Tom Knudson’s article, “Shifting the Pain: World’s Resources Feed California’s Growing Appetite,” is an excellent demonstration of Americans’ ethnocentrism. The article was clearly written to make that point. Seldom does the average American stop to think what kind of impact his or her actions have on other parts of the world, especially the environment. Knudson used three excellent examples of how Californians’ protect their own environment at the expense of the environment in Canada and Ecuador. Although Knudson is biased in his article, his examples are solid and he does offer opposing viewpoints. He also gives the Canadian and Ecuadorian governments’ point of view and their reasoning for the diverse conditions between American laws and those of the other countries.
Three different industries were discussed in Knudson’s article, Ecuador’s petroleum industry and the lumber and fishing industries in Canada. In two of these examples, the author’s views of environmental devastation were effectively communicated. In two examples, Knudson demonstrated how Californians’ benefit from the environmental harms which other countries’ governments allow to occur. Canada’s successful regulation system for the fishing industry is also discussed on how environmentally safe practices can be financially sound. Additionally, Ecuador’s petroleum industry and Canada’s logging industry interests are not only protected by their governments, but also have officials defending these practices mentioned and quoted in the article. Canada also has the environmentally responsible side of its successful regulation of the fishing industry offered as contrast that there is such a possibility of successful and safe environmental practices.
In Ecuador, citizens are being poisoned, and even killed, because of the lack of environmental regulations that are in force to protect citizens from the contamination of the environment that the petroleum industry practices on a daily basis. A few people are getting wealthy from the oil being pumped out of Ecuador, but masses of citizens are being sacrificed for these profits. There are no agencies helping these poor, unorganized, uneducated masses fight the government that is allowing its citizens to be slaughtered. It is a typical process in Ecuador to be imprisoned if any resistance against the government is demonstrated.
In Canada, a much more educated and developed country; the natural resources are also being robbed by the resource-hungry California residents. California has strict laws to protect its environment from being harmed by the fishing or logging industries, but the average Californian consumes fish and uses paper and other lumber products without thought to its origin. The logging industry is clear cutting Canada’s boreal forest. The fishing industry has regulations which demonstrate safe environmental practices and have proven to be more successful than California’s strict governmental control policies. In Canada, trawlers are lest wasteful because they have ownership in the value of their asset, including resale value. Californian trawlers, by contrast, are losing ground annually in their stake of their businesses.
I cannot find a point of contention with Knudson. He does an excellent job showing both the successes of sound environmental practices and the injustices Californian greed has plagued upon other counties. Especially well demonstrated is how little Californians, and Americans in general, ever think about how their actions affect the lives of people in other counties. Most especially, Americans do not consider how their actions affect people that have no way of defending their most valuable resource, life itself, from greed. Greed that is fueled by Americans lack of consideration about the tremendous amount of natural resources they use and abuse, on a daily basis.
Knudson, Tom. “Shifting the Pain: World’s Resources Feed California’s Growing Appetite.” The
Sacramento Bee 27 April 2003: Web.