We are responsible for the Earth

Very few people deny that the Earth is going towards an ecologic disaster. History has witnessed the disappearance of species, continents and islands. But those disasters were not caused by man. It’s only a matter of looking at the skies over big cities, at our beaches, seas and rivers. The diseases related to the deterioration of the natural environment have increased in the form of asthmas, allergies, cancer, heart disease, problems with the skin and the glandular system and, the worst of all, the traumas to the reproductive capacities of human beings. To ignore scientific studies is a different and more dangerous form of suicide than tobacco, drugs, or weapon proliferation and speeding on highways.
Paul Kennedy, professor at Yale and author of an important reflection in the article Two studies, one conclusion, says these haven’t been good times for conservatives in the United States, who claim that the free market economy solves all the problems and go against to schemes of international government while they support the right of all citizens to drive a vehicle that pollutes irresponsibly and consider Kyoto Protocol to be socialist filth.
He cites Tim Barnett of the Scripps Oceanography Institution in San Diego, who gave new evidence of ecosystems that shatter under the tension of climate change. Some of the information about plants that change color, sea birds that die, the melting of the Andean glaciers are terrifying. The evidence of his team’s report is so categorical that any attack motivated by Washington against the thesis that human activity is causing global warming would be “untenable”.
He asks himself if the Bush administration and its members linked to the oil industry, as well as its experts, will acknowledge that they were mistaken and that urgent measures are essential. Especially in the United States, where 4.5 percent of the world population produces 25 percent of all the gases that cause the Greenhouse Effect on the atmosphere. That’s why Paul Kennedy presents another study based on the annual survey about tendencies of the world population realized by the UN Population Fund, another body formed by demographers, economists and highly qualified scientists. He claims that the world population is not slowing its pace as much as conservatives had predicted. World population will go from 6.4 billion today to 9.1 billion in 2050, this change being the most dramatic in the poorest countries.
He uses the examples of India and China. The former grows so rapidly that its population will surpass that of China in the next generation. They both represent almost one third of the whole of Humanity. Their carbon and oil needs are well known, caused not only by their gigantic populations that go from wood and manure to fossil fuels as sources of heat, light and cooking, but also by their rapid industrial growth.
In one year, oil imports in China grew by a third, exceeding those of Japan. India’s oil imports grew by 11 percent and continue alarmingly doing so. All this contributes to the unbearable rise of these products essential for the maintenance of the Western Countries’ living standards. Oil prices have increased to levels that were never thought of. All this when the OPEC announced the increase in the production to 500.000 more barrels everyday to avoid that ruinous rise that speculators provoke.
Let’s remember that China and India are exempt of adhering themselves to the limitations  in the emissions of Kyoto’s Protocol because, in spite of their enormous spending in fuels, they still consume less than a sixth of the United States index per person.
“As more evidence comes up about the harm we are doing to our planet because of the frantic use of energy – Kennedy wonders – while China and India advance to become the greatest producers of gas that produce the Greenhouse Effect in the world, which economic, scientific and moral power can place Washington on top of the negotiation table to impede that we inherit a rotten planet to our grandsons? Very little. When Great Britain, Germany, the United States and Japan were becoming industrialized at a great speed 100 years ago, they endured an international battle to gain power over the world’s energy resources, no matter where.”
The same happens nowadays. The rivalry between the United States, China and India, along with Japan and Europe for the oil and gas resources is almost desperate. The most worrisome thing is that US foreign policy will face the vital interests of the two giants, India and China, who will not accept the game rules imposed by Western countries.

José Carlos Gª Fajardo

Este artículo fue publicado en el Centro de Colaboraciones Solidarias (CCS) en 2006