Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Poverty and Environment: Part One

Every week in the developing world 200,000 children under five die of disease and 10,000 women die giving birth. -The Environment Times, A periodic publication by UNEP/GRID-Arendal

And the statistics go on and on. So much so that we have to just turn our heads because we have our own lives to live, right? Weddings to go to, concerts to enjoy, a night to ourselves with a glass of wine after a long work week.

I'm not saying I don't do the same, its completely overwhelming to think about US poverty alone, never mind poverty globally. But I do think that one way to turn the tide is through building a sustainable environment and I think it begins with US...meaning upper/middle class citizens of the United States to at the very least, model this behavior for the rest of the world....grab hold of the market by demanding goods and services that are produced in a sustainable manner and encourage biodiversity...starting here at home.

In order for an area to pull itself out of poverty, it must become sustainable. Able to live off its resources and leave options for the future generations. Every place in this world is unique in what it has to offer to the global market .

When areas are stripping themselves of these natural resources to sell for ridiculously low amounts of money to eh, em, the US, the environment is degraded and living situations worsen. As the poor become desperate and begin stripping the land of its resources, harsh consequences follow. Take for instance, the act of deforestation leading to erosion which leads to flooding, loss of homes, the spread of disease through dirty water.

What can you do? Don't buy goods that aren't created from sustainable materials such as bamboo, recycled materials, banana leaves, etc. Buy locally when you can. I bet I may get some disagreement here but I think every place in this world needs to focus internally and create their own products for their society to sustain itself on. Here we are importing LOTs of goods from China and what is all over the news this week? Recalls and news stories about how these products contain lead or other harmful substances that killed the neighbors dog and can endanger your children.

To address world hunger we must encourage biodiversity. We in the US have other countries grow particular crops which do not create a well balance ecosystem so pesticides or GMO crops must be used. Although GMO crops may produce plants which create their own pesticides, when many plants have the same characteristics bred in or out, one disease can end it all. The cultivation of varieties of plants is important.

What can you do? Support your local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). They are springing up everywhere and promise a return to small, local farming.
Use your market power to avoid GMO produce/ products. Buy what is in season.

We in the West didn’t develop in an environmentally conscious manner. “As Delhi-based environment organization, the Centre for Science and Environment, points out, if the poor world were to develop and consume in the same manner as the West to achieve the same living standards, "we would need two additional planet Earths to produce resources and absorb wastes ... and good planets are hard to find!" Posted November 01, 2006

So let us stop developing and consuming in this manner. We have serious market control and right now all we are telling the world is, we want it fast and we want it cheap. Change your tune and help create a positive upward spiral.

1 comment:

christina said...

After my post I read this article By Carsten Henningsen which continues the discussion...