The world is a flowing organism, comprised of rivers land and air, these resources flow freely throughout the earth and beyond the ever changing borders of Man. In this way water, air and Land are the first transnational products in a world insistent with borders, self-containment and regulation. In the wake of Chernobyl, and many other devastating ecological and environmental disasters man began to realize the imagined boundaries he had drawn were worthless in the face of nature. In the last few decades’ coalitions, foundations and organizations have sprung up, defied borders and grown into transnational organizations to combat environmental issues such as pollution, desertification, soil erosion, and so forth. The European Commission is one such organization that has risen to reform man’s actions to provide a sustainable and greener future for all.
Environmental Justice is the General theme of this and many other coalitions such as the World Wildlife Fund, Peace Corp and so forth. It asks men, women, nations and corporations to take personal responsibility for their actions. EJ also holds many individuals to a higher standard, asking people to look beyond the differences that divide us such as age, gender, faith, class, and personal belief system. EJ is a broader theme meaning unity across all divisions; such as how the earth with her diverse geography, climates and species functions as a greater cohesive network, so should we. In this way we may achieve a peaceful, productive, healthy and sustainable future for all.
The European Commission seeks to address important issues through treaties and gaining a better understanding of people’s needs and expectations throughout the world. Unlike many outdated practices the EC is proactive rather than reactive. Rather than waiting for another BP like spill, they organize international support for more effective and potent legislation and in turn more efficient and safer practices.
Amongst the many issues that the EC seeks to redress is Biodiversity. Biodiversity is the recognition that there are many distinct and irreplaceable species upon this earth which have specific and unique needs. Man affects the Bio diversity of many of these species through actions as simple as construction of windmills, and homes. Other actions have a more potent effect, such as the use of chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and so forth. Man can also introduce new and exotic species into an ecosystem in which the animal wasn’t previously present. Once there these animals rarely have no natural predators and destroy the local ecosystem for all species. In NY, a state I’m sure you my readers are quite familiar with, zebra mussels litter beaches with their dead shells, eat all algae blooms, suffocating the water of oxygen. Another exotic species, the Lamprey attaches itself to fish much lie a leech, eventually resulting in the fish’s death. These are a few consequences that the EC is hoping to fix with growing international support.
Desertification and soil erosion are similar and yet different. Ancient Egypt was a vast and fertile kingdom, not quite like the Desert than many of us picture this day; but years of Intense farming, droughts, deforestation, etc. took its toll on the land, stripped the soil of valued nutrients until it eroded into the sandy dessert it currently is today. The early European colonist created this problem of desertification in much of Africa, by going against conventional wisdom and farming the same crop year after year and by not allowing the soil to naturally replenish its nutrients. Soil erosion can happen by this method, but also happens as cities expand, and cover over swamps or other lands that would naturally absorb the rains, replenish the aquifers and man’s drinking water. Thus when the rains fall, they sweep the soils and erode it. Mexico City is famous for this, after a strong rain, the city is covered in mud, in other Areas Montezuma’s revenge is at hand as Churches built over ancient pyramids sink into the underlying structure.
The EC takes part in many international as well as national agreements such as the Geneva Convention on Long-range Trans boundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP)(1979) and its protocols (http://ec.europa.eu), and Helsinki Convention on Industrial Accidents (1992), and Cartagena Biosafety Protocol (2000) to the Rio CBD Convention on Biological Diversity (1992). These are just a few examples, and each is diverse in specificity and function. The first is detailed information, thoughts and ideas on how to deal with air contaminates and the quality of breathing air. The second article is about responding to Local disasters that have the potential of going International, such as the nuclear fallout in Japan in 2011, and the Oil spill that swept over beaches across the US.
Ozone depletion, environmental degradation are other concerns of the EC. They work hand in hand with governments from all over the world to promote Environmental Justice, calling on all peoples to reevaluate their lifestyles. They promote many actions which call for us richer nations to sacrifice some creature comforts such as extremely long showers, overused air conditioning, wasteful energy and living practices, sprawled cities and suburbs, etc. In the spirit of cooperation, growth, development and understanding the EC and many others ask that developing nations reduce their output of greenhouse gases and environmental unfriendly practices; however not to the extent that we would require of more industrialized ones.
The European Commission asks that we each work together across borders, boundaries and through different classes, political system, etc. to achieve a greener future for not just the planet, but for us as well. Talks are Global, but major players are Brazil, which turned to alternative fuels and became independent of foreign oils years ago, America, Russia, China, a quickly growing and robust power, India, and Canada. “The EU is also a strong promoter of dialogue and cooperation on environment and sustainable development in the context of multilateral processes such as the G8 and OECD.”( http://ec.europa.eu/environment/international_issues/bilateral_en.htm) The European Commission realizes that while man has segregated himself with boundaries and nations that the environment won’t respond in the same way, and so we must adapt, come together and promote Environmental justice.
By Ayat Nieves