Ondrej, Age 50s
I had a nice long talk with Ondrej while walking down mount Pico. He was an entrepreneur who had lived through time of socialism. As a nature lover he had thought a lot about climate change. His words follow.
What is your favorite part of living in Slovakia?
I love the high Tatras. They are a part of the Carpathian range. My grandparents grew up there and I have moved to the mountains from the city.
What is your least favorite part of living in Slovakia?
I do not like the south of Slovakia. It is too crowded, especially the capital, Bratislava. When I grew up there you could ride your bicycle to downtown. Now there are too many crazy drivers and if you tried to ride your bike downtown you would likely be run over.
Do you see the weather changing in Slovakia?
Yes, Springtime has almost disappeared. We used to have four distinct seasons, now we have two maybe three. We have huge temperature swings in the spring. Spring has been shortened to a few weeks. We have ski areas that no longer get snow. They are changing them to all artificial. We will be able to ski all year just like Dubai, but it does not seem natural.
Do you think human’s activities have caused climate change?
I think the problem is too many people and the pollution they create.
How can we solve the population problem?
Well, China tried one child and that did not work out well. They all wanted boys and there were unexpected results. I think the problem will solve itself. Some countries already have declining populations without immigration. I think when the world hits 10 billion people that will be the max it can handle. Mass migrations will start to occur and there will be no time to have children then.
I started collecting old coins. In medieval times Slovakia was part of Hungry and we had copper, gold and silver mines. I enjoy finding old coins from these times. It speaks to our history. What I learned from researching these mines is that pollution is not a new things. The fish in the rivers disappear where the mining was occurring. I think that the concept that pollution is a relatively new thing is a misconception.
I am both Canadian and American. Is there anything you would like to as me?
I have visited America a few times. I have relatives there. After I stayed for several days she asked me to leave and said I was using her space too much. I bought a nice bottle a Slovakian Liquor, but she never offered to share it with me after we ate together. These two things were strange to me. That is not how we treat family in Slovakia.
The walk down Pico took about 3 hours so I talked with Ondrej about many things. During our discussions about population burden I suggested one solution was to limit tax child credits to one or two children.in countries that offer them. I understand that each child is a potential tax payer but I do feel that never ending economic growth is not possible and that in America this might be a good place to start. Not only would it generate more short term tax revenue but it might encourage more responsible family planning. Ondrej had opened a couple of business. He was clearly a capitalist, but he did make some comments about socialism. He was struck by the number of homelessness on a visit to San Francisco and said during socialism, as brutal as the regime was, everybody had a home and a job. He also seemed to think the division of children based on socioeconomic status was a bad consequence of capitalism. When I was a kid we knew everybody in school. We all interacted. Now some kids drive to school in fancy cars and don’t interact with kids from families who do not have as much money. I don’t like this. I again think of my observations that nothing is good or bad, black or white, there is always a shade of grey. -Matt Ryle