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October 10, 2006


Blake Nuto

The statistics always astound me, though I have heard them often. However what shocks me more are the reasons why the Church have failed to act, most of which stem from poor theology. Though Jesus himself said, ‘the poor will always be with you’, and this is a verse so often cited by Christians in order to avoid responsibility, I am with Bono in saying that we have the means and technology to eliminate senseless poverty, if the will of the general populace is behind it.

As Shane asserted, ‘The underlying vital values necessary to ensure a flourishing and healthy life can, in a knowledge based global society, also be said to include access to education.’ Perhaps another reason for this inequality is that the Church has failed to educate ourselves and we have not been assertive in our learning. I agree with the statement that part of the beauty of the church is that it accepts the meek and simplistic (surely I myself would not have been included if it failed to do so), yet leaders in particular have a responsibility to acquire the knowledge needed to make a significant impact the world they wish to reach. It is a travesty that premillenial pessimism is used as an excuse, when it is an issue still plagued by a poor hermeneutic. The wealth of the Pentecostal churches in the States and the money spent on Christian conferences could combine to save numerous lives if only the leaders were better educated on the true mission of Christ.

Furthermore it is interesting that these posts should follow a series in Hillsong church on making poverty history. It seems to me that the interest of the generations is being increasingly applied to the plight of our global neighbours. However sadly we still see little chance of any drastic change in the near future, as action is required not just discussion. Again, to quote Bono from a recent interview with Andrew Denton, it is when the soccer mum’s get behind the fight against senseless poverty that the politicians will listen and give the people what they want. May I pose the question, ‘How will the average person be equipped to be proactive in the fight against poverty unless the institution designed to be the champion of the average person, the Church, educates them to do so?’

May I finish with the example of the rich man and Jesus, a passage often used to promote a simplistic lifestyle of the financially fortunate in order to assist the poor. A recent article posted on the World Vision Australia website suggests that what Jesus was asking for more was a change in status, a call to humility. As we now know that economically there is not a ‘limited good’, a set financial pie, the call to the Church is not just to live an impoverished lifestyle to live in solidarity with the poor, though this may be the call for some. Rather the Church and its people need to combine their skills, education and wealth not for individual success, but with the bold move of lowering their social status in order to redirect these gifts towards the cause of a fairer world.


I guess as I have recently heard a few messages on a Christian response to poverty and as I read all these blogs regarding poverty I am struck by the viciousness of the cycle that poverty takes. It seems that every perspective we look at, every idea we have about how to help alleviate poverty has so many flaws. Yet at the same time, doing nothing doesn't really seem to be an option for us either.

As I reflect on what I personally can do, I end up feeling pretty incapable of really doing much that makes a difference, yet I can't get rid of the feeling that I still want to do something. So I find myself in a place where I believe that I must do what I can, whatever that looks like, and as I can do more, to do more. What else can we really expect of ourselves?

jared shaw

It is the deifnition of blessing and/or prosperity that i am continually compelled to rethink. The Gospel is undoubtedly a social one as well as it is spiritual. Jesus had a lot to say to the poverty-striken populas he adressed so often in first century Roman context. The great polaristaion between the rich and the poor of that day still somewhat reflects and paralels with today's situation. the obvious flaws in prosperity theology lead me to question exactly what prosperity and blessing we can come to expect for every single person.
it is the smiles and positive attitudes of Christians i have seen in third world countries which lead me to beleive that perhaps real blessing and real prosperity from God must start on the inside. and if so, how much material or physical blessing should we account to God anyway..
While recognising the social injustices ever present today that need immediate action, we must acknowledge and persist to remember to take on a heavenly perspective; realising that it would be better to suffer on earth and live with Jesus in eternity then to prosper on earth and suffer an eternity without Him.

Matthew Straw

What, if anything, do I know of it? I have visited the slums of Africa but that is all I did - visited. Even while I was amongst the worst of it I cannot say I experienced it, not even for a moment. My mind was at the ease of knowing sure security; that in a months time I would be in my four bed-room, two bath-room, double garage, luxurious house on the outskirts of a peaceful, wealthy and friendly country town in South-Eastern, New South Wales.

