NIMBY – the ”convenient” approach to Sustainability…

China Carbon Footprint-Chris Madden 2

Not in my back yard (NIMBY) is an approach used by many – the further the distance the less interesting, or “intimidating” something is… and some things, people apparently don’t want to see in their backyard…

When there is a storm or a flooding in Bangladesh, there is a small note on page 3 in the newspaper, when there is a storm hitting the east coast of the US or a flooding in the centre of Europe – it reaches the headlines and a number of exclusive centre-pages…

I suppose NIMBY is a human psychological “defence-mechanism”, a wish to increase the “distance” between oneself and “an issue” – or is it a part of the “blame-game” where you try to transfer blame on someone else…

Country backyard pollution-smallToday, when we talk about CO2-emissions it’s as if some people think that the atmosphere above a specific country doesn’t interact with the rest of the earth’s atmosphere, i.e. that emissions in China is their problem, not ours – so much for science-classes in school

Do countries have backyards…

We are living in a more and more globalized world – goods and services travel back and forth around the world. Corporations are active in multiple countries making “creative” structures and connections with subsidiaries all around the planet.

Has the “Role” of Countries become Redundant – are country-borders even becoming an “obstacle” on the path to a Sustainable world…?

This is of course a highly provocative question to ask, especially since there are so many attachments to what a country stands for. And maybe it is also an impossible question to answer.

Reason for asking the question; Let me state a “fictive” example:

If a country, governed by Climate-deniers say that “We don’t believe in this “hoax” about carbon-emissions”, and then allow a company to erect a huge coal-powered energy plant, close to the border, from which the company then sell the energy to Corporations in the neighbouring country, governed by more Climate-concerned people – is that OK?
What if this neighbouring country happens to be always “down-wind”?

What if corporations in the more Climate-concerned country outsource their production to their neighbour, because they know that due to their lower restrictions on emissions, energy is cheaper and therefore the products can be manufactured at a lower cost, enabling them to Sell larger quantities to the people in the climate-concerned countries, to increase their ”prosperity” – is that OK? What if this neighbouring country still happens to be always “down-wind”?

Would the situation be different if the countries where on opposite sides of a Planet, thereby increasing the “NIMBY-distance”?

What if the Corporations became multinational with the “advantage” to operate under the laws in whichever country they choose to run their business – any different?

Can a Country have sovereignty to the atmosphere above their territory – I don’t mean the space as such, but the “air”?
What about a river passing through multiple countries, who has the sovereignty to the water? Is it Ok to have less “restrictions” on water pollution if your country is upstream?

Become-Rich-Cross-that-wallFor many of us all these questions might seem somewhat rhetorical – but take a look in the real world. Are there answers, solutions, laws and agreements in place to handle these questions – because if there isn’t these questions are real and urgent…

On a more and more densely populated planet, a planet where we are currently exceeding almost all planetary boundaries – everywhere is somebody’s backyard!

…We cannot allow rich people and corporations to continue exploiting other people’s backyards just to continue a completely irresponsible consumerism…

Is the commercial “Law of the Jungle” the only truly global law…

Corporate executives often state that they operate within the legal “requirement” – then they globalise and exploit other countries and people to and not seldom beyond, the limits of their local legal requirements – is that OK?

What makes so many corporations outright hostile to our human society, what makes them believe that their “law of the jungle” is superior to democratically decided laws and decency…

If a company knows that one of their products is “banned” by law for health reasons in their home country, why do they still think that it is OK to sell it in another country with less developed health-requirements and legal systems – are people in a less developed country “expendable”, just because their legal system has not developed as fast, do they have less right to a decent life – isn’t this in reality a hostile act and “chemical warfare”…

Corporate executives also often state that they pay wages according to the local minimum wage-levels etc. regardless if people can survive on these wages or not – this is of course convenient because if they earn that little, they cannot afford to pay much taxes, thereby empowering their local society to prosper, to get better health-regulations and laws in place…

HyenaWherever social development takes place in spite of this exploitation, the multinational corporations are often quick to move their business to the next “undeveloped” location, where they can continue their exploitation… like scavengers, in search of a weakened prey

TTIP

This morning I read a short article about the negotiations on a new comprehensive free trade agreement between EU and USA, the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” (TTIP). Apparently the US is pushing hard to include a clause that multinational corporations “should have an opportunity to sue Countries to abolish national and democratically passed laws”…

This is so outrageous that I don’t know what to say – should corporations have some kind of “Veto” overruling Democracy… and I, who for a moment thought that the Strive for increasing Corporate Social Responsibility was gaining some ground…

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

 – Albert Einstein

… Everything is connected and Everywhere is somebody’s backyard…

Don’t be Evil – Do something about it…
Check out what is happening beyond your backyard!