Iowa Public Television

 

IMF accused of encouraging environmental destruction

posted on April 21, 2000


WHILE FARMERS ATTEMPT TO SEEK FINANCIAL HARMONY WITH NATURE, MANY OF THE WORLD'S CITIZENS THIS WEEKEND ARE FOCUSING ON THE STATE OF THE PLANET. A FULL AGENDA OF ACTIVITIES, SOME MEANINGFUL, SOME DISINGENUOUS, WILL BE CONDUCTED TO CELEBRATE THE 30th ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY. OVER THE THREE DECADES OF ITS EXISTENCE, THE OBSERVANCE HAS EVOLVED, SOME WOULD SAY HOMOGENIZED, INTO A WELL-MEANING BUT LARGELY INCONSEQUENTIAL EXERCISE OF PUBLIC AFFIRMATION THAT THE ENVIRONMENT COULD BE BETTER.

INDEED, THE SPIRIT OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM MAY WELL HAVE BEEN BETTER, IF NOT MORE FLAMBOYANTLY, DEMONSTRATED EARLIER IN THE WEEK. THEN, PROTESTERS GATHERED IN WASHINGTON TO RAIL AGAINST THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION, THE WORLD BANK, AND THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, CONDEMNING THEM ALL AS AGENCIES OF GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION.

DEMONSTRATIONS NEAR WHERE THE FINANCIAL MINISTERS WERE MEETING THIS WEEK GREW FESTIVE AFTER LAST WEEKEND'S CLASHES WITH POLICE.

PROTESTER: "We need to take care of the business right now - through peace only."

THE CAUSES THAT DREW THE PROTESTERS TO WASHINGTON WERE DIFFUSE, BUT THERE WAS A STRONG ENVIRONMENTAL UNDERCURRENT. DEMONSTRATORS CHARGE THE POLICIES OF THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND PRESSURE DEVELOPING NATIONS TO EXPLOIT NATURAL RESOURCES, LIKE THE RAINFOREST. THEY ALSO ACCUSE THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION OF BREAKING THE GLOBAL RESOLVE FOR TOUGH ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS BY ENCOURAGING THE ELIMINATION OF NON-TARIFF TRADE BARRIERS.

FOR ITS PART, THE I.M.F DECLINED TO ADDRESS SPECIFIC CHARGES, OTHER THAN TO SAY IT'S WORKING TO CORRECT INEQUITIES IN THE WORLD ECONOMY.

ON THE HOMEFRONT, POLICY-MAKERS ARE USING TAX DOLLARS TO INSPIRE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFIT. KANSAS SENATOR SAM BROWNBACK HAS UNVEILED A PLAN TO PAY FARMERS TO EMPLOY CONSERVATION PRACTICES THAT TRAP CARBON DIOXIDE IN THE SOIL. CO2 IS BELIEVED ONE OF THE CHIEF CULPRITS CONTRIBUTING TO GLOBAL WARMING. UNDER THE BILL, THE USDA WOULD DOLE OUT PAYMENTS COVERING FIVE MILLION ACRES NATIONWIDE. THE AGENCY ALSO WOULD MONITOR HOW MUCH CARBON IS REMOVED FROM THE AIR.

ALL THAT GOVERNMENT LARGESSE IS HAVING SOME IMPACT. THOUGH STILL WELL BELOW THE RECORD LEVELS OF 1996, FARM INCOME IN SOME STATES, LIKE KANSAS, MORE THAN DOUBLED LAST YEAR. BOLSTERED BY GOVERNMENT PAYMENTS, THE AVERAGE NET FARM INCOME IN KANSAS IN 1999 WAS $42,488, UP FROM JUST $16, 778 IN 1998.

Tags: Energy/Environment IMF news