What does that word conjure up in my mind? What does it mean to me?
If I can’t see it, taste it, smell it, hear it or feel it how then am I meant to respond adequately to it?

Education coupled with pro-activeness is for now the answer that I see. Firstly educating the church of the issue and equipping them for an effective response and secondly educating third world countries into social, political and economical well-being, graciously serving them along the way.
Perhaps it is on these two accounts that the church has failed to respond to centuries of increasing world-wide poverty. Being under educated of the situation and of how they might help it and also lazy and selfish in their response. This seemingly shyness of the church to fight poverty however can only come from a lack of knowledge. For if the church believed it would have behaved. Understanding the atrocity of the plight of poverty she would have realised her Christlike mission to the needy and fed the hungry and given to the poor.

As discussed in class, poverty is not healed with a band-aid. Fixing it is not an easy process of air-striking stricken areas with 100 dollar bills. We are being called at this time to become more creative in our service and love for the poor, especially on this enormous global frontier.

I am currently offering no answers towards the practicality of the churches response to poverty in the 21st century. However we must be educated, educate others and challenge ourselves to spend ourselves on behalf of others, as creatively as possible. God knows how he wants his body to respond, he is it’s head. Perhaps all it will take is for us to do away with the defensive armour of generations past, ignore what our brothers have told us is impossible to achieve, reach our young hands into the river, draw out a stone, arm our slingshots and get ready to tackle this goliath like giant in the name of the Lord.

Shane Clifton

Hey yuall - stop talking in generalities on this particular post (perhaps do so on an earlier one). Give me a specific response to what you think about the argument of Sider!!!

Joshua Ballard

Dr. Ronald J. Sider recently participated in a debate with Father Robert Sirico*, which was co-sponsored by Western Theological Seminary and Calvin Theological Seminary.

The Debate topic was "Wealth and Poverty in light of the Gospel: How can Christians work together if we disagree?"

The debate is aimed at how Christians should interact with economic structures. Both sides instantly agree that Christians do have a certain responsibility to the poor. This is unquestioned.

You will be able to hear the debate via the links at the bottom of this post.

As for Shane's requested interaction with Sider's argument, I find it intriguing that during this particular debate which happened just over a week ago...he advocated possible support for a position that did not necessarily require Christianity to simply engage in lifestyle reducing capital redistribution.

Ideas that were encouraged were the possibility of Income Tax Credit programs wherein up to half of your income tax could be directed towards orgainisations that dealt with the poor. I find this unlikely to happen in a first world government, but it is an intriguing concept. The result of this would not simply be a reduction in the standard of living for Christians only, but all members of the state. After all, the state is receiving considerably less income, and state based services would inevitably recieve less funding.

I think Sider has been engaging in some capitalist expansionist thinking of his own previous concept.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.

Sirico offered some great insights into economic development and issues with existing structures within 3rd world and developing nations, and the interesting thing is where Sider agreed and cited Sirico's argument:

" 'The gap between rich and poor is not the most important issue, it is how the people at the bottom are doing is the most important issue' I actually agree with that."

and on issues of development and lifestyle reduction:

"If the best way to improve the economic well being of the people at the bottom were to increase the gap between the top 20% and the bottom 20% or 40% then, I'd be inclined to proceed that way."

An underlying theme came out, which was later punctuated quite well, by Fr. Sirico, and would put to rest Sider's idea that seems to be espoused in the first post...and I suspect Shane's agreement would be found here...In response to the question of whether there are any fundamental laws of Economics? Fr. Sirico's response was:

"You cannot distribute what you have not yet produced"

I think ultimately that a "reduction in lifestyle" is a good thing, as long as the reduction in lifestyle corresponds with an investment in capital, for the purposes of building structures of wealth for the developing world. A problem which was repeatedly noted by both sides was the lack of property rights which disable the poor from investing capital and starting businesses.
There are fundamental shifts that need to take place in order to deal with issues with any type of continuing effect.

