Destroying the Planet
Watching current trends it appears mankind must eventually destroy much on the planet Earth, until whatever resources are left can no longer sustain however many people are left.
Mankind is a social creature, based on a family unit, that is a part of a community, that is a part of still larger government controlled entities. With the family to secure one's children, specialization of labor enables a group of people to achieve what cannot be done as efficiently as individuals. To help with conflict resolution a government entity is required as an impartial third party (fair laws with judges for their enforcement and also public services to help those in need), while police and fire protection are services required by the community - so a government brings some degree of security to the communities involved.
The local environment for any community may or may provide for all the basic needs. When there is no power then whatever is available must be burned to provide heat for cooking and for warmth. When there is inadequate an food supply, either from local farmers or from nearby communities, then whatever is available will be eaten.
For example Haiti has an inadequate power capacity, with less than 1/4 of the population having regular access to electricity.
In that environment, the people will do whatever to survive so they will burn whatever plant life is available. By 2010, it is estimated that 98% of the trees in Haiti were chopped down, some to clear land for subsistence farms but also many to be used for fuel (either immediately or to make charcoal for sale and later use).
Haiti needs more power to provide for its citizens but it is too poor a country, with imported oil making up 65% of its power. Unfortunately, Haiti is in a catch-22 situation, where the country needs to be further developed, making its economy more healthy to afford more power to further its development. When looking online for what Haiti can do about its inadequate power, I found only a blog article about non-fossil fuels, with the inevitable recognition "renewable energies like solar and wind are intermittent."
Haiti is recognized as a very poor country but even a more industrialized country like Mexico is unable to provide safe drinking water to all its citizens. The country has invested in more purification plants but the infrastructure to support them is still inadequate.
Mexico also maintains a low wage scale, making it attractive for foreign manufacturers (who get higher profits when not sharing the benefits of the labor with the workers).
I have read several articles that mention concern for the environment is for those in the middle class or above, when they are not so concerned about their day to day survival. I suspect few would disagree with that basic assumption on human needs: security comes first then the issues affecting others can be considered. (USDA report on American environmentalism)
Having that in mind, the people in Haiti will become more concerned with the devastation of their environment only after they are more secure with their daily needs, not while preoccupied with the fight for survival.
However Haiti is also a source for slave labor for multinational companies, so there is the continual political push to maintain their very low wages, keeping the bulk of the population impoverished.
National Geographic magazine in their July 2013 had a rather disturbing (to me) article about the massacre of many European birds along their yearly migration through the Balkans and North Africa. Many of the people in these areas are rather poor, on the edge of survival. Even though a song bird might be only two bites, it is still food. It is ironic some kill only the foreign, migrating birds, 'not our birds,' while the people in Northern Europe will probably see decreasing numbers of 'our birds' with this trend.
The intrusion of multinational companies leads to corruption as the foreign companies seek that advantage of low wages for the poor workers, of the lax environmental regulations, and of an easier acquisition of resources at a cost far below market value. Indonesia is an example of that resource extraction. One-fourth of Liberia's forests will probably be taken soon by recent logging contracts.
This article from 2005 about Indonesia (NY Times link broken) has an interesting quote:
"But when Indonesia attempted to renegotiate Suharto-era contracts with U.S. companies that it said involved kickbacks and other forms of corruption, the U.S. government intervened to pressure Jakarta to honor them anyway."
The American government, the main player in the world financial empire, continues to back the multinational corporate and financial institutions, who behave as predators on the world stage rather than as enablers of growth by those at the bottom of the social structure.
While the bottom of humanity struggles to survive, the very top of the world's elite strive to enrich themselves to the detriment of everyone else, and regardless of the environmental devastation happening far from their homes (out of sight, out of mind, a lack of empathy). That leaves only the shrinking middle class able to concern themselves with most environmental issues, though in most cases having little if any influence on those activities. This scenario does not bode well for the future of mankind, nor for most of the life on Earth.
created - July 2013
last change - 07/13/2013
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