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Why Greens failed in the Czech Republic

Date: 31.5.2010 

Green parties in several EU Member states have been quite respectable political powers. Also in the CR Greens participated in the Parliament and government. However, the party failed in recent election dropping down to about 2.44 % so that its representatives will not take part in the new Parliament. Since Greens are deeply involved in agriculture and other fields connected with biotechnology, we have to ask why it is so.

At first sight the ideas of Greens should be attractive to all people: the preservation of beautiful country, clean air, healthy food, protection of the diversity of plants an animals living in the country and on the Earth in general, reduction of the negative impact human activities have on climate - who will oppose such politics?batole

During first commentary of the election results by experts one key characteristic of Greens was voiced: the Green party in contrary to parties that won is based on ideas rather than on economy consideration. This is the basic difference in the character and also the source of the setback.

We may explain it by the model of parents who grow children in a beautiful, innocent, highly ethical and rightful word of fairy-tails. Their children are happy up to the time when they enter the real word. Then they must respect it and adjust to the reality and start the course of life quite different from the ideas they were nursed in. Such controversy demonstrated that the particular parents are not very qualified for children education.

There are several such "babies" produced by Greens' beautiful ideas that after entering the real word were captivated by the stream of economy and entered the track quite different from the beautiful idea. Alternative energy sources are typical case. Nice idea: We shall reduce the smoking coal-burning power plants and using photovoltaic exploit the energy that is continuously and free delivered by the Sun. The photovoltaic sources were quickly adopted by business and resulted in the additional price people pay for electricity in order to provide profit for enterprisers mostly depositing their income in other countries. Naturally, people do not like it.

Similar idea of generating electricity by using the power of wind is fine in the vast area of deserts or along the not inhabited sea shore but decorating Czech country by noisy steal monsters will hardly evoke enthusiasm of voters. But most demonstrating is the history of biofuels. Again the fairy-tail idea is attractive: generating the power of vehicles we shall copy the natural cycle of carbon.

zelená rostlinkaPlants by photosynthesis will accumulate the energy of the Sun and remove the carbon dioxide from the air. Preparing biofuels from plants we shall utilise the energy of sun and in quantity equal to that removed by plants return the carbon dioxide to the air. Consequently the concentration of it is not changed.

This will result in several benefits. Traffic will not increase the greenhouse gases, the country will be less dependent on oil producing powers and farmers will benefit from state-guaranteed surrender of their products for fixed prices. The law was passed in the Parliament and the happy-end of the man-to-nature wedding was expected.

However the real word is a bit different. Again the economy started its devil-like deal. It turned out that the bioethanol from Brazil is cheaper than the local product. But the boom of bioethanol resulted in devastating the Amazonia rain forests. Diesel fuel from palm oil has similar effect. Thus, the bride - nature is not very happy.

Local diesel fuel from the methyl ester of rape seed oil (MERO) is the right green solution! Idea is one thing real calculation another. Rape seed is quite demanding crop. It needs the preparation of the field. Tilling needs fuel, increase the soil respiration that results in humus degradation and carbon dioxide production. Rape seed asks for the application of fertilizers and pesticides during cultivation and after harvest the application of herbicides to suppress the drop-out is necessary. Then comes the transport to the factory, energy consumed for oil extraction, methanol and energy is needed for reesterification and product purification.

If all is summarised, energy input for the production of a litre of MERO is greater than the energy output of it. The amount of oil needed is equal or greater than one litre. The pesticides application and soil cultivation are other negative interventions to the nature. It turned out that simple leaving the field under grass will be more environment-friendly measure than the rape seed planting for MERO production.

Nevertheless the law of MERO addition to the diesel fuel passed. Why? Economy worked. Farmers believing in the power of Greens planted during last autumn fields of rape seed large enough to cover the obligatory fuel additives fraction pushed through by Greens. If the fraction is reduced, farmers would suffer from financial losses. Therefore it was the farmers lobby rather than a Green lobby that pushed the law through.paying

As a result the price of fuel will rise and the engines of certain vehicles might be damaged as they are not designed for the biocomponent. Impact on nature is negative. How many voters, except farmers, would love this baby nursed by Greens?

What is the common root of all these problems of Greens? They are in entrapment of nice fantasies without taking trouble to analyse how they will behave in the real word that is dominated by economy powers. More that that, the case of MERO is a result of total ignorance of the agriculture, industrial technology and basic natural processes in the soil. It might be an excuse for Czech Greens that the same is true for all Greens in the EU Parliament.

Greens are cooperating with a very popular allies - organic farmers and "environmentalists". Naturally, anybody who once visited the factory-like broiler production or the prison-like cattle farm must agree with the ideas of organic farmers. But again the economy interferes. Organic farmers decided to profit from the public fears of transgenic crops, called "genetically modified" (GMO) by rising the price of their products rewarding it by the declaration of GMO-free quality.

To support both allies Greens in their political programme included a statement against the use of transgenic crops in agriculture. They say without any supporting facts that this intervention of man to the nature is damaging and represent a danger to the biological diversity. Such reference to ecology is just populist move. It is targeted on the couple of adolescents posing in picturesque costumes in front of TV cameras in Greenpeace's street performances. However, they are not many enough in the CR to contribute to the number of votes.

The transgenic crop on Czech fields is Bt maize. Where is the intervention to the nature? There are at least two of them: First - the transfer of a plant from the American to the European continent. Second - the cultivation of this plant in large area monoculture that caused the change in the life habits of a common little moth Ostrinia nubilalis. It developed specialisation of feeding their larvae on this crop turning to dangerous pest. The insertion of a gene bringing the defence to the plant is just reparation of past negative interventions in the ecology.

The leader of the Green party declared that in the future they will continue to defend the nature, countryside, clean air, biodiversity, etc. This is very positive idea, however it should be translated from the fairy-tail word to the real one governed by economy powers. It also needs the shift from populist slogans to real analysis of the situation.

Author: Jaroslav Drobnik

 


 

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