Excellent piece by Patricia McCardle in the NYT today on localism in Afghanistan.
One of the biggest disappointments of the way environmentalism has evolved over the past few decades is the way the Schumacher's fundamental insight about appropriate technology got rolled into an all-ecompassing rejection of modernization. It led to a polarization of the debate, where AT advocates got swallowed by the most radical anti-development activists, while any one opposed to anything except a "consumer-oriented, mechanized, fossil-fuel-based economy" is dismissed as a granola-munching flake.
And then there's Afghanistan, a country that is economically and technologically backwards in any number of ways. But it also possesses domestic technologies and practices that are cheaper, safer, more effective, and - yes - more appropriate to Afghan society than what the Americans and their allies (including Canadians) are trying to force upon the country. And as McCardle points out, there is far more at stake here than you might think:
If donor nations dismiss Afghans’ centuries of experience in sustainability and continue to support the exploitation of fossil fuels over renewable energy, future generations of rural Afghans will be forced to watch in frustrated silence as the construction of pipelines, oil rigs and enormous power grids further degrades their fragile and beautiful land while doing little to improve their lives.
And long after American forces have departed, it will be these rural farmers, not Afghanistan’s small urban population, who will decide whether to support or reject future insurgencies.