Posts Tagged ‘environmental issues’

Unhappy Earth Day, Mom

April 21, 2013

Since the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, there has been precious little progress toward creating a greener planet. Mounting instances of severe weather across the globe underscore the importance confronting climate change and its causes.

But efforts to limit environmental damage have disappointed this true believer again and again and again.

There’s plenty of blame to distribute for this futility now in its fifth decade, including industry, government and consumers. But I reserve special scorn for environmental advocacy organization that have repeatedly proven themselves no friends of the earth. As I wrote in Asia Times in 2009:

Environmental groups are most skilled at failure. Mother Earth faces the same issues it did when the first Earth Day was declared in 1970. The biggest development over these decades is that we’ve discovered in global warming a deadly new effect of the unabated pollution and profligacy that these groups so ineffectually opposed over all these decades.

For most environmental NGOs, “corporation” remains a dirty word, as do “America” and “wealth”. Deeply confident of their own righteousness, they reject compromise with friends and foes as scornful deception. They simply expect developed countries to accede to demands, not negotiate.

To borrow a phrase from the 1970s, environmental groups have to decide if they want to be part of the solution or remain part of the problem.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

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Asians can’t have it all

May 22, 2011

Asian environmentalism pioneer Chandran Nair says Western consumerism in the developing East will spark irreversible climate impacts. His new book Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet warns Asians that they’ll have to settle for less. That’s a silver bullet into the heart of notion of global economic rebalancing, which says Asians need to consume more Western exports to ensure long term growth and stability.

My review of Consumptionomics applauds Nair for adding some welcome common sense to the climate change debate, savaging silly ideas on all sides. He derides the notion that markets can deal with environmental destruction largely caused by market failure. As the founder of corporate environmental consultant ERM, Nair is well placed to debunk this argument against government action to regulate resource exploitation.

Nair also gores a sacred cow of the environmental movement and the UN known as climate justice – developing countries must have the same right to pollute as the developed countries had. That’s sounds fair but it’s deadly for the planet, my Asia Times book review notes.

The solutions proposed in Consumptionomics may not live up to these standards, perhaps proving that no book can have it all, either. But Nair is a voice of reason in a discussion that lacks them.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.


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