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Saturday, February 13, 2010


"Earth in the Balance", 18 years later

In 1992, Al Gore wrote "Earth in the Balance," and proposed a "Global Marshall Plan" to save the environment, a problem that was apparent even then (no doubt to the surprise of some who still don't acknowledge the problems). Here were his five goals:
1) stabilizing of world population
2) the rapid development of environmentally appropriate technologies
3) a comprehensive change in the economic "rules of the road" by which we measure the impact of our decisions on the environment
4) negotiation & approval of a new generation of international agreements
5) a cooperative plan for educating the world's citizens about our global environment.
That same year, 1992, someone else spoke about the same problem...Fidel Castro. Here's what he had to say:
"An important biological species is in danger of disappearing due to the speedy and progressive liquidation of its natural living conditions: man. We now become aware of this problem when it’s almost too late to prevent it. It’s necessary to point out that consumer societies are mainly responsible for the atrocious destruction of the environment. They were born from the old colonial metropolises and imperial policies that, in turn, engendered the backward state and the poverty affecting the vast majority of humanity. Making up only 20% of the world population, they consume two thirds of the energy produced in the planet. They have poisoned the air, weakened and perforated the ozone layer, and saturated the atmosphere with gases changing climatic conditions, with the catastrophic effects we’re already beginning to suffer from.

"If we want to save mankind from that self-destruction, we have to make a better distribution of the riches and technologies available in the planet. Less luxury and waste in a few countries so there’s less poverty and hunger in most of the Earth. No more transfers to the Third World of lifestyles and habits of consumption ruining the environment. Let’s make human life more rational. Let’s implement a just international economic order. Let’s use all the science necessary for sustainable development without pollution. Let’s pay the ecological debt and not the foreign debt. Let’s make hunger, and not man, disappear."
As the article from which I took this concludes, "Fidel’s irrefutable truths and unavoidable demands are increasingly valid."

The author of an article "To Save the Planet, Leave Capitalism" on which the linked article is based says:

"The oligarchy maintains a cultural model of hyper-consumption, spread to society as a whole by way of television, advertising and films. That model has to change, but it’s so deeply rooted in the lifestyle of the oligarchy with its enormous accumulation of wealth that it opposes those changes. A millionaire will never accept riding a bicycle because his model, his power, his prestige, is an expensive car. If we want to reduce the ecological crisis, that’s the model we must break. It’s necessary to reduce material and energy consumption. Therefore, we’re in full confrontation between ecology and justice, on the one hand, and, on the other, a representation of the world completely maladjusted to the challenges of our time."
He's right, of course, but it's not just the "model of hyper-consumption" that has to break, it's the fetishism of "freedom," especially as in "individual freedom," as I discussed when I first proposed my meme, "we all live in a crowded theater" (also discussed here at greater length).

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