Every day we see on the news horrific stories of thousands of hectares of orangutan habitats being wiped out for mining, and inhumane slaughter of livestock in developing countries. Or unbelievable pollution levels in places like China. We shake our heads in despair and proclaim how incredibly naïve people living in those places are.
Little do we (in the developed world) remember that we were just as barbaric not so long ago. We wiped out our rainforests for wood. We tore up our lands for minerals and never restored the areas properly. We decimated endemic species to create agricultural land.
To this day, we continue to destroy remnant vegetation to facilitate our urban sprawl. We still dig up vast areas of land for mining, and we participate in the cruel slaughter of animals overseas by sending live export. The truth is, that although we have higher environmental and animal welfare standards in our countries, we are certainly in no position to point fingers at those with little or no standards.
And I doubt there is a single person in a developed country who doesn’t, in some way, support these atrocities. Most people have self-care products with palm oil in them, electronics with parts in them from who knows where and cosmetics or fragrances tested on animals.
We buy cheaper goods to save ourselves some money. But do we ever stop to think why are they cheaper? It's because they have likely been made in countries with poor regulation, and therefore, cost less to produce.
Now, I want nothing more than for the whole world to respect, conserve and regenerate the natural environment and all living creatures. However, I realise that just being disgusted by what’s happening around the world isn’t actually going to help the situation. What we need to do is go to the root cause of the problem and work out a solution from there.
The real issue causing people in developing countries to mistreat animals and the environment is survival. People need to eat and make a living. It’s a human right. People will do whatever it takes to survive and provide for their families. If the only way they can get paid is to chop down a rainforest, or kill livestock with whatever they have, they will do that.
People in developing countries don’t have the sorts of tools, technologies, money or education to produce goods in the same, more ethical way that those in the developed world do. They are no worse human beings than the rest of us for carrying out tasks that we gasp at the sight of. They simply want to make a living in the best way they can.
Who the fuck are we to judge?
So how do we improve the situation and start to lift the standards in these places? Firstly, I think if we are serious about protecting the environment and animals, we have to be willing to pay more so that less harmful technologies and techniques can be implemented. We can also support the introduction of standards and regulation in these places. (By support, I mean choosing the products that have been made under these better conditions.)
And we can stop live export!
How do you think we can improve poor environmental and animal welfare standards around the world?