Environment, pirates and us

Trust no-one. The truth is out there.. etc. etc. etc. Nothing is quite as it seems these days is it?

Take for example the rapidly worsening piracy situation in Somalia where foreign merchant ships are being held captive for ransom. Most of us have tch’ed tch’ed about these outlaws and our governments are promising action.

But what’s the real story here? Why has piracy been getting worse suddenly and what does it have to do with the environment?

According to an article on the Huffington Post; the Western world has been plundering the the country’s food supply and dumping our nuclear waste in their seas.

After the Somalian government collapsed in the early 90’s, it seems this was soon followed by European ships appearing in nearby waters, dumping barrels into the ocean. People started to get sick and after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels containing nuclear waste and heavy metals washed up on shore.

In other areas, it appears European ships have been illegally plundering Somalia’s seafood resources – hundreds of millions of dollars worth each year.

So, in some areas the marine environment has been poisoned, in other areas stripped of its bounty. Fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods and are becoming pirates.

This doesn’t make piracy right or justified by any means, but neither does a power vacuum give rich countries the right use another country as a dumping ground and/or a smorgasboard. It perhaps could be said that the developed world are the real pirates if what the article states is true.

While our governments hunt the bad guys and boast their successes, the situation in Somalia is a frightening example of what happens when economy and environment are treated as two separate issues; and often the former taking priority over the latter. Without a healthy environment, there cannot be a healthy economy over the long term – its just not sustainable.

Without a healthy economy, humans will do whatever it takes to put food on their tables; just as some of the Somalian “pirates” have. The veneer of civilization is a thin one indeed.

.. and after Somalia, which country is next? Humans are great at making a mess and then moving on to new pickings in order to feed our desire for consumption well above what is needed for a comfortable existence, but Earth is a small planet and it’s bountiful regions are becoming smaller each day.