“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
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