Sunday, April 26, 2009

Closing the Rich-Poor Divide

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that we all agree that human population growth should be slowed and, yes, even reversed until it reaches a stable, sustainable level. How do we proceed? Where do we place our priorities? Since 95% of future growth is projected to occur in third-world countries, this seems an obvious place to focus.
Developed nations need to re-design their foreign-aid programs so they are built on a foundation of family planning, empowerment of women and education. This not only encourages less children but also helps lift these countries out of poverty, a key goal. In fact, stabilizing population and eradicating poverty go hand in hand. Some positive steps include ensuring at least a primary school education for all children, girls as well as boys, providing rudimentary, village-level health care and helping women gain access to reproductive health care and family-planning services. We desperately need more enlightened foreign aid and organizations that can deliver it.
But it’s not so simple. The poor countries don’t want the rich nations preaching to them. “You caused the environmental problems with your profligate consumerism. You get your house in order first,” they respond. And they are right: Rich nations must work to reduce their eco-footprint. The two sides need to work hand-in-hand in a partnership built on dialogue and mutual respect. One side must work to decrease population growth; the other side to minimize their environmental impact. Only by working together can we achieve these goals.

Let’s close the gap between rich and poor.

3 comments: said...

If we are to ever address the "rich-poor divide" another division needs to be acknowledged.

At least to me, at the crux of our discussions in the Runaway Human Population Blog, two groups of people have to be seen and understood adequately.

In one group, we recognize the "people of the economy" who have managed to institutionalize the 'goodness' of greed and arrogance associated with their idolatry of wealth consolidation and the power to continue accumulating filthy lucre. These people will uniformly say that their drive for economic growth and the power wealth purchases is not only good but also primary. They make it crystal clear that the protection of the Earth from industrialization and big business is secondary. In the other group, we have "people of Earth's ecology" who see, as Hans evidently does, that the preservation of the Earth needs to be primary and the growth of global economy secondary because there can be no such thing as a manmade economy without the resources and ecosystem services the Earth, and only the Earth, can provide.

The Earth can get along quite nicely without the Masters of the Universe and their idolatrized global economy; but I do not think anyone can sensibly argue with the point that the economy cannot exist without a planet to provide for its viability. Even so, most of us recognize that there are many ideologues who do voceriferously argue that the human economy can exist independent of the Earth. I call it "money for nothing" thinking of do-nothing people. We also know that these ideologues are the very people who actually produce nothing, but end up with most of the world's wealth. In our time timorous, emasculated, absurdly high-paid "talking heads" in the mainstream media support this perverse situation. People who are actual producers lose their jobs, health care, pensions, etc while the Masters of the Universe, who produce nothing, walk away with millions of dollars in neatly packaged "golden parachutes" into carefree lives of effortless ease.

As I see it, this is a problem. The institutionalized power of a few million selfish people who currently organize and manage the global political economy {for their own interests primarily} is much greater than the power that belongs to the billions of people who have very little wealth but hold a priceless vested interest in the preservation of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation by our children and coming generations.

The struggle today between the "haves" and the "have-nots" -- between the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe and the people these masters call simpletons -- can be likened to the Biblical confrontation between Goliath and David.

Let's make no mistake about it. The duplicitous, avaricious Masters of the Universe among us are a modern representation of Goliath and the people these masters have dubbed simpletons, the ones who are honest, transparent, productive and accountable for their actions, are living examples of the courageous David.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population
established 2001 said...

How to close to rich-poor divide?

It appears to me that a social transformation of a hard to imagine kind, a radical transformation not witnessed by anyone now alive, is in the offing. Perhaps powerful human forces of sensibly-directed "intentional will" and emotional contagion, engendered by a deliberative dialogical process and embraced by the family of humanity, will lead to a rapid paradigm shift and a new, more reality-oriented set of humane {to replace profane} social values. When the new way of thinking about the world we inhabit and better social values are reasonably mobilized and become ubiquitously evident in the self-limiting actions of members of participatory democracies {to replace the conspicuous over-consumption activities of the selfish leaders of governing oligarchies}, I expect the family of humanity will find its way from the profane values and unsustainable lifestyles of the elites, such as we see today, to a sustainable future world order on this sacred Earth. said...

Dear Hans,

Thanks for speaking out. As you know so well, if the leaders of the human community keep advocating precisely what they are doing now, then the explosion of global human numbers will soon enough become patently unsustainable on a planet with the size, composition and fragile ecologies of Earth.

Please note the silence of so many on this topic. That silence is the thing to be most feared, I believe. There is no global threat so great as humankind's leaders' elective mutism with regard to notifying the public about humanity's central role in recklessly dissipating Earth's finite resources and relentlessly degrading Earth's ecology. Such outrageous behavior could have the effect of ruining the planetary home God has blessed us to inhabit as fit place for human habitation. If people do not follow your example, Hans, by speaking out now, then human civilization, life as know it and the integrity of Earth and its environs will be put at risk soon............much sooner than most people imagine.

Good people everywhere, the willful silence of knowledgeable leaders and followers is a colossal mistake with profound implications for the future of life on Earth. Please, speak out loudly, clearly and often. Say whatsoever you believe to be true and real regarding the human predicament in which humankind finds itself in these earliest years of Century XXI.

With highest regard for what you are doing, I remain