Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Burning Trees


If you want to see what poverty looks like, go to Haiti. This country ranks high on the bad list. You can see it from the air. There is no money for fuel to cook with, so they burn charcoal. Whole areas have been denuded over the years. A few pics of the transition from the Dominican Republic to Haiti:





I talked with a friend in Athens today, we spoke about the terrible air quality conditions in China. He said that Athens was suffering a similar problem. Smog, caused by people burning wood to heat homes is the issue in Greece. My friend mused:


China’s rapid industrialization has created its problem, in Greece, we have the same problem, for the opposite reason. China has a booming economy and smog. Greece has a collapsing economy and smog.


The WSJ had a story on this topic, the trees are falling in Greece:




Zero Hedge wrote about the Greeks burning their trees. This Blog has an interesting perspective on life in Athens these days.  A pic, and the authors caption:




This bit of modern insanity is brought to you by the technocrats in Brussels. They created a system a dozen years ago that was never intended to work in a country like Greece. It was doomed from the start. As painful as it might be for Mario Draghi, and those who still believe in the Euro Uber Alles, the reality is that the only way out for Greece, is a an exit from the Euro.


If Greece did take the bold step of divorcing a bad partner, it would bring additional pain to the citizens. The wood fires would become more necessary, more trees would have to come down. But there would at least be a future, where today there is just soot and and no hope.


A question for readers in Spain:  Are trees getting cut for firewood, as is happening in Greece?


Graffiti on Boris Johnson's front step with soot



  1. thanks for taking up the issue and linking to our blog

  2. Your Tax Dollars At Work says:

    So the US federal employees that get paid far more than the average taxpayer have reviewed the data and taken action against…. those evil Vietnamese steel clothing hanger makers:


    Something to think about when you review your payroll stub and find out more of the fruits of your labor are going to support six figure salaries in Washington DC.

  3. went to Haiti in 1975 on a crusie ship,one day,pretty place,but could see it was doomed then,it was just obvious,then Haiti refugees,now a earthquake,go figure,poor souls.We are lucky to live in US.We have had our share of polution. good info bk please keep us up on that

    • haiti’s various governments have pursued Obama-like policies (or he is pursuing Haitian-like policy?)

      That is what you noticed in 1975. That is why Haiti is f#cked

      Anti-business = anti-jobs, anti-economic growth.
      Pro-government bureacrats = corruption

  4. Greeks wanted the USA-style waste-based way of life and are now paying for it. Soon enough Greece will be Haiti .. as long as there is one car running in Greece there is no bottom for them.

    Same with Spain, Portugal, France, Japan, Korea and China … don’t forget the USA. We are tallest mast on sinking ship.

    The costs of pseudo-mobility have been pushed forward from the beginning … since the Model T. The future is now. All the costs are appearing at the same time … the pollution, the fuel shortages (yes Virginia, $110 Brent indicates a shortage), credit collapse, resource wars, social breakdown, deficient governments and absent-minded management …

    All things that were put into place so that people might drive: big governments, finance, debt-money, operating infrastructure and construction, fuel supply infrastructure, big military, real estate, finance, insurance … all this was collateral for loans even though none of it could ever pay its own way!

    Haiti = Easter Island.

    Greece = Easter Island.

    USA = big, ugly Easter Island.

    Planet Earth = small Easter Island in the middle of a vast ocean of nothingness.

    Get rid of the cars, all of them. It’s the cars or us.

    • Yep — too many bureaucrats in Virginia => too much corruption

      You get rid of your cars, and stop using electricity also. Go live in a cave (no fires are permitted for you)

      Otherwise, we will hear about how you sold your TV network to Dubai and cashed in a cool $500 million for yourself. Or we will have to pay higher taxes to support you and your crooked Virginians/Marylanders

      Go run your own life into the ground.

    • You may be right in the long run. But even if getting rid of the cars were a solution, no one is willing to consider it. It just won’t happen. Cars are here to stay, that’s reality. So you can rail against reality if you like, but why? Someone I know likes to say, “Whenever I argue with what is, I lose. But only 100 percent of the time.”

      We are indeed living in a time of transition. But it’s unknown what we’re transitioning to. Easter Island? Or a new world that’s a bit better (maybe a whole lot better) than that. Obviously, how we feed our voracious energy appetite is the key. And maybe even reduce that appetite a bit. Maybe, but that’s a hope that’s bucking the trend.

    • 110 dollar Brent does not indicate a shortage. In real terms, the price of oil is unchanged in 100 years, and gasoline is half price despite now including onerous taxes that didn’t exist then.

