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Technological Development And The Third World Essay

, Research Paper Technological Development and the Third World TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE THIRD WORLD I wonder if people in Third World countries know that they are considered

, Research Paper

Technological Development and the Third World

TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE THIRD WORLD

I wonder if people in Third World countries know that they are considered

the “Third World?” Do they use that term in reference to themselves? Do they

have any perception of the comparison, judgment and bias that goes into that

statement? I’d like to think that they don’t. In the film about the Ladack

people that we watched in class, it was mentioned that they didn’t have a word

for poverty. No such word even existed in their language. But that was before.

It was before the invasion of other cultures, and it was before they had

anything to compare themselves to. And in comparison, they saw that, materially,

they had less. And in that knowledge, they believed that they, as a people, were

less.

In this essay, I will examine third world communities and the

relationship between technological development and environmental degradation. I

will look first at the way in which development occurred in the South, and the

reason it happened the way that it did. From there, I will show how these

methods of development proceeded to eventually cause widespread environmental

damage and it’s effect on the local people. .

DEVELOPMENT: “WESTERN” STYLE

When I refer to “the environment”, I mean not only the habitat that

humans, plants and animals inhabit, but also the physical, emotional and

psychological attitudes that are encompassed by these in their daily existence.

Development, by my definition, will consequently refer to the technological

advancement of a community as well as the improved status of humans and other

species. This is my definition, and one that others employ frequently now.

However, the model I will be examining first is the development theory based on

the economic – political system. “A typical western (read: economic) definition

of development would be ‘ an ambiguous term for a multidimensional process

involving material, social and organizational change, accelerated economic

growth, [and] the reduction of absolute poverty and inequality.’” (1) The key

emphasis in this statement is the phrase “economic growth.” In Europe and North

America, development politics has revolved around the economic aspect of

producing surplus, and gaining capital. Because of our relatively rich land

resource base, our method of technological development has been quite successful.

Statistics show us as high wage earners, wealthy in public services such as

health care and education, low infant mortality rate, long lifespan, and high

GNP per person. Because of the comfort that our economic development has brought

us, we have omitted the aspect of development in regard to human psychological

well-being and the preservation of our natural surroundings that should be

concurrent with technological development. With ours as the only current model

of successful development, newly industrializing countries such as South and

Central America, and Africa (and up until quite recently many Asian countries)

attempted to achieve results in the same way. The problem that ensued for these

countries was that instead of working slowly towards their goals, they sold

themselves to get ahead economically. Instead of recognizing the problems that

this method was causing and stopping them, governments and the wealthy private

sector, took control of the industry and continued to exploit it. With the rich

in control, the poorer classes had little choice but to follow, and the downward

spiral of poverty and instability began.

HOW IT HAPPENED

As the Third World nations struggled to become “developed,” the rich

countries became involved in their affairs. Interest in the countries arose

primarily because of the trade resources that these lands provided. The

potential for profit became evident because the new countries were struggling

with their economy. They were experiencing internal unrest between their members

and they needed money and resources to get started. Before they had a stable

internal economy, they were bounding into the international market and selling

their resources for a quick profit. Cash-cropping became a way to enter the

international arena of market and trade, but the damage to the land took only a

few short years to be discovered, and by that time luxuries had become

“necessities.” People wanted the cash flow to continue and instead of finding

ways to use their land sustainable, they continued poor resource management

regardless of the consequences. Deforestation became another common practice

because of the demand forwood overseas. Export, although a seemingly beneficial

development strategy, became detrimental to third world countries because it

catered to the demand for certain items. Coffee beans are a large export item in

South and Central America. With the rising demand for coffee in North America,

land that was previously used for agriculture was taken over and used for

growing coffee beans. The consequences of this were twofold; local people were

suffering from lack of land to use for food production, and the potential land

was useless because of the cash-crops.

ENVIRONMENTAL RESULTS OF TECHNOLOGY :TODAY

A more current example of the technological development that is

resulting in environmental degradation is the misuse of resources. In Africa,

industrial water pollution has become a widespread problem. Third World

communities don’t often have the awareness that the South has about sustainable

techniques and the importance of employing them. Most people in North America

live in cities and have their water purified to a certain health standard and

brought to them. People in the Third World use the river for washing, drinking

and bathing. Unclean water leads not only to damage of the ecosystems but also

to the health of those who use it. Another problem is that countries from the

South have based their industry in developing countries because they have lower

environmental standards. With the benefits of jobs and money that these

companies bring, the host country will rarely challenge the damaging techniques

that they use. “Pollution forms another major set of environmental problems in

the region. It used to be said that pollution is a problem of the rich countries,

and that for the developing countries, development must come first and we can

worry about the environment later. Pollution and the deteriorating quality of

life caused by environmental degradation in our region has shown how fallacious

this argument is.” (2) We no longer have a choice but to address the problems

that man is creating in nature and the environment. The excuse of development

will no longer hold.

“(we, the) people.. in Latin America are using our best resources for

the benefit of the rich countries – exporting to them our energy, our fish, our

raw materials and using our labor resources to extract and export these

materials and all at low prices and poor terms of trade.” (3) While our

technology is helping the third world countries in areas such as health and

education, our own desire for goods and profit prevent us from allowing them

their full potential. We create an economy where we will do whatever it takes to

get what we want. As an example, we of the developed nations tell the third

world that they should stop environmental damage, while it is our companies that

are taking advantage of their low standards. We tell them to stop cash-cropping,

but we buy their coffee beans at any price. With these hypocritical standards,

we will never influence them to turn their economy around. As we our

economically motivated in our own interest, they too need economic motivation to

change their destructive habits. Especially since with us, their products are

primarily “extras,” while for them, their trade of the product is negatively

influencing their economy and affecting their people.

In Asia and the Pacific, urbanization, modernization, and technology are

creating different environmental problems. It is the problem of human need.

Thousands of people have been displaced from farms because the government or the

private sector expropriates them for industrial use. Rich foodlands are being

destroyed and turned into highways, airports or dams.With no where to go and no

jobs, the people are migrating to the city in search of homes and employment.

Slums and squatter dwellings result with problems of rising crime and unhygenic

living conditions. This puts terrible strain on both the human and physical

environment, creating a situation with little hope for a successful future.

SOLUTIONS

To combat these crisis, we must adopt some new behaviors. Our current

model of development is showing some obvious flaws and it is evident that it is

the impact of technology that has resulted in. environmental damage. But

technology is not the only factor at fault. It is the influence of technology

combined with human greed that has presented these complex human and

environmental problems. Laws monitoring pollution of the environment must be

enforced, and followed equally in all countries. With the knowledge that we now

possess of the global chaos that is at hand, we have no excuse but to do so.

The hypocrisy that exists between the systems must also be stopped.

Considering not only ourselves, but the endangered lives of others is essential

to the continuation of our species as a whole. Our fortunate position in a

developed nation does not give us the right to create a hierarchy of our

existence as more important than the life of another.

Possibly, the only way that we are going to combat any of these problems

is by education. It will take more than a few dedicated people to change the

world, but with the influence of many, anything is possible.

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