Saturday, October 31, 2015

Uneven Development

National Geographic has taken up the cause of confronting climate change and the latest "special" issue is devoted entirely to the subject. This is commendable and probably risky from a profit stand-point. Unfortunately they have partnered with Shell Oil and so their "solutions" are all market based techno-fixes and quite a bit of ink is spilt on mitigation techniques, including geo-engineering. What strikes me right away is the window into the "less-developed" nations that the magazine provides (and always has) , stark evidence that capitalism as a global system is brutally unjust and that uneven development is an intrinsic aspect of its logic. Although much of the rhetoric in the "Special Climate Issue" promotes the familiar "lift-all-boats" developmentalist theory, one can't help but be struck by the disparity, after two hundred years of industrialization and fabulous wealth production in the global North, that still exists in those regions where dark-skinned people live. The grinding poverty and lack of basic human necessities in one sphere and the obscene opulence and waste in the other. And the burden that women in these grim places disproportionally bear. And of course climate change highlights and exacerbates this gross injustice, as those who have done the least to cause the problem, those in the "periphery", suffer the most. And they will continue to feel the brunt, despite National Geographic/ Shell's heartwarming stories of innovation and charity and plucky native resilience and ingenuity. Here in the West, we are able to purchase our salvation with every cup of Starbucks frappacino, knowing a few cents goes to help the "less fortunate". Thank our Lucky Stars! (and the military, and World Bank, and IMF and WTO)

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