Does Poverty Rise as Biodiversity Falls? – Pavan Sukhdev

I’ll never understand how some Westerners will justify environmental destruction as a necessary price for social improvement. These people will point out that building a factory will bring jobs to the poor. What this misses is that the indigenous people didn’t think of themselves as poor prior to having their forests cut down, their water and air polluted, their rivers dammed, their natural food resources gone, and their entire lifestyle destroyed.

What do they get in return? A job that barely pays enough for them to eat, no health care or very little, no security, no rights, long hours of work, loss of community and traditions, an increase in acloholism, drug addictioin, prostitution, poverty, and homelessness. And on and on.

The lifestyle and diet of Western countries lead to malnutrition and numerous diseases (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, etc), all of which the indigenous rarely if ever experienced prior to being saved by capitalism and democracy. They get immunizations from Western charity workers for diseases given to them by Westerners. They get asthma from air pollution. They get all kinds of diseases from polluted and infected water that before had been clean. They get injuries from unsafe work conditions. Their life expectancy goes down. And on and on.

They see the good life that others have in developed countries. They too want that life. But the cruelty of it all is that over-population, resource depletion, and environmental destruction means they’ll never get the chance to live the good life that their corporate masters have. If everyone lived like an American, the world would be completely destroyed almost over night.

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