A Tale of the Spanish Neckties and Other Made-in-Europe Things

"Wildfires – well known for their disastrous consequences in southern Europe – are now occurring as far north as Scandinavia". Credit: Unsplash/Fabian Jones.
"Wildfires – well known for their disastrous consequences in southern Europe – are now occurring as far north as Scandinavia". Credit: Unsplash/Fabian Jones.
  • by Baher Kamal (madrid)
  • Inter Press Service

The suggestion was made by Pedro Sanchez, President of the Spanish government, as a way to help save energy.

The idea was that neckties increase the feeling of warmth, now that the country has to face two great problems: energy shortage and unprecedented heatwaves that increase the consumption of electricity.

The Spanish-approved plan includes limiting the air condition temperature to 27 degrees C, and the winter heating devices to a maximum of 18 degrees, among many other measures.

The European Commission hailed the Spanish plan to reduce around 7% of its energy consumption. Other European Union member countries allocated different percentages. And one of the most dependent European powers on Russian oil and gas–Germany, plans to reduce its energy consumption by 15-20%.

As expected, the Spanish right and far-right parties voted against the plan, alleging that it falls short, that it demonstrates the failure of the government, that it increases the citizens' suffering, that promoting public transportation and providing financial assistance to the most hit sectors, are not the solution.

They say that the way out is to reduce taxes. No wonder, now they are focused on the next regional and municipal elections that they hope will lead them to the central government

No wonder, they now focused on the next regional and municipal elections that may hitch them up to the government.

The argument

Likewise other European countries, Spanish politicians and the media continue to tirelessly blame the Russian Federation’s President Vladimir Putin for their harsh energy crisis, much too often attributing it to what they call the ‘Russian blackmailing.’

The point is that this crisis has emerged as a consequence of the United States-led severe sanctions on Moscow following the beginning on 24 February 2022 of the ongoing proxy war in Ukraine.

The sanctions include, above all, the prohibition of importing Russian oil, gas and other products like grains and fertilisers; the withdrawal and blockage of Western business activities, and a very long etcetera.

The sanctions were immediately implemented by the chorus of well-mannered US allies in Europe and elsewhere.

Then came the 30 June Summit in Madrid of the Western “defensive” military alliance – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which decided to double Europe’s military spending on weapons as a way to face the “Russian threat.”

All this happened before the Ukrainian war

While the United States continue to rank top oil and weapons producers, the world's citizens are, once more, to pay the price: skyrocketing energy and food prices, unprecedented inflation rates, economic slowdown and the risk of a great recession, just to mention some.

The Ukrainian war is absolutely condemnable as are all wars. Once more, diplomacy has failed or even unwanted to be seriously tried. Meanwhile, Western powers continue to update the former US president George W. Bush and his allies list the “Axis of Evil.” Vladimir Putin now tops it.

Anyway, the Made-in-Europe current crisis –both Russia and Ukraine are European countries– just adds to earlier disasters. Indeed, likewise everywhere else, Europe now faces unprecedented heatwaves. And devastating fires.

These emergencies: war, energy, heat and fires are not new. They are just some of the symptoms of a much bigger, untreated disease: climate change.

Such a disease is much more dangerous that any other pandemic. Indeed the whole world population, in particular the poor, has been severely infected.

The ‘POP’ and the ‘POS’

Being ‘part of the problem,’ Europe is not ‘part of the solution.’ Even if European politicians continue to show shameful indifference toward the unspeakable suffering -and death- of other regions' human beings, they don't pay attention even to those of their own citizens.

See what the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Regional Director for Europe stated on 22 July 2022.

“Unprecedented. Frightening. Apocalyptic. These are just some of the adjectives used in news reports as vast swathes of the WHO European Region suffer from ferocious wildfires and record-breaking high temperatures amid an ongoing, protracted heatwave,” said Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge.

Heat kills, he said, and reminded that over the past decades, hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of extreme heat during extended heatwaves, often with simultaneous wildfires.

“Wildfires – well known for their disastrous consequences in southern Europe – are now occurring as far north as Scandinavia, and this week fires in London have destroyed 41 homes. This scorching summer season is barely halfway done,” the WHO representative went on.

Extreme heat exposure often exacerbates pre-existing health conditions. Heatstroke and other serious forms of hyperthermia – an abnormally high body temperature – cause suffering and premature death. Individuals at either end of life’s spectrum – infants and children, and older people – are at particular risk, warned Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge.

And the consequences are…

A simple equation would say that more heat and more fires cause greater land degradation, droughts, desertification, loss of fertile soils and water resources, fewer crops, less food supplies, growing demand, more market speculation, higher prices, rising inflation, among others, all of them harshly impacting the already hard lives of the lay citizens.

Talking about water in Europe. As reported in a previous IPS article: Not Enough Clean Water in Europe? Who Cares…, two specialised bodies –the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the European branch of the World Health Organization (WHO)– have warned that plans to make water access possible in the face of climate pressures “are absent” in the pan-European region.

And “in most cases” throughout the region there has also been a lack of coordination on drinking water, sanitation and health during the Thirteenth meeting of the Working Group on Water and Health held on 19-20 May 2022 in Geneva.

The poor?… What is that?

This short story has addressed the case of the highly industrialised, rich Europe.

What about the rarely severe impacts of all that on the so-called low-income countries?. No mention of them in European political speech, let alone the mainstream media.

No matter if the number of hungry humans now amounts to one billion? No matter if the world’s billions of poor have by no means caused the current catastrophe, while bearing the burden of its severest consequences?

They don't have silk neckties to wear.

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service