Madrid, or Why we're all doomed

A few days ago, the company sent me to Madrid, Spain, for a summit.

Madrid was nice. I’ve met a lot of friendly people, co-workers and random passersby alike, taxi drivers and dancers (more on that later), and made some observation which lead me to believe our attempts at saving the climate are futile.

In short: from what I observed over the course of three days, along with what I’ve seen during our days on Teneriffe, Spain’s collective consciousness doesn’t seem to give a damn about energy conservation.

Don’t get me wrong, please. Germany is far from being perfect and totally awesome in that regard, but most people are trying by now. Also the government tries to get people to conserve energy, to recycle, to re-use things. Hell, I remember the recycling ads from my childhood, so apparently the effort is made for a good number of years by now.

But Spain… man, this was nuts. One-off styrofoam cups everywhere. Two or three plastic cups at the watercooler, at once, which are thrown away after one go. (I mean, why wouldn’t you, there are many more available.) I was hard pressed to find four (4!) ceramic cups in the entire office, and used one of those then. (Seriously, I am not recycling my pants off for years just to start using styrofoam cups again while being away.) People leaving their cars running while they were waiting for someone on the street, for 10 minutes, 15 minutes… Incredible. (Apparently fuel isn’t expensive enough yet.) And so on.

Then I talked to a colleague from France who told me that they started a “let’s recycle, everybody!” campaign last year or so. Last year. Which means that until last year, the concept seemed foreign to them.

There were more little things I’ve noticed which made me raise my eyebrows every now and then. Now, I am not a tree hugger and I don’t think I am the awesomest dude around when it comes to energy conservation and reducing waste (thusly reducing CO2 production). But if you’re a concerned human which at this point everyone should be, I think, then you can’t look at shit like this and help but twitch.

In the end it is a governmental fault. See, here in Germany the political caste has adopted CO2 reduction as an urgent issue, and sometimes they even do act accordingly. But even if they don’t they usually present it as burning issue, and hearing it over and over again, many people have adjusted or are at least starting to. Somehow the system kindasorta works, even if it could work better, but we’re getting there… I hope. None of us is without sin, so there.

But apparently a lot of European countries seem to hope the problem might just go away by itself. Which I find highly disturbing and which makes me think we’re all doomed.

UPDATE: This here post deserved a less doomy follow-up.

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Carlo Zottmann @czottmann