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I’m Killing Environmental Activists

virgin rainforest Brazil

Virgin forestland near Nova Ipixuna, Brazil.

Oil in my car. The diamond in my engagement ring. Small metal components in my electronic devices.

I don’t know for sure where any of these materials came from. It’s possible no one was hurt in obtaining them. It’s also possible someone was killed trying to protect the land from which they were harvested.

“The world’s poorest countries are home to the resources that drive the global economy… It is poor people and activists who increasingly find themselves in the firing line.”

Many days, I try to remind myself of my good fortune. I was born where, when and the color I am – an unlikely scenario considering the length of human history and the current concentrations of the global population. I say good fortune because I do not have to worry about food or shelter or the likelihood that my daughter will live to her 5th birthday. Beyond sexism (which has not, as far as I know, endangered my life directly), I don’t fear any “ism” repercussions of my basic identity. So, so many people do. Everyday, everywhere.

Another aspect of that good fortune is access to a range of products that make my life more enjoyable. A relatively decent car. Pretty jewelry symbolizing a significant promise. The iPad on which I check my email while getting paid for my renewable plasma.

Yet another perk of being here and now? Knowledge. My position connects me to endless information, and an education for separating the valid from the erroneous. So when I read an article about why environmental activists are getting killed while defending their homes, I can’t ignore my involvement.

“Mexico may be an extreme case, but experts say it points to the connection between the consumption of goods in the rich, industrialized nations and the environmental and human toll in poor nations.”
Don’t be fooled. Like it or not, we’re deeply connected to distant countries and their cultures. No one’s saying you have to stop making purchases, but make use of the resources you’re so fortunate to have, and use them to make the world a little better. You might even find it makes you happier. A bit less “stuff,” a lot more focus on what’s important. Extra time to visit a thrift store or fair trade shop, and vote with your dollars.

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