Wealth Not Health

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					        Wealth                 Health…

  A Principle Challenge to Global Health:
The Relentless Pursuit of Economic Growth

               Maureen McCue MD PhD
             Coordinator Iowa Chapter PSR
     Global Health Studies/Center for Human Rights
                   University of Iowa
           Unlimited Wealth:
        Increasingly Sick Global
• Modern Economies disregard the rules & limits of
  Mother Earth … and the rights of many of earth’s
• Wealth accrual is based on the destruction of
  irreplaceable, priceless natural & cultural treasures
  . . . here in the USA and around the planet—
• Related Activities Make us all sick! – some more
  or faster than others!
• On a single life support system, planet earth, what
  goes around comes around!
"We have lived by the assumption that what was good
for us would be good for the world. …this has been
based on the even flimsier assumption that we could
know with any certainty what was good even for us.

We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our
personal pride & greed the standard of our behavior
toward the world-- to the incalculable disadvantage of
the world & every living thing in it.

…now, perhaps very close to too late, our great error
has become clear. It is not only our own creativity--our
own capacity for life--that is stifled by our arrogant
assumption; the creation itself is stifled.”
           The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry
 Pursuing Wealth at the Expense of
 Health Leaves Everyone Suffering
Some Cases:
#1 Wealthy Nicaraguan Man’s Security
   Guard fatally shoots daughter
#2 US Pregnant Women Carry Chemical
   Cocktails their bodies1
#3 US Health Care Providers Carry Blood
   Chemical Load2
1 Woodruff et al. Environmental Health Perspectives Jan 14, 2011
2 Wilding et al. Hazardous Chemicals in Health Care. PSR Report
In Contrast,
    Today’s Health Messages: apolitical,
 uncontextualized, lack attention to privilege
       or underlying causes ill health
  Ex: The Traditional 10 Tips for Better Health
      Don't smoke. If you can, stop. If you can't, cut down.
      Follow a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
      Keep physically active.
      Manage stress by, for example, talking things through and making time to
      If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
      Cover up in the sun; protect children from sunburn.
      Practice safer sex.
      Take up cancer-screening opportunities.
      Be safe on the roads: follow the Highway Code.
      Learn the First Aid ABCs: airways, breathing, circulation.
Actual Health Challenges Globally
Acquisition & Consumption
                                               Extractive Industries
• Extractive Industries, Transnational         Transnational Corps
  Corporations Promote:
  Unhealthy, Unsafe Products,
  Consumption based life styles        Deteriorating Global Health
  Increasing Income Disparity
                                       Climate Change
• Climate Change Driven by
  Extractive Industries Fossil Fuels                   Violence &
• Supported by Militarism Ignoring:                     Militarism
  Environmental & health impacts
  Justice & Human Rights

Complicated By Social Determinants
(race, religion, gender, ethnicity, etc)
     Extractive Industries/TNCs
“Economic Entities In Pursuit of Profit”

• Promote Unsustainable over-consumption!
• Know no boundaries, are unattached to any
  culture or community, & owe no loyalty to
  any individuals or government;
• Set & follow their own operating rules re.
  environment, labor, & human rights
• Drive Rising levels of Greenhouse Gases
  Consumption Based Economies
  Based on Petroleum/Fossil Fuels
• Warf & woof of modern life: virtually every
  manufactured product - vehicles, plastics,
  synthetics, processed goods
• Involve Massive Environmental Pollution &
• Threaten Climate
  & Global Stability/
    “Depression Skyrockets Amidst
        Growing Materialism”*
Consumption-Based Lifestyle:
• A very modern phenomenon
• Associated w/ industrial revolution only
• Not inherent to humanity!
• Not necessarily even a value as ↑―stuff‖ is not
  related to ↑ happiness! i.e.
• Doesn’t Even Work for Consumers!

*Matthew Little, Epoch Times,
Canada Apr 4, 08
                Hidden Actors/
                Power Brokers
Corporate Powerbrokers work beyond public eyes to
  privatize, deregulate, and create corporate market
  access—regardless of the interests, health or well-
  being of those impacted.
Free Market Access & Values Assured by:
• World Trade Organization (WTO)
• International Monetary Fund (IMF)
• International Financial Institutions
• Corporate Dominated Mega Media
• Militaries—Home and Abroad—National, Para-
  militaries, Contract Militaries
       Hidden Actors: Militaries
The current age of corporate globalization has
  been built on international ground rules that
  protect rights of property, contract, & investment.

