The Editor

Peak and Prairie

Dear Sir/Madam

This is with regard to the reply, to my letter about "population problem", by the Rocky Mountain Chapter in the October issue of the Peak and Prairie. Apologizing for my late reply, I wish to address two points put forth by the reply.

Firstly, my argument was never directed at making the developed countries responsible for all the pollution and devastation in this world. All the statistics quoted by the authors refer to countries and not communities. I have made it clear in my letter it is the so-called "affluent" live style of the developed communities (not countries) which is responsible for the destruction of environment. No country is a monolithic society. On the contrary, it is composed of communities that have different socio-economic orientations and consumption patterns. To understand who is polluting more, we need to investigate deeper. It would be unfortunate to make the less polluting communities in developed/underdeveloped countries pay for the ills of their more polluting brethren. The divide between consumption patterns of the rich and poor is wider in the underdeveloped countries. To cite an example: Although fuel-guzzling automobiles and inefficient power plants contribute significantly to the green house emissions, the section of population which drives those automobiles and uses electricity only form the top strata of the society in the developing/underdeveloped countries. The ultimate question is: Why should the poor villager in the third world country pay for the vices of the rich urban population? Today, most of the deforestation is done by contractors hired for supplying timber to markets where the people have purchasing power. An identical statement can be made about the fishing carried out by the innumerable fishing factories that feed the restaurants around the world. It is immaterial whether those rich people are within the borders of a particular country or not. There are no physical borders for pollution or environmental degradation. It is the consumption pattern of the people with purchasing power, in the developed and underdeveloped countries alike, which has made the earth what it is today. Only they can reverse this change.

Secondly, it was appalling to note that an organization like Sierra Club refers to public relations material posted on a company’s web page to establish the track record of the company (Shell). I have just one question for the authors: Has Shell mentioned on its website that they were responsible for loss of livelihood (due to oil spills and gas flares) and human rights violation in Nigeria?

On hindsight, I believe Sierra Club should play a major role in making people ask questions about the conventional wisdom related to environment issues. Dialectics is the only path to Truth. Going by its long distinguished history, Sierra Club certainly deserves to be more than another ad agency selling preformed ideas (like commodity) on the streets.




Ratnesh Sharma


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