January 05, 2015
BUENOS AIRES — Guatemalan political activist Gloria Álvarez is more than just a pretty face. There is her engaging — if not always endearing — manner, and the eloquence with which she communicates her ideas. She has a non-conformist thesis with a provocative theme — denouncing populism — and represents an individual rebellion that social networking sites are helping to turn collective.
On a recent tour of Latin America, she filled the auditoriums at two private universities in Buenos Aires. As part of her work, she hosts radio programs and must manage a "media profile," but she offers much more than an attractive image. Just 29, she studied international relations and politics in Guatemala and pursued postgraduate studies in the United States and Italy.
She became particularly well-known in September when she addressed the Hispano-American Youth Parliament in Zaragoza, Spain. At least a million people have watched that expand=1] speech via video, and she has more than 51,000 Facebook followers.
CLARIN: Criticizing populism isn't new, so what's different about your ideas?
GLORIA ALVAREZ: It's true the speech doesn't say anything new — rescuing the republic from a populism that dismantles institutions, restricts economic liberties, bans free dialogue and the exchange of ideas, and wants everyone to go the same way. But it says it another way, from another place and with another force. It is a voice being heard through social networking sites, in a century that is empowering individuals as never before. That means questioning everything — rigid institutions, top-down obedience, dogmas and indoctrination. The social network sites let people talk, complain and denounce. We have all become potential prosecutors and journalists.
What is the rebellion against?
In Latin America, we have had five principles of oppression: privileges that benefit one lot of citizens over the rights of others; state mercantilism, oligopoly networks and monopolies that have impeded the economy's development; transfer of wealth, the mentality that puts wealth distribution before its creation; caste-ridden societies, bequeathed to us long before the Spaniards arrived, by the Aztecs, Incas and Mayas. That made it easy for the Spaniards to replace the chiefs and take their places. And Spain did not bring us Western notions of liberty, or republican and institutional government. Populations oppressed and abused by dictators and charismatic rulers have sometimes found their voice through those same dictators. Populism is really our past returning in new clothes: polarizing by manipulating the masses with the economic needs until now denied to them. That's why it is so successful in the region.
Liberalism too has had a less than virtuous past, at least when applied.
That's right. The so-called Washington Consensus was a failure. Privatization processes fueled crony capitalism and a lack of competition. Privilege was always there, in the background. These days, any socialist with intellectual integrity would accept that the only way to come out of poverty is by creating wealth and productivity.
What is your position on gay marriage?
I am completely for it.
And legalizing drugs?
I'm in favor, but without the state monopolizing its production or distribution.
As a libertarian, I think freedom means taking responsibility for our actions. So if you freely decide to have sex, and I mean freely and without any compulsion, then we have to accept its consequences. But that's my opinion. I can't expect all women to share my code or principles. So I would rather it were legal and regulated within an established framework, rather than covered or ignored as a social reality.
Twenty years ago, the leaders you criticize now represented a kind of rebellion against political systems that weren't helping society. Don't you think there are similarities between your message and what they said then?
Absolutely. These social movements gained power through votes. They were the response to the abuses of their time, but they wound up forming their own elite, their own corruption. And as we can see, they haven't had much success in eliminating the vices of the old elites. One elite has just made way for another. Which is why I think today's populist leaders are tomorrow's old politics — and tomorrow is practically around the corner.
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Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.
October 17, 2021
It's hard to overstate the damage the pandemic has had on the airline industry, with global revenues dropping by 40% in 2020 and dozens of airlines around the world filing for bankruptcy. One moment last year when the gravity became particularly apparent was when Asian carriers (in countries with low COVID-19 rates) began offering "flights to nowhere" — starting and ending at the same airport as a way to earn some cash from would-be travelers who missed the in-flight experience.
More than a year later today, experts believe that air traffic won't return to normal levels until 2024.
But beyond the financial woes, the unprecedented slowdown in air travel may bring some silver linings as key aspects of the industry are bound to change once back in full spin, with some longer-term effects on aviation already emerging. Here are some major transformations to expect in the coming years:
Cleaner aviation fuel
The U.S. administration of President Joe Biden and the airline industry recently agreed to the ambitious goal of replacing all jet fuel with sustainable alternatives by 2050. Already in a decade, the U.S. aims to produce three billion gallons of sustainable fuel — about one-tenth of current total use — from waste, plants and other organic matter.
While greening the world's road transport has long been at the top of the climate agenda, aviation is not even included under the Paris Agreement. But with air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel.
Fees imposed on the airline industry should be funneled into a climate fund.
In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials. Energy is supplied through wind turbines from the surrounding area, while the fuel's main ingredients are water and waste-generated CO2 coming from a nearby biogas plant.
Farther north, Norwegian Air Shuttle has recently submitted a recommendation to the government that fees imposed on the airline industry should be funneled into a climate fund aimed at developing cleaner aviation fuel, according to Norwegian news site E24. The airline also suggested that the government significantly reduce the tax burden on the industry over a longer period to allow airlines to recover from the pandemic.