Thus, products, resources, industries, & finances
move freely while people
who move seeking
improved, safer, healthier
lives are criminalized.
Powerful Companies Sue Countries for
interfering with their “right” to pollute!
Exs: C. Am. Mining & Free Trade Agreements
• Pacific Rim Mining, a Canadian company that
  transferred a subsidiary to Nevada to take
  advantage of CAFTA, is suing El Salvador for at
  least $77 million for the government’s decision to
  deny their application for gold extraction.
• Commerce Group Corporation, based in
  Milwaukee, WI, is suing El Salvador for $100
  million for cancelling its existing exploitation
  permit on the grounds of environmental
  devastation to the San Sebastian River.
   Petroleum Sacrifice Zones
• Shell & Nigeria
• Texaco & Ecuador
• Mississippi &
  Louisiana in Cancer
• BP & Gulf
     Affirming the Right to Health
Mitigating Environmental Degradation
     Involves Many Critical Steps

•Address Structural Causes Ill Health
•Change Societal Values
•Develop, Promote New Economic Models
  In Short, Change the System!
• Poor Health Globally is linked to many forms
  of environmental & social destruction
• Too many world leaders seek to address
  pollution & climate change using the same
  strategies of privatization & concentration of
  resources that have led us into these crises
  in the first place.
• Social Reconstruction Required
 Facing Peak Everything, We have
           No Choice!
We, have to wean ourselves off fossil
 fuel, off oil. Off today’s:
  – Mining Practices, Oil & Gas extraction
  – Unsustainable Consumption
  – Industrial Scale, Exotic off-season
    Agriculture & Food consumption
  – Building, Trading, Shipping,
    Transportation & Waste of stuff!
     Toward Solutions

We have to do several things at once:
• Learn to live w/out fossil fuels
• Adapt to the end of economic growth
• Support/stabilize the earth’s 7 billion people
• Rebuild/rehabilitate our environment
• Learn to Live within Nature’s Budget of
  Renewable Resources
• Hold Corporations Accountable for damage
       Toward Solutions: Many Ways to
              Leave Petroleum
                     Where, When Possible, Avoid:
Gasoline or kerosene for any reason
Bottled water in plastic, plastic bags, plastic shower curtains
Cosmetics, Nail Polish, Toiletries (non-natural) hand/body lotions, hairspray, many dyes
Baby oil, petroleum jelly, plastic toys, crayons
Synthetic rubber, latex pillows, latex bandages
Many paints, acrylics, paint brushes, rollers
Many mops, cleaning utensils, carpet cleaners, floor wax, silver polish, synthetic sponges
Processed foods w/ artificial colors, flavors, preservatives; artificial sweetners, saccharin
Fresh foods wrapped in plastic; non local, non seasonal foods
Teflon, dishwasher detergent, cooking utensils not make of wood, glass, or metal
Candles of paraffin wax
Insecticides, herbicides, repellents
Vinyl or synthetic flooring, many carpets
Asphalt, plexiglass, fiberglass
Man-made fibers: lycra, polyester, nylon, rayon, spandex; fabric softeners
Disposable diapers, all other disposables, plastic plates and cutlery
Meditation, Relaxation rather than Medications whenever possible
 Toward Solutions: 50 Ways to
        Leave Crude
           (apologies to Paul Simon)

Take the Carpool back, Jack
Get Rid of the Van Stan
You don’t need a new toy, Roy
Or an SUV
Hop on the Bus, Gus
Or Ride your bike like the Dutch
Just turn off the key, Lee
And set us all free!
   A few of
      Finding Direction

• Think Community (in transition cities,
  intentional communities, co-housing developments)
• Consider relocalization - building strong local
  communities to ↑ resilience (economies & basic
• Plan for a post carbon future. Begin with resilience
  & self reliance. See:
  – http://www.youtube.com/user/justmultimedia?gl=IE&hl=en-GB
  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ-J91SwP8w
          Sustainable Healthy Living:
       A Potpourri of Simple First Steps
• Buy less, share more, consider hidden costs!
• Install
     – LED lighting when/where possible
     – Programmable Thermostats & Motion Detectors
•   Hang Laundry Out to Dry
•   Plant a Roof
•   Eat lower on the food chain!
•   Drive/live earth smart. Choose high efficiency vehicles &
    appliances or, leave your car at home-walk, bike, bus, and, turn off,
    unplug unused electrical devices
• Get engaged with the political process—work for a clean
  energy & a sustainable future at home & abroad!
• Question Authority!
Simple First Steps
    Start to Dream: Big & Small
―The only deserts that exist in
 this world are deserts of the
 imagination‖     Paolo Lugari.

Designed to be self-sufficient, Las Gaviotas has produced
  innovative, cost-effective projects & made them available
  as viable alternatives for social & economic development
  in both rural & urban areas.
―To make the transition toward a sustainable society it is
  imperative that we take responsibility for our own lives &
  meet our basic needs for food, shelter, energy, gainful
  employment, & supportive community.‖
                                    The Tennessee Farm
       Alternative Life Styles:
    Co-housing, Transition Towns
Building a better healthier society, one neighborhood
  at a time! Co-housing residents are consciously
  committed to living as a community
 Just Societies & A Healthy
Planet: Key to Healthy People
   Groups Working on Solutions
Transitions, Climate & Health Rights
 •   Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)
 •   Climate Justice Action (CJA)
 •   Via Campesina
 •   350.org
 •   Jubilee South
 •   Post Carbon Institute
 •   Seventh Generation

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