The Russians dump nuclear waste in the Arctic seas, the Republic of Congo sees companies with the consent of some government officials dump 20 metric tons of toxic waste into an old uranium mine and they succeed in contaminating the Mura river; and PCBs and mercury from coal fire electrical production contaminate the oceans. China pushes industrial development in Shanghai while the Yellow River becomes the source for death from contamination. Socialist and capitalist economic systems equally pursue money and power at the expense of life-giving nature–the rivers, the land, the air and all the plants and animals. President Bill Clinton argues that “you can have strong wages and business while protecting the environment.” He urges as do many US and European political leaders that “we can have our cake and eat it too.”
When the discussion turns to reducing carbon dioxide and other climate warming emissions the decision is to balance what is now going into the air with increased capacity to absorb–otherwise called carbon sequestration. The result is no reduction of carbon emissions; only an eventual precarious balance of present emissions.
Business, industry and government policy on reducing or eliminating damage to the environment translates into continued destruction. The economic systems on which business, industry and governments rely are at root the major problem. Neither capitalism nor socialism contribute to life giving support of the world on whom we all must depend for life. When an economic system is concerned with money and the consumption of material goods, there is an assumption that what nature has is free for the taking. Growth of business and unlimited consumption are simply impossible, yet the assumption of those traveling the path of “development” is that “a few will get there’s while everyone else can eat smoke.” In the end, this is not only foolish but utterly destructive of life on this planet.
While it isn’t easy shifting from a consumer economy to an economy that supports life, we are compelled by the limites of life-giving nature to make the shift. Either we will decide to make the shift or we will be forced by the necessities.
(c) 2007 Center for World Indigenous Studies
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The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here