As humans we are not alone on this planet and we do not own Earth, yet we have trouble leaving enough resources for other species. I’m not a socialist but the exploitation of the planet by the bourgeoisie in this world is obvious.
As Fredrick Engels clearly stated in his book The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844,
“The members of this money aristocracy can take the shortest road from the middle of the laboring districts to their places of business, without ever seeing that they are in the midst of the grimy misery that lurks to the right and the left”.
In Egypt, this couldn’t ring truer. We see sections of the Nile overrun with garbage, unsafe drinking water, major pollution issues and extreme poverty.
What is the value of the Earth? The market economy attaches no value to Earth beyond profit. Years of exploitation have left the planet plagued with environmental problems. The following list only brushes the surface:
1. Climate change – wake up and smell the CO2
Most people are probably familiar with the environmental dilemma of global warming. Many ask “Why is it such a big deal – I mean, temperature changes all the time and we can just adapt, right?” Well, that sounds pleasant but this isn’t some far off nightmare.
The reality is, we are already seeing the effects of climate change today. As we burn more fossil fuels and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, these gases create a blanket and trap heat within the atmosphere.
Over the past century, Earth’s average temperature has risen by 0.8 degrees Celcius. By the end of this century, the average is expected to rise another six degrees Celcius. So what exactly is the big concern?
Droughts, food shortages, floods, extreme weather, ocean acidification (endangering marine animal species) and rising sea levels are among the best documented. Simply looking at California this year, we see dried up reservoirs, failed crops and severe drought linked to global temperature changes.
2. Outdoor air pollution
We Egyptians already know how bad air pollution can truly be. You see the smog and smell the musty, unpleasant smoke but you still continue moving through life nonetheless.
This outdoor air pollution is a result of emissions from cars, factories, road dust and smoke and the pollutants are known as “particulate matter”. Scientists have proven that air pollution negatively affects the lungs, causing fatigue, dizziness, coughing, throat irritations and watery eyes as well as worsening diseases like asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases.
In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that air pollution is one of the leading causes of premature mortality worldwide, responsible for one out of eight deaths. According to WHO, seven million deaths occurred in 2012 as a result of outdoor air pollution.
In Egypt, we have no shortage of air pollution. Unsurprisingly, it is often the case that low and middle income countries, namely the global South, have a disproportionate amount of particulate matter.
3. Loss of food diversity
There exists no land today in which man has not set foot or influenced in some way. From the agriculture industry to the technological boom, land has always been needed. However, it is the irresponsible ways in which we have managed the land that have costly affected our future.
Taking a look back at the Green Revolution from the 1940’s through the 70’s – a global initiative to institute the use of pesticides on crops in favor of higher yields – we now see its detrimental effects today. The Green Revolution was able to circumvent climate restrictions by providing irrigation and pesticides to areas otherwise unable to grow certain crops. The result was massive mono cropping for higher yields and the loss of many edible crops previously grown.
Contrary to the name, the Green Revolution diminished the diversity of previously grown species of crops and plants while creating a center for the dispersion of seeds. Even seeds became a power controlled by the government. Monsanto for example, controls the genetics of corn and soybeans throughout the United States, while driving local famers to bankruptcy. This is essentially the result of competition created by a market economy.
However, the increased production of food through the 70’s also impacted the soil as more nutrients were depleted to provide for higher yields. Soil has become less fertile than it once was and production has begun stagnant and even in decline in some areas.
Prior to the Green Revolution, India grew over 30,000 different rice crops but now only ten are grown. Yield and profit have trumped diversity. Similar results have been seen in other nations as a successful tool to combat hunger and food insecurity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has estimated that we’ve lost nearly 75 percent of crop genetic diversity.
4. Poor land management
Combating hunger by producing more food has replaced small local farmer’s livelihoods with corporate interests. Ethiopian coffee growers, for example, don’t decide the prices at which they sell their crop but rather The New York Stock Exchange.
There is a dissonance between production and distribution. Companies like Starbucks not only make money by buying cheaply from distributors but from selling to consumers as well.
The Great American Dustbowl in the 1930s is one of the biggest tragedies of poor farming practices. Extensive plowing of topsoil and the failure to use dry land farming techniques led to the erosion of soil across the Great Plains. Before the practice of plowing began, the Great Plains could withstand wind storms without experiencing soil erosion but due to poor land management, the soil became vulnerable to erosion. As a result, people were forced to abandon their farms and search for work elsewhere.
Poor farming techniques are not an old problem – many farmers still over plow and over plant their land today.
5. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Located in the Pacific Ocean between the Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast of the United States, in an area spanning the size of Queensland, Australia, exists a place known as the North Pacific Gyre – a series of ocean currents and wind patterns create a circular motion, bringing in debris from far away and collectively forming what’s known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.
So how does this plastic end up in the ocean to begin with? Not all garbage stays on land. Roughly 80 percent of marine debris comes from land in the form of consumer products, like plastic bags and bottle caps. Each year, recreational boaters throw the equivalent of 10,000 steel shipping containers worth of trash into the Earth’s oceans.
This mass of floating plastic is a huge problem because it affects numerous marine life species, from loggerhead turtles that mistake plastic bags for jellyfish to albatross that choke on plastic bottle caps.
Much of the plastic toxins also leach into the sea water, affecting the fish, which we in turn consume. And guess how rainwater forms? From ocean water. The water on this planet is finite, so when we pollute it we are indirectly affecting our own health.
WE SAID THIS: Help the environment by participating in the 3alGanoob Music Festival’s beach cleanup next week!