I am writing because of an issue that I find unacceptable and which, unfortunately, I have encountered in person more than once recently. I am speaking of racism.
What, you might ask, is this doing on an environmental blog? Well, the issue arose during a discussion about reducing the global population and it was the same point of view that Dave Foreman put forward in his 1986 interview for Simple Living magazine, and later apologised for (everyone is entitled to make mistakes right?). The suggestion was that we should ‘stop all those people having babies in the developing world’ and even that we should ‘let nature take its course’ during and after natural disasters in developing nations. I was shocked, but sadly not completely surprised.
Maybe it is my age. I am in my forties and so I am sometimes (and in these cases I was) talking to people in their fifties and sixties whose upbringing was different. Maybe people younger than I rarely encounter this?
This opinion completely ignores the fundamental social causes of environmental degradation and destruction in some developing nations. The fact of the matter is that rich industrialised nations and multinational corporations have a long history of exploitation. It also completely exonerates the western consumer from responsibility by refusing to address the massive global inequality in allocation of resources. In every conceivable way, this view is morally indefensible!
Global overpopulation is an issue that desperately needs addressing, but when a medium sized pet dog in a developed nation uses more resources per year than a citizen of Ethiopia or Vietnam
(see New Scientist article here: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427311.600-how-green-is-your-pet.html?full=true), then something is very wrong.
We must look beyond our personal and national ‘interest’ and recognise our common humanity. We in the industrialised nations cannot deny our responsibility for the mess that we are in both currently and historically. We must all act together and act fairly if we are going to survive.