Kevin Bhimani Blog #3
Topic: How do environmental issues register differently in different cultures?
I believe the notion of environmental issues, like many other issues on this planet, is entirely subjective. Some may think that immigration laws are not a problem, whereas others would care to differ. Some may think that countries shouldn’t go to war and that there is no point, but others will do anything to protect their country. Some people may think that there is not a global warming problem, whereas others would offer evidence refuting such claims. It is a situation that is not exclusive to just environmental issues such as degradation, fossil fuel consumption, biodiversity loss, and more. At the core of this though, is the sentiment that everything takes on a different connotation depending on who you talk to and the region of the world you are in. Different cultures will inherently have different mindsets on certain topics.
Angela Penrose detailed a story in her excerpt from Loosed Upon the World how a farm in Mexico was saved by a landslide by using old “junk” that was re-purposed into being an effective measure to preserve the crops. This “junk” was saved by the Abuelo in the story, and it was described as “piles of stuff he saved for some day when it might come in handy” (Penrose 335). Just that sentence can explain the dichotomy our society faces today in which most people in the U.S. would not think to save scraps of metal and Styrofoam, but in another country (in this case Mexico), these are seen as useful materials that could be very beneficial to have lying around. Additionally, we see that people in developed countries have no appreciation for things such as water because it is so readily available, but in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, this issue can be one of life or death. Moreover, pollution in a place like Beijing makes it dangerous to even be outside as the air quality is so low, but people here in Durham, North Carolina do not face the same problem. This discord with issues in my opinion stems from the immediacy of the issue to a person. A citizen living in Beijing will by very privy to the issues of air pollution as it is something that tangibly affects their day to day life, but a similar person in the United States might not have such a deep concern over the same issue. The same goes for people that call the Amazon rainforest their home and the fact that it is being degraded heavily affects their lives, but an average person in London for example will not share their plight. I think to advance the cause for making our collective home, Earth, a place that we can all share for centuries to come, we must be aware and have concern in environmental issues that don’t directly affect us. It is only then that we will be able to overcome the vast amount of problems we face today concerning the state of our environment.
Penrose, Angela. “Staying Afloat.” Loosed upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction. New York: Saga, 2015. N. pag. Print.