Thoughts sparked by Noreena Hertz
Here's the issue: The developing world's debt is bringing about the end of the world. To quote Plenty's Noreena Hertz (Plenty Aug/Sept '05 Debt's Threat to the planet 64),
'The world's fish stocks are facing collapse, great apes are facing extinction, toxic shrimps are being found in many waters, sugar maple yields are falling, ocean levels are rising, coral reefs, rain forests and mangrove wetlands are disappearing. Insurance loss claims in America due to natural disasters are already spiraling [sic] out of control (claims between 1990 and 2000 were equal to those of the previous thirty years combined) and costs of global warming are expected to reach $300 billion a year in coming decades. All this and more can be linked to debt.'
That's $300 Billion in US funds, and that's just in the USA.
Sounds like a leap, but it's not; when the government of the Philippines sold off its official vehicles to help meet an IMF-imposed budgetary constraint, it meant that Philippine forestry officials had to hitch rides from the loggers they were supposed to be policing. Many countries have opened up their old-growth forests to private logging companies because of the IMF's privatisation requirements. And deforestation is a prime mover for global warming. 25 percent of the greenhouse gasses we're reading about are coming from deforestation and changes in land use.
Similarly, poor nations like Ghana, Honduras and Nicaragua are selling off their fishing rights to first-world companies to help pay off their debt loads. So companies that have already overfished the Grand Banks can do the same further south, which in turn is wiping out the livelihoods of those nation's indigenous fishing communities, which kicks the poverty wheel back into motion. hertz says that it only took about 50 years for the first-world's mechanised fleets to wipe out 9/10 of the biggest and most economically important fishes. We're talking standards like tuna, halibut, and cod, here. Staples.
Elsewhere, the World Bank's been financing the creation of shrimp farms on top of mangrove wetlands in places like Thailand, Indonesia, Ecuador, Malawi... the list goes on and includes pretty well most of the tropics. What that means is that the saltwater analogue to rain-forests are being wiped out in favour of shrimp farming (which is, in turn, the equivalent of cutting down the Amazon for beef farming). Now, because of the elimination of the wetlands, we're seeing climate change. Because the World Bank has financed so many of these shrimp farms, the prices are falling. Because of the glut of shrimp on the market, half the shrimp farms in Asia are lying abandoned, which means that the Mangroves in those areas were destroyed for nothing, and the land can't be used for anything else because it was so heavily salinated for the shrimp. Oh, and one other thing: Any given Thai shrimp farmer is bound to be pumping his crop full of pesticides and other chemicals to get bigger yields. This includes the totally cancerous (and illegal) antibiotic called Nitrofuran, which can be found in shrimp from Thailand, Pakistan, Viet-nam, and Indonesia.
And don't get me started about First-World-funded oil fields and coal-fed power projects. The lawsuits can speak for themselves.
For instance, the case brought against OPIC and Ex-Im by the cities of Boulder, Colorado and Oakland, California (along with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace) for these practices state that the loans these credit agencies made for the creation of ecologically unsound oil and power projects are contributing to climate change and helping to:
- Increase salt-water contamination in groundwater aquifers;
- reduce the drinking water supply of the US;
- overwhelm sewage systems, and;
- aggravate respirator illnesses.
Then there's the fact that, as poor nations' natural resources become more and more valuable, we'll start to see an increase in the resource-oriented civil wars that are already ripping some of Africa to pieces.
And the fact is, we can't forget what's going on in the Developing World. This is elementary: we live here too. And I don't get why so few people care, or care enough to actually live better.
||Gods save the Queen,
One last little note... - 09.21.2006
de-stressing, biking and terrorism - 06.06.2006
Mildly stressed... - 05.29.2006
More crime stupidity - 05.28.2006
Scary stuff - 05.25.2006
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