Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 3: Protecting Natural Resources for All

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HealthWiki > A Community Guide to Environmental Health > Chapter 3: Protecting Natural Resources for All

Men and women around a table outside a home pour honey into jars.

How we use natural resources affects our health and the health of our communities. Because everyone uses natural resources, we all have some part to play in protecting, preserving, and sharing these resources.

Unfortunately, natural resources are not shared equally among everyone. The poor use the least, and the rich use the most. Powerful corporations, governments, and militaries often take a large share of natural resources. Even within a single community, wealthier people use more natural resources than poor people. Often the poor are forced to fight among themselves for what is left. This unfair distribution of resources leads to serious health problems for the poor.

We can talk about conserving natural resources all day long, but so long as inequality continues, environmental health will be a right only for the few who have wealth and power and not the many who need these resources for daily survival. As the Indian leader Mahatma Ghandi said, "There is enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed."