Monthly Archives: July 2006

Zero degrees of separation to Jimmy Carter

The distance between Jimmy Carter and myself used to be one degree but now I will meet the former president and intrepret for him.

This August I will be going to Atlanta for my town as their interpreter. They do this every year but he does not (or cannot) always meet with those from my town. Though he makes an effort because his hometown and ours are sister cities.

Through this chance I have gain insight into Mr Carter’s peace activities. He became particularly active after his term in office. Habitat for Humanity is one group where he plays a major role. This group is about building housing for the less fortunate in the poorer nations in the world. This year the Jimmy Carter Work Project will be in India. His goals are admirable, but again I cannot always agree with them.

From a holistic viewpoint the very name “Habitat for Humanity” seems to shut out the rest of life on Earth. Sure humanity is important but so is the rest of the web of life – the biodiversity that we depend on for survival. So to me, peace activism should include peace with the animal kingdom as well. And this is a dimension in Mr Carter’s work that I feel is lacking.

So if I had one question I could ask him it would something about his view on the relationship between (human) peace and environmentalism. But, unfortunately as interpreter it will not be the place for this. I am very much looking forward in meeting him and I feel privileged to be interpreting for him and be a bridge to the people of my town.

China – the “new face” on the environmental scene

China will spend over the next five years $175 billion dollars on the environment. This number, according to the BBC, is about 1.5% of China’s annual economic output (my italics).

So let me do my math: is not that equal to 0.3% of its current annual economic output each year? $175 billion sure sounds like a lot of money but it really isn’t if you think about it. That’s about one hundred US dollars for each person living in China over five years, or about twenty US dollars each year for the five years.

I think the people of China and environment will need much more than that to reverse the damage this country has already caused. So what is this new face of China anyway? Why now? Perhaps we should keep in mind that two years from now, in 2008, a very big money spinner called the Olympic Games will be hosted by Beijing.

Environmental sensitivity is sure a great place for public relations these days. Even better than, say, human rights. China, of course, is trying to deflect attention from its own track record on this issue. And what better way than to look good in one area that many find hard to criticise. So, to me, the new face of China is really an old one. It is only a face lift, one that has been done fairly well but somehow you still know its fake.