Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wednesday Eco-Blogging for Haiti

I've been a Google Earth traveller for quite some time now. Man, it's addictive. So as I've been pursuing some work about Haiti, I thought I would share this with you. It is what it looks like: a screen shot of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the same Island of Hispanola.
Even a cursory glance at the image reveals the significant color difference between Haiti on the left and the Dominican Republic on the right. This is due to deforestation, not climate or topography. Haiti, the world's' second oldest democracy is also one of the poorest countries on earth. Deforestation is the result of woodcutting for fuel, which, in turn, is the result of an highly imbalanced economy in which monetary and energy distribution are heavily tilted towards the ruling class. Now, trapped in a cycle of ecological poverty (cutting trees leads to erosion which leads to less fertility which leads to further deforestation, etc.) it will take a major effort to bring any sort of balance back to the system. Of course,"balance" here should not just mean ecological balance, but social welfare and a smart energy policy to make better use of the island's resources. Hugo Chavez is pledging to work with Préval, and that is truly a sign of hope. Not that I agree completely with the president of Venezuela, but the U.S. continues to undermine and pillage (through the IMF, USAID, etc.) the country, most recently pushing for a despotic privatization movement. As a result of slavery here, it took the U.S. some 6 decades to even recognize Haiti as a country. Perhaps our government should now show some benign neglect and let Haitians choose their leaders and the countries that give them aid. It would be the first benign thing the U.S. has ever done for Haiti.

That's my eco-thought for the day.