February 5, 2001
Environmentalism has been with us for almost 30 years. It began in the early seventies with the scare of oil shortages. Much maligned scientific studies (remember the Club of Rome?) or computer models predicted that the world oil reserves would be depleted early in the twenty-first century. Green politics was born in the wake of the long lines at the gas stations. People were scared. Not just any people, not all people; people in the northwestern world. Environmentalism is essentially a western movement, a rich people movement and a white people movement. The only significant result it has achieved over three decades is the creation of yet another profitable business. From the three R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) promoted by Hewlett Packard to the emerging three E's (Equity, Ecology, Economy) and the three P's (People, Planet, Profits) endorsed and supported by the same interests; that is, business and cultural interests of our so-called "civilization."
Environmental organizations have long been penetrated, co-opted, absorbed and even funded by financial, business and political interests. Just follow the money trail. See how those organizations are financed. Look at how they operate. Are they top-down or bottom-up? Look at their results. They can be summarized in five words: Displacement in time and space. Nothing more, nothing less; we'll let future generations deal with the problems we created and in the meantime we are exporting our pollution to the Third World or whatever we call the majority of the countries in the South nowadays that have become more impoverished thanks to our missionary zeal and our exponential greed.
Then answer these simple questions (and these are just a few questions amidst a long list):
Does the Western World, per capita and proportionally to the respective census of both periods,
Lots of good people will be offended. They who have their pet projects in Costa Rica or in Kenya, sponsored by their local chapter of the Rotary Club, or the grants of the Ford or Rockefeller and myriad other foundations that pullulate our northwestern, rich and white hemisphere. Lots of good people want to do well and "believe" they are doing well and in so "believing" forget that hell is still filled with good intentions! Meantime, the same good people keep practicing a lifestyle that "lays an unbearable burden on the finite natural resources of the earth," as Ramachandra Guha writes in The Paradox of Global Environmentalism*.
And they will keep doing the same things that they have been doing for the past 30 years, the same things that, year after year, have not worked. They will keep doing it knowing full well that it will not work but they will keep doing it, again and again and again.
And they will keep failing again and again and again because they are not addressing the root causes of the environmental predicament which are our arrogance that makes us consider that everything is for us to own -- that is, the total control over matter, resources, lives, even human lives, everything -- and the utter disrespect for humankind itself.
In the past century we, in the northwestern hemisphere, have developed and further refined our capacities to kill and destroy other people in the name of our ideas, of our "civilization." We have invented the most powerful agents of death, from tanks and machineguns to nuclear and hydrogen bombs, to cluster bombs, to depleted uranium, to land mines, to conventional bombs that are so destructive that just one can kill over 10,000 lives, to abhorrent defoliants (agent orange in Vietnam, glyphosate right now, in Colombia) and many more abominations (the list is so long!). We have used them all, we are using them again and again and again. We are building more capacity of death, always more powerful, always more refined. Is there any place on our planet, any corner of the world where for the past four hundred years, we, from the northwestern hemisphere, have not been, killing, maiming, exploiting the local populations? Is there any place on earth? We go. We destroy. We leave. We never repair (see Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, among many others, in just the past 3 decades). We spoil, despoil, defile, rape, desecrate, ruin, plunder, contaminate, sully everything and everyone we touch, in the name of our messianic "civilization." And we call ourselves environmentalists!
Environmental ethics is not about the three R's or the three E's or the three P's. It is about the respect for all life; not just this tree or that animal, this river or that mountain, this tribe or that people. It is not about a natural reserve in Africa (made by and for white northerners) or Disneyland. It is about ALL life.
One then can at least rhetorically ask: But if we cannot even respect our fellow humans how can we be expected to respect all life?
So long as we do not find the answer I am afraid that Alma Hromic's Letter to my Unborn Child will soon become tomorrow's present reality.
* The Paradox of Global Environmentalism by Ramachandra Guha, in the November 2000 issue of CURRENT HISTORY, A Journal of Contemporary World Affairs - 1-800-726-4464, http://www.currenthistory.com/
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Related External Links
Population Zappers An amazing compendium of useful statistics about population and the environment (Highly Recommended)
Iraq: Extreme Birth Deformities from D.U. Ammunition Extremely disturbing pictures. A must see to understand the consequences of our waring actions. Just know these pictures are very graphic. Not for the faint of heart or for children.
CURRENT HISTORY, A Journal of Contemporary World Affairs
Related Internal Links
Letter to my Unborn Child - by Alma Hromic
Biocracy - by Michael W. Stowell
The Resource Base - by Milo Clark
Conservation Is Not Enough - Compiled by Michael G. Hanauer
A Reformist View: Business as if the Earth Matters - by Joe Kresse
Mesmerized by the Weapons Mystique - by Mac Lawrence (Posted in July 1997, this piece demonstrates once more that we are not learning from the past. At a time when we are again increasing the U.S. military budget, this piece documents how immensely bloated this budget already is.)
The Wilderness Into Which Crying is Silent - by Milo Clark (Posted in September 1996, this piece shows the hypocrisy of conservation efforts through "responsible tourism.")
Do as I say... - by Gilles d'Aymery (Posted in May 1996, this piece shows with some humor the insanities and contradictions of our consumerist policies.)
It's Spring: Time to Drive - by Gilles d'Aymery (Posted in May 1997, this short piece shows the inanity of producing ever more vehicles.)
News Watch - by Gilles d'Aymery (Posted in December 1997, the first paragraph provides a few notes about Global Warming, in particular emission of carbon-dioxide by various countries.)
Useful Guide to Understanding Where All That Stuff Comes From - by Donella Meadows (Posted in April 1998, this book review shows the behind-the-scene of consumption. For instance, you'll learn that the manufacturing of your 55-pound computer generated 139 pounds of waste and used 7,300 gallons of water and 2,300 kilowatt-hours of energy.)
Adam Smith is on Our Side - By Milo Clark (Posted in May 1996, this piece on Adam Smith is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how incorrectly Smith is depicted in the main media.)
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