The Politics of Development
To be sure, one wants to know what the most probable outcomes are. They represent baselines to work from and indicate what is most likely to result if nothing new or different is done. The challenge in development work is how to make possible outcomes that are deemed desirable somehow more probable.
It is often said that human beings only change under the most terrible of circumstances. Today in the Third World the connection between catastrophe and human ingenuity is being dramatically and extensively confirmed. Asians, Africans, and Latin Americans suffer from an almost endless list of ills. Yet millions of people in these continents are working through hundreds of thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to survive and build a better life for themselves and their children.
Since World War II the absolute number of the poor in the Third World has increased dramatically as improvements in public health produced declines in death rates without concomitant declines in fertility. However, it took a newer crisis, global environmental degradation, to begin to drag poverty and population to center stage.
American awareness of global environmental issues increased dramatically during the sweltering summer of 1988, as speculation mounted that the symptoms of global warming had begun. And the burning of the Amazon, dramatized on television, began to link "ecophobia" to what was happening in the Third World. Then, in November 1989, Chico Mendez, an independent Brazilian rubber tapper who had organized his fellow fazendeiros to save the forest, was murdered.