the whole shebang

November 1, 2006

If you depend on florescent bulbs to change the world, prepare for a huge disappointment – Part 3: Solutions

Filed under: Environmentalism — wholeshebang @ 11:30 pm

[ Go back to Part 2 ]

What in the world can we do about this?

Well, we are going to have to think and act big…very big. We start by asking ourselves some questions:

  • Who is responsible?
  • How do we protect the environment from direct destruction by corporations?
  • How do we protect the environment from direct destruction by native populations?
  • How do we encourage birth control among poor, uneducated people?
  • How do we prevent starvation while we protect the environment, keeping in mind 2 things?
    1. No one will accept a solution that causes people to starve.
    2. Starvation will be worse if we don’t find a big solution.
  • Who will be responsible for the power to prevent corporate destruction in Third World countries and developed countries that aren’t rich?
  • How do we prevent Third-World and developing countries from passing though the manufacturing and industrial stage that we went through (because the effects for them would be far more devastating) while getting them to quickly adapt modern, environmentally responsible industry?
  • How do we educate these people in math, science, literacy, and environmental issues while we are doing all of the above? (We certainly can’t just wait for them to reach those levels first!)

It is easy to look at these questions and get depressed very quick. It is hard to even wrap your mind around the last 2 questions, much less formulate a big, effective, international solution. But we must wrap our minds around them, and that requires that we accept them first. Accept that these things are exactly what we need to do. Scary stuff!

I pretty much leave you with that because I certainly don’t have a plan, even a vague one, and I’ve pondered this for a couple of years.

It’s pretty clear, though, that some traditional foreign aid and big contracts to a few environmentally-conscious manufacturers and energy corporations can’t alone do it. You must do more than that to quickly transform entire populations. How do you do so? I have a 2 key points, at least:

1. We’ve got to stop this whole idea that big corporations in foreign companies are commiting a crime by paying a 12-year old $1 a day to help feed his family.

The idea that any corporation should pay Third-World workers a wage somehow comparable to what we have here is crap. For some families, that is enough have a sturdy roof over their heads, plenty to eat, and even nice clothes. For many children, such jobs give them and their families a good standard of living in comparison with their neighbors. Can you picture some family from such a village suddenly making $20,000 a year? Imagine if a few small groups of people were suddenly rich (because that’s what they would be), while around them their neighbors are starving and jealous. More likely, you’d have one (rich) population suddenly oppressing the other.

This is not to say that their working conditions should not have standards and that children should toil for long hours and not go to school, which is currently the case in a lot of places. Rather, instead of demanding that corporations suddenly start paying these people $5-$10 an hour, they should be required to pay for health care and allow enough free time for the children to attend a half an American day of school, as well as transportion after school to work.

Such a plan would gradually bring up the income, educational level, and standard of living of entire villages and groups of villages, and eventually populations. (Not that we focus only on children, either, but that’s the crucial place to start. We need to educate adults as well, while they continue to care for their families.) This would eventually lead to a modern society where income, standard of living, knowledge of environmental problems and best practices, and the children’s lifestyle would perpetually increase on its own.

2. The modern world’s technology, science, and IT employees need to be directly invovled on a widespread scale.

Notice that I didn’t say “leaders”! Yes, leaders need to be involved, but Third-World populations need more than government handouts (though they will need those, too) and even traditional corporate projects. They will need a force of motivated, educated, and skilled workers/helpers to teach large populations of farmers and ranchers environmentally-friendly ways of doing daily tasks, help them build an information infrastructure both in terms of government and civic involvement and IT systems. They need to quickly develop alternate means of income besides traditional farming and ranching and selling homemade wares. They need to have the means and ability to improve their lifestyle without using harmful, industrial-age methods. They need clean fuels and high-tech tools. They need formal, regulated school systems and one-on-one educational instruction. They need it all.

The challenge of the modern countries of the world, both big and small, is to provide it without going bankrupt in the process.

The interesting thing is I took a poll just yesterday. I forget what blog it was on and I wish I’d linked to it. The question asked how many IT workers would train in a foreign country for 6 months for a job, and those who emphatically said, “Yes” were an astounding majority, like 60% or something crazy. This poll was not even aimed at any specific segment of the IT industry, for example, college graduates. This is a very positive reflection on the IT workforce and, I’m sure, wanna-bes! It shows that we are an open-minded, solution-oriented, curious, and yes, income-oriented segment of the population, regardless of our field of specification.

Many of the sources I have cited in Parts 1 & 2 point out that modern nations produce more emissions per capita and that it has a big impact and that’s true. However, the Third World problem is still more pressing, but it’s hard to convince people of this.

In the United States we had 100 or so years of large agricultural destruction followed by decades of the dirty industrial revolution. But we didn’t even have 300 million people. In contrast, there are billions of people crammed into areas too small for them to live by traditional agricultural and industrial methods, surrounded by increasing amounts of encroaching desert and polluted wasteland, starving to death and destroying at an alarming rate the very land that could sustain them.

We need to continue our own efforts to reduce dependency on non-renewable energy sources and reduce transportation and industrial emissions, agricultural runoff, and other forms of domestic pollution and destruction. But our focus needs to be on bringing Third World and developing countries up to speed with both our economics and our environmental practices.

If we don’t, everything else won’t even matter.

Even if we are less affected by polluted air traversing the globe, we will be directly affected by large wars, disease, and a worldwide economy in danger if we fail in our most important mission.

So…

…”It shows that we (the IT workforce) are an open-minded, solution-oriented, curious, and yes, income-oriented segment of the population, regardless of our field of specification.”

Well, then, to my fellow IT workers and wanna-be’s (and anyone else, for sure)…

…What say You?

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2 Comments »

  1. Tie foreign aid to ‘zero’ growth rate or less.
    We can not mandate human rights, whether we wanted to
    or not. Let each individual government dictate how they
    would approach ‘0’ growth rate for monetary, industrial
    or commercial aid. As growth regresses so will the planet
    begin to rebuild itself. If you don’t take this action
    the planet will do it for you with famine, war and
    pestalence.

    Comment by Michael D. Jones — March 21, 2007 @ 12:59 pm | Reply


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