Thursday, September 16, 2010

A little hope...or not

Just wanted to share a response to one of the posts in my course to prove that there may be hope, after all:

This sort of approach to the issue was a viable one a century ago when human populations were not the size they are now, but in a modern setting, I cannot see how a lack of concern over these issues is a defensible position.

Here is an example of how deforestation could possibly affect you: a forest is cut down in Nigeria and desertification begins. Food and water become scarce in the region, and the populace eventually falls under the control of regional petty dictators who can easily impose their will on the starving people. This might not seem a pressing issue until you consider that this region also produces a sizable quantity of oil for the global market. Now we see a situation where American corporate interests are imperiled by regional instability brought on (at its core) by desertification caused by cutting down of forests. With the oil supplies jeopardized, the US is forced to take military action, sending troops and equipment to yet another far-flung corner of the globe and further escalating the runaway military spending which is proving so damaging to our nation's economy. Government services become less available due to the diversion of resources, causing cutbacks in highway maintenance. A snowstorm causes buckling in part of the interstate and a pothole forms along a route you typically travel. One day, you're traveling that stretch of road and hit the pothole rather than change lanes and crash into the car beside you, thus causing you to blow out a tire. You find yourself stranded on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck, needing a tire, and unavoidably delayed in whatever plans you'd had for that day.

Yes, this is taken to ridiculous personal extremes for the sake of illustration, but the point is that deforestation has broader and more far-reaching effects than the immediate local concerns. And, more to the point, those effects extend far into the future. Our great-great-great-grandparents thought their actions could never affect whole populations of animals or the climate of an entire planet. Now, long after the industrial boom of the late nineteenth century, we see that they were wrong. Do you want your descendants of a hundred and fifty years from now (if there are any) to view our actions in the same light?

And then the response:

I think you have a good point. But now that I read the article I realize how bad it has become. Despite this, it doesn't have a direct affect on me so I can't really find a way to care.

Sigh. There is a lot of work to be done here. On the bright side, only two out of about 14 were this flippant about deforestation and the environment. I guess we just need to hope that those that care or at least bother to think continue to outnumber those that don't.


Debi said...

I might disagree with this person about whether deforestation and all its consequences affect them personally, but that's not even what really hit me. What hit me most about that comment is that it seems like a very sad life indeed if one can't care about *anything* that doesn't directly affect them. :(

kreed said...

Debi - I am with you. I was just floored by that comment. I have formed a dozen responses in my mind and can't even begin to find the right one. It seems almost futile to respond to someone that would write something like that. I have spent a lot of time thinking (and despairing) about it over the last couple of days.

Amanda said...

The political scientist in me is offended as well. Does this student ever care enough to vote in any election? If s/he can't make his/her mind work to see the bigger picture of the whole world, how can s/he expect to get any sort of degree?