Photo: My sister and I throwing up peace signs in Belize in ’05.
Slow violence, in my opinion, is a slow accumulating catastrophe formed by anthropogenic means. The Chesapeake Bay region is affected by slow violence in terms of nutrient pollution. Toxic warfare is an act of slow violence that Belize and Guatemala might face in the near future. Despite its name, slow violence can be detrimental to an environment or a population and should not be taken lightly. If developed countries worked together, we could try and prevent slow violence from destroying ecosystems and populations.
The Chesapeake Bay has been suffering from nutrient pollution due to agricultural runoff. Some of the nutrients that are detrimental to the bay consist of nitrogen and phosphorus. Dr. Fox mentioned in her lecture that nitrogen could sit in the soil and ground water for decades before effecting the environment. So essentially the Chesapeake Bay could be getting an influx of nitrogen that was produced in the 1990’s, but it is just now affecting us. This is an example of slow violence. Nixon notes in his book “slow violence is often not just attritional but also exponential operating as a major threat operator.” The input of nitrogen in the bay is not just reducing the strength; but will continue to escalate over time if we don’t reduce our quantities. We need to start decreasing our nutrient input to be able to see a change in the future. What we chose to do now will affect the outcomes in the future.
Located in Central America, Belize is an underdeveloped country facing the act of slow violence caused by “rich-nations”. Rich nations consist of wealthy, industrialized countries like the United States. According to Nixon, Belize is what the “rich-nations” would call a world’s poorest country. Knowing this, we can look at the threats Belize and Guatemala face when in contact with rich-nations.
Waste disposal is a common problem associated with all countries. This waste can be nontoxic or toxic to the environment. Lawrence Summers, President of the World Bank stated “Off loading rich-nation toxins onto the worlds poorest continent would help ease the growing pressure from rich-nation environmentalists.” First of all, why are you an environmentalist if your intention is to pollute other parts of the world? Being an environmentalist means you want see a change for the better across the globe. Dumping “rich-nation” toxic waste in an underdeveloped country is an act of warfare and is detrimental to a population. Nixon continues to mention “it is those people lacking resources who are principal casualties of slow violence.” People living in an undeveloped country use water to cook food. If the water is polluted with toxic waste, you are killing harmless people. Although this solves the problem for the rich-nation countries, it is only fueling a rivalry between developed and undeveloped countries. To avoid this scenario, the rich-nations need to come together as a unit to try to help these undeveloped countries. Instead of fueling the rivalry, we can avoid these acts of terrorism and slow violence occurrences.
The Chesapeake Bay is faced with constant acts of slow violence in terms of nutrient pollution. Despite many efforts to try and reduce our nutrient input, we might not see a dramatic shift right away. Eventually, all our efforts to decrease excess nutrients will pay off. Rich-nations are threatening to dump their toxic waste into undeveloped countries. This can directly affect Belize and Guatemala and start an act of slow violence. Developed countries should work together to prevent the act of slow violence from occurring and negatively affecting ecosystems and populations.
Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Harvard University and Press. 2011.