Environmental Pollution in Developing Nations

When examining the issue of environmental justice from a global perspective Adeola [31] presents three theoretical frameworks: dependency theory, the internal colonialism perspective, and the global environmental justice perspective. Each of these three perspectives will now be discussed.

Dependency theorists contend dependence is a condition in which the economy of certain countries, such as Third World countries, is influenced by the development and expansion of the economy of other countries, such as industrialized nations [32]. In this situation, the less developed nations are dependent upon the industrialized nations for their economic livelihood. The dependency theory focuses on industrialized nations shifting environmental burdens disproportionately to developing nations [31,33,34].

The internal colonialism perspective is another theory related to global environmental justice issues. According to Blauner [35], internal colonialism, unlike classic colonialism, is a condition where the dominant group and the subordinate groups coexist and are indigenous within the same culture. The dominant group represents a majority, as is the situation with the Ogoni minority and the dominant ethnic groups in Nigeria (which will be discussed later in this chapter). The three classic elements of internal colonialism in Nigeria include: (1) an ethnic-centered leadership, controlling and exploiting the natural resources of oil-rich minority communities for the benefit of the dominant ethnic groups; (2) the union between core ethnic groups such as the military, multinational corporations (MNCs), political elites and other state enterprises that represses the minorities; and (3) widespread damaging ecological disruption followed by the destruction of the basic modes of subsistence of the minority population.

The third theory offered by Adeola is the global environmental justice perspective. This perspective focuses on the pattern of the distribution of hazardous waste and toxic agents, including substances banned in the U.S., following the path of least resistance from developed nations in the North to developing nations in the South. Adeola contends that developing nations in the South are becoming reservoirs of garbage, toxic waste, DDT, and other hazardous products produced in industrialized nations. "Annually, approximately 50% of the officially acknowledged volume of exported hazardous waste is channeled to less developed nations. The number of countries involved in export and import schemes, volume of trade, and properties of materials involved are often difficult to establish due to the covert and criminal nature of the transactions" [31]. In the 1980s the number of Third World countries accepting hazardous waste increased when these countries faced difficult economic times.

Adeola argues that those most responsible for industrial pollution are the ones with the wealth and power. According to Adeola MNCs strip developing countries of their natural resources such as timber and minerals, as well as hydroelectric and other mega-industrial projects. In these developing countries, the indigenous people and other poor and marginalized groups bear the brunt of the negative environmental disruption caused by resource extraction.

The dumping of toxic waste is another problem faced by developing nations. Adeola argues that the disproportionate environmental burden these developing countries bear constitutes a violation of basic human rights: "Because human rights involve the assurance of people's means of livelihood, any threats to environmental bases of livelihood could be considered a violation of basic human rights" [31]. Adeola contends there are several factors contributing to the environmental injustices taking place in developing nations. One is the fact that most developing nations do not have rigorous national environmental laws and sanctions against polluters, thus leaving the vulnerable people little means of achieving legal action. Second, most developing nations are desperate to accept pollution for economic gain, making these countries attractive to MNCs for the disposal of their toxic waste dumping. According the Baram [36] and Moyers, [37] MNCs' operations in underdeveloped countries involve the use of hazardous products, the extraction of natural resources, and the spread of toxic substances, all of which pose immediate and long-term health risks to the indigenous people.

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