Introduction

The implications of pollution and climate change are serious for even the most well-developed countries, but they are quite devastating for the poorer ones. It is not acceptable, for both pragmatic and moral reasons, to have a world in which many people enjoy superfluous luxury while others are in the grip of famine, disease and death.

The advances of science and technology have provided the means to tackle this situation; what is lacking is the will to take the necessary action. Even with the necessary will, there are formidable obstacles to be overcome, in particular with those connected with the economic, political and psychological situations in the poorer countries. These interact with each other and differ from one country to another, but there are many features common to all. These problems are so complex that it is not possible to do more here than to sketch a few ideas.

Many of the problems of the developing countries have already been discussed in the previous chapters. Thus one of the most serious problems is the shortage of food. Some developing countries are forced by their mounting debts to grow cash crops for export, instead of food for their own people. The worldwide neglect of nuclear power has exacerbated the growing shortage of oil, thus greatly increasing its price, and this bears most heavily on the poorer countries. This is now being made worse by growing crops to produce biofuels, and as discussed in Section 3.9 this is raising the price of food still further.

The tribal wars endemic in many countries, especially in Africa, have led to their spending vast sums on importing weapons instead of building hospitals and schools and investing in more efficient agricultural machinery and fertilisers. The loss of life and the damage caused by these wars worsen their situation. The breakdown of tribal authority has lowered moral standards, leading to the spread of AIDS and other diseases.

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