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Recycling hypocrisy
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-12-04 09:44:25
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When you first come to Finland one of the things you learn is how sensitive Finnish people are to environmental issues. There is careful recycling in every single house and awareness of how to treat the forest, which is quite impressive for every foreigner, especially if you have spent time persuading your own compatriots to do the simplest of those things.

Then, after living longer in this country, you start to better understand the power, the unbelievable power, the forest and paper companies have for example. When we talk about forest and paper companies we are talking about money, a lot of money. However, in most cases when it comes to money, this sort of money costs the environment leaving only sawdust. Recycling is good, really good, but in front of other things that hurt the environment is like failing to see the wood for the trees. Forest and paper companies are causing incredible amounts of damage to the Finnish environment and all in the name of money, such as the current destruction of the only remaining ancient forest in northern Lapland - something like 300 kilometres from the Arctic Circle.

Fascinating super modern forest technologies – Finns are the best in this field – literally eat a forest that stood not only for years but for millennia. Did you know that there is a reindeer forest in Lapland? It is a protected reindeer herding forest in Arctic Lapland under the protection and recommendation of the UN Human Rights Committee. You may not know that but the Finnish government certainly did and that’s why they are looking the other away every time a certain Finnish logging giant cuts a few parts of the forest. The forest has been reduced to dangerous levels from the same logging company, but we do recycle!!! We keep plastic separate from paper and food separate from aluminium cans.

I’m not going to say anything about the nuclear plant, no worries there; the Finnish government assures us that these new nuclear plants are the new generation ones, like we are talking about a new generation of computer games but the most serious part of it is in the waste bin. The Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, when still in opposition, strongly and loudly opposed any idea of another nuclear plant emphasizing, correctly in my opinion, the dangerous nuclear waste and the way it was treated in Finland – it was stored in a cave transformed into a nuclear shelter during the seventies and close to inhabited areas. However, that was before becoming prime minister.

Now, from his new powerful position, he was the one to sign for two new nuclear power plants and, as for that dangerous nuclear waste, the cave suddenly serves perfectly well, so who cares for future generations. After all, we do recycle paper and plastic and organics!

Since we are in the forest, the Finnish forest companies seem to have something …imperialistic on them otherwise there is no excuse why, after destroying an ancient forest in Lapland, they would like to destroy and pollute another place exactly on the other side of the earth - this time in Paraguay. Of course, the Finnish company easily got their permission from the corrupt in-so-many-ways authorities, such as the Defence Ministry – you see, in some countries in South America the Defence Ministry and the generals are the important element if you want to do things.

The Finnish company began making pulp and naturally polluting all the neighbouring rivers, especially the ones leading to Argentina. Argentina, from her side, constantly protested, but …they are not our neighbours, are they? After all, here in Finland we recycle; we recycle paper, we recycle cartons, we recycle metal and batteries.

The last conversation with the bio-diesel product is still underway and it seems that nobody can really be sure for the positives or the negatives. Biodiesel is the name of an alternative fuel from the conventional petroleum based diesel engine fuel. Biodiesel is manufactured from vegetable oils, plant oils or animal fat by catalyzing; reacting those with a short chain aliphatic alcohol, methanol or ethanol. Perhaps the answer we were all waiting for fuel. Perhaps. There is one small …detail, like the tree and the forest we were talking before. The Finnish companies that are experimentally using this method are using palm trees.

Greenpeace and other environmental organizations have emphasized a lot to the Finnish government that by making way for massive palm plantations these companies are destroying native rainforests. Apparently similar warnings have been given to the Swedish government and this helped them to change their decision and they abandoned plans to use palm oil in their new biodiesel products. What happened with the Finnish companies you might wonder.

Well, the biggest of them creates the biggest biodiesel plant in the world in …Singapore! The plant will be completed by the 2010 and the output will bring 800,000 tonnes of fuel a year. Singapore is very small country with one native forest that should be protected. And naturally we should never forget that Singapore is on the other side of the world. At the same time here in Finland we are very determined to be environmental, so we recycle paper, we recycle plastic, we recycle glass!

I’m sure that you will ask what the Green Party in Finland are doing. Well. They are recycling! After exchanging their belief system for a few silver coins …sorry, I mean ministerial seats… they are fine and enjoying being part of the conservative government, who regularly recycles their own beliefs!

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Emanuel Paparella2007-12-04 11:12:08
After reading this piece which corageously talks truth to power one begins to wonder about the dark side of globalization which allows the rich prosperous countries of our brave new world to exempt themselves from polluting in other people's back yard while continuing to prosper, and of course, hypocritically recycling at home. The title of the piece says it all.

Jack2007-12-04 21:58:46
How refreshing. Unlike the major media's, they won't tell it like it is. Thank you for bringing out this important issue. I think you said it perfectly when you asked [in your last paragraph] "...what the Green Party in Finland are doing. Well. They are recycling! After exchanging their belief system for a few silver coins …sorry, I mean ministerial seats… they are fine and enjoying being part of the conservative government, who regularly recycles their own beliefs!". Touchet... I hope they read this.

Ovi being Ovi again. How refreshing.

Like my beloved Moody Blues sang: "Open all the shutters on their windows...unlock all the locks upon their doors, there'll be no secrets come between us anymore.

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