Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Sporting and Environmental Dilemmas

Cricket World Cup begins in a few weeks and I have no idea how I will watch it. The rights to televise in the US were sold to Dish Network by the ICC. Unfortunately I have Time Warner Cable and get my internet through them also. It isn’t feasible to change just for World Cup especially as Dish Network, according to their website, can’t provide me with internet. This is not good at all. I am rather alarmed. Ideas/ suggestions anyone?

After a mild December and January, winter has returned with a vengeance. The only positive about staying home is that I have not had to deal with the freezing temperatures. I am not a cold weather person at all.

I was watching a programme about Alaska yesterday. Every time I watch something about Alaska I am amazed at the beauty. I hate the cold but I think the beauty is worth a visit! I was also reading a few weeks ago about a row in Peru over the building of a bridge near Machu Picchu and saw another article on the issue on the BBC website today. Environmentalists and the central government are opposed to it while the Mayor of the province has ignored a court ruling and continued with its building. The Mayor argues that the bridge will reduce the time villagers from Santa Teresa village need to take produce to Cusco from fifteen hours to three, increase commerce and tourism and end its isolation, while environmentalists argue that the bridge which provides a new route to Machu Picchu will lead to an influx of tourists and ultimately to the destruction of this World Heritage site. I have been to Machu Picchu and while I agree that the bridge will help to address the poverty experienced in the area, the concerns about thousands of tourists tramping around the site are very real. Already around 2500 tourists visit each day and many environmentalists believe that this huge number poses a significant threat. UNESCO is supposed to inspect the site this year to determine whether it should be classified as an endangered heritage site.

This dilemma is similar to a multitude faced in so many parts of the world, both developing and developed- “development” versus environmental protection. While I am very much the environmentalist and will always argue in favour of protection and against exploitation by multinational companies whose sole purpose is profit, I am also a realist. A number of the areas targeted by these huge companies with profits that are times larger than the GDP of many developing countries, suffer from abject poverty. In some instances, the case against allowing the multinational company to enter the area is compelling, especially when the local population is also in opposition. Here, I believe that a resounding no should greet the multinational. In other situations, I believe there is room for legitimate compromise (the diplomat in me) and sustainable exploitation of the natural resources. Obviously, it is never in the interests of the multinational to do this as their aim is absolute profit. However, strong pressure from both civil society and government can allow for operation in an environment of profit while still maintaining the integrity (natural, cultural, social, and religious) of the area and indeed leading to socio-economic advancement of the indigenous people.

The simple solution to the Peruvian problem would be to allow the bridge to operate (it has been built despite the court ruling ordering a halt in construction and will be inaugurated this month) but to limit the numbers of tourists visiting Machu Picchu. The villagers of Santa Teresa will benefit from the decrease in transport time to Cusco while strict limits on tourists will help to preserve the site. Tour companies and hotels which have supported the building of the bridge because increased visitors mean increased profits would have to be bluntly informed that long term survival rather than short term private sector profits is in the interest of the Peruvian people.

In Alaska, I believe the area is too important to the well-being of the global climate to warrant any more destruction there. Instead of drilling for oil, the logical and sustainable option would be to invest in renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy. Yes, I am being idealistic. Oil companies, car manufacturers, other multinationals and their brethren and sistren in government would never permit that. Short term profit means too much to them.

1 comment:

Mr. C said...

There's nothing better than listening to cricket commentary on the radio. Tune your internet to Radio 5 Live or some other sport radio channel and do something else at the same time.