Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pollution, poverty, war, lights, camera... action!

As I prepared myself to write this post, I realized zero of my entries were tagged 'poverty'. But it's clear how this blog has always circled the subject.

Poverty is obviously causing various types of violence, conflict, crime, migration and malnutrition. Playing a pivotal role in a web of factors weaving a vicious downward spiral poverty in turn is also caused by many of these problems. As well as - obviously - by the reduced ecosystem services and agricultural outputs caused by gradual environmental degradation through desertification, drought, reductions in wildlife stocks et cetera, pollution and also more immediate disasters.

A simplified graphical representation of the "ecowar issues" circling poverty. These issues are connected directly too, not at all just through poverty. Many would argue I left out some orange arrows (go ahead and add your comment). But I have chosen to just include the most obvious connections. Images are Creative Commons by mitch2742, kevindooley, Taras Kalapun, IRRI Images, Goosemountains and Erik Starck.

Putting poverty at the centre of the issues of this blog for a day makes a lot of sense. So far, I have focused on the relatively rare occations when the correlation from nature to war has been particularly strong and causally obvious. But most of the time, the connection goes through several other issues before manifesting.

In this light the Permaculture slogan makes even more sense...

Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share

To steward Earth sustainably it is essential to also assure certain levels of equitability. Call it socialism or what ever, it's necessary. Only a tiny minority of hard-line neo-liberals believes inequality and poverty is necessary. The vast majority of Earths population thinks it's unfair. And it is also in conflict with ecological sustainability. One pressing danger is for our politicians to buy into the lie that curbing climate change and solving similar environmental issuse is now to be put on hold due to "the financial crisis" (see yesterdays post).

The whole climate change situation is a chapter on causes and effects on it's own. I'll leave it for now, but in a system as complex as Earths biosphere any large scale change is bound to cause a crisis somewhere. It is, of course, particularly linked to the above mentioned problems with deforestation and drought as well as industrialized cultures addiction to oil and the resulting disruption of the carbon cycle.

However, in stead of continuing some litany in agony, let us finish by listing some policies to halt this vicious circle around poverty:
  • Reforestation, conservation, organic agriculture
    Let nature provide us with its services, curb the greenhouse effect and provide sources of income in "the third world".
  • Promote pacifism, eradicate motivations for crime, negotiate conflicts
    Any act of aggression aggravates this vicious circle. Promote peace on all levels. Wars pollute insanely, violence sows seeds of hatred.
  • Educate everyone
    To help people live off their land, avoid diseases, prosper and innovate.
  • Face migration realistically
    Stop listening to the fear mongering politicians. Inspire positive aspects of immigration.
And actually, as I tried searching for Ecowar and poverty related news the other day I quickly found stories about a recently agreed deal to try and plant forests to fight both poverty and climate change at the same time. (My first post tagged poverty.) Great. I hope to see a lot more stories like that one in the future!

To paraphrase The Freak Brothers: "Ecosystem services will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no ecosystem services".

This post is part of the Blog Action Day 2008


  1. Browsing other bloggers contributions have finally convinced me most blogs are crap. But I'll drop a link when ever I do find something OK. Like this one perhaps...

    Ending poverty and protecting the planet are not incompatible
    "Can we eliminate – or, more realistically, diminish – poverty, while protecting the environment from further destruction?

    Theoretically, yes."


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