Ecojustice08’s Weblog

EcoJustice is about much more than being green by Cam
May 3, 2008, 3:04 pm
Filed under: Cam | Tags: , , ,

On my blog (here) I’ve written previously about the Millennium Development Goals, the 8 goals adopted by the United Nations for halving by 2015 extreme poverty throughout the world. Goal 7 is generally referred to as “Environmental Sustainability”. But this goal is about much more than being ‘green’.

Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals sets out by the year 2015 to:

    * Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.

    * Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. This includes access to safe sanitation, something that more than 40% of the people on the planet do not have, according to a 2005 WHO/UNICEF report.

    * Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020.

I sometimes, and with increasing frequency, hear my socio-economic peers (fellow affluent Americans, many who would balk at ‘affluent‘ and protest they are middle-class; in global terms, middle-class Americans are affluent) say that ‘we’ must be concerned about the environment for the sake of our children and grand-children.

But, what about the current children of the earth, regardless of their ages? As you read this blog, and the posts of those participating in this challenge on their own blog sites, consider how your actions impact not only the environment, but the lives of all who share this planet. Is it just our empty water bottles that need to be recycled — or should we be considering the sale and use of the water inside the bottle and the geo-social-political issues involved in water rights throughout the world? If we recycle used tires and replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs, we may be reducing landfills and emissions, but, what about those who have no access to needed transportation, no electricity in their homes, no access to healthcare or education, who live not in metaphoric “dumps”, but real ones, dumps filled with our disposed goods and packaging, our thrown away food, rodents and other vermin, and disease?

In his last speech, “I See the Promised Land”, Rev Martin Luther King preached:

It’s alright to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It’s alright to talk about “streets flowing with mild and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s alright to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher much talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.”

We can extend Rev King’s words to our world today. What we have to do is take actions so that there can be a new Kibera where 1 million people will not live in 630 acres, or a new Guatemala City where over 2500 families will not need to live and work in the city dump, or other new places around the globe to replace existing slums and favelas.

Green actions are a good idea; the consequences and impact of those actions are social justice — eco-justice.

6 Comments so far
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Thank you so much for highlighting the “justice” part of this ecojustice challenge.

Yesterday I picked up a book at the local college library called Blessed Unrest which I plan to review for this challenge. It is precisely on this topic, laying out horrible and widespread instances of poverty that get glossed over in our virtuousness over recycling and changing light bulbs. I do not berate such efforts; they are important. And I am one who believes every little drop in the bucket matters. But it does sometimes seem like we are swatting flies away from a carcass that is full of maggots. (I know that sounds gross–but I’m going with your unpleasant dump image.) In other words, there is something much worse festering that needs to be addressed. Thank you for laying some of it out for us.

According to the first few paragraphs of Blessed Unrest, something approaching a critical mass of people and organizations all over the globe are becoming involved in eco-justice issues and activism. The book documents some of the worst situations as well as some successes. It seems hopeful about the prospects of solving some of these problems at the same time that it is hard hitting in its indictments.

Anyway, great post! TJ

Comment by toujoursjacques

Cam, great post. We do tend to forget the justice part of the equation, maybe because it seems so big and harder to do something about. Food prices are already going up and fresh water is going to be harder to come by and it will be the poor who suffer first and most.

Comment by Stefanie

TJ — I’m looking forward to your review of Blessed Unrest.

Stefanie — I know from your blog that you are vegan. I’d love it if you’d be willing to write a post here about being a vegan and how it impacts or influences choices you make as a consumer and the environment.

Comment by Cam

Cam, thanks for the idea. I will have to do that.

Comment by Stefanie

Cam, thanks for the idea. I will have to do that.

Comment by Stefanie

Thanks so much for this, Cam. What I love about the ecojustice mindset is that it takes the environmental movement away from something that is merely a “hobby” for affluent people and points out that taking care of the earth is a concern for all.

Comment by Emily

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