Presentation Title

Trouble in Paradise: Water Pollution in Southeast Asia

Faculty Mentor

Chris Loeffler

Start Date

17-11-2018 8:30 AM

End Date

17-11-2018 8:45 AM

Location

C155

Session

Oral 1

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Historically, inhabitants of the remote regions in the Southeast Asian islands have sustained themselves through fishing and agriculture. As industrialization and western capitalism start to infiltrate these regions these ancient traditions are starting to disappear. This research project examines how fishermen and farmers in this region are changing their subsistence strategies to adapt to the increasing pollution of local water sources. The pollution is a result of multiple factors including: domestic and foreign plastic waste, chemical runoff from textile manufacturing, and the importation of packaged goods. This degradation of the environment is exacerbated by the lack of organized waste management and the ineffective execution of the government’s environmental policies. Because the plastic and chemical pollution is affecting the rivers and oceans from which farmers and fisherman make their living -- these tradesmen are resorting to more readily available jobs such as collecting recyclables and working in textile factories. These new subsistence strategies result in less potential income, lower quality of life for the workers and their families, and further health degradation of the people and their environment. I use the environmental, social, and political conditions of the countries of Tuvalu,The Philippines, and Indonesia to represent a microcosm of traditional farmers and fisherman in developing and underdeveloped countries worldwide. I plan to demonstrate how this shift in the traditional subsistence strategies of this region feeds into a vicious cycle that will end up negatively impacting lower socio-economic Southeast Asian people for generations. I also discuss current environmental and political conditions and possible solutions to address this growing problem.

Summary of research results to be presented

Through my research I was able to conclude that the plastic pollution in Southeast Asia is a multi-dimensional problem with no easy solution. If the governments of these regions were to enforce stricter environmental policies they would be risking retaliation by the international corporations that employ their citizens. If money was invested into efficient waste management systems, these systems would likely not be able to reach more remote areas and would not fully address the root cause of the pollution. Finally, environmental rehabilitation such as bioremediation and phyto-remediation can nurse wildlife habitats and freshwater ecosystems back to health. However, if the rates of pollution continue to increase as expected, then the rehabilitation will not be able to keep up with the environmental degradation. The best solution I have found for this problem based on the research I have conducted is that of consumer responsibility. If consumers became more conscious about where their foreign made products came from and chose only to support corporations that made ethical goods then there would be a shift in demand. By showing a demand for ethically and sustainably made goods companies would change their manufacturing processes to stay on trend. This would alleviate the pressure on Southeast Asian governments and their people who would’ve faced major consequences if they were to fight for this outcome themselves. Additionally, it would come at a comparatively minimal cost to consumers. A potentially long term solution to this problem would be established.

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Nov 17th, 8:30 AM Nov 17th, 8:45 AM

Trouble in Paradise: Water Pollution in Southeast Asia

C155

Historically, inhabitants of the remote regions in the Southeast Asian islands have sustained themselves through fishing and agriculture. As industrialization and western capitalism start to infiltrate these regions these ancient traditions are starting to disappear. This research project examines how fishermen and farmers in this region are changing their subsistence strategies to adapt to the increasing pollution of local water sources. The pollution is a result of multiple factors including: domestic and foreign plastic waste, chemical runoff from textile manufacturing, and the importation of packaged goods. This degradation of the environment is exacerbated by the lack of organized waste management and the ineffective execution of the government’s environmental policies. Because the plastic and chemical pollution is affecting the rivers and oceans from which farmers and fisherman make their living -- these tradesmen are resorting to more readily available jobs such as collecting recyclables and working in textile factories. These new subsistence strategies result in less potential income, lower quality of life for the workers and their families, and further health degradation of the people and their environment. I use the environmental, social, and political conditions of the countries of Tuvalu,The Philippines, and Indonesia to represent a microcosm of traditional farmers and fisherman in developing and underdeveloped countries worldwide. I plan to demonstrate how this shift in the traditional subsistence strategies of this region feeds into a vicious cycle that will end up negatively impacting lower socio-economic Southeast Asian people for generations. I also discuss current environmental and political conditions and possible solutions to address this growing problem.