Technological Development and the Third WorldTECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE THIRD WORLD I wonder if people in Third World countries know that they are consideredthe “Third World?” Do they use that term in reference to themselves? Do theyhave any perception of the comparison, judgment and bias that goes into thatstatement? I’d like to think that they don’t. In the film about the Ladackpeople that we watched in class, it was mentioned that they didn’t have a wordfor 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 hadanything 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, wereless. In this essay, I will examine third world communities and therelationship between technological development and environmental degradation.
Iwill look first at the way in which development occurred in the South, and thereason it happened the way that it did. From there, I will show how thesemethods of development proceeded to eventually cause widespread environmentaldamage and it’s effect on the local people. . DEVELOPMENT: “WESTERN” STYLEWhen I refer to “the environment”, I mean not only the habitat thathumans, plants and animals inhabit, but also the physical, emotional andpsychological attitudes that are encompassed by these in their daily existence.
Development, by my definition, will consequently refer to the technologicaladvancement of a community as well as the improved status of humans and otherspecies. This is my definition, and one that others employ frequently now. However, the modelI will be examining first is the development theory based onthe economic – political system. “A typical western (read: economic) definitionof development would be ‘ an ambiguous term for a multidimensional processinvolving material, social and organizational change, accelerated economicgrowth, and the reduction of absolute poverty and inequality. ‘” (1) The keyemphasis in this statement is the phrase “economic growth.
” In Europe and NorthAmerica, development politics has revolved around the economic aspect ofproducing surplus, and gaining capital. Because of our relatively rich landresource base, our method of technological development has been quite successful. Statistics show us as high wage earners, wealthy in public services such ashealth care and education, low infant mortality rate, long lifespan, and highGNP per person. Because of the comfort that our economic development has broughtus, we have omitted the aspect of development in regard to human psychologicalwell-being and the preservation of our natural surroundings that should beconcurrent with technological development.
With ours as the only current modelof successful development, newly industrializing countries such as South andCentral America, and Africa (and up until quite recently many Asian countries)attempted to achieve results in the same way. The problem that ensued for thesecountries was that instead of working slowly towards their goals, they soldthemselves to get ahead economically. Instead of recognizing the problems thatthis method was causing and stopping them, governments and the wealthy privatesector, took control of the industry and continued to exploit it. With the richin control, the poorer classes had little choice but to follow, and the downwardspiral of poverty and instability began. HOW IT HAPPENEDAs the Third World nations struggled to become “developed,” the richcountries became involved in their affairs.
Interest in the countries aroseprimarily because of the trade resourcesthat these lands provided. Thepotential for profit became evident because the new countries were strugglingwith their economy. They were experiencing internal unrest between their membersand they needed money and resources to get started. Before they had a stableinternal economy, they were bounding into the international market and sellingtheir resources for a quick profit.
Cash-cropping became a way to enter theinternational arena of market and trade, but the damage to the land took only afew short years to be discovered, and by that time luxuries had become”necessities. ” People wanted the cash flow to continue and instead of findingways to use their land sustainable, they continued poor resource managementregardless of the consequences. Deforestation became another common practicebecause of the demand forwood overseas. Export, although a seemingly beneficialdevelopment strategy, became detrimental to third world countries because itcatered to the demand for certain items. Coffee beans are a large export item inSouth and Central America. With the rising demand for coffee in North America,land that wa.
. . . . s previously used for agriculture was taken over and used forgrowing coffee beans. The consequences of this were twofold; local people weresuffering from lack of land to use for food production, and the potential landwas useless because of the cash-crops.
ENVIRONMENTAL RESULTS OF TECHNOLOGY :TODAYA more current example of the technological development that isresulting in environmental degradation is the misuse of resources. In Africa,industrial water pollution has become a widespread problem. Third Worldcommunities don’t often have the awareness that the South has about sustainabletechniques and the importance of employing them. Most people in North Americalive in cities and have their water purified to a certain health standard andbrought to them. People in the Third World use the river for washing, drinkingand bathing.
Unclean water leads not only to damage of the ecosystems but alsoto the health of those who use it. Another problem is that countries from theSouth have based their industry in developing countries because they have lowerenvironmental standards. With the benefits of jobs and money that thesecompanies bring, the host country will rarely challenge the damaging techniquesthat they use. “Pollution forms another major set of environmental problems inthe 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 canworry about the environment later. Pollution and the deteriorating quality oflife caused by environmental degradation in our region has shown how fallaciousthis argument is.
” (2) We no longer have a choice but to address the problemsthat man is creating in nature and the environment. The excuse of developmentwill no longer hold. “(we, the) people. . in Latin America are using our best resources forthe benefit of the rich countries – exporting to them our energy, our fish, ourraw materials and using our labor resources to extract and export thesematerials and all at low prices and poor terms of trade. ” (3) While ourtechnology is helping the third world countries in areas such as health andeducation, our own desire for goods and profit prevent us from allowing themtheir full potential.
We create an economy where we will do whatever it takes toget what we want. As an example, we of the developed nations tell the thirdworld that they should stop environmental damage, while it is our companies thatare 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 oureconomically motivated in our own interest, they too need economic motivation tochange their destructive habits.
Especially since with us, their products areprimarily “extras,” while for them, their trade of the product is negativelyinfluencing their economy and affecting their people. In Asia and the Pacific, urbanization, modernization, and technology arecreating different environmental problems. It is the problem of human need. Thousands of people have been displaced from farms because the government or theprivate sector expropriates them for industrial use. Rich foodlands are beingdestroyed and turned into highways, airports or dams.
With no where to go and nojobs, the people are migrating to the city in search of homes and employment. Slums and squatter dwellings result with problems of rising crime and unhygenicliving conditions. This puts terrible strain on both the human and physicalenvironment, creating a situation with little hope for a successful future. SOLUTIONSTo combat these crisis, we must adopt some new behaviors. Our currentmodel of development is showing some obvious flaws and it is evident that it isthe impact of technology that has resulted in. environmental damage.
Buttechnology is not the only factor at fault. It is the influence of technologycombined with human greed that has presented these complex human andenvironmental problems. Laws monitoring pollution of the environment must beenforced, and followed equally in all countries. With the knowledge that we nowpossess 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 essentialto the continuation of our species as a whole. Our fortunate position in adeveloped nation does not give us the right to create a hierarchy of ourexistence as more important than the life of another. Possibly, the only way that we are going to combat any of these problemsis by education. It will take more than a few dedicated people to change theworld, but with the influence of many, anything is possible.