* Father Robert Sirico is director of the Acton Insitute, a Judeo-Christian economic policy think tank.

To hear this debate, download it here: (Right click and "save target as" or "save link as")

Linked from:

Thank you for this information Josh. I am sure Sider has moved on and developed his position since his 1977 book. My point in this instance is not so much to engage with the whole of Sider's emerging thought - but with the idea of simplicity as the appropriate response to world poverty. Sider's 1977 text is merely a representative of this idea (and there are many others).

Shane Clifton

Those interested in this topic should follow Josh's suggested links.

Joshua Ballard

As for the short answer to the original post, I like what Brian Houston preached at Hillsong Conference Europe...which is currently available on Hillsong's podcast, titled "Making Poverty History"

He was interviewed by a TIME magazine reporter about Prosperity teaching etc. The TIME reporter was apparently shocked by prosperity teaching and asked "but isn't Christianity about living a life of poverty?" to which Brian's response was: "Jesus embraced the poor, he never embraced their poverty"

The short version of my response would definitely concur with that soundbite.

My living in poverty does nothing to help another person out of poverty...and as Sirico stated, a fundamental law of economics (if there ACTUALLY ARE any others...) is that:

"You cannot distribute what you have not yet produced"

If taking the lifestyle hit inhibits our ability to produce and distribute, then it seems to be faulty.

I wonder if Sider's '77 position was that of a type of Zero sum economics. Admittedly I have not read the book, but it is on my Amazon wishlist...but alas, I don't yet have enough cash to purchase a book which will tell me not to purchase so many books and re-distribute to the poor ;)

I still like Sirico's citation of Bismarck: (seems a little late to be Otto Von Bismarck, but I could be wrong..)

"If you are not a socialist when you are young, then you have no heart, but if you remain one when you are old, you have no brains"

I think that it is apt in this particular circumstance.

Lance Davis

Wow. I can't help but feel motivated to do something as I read these great entries. Like Shane said, it's the people who walk by and see the injustice(or know it's happening) that become the responsible ones. The other day I went for a run and was quite upset when I ran by an obviously injured juvenile (sp?) Laurakeet. Why was I upset? Because I just started my run! I didn't want to take care of a stupid bird! ...But I called wires and they told me what to do. I captured the bird and braught it to a Professional Vet. The guy said he may have to put it to sleep if it doesn't settle down well. So anyway, I did my bit. It took the whole afternoon and the sacrifice of my precious excercise and stops at 2 different Vets. But I felt I did the right thing. How much more should we give ten minutes or a Saturday to think seriously of how to tackle this issue of hunger? Necessity breeds the most amazing inventions! From the Tower of Babel to the 16 km bridge connecting Denmark to Sweeden, Huge feets of human engineering require an extraordinary army and a unified cause. Think of the money and planning required to save those two guys in a mining shaft in Tasmania. We knew they would die without help. What about the thousands who died today who we, well and truly, knew they would die without help? Ouch. I'd hate to conclude then that "just doing what I can" is the answer! No body rocks up to move a 50,000,000ton slab of cement out into the ocean (with enough cement to circumnavigate the earth 2 times) with an inflatable raft and some duct tape. and say, "Ah I'll just do what I can." It actually takes some serious planning and a clear focus on a reachable result. Not to cross topics, but think of the armies of people manufacturing and supplying goods for the war efforts? Why are we motivated to get our hands dirty to win a war but not to help those who've seemingly already lost?

Caroline Quek

A Guinness world record for "the largest number of people to stand up against poverty" was set this week. ( However, does it 'solve' the problem of poverty? Perhaps awareness regarding this issue is starting to rise. (Even with the publicity of Madonna wanting to adopt a child to get him out of poverty.)

Although I agree with Sider that a more balanced distribution of resources in the world is ideal, rich Christians spending less is not the solution to the problem. We live in a world where time cannot be reversed. We cannot live as though we were back in primitive times.

