Communication Between Cultures

(Sean Pound) #1
tracts of arable land in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia for agricultural
Adding to the burden of agricultural production is the decline in pelagic resources
resulting from fish stock depletion, ocean pollution, and climate change. According
to the United Nations, over 10 percent of the world’s population relies on fisheries
for a living. However, the industry is facing a number of threats, ranging from“illegal,
unreported and unregulated fishing to harmful fishing practices to wastage to poor
governance.”^18 This has resulted in more than 80 percent of ocean fish being har-
vested at or above their sustainability levels and the wholesale destruction of the
world’s coral reefs.^19 Amelioration of this situation will require extensive interna-
tional agreements covering a broad range of topics, such as quotas, permissible prac-
tices, type and extent of punishment for violations, and, most challenging,
cooperative monitoring and policing of the ocean commons. The extent of the prob-
lem and number of involved nations make this an extremely difficult task but a nec-
essary one if we are to ensure that the oceans remain a reliable source of food.
According to the President of the Earth Policy Institute, Lester Brown,“We are
entering a time of chronic food scarcity, one that is leading to intense competition
for control of land and water resources—
in short, a new geopolitics of food.”^20
The implications of this evolving situa-
tion are multiple. International coopera-
tion will be required on a grand scale to
guarantee adequate food availability,
avoid detrimental competition, and
ensure continued political viability. In
addition to cooperative programs and
international agreements, some solutions may have to center around changing tradi-
tional dietary practices, a daunting cultural challenge.
Evolving conditions are worsened by environmental degradation, pollution, and
climate change. The destruction of natural habitats, such as wetlands and woodlands,
for industrial and residential development (along with other factors, such as pollu-
tion) is contributing to the extinction of plant and animal species at an accelerating
pace. Pollution is a significant and continually growing problem throughout the
world, including our oceans. A 2015 study revealed that as much as 8 million metric
tons of plastic trash enters the ocean every year. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
stretches for hundreds of miles across the Pacific Ocean and consists primarily of non-
biodegradable plastics that only break down into smaller and smaller particles, ulti-
mately to be ingested by marine life. Domestic water pollution is also a growing
problem throughout the world. According to a 2014 government report, almost
60 percent of China’s underground water was so polluted that it could not be con-
sumed without treatment. Surveys by the Environmental Protection Agency disclosed
that pollution prevented 40 percent of U.S. rivers, lakes, and estuaries from being
used for fishing or swimming. The waters are so polluted with runoff sewage and gar-
bage in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay, site of the 2016 Olympic sailing and wind-
surfing events, that some officials have registered concern about the health risks to
the athletes. Air pollution continues to be an enervating health factor in many parts
of the world, especially China and India. Moreover, air pollution does not respect
national borders. Recent reports have revealed that industrial emissions produced in


How do you believe we can get people throughout the
world, and from a variety of cultures, to engage in humani-
tarian cooperation? Is such engagement possible?

10 CHAPTER 1•Intercultural Communication: A Requirement for the Interdependent Global Society

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