Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sustainable development?

Here is a short cartoon booklet offering a satirical look at what "sustainable development" often means for indigenous peoples.
H/T Jeremy Kidwell.

Amongst the most vulnerable peoples in the world are the so-called "lost tribes". Did you know that there are still over one hundred tribes around the world who are largely isolated from the rest of the world, in fact who reject contact? For many of these "uncontacted peoples", their immune system has never faced disease or illness and even a common cold can be fatal. Most tribes at first contact experience horrific mortality rates (up to 100% in some cases) from such deadly viruses as the common cold or chickenpox. Many of these groups are not entirely uncontacted, but their experience of civilisation has been of disease, violence, slavery, exploitation and contempt. No wonder they choose to go it alone.

I came across this issue as the result of reading about this story, which presents an interesting ethical debate about the risks that are acceptable in expanding human knowledge. An update to this story can be read here.

UPDATE July 2011: After the failure of the natural history museum project, the real dangers to the ecology and uncontacted tribes of this area are becoming clearer.