Posts Tagged ‘money’

May 14, 2011

Dear Malthus

Yeah, but if I’m hungry

You were right: the world population expands faster than food production. Although Western population growth has slowed down because we have a higher prosperity level, theThird Worldsuffers from an unrestrained increase in population amounts. For decades, farming land and cattle ranching have been taking over nature landscape. To supply six billion people with food, everything is produced at large extent, with monoculture, aided with fertilizer and factory farms. Still people are starving while, according to recent figures, food production is high enough to supply twelve billion people.

I guess you did already know that poverty in developing countries maintains the people surplus and food shortage. It is probably new to you that food-scarcity is a matter of equal sharing. In theThird Worldthey lack everything: job opportunities, food, a solid position in world economy, money. Here in the West we have plenty of everything and I think that we can feed the one hundred thousand people dying of hunger every day with all the food we throw away.

Beside that, since your time income differences between the West and theThird Worldhave increased and several economic activities maintain these differences. Here in the West governments subsidize farmers because they are going through economically uncertain times. The production surplus that originates from the subsidizing is sold – for usurious prices – in African countries, which economically harms the farmers there.

Yet the local farmers try to survive and this causes the unsustainably use of water and soil in developing countries: each year tropical rain forest areas as large asEnglandare cleared for agriculture. Production per hectare is enlarged by not leaving any land as fallows and increasing cattle density on meadows.

Half way the previous century, Garret Hardin noticed that biodiversity, water quality, soil fertility, production per hectare and ecosystem value drastically decline because of humans collectively using these natural resources too intensively; current environmentalists say exactly the same. What can we do? Nature is so valuable, we cannot just mess her up. Did you know that biodiversity in tropical rain forests is so huge that every step you take you can encounter a new species? Still the rain forest in South-America disappears to give place to soy, which is used to feed the European cattle. (And processed in countless food and care products.) Mangrove forests are cleared because of the high instrumental value of the timber and the areas themselves are tainted due to shrimp farms, while the forests as an ecosystem are much more valuable. Hoe can we prevent the species richness of thousands of years of development to be spoiled?

At this very moment multiple Western organizations are struggling against poverty and for sustainable technologies. I think education is a good way of giving help. We can provide sexual education to put a brake on the geometrical population growth and teach locals how to use water and soil sustainably. It is a bit like raising appreciation for nature.

Okay, I can hear your thinking: how sustainably would we live if we were hungry? A rhetorical question. Malthus, they die because we flourish. Here in the West we spend a lot of attention to sustainable technologies, nature conservation and even nature development, because we are rich enough to spend our money on that. People and nature in developing countries are the victims of the neoliberal character of our global economy. Poverty does not lead to nature degradation, as long as people live harmonically. The world-wide market is just so non-transparent that we in the West are simply not aware that our consumption pattern is destroying nature in developing countries. We do not see who or what is paying for our prosperity. It is just hypocrisy that we spend so much money on developing projects while we are indirectly responsible for the damage.

I write to you because I cannot solve this problem on my own. At least, I only know some useless suggestions. Perhaps we should discard capitalism and become communists. Then there won’t be any distinctions between poor and rich and will farmers in contemporary developing countries no longer be forced to destroy nature in order to maintain their families. Or perhaps we can use gene technology to turn off the gene that determines our avarice. Then we can be satisfied with all that nature offers without trespassing her carrying capacity.

Malthus, I write especially to you because I think you made a step towards the right direction. In your essay from 1798 you used insights from economy and biology to describe why the human population crosses the carrying capacity of nature. This problem has become a global issue now and has led to a poor state of nature preservation in developing countries.

I think it is time to build bridges between different scientific disciplines to solve this kind of social problems. We have to share knowledge with each other, because in this complex world, solo insights are not sufficient anymore. By hearing a word such as ‘free market mechanism’, biologists stay awfully quiet, and when economists are confronted with the nutrient cycles, at night they are having troubles falling asleep.

Malthus, I would like to ask you if you would like to employ your multiple disciplinary qualities in an interdisciplinary research team to come up with solutions for sustainable solutions to nature conservation in the Third World. Within this collaboration the theme ‘Yeah, but if I’m hungry’ will take a central stage, by which focus will be on both food scarcity in developing countries and Western consumption appetite. Maybe you can get in touch with Garrett Hardin, or Arjun Appadurai? Can I count on you? Because it would be a dreadful thing if our exquisite nature will be lost.

Kind regards,


Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie van dit essay.

