Sacrifice Now and for Others … Tough Choice

Sacrifice Now and for Others … Tough Choice

Recent NPR story goes to the heart of the issue of sacrificing for the environment.  Whether the country is Ecuador or the environmental concern, the issue is global warming to water pollution.  There is some form of sacrifice that the environmentalists ask for and typically from others.    On many levels, these are reasonable and self-beneficial sacrifices.   However, in this case, I can empathize with Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa. “Do we protect 100 percent of the Yasuní and have no resources to meet the urgent needs of our people, or do we save 99 percent of it and have $18 billion to fight poverty?””

The country is far from the standards of living seen in the western developed world.   At the same time, the biodiversity in much of Ecuador is abundant and untouched.   The price of oil has risen to such great levels of recent and could supply much needed capital resource to the country.  The environmentalist would argue that sacrifices need to be made to protect this rich environment, yet no one seems to really see who is actually hurt by this sacrifice.   The environmentalists in the west continue to live in the comfort of their homes with vehicles and roads not seen in Ecuador.   The environmental fears presented in the end cannot outweigh the economic fact and reality of sub-standard living in Ecuador, and the real impact that further resource extraction could add.

In this case, the larger society gains can be seen and the environment sacrifice is likely inevitable.   People who care would have the right to purchase the land, but as anyone selling something, it will be priced at the cost of the value it would add.   This cost would seem too much for anyone or any country. The article noted they only were able to obtain $6.5 million.

This trade-off issue can also be seen in the US in the shale plays.   Many environmentalists, who once again, do not live on or around the land that they are trying to protect, continue to try to limit the development with no empathy for those people who have direct benefit.   The people who are directly involved and owned the land, typically for many generations, are not empathized with the environmentalists in their pitch to stop the shale development.   In many cases, these owners have been left behind in the economic boom over the last 30 years in the US.   As in Ecuador, economic well-being of those directly involved,make environmental sacrifices harder.   Without the acknowledgement and consideration of those individuals’ benefits, we cannot come to a fair balance for the environment and economy.

Food for thought as you see and hear more on the anti-shale front.

Your Energy Consultant,

David K. Bellman


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