I sat through an interesting presentation made by a colleague at an environment and livelihoods workshop last week. Her presentation focused on the harmful effect of corporate led humanitarian action. Her view was that the environmental and humanitarian sectors have been high jacked by companies who have business motives. These companies play around with buzz words like going green, green technology, carbon footprint etc to hype up their products and turn a profit. She reiterated how unfortunate this development is. The commercialization of the environment and livelihoods sector will see the collapse of honest humanitarian work she insisted. She concluded that issues regarding the environment and people’s livelihoods should be led by ordinary people as opposed to corporates.
While I may not be entirely of the same opinion, I am strongly in support of community/people led environmental action. I believe that all people have the inherent ability to do good for others and for themselves by default. However, while most people may want to play a part in ensuring that our planet continues to sustain life for our generation and generations to come, our biggest challenge is the lack of a clear appreciation of what needs to be done and how. Furthermore, we may not have the financial resources necessary, hence the continued involvement of the corporate world in the environmental, livelihoods and humanitarian sectors. I have nothing against companies making a profit (profit is why companies are set up anyway) while contributing to the health of the planet and the improvement of people’s lives. They simply need to find better ways of striking a balance between profit and the planet’s well being.
Despite financial challenges, I am convinced that a lack of money does not excuse us from taking action against the widespread human induced damage to our planet and threat to the lives of people especially the poor. I will demonstrate how ordinary people can take a lead in “saving our planet” despite a lack of disposable income in forthcoming posts. Currently, I would like to shed more light on where our planet’s vulnerability to our actions lie so as to improve our understanding of what threats the planet is under and what we can do to tackle the matter.
Our land on the other hand is just as important. The land is where life comes from. Plants and animals which are all necessary for our survival live and grow on the land. The majority of people in low income countries (where most of the world’s poor are found) depend almost entirely on the land to produce food. In Zimbabwe, 70% of the population is estimated to make a living directly or indirectly from the land. For those who work in the manufacturing industry, the majority of our products use plants or crops grown from the land as raw material. Entire economies are sustained by the land. Therefore, we all draw our livelihoods one way or the other from the land
Water is an indispensible component of our lives. For starters, for the normal day to day functioning of our bodies, we need water. No human being can survive for more than 12 days without water. The crops that we grow for food would also not survive without water. Our economies also depend on water. Water is life, every drop counts.
The air, land and the water form an interlocked system which works collectively to sustain all forms of life on the planet. If any significant changes or alterations are made to this system, it affects life on earth as well. For example, the release of a variety of gases into the atmosphere through burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal etc) in industries or day to day energy generation alters the composition of our air and the system. These gases stay in the atmosphere for long periods in so doing accumulating over time. This increases the atmosphere’s ability to trap warmth released by the earth thereby escalating the greenhouse effect and making our planet warmer (global warming). This increased warming has a ripple effect on the rest of the air, land and water system. Climate change is the result of this ripple effect. The climate becomes chaotic and unpredictable resulting in increased incidences of severe weather like droughts, floods and cyclones thereby threatening life on earth. Seasons begin to change. Rainfall begins to vary in terms of quantity and timing thereby making it increasingly difficult to produce enough food for everyone.
This description of where our planet’s vulnerability lies doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of our planet’s defenselessness to our activities. These will be covered in great detail later. However, I hope this improves our appreciation of where the challenges the planet is experiencing lie and open our minds up to discussions into the kind of action we can begin to take to protect and preserve our planet and our lives.
Our indifference will reproduce poverty and underdevelopment. Let’s help improve our planet’s ability to sustain life by restoring the major components of the life supporting system; air, land and water.