Western hypocrisy revealed

By Mukul Ahuja

Time and again, the hypocrisy of developed North American and Western European nations shows its true self. This is
apparent in regards to the economic growth of developing nations. While most developing nations are prospering economically, they have done so at the expense of the environment, much to the dismay of the so-called West. What the West fails to admit or acknowledge is that these developing nations are doing the same things to achieve prosperity as they did. These struggling nations are walking in the same footsteps left behind by the West, and now they are being punished for doing so.

A good example is the ongoing project of building the Sardar Sarovar Dam–one of the largest construction projects in the world–on the Narmada river in Western India. The project, initially funded by the World Bank, was designed to provide much needed food, water and energy to the country, bringing it closer to self-sufficiency. However, a few years later, the remaining loan was cancelled due to immense local and international pressure regarding the resettlement of local villagers and the loss of natural forests. Currently, the project is going ahead on the strength of federal and local government money.

This illustrates the double standard. Similar situations have occurred in the US, a country with the most dams in the world (75,187 in 1995 alone), never causing such a worldwide environmental ruckus, yet having more or less the same ramifications as the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

A local and current example would be the exploration, or exploitation, of the Fort McMurray Oil Sands. Multinationals suck oil out faster than you could imagine and get filthy rich as a result. What they don’t realize is that there are limited oil sands around the world, and if the same pace of extraction was used, they won’t last longer than a few decades. Why didn’t the West consider this before the raping began?

In developed nations, many political or environmental issues are ignored in the development process and a lot of money is made. A few hundred billion dollars later, they realize they are heading for environmental disaster. As a result, the West raises standards and expects the world to follow. This penalizes developing nations.

Imagine an oil-producing multi-billionaire in a three-piece suit approaches a pauper, telling him to watch his development and be more environmentally conscious and efficient.

How can you expect a poorer country to care about the environment when their priorities lay in serving its starving and unemployed citizens? After all, the Americans and the rest of the West did "it," so why are they now being such power-tripping hypocrites to nations that desperately need the resources and money than the West?

Very little is being done about this elitist approach, but the West must hold themselves accountable for their past actions, rather than pushing it off to the rest of the world. They must admit their short-sighted developments and apologize to the world for them. Most importantly, they must lead by example, rather than forcing others to follow their rules. Get rid of your atomic and chemical weapons, stop abusing so much paper and other natural resources, and financially support other nations to become ecologically efficient. Play your part, earn some karma, and only then, will you have the right to speak.

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