21 Nov 2011:
Garbage Pickers Protest
New Wave of Trash Incinerators
A growing coalition of poor workers who earn a living by scouring trash heaps for recyclables in the world’s poorest cities are protesting new incinerators being built
to convert that trash into electricity.
While the UN has encouraged the incinerators as a means of generating electricity and preventing methane emissions — and the Kyoto Protocol provides nations carbon credits for such projects — many workers say they depend on picking recyclable materials from the waste heaps for their livelihoods. In New Delhi this month, hundreds of waste workers gathered outside UN offices to protest 21 proposed incinerator projects for which India hopes to receive carbon credits. Similar coalitions are forming in Brazil, South Africa, and Colombia. Mahesh Babush, the chief executive for a firm developing numerous trash-to-energy projects in India, told the Washington Post
that the debate should be framed differently. “Do we want the ragpickers to continue working in inhuman, hell-on-earth, unhygienic conditions at these untreated dump sites?” he asked. “Should their sons and daughters do the same?” But critics say it is unrealistic to suggest those workers could find other work. In India alone, an estimated 1.7 million people earn a living by picking through garbage.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
Ugandan scientists monitor the impact of climate change on one of Africa’s most diverse forests and its extraordinary wildlife. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.