Environment in the French Presidential elections of May 2007 – Part 3

Last month I was saying that environment was little talked about by the candidates. March was even worse in that aspect. Almost nothing in the past weeks was said on the environmental issues.

Hence Mr. Nicolas Hulot, the famous French environmentalist, declared that he was concerned that so little was said on so important topics. This is why he is currently reviewing the candidates that signed his pacte écologique.

I am totally agreeing with Mr. Hulot when he states that the place we give or not to environment today will be the support of our lives tomorrow. This is a certainty I share with him. I indeed personally believe that the climate question is vital for all of us, otherwise, I wouldn’t be holding this blog and I would not be looking for a job that will help solve this gigantic problem. But, for many – and I even should say most people – the employment or any self centred subject is more important to people.

I am not denying here that the environmental question is coming second or even should come second, I just write that it is easier to think about the Earth when all the basic needs are fulfilled.

However when one is lacking a job, a decent place to live or else, this is his or her main centre of preoccupation, not ecology. This is why this topic is more important for most people that are aware of the situation and who have the “luck” to see all their basic needs fulfilled.

We can see this phenomenon through the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – link to the Wikipedia article. As physiological or safety needs are not answered to, the other ones, here ecology, are not important, or at least less important. The elections mostly tackle the basic needs are they are concerning all people.

(Edit on March 29th) To me Ecology and all environmental questions are so abstract, and it is so difficult to imagine that our very planet is endangered by our pollutions that the need to protect the Earth would be put in an Estim or even Self-actualization kind of need. Indeed, protecting the Earth can be compared to a quest for a better world and has a highly moral value.

To my opinion, we are still pretty far from making ecology a basic needs, only when people’s lives will be threatened directly will it become a major concern. Off course, our lives are threatened already, but in a abstract way, not directly.( /edit)

If you read French, you can read the article written by the Figaro on the importance of ecology in the current debates. To this newspaper :

” De deux choses l’une. Ou la défense de l’environnement est aujourd’hui une cause consensuelle : personne n’imagine qu’un candidat puisse faire l’impasse sur ce sujet une fois élu (que ce soit sur les OGM ou le nucléaire, Nicolas Sarkozy et Ségolène Royal, par exemple, n’apportent pourtant pas les mêmes réponses). Ou bien le niveau de conscience des électeurs est encore insuffisant : l’emploi, l’école, la sécurité, en prise directe avec la vie quotidienne, sont à leurs yeux des motifs de réforme plus importants. ”

Moreover we saw in the latest polls that the environmental issues were still considered as important for French. The importance remains at 27 percent for the people asked.

On a more precise subject, we can note that some candidates would like to decrease the importance nuclear energy has for the electricity generation of our country. Decreasing the importance of nuclear energy would lead most certainly in a rise of our greenhouse gases emissions. So, when the first objective in a environmental point of view is to decrease those greenhouse gases, we can ask why these people want to decrease the use of nuclear ?

Moreover, the depletion of oil, and latter of natural gas, raise the issue of energy scarcity. Even by doing our utmost with renewables and energy conservation, it is to me impossible to do only with those two options. I indeed understand that there are some issues like waste, but this is the only clean energy source that can bring huge amount of electricity.

This is why developing countries like China, India or Brazil are now using nuclear and want to use it more and more in the future. Other countries like Chile or Morocco are investigating this option. I will tackle the nuclear in Morocco soon.

Next month, on Sunday April 22nd, the first round will take place. 12 candidates will sought the votes of people. Only two will remain and will have a chance to be elected on the other elections that will take place on May 6th. So next month, hopefully I will be able to write an article on what the two candidates proposes in term of ecology.

Source : Article in Le Figaro

4 thoughts on “Environment in the French Presidential elections of May 2007 – Part 3”

  1. This is truly appalling and revolting. None of the candidates seem to have a real will to do anything at all as far as ecology is concerned.

    The environment is my primary concern at the moment, I’m doing my very best to consume as little electricity, water, gas or oil as possible. I have sold my car many years ago, I try to reduce air travel, I try to buy only locally produced goods and vegetables, etc, and I don’t feel supported by any of the candidates.

    I don’t see a vision guiding their policy for a sustainable future, but the fact of the matter is: I think a majority of people don’t really care about it. And that’s partly why it doesn’t play a big part in the candidates’ programs.

    And when I hear so-called ecologists demonstrating against nuclear energy, it just makes me angry. There is no reasonable alternative to nuclear energy at the moment, which is one of the most CO2 friendly sources of energy anyway.

    I doubt the environment will play an important role in the campaign even after the first round of the election.

  2. I totally agree with you when you state that the majority of people don’t care. Or if they care it is simply not their main concern.

    I edited the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs part as I think a part of the explanation lies here.

    Like you, I am pretty angry when I hear some so called green people stating that nuclear is the worst thing we can have to produce energy.

    They simply do not realise how much energy we need daily and thus think that a couple of wind turbines would replace a nuclear reactor. But calculations have been done, and to replace just ONE single reactor would require thousands of wind turbines. So, if they have a realist and feasible alternative, I want to hear about it.

    Thanks for your interest in my articles ! Keep reading, and if you got questions or further comments, please don’t hesitate.

  3. Yeah, and the problem is that the same people who demonstrate against nuclear energy will demonstrate against any plan to put a wind turbine in their neighborhood. So what solutions do they offer?

    Solar energy ? Sure, if it becomes affordable some day, then it will make sense but at the moment this is just completely unrealistic.

    I blogged about a Slashdot article some time ago which presented a project for an autarkic power generation system for a complete house, you can read it here. This is interesting but insanely expensive.

  4. Thanks for your link. Well, solar energy is indeed still a bit expensive. But to me, a single energy source is not that good.

    To have interesting results, one (country or even household) got to blend various energy sources. For example a household can use wood and geothermy for heat and nuclear / solar for electricity.

    To the French ADEME, the payback time of the investment is of around 8 years for thermal solar panels. With a life of roughly 25 years I guess it is okay.

    Furthermore, as I wrote in my Master’s thesis, the house got to be well insulated. Housing insulation is a key aspect of the energy situation. Across EU, 40 percent of all energy is used for the heating of households. This is indeed a lot.

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