Fidel Castro: Fight The Ecological Destruction Threatening The Planet!

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Above Photo: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

Climate & Capitalism joins millions of people around the world in mourning the death and honoring the life of Fidel Castro Ruz.

He lives in our memory as a champion of, and an active participant in, the global fight against poverty, ignorance and oppression, and for a sustainable world.

In this short talk at the 1992 Earth Summit, Fidel described the Earth System crisis and identified its causes more powerfully than any other delegate.

Mr. President of Brazil Fernando Collor de Melo;

Mr. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali; Your Excellencies;

An important biological species is in danger of disappearing due to the fast and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: humanity.

We have become aware of this problem when it is almost too late to stop it.

It is necessary to point out that consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the brutal destruction of the environment. They arose from the old colonial powers and from imperialist policies which in turn engendered the backwardness and poverty which today afflicts the vast majority of mankind.

With only 20 percent of the world’s population, these societies consume two-thirds of the metals and three-fourths of the energy produced in the world. They have poisoned the seas and rivers, polluted the air, weakened and punctured the ozone layer, saturated the atmosphere with gases which are changing weather conditions with a catastrophic effect we are already beginning to experience.

The forests are disappearing. The deserts are expanding. Every year billons of tons of fertile soil end up in the sea. Numerous species are becoming extinct. Population pressures and poverty trigger frenzied efforts to survive even when it is at the expense of the environment. It is not possible to blame the Third World countries for this. Yesterday, they were colonies; today, they are nations exploited and pillaged by an unjust international economic order.

The solution cannot be to prevent the development of those who need it most. The reality is that anything that nowadays contributes to underdevelopment and poverty constitutes a flagrant violation of ecology. Tens of millions of men, women, and children die every year in the Third World as a result of this, more than in each of the two world wars. Unequal terms of trade, protectionism, and the foreign debt assault the ecology and promote the destruction of the environment.

If we want to save mankind from this self-destruction, we have to better distribute the wealth and technologies available in the world. Less luxury and less waste by a few countries is needed so there is less poverty and less hunger on a large part of the Earth. We do not need any more transferring to the Third World of lifestyles and consumption habits that ruin the environment.

Let human life become more rational. Let us implement a just international economic order. Let us use all the science necessary for pollution-free, sustained development. Let us pay the ecological debt, and not the foreign debt. Let hunger disappear, and not mankind.

Now that the alleged threat of communism has disappeared and there are no longer any more excuses for cold wars, arms races, and military spending, what is blocking the immediate use of these resources to promote the development of the Third World and fight the threat of the ecological destruction of the planet?

Let selfishness end. Let hegemonies end. Let insensitivity, irresponsibility, and deceit end.

Tomorrow it will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago.

Thank you.

  • Southern

    The solution is rather simple yet hard to attain, what the world and therefor the environment needs most of all is a new and massively improved economic model.

    One not based on the pursuit of attempting to satisfy every increasing demands for corporate growth, we must do away with share portfolio’s and yet this is what our retirement funds do with our contributions — What a mad world, we’re funding our own demise, an we’re voluntarily electing our own oppressors.

    If only civil, humanitarian, animal rights and that of the environment were treated with the respect that they deserve, we would have a better chance, however we don’t stand a chance under the current economic model.

    The evidence is clear, while corporate profits are up, the health of the environment is negatively effected.

    Let’s go Eco-Socialism.

  • DHFabian

    The US shipped out a huge number of our manufacturing jobs since the 1980s, shrinking its contribution to climate change. Further, we ended actual welfare in the 1990s, and the country has steadily grown poorer, further reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. We no longer have a way to rebuild the economy, and as deep poverty continues to grow, far less fossil fuels are consumed.

  • DHFabian

    We only have power over what happens in the US. We’ve known about the “urgent need” to reduce our dependency on oil ever since the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s. What we learned is that high fuel prices and shortages can damage political careers. Our middle class have fought every effort over the past half-century to invest in a modern, Euro-style mass transportation system, necessary to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads (thereby reducing US fuel consumption).

  • DHFabian

    Incidentally, how about human rights? The UN’s UDHR, which the US reportedly signed, lists food and shelter as fundamental human rights — even for the jobless poor. Americans disagree, and we ended actual welfare aid 20 years ago. So far, the overall life expectancy of the US poor has fallen to age 60-62, below that of some third world countries.

  • Southern

    We have to be the change. and that change has also gotta come from within. f.e. I’m unable to afford an electric vehicle and somehow reluctant to try cycling around to the nearest train station in order to reduce my carbon foot print and fossil fuel dependency, my solution is to travel on a motorbike which is far more fuel efficient.

  • Southern

    The US signs many things, hardly ever ratifies them, so what about human rights, that the basics of these are denied in the US ?

    You realize that the Saudies are in charge of a human rights panel at the UN — I strongly doubt that they’re fully focused and dedicated to respecting the UNHR.