Current Controversies

By 1) Maria Puerta Riera; 2) Joanna Santa Barbara | 2021-04-01 12:00:00

Sanctions on Maduro’s Venezuela?

By Maria Puerta Riera

Venezuelans have been enduring a humanitarian disaster for several years. Declining oil prices have worsened the already critical economy. This is just one of numerous adversities, the worst of which is political polarization and the fracture of the country’s social fabric. Divisiveness has accompanied the Venezuelan diaspora, one of the most serious migrant crises in the world.

Venezuelans engage in debates about foreign elections. This includes those with dual citizenship as well as those with little political influence in those countries. Such debates add to the tensions among the Venezuelans by adding Colombian and American politics to their own confrontations.

Trump’s sanctions program against Venezuela is strongly supported by a majority (81%) of Venezuelans living in Florida. However, recent polls show a different picture back in Venezuela, where the support is falling due to its lack of effectiveness. Most people (64%) there do not think sanctions will provoke a change in government. The other side hopes sanctions will deliver the much-needed path to democracy. In Venezuela, polls show 74% respondents opposing sanctions. But the political leadership in the Opposition is behind the sanctions program and, with no signs from the Biden administration of a rollback, circumstances are not conducive to dialogue within the Opposition.

This toxic environment has severe consequences for rebuilding Venezuela politically. Also, in the bitter US election, a majority of Venezuelans sided with the former president, only to find themselves involved in sharing a myriad of falsehoods about the election and the events of January 6. This poisons a fragile community that is trying to fit into a challenging political system.

This community is hopeless now, desperately needing a political solution. The political problems of other countries shouldn’t be a distraction for Venezuelans who must create their own democratic transition.

The Electric Vehicle Controversy: Now or Later?

By Joanna Santa Barbara

Climate change is upon us. We need to decarbonize everything much faster than at present. We need to either work at home or live close to our places of work, learning, arts and play, so we can walk, bus or bike there. And give up the car. Public transport and protected bike trail systems aren’t yet in place to enable that and we can come up with a hundred other excuses for why we still need a car.

Why you should get an EV (electric vehicle) now. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The average fossil-fuelled car emits 4-5 metric tonnes of CO2 per year. An EV emits little, depending on the source of the electricity that charges it.

Every kilogram of the CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for centuries, leaving it to your kids and grandkids to suffer the consequences and work out how to get rid of it. Collectively petrol or diesel-fuelled vehicles are responsible for about 14% of global emissions. How can you bear to get in your car for one more day?

Why you should not rush out the door and get an EV right now. The petrol car you drive now produced 6-35 tonnes CO2 during its manufacture. The EV with which you’ll replace it probably produced more, largely due to its battery.

If we all switched quickly from fossil-fuelled cars to EVs, there would be a huge surge in EV car production, and a corresponding increase in carbon emissions from that source.

The discarded fossil-fuelled cars, not yet at the end of their useful lifespan, would still be driven by other owners, probably increasing car ownership, as these cars would now likely be cheaper than previously. Total carbon emissions from cars might go up rather than down, although that would be modulated by the impact of carbon pricing on the operational costs of fossil-fuelled cars.

So, think again about whether you really need a car, and if you do, whether you could share the car with others (thus cutting emissions in manufacturing cars) or share rides with others (thus cutting operational emissions.)

Peace Magazine April-June 2021

Peace Magazine April-June 2021, page 31. Some rights reserved.

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