High-flying ambitions for the sector
Hydrogen and electrification
Some airline manufacturers are betting on hydrogen, with research suggesting that the abundant resource has the potential to match the flight distances and payload of a current fossil-fuel aircraft. If derived from renewable resources like sun and wind power, hydrogen — with an energy-density almost three times that of gasoline or diesel — could work as a fully sustainable aviation fuel that emits only water.
One example comes out of California, where fuel-cell specialist HyPoint has entered a partnership with Pennsylvania-based Piasecki Aircraft Corporation to manufacture 650-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell systems for aircrafts. According to HyPoint, the system — scheduled for commercial availability product by 2025 — will have four times the energy density of existing lithium-ion batteries and double the specific power of existing hydrogen fuel-cell systems.
Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce is looking to smash the speed record of electrical flights with a newly designed 23-foot-long model. Christened the Spirit of Innovation, the small plane took off for the first time earlier this month and successfully managed a 15-minute long test flight. However, the company has announced plans to fly the machine faster than 300 mph (480 km/h) before the year is out, and also to sell similar propulsion systems to companies developing electrical air taxis or small commuter planes.
New aircraft designs
Airlines are also upgrading aircraft design to become more eco-friendly. Air France just received its first upgrade of a single-aisle, medium-haul aircraft in 33 years. Fleet director Nicolas Bertrand told French daily Les Echos that the new A220 — that will replace the old A320 model — will reduce operating costs by 10%, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20% and noise footprint by 34%.
International first class will be very nearly a thing of the past.
The pandemic has also ushered in a new era of consumer demand where privacy and personal space is put above luxury. The retirement of older aircraft caused by COVID-19 means that international first class — already in steady decline over the last decades — will be very nearly a thing of the past. Instead, airplane manufacturers around the world (including Delta, China Eastern, JetBlue, British Airways and Shanghai Airlines) are betting on a new generation of super-business minisuites where passengers have a privacy door. The idea, which was introduced by Qatar Airways in 2017, is to offer more personal space than in regular business class but without the lavishness of first class.
Aerial view of Rome's Fiumicino airportcommons.wikimedia.org
Rome's Fiumicino Airport has become the first in the world to earn "the COVID-19 5-Star Airport Rating" from Skytrax, an international airline and airport review and ranking site, Italian daily La Repubblica reports. Skytrax, which publishes a yearly annual ranking of the world's best airports and issues the World Airport Awards, this year created a second list to specifically call out airports with the best health and hygiene standards.
The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.
Data privacy issues
However, as pointed out in Canadian publication The Lawyer's Daily, increased use of AI and biometrics also means increased privacy concerns. For example, health and hygiene measures like digital vaccine passports also mean that airports can collect data on who has been vaccinated and the type of vaccine used.
Auckland Airport, New Zealand
The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less?
At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel in particular is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.
Trying to forecast the future, experts point to the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks as at least a partial blueprint for what a recovery might look like in the years ahead. Twenty years ago, as passenger enthusiasm for flying waned amid security fears following the attacks, airlines were forced to cancel flights and put planes into storage.
40% of Swedes intend to travel less
According to McKinsey, leisure trips and visits to family and friends rebounded faster than business flights, which took four years to return to pre-crisis levels in the UK. This time too, business travel is expected to lag, with the consulting firm estimating only 80% recovery of pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
But the COVID-19 crisis also came at a time when passengers were already rethinking their travel habits due to climate concerns, while worldwide lockdowns have ushered in a new era of remote working. In Sweden, a survey by the country's largest research company shows that 40% of the population intend to travel less even after the pandemic ends. Similarly in the UK, nearly 60% of adults said during the spring they intended to fly less after being vaccinated against COVID-19 — with climate change cited as a top reason for people wanting to reduce their number of flights, according to research by the University of Bristol.
At the same time, major companies are increasingly forced to face the music of the environmental movement, with several corporations rolling out climate targets over the last few years. Today, five of the 10 biggest buyers of corporate air travel in the US are technology companies: Amazon, IBM, Google, Apple and Microsoft, according to Taipei Times, all of which have set individual targets for environmental stewardship. As such, the era of flying across the Atlantic for a two-hour executive meeting is likely in its dying days.
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SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
South China Morning Post (SCMP) is an English-language daily published in Hong Kong. Co-founded in 1903 by the British journalist Alfred Cunningham, the newspaper has an estimated circulation of 104.000. It is currently owned by Alibaba group.
La Repubblica is a daily newspaper published in Rome, Italy, and is positioned on the center-left. Founded in 1976, it is owned by Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso.
E24 NÃ¦ringsliv is a Norwegian, online business newspaper launched on 18 April 2006. In the course of the first week of operations it became the largest business web site in Norway. In week 46, 2008, it had 575,000 unique users per week.
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