  5. An Irish radio phone-in programme today had callers talking about cutting wood from hedgerows along the roads, salvaging old wood and chopping up Christmas trees for fuel. bjg

  6. steve is the same guy, I think, who comments on numerous Blogs about the evil automobile, and how they are the cause of almost all problems. LOL.

    Steve, they have a pill for that now. I guess he must of been run over by a car or something, he has an irrational hatred going on. I’m sure he lives in a city near transit, and figures everyone else should too.

    Where I live, deep rural nowhere, there will never be any public transit, and everyone drives, mostly pickup trucks. And we like it that way.

    What will he do in 20 years when we are all driving hydrogen powered hybrids that emit no pollution?

  7. People are not taking into account what happens when you have a society where the bottom half of citizens live in extreme poverty.

    Do you live behind gates patrolled by armed guards? If not, you’re at risk from riots and violence as what little order is left “down there” breaks down. Fewer cops on the payroll means less order, but anything to keep taxes low, eh?

    Do you travel with an armed escort in a bullet proof car? If not, you’re open season for kidnappers and other miscellaneous violence.

    Do you have gold-plated health care as an all-you-can-use buffett? Good for you. Problem is that all those folks at the bottom of the economic chain don’t. Without health care, disease there runs rampant. Think those germs can’t get to you? How about the guy mowing your lawn? Where does he live, who is he exposed to? You and your family are going to come in contact with people who are unvaccinated and exposed all sorts of transmittable diseases.

    Providing a basic level of services to the bottom of the economic chain is protection for the rest of us. It helps us stay healthier and reduces the danger of violence in our daily lives. You can agitate for a meritocracy where every gets exactly what they deserve, but I don’t much think you’re going to like it.

    • Straw man. The presumption here is that we don’t take care of those on the bottom. If fact we do. Don’t you have any idea of how much free gringo money goes out each week from the central and state goverments?

  8. Bruce(readers) http://youtu.be/q4DtOhe2LfQ. Pollution in coal mining district in China.

  9. I’ve blogged about Haiti.


    US Foreign Policy and Freedom: Let’s Talk Haiti

  10. Haiti is a strange case but there is a fact that might explain its problems and the mounting ones the reat of the world now faces.

    I am an agnostic, I accept all beliefs but they are not mine…what is yours is yours. I listen.

    A few years back, a radio/TV religious personality talked about Haiti. Pat Robertson, in discussing Haiti’s past, the reason it might be different from the Dominican Republic with which it shares the same island, said that the Domincans believe Haittan problems began when their native liberator “freed” them, he bound them to the Devil, in fact, even put that in their new “constitution”, the statement of the new Haiti. Since that time the Dominicans have had little to do with any citizen of Haiti since the Dominicans are consecrated to Christ.

    It appears that what Robertson said is true. Haitians are “saddled” with the devil, voodoo et all, including Zombies!

    This brings me to my point. The Western Worlld and its many new follwers elsewhere have produced a new name for themselves….The Zombie Generation. Why? Because they have turned their back on hsitory, elevated experiment in everything, even the old “no no’s” ,and believe in nothing but themselves and what they want, no matter their age or experience. They are also known as the Me Generation!

    Well, the countries that you have listed as being full of smog are the personification of the Zombies and the Look at Me crowds. Could it be the Devil, the fires of hell, the smog it must produce means more than we moderns realize?

    Regards, Alice Maxwell


  11. Vasilis - Athens says:

    Dear Bruce,

    these articles/friends of yours that you are reading/talking to, are telling you 50% of the truth (the same happened few weeks ago with a shipping-related article of yours).

    We used to have a bigger POLUTION-PROBLEM in ATHENS from the mid-eighties
    due to car emitions.

    As a matter of fact, even last summer (2012) in the middle of the crisis we had a pollution problem some days during the summer. For 2011, 2010 and backwards the problem was even bigger year around (especially during days with low winds).

    Hellas (not greece) does have huge problems.

    So my friend you have to look “behind the numbers” and put some effort to your stories.

    THE REAL ISSUE is that Hellas has only 2 oil REFINERIES…!!!
    and around 20 suppliers of any type of refined oil…

    …not to mention that the same politicians that are trying to exit the crisis are the same ones that used to take $$$$ or €€€€ from Siemens, Daimler, Ferrostal, USA-UK-FRENCH-GERMAN-RUSSIAN military suppliers for many decades…


    One is 100% private-owned by a now-very wealthy family-ex navy officers before the refinery business…and their first contract was with US-NAVY some 50 years ago in the island of Crete (hey we can all apply for a refinery-licence too…!!!)
    The other is an ex-public now around 50% private-owned, and soon 100% private-owned by an ex-banker with a very rich-shippowner daddy.

