Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Neoliberalism and Never-ending Disasters

Is there any direct relation between neoliberalism
and "natural" disasters?
Yes there is.
Protection, and reconstruction of the natural environment have no role in neoliberal capital accumulation programs(within the never-ending circuit of money - commodities - more money) ; they are not valued in market, and they demand extensive government intervention in the market operations. Consequently, in the absence of strong public pressures, environmental protection and reconstruction programs, or environmentally-friendly economic regulations, would all be significantly constrained. To make matter worst, for many government bureaucrats and members of parliament, their authority to make regulations, policy decisions and implementations, can all be commodified, to be sold in the market for their personal gains. Air Pollution

Air pollution is perhaps Indonesia's most severe environmental problem. According to an official at the World Bank office in Jakarta, "air pollution imposes costs of at least $400 million on the Indonesian economy every year." It also has very a serious impact on public health. For example, inflammation of the respiratory tract, which is directly linked to air quality, was the sixth leading cause of death in Indonesia (after accidents, diarrhea, cardiovascular disease, tuberculosis, and measles).
Automotive Industry
Motor vehicles are one of the chief sources of air pollution in Indonesia. Between 1995 and 2001, the number of vehicles in Indonesia grew from
12 million to almost 21 million. Many of these vehicles are motorcycles or scooters, which lack the catalytic converters required for cleaner emissions. Moreover, almost no motor vehicles in Indonesia use unleaded gasoline. Instead, the vast majority of these vehicles rely on either leaded gasoline or diesel fuel, leading to unhealthily high concentrations of airborne lead.
Despite the phasing out of leaded gasoline, Jakarta's air remains among the dirtiest in the world. The concentration of particulate matter is high, as are the levels of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. In July 2003, the Jakarta Post placed much of the blame on the fact that city authorities can only force public vehicles to comply with emissions standards. At that time, public vehicles accounted for only 315,000 of the almost 5 million vehicles in the city.
Illegal Loging
Forest fires also contribute to Indonesian air pollution. Often these fires result from illegal logging of Indonesia's rain forests. During 1997 and 1998, the fires were especially severe. Nearly 10 million hectares burned, producing a haze that impacted all of Southeast Asia. The World Bank's
Indonesia Environment Monitor, 2003 states that the costs of 1997-8 fires exceeded the combined legal liabilities assessed for the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Bhopal chemical disaster.
Industries as Polluter
Indonesia's industrial sector, which contains chemical, petroleum, coal, plastic and rubber products, and food industries, also is a significant polluter. Unfortunately, there is limited quantitative data on their overall impact. The Blue Sky Program was initiated by the Ministry of Environment in 1992 to improve air quality in Indonesia's five largest cities: Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabya, and Medan. The Blue Sky Program imposed controls on 20 industries. Source:

Deforestation and Floods

Indonesia had the world's worst deforestation in 2006

Trees have been or are being cut down at increasingly high rates. If this is not stopped many unfavorable side effects could result.

Why Trees Matter
Source: The Choice: Doomsday or Arbor Day Jocelyn Stock Andy Rochen -
To understand why deforestation is such a pressing and urgent issue, forests must first be given credit for what they bring to global ecosystems and the quality of life that all species maintain. Tropical Rainforests presently give a place to call home for 50% - 90% of all organisms, 90% of our relatives, the primates, and 50 million creatures that can live no place but the rich rainforests (World Rainforest Movement 16). Not only are other species at risk, but the human race also benefits from what the trees give. From something as minor as the spices that indulge food to life giving medicines, the rainforests amplify and save lives. According to the World Rainforest Movement, 25% of medicines come from the forests (28). This is a number that does not do justice to all the cures that have yet to be discovered or that have been destroyed. The forests give life, not only to other species, but they help to prolong the human race. The forests have global implications not just on life but on the quality of it. Trees improve the quality of the air that species breath by trapping carbon and other particles produced by pollution. Trees determine rainfall and replenish the atmosphere. As more water gets put back in the atmosphere, clouds form and provide another way to block out the sun?s heat. Trees are what cool and regulates the earth?s climate in conjunction with other such valuable services as preventing erosion, landslides, and making the most infertile soil rich with life. Mother earth has given much responsibility to trees.

Logging and Deforestation
The small farmer plays a big role, but it is modern industry that too cuts down the trees. The logging industry is fueled by the need for disposable products. 11 million acres a year are cut for commercial and property industries (Entity Mission 1). Peter Heller found that McDonald?s needs 800 square miles of trees to make the amount of paper they need for a year?s supply of packaging, Entity Mission found that British Columbia manufactures 7, 500,000 pairs of chopsticks a day, and the demand for fuel wood is so high that predictions say that there will be a shortage by the year 2000. Logging does too have its repercussions. The logging industry not only tries to accomplish all this but it even indirectly helps the "shifted cultivators" and others to do more damage. The roads that the loggers build to access the forests and generate hydroelectric power create an easy way for many people to try to manipulate the forest resources. The amount of damage that this adds to the forests can not be measured nor can that of the illegal logging. Some importers may even be buying illegally logged wood and not even have known it ("Logging is the Major Cause of Global Deforestation ? New WWF Report" 2).
Source: The Choice: Doomsday or Arbor Day Jocelyn Stock Andy Rochen -

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