Johannesburg (CNSNews.com) - One of the participants at the "People's Earth Summit," a parallel (protest) event to last week's United Nation's-sponsored Earth summit, said, "If anyone in a developing country looks to the U.S. and wants a lifestyle like the average American--it's total bull---t!"
Paula Snyder, an American who is traveling around the developing world to promote various Green causes, told CNSNews.com , "Greed is the enemy - the underlying problem is greed, and that leads into most of the problems with the ecological system and the political system."
The People's Earth Summit was held at St. Stithians College near the U.N.'s main summit site in Johannesburg.
"We're going to need 16 more planets if everyone aspires to be like an average American," Snyder added.
'Social change project'
Snyder is traveling throughout the developing world as part of her "social change project," sponsored in part by the Earth Island Institute and Patch Adams, the famed doctor, known for his social activism and irreverent style.
Snyder said she has learned through her travels that residents of the world's poorer nations only think they want to emulate America.
"They want what we have -- but they don't realize how ugly it is," Snyder said.
Snyder implored her fellow Americans to "stop using so much...stop driving everywhere or carpool, stop wearing clothes that have brand names on them, stop using paper napkins for everything, stop using paper cups, carry your own travel mug, read Julia 'Butterfly' Hill's book, One Makes a Difference . It's the little things that really do make change." Hill is the young woman who lived in a California redwood tree for two years to protest logging practices.
"I wish I could make a total redistribution [of wealth]," Snyder said. "Things are going to change. They have to," she added.
"A lot to learn"
Katie Silberman told CNSNews.com, "I think the developing world has a lot of lessons for us as Americans in terms of limiting our consumption and reducing our waste."
Silberman is from the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health, the group that led the heckling of Secretary of State Colin Powell during his address last week at the Earth Summit. (see story: American Environmentalist: 'I'm Ashamed For My Country')
"The American way of life at this point is so overblown in terms of materialism and consumption," Silberman explained. "We actually have a lot to learn from the Southern Hemisphere in terms of community health," she added.
Silberman cautioned against too much growth in the developing world. "We live on this one small planet and it only has a certain carrying capacity," she said.b?
'The natural way'
Eleven-year-old Akshit Batra, an Indian representative of the "Children's Earth Summit," said "greed of the people" is destroying the earth.
"People are very corrupt, they are not worried about the environment, they are not worried about the next generation," Batra said.
He said U.S. citizens "should try to change their lifestyle according to the natural way and farmers should decrease the use of pesticides."
Richard Navarro, the chairman of Friends of the Earth International (FoEi) spoke at a People's Earth Summit conferences entitled, "Earth Democracy: Your Earth Rights."
FoEi played a prominent role in the main summit, and Navarro was sharply critical of the summit's final outcome. He said the world gathering was "hijacked by free market ideology, by a backward-looking, insular and ignorant U.S...."
Navarro's speech to the "People's Earth Summit" focused on the "ecological debt" owed by the industrialized "North to the [developing] South" for the North's pollution and consumption habits.
"How can a person on this planet have more right than others to consume more?" asked Navarro.
According to Navarro, men also owe the women a "debt" for gender bias, and he spoke of the debt that a "white person has with colored persons and indigenous peoples" because of racial discrimination.
In fact, all of mankind has "a debt from our species to the rest of nature," according to Navarro.
"Other species take from nature only what they need to survive," he stated. "Which other species has the capacity to destroy the earth?" Navarro asked.
Navarro said that the September 11th terrorist attacks on the U.S. were a tragic criminal act, but he noted, "That very same day, there were 7,000 people dying of diseases related to water [sanitation]. Isn't that also a crime?"
Herbert Girardet, chairman of the British-based Schumacher Society, said he was unhappy with the main Earth Summit because it was reduced to the "lowest common denominator - in other words, what the Americans think is okay."
Girardet said the agenda of the People's Summit was not to look at "what is possible, but what is necessary."
"The Earth is in such a profound sense of emergency" and "we must create a new equality between human life and the natural world," explained Giradet.
People at the People's Earth Summit waved posters reading, "Earth Spirituality"; "Free Trade Means Famine"; and an anti-genetically-modified-food poster reading, "Seed to Bread, Farmer to Farmer."
E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.
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