Secrets, Lies and Democracy (Interviews with Noam Chomsky) Copyright © 1994 by David Barsamian
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The coming eco-catastrophe

Radio listener: What's happening in the growing economies in Southeast Asia, China, etc.? Is it going to be another example of capitalist exploitation, or can we expect to see some kind of change in their awareness?

Right now, it's catastrophic. In countries like Thailand or China, ecological catastrophes are looming. These are countries where growth is being fueled by multinational investors for whom the environment is what's called an "externality" (which means you don't pay any attention to it). So if you destroy the forests in Thailand, say, that's OK as long as you make a short-term profit out of it.

In China, the disasters which lie not too far ahead could be extraordinary -- simply because of the country's size. The same is true throughout Southeast Asia.

But when the environmental pressures become such that the very survival of people is jeopardized, do you see any change in the actions?

Not unless people react. If power is left in the hands of transnational investors, the people will just die.

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