Read Full Post »

Christina Bay sometimes has difficulties to comprehend everything: the religous, the atheistic and the in-between people; the money-devoted nature-haters and the trying-to-live-sustainable green-lovers; the creationism supporters and the theory of evolution fans; the modernists, the post-modernists and the people who appear to be both; the materialistic fashion diva’s, the cheap-buying easy-to-wear-cloths girls and the alternative cloting girls not buying anything made by young children; the I`d-die-for-some-meat losers and the always-having-a-cold vegetarians; the food distrubtion problem and (non-existent) the agricultural land shortage; the cutting of rain forest for soy and the European countries importing soy; children in developing countries dying of polluted water and people giving medicines to heal them but not cleaning the water; the short-sight future vision people trying to enhance current life and the long-term future vision people trying to develop a sustainable society; the people giving to charity in order to try to enhance life for people in developing countries but not realising the social, economic and environmental implications of more people surviving with still not enough food; the people refusing to donate because in their opinion people in developing countries are lazy and not worthwile donating for and the people trying to explain the causal relations in poverty, market economics and environmental degradation but failing to make clear what is really going on; people getting angry when told the western wealth is more destructive to Earth than slash-and-burn practises in developing countries; people knowing the facts and being able to consider everything but still not see any solution and people still believing God will either save the world or bring an end to life on Earth…

No matter how I put it, the world stays a mosaic of different opinions. And I am so afraid the trying-to-live-sustainable green-lover and the long-term future vision people trying to develop a sustainable society will lose in the end 😦

Read Full Post »

I have just watched “Lady in the Water”. My mind wanders, touching all those thoughts I have once passed and considering new insights. The interconnectedness fascinates; is it not only our physical dependence but also a spiritual one? All stories have limitations, all explanations lack a crucial argument to elucidate the one question man wants to answer since we have grown intellect: where does everything start? But is there a beginning? What if all is a cirkel? Without any start or finish?

My mind wanders and is worrying about money. It is a dreadful thing to do, having concerns about money but as they say our climate is warming up, summer is pretty cold and robbing me from my opportunity to work and earn money. But, moreover, worrying about the environment is much more relevant, although that brings me to having to make another choice: what will I do after I obtained my BSc? It all passed (through) me in the blink of an eye, and somehow I would like someone to give me a blink of an eye, just to ensure me I am not the only one considering, pondering and worrying.

Now I still have to finish my story, and I am pretty sure I will name it “Puzzle Pieces”. Mysterious title, I hope people will get attracted to it and appreciate the little blinks of an eye I give to the system we humans created, the system we live in, we live to, we live by…

It is all rules on paper, oral agreements, unwritten laws: easily swept away by the laws of nature. But no matter how weak these rules, agreements and laws may seem to an approaching hurricane, they decide how we live our lifes, how we influence the life of others: the interconnectedness. Because we humans are also a product of the evolution and connected to nature. So it is no use trying to cut our bond with nature and claim the earth and the universe for ourselves. We come up with new paper rules, newly decisive utterances and common ethics, but the only thing we should care about is how much we can take without being greedy and how much we can give without becoming empty.

“Puzzle Pieces” has the potential to change something. I hope people see how useless our actions are as long as we humans do not realize we fool ourselves by fighting wars on battlefields, hating each other for skin colour or thinking “our” way is the best way. Most people are never satisfied: they always want more power, money, land, clothes, jewelry… In stead of bothering ourselves with such things, I think it is good to leave something good of yourself behind, for life is over within the blink of an eye. Like an act of convincing people that war, hate and dirty politics will not make things better “in the end”; like an act of reminding everyone of being kind to each other; or cowardly writing critics on this persistent system. But it is a start.

Read Full Post »

The words have been carved into

the hearts of many serving souls

The boreal forest threatened by

the deadly killing iron saws

They expected blessed salvation

and found themselves fooled by, please

don’t say it’s given promised while

the mighty rich are making up

Humming melody drifts to them

disturbed fractioned, close to death

Soft sweeping roots, they dig

and dig again to hide from them

It is no use, those empty words

the twitters squeaks the muted yell

For long timber wasn’t deal 0 1

but now the woods are serving us

Read Full Post »

You have those people, you have those days, you have those weeks… The past week was such a week. Sucks a week.

It started on Sunday with a concert given by me (on the piano) and a friend who plays the violin. The night before the concert I hardly slept because I felt so nervous, but on the moment supreme all my nervosa was gone. It went very well and our extremely small audience looked satisfied, but in the end the nice woman who organized our concert didn’t pay us our money. I promised myself to send the lady an email and ask her whether she’d forgotten to pay me and my friend.

Next day I had my 25th drivers lesson. I think I can drive well enough to finally begin my in-between test, but my instructor still doesn’t mention the subject. And I once came up with the idea to get my driver’s license before the X-mas days… However, that afternoon I had to do the first test of biodiversity. O, I cursed myself for not learning those stupid bacteria’s! The temperature of my mood dropped below zero, but I managed to finish the test with a reasonable answer to every question. When I came home, I found an email of the nice lady in my inbox. She had just forgotten to give the money and whether I was able to come and pick it up. I was. So I arranged an appointment for next Wednesday.

