Reuters: A rubbish collector carries his baby as he walks amid plastic waste at a garbage dump site in Guiyang, Guizhou province June 3, 2008.
Today is Blog Action Day. Thousands of bloggers have united to discuss a single issue – poverty. The aim is to raise awareness and initiate action.
Honestly, I signed up to participate without giving the topic much thought, and now that I must come up with a blog post on the issue of poverty, I am nearly struck dumb. What can I possibly say about such enormous suffering?
So my contribution will simply be to show some of the plastic pollution all over the world, pollution which ends up in the world’s poorest regions because, like the plastic floating out in the North Pacific Gyre, these regions are to the Global Rich, out of sight and out of mind.
Reuters: A garbage collector transports plastic bags to recycle at a construction site in Xiangfan, Hubei province, March 16, 2008.
Reuters: Boys collects plastic materials as boats dock near a polluted coastline in Manila April 9, 2008.
Reuters: A woman washes plastic products on an algae-filled river in Tianjin municipality, September 13, 2007.
Reuters: A girl searches for plastic waste at a garbage dump site in Thailand’s Ayutthaya province, about 80 km (50 miles) north of Bangkok, May 1, 2007.
And of course, if you haven’t seen the Sky News video of what happens to much of the plastic “recycling” waste we ship to China, now’s a good time:
But these kinds of things aren’t just happening in developing countries. Here in the United States, PVC plants in Louisiana pump out toxic emissions daily to poor communities with some of the highest cancer rates.
I just finished reading Van Jones’s new book, Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, which urges a merging of the environmental and social justice movements. He argues that because the environmental movement for so long has overlooked poor and minority communities, focusing primarily on whales and polar bears, alliances have formed between the polluters and the poor.
What can we do to lift us all up out of this mess we have created for ourselves, both environmentally and economically? It’s a big question and Van Jones has some hopeful answers:
The best answer to our ecological crisis also responds to our socioeconomic crisis. The surest path to safe streets and peaceful communities is not more police and prisons, but ecologically sound economic development. And that same path can lead us to a new, green economy — one with the power to lift people out of poverty while respecting and repairing the environment.
Please read the book. And then let’s work to see that whoever is elected in November take these ideas to heart.