A few months ago, my school deemed April 2009 “Ohio Earth Month” (because, obviously, Earth Day just isn’t enough). Ever since, I’ve been waiting for the sociology department to speak up about how Western environmentalists oppress Third World people in the interest of Saving The Planet.
It’s not an unreasonable expectation. Plenty of my professors believe that all academic subjects should be taught through the prism of racial and economic injustice, with Americans and Europeans as villains and Third World inhabitants as victims. Last year, when a columnist for our student newspaper wrote a satirical column comparing illegal immigrants to party crashers, the paper was flooded with gasbag letters whining about “colonial oppression.” Therefore, it seems Earth Month is the perfect time to confront the West’s burgeoning eco-imperialism.
Take, for example, the use of the chemical DDT. Environmentalists in the West congratulate themselves for nearly ridding the Earth of DDT, but the people of South America, Asia and Africa are not celebrating. They need DDT to ward off malaria, a mosquito-borne infection that thrives in tropical climates and is often lethal.
Thanks to Westerners’ fear of all things inorganic—and Rachel Carson’s scare-mongering book “Silent Spring”—one million inhabitants of third-world countries die of malaria every year. Although studies show that DDT has no harmful effects on humans, environmentalists have pressured Western governments to ban imports from countries that use the chemical for disease control. Under threat of trade sanctions from the West, African nations have been forced to use less effective and more expensive methods to fight the malaria epidemic, such as mosquito-repellent bed nets—even though many Africans don’t own beds.
“I lost my son, two sisters and two nephews to malaria,” Ugandan businesswoman Fiona Kobusingye told reporters in 2007. “Don’t talk to me about birds. And don’t tell me a little DDT in our bodies is worse than the risk of losing more children to this disease. African mothers would be overjoyed if that were their biggest worry.”
Last spring, several Third World nations erupted in riots because the people didn’t have enough to eat—the cost of food staples had soared over 80 percent in three years. Among the chief causes? The West’s decision to divert food resources toward the development of Earth-friendly “biofuels.”
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