Earth, Exploitation and Other Dreaded E-words.

Why would anyone sit on the damp floor of a stop at Warwick University Bus Interchange (on a gloomy day) with some chalk and draw this? I don’t even think anybody at the stop noticed it and when I returned days later, it had faded away. As someone who’s into photography, it definitely caught my eye. I wish I knew who drew it so I could unleash a myriad of questions at them. However, I don’t, so it will forever remain a mystery. The narrative I find comfort in is that it was written for me. Perhaps I, who had no in-depth understanding of different global crises, was destined to stumble upon this piece, and embark on a journey towards political sobriety.

What does the world need saving from?

There’s no easy answer to that – the world needs to be saved from a number of things, including itself. But I’ll try to focus on unfair trade with the developing world today. To be blunt, the world needs to be saved from multi-billion pound industries, that are pumping out products, to the developing world’s (and planet earth in general’s) demise. A few weeks back, I talked about the impact that the fashion industry has on our clean water supply and aquatic life. You can read that here:

But the fashion industry is just one player on the team. The food industry plays a mean striker: I read that 50% of the world’s grain supply goes to the western world. 25% of the grain supply goes just towards feeding livestock in the west because the meat and dairy industry is thriving in this part of the world. 25% is enough grain for both China and India combined (George, 1991).

Doesn’t that make you feel sick? We indulge so much that even our animals are indulgent. But we don’t care because we don’t experience famines. Speaking of famines, where does that final quarter go?

It goes to the developing world, of which much of the grains are produced. The west exploits developing countries for their produce by buying it super cheap so that the workers in agriculture and fashion in the developing world countries can just about survive, without adding any value to their produce or country. This way, said countries are (and for decades have been) in an unending cycle of unfair trade. These, my friends, are called “cash crops”. In fact, there was some work against cash crops by the United Nations, but Henry Kissinger threatened to remove funding from the UN if they were to proceed (George, 1991). The world food supply is actually enough to feed us all – it’s just not distributed fairly. And then of course, the overcrowding and natural famine arguments step in. But these arguments are merely excuses; they are excuses designed to shame the starving.


References: George, S. (1991). How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger. London: Penguin Books, pp.23-52.

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