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Excerpt from the interview with Mr. Bertrand Piccard who flew around the world with a solar plane.

Excerpt from the interview with Mr. Bertrand Piccard who flew around the world with a solar plane.

Mr Piccard, before asking my first question, allow me to introduce you to our readers: You are a Swiss doctor and pilot. You traveled around the world aboard the “Solar Impulse” plane which landed for the first time in Africa at Rabat Salé airport on June 5, 2012. Previously, You achieved, with the British pilot Brian Jones, the first round-the-world balloon journey in 1999. Currently, you are the president of the Solar Impulse foundation that has the mission, amongst others, to label industrial products respecting ecology.

Bertrand Piccard pilote Suisse et médecin

Question 1: To fight against these effects and to motivate decision-makers, you argue for a pragmatic ecology unlike the so-called idealist one. How to make this pragmatic ecology binding, within a competitive economy. Shouldn’t we go, as a first step, through the establishment of a carbon or pollution tax precisely to encourage the most profitable projects?

Answer: What we see is that we have to speak the language of the people we want to convince, that is to say the language of finance and industry. It is for this purpose that the “Solar impulse” foundation launched the 2nd part of its program, after having successfully flew around the world with the solar plane in the first part. For this 2nd phase, we have selected 1000 technological solutions that are capable of protecting the environment in a financially profitable manner. We now aim to offer these solutions to governments and large companies to allow everyone to have a more ambitious energy and environmental policies. To date, we have already selected 550 technological solutions that have already been labeled. These solutions, which are ecological, are guaranteed to be credible, profitable and create profit and employment. This being said, there are now other things to establish in order to ensure the respect the basic principles of economy. Today, we do not respect these basic principles when we pollute and when we do not integrate the externalities due to this pollution. If we pollute, by getting rid of waste, we endanger the health of populations and nature. So we are doing economic damage. In addition, CO2 emissions generate climate change and various natural disasters. So, faced with this damage, it is normal to pay for these pollution related externalities. Moreover, the carbon tax is a way of correcting an old injustice where we do not bear the cost of what we did. The current economic system is destroying itself because it uses old polluting technologies and because it does not pay for the consequences of this pollution.

Question 2: Having noted that, Mr. Piccard, does not the pollution issue also lie in the crisis of human intelligence? Because, everything seems linked and well linked. For example, the pollution problems cannot be remedied without changing the economy and consumption habits. Indeed, the current economic logic, including that of Keynesian for example, sometimes favors financial values at the expense of ecological ones.

Answer: You know, true capitalism is all about increasing capital and making it available to as many people as possible to be able to consume and get richer. Today, capitalism destroys natural capital. This is not real capitalism. It is a perversion of neoliberalism. This destroys human capital by setting wages as low as possible, which does not allow these employees even to live. We are also destroying environmental capital by polluting nature, the oceans, the air … We are also destroying the planet’s scarce resources through waste and excess consumption. So, to live well on our planet, we must remove the perversions of the system, that is to say the social inequalities that are absolutely inadmissible and morally unacceptable. Inequalities that could cause unrest by those who have nothing to lose on this planet. We must move towards a system that will make life sustainable. The pursuit of short-term enrichment at the expense of nature should not simply be accepted. The role of the rulers must be a leadership role, a role in which the well-being of the planet-earth and of the populations is assured. Polluting, selfish and dangerous behaviors are repressed and prohibited.

Question 3: The Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau suggested a social contract for social peace between the different components of society. The French philosopher Michel Serres put forward, for his part, in his book “the natural contract” a contract with nature to ensure peace with it; because today the local seems to act on the global especially with globalization, such as the nuclear crisis of Chernobyl in Russia.

Answer: I think so. A lot of people are convinced of this. But we have to give them the possibility to achieve that. There is a series of steps to follow that would make all of this difficult. You know, there are those who, out of selfishness, want to continue to get rich by polluting nature. And it should be banned. There are also those who find it difficult to change course. Because often it’s slow like the car or chemical industries. If they change quickly, their factories would close and they would go bankrupt and millions of workers would be unemployed. So these people must be assisted by showing them the existence of less polluting, efficient and competitive technological solutions. Moreover, there are those who lose interest in ecology and who continue to pollute with their industry and with all the risks for nature and populations.

Question 4: What do you think of the quote from Mr. Michel SERRES French philosopher, taken from his book “The natural contract”: ” If there is material pollution, which exposes the time of the climate to risks, there is a second, invisible, which endangers the passing and flowing of time, cultural pollution. Without fighting against the second, we will fail in the fight against the first ?

Answer: I agree. But if we create new bodies for education, in particular to educate young people and children, we need a lot of time, around 30 years. It is true that it must be done. But in the meantime, we must instead educate adults, politicians, members of the parliament, ministers and heads of state. The media are best placed to play this role. The media are the best intermediaries for these fundamental ideas for ecology. If the media supports the efficient, ecological and qualitative economy, the rulers have an obligation to follow. Indeed, the media help shape the political ideas of voters and citizens. Therefore, a government that wants to win the elections must be pointed in the right direction pointed by the media. If the media deny the negative effects of human activities on nature, it will be a disaster. That’s why I give interviews and lectures. Because it is the best way for people, by encouraging governments to go in the right direction.

Interview conducted by Ahmed Khaouja, who had met Mr. Bertrand Piccard for the first time on June 5, 2012 when he landed with his solar plane in Rabat, Morocco.

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