Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I've been a-travelin'. Africa's a-starvin'. EEk!

I was recently preparing like mad for a trip and then traveled for 5 days without internet access- horrors! Since returning, I've caught up my laundry and e-mail and finally have something to post.

The link below is for a commentary article on one of my regular irritants, that is, the deliberate withholding of biological and agricultural advances from needy third-world countries based on a fat, first-world view of what's best for them.

Now, we could ask some of these extreme environmentalists and anti-chemical/anti-biotechnology activists (EEks for short) who live in wealthy countries to advocate first in their own backyards. However, they are so hypocritically hateful of technology (which provides their clean, wired-up, climate-controlled palaces of contempt), and they are so desirous that the rest of the world's wildness remain unsullied (for their photographic safaris and vacations, I suppose), that they zealously obstruct the deliverance of vaccines, insecticides, and improved-yield agriculture from people whose lives could be saved by them.

EEks claim to worry so much about the slight chance of a bad reaction to medicine that they're pleased to doom millions to illness and death. I say give African parents the option to decide and see how many millions are willing to play the odds and give their children a chance at life.

EEks naysay established chemicals with strong histories of effective use in moderate concentrations, instead hinting at scientific and government conspiracies as their excuse to let insect-borne disease- one of the biggest killers on the planet- continue to ravage entire populations. Meanwhile, EEks seek out every technical advantage in their MP3 players and high-performance camping gear and shelf-stable soy nuggets, even in the communication tools they employ to stage their diatribes against anyone else getting to enjoy the goodies. Why does America not significantly suffer from malaria? DDT. I say we help Africa overcome this plague, too.

EEks' arguments against other people's progress presuppose that given the tools and knowledge we have, the residents of another geography will be hopelessly unable to make good decisions about how to use and preserve their resources. I always marvel that they don't recognize how racist and condescending they seem. First world countries survived the onset of industrialism, and current economic analysis demonstrates that after development surpasses a certain threshold of wealth, societies get environmentally cleaner. No longer merely scrabbling to survive, people can begin focusing on enhancing the quality of their lives. Many of the most strident, obstructionist EEks are from countries which have already run this course. Since they cannot shortcircuit this dirty, difficult process for Africa, they would prefer Africa not be allowed to progress at all.

The attitude appalls me, even as I know this kind of paternalism and suspicion of the future is one of the hallmarks of a wealthy, advanced society- the place and time where I was born and for which I am deeply grateful.

Kenya's Akinye Arunga puts it this way: "Cute indigenous lifestyles simply mean indigenous poverty, indigenous malnutrition, indigenous disease and childhood death. I don't wish this on my worst enemy, and I wish our so-called friends would stop imposing it on us."

Read the whole commentary here:\Commentary\archive\200503\COM20050308d.html

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