Dec 28, 2007


Excerpts from The last empire

At the other end are the wood suppliers, almost all poor countries with weak or corrupt law enforcement and a flourishing trade in illegal lumber. Among China's leading wood importers, Thailand and the Philippines have already been stripped of their natural forests; Indonesia and Burma are projected to lose theirs within a decade. Papua New Guinea's will succumb within 16 years, and the vast forests of the Russian Far East will survive no more than two decades. Even so, Forest Trends, a Washington-based nonprofit, estimates that China's wood imports will probably double over the next decade. Chinese manufacturers are already developing replacement sources in Africa, and South America's forests are under threat for a different reason: China's growing consumption of pork and chicken is fed by soybeans grown on newly cleared Amazonian land; by one estimate, 30 percent of the jungle could eventually be transformed into soybean fields.
An end to American and European purchases of products made from illegally cut wood—still retailed by such companies as Ikea, Home Depot, and Armstrong (see "Timber Line")—would certainly reduce the destruction of tropical forests, as half the tropical wood that enters China is reexported as finished products. Even so, about 90 percent of all Chinese-manufactured wood products are consumed within China. This is alarming, for per-capita consumption of wood products is still far below that in developed countries, and is likely to grow as the middle class expands. China's per-capita consumption of paper, for example, is now only an eighth of the United States'; if it reaches the American rate, pulp suppliers will have to double the world's current annual timber harvest. As Greenpeace argues in a 2006 report titled "Sharing the Blame," "The world's forests cannot support either the level of consumption of developed countries, or the aspiration of developing countries to attain a similar level.”
Visibility soon dropped close to zero in Beijing and driving was nearly impossible. Satellites tracked the dust as it moved across eastern China, the Yellow Sea, Korea, the Russian coast from Vladivostok to the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Sea of Japan, and Japan itself. In less than a week, it crossed the Pacific Ocean, and produced thick haze as far east as Denver. High concentrations of dust were found as far away as Maine and Georgia and eventually in the Canary Islands off northwest Africa.
The only thing likely to slow this explosive growth is the increasing scarcity of the resources needed to make and fuel cars. As numerous commentators have pointed out, if China's income per capita, now less than a 10th of the United States', ever reached the American level, several Earths would be required to provide resources. "Through all of our engagement with China, the U.S. government has aggressively promoted China's adoption of an American-style, high-consumption, high-waste economic model," says Jim Harkness, president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and former executive director of the World Wildlife Fund in China. "Combine that with the global trading rules [that downplay environmental and labor standards], the tremendous constraints China faces in terms of its need to generate employment, and the fact that they've got all that coal and no oil—and how surprised can we be that we've ended up with an environmental nightmare?"


I want to improve my home.  This has gotten a nightmare when you don't want to harm the Earth, don't want to sustain unethical stores or economies like China. Plus I have no money and we cannot afford these wonderful sustainable and eco-friendly building materials which are just plain luxury in fact.

This article left me with a lot of questions. Most of the facts layed down there I already knew about. But to read the 5 pages, which I engaged you to do, and to see all these facts together, makes me wonder if shopping ethically and going through all the lenght I go through for every purchase is still meaningfull. Of course we have to give the example and try to un-do the awful example we are giving to the rest of the world (we being the Western world). Of course, we have to all do our part. But we also have to stop and think.

Economy and ecology are completely opposed and cannot exist together. Until economy prevails, there will not be a possible ecology.

Economy is the growth for the growth. More money, just for that. It has to keep going. It has to keep growing. Why? For nothing.
Progres ideas proved to be totally utopist.
We have been DOING and DOING and DOING without stopping, and whitout thinking a moment.

Our planet is disappearing under our feet. It is shrinking. The developping countries are cutting the branch they sit on, whitout carring a second the whole world is on the branch too.


Kakariki said...

It does get very frustrating sometimes. I've been on the hunt for economic solutions for a long time now and do find inspiration in feminist, indigenous and ecological economic ideas. However those ideas can be very difficult to translate with the system we have now. It is on such a crash course that it seems hard to intervene in any meaningful way.

But of course the most effective way to change behaviour is via the mantra of tax 'bads' not 'goods'. See Ireland, introduced a plastic bag levy of about 5 cents and reduced plastic bag consumption by 90 percent in 12 months.

On a larger level, tax those that appropriate and exploit our common wealth. Even if it doesn't curb the behaviour, the income generated would be sufficient to remove tax on our labour and pay for the costs to society for the loss of common wealth eg affordable housing, health care.

I recommend you read this book It's especially useful for those living in the empire too.

Stay human


Recycled By Hyena said...

I agree. The taxes can be a good idea but we always are coming back down to the same point: money. Economy.

I think capitalism is dying and something new needs to take its place. I don't agree with the capitalism 3. Nor 10th nor anything else. This is a crappy system and any improvement or "fix" will make it works.

I think the economy as we know it have to and will disappear. Or the earth will. And us with it.

On a side note, I received the fanzine. Looking great except I was a little pissed my website adress was cut out!!

Ang @ Purple Sage Designz Hippie Crafting said...

Maybe not a global solution, but as far as home improvement I practice the recycling method just like I do for sewing. Not always a 100% success since some materials or items need to be purchased new (and at a reasonable price>>>consequently not always environmental friendly), but on a smaller scale reworking and repurposing furniture and fixtures can work. Our budget does not always equal our attitude, but there are ways to work around it with determination, but even though not always satisfying and not changing the BIG PICTURE every little step is a step into the right direction and will make a difference. Happy New Year! Angelika