Potential and Danger of Globalization
Environmental harms generated by mining companies of the global North causes an unequal distribution of power over land in the Shuar and Achuar territories of the Ecuadorian Amazon, or the global South. Race, class and other socio-economic inequalities intersect with environmental issues flawlessly in this region. It has long been known that low-income families of people of races other than Caucasian suffer a great deal more from disheartening environmental loss factors (Faber 237). This is highlighted when we examine mining practices, since it seems that with the introduction of mining and the extraction of other natural resources, along with the acceleration of a global economy the degradation upon humans and the ecological system has worsened. In this current global market, we see a trend towards trading environmental regulatory practices for cheaper bottom lines causing countless problems up and down the food chain, literally and figuratively.
Only in instances where organizations like the Pachamama Alliance are present, does true positive change for indigenous peoples and the land they preside in have the potentiality of happening. The environment and the way it relates to its inhabitants and all living organisms are one and the same. In other words, we are confronted by a problem that must be addressed as a multifaceted interrelated issue. The earth is one big living breathing organism and we humans, the animals and plants are the cells. We must transform our relationship with the natural world and with the people who have protected it for the generations to come will not be defined by irreversibly serious socio-economic upheaval and tragic environmental collapse.
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How it works
For the purpose of this case study specifically we will demonstrate how nonprofits and NGO’s can affect the future in regions of the Achuar and Shuar so they can actually resist the efforts of mining companies. The vision and purpose of the Pachamama Alliance is to “create a world that works for everyone” involved and present as well as for those beyond the region. This means not only a world that works for the super wealthy mining companies and the other corporations that have taken over, but also for the needs of indigenous cultures that have a birthright to the land they should be stewarding. The idea of human and environmental inequality is addressed directly by the mission of this organization. We must liberate native cultures of the Amazonian rainforest, like the Shuar and Achuar, so we can preserve their land and use insights gained from the region so as to educate and inspire people everywhere to bring forth a fair and morally right experience for everyone. They partner with indigenous people and make other skillful alliances with other non-profit organizations, to affect positive change, not only in Shuar and Achuar territories but also across the globe. Though this organization focuses its efforts on preserving the rainforest in Ecuador, it is modeling something for the planet at large. When the introduction of mining, logging and any other form of depletion of natural resources shows up prominently in a region, we have to pay attention to how it is affecting the locals. If the locals are under duress, we can count on it spreading later to the rest of the world this means for human beings as well as for the ecological hazards. As stated before, the two are intrinsically linked.
A study by Faber (2014) explaining how globalization has also accelerated the exchange of ecological hazards amongst nations also directly addresses notion. Power is distributed unevenly when affluent countries have environmental laws that are stricter and therefore export environmental hazards to countries where environmental laws are weaker. The poorer countries are usually limited in their ability to assess and manage risk hazards. Global corporations are damaging everyone’s health right alongside environments all over the world. It is only through giving power to these organizations and through creating a lot more social governance over trade, taxes, lending and regulation can we succeed in dealing with these problems while still allowing for competition in the world economy (Faber 237).
While neglecting the political, economic, and demographic histories of indigenous peoples, the explanations of corporations fails to explain in full the conflicts that have emerged in these regions. When new proposals, in mining for instance, or any other natural resource appear in South America (Rudel 2018). Somehow, in this process indigenous people get trapped in survival mode with the introduction of globalization and corporatization. The sad conundrum is that they were not just surviving but thriving before foreign entities entered their territories. The supposedly “poor” countries of the global South become all to ready to trade environmental protection for economic growth in schemes to gain access to natural resources such as oil fields, forests, lands and mining deposits witnessed in the marketing of more profitable but also dangerous foods, drugs, pesticides, technologies and capital goods. This also includes dumping of toxic wastes, pollution, trash and other types of “anti-wealth” created by global North (Faber 239). Delusional, greedy multinational corporations can wipe out entire tribes or impoverish them in their efforts to gain capital and without much thought to environmental degradation. This inequality is demonstrated perfectly in the instance of the Shuar and Achuar tribes.
