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Development agencies, as noted, do not place the blame for environmental degradation on the desires of the affluent; rather the poor are blamed for 248 CHAPTER SEVEN seeking their basic needs. This is seen as a hypocritic flaw in the managerial
position. Anthropologist Arturo Escobar comments:
Over the years, ecosystems analysts have discovered the “degrading” activities
of the poor but seldom recognized that the problems are rooted in development processes that displaced indigenous communities, disrupted peoples’
habitats and occupations, and forced many rural societies to increase pressure
on the environment. Although in the seventies ecologists saw that the problem was economic growth and uncontrolled industrialization, in the eighties
many of them came to perceive poverty as a problem of great ecological
signiﬁcance. The poor are now admonished for their “irrationality” and their
lack of environmental consciousness. Popular and scholarly texts alike are
populated with representations of dark and poor peasant masses destroying
forests and mountainsides with axes and machetes, thus shifting visibility and
blame away from the large industrial polluters in the North and South and
from the predatory way of life fostered by capitalism and development to
poor peasant and “backward” practices such as swidden agriculture.104
Many of the sustainable development strategies proposed by the MDCs,
such as land conservation, focus on environmental problems in the LDCs, and
the solutions stress what the LDCs should do. This shifts the blame for environmental destruction away from the unsustainable economic development
that took place in the MDCs during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
toward the LDC’s strategies for present and future economic growth. This
shift of blame masks the related issue of equity, which is at the center of the
debates surrounding international efforts to attain sustainable development.
The MDC’s understanding of sustainable development stresses intergenerational equity (for future generations),...
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This note was uploaded on 10/25/2010 for the course SOSCI INBA6610 taught by Professor Prescott during the Fall '08 term at University of the West Indies at St. Augustine.
- Fall '08
- The Land