Monday, October 15, 2007

Your coffee choice is good for the environment but is your vacation?

“If you put your ear to the ground in this part of the world today, what do you hear?” (Barsamian 99). Silence.

Aside from the mindless cellular phone chatter, the communal hum of the IPod’s and Blackberries, there is nothing. No ground swells, no underground or grassroots movements. Sure maybe PETA activists make the news more frequently and Al Gore’s our new social saint – secular Jesus if you will, preaching a message of redemption, but at and by our own hands. Are we changing the world? Do my actions change anything? Does my vegan lifestyle alter the course of this world? It doesn’t I know that, if anything the commercialisation of my lifestyle to make it more palatable moves in the direction opposite to my purpose, simplification and instead is now fodder for salacious newspaper covers. The greater issue being has our communal drive for consumeristic joy drowned out the voices that are dying to be heard?

Environmentalism, the environment does not have a voice nor does it need one, it needs a chorus. Contrary to the popular belief Al Gore and the UN assembly does not speak for the environment, if anything I wonder if they’ve personified that which should not have been and in the process those with a birth rite ordained voice have been forcibly silence. Those like you, me and Eric Volz.

Eric Volz was the publisher of a bilingual periodical El Puente Magazine concerned primarily with the socio-economic effects of mass tourism in fragile economic and ecological areas. Environmental tourism is coming on the heels of our demands for organic, fair trade and shade grown coffee. But in many respects while fair trade coffee was an easy economic decision, environmental tourism is not. For two simple reasons, first being an issue of cost – my coffee cost me 75 cents this morning (student rate for those with travel mugs), but my yoga retreat to Costa Rica where I will be really putting my money were my mouth is almost $2000. It’s easy as a student to put down 75cents and say I stand for something, it’s different when what you stand for ensures that you skip over those cheap Vegas trips, and all inclusive booze fests in Cancun. It is one of the great ironies of globalism, we have the media resources to spearhead a new wave in environmentalism, and meanwhile we rape and pillage the world’s resources under the guise of industrialism, a collective movement towards a unified world.

Globalism is the second reason why environmental tourism and overall environmental sustainability are not a concern for developing countries. As long as North America is the world’s moral compass, more specifically as long as Hollywood wealth and glamour are, the 3 Gorges Dam and the dam projects of India (40% of the world’s dams are being built in India – Barsamian 24) will continue to eliminate sensitive ecosystems to power fertilizer plants and other toxic industries. Business, jobs and industry are the source of the money lining the pockets of civic, state and country leaders the world around and eliminating the small amount on the tables of the worker. So when Eric Volz started bringing attention to the very imminent issue of American dollars being used overhaul the environment of a region fiercely independent, he hit a sore subject. Caribbean, Central American and to an extent South American countries rely on the tourist dollar – as the beaches of the Caribbean look more like Vegas and less like a paradise, the travelers go elsewhere or south.

So like any good politician or personality in the public sphere like those in the Nicaraguan government, they found themselves the perfect socio-economic scapegoat – a kill two birds with one stone kind of deal – rise anti-American sentiments to divert away from their backroom dealings and eliminate on of the loudest voices on the issue of environmental sustainability. So while we whimper over the loss of trees, streams and sustainable farming – destroyed by the American influence on the market remember there are flesh and blood lives at stake in this battle too. Eric Volz was sentenced to a 30 year sentence for a rape and murder he did not commit. Sacrificed like the Amazon rainforest, the Mayan burial grounds and the oceans for the evils of the US and similar industrialize countries. Environmentalism is at the heart of social justice, and as such shouldn’t be about what country you’re from – we aren’t going to turn down aid from the US for those suffering in Darfur – so why have we turned on Eric?


Anonymous said...

You write a lot of blogs. I was just in your page the other day and then I came back the next day and I see like 3 more new ones and I was like, WHOAH! But that is all good because I know that you are more than capable of proof reading my currently non-existing chronic illness paper. I hope Leaha told you about it, because I really need someone to eventually proof read it. Would Wednesday night work? I hope so!


LeahA said...

Leah I so didnt ask I forgot..opps...well wtv she knows now! u know u should just let me proof read it

Jenn said...

okay you two lovely ladies - my Leah(a)'s - I'll read it but you know that grammar is not my strongest talent - I've a wonderful friend - Joel, who I bribe with pecan pie and all sorts of culinary wonders to rip apart my writing. I'll try though - that and Leaha wants you to come over to eat our cookies

LeahA said...

What I dont believe in sharing cookies... Leah(#2) will eat them all!

Jenn I feel like we haven't commented on what you wrote in your blog..sorry

Jenn said...

Well I kind of figured that with the limited traffic on this blog that no one was going to comment that hasn't already weighed in on the situation. It's a shame though I had hoped for more - I do know that I need to start tagging the bottom of my blogs -maybe I'll do that tonight after the midterm to bore me to sleep