What a Poor Reminder
I once spent five weeks studying Environmental Science from a Christian perspective one summer in college on a beautiful island in the Puget Sound of Washington State. One of my professors continually brought up some facts from The State of Human Development: Consumption for Human Development, published by Human Development Reports (a part of the United Nations Development Programme or UNDP) in 1998. These facts are found on page 36 of the article or page 52 if you’re viewing the whole PDF here: http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr_1998_en.pdf
Each year the Human Development Reports create/compile a powerful document about issues that are facing humans that 365 day period. Their focus is on human rights, human capabilities, and of course human development.
In 1998, their focus was on Human Consumption and these are the facts I was reminded of tonight:
Possible Global Priorities? vs. Current Global Priorities
Basic education for all $6 billion vs. $8 billion spent on cosmetics in the U.S.
Water/Sanitation for all $9 billion vs. $11 billion spent on ice cream in Europe
Reproductive health for all women $12 bill. vs. $12 bill. spent on perfumes in Europe/US
Basic health & nutrition $13 billion vs. $17 billion spent on pet foods in Europe/US
And just a few other current global priorites to put things into perspective…
Business Entertainment in Japan-$35 billion, Cigarettes in Europe-$50 billion,
Alcoholic Drinks in Europe-$105 billion, Narcotic Drugs in the Word-$400 billion, and
Military Spending in the World-$780 billion.
It should be noted that all the writing in green are estimated additional annual costs per year and that the values in red are annual expenditures. It should also be noted that these values are 10 years old and can only have raised on both sides of the coin.
I’m sorry, but what are we thinking? If we gave up perfume for one year and used that money differently we could guarantee reproductive health for all women for one year minimum? What have we been doing to ourselves, to our neighbors, to our world?
No, I am not telling you to give up your pets, throw out your ice cream, or perform any ultra-radical or uber-pious actions today. But give these facts some thought, read the Human Development Report from 1998 or anywhere from 1990-2008 at http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/ Then start thinking about what you can do to change these statistics, even if in the end it means you give up wearing perfume and start a blog titled…Why I Gave Up Perfume (which sounds like a great title by the way) about all your activism & advocacy.
Maybe you could keep a chart with the amount of money you spend on dog food each month and then dedicate a matching amount to your favorite Basic Health and Nutrition organization such as the UN’s World Food Program (the world’s largest humanitarian program currently) here…https://secure.my-websites.org/supporter/donatenow.do?n=gbss&dfdbid=1048083 If you like famous people, by donating to the World Food Program you’ll be joining ranks with people like Oprah and Drew Barrymore.
If you don’t have a dog, but do have computer access try these free programs:
http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=1 All you have to do on The Hunger Site is click on the button to get sponsors to donate money which in turn provides hungry people with food. You can do this daily!
or http://freerice.com/ where you play a simple vocabulary-definition game and each question answered right gets 20 grains of rice donated to the aforementioned World Food Program! Homeschooling your children? Teach them vocabulary and how to save the kosmos in just one step with freerice.com!
Neither advocacy nor activism are hard, so let’s get going. Tell me how you’re getting involved!