Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez mouths off about conservation

The campaign to fight climate change and reduce global oil use seems to have an unlikely new champion: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In a country where car salesfolk do a healthy business and gasoline is subsidized to 12 cents a gallon — that’s about $3 to fill an SUV — Chavez’s environmental hype has been knocked as rhetoric. But at the very least, it’s rhetoric with an impact: Chavez, who built ambitious social programs with oil wealth, now intends to direct fossil-fuel revenues to exploration of natural gas, solar, and wind energy. He is also distributing fluorescent light bulbs, encouraging citizens to take public transportation, and has said he plans to raise gas prices. While Venezuela’s government is largely funded by its position as the fourth-largest oil supplier to the U.S., Chavez doesn’t mince words regarding the 50 states’ impact on global warming: “They’re destroying the world,” he says. “The human race will be finished if we don’t change the world capitalist system.”