Sophia's Peace Work

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I don't mean to rain on your parade but ...

Here we go again .... just another person intent on trying to wake me up from my utopian visions. :)

Yes, another person telling me that there is something more important than "the environment." Come on, people ?... Do you think you could live on the moon and just visit "the environment" on the weekends?

We put out our newsletter and broadcast it out to everyone on our contacts list and got back a few negative comments ... one was about our marshland work, accusing us of being out of touch with what the Marsh Arabs really want today and trying to create some kind of Thesinger Theme Park (Thesinger was a British man who wrote a book about his experiences living in the marshes with the Marsh Arabs back in the 50's long before the drying of the Marshes occurred). Here is an excerpt of my response ...

We have certainly heard such comments before. Working on the environment when Iraq is in such a terrible state might often give the impression that we are "fiddling while Rome burns." But I believe that this is an unfortunately common mistake that many make. In the West we have the impression that "the environment" as a place we visit for the holidays and not something integral to our lives. A case worth considering is that more people are dying in Iraq of environmentally-related sickness and disease than have died from the violent conflict and unrest. We don't see these deaths (they happen quietly in homes and hospitals surrounded by loving families) and they don't make the daily headlines, but they are just as real. Our work to study the marsh in all it's aspects (water quality & biota), is about studying the overall health of the marsh, which is closely linked to the overall health of the human population that lives in and depends upon the marsh.

Beyond just the implications to health, the Marshes do have positive economic and social benefits. Fisherman are beginning to make good wages in the Marshes and we are seeing improvements in the the fisheries of the Gulf. Marshlands are also important for agriculture and the rearing of livestock. In the future, the Marshes will be a prime site for tourism bringing its own economic benefits. We have worked in the marshes area for more than two years now and we've heard the calls for health care, education, communication, etc. No one looking at the issue of marshland restoration can present a recovery plan that focuses just on marshes alone ... we invite you to examine our work more closely and you will find we do try to address these issues. Anyone who works in the marshes knows that the marshes of Thesinger's time will never return.


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