Tuesday was quite a normal day. In the morning I started with the first classes about the animal kingdom and in the afternoon I had to draw Paramecia and some other protists. At 19.30 my brother, who plays the accordion, gave a X-mas concert together with the ensemble and a few other instrumental ensembles. I enjoyed the music, but my parents thought it would be wise to go home, because my brother had to get up early the next morning. So we went home and I missed the Saxoholics.

On Wednesday I first went to pick up the money. Then I raced to the church to play piano. The time between playing the piano and going to my work I spent with doing unnecessary shit on the computer, just because I could not force myself to read another chapter of the Climate Change book. In the end, I produced around 20 measures of a new composition, but I felt really guilty for not doing my homework. At 14.30 I prepared for going to my work. Despite of all the social contacts, the new knowledge and the rush of being a student, my work still formed the part of my life I most enjoyed. Can’t tell why. I just like being around for those pupils, testing and teaching them. Halfway the afternoon I felt a headache coming up. Even though a few funny things happened, I was happy to go home after this sever day. In the evening I took my piano lessons and with even more drums beating behind my eyes I read the instructions for the practical lesson of next morning…

Thursday morning I knew it for sure: I was having my period. I could cry, or even die, or just disappear, because, oh the pain in my stomach and other places I’d rather not mention here… I was counting the minutes that separated me from going away. In the morning I had to draw jellyfishes and name all their attributes, but I was going through a hell, sitting on an uncomfortable chair and feeling pretty unwell. I told one of my classmates I wouldn’t be there with the hearing class that afternoon. At 12.30 I went to the station. But I didn’t go home. My diary told me I had an appointment with my old Dutch teacher. She lives in the same town the university is located, but all I could think about was my warm, soft bed. Eventually, she received me very warmly and we drank tea, chatted about school, babies and poetry and I felt better. The main reason I visited her, was because she was going to help me publishing my book. Her husband had very good connections in the publishing business and she herself was at the moment working as an education-material-enhancer, or how I’m supposed to call such a job… It meant she worked for a publisher. When I left, we agreed she would take me to some sort of market where all publishers in Holland were going to present themselves. She got me a free ticket for the event and promised me she would ‘sell me’ as good as she could. God, love that woman! But, I wouldn’t mention this nice occurrence in my life, if there wasn’t something going wrong. Well, I missed the train. Took the bus to the central station. And missed my train again. So, when I was nearly home, my dad called me on my cell why it was taking so long. The headache was coming up again and after dinner I had 10 minutes spare time before I had to babysit. You have to imagine me, tired, tired, tired, but I still had to live for one half an hour. The parents of the child were only gone for 15 minutes, and when they returned I was reading a magazine and didn’t prepare to leave. After another 15 minutes I realised I had nothing to do there anymore, apologized and went home.

The next day, Friday December 12th, was a less normal day then Tuesday, but not so horrible as Thursday. All day long was about Climate Change, but as you may have noticed, I didn’t read the lecture for today. Hmm. After the hearing class I and a few of my classmates had to answer four questions about cloudiness and the relationship with temperature and radiation. Not a very difficult question, but my ‘friends’ seemed to enjoy the discussion more than answer the question for the presentation we had to do in the late afternoon. I can’t complain; they were working very hard, but I had the feeling I could do it way faster myself. As a result, we weren’t able to answer the question for 100%, so our teacher interrupted during the presentation (I wasn’t doing the presentation, but I felt really sorry for the girl who was) and added a few things, saying we missed the most important feature… At 17.08 I took my bus, after waiting for 10 minutes in the freezing cold wind, ate my dinner (which existed of bread and water) in the bus and arrived home at 18.15. In the evening I and my brother had our in-between test of swimming and we were kind of obliged to come. Despite my period, headache and softly disturbing tummy ache (dunno whether this is a English word, hehe) I went swimming. And for a change, it was a good idea. After one hour of swimming I felt relieved and relaxed. Nice start of my weekend, though.

Okay, this week contains just one more day. Saturday. The day I got my mark of the test of biodiversity. I felt like crying. With big, hot tears. O, I was so disappointed. Actually, I was angry with myself. For not learning the stupid bacteria’s. And angry with the people who made the exam, because I made the diagnostic test very well and thought I could make the final test easily. In the evening I did some rapid calculations. O, shit. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t certain whether I was going to pass on a subject. I didn’t know for sure, I couldn’t tell by now, whether I would pass this course. I’ve never had any doubts about passing. I always passed. I always got good marks. I never fail.

So this week, there were some strange happenings in my life. But it doesn’t feel as the end of the world. Or the end of my blessed career. I will try to save my weak position. It means I have to pass the next exam with a 7,5 at least. And maybe that isn’t enough, ’cause the ‘big poster assignment’ is coming up after X-mas vacation. I knew it. There had to be one positive thing among all those negative ones.


Try once: http://www.blogsurfer.us/

Read Full Post »