Assuming that a church has a huge amount of money at her disposal, how much ought to be given to the poor and how much ought to be given to 'operate' the church in a way that is relevent to its community?

David McAuley

The problem with Sider’s argument is that it assumes that by spending less and giving more rich, Christians can help solve the problem of world poverty. To be honest this would result in an economic downturn, which in turn would result in less money and therefore less help for the poor. I don’t begin to believe I have the answer to this conundrum, but I do know that spending less is not a solution. What I spend drives my local economy, and it’s that economy that allows me to earn. Slowing down or stopping my local economy will actually result in higher unemployment, and less money. (Basic economics)

As Christians we need to focus our attention on the poor, and attempt to help them climb out of their poverty. But we also need to challenge our governments to do more. Currently the USA are spending billions of dollars protecting the oil fields of Iraq, maybe this money would have been better used to help third world countries find alternative energy sources/solutions.

In 1984/5 Bob Geldoff started Band Aid and Live Aid, in an attempt to help the famine victims and starving people of the Sudan. He raised millions of dollars and sent relief directly to the people. However, the problem of famine and hunger still exists in the country. Aid works but unless we find a way to get the economies running, we will continually be faced with the same problems.

Must we must never do is to stop giving and become defeatist, there is an answer out there, and we can always pray for God to show us it.

Chris Morrison

First of all bravo dave for that final comment about defeatism one thing that troubles me most about the criticism of Sider's view is that while they are valid they offer no alternative.

I would opt in this response for a middle ground. I agree the adoption of a simpler lifestyle is problematic but i believe that there are some aspects of our western lifestyle that we can do without. And I think for some of us we need to examine our lifestyles and decide where we will draw the line between appropriate enjoyment of life and selfish materialism.

There are a number of hindrances to an expansionist policy of poverty reduction that prevent the third world engaging in truly fair trade.

first is the issue of third world debt
another is that of poor wages for third world employees. it is a widely held criterion for setting and evaluating pay rates that a person should have enough money to purchase the goods they produce. It was thios principle in the early years of the ford motor company that guaranteed their early dominance of the Auto industry.
another issue would be the tax practices of major companies. It is the social and moral obligation of every person and entity to sow back into the society and infrastructure that sustains it is tax that enables a society to operate profitably.
A fourth issue would be the destruction of the environment by unsustainable manufacturing practices and improper disposal of waste products. most third world nations survive solely on their natural resources which these unsustainable practices compromise to the detriment of any emerging industries particularly tourism and the agricultural industry that is the mainstay of third world economies.

finally there are high rates of mortality in third world nations that keep family members from work or school as they care for their sick family members or orphans. life expectancy in most western nations is at least ten years greater than that of thrid world nations and as much as thirty years greater than the poorest nations. 10-30 years of working life that would have enabled these families to build nest eggs increase their own pie and set up wealth for the next generation. the high mortality rates in third world nations necessitate large families however aged care and good health care makes this unnecessary keeping families to a susatainable size and avoiding the divisions of family farms that so often forces families into poverty.

so here then in closing is my proposal for a sustainable expansionist policy of poverty reduction.

1. In line with sider's argument there must be an immediate and massive aid effort to bring emergency clean water, food and medicine because there is an immediate threat to the lives of many in the third world. This will probably require a reduction in our own standard of living and a drop in military expenditure but i see it as a means to a necessary end.
2. We should push for a cancellation of third world debt.
3. We should continue to buy locally made goods to continue to support our own economy.
4. We should seek wherever possible to purchase goods from companies that pay their workers fair wages, produce sustainably, dispose of waste properly and support their local economy through paying the appropriate rate of tax.

Ash Jensen

Sider’s argument is greatly flawed. As Dave said, it would simply rip the economy to shreads. As discussed in class, the world’s economy does not take the shape of the “pie mentality”, meaning that there are only so many gold coins in the world. No, we can simply make the pie bigger. Continuing on Matt Straw’s and Dave’s valid points, there are two things that need to be done. First, there needs to be an answer, that could work; obviously.