Barry and Meinzen-Dick (2014) describes the transfer of over 250 hectares of forest from governments to indigenous groups during the last two decades of the twentieth century. “More large-scale, government-supported mines interestingly means more populous but increasingly impoverished indigenous groups living in the immediate environs of the mines suggesting an increase in number of adversarial encounters among and between indigenous peoples, government officials, and highly capitalized mining companies” Barry and Meinzen-Dick (2014). More recent research, as opposed to the earlier accounts by nineteenth and twentieth century invaders, where they were largely ignored, demonstrates the continued conflicts between mining companies and natives (Rudel 2018).
In addition, when we examine that the insistence for mining over the last forty years (Wunder 2003) has increased while politicians have been highly supportive of this industry in the name of increased “progress” of the so called “civilized” world, we see how the problem has worsened. In truth, humanity has enough resources and knowledge to date to reverse these trends. However, we are missing a sense of the direness of the situation as well as the majority of the population needing to take heed and the political will to galvanize the troops.
Social inequalities are at the taproot of our ecological crises. Race, class and social injustices are the most critical factors for compiling information and assessing long-term environmental sustainability. We are an interdependent global society and therefore an interdependent ecosystem. A closer look at the violence existing amongst human groups also shows parallels of that same brutality against the systems in ecology. The movements that address human rights similarly address the violence visited upon our ecological system “because the domination over people is reinforced and made possible by the domination of ecosystems” (Pellow 377 -78).Unconsciously created social and environmental systems that promote oppression and inequality in our global culture directly opposes a thriving and sustainable world like the one the Pachamama Alliance would like to create. They believe “we are accountable to—and stand in solidarity with—those whose access to material resources and free self-expression is limited by unjust systems of power and privilege” (Pellow 378).
Over the last one hundred years, indigenous peoples in the Amazon basin have experienced unrelenting invasions and this has led to two types of legacies: the non-governmental agencies or non-profits, such as the Pachamama Alliance, who are committed to defending the region and its peoples and the securement of previously discussed large plots of land (Rudel 2018). The biodiversity as well as the creative measures taken by indigenous people kept invaders out of the Ecuadorian Amazon for a long time. And the conflicts between indigenous peoples and the invasive tendencies of corporations with agendas shows us the disregard for human life and life in general made on the part of the large corporations.
“The rugged topography of the Andean foothills dominates the landscape of the Amazon basin in Southeastern Ecuador. The region, sometimes referred to as the Oriente, receives copious amounts of rain, as much as 4000 mm per year in some parts of the region. It also contains a very biodiverse flora” (Rudel 2018). Rising to nearly 9000 ft, the Condor and Kutuucu ranges, along with the rapidly running, eastward flowing rivers, make transportation difficult. Well into the twentieth century these impediments to travel slowed down population growth and economic expansion in the region. Only a small population of the Shuar and associated missionary groups resided in a region the size of New Jersey. The earliest census of the Shuar, in 1950, admittedly incomplete, reported only 4137 Shuar speakers (Jokisch and McSweeny 2011).
Despite their small numbers the Shuar had a fearsome reputation among people from other regions. They had repeatedly resisted incursions by outsiders. They slowed down attempts to mine gold during the sixteenth century, and they resisted conversion to Christianity during the nineteenth century (Rubenstein 2001)” (Rudel 2018). By dramatically changing the way that people see the world and the possibilities they see for themselves and for others is the way of the future and a highly transformative way to create the positive social change that the native people of Ecuador and the rest of this planet so desperately needs. When we begin to see the value that indigenous people offer we are on the right track. For over one hundred years these corporations from the supposed “modern” world have sought to exploit the land in Ecuador for its copper and its irreplaceable ecological and cultural abundance, robbing its inhabitants of their rights. The ongoing onslaught of environmental harms caused by these corporations has caused an unequal distribution of power affecting race, class and all other socio-economic inequalities. With practices like mining and a trend towards fewer environmental regulations in this global economy, we see a terrifying prospect for humankind at large. We must transform the way we interact with the environment so we will not experience the collapse of global environmental and cultural systems.