 75% of the required electricity is already generated via hydropower. All of this can easily become fossil-free with the use of geothermal energy, sun and wind. If we (Europe) can support South America with knowledge in the field of grid management, feed-in of electricity, smart grids and production of electric cars / trucks and, last but not least, batteries, things can go fast here. The pitfall, however, is that we want to sell instead of transferring knowledge. So no import of solar panels or batteries, but setting up (regional / national) production capacity, that is what really contributes to a better world.

And something else everyone sees, for example the enormous use of plastic in the form of plastic bottles for drinking water (and the amount of waste that this causes). No EPR System (Extended Producer Responsibility System) can get this under control. No deposit can compete with this.

This requires a change in the system. Make sure every household receives a water filter (developed and produced in the region). This makes the need to produce, transport and collect water in plastic bottles totally unnecessary. It is complete madness that multinationals like Coca Cola and Nestle makes tonns of money by monopolising drinking water, and last but not least all profits go to the shareholders in a fare away country.

In short, there is enough room for improvement, but there is no political will to revise existing revenue models (self-enrichment). This will never happen from the inside (right replaces left, but essentially nothing changes). So my question remains, how can we support these countries, these people in a transition to a sustainable society where the gap between rich and poor becomes smaller and corruption and self-enrichment is minimized.