Who pays for the broken planet?

Who pays for the broken planet?

By Beatriz Balvé *

Man is part of nature, and the way in which he distances himself and appropriates it destroys not only nature but man himself. That today this question - as destruction of the environment - is approached from the ecology does not change or modify the problem. This situation is due to the inability of man to organize, plan and control production, which includes not only production itself but also distribution, exchange and consumption.

To analyze whether it is true that wealth and poverty threaten the environment equally, we must bear in mind that both refer to social personifications of an economic category: work, a category that splits their relationship into two opposite poles: the worker and the non-worker. and where wealth and poverty make their status as a social class.

In addition, it is worth remembering that from the 1980s, and with particular force from 1990, the issue of poverty began to prevail, displacing the foreign debt. This is already observed in the Santa Fe Documents I and II, which contain “recipes” to ensure the domination of the United States in Latin America.

Around the same time they were being drafted, the World Commission for Environment and Development, headed by Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, produced a report called "Our Common Future" (1987) and unanimously approved in The United Nations concludes that the prevailing confusion over development theories reflects a global crisis, in the sense that development is no longer an exclusive problem for countries that have not yet reached it, and proposes a new style of development that includes a reorientation in the industrialized nations and the reordering of north-south relations.

Specialists from Argentina and other countries criticize this report in the Foreign Trade Magazine of Mexico and point out that the weakness of the arguments lies in not considering the technical and political difficulties to solve the problem. Some indicators would be: 25% of the world population of industrialized countries owns 80% of the automobile fleet and consumes 85% of the paper, 70% of the steel, 86% of other metals and 80% of the energy.

The Brundtland report defines sustainable development as one that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. However, in light of the indicators, it is not difficult to read the back of such a lofty statement that, to achieve this “balanced” development, the South would have to compensate for the North's waste by sacrificing its present and future possibilities. In order not to accentuate the ecological imbalance, the poor majority should limit themselves to waiting for the alms that the rich minority is willing to offer them; if they tried to develop it, poor countries would be responsible for destroying the environment.

We see, then, that between the raising of awareness and the creation of capacities to solve the problem are interposed the differences of power and the real conflicts that exist between the South and the North.

Ultimately, the rich want the poor to pay no longer for the broken dishes, but for the broken planet.

* Social researcher at the Social Sciences Research Center (CICSO)


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