Pumping furiously on a foot treadle in the afternoon heat, six-year-old Sarju Ram is irrigating her impoverished family’s field, improving the crop and – without knowing it – helping environmentally sensitive holiday-makers assuage their guilt over long-haul flights to dream destinations.
Customers of British Airways are among those who have been encouraged to log on to Climate Care’s website and calculate how many tonnes of greenhouse gases their flights will generate, and how much it will cost to neutralise the impact on the atmosphere. A flight to Barbados for a family of four, for example, generates 7.55 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which will cost them £56.64 to offset.
Climate Care uses the money to help persuade families such as Sarju’s to give up labour-saving diesel pumps and buy human-powered treadles instead. It claims that by using the treadle, a family will save money on diesel and hire charges, earn more from increased crops and cut the carbon emissions that would have been produced by the pump.
Last week Indian experts criticised the scheme, saying it was promoting child labour and forcing poor farmers to work harder so that wealthy air travellers could enjoy exotic holidays without worrying about the environment.
Not because child labor is necessary to do the work of the world, or even to make money, but just so the Al Gores of the world can feel good about themselves.
sad thing is that this is nothing new. folks can make excuses and play hypotheticals all the want about how this is the best way to strucuture our socieities, but so long as we divide ourselves and our interests - especially the fruits of our labor - for the comfort and leizure of a few then we will continue to see things like this. the nonsense that we have to exploit each other for personal profit making or to push the costs off onto others (especially those that are the most vulernable) is pathetic. I am convinced that our only way out of this barbarism is for the workers to organize themselves and break off the chains of authority.
In the Introduction of Alexander Berkman’s book What Is Anarchism?[/i he says:
“In short, Anarchism means a condition or society where all men and women are free, and where all enjoy equally the benefits of an ordered and sensible life.
“‘Can that be?’ you ask;‘and how?’
“‘Not before we all become angels,’ your friend remarks.
“Well, let us talk it over. Maybe I can show you that we can be decent and live as decent folks even without growing wings.”
So the motives for limiting carbon emissions are all venal and self-serving? I’m not sure I see the point ehre. Yes, the particular program sounds stupid and if it works as suggested it’s a bad idea for the local population. And yes, TA, the inequitable distribution of wealth is a terrible thing and something (maybe anarchism, maybe not) dramatic needs to happen for it to disappear. But I’m sensing (and I’ll back down if I’m truly mistaken) that the original comment has more to do with a disbelief in the principle of climate change than anything else. I mean, the poor will suffer most, as always, if it truly is happening and we don’t do anything about it. The wealthy will move to higher ground and leave the poor to swim. So, I for one think if climate change is a genuine phenomenon (which I think it is, though I’m not convinced what exactly the effects will be), we need to address it aggressively for the sake of the poor more than anyone else. And if we make mistakes, which this program seems to be, then let’s fix then and move on, but let’s not use them as an excuse for denigrating the entire effort.
I agree but I feel the first/best place to begin “addressing it aggressively” is to deal with the disease itself and not just treat symptoms. To me, that is getting at the very fabrics of our society and how we structure ourselves; what values and principles we nurture over others. Do we compete for the sake of exploiting the other or gaining “higher ground”, or do we compete out of a form of sportsmanship to push our creative abilities; antagonism or solidarity? It’s a rhetorical question so you don’t have to answer.
What, me not answer?! I agree, a fundamental shift in society is preferable to symptomatic treatment. Unfortunately, it’s also a whole lot harder to accomplish. We can’t even get some people to agree the disease exists, so curing by restructuring society seems far off. At least a start at minimizing the damage the current system does seems worthwhile.
So the motives for limiting carbon emissions are all venal and self-serving?
Of course not.
I don’t believe climate change is a nonsense nor the effort to preserve our environment are a waste of resources, but I think is self serving to expect others to pay for it. Let puts a example: if the amazonas is very important to the planet, why Brazil alone should assume the cost of preserving it?
Taking into account that the developed countries have reached their positions poluting the environment, I think it is fair that the cost of preserving our environment be assumed mainly by this countries, even though the most agressive things to the environment are produced now in the underdeveloped world.
Absolutely! The problem is that conservatives argue the only way to achieve a better standard of living for the developing world is to follow the same environmentally disastrous path that led to the developed coutnries’ wealth. A way has to be found to preserve the resources not yet exploited in the undeveloped world because that’s where they are. And this will only happen if the people there can better their lives without destroying those resources. And, sadly, that’s been a difficult thing to sell to the developed world, and is truly difficult even with the best intentions. Ecotourism is an example of the attempt, but seriously inadequate. Arrangements to harvest the medicinal potential of undiscovered species in places like the Amazon is another idea, though the “partner” companies from the developed world have to be watched carefully or they’ll just keep the wealth that generates for themselves. I don’t have a single answer, and there probably isn’t one. I think we have to preserve what is left, and restore what we can, and I think the cost should be born propotional to resources, which means we in the developed world will have to pay most of it. And I think that’s fair. It seems very likely to me that we in the U.S. already live beyond the environemnt’s capacity to sustain for long, and some sacrifice in standard of living is necessary unless technology saves the day (which I hope, but don’t trust blindly, it will).
Brennen, I don’t have the solution, too. If it exists, it is far beyond my knowledge and skills, but I can see a couple of thing that could help.
Today, the environment polution is not just an unavoidable price in the way to development as it was in the past, mainly because we have a lot of much clean technology that we had on the past. So the funding of clean technology to the third world would help a lot on this. Recently I was looking a debate called ‘The Selfish Green’ (here is the first part of it) when Richard Leaky raised a good point: if a lot of poor pleople in world had access to a tiny amount of clean energy (*), the benefical impact on the environment would be enormous.
Argentina’s president said yesterday (or today) in UN assembly that the rich countries should exchange poor countries’s international debts for environmental protection (of course, not talking about private debts as bons, but the debt with international financial institutions as IMF or World Bank). I think is another good idea, if combined with close control to assure the environmental actions are performed.
(*) Yes, it is an oxymoron, but there are reasonable clean energy sources.