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Sacrifice Zones

Sacrifice Zones

As our problems mount, more of Earth’s people will be seen as disposable.

Source: Encorenature.org


A “sacrifice zone” refers to when one community’s health is sacrificed for the sake of another, often for profit or maintaining a way of life in that more fortunate community. A sacrifice zone is often a community living in proximity to pollutants, contaminated water, or some other manmade hazard. People in these communities are often poor and seen as disposable or a “cost of doing business” by those who benefit from the situation.

One clear example is Cancer Alley in the state of Louisiana, in the United States. This area of Louisiana stretches between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, has a high concentration of petrochemical plants, and as a result, boasts cancer rates 50 times higher than the national average. For those of us enjoying the plastics, chemicals, and gasoline that come from this region, we are indirectly supporting this sacrifice zone.

There are plenty of sacrifice zones around the world that we tolerate because they make our lives more convenient.

Quintero and Puchuncavi in Chile are home to the Ventanas industrial complex that includes oil refineries, petrochemical plants, coal-fired power plants, gas terminals, and a copper smelter. David Boyd, the United Nations (UN) envoy for human rights and the environment, warned that Chile is facing a “frightening and interconnected environmental crisis” that is violating the rights of millions of people at the industrial complex known as the “Chilean Chernobyl.” People from the area suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases at a disproportionate rate. Infant mortality and cancer rights are also much higher than average

Kabwe, Zambia: The lead and zinc mine at Kabwe closed in 1994 after operating for nearly 100 years. The site is still negatively impacting the population. Lead poisoning has damaged the internal organs and brains of the children who live there.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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