Category Archives: Latin American Culture

As We Destroy the World, the Rich Will Survive (A Little Longer)

The consequences of climate change and the poisons that have caused it will hurt us more than it does them.  That’s right. The elusive them. The ubiquitous they.  But this is not a conspiracy theory.  There is no plotting going on and there is no evil plan.  It is much worse than that.  There is no plan at all!  And they are all plotting against one another, as well as us lowly peons.

BP, Monsanto, Big Banking, Wall Street, and all the usual suspects are not in this together.  Any of them would cheat any of the others as easily as they rape the earth.  They are all going in separate directions with absolutely no plans that include any realities.  Their plans are based on imaginary fiscal calendars and the capitalist concept of profit.

And in an alternate reality, scientists, universities, United Nations groups, and others create reports, studies, and recommendations to prevent or mitigate some of the problems being caused.  The fantasy of this reality is that anyone in these companies care.  The idea that the politicians or capitalists will pay any attention to these predictions and solutions is puppy dog naïve and fairytale optimistic.  And most of our politicians don’t want to know: they choose to remain in a state of willful blindness.  Corporations pay better than smart people.

And many of these studies commit a common fallacy that some areas will be better off while others decline.  The climate may improve temporarily in some locales, but there will be many woes befall the people who happen to be living on farmable land or have clean water when the U.S.A. loses its farm and grazing lands and has depleted and poisoned its water sources.  Between the capitalists and the imperialists, these areas will become unlivable very quickly.

The earth has enough resources for as far into the future as any fiscal calendar can see.  And these resources can be turned into profit with a little digging, drilling, scraping, fracking, pumping, damming, and poisoning, fertilizing, and even modifying the very genetics of living things.  And they will keep what they make and we will share what they destroy.  The poor will lose in any crisis, while the richest and most powerful will buy ways to survive longer and even profit from the crises they create.

Therefore, I contend that the crises predicted in these studies will happen and that most of the solutions or programs that may mitigate some of these disasters will never be implemented.  For over 250 years the peoples of the earth have increasingly embraced the capitalistic economic theories that are based on continual, exponential growth and expansion.  It becomes more apparent everyday that if we continue this, we will kill ourselves and most other animals on the planet.  And, yes, the poor will be the first to suffer, but no one will be immune.  We may go first, but we won’t go alone.

I have included two of these reports as representative examples.  Both explain estimated levels of crises and  have provided some very sound means of planning for and mitigating some of these problems.

Linkages between population dynamics, urbanization processes and disaster risks: a regional vision of Latin America UNFPA, UNISDR, and UN HABITAT (2012)

Reducing Poverty, Protecting Livelihoods, and Building Assets in a Changing Climate: Social Implications of Climate Change for Latin America and the Caribbean  Dorte Verner, World Bank (2010)


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Hope for the Future of Democracy in Latin America

Despite problems in the current political and civil structures, and the lack of faith in the systems of democracy by many of the people of Latin America, both the increasing population of young people and their growing ability and willingness to participate give reason for hope.

Young people are increasingly gaining knowledge of the world’s problems through improved access to information due, in general, to the internet and, specifically, to social media.  Social media will become even more important with time and evolution.  Social media levels the playing field so that anyone can have a voice without paying the high cost of entry into the commercial media arena, now only available to governments, politicians, and their supporters.  Social media allows any voice to be heard and offers a platform for the free exchange of ideas, both local and worldwide.  No longer can the media be contained and controlled by just a handful of players.  Improved information access, along with movements to include crowdsource voting on issues as well as representatives will put government more into the hands of the people.  Young people have always been the hope of the future but never has information and communications been as available to the world as it is today.  As young people move into and persist in politics, old ideas must give way to broader worldviews and new ideas.  Perpetual conflict is not compatible with perpetual survival.

Democracy is increasingly becoming accepted as a universal value around the world as well as in Latin America.  Democracy is the most common form of government in the world today with most of the world’s population living in a democratic political system.  Democracy has expanded from one third of the world having democratic systems in 1973 to almost two thirds (121 democracies) in 2006.  In this same period, Latin America went from a few democratic governments, many of them unstable, to an almost universal acceptance.  Only Cuba rejects the model of electoral democracy.  And more of the world is beginning to recognize the importance of universal suffrage, access to education, employment, and healthcare as fundamental rights.  This will encourage acceptance and help to insure the stability of democracy.  The increased access to information and the exchange of ideas can only help to spread these views.

Unfortunately, the question of democracy as well as the solutions to a host of other very complex world problems falls to our children.  The youth of today also face complex world problems whose solutions will affect the very fate of mankind.  They can and must work together to solve these problems or their children will face a very bleak future.

We are leaving them with centuries of philosophical, sociological, and scientific knowledge to draw from and almost 300 years, since the dawn of the industrial revolution, of examples of how not to run a world.  We also leave them a myriad of technologies that just a few decades ago we could not even imagine.  Our love of the bright and shiny, coupled with the profit motive, may have blinded us to some of the possibilities that these technologies may do for the greater good.  We do not appear to have accumulated the wisdom to properly control these technologies.

Given all that is available to the youth of the world and the increasingly dire need for solutions to the world’s problems, we must not only believe in the youth of the coming generations; we must use all available means to help them on their way.  This means universal education, nutrition, and health care, as well as global communications.  Higher education, as well as elementary, must be equally available to all; and not only education in math and sciences, but also in the social sciences, philosophy, ethics, world history, and government.

Given the legacy of history we are leaving behind, with both the good and bad examples, and the range of technologies available, all that is lacking is the education, nutrition, and health care.  These issues belong to us.  If we adequately provide our youth with these basic needs, we have no reason not to be optimistic about the future of democracy or the future of humanity.

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Human Race Unlikely to Survive the Culture of Development and Modernity

Indigenous cultures cannot be incorporated into the processes of development and modernity without losing their cultural identity. The concepts of development and modernity are contrary to the beliefs and cultures of most of the indigenous peoples of the world. Most indigenous peoples share some form of the belief of the “Earth Mother” or at least a deep respect for the health and perpetuation of their biosphere. Completely contrary to these beliefs, the basic principles of development and modernity are based on the “harvesting” of finite resources for sustaining perpetual growth and profits. The human race is unlikely to survive the culture of development and modernity. Before considering if the cultures can adapt to modern practices, there should be some evidence that this is a desirable outcome.

Evidence continues to accumulate that current theories of the economics of development and modernity are based on false assumptions. The resources of the earth are finite. Most indigenous peoples of the Americas realized this. Millions of people were living in the Americas and had been for thousands of years at the time of Columbus’ arrival. These were advanced civilizations that had sustainable communities with methods of harvesting natural resources that conformed to the laws of nature. And the concept of development needs to be examined also. Development can be seen as developing an environment that will continue to prosper and produce resources or the development of mines, factories, and farms to more efficiently deplete the resources and environment.
I contend that the indigenous cultures were the most advanced, and that everything possible should be done to save and support them. It may be our only hope of survival. The Europeans came looking for new resources because of the environmental destruction they had caused on their own continent. Further evidence of this destructive way of thinking has also been made manifest in the Americas, Africa, Asia, The Philippines, both poles, in the sea, and in the atmosphere.

In conclusion, it seems that if the premise of the question is accepted, of course those cultures will be changed. All cultures change as they come into contact with other ideas and cultures. The modern world has not stopped to reflect on where it is heading for over two hundred fifty years now. It is the culture of development and modernity that needs to change and adopt more of the indigenous beliefs.

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