A letter to Lawrence summer, the former World Bank president

A letter to Lawrence summer, the former World Bank president.

Dear Sir,

It with a heavy heart I write this letter pertaining your confidential World Bank memo dated back on December 12, 1991. Hoping my letter finds you and your family in good health, I would like to address that memo regarding the exportation of toxic waste from the Europe and America to the undeveloped countries of Africa. The idea and the plan to export toxic waste products from industries in the whole of Europe and American to African content is a wrong and selfish idea. The belief that the only possible way to reduce the pollution in the developed countries in Europe and America is by exporting the toxic waste products to Africa is a fallacy that is widely mistaken and with no sound basis. Sir, with all due respect, the exportation of the toxic material to African countries would only jeopardize their health rather than bring the balance in the quality of the air we breathe, of which you so much cling to. Irrespective of whether African countries have vocal and vibrant environmentalist, their lives are equally worth to those of the people in Europe and America (Durst, 2012). Human life whether black, white, red or Asian are all equal, and the measures are taken to protect and improve the health of the white people should as well be put in place to help improve the lives of the black people. As a fellow human being and one of the most respected leaders in the world, you should fight to protect the lives of all individuals rather than putting all your efforts in jeopardizing the lives of the same people you claim to protect. Invading African continent with toxic materials can only describe as slow invasion and imperialism. Despite having the best interest of your people at heart, your comfort should not come at the expense of another human being.

Given the economic power and capability of the developed countries in Europe and America, there are better ways of addressing this issue of the rise of toxic materials and downgrading of the quality of breathing air in these continents. Let me help you think this through by exploring other available options and alternative to your proposal.  Europe and America host most countries that are regarded as the superpowers both politically and economically. Treatment of these toxic waste products to reduce the toxic level before releasing them to the atmosphere would not be a great deal.  Individual countries need to formulate laws, rules and regulations for industries and companies that are dealing with toxic materials to treat them before their disposal and the failure to conform to the law can lead to loss of operating licenses for these industries and organizations. Come to think sir, Europe and America are bigger than Africa, and the disposal of this toxic material will definitely lead to a downgrading of the quality of air and environment in the continent. Definitely, after few years the toxic level in the continent will get to that in Europe and America (Wenzel, 2012). What will be your next step sir? Where will the extra waste products be taken to? Despite presenting this as a win – win scenario for European countries, it is not a permanent solution, and sooner or later African countries will become aware of your actions and protest.  These protest can lead to global crises something that no one wants after the previous experiences in World War I, World War II and the cold war. Moreover, some of the raw materials for these European powers comes from African countries, and the slightest increase in the toxic level in these countries will lead to a change of weather which affects the production of these raw materials specifically food and animal products. As a result, treatment of these toxic waste products before disposal is the best and viable alternatives.

In addition, environmental conservation through conservation of our forests and broad planting trees in the world can help in purification of the air in the developed countries. Trees are known to be one of the few natural methods of purifying the air and thus rampant tree plantation in most of the developed countries can significantly aid in cleaning the air and reducing the level of toxic materials in the atmosphere. However, it is widely evident know by most individuals in the world that most of the development countries have a high demand for wooden materials something that has led to extensive deforestation. As an alternative, the developed countries should adopt policies to embark on extensive tree growing campaign to save their forests and improve the quality of their breathing air for both human, animals and plants survival. As a matter of fact sir, this may be the best alternative considering that it is cost effective regarding money and knowledge (Nixon, 2015). Tree planting does not require any skills and can be done by everyone at any place especially in the rural areas. Rather than adopting a strategy that will result in both positive and adverse effect, it would be good if all leaders led by you can agree on a more permanent and environmentally friendly method.

Your memo significantly opened my eyes sir on the nature of leaders exist in the world we live today. Your memo showed the much-needed change in perception about the African content and the view that the whites have in the black community. Dead and gone are the days that the black people were treated as slaves and were seen as fewer people. All individuals have equal rights irrespective of their skin color and as a result, the developed countries should aid the developing countries in Africa to develop and improve the living standards of the citizen living in those countries rather than jeopardizing their lives by poisoning the air they breathe. Sir, you made me make a strong conviction that as the globe we need to rethink politically, imaginatively and theoretically (Ramirez-Dhoore, 2012). It is the high time that individuals stop thinking as an individual and rather think of a community and a society considering that we all need each other for survival. Moreover, we need to change our rethinking regarding violence to include slow violence because invading Africa with the toxic material is violence and means no good for the entire continent. In addition, it is clear from the memo that environmentalism of the poor communities is at risk for it is those people with poor economic background and lacking resources becoming the primary casualties and victims of this slow violence and toxic invasion. The concept of the high profile countries and leaders that Africans and the African country consist of disposable people and that they ecosystems are vulnerable needs to change with immediate effect. There should not exist any category as poor considering that the poor is an infinite local variation as well as to fracture others along fault lines of ethnicity, gender, race, class and religion which is unhealthy for the unity of all people. Mistreatment of the less fortunate in the society and world by the big fishes with guns, bulldozers, and money should not be allowed to go on in this century.

In conclusion, I can say that irrespective of our intentions and interests; we should treat other people the way we would like them to treat us.  As a result, we should put all in individual interests apart and put other people’s life and interests into consideration. The World Bank should consider taking and choosing an alternative rather than settling on the exportation of toxic waste materials in Africa continent because this act can only be described as a slow invasion that would only result in adverse effects in the near future (Martinez-Alier, 2014). In addition, as leaders and the global community in general, we need to change perception and the way we view aspects such as invasion and the condition of being poor.


Durst, P. (2012). Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Journal of Ecocriticism, 4(2),, 81-82.

Martinez-Alier, J. (2014). The environmentalism of the poor. . Geoforum, 54, , 239-241.

Nixon, R. (2015). Slow Violence, Gender, and the Environmentalism of the Poor. . Postcolonial Studies: An Anthology,, 515.

Ramirez-Dhoore, D. (2012). Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment,, iss045.

Wenzel, J. (2012). Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. . Safundi, 13(3-4),, 439-443.