I've travelled a bit in Africa, Middle East, and Asia. What strikes me, in all of these places, is that often in the most poverty-striken areas, things that people look up to are big cars, and smartphones. Not sanitation, hygeine, food security etc . This brings up an interesting question: if developing countries have the potential to 'skip' a heavy fossil fuel burning energy intensive stage in their development, how can this be achieved if the example being set is still very inefficient and fossil-fuel based? What I'm getting at is how can developing nations be convinced that being green is something to look up to? If in Ethiopia, where car ownership is less than 10 per 1000 people, instead of looking up to the owning of a big Toyota Land Cruiser, people look up to sustainable options...

  • 2
    I would counter that first a mindset change is needed in developed countries where ever bigger/better/faster products are constantly being produced, with nary a thought about their long-term impacts.
    – LShaver
    Dec 6, 2017 at 23:38
  • I agree with this, although developed countries have got a lot of major changes to make in the sense of 'old habits die hard'. In places where there is for instance no electricity yet, there are no old habits to change, so basically a step can be skipped.. Dec 7, 2017 at 20:57
  • @LShaver Indeed. the example being set is still very inefficient and fossil-fuel based is set by the 'developed' world.
    – user2451
    Dec 21, 2017 at 12:55

3 Answers 3


What those countries has in common are non-existant infrastructure like banking system, electricity and sewage.

So comfort in everyday life is not there.

A good car delivers instant gratification. It is more affordable than a house, has air conditioning and temporary isolation from the atmosphere.

A terrible long term solution, but a great one for the short term.

If solar cells, recycling, etc. are affordable, available and convenient, (solar cells and health care are not) AND produces instant comfort or relief from everyday situation, I don't think anyone will oppose.

See how the majority of immigrants do in their hosting countries.


People world-wide like status. I return to the South Pacific I take WalMart bags from America. The ladies love to go to town with them. It means someone in our family is rich enough to go there or our friend can go there. Same with the big cell phone. A vehicle says I can out run you, ford deeper rivers and climb up the side of a mountain faster to get away from the gun fire.

As for green of the main road most are. Tropical soil is very sensitive. To make it last takes effort. They take it as farms need to last for the next generation. Americans just don't recognize the farming methods used.

Waste -- the kids walk the beach after storms and typhoons. All that is good is salvaged. Go by the dumps -- the dump pickers remove all that can be reused. In town set a bottle down. Turn your back on it. Gone -- some kid has it for deposit.

Electric? the wire will come in 20 years they hope. Litter is picked up by the poor if it can be sold. Nothing goes to waste in Asia. They're much more green than America is, in most ways. Asians are very clean. They bath daily or more.

Africa is different. It was to be the miracle of the 21st century. It is the last place in the world were food production can be increased tenfold. Mineral rich. So we went in and showed some how to do this. Maize went from 20 bushel to 100 bushel to the acre. The next week the next village over attacks. You have more than them. Go to their school -- they need pens. So take a gross with you. But they can not use them. Why? There are 30 students. Yes, but you only have 24 pens. Yes? They will kill each other over the pens.

Soon Africa will be invaded. The world needs the food. The Africans will not raise. There is the problem. Give a man a job. He will work one day. The next day he comes with his wife. To tell her how to do the job. So what is the answer? You want green? leave no scrap behind like in SE Asia to go to waste.

  • Those are a lot of interesting claims you make. Can you add your sources to back them up?
    – Turion
    Dec 20, 2017 at 11:09
  • Been there worked there on my job before retiring. Seen the world on the Company card.
    – J Bergen
    Dec 20, 2017 at 12:10

It will not be achieved. There is a budget of around 500 billions USD worldwide (advertising spending per year) to make sure that people look up to big cars and smartphones.

For any poor country, you can compare the communication budget of the environment agency against that of advertising and you can get an idea of the rate of environmental destruction.

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