GB No. 4, spring 1991


Before the war, one charitable society decided to organize a ball, the proceeds of which were earmarked for support of the poor. Obviously, the ball had to represent a "suitable" level, in order to encourage rich people to attend. The level was so suitable, in fact, that the ball not only failed to bring in proceeds, but incurred costs so large that they had to be paid by the proceeds of order organizations. Indeed, a ball was held, at the expense of poor.

Lately, it seems to me, similar benefactors have undertaken actions in the name of saving the threatened Polish natural environment. It began with the influx of Western journalists "deeply interested in helping the Polish ecology". This has lasted a pretty several years. The scheme is almost always the same. Someone's acquaintance announces that very important people are coming - no one knows from where, but important. They must be housed, fed, taken around Poland, provided with interpreters, meet all the well-know ecologists (and not only ecologists) visit all the catastrophic regions - and of course on a sunny day so that they can take photographs. In exchange, they will garner considerable financial contributions and insure the support of influential politicians for the cause of saving Polish natural life. And so children are sent to their grandparents', while a Doctor of Natural Sciences serves as translator and chauffeur, spending their entire pension in a few days on food and gasoline. However, the Guests turn out to be dilettantes with good intentions, or provincial activists from some obscure municipality (with proportional resources), or journalists (usually leftists) from not-two influential journals, who forget to send the article, written after their visit, saying nothing whatsoever about money. It's very nice to be a Western "ecologist" at the expense of the poor Poles. Only the pollution won't be reduced that way.

Recently our editorial office came across a most curious case: a Western pro-ecology group, spending their money on meetings in pub-hotels (it is necessary, after all, to build prestige), on collective visits here in Poland, and on printing a description of Polish calamities in a little-know language (through on excellent paper), decided to give our office, for publication of our journal... 20$ (naturally we didn't accept). [...]

There is yet another dimension of this prodigality - we refer to it as "moral". Various Western government institutions declare that they want to do something for the Polish ecology. Perhaps electrofilters, or waterpurification? Pleas! They want to send us yet one more survey station to take precise measurements of contamination levels - ideally in the most critically polluted regions, where contamination exceeds normal levels not by 5 but by 50 or 500 times - for instance, in Silesia. The offering parties wish to obtain the results of the surveys - and an array of other information needed for scientific study. Dear well-wishers, until you assist us in reducing pollution in Silesia to such a point that it exceeds normal levels by only a few times, you can keep your survey stations.

One can see by the naked eye that it's a very bad situation, indeed. We are not rabbits, subject to examination by experts in order to see how much man can tolerate. Install just one electrofilter and only then come and take your measurements. Similar politics apply to the regions contaminated after Chernobyl - and here one can already speak of the criminal experiments in Soviet - Western cooperation. And so - beware of philanthropists!

Jan Załęski
translation Tenley Adams
from magazine:
"Serwis Ochrony ¦rodowiska" No 14/90
address of editorial staff:
Iza Brodacka, Poznańska 21/20
Warszawa, tel. 296635

GB No. 4, spring 1991 | Contents