Wednesday, April 30, 2008

And so to Sao Paolo to meet the Global Greens

I wrote the first part of this on a mind-numbingly boring plane flight to Sao Paolo Brazil for the Second Congress of the Global Greens – all the green parties in the world, which now number around 75.

I have just cut short a film National Treasure 2 having wasted about 90 minutes looking at it hoping it was going to get better. It didn’t. It was a disaster movie.

Thing was, I was going to prepare myself by reading all the conference documents while travelling, so I spent a good chunk of yesterday at home, putting them all onto a memory stick. And do you think I can find the memory stick in my hand luggage? Maybe it’s in my luggage in the hold. Or then again, maybe my luggage isn’t in the hold, maybe it is on a different plane on its way to Alice Springs. [the luggage was in the all right, but the memory stick is still safely at home in England. Great].

Still, you are bound to leave something behind, so I should be glad it is just the memory stick, and not something important like a toothbrush…hang on…did I pack a toothbrush? []

Anyway, I had the main conference document printed on paper, so I have read that, twice, and it fails to inspire at present. The theme is 21 points for the 21st century, Green Politics’ road map to get humanity out of its sorry situation of self-inflicted misery. The draft lacks zip. Still, there is plenty of time.

Normally I enjoy watching the clouds while flying, but today there is just a layer of stratus covering the whole Atlantic. Oh. We are over South America now. My first viewing of South America. It looks like everywhere else; patchwork quilt.

Speaking of guilt, I am going to plant 3 times as may trees as are needed to fix the CO2 for my part in this flight. Good ecological trees in Glen Affric, Scotland, planted by Trees of Life. 3 times as many, because the emissions do more damage up at this height.

I hope this flight is worth it. It had better be worth it.

We have to do this thing. Green political philosophy is the only political philosophy in a working state in 2008. Marx is dead, and neo-conservative hyper-individualism is signalling its existence in the form of a very loud death rattle. Fascism itself died in 1946, although it won’t lie down. The diametrically opposed philosophies of socialism and individualism were anthropocentric constructions, basing their thinking on Man (sic) in the abstract, socialists viewing humans collectively, individualists viewing humans …well, individually Both leave Nature out of the ideological equation – and does it not just show? Green thought begins with ecology, viewing human beings as interwoven with the natural system that gives us life and being. Which means that we found our ideas on a good logical base. Starting point is (nearly) everything in logic. All we have to do now is to derive things like marmalade and buttered toast from our philosophical starting point. And not fall out with each other.

Actually, I am impressed at conferences of the European Green Party at the unity that is displayed, in spite of the fact that each party inevitably displays the concerns and prejudices of its motherland.


Tried to take a bus from the airport, but the complexities of buying a ticket defeated me, so I took a taxi. The driver seems cloudy about the destination, but decided to have a go anyway. We plunged into a slowly moving traffic jam circling the city, and drove for a very long 3/4 of an hour. Sao Paolo is a very big city, somewhere near the size of London. My Portugese is limited to "obrigado" and the driver's English was less, so we drove in silence apart from my saying "Wa-hey!" when we left the traffic jam and shot off down a short cut, and the driver saying "Complicado" as we made another trun down a tiny back street.

I looked at the impossible edifice of concrete, steel and hope that is Sao Paolo, and my heart sank. Oil is the blood of these places. How will they function with no oil? I hope I learn something useful in the statements about greening the cities in the Congress this week. that is one of the main themes.

As far as I can see, part of the answer to the question: how will cities manage? is to be found in "windowboxes". Windowboxes with trailing plants. Millions of them.

I slept for 10 hours, had a great breakfast, and had 90 minutes of discussion with an American environmentalist soil engineer. Now we are off to look at the culture.

And buy a toothbrush.

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