    I assume that this is called OLYGARHY…what an irony…its an Hellenic word +2.500 years old…!!!

    NOW combine these politicians, these 2 families, the limited number of suppliers (oil-trucks), the price of heating oil €1.27per litter (1-gallon = 3.75 litters), the different prices per type of oil (ie. €1.27/litter heating, €1.62/litter gasoline for cars, €1.30/litter diesel for cars and TAX-FREE for shipping vessels…!!!! around €0.40/litter) and you get a FEW BILLIONS PER YEAR from TAX-EVASION by simply “selling” shipping oil and actually sell it for cars and heating oil illegally to consumers and pocketing the TAX difference.

    Out of the €1.62/Litter price, €0.82 are TAXES (@ $110/ barrel)

    Helpfull info:
    1. if I know it = the Hellenic government knows it….= TROIKA knows it
    2. few years ago the heating oil was €0.40-0.60/litter, last year(until May 2012) €0.90/litter and from October 2012 went up to €1.27/litter because the government was nor able to solve the TAX-EVASION issue with the shipping and diesel pricing…

    …so they decided to EQUALIZE the price of heating oil with that of car-diesel…because they do not want to put a bullet-proof supply-watching system in the oil business, from the refinery-to-the gas station (gps in the trucks etc.) and STOP the TAX-EVASION…and insted they have the people freeze since they can not afford a huge increase in the heating oil price !!!

    My point is that:
    Yes we do have a huge crisis, but most people that are cutting trees and create the pollution in Athens, can afford a €0.90/litter or a little lower heating oil price…

    so the issue should have been the politicians and the TROIKA (IMF-EU-ECB) that is trying to help us with the crisis afterall…!!!

    ps-1. I really enjoy your site, but please try to double-check your info (its like reading only a balance sheet, the income statement…and forget to read or create from these two the Cash Flow statement)

    ps-2. WSJ article is a bs (hint refinery business with US-NAVY), zero hedge is ok but very negative…no matter what, we will still wake up and keep doing what we do…may be a few less and at a lower speed for a few years…

    Bottom line, we have the politicians, the oil prices and the quality of air…that we deserve…!!!

    Once again, I really enjoy your site and if I am wrong please let me know

    • Thanks for this input. I never claimed to have unique knowledge of the air quality issues in Athens.

      I try to connect dots. These dots went from China to Haiti and to Greece. You say that Athenians can afford the price increase. That may be true for some, but the blog from Athens tells a different story.

      Anyway, I do have friends who are Greek. They live in the US, Europe and Greece. For their sake, and yours, I hope this all works out. I have to tell you however, from my distance, it looks like things have to get still worse, before there is a chance for them to get better.

      • Bruce I appreciate your response , but my point is that:

        1. Athenians can NOT afford the new higher price on heating oil at €1.27/litter, but they could have afforded last year’s lower price €0.90/litter.
        2. I EXPLAIN that the reason for the fog is the HIGHER-TAX on heating-oil THIS YEAR which makes people use their fireplaces instead.
        3. The REASON for HIGHER TAX is the government’s inability to STOP the TAX EVASION in the OIL BUSINESS in the country…!!! due to different prices for different types of oil use…!!!
        4. I did not read in any of the articles (WSJ, zero hedge or the Blog) the REAL REASON for a TAX INCREASE in the middle of the crisis, which I explained in the article (OIL REFINERIES – TAX EVASION – Billions made from this every year on the back of the citizens).

        ps-1. I do travel outside Hellas for business, and I agree with you that things have to get worse and as a matter of fact A LOT worse and for a long time, that’s why smart people have been hedging this risk (money in other countries, investments elsewhere etc.) even the European risk too. Ask your friends, they will tell you.
        We used to say that Hellas (the country) is poor and its people are rich…now the opposite will happen since the country not only has a lot of natural resources and a good location…but a huge debt also, which despite a forthcoming CUT will be repaid for many decades to come !!!

        and if any of your friends has a restaurant, he will tell you that the most important thing is LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION.

        Once again thanks for the reply, it looks like that you are putting some hours in this site and I hope its worth your time.

        Have a nice weekend


  12. The solution is obvious, as it seems to me at least… stop free healthcare programs for Haiti, stop vaccination of the people who produce nothing but reproduce themselves…. I prefer trees to haiti people =)