Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Few Things We Forget Too Often

The Story of Stuff reminds of many aspects of life we just pass by, things we are aware of, actually. These aspects are clearly there in full existence, but we tend not to think about them too much, either because we are too busy dealing with routine tasks of everyday life, or because we believe those problems are beyond repair. Going back to the wild (to the point when we did not know the taste of the forbidden fruit) is not an option, for sure. But being more aware of these problems, and thinking about them will bring more good ideas about what to do for our future, and the planet’s future. Some such thoughts:

1. Human system – most of all, the economic system – is a subsystem in the eco-system. The subsystem cannot be sustained if the larger system is broken.

2. GDP calculation misses out so many important factors. Annie suggests subtracting the social costs associated with pollution and inequality from the GDP calculation. Personally, I suggest subtracting the social costs of health problems caused by harmful materials, processes, and pollution. This will strike at people’s mind more directly, because, after all, it incurs actual out-of-pocket costs for them. (My eczema gets worse with pollution. So I can say I feel the side effect of material development physically.)

3. Developing countries rich in natural resources are problematic in environmental issues in numerous ways. It is not simply because these countries are fallible to very eco-unfriendly resource development arrangement with multinational corps. These governments are heavily dependent on the revenue coming from resource industries, while the taxes from other sectors are meager. Thus the citizens of these countries are in so-called “weak contractual relationship” with their government. The government is less responsible for the general well-being of the nation, including environmental issues. If the resources are in areas occupied by indigenous people, the problem gets worse.

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