Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tending to Eden – the link between poverty and the environment

Hillside garden where once there was rainforest.

If you think that poverty is an issue we must do something about, then you need to read the book “Tending to Eden” by Scott Sabin.  It presents how poverty is inextricably linked to environmental degradation and that if we are to care for the poor, we must also take care of the environment.  This became apparent to me after several visits to Haiti.  In US we are shielded by government infrastructure from the effects of environmental degradation, while in Haiti most people live directly off the land, obtaining water, food, and fuel directly from the source (streams and wells, the land, and trees).  Helping the poor is a mandate common to most religious beliefs.  And to do this, we must also protect the environment.  Another great source of information mentioned in “Tending to Eden” is the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment which assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being.

Bottom line – if you care about the poor, you must take care of the environment.  If your church or other organization is challenging you to help the poor, challenge your church to include the environment in that calling.
Spring from which people obtain drinking water.
Woman washing clothes at drinking water source (and where livestock are on the banks with access to the water!).