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Sustainability - a view from Nigeria

By Murray Bourne, 21 Jun 2008

At the end of each fortnightly IntMath Newsletter, I sign it with "Please use your education for peace and sustainability."

One of my readers from Nigeria, Claytus, replied and asked:

Talking about peace and sustainability, what exactly do u mean by sustainability and sustainability of what?

I replied to him:

Hi Claytus

Thanks for your question. Sustainability means treating the Earth like it should be treated - not cutting down trees faster than they can grow, not taking too many fish out of the sea faster than they can reproduce, not polluting the air with overpriced gasoline, and so on.

His response:

Thanks for responding. But are u taking into account the growth in population on global scale? Especially in the third world gov'ts and organisations prohibit the people from logging without providing alternative. Some how I agree with you but the realities at hand are frightening.

His reply got my attention, especially the "realities at hand are frightening" part. Yes, it's all very well for developed countries to pontificate about sustainability because in many cases, it could just mean turning off the air conditioner or walking to work. But in developing countries, it's about day to day survival.

I replied:

Hi Claytus

Thanks for your reply.

Yes, global population pressures are a huge issue and that's why I have the population counter on the front page of Interactive Mathematics.

Please tell me more about what alternatives you think governments should provide when they ban logging. What happens in Nigeria? What should happen?

His answer:

Thanks. I think gov'ts should invest heavily on solar energy research. The investment needs to be honest and unbiased in the sense that they should not just give contracts to companies they have substantial interest in. Bearing in mind the enormous power global cooperations have, gov'ts should provide adequate security for the researchers and their families. They should also provide them with enough funds so that they will not look elsewhere. The research output should be made accessible and affordable to the common population especially in the third world.

And that's a great answer.

Thanks, Claytus and thanks for giving me permission to use our conversation. All the best to you.

See the 1 Comment below.

One Comment on “Sustainability - a view from Nigeria”

  1. Sam says:

    Thanks for the interesting post, Zac.

    We ALL have to tighten our belts and live more sustainably.

    It's a case of "Sorry, developing world. The last 150 years of industrialization in the West (and more recently Asia) have raped the world. So you won't have the same opportunities."

    It's pathetic.

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