Questions to ask are how do we meet these people where they are at, as individual communities? What have they to offer in natural resource? What grass-roots level things have to be met first? (A collation of basic food and clothing supplies is obviously needed)…etc.

William Booth, who founded the Salvation Army, claimed that cab horses were better cared for than millions of the poorest people. He stated,

“When a horse is down he is helped up, and while he lives he has food, shelter and work.”

He argued that in order for one to receive the gospel, his basic needs must be met first. This depicts the love of God, and what we are called to as Christians – meeting the basic needs when we can, preaching and teaching the gospel, and trying to equip the poor through education, to work hard and make a living for themselves.

I saw a documentary on television yesterday that had my eyes glued to it. It was called “boys from the bush.” Here’s the link, it’s worth the visit..

Here, we have a group of boys from the bush, being taught by someone (who actually gives a rats for their welfare), how to work hard and make a living. They spent a long day picking eucalyptus leaves, crushing them for their oil, and selling it, making quite a good buck on the way - I understand this is not the answer to the rest of the world, and it does not directly address poverty (it is a socio-economic program which uses business enterprises “as the means of breaking the unemployment / welfare dependent / ignorance / apathy / boredom / drug and alcohol abuse and crime cycle.”) However, I do believe it is a great, and might I add, practical and successful example, of targeting a problem, by addressing uniquely and practically. Through it, some young indigenous lads, being educated to work hard and make money for themselves.

As Matthew highlighted, the answers and options that we discover, need to be greatly evangelised, as well as the alarming facts of poverty throughout the rich nations, calling people to support organisations who do the above.

Chris Yinger

In our genetic make-up, we are all programmed for 'fight or flight;' but given the option, human nature generally chooses to run. This is what i see (and, to be honest, feel) with so many of these hard issues. I see something ugly, i recognize that it's wrong, and yet, instead of being motivated to make a change, I generally feel overwhelmed and small, struggling not to simply look the other way. And I KNOW i'm not alone here.

Where I'm being challenged, with the issue of poverty and so many others, is to not look away. We westeners are addicted to feeling happy, and i'm pretty much the president of this club, and what God is saying to me is that (despite what many preachers imply in their desperate attempts for more salvation) is that Christianity is not about always feeling happy. It means that sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) I'm going to have to look ugliness in the face with unblinking eyes, and walk towards it with unsteady feet. I disagree with Sider, that I must live in poverty to bring balance to the world's resources, as i think it's unrealistic and unproductive in the western world that i live in. But herein lies the i just then do nothing because i can't do everything? Hardly...i'm realising that doing something small is still better than doing nothing, and God will give me (us) bigger ideas and opportunities as i go along. So i can sell fair-trade coffee when i have my coffee shop, i can use the little 'go green' bags at the store (poverty, the environment, it's all connected), i can keep supporting my little compassion kid...and by doing this i'm doing my part (right now) to face the ugliness and do something about it. The saying 'we can make a difference if we all do our part' is true. I guess it's just figuring out what your part is...

Doreen van der Spek

The issue of poverty is something that has always been around, and I am afraid always will. That is, unless people who are able to decide to end it.

Although I think that Sider's argument is narrowminded it is believed by many Christians, and this is indeed where most of the problem lies when it comes to the church making a difference in this world when it comes to poverty. Even from a biblical perspective, there can be arguments against his statement. One being, that some of the great people from the Bible were also some of the most prosperous and wealthiest people in those days. So to say that Christians should live plain and not 'waste' too much money on themselves is rather simplistic, and quite frankly who wants that?! I certainly don't!
Where lies the answer then? I think for the Western Christian a key to understand is balance. It's great if you can afford to spend money on the latest Chanel glasses and Armani jeans, however, if that is all you do without also sowing your finance back into society (and not into Mr. Armani's bank account) then I have a problem with that. I believe some of the richest people in the world understand this as well, the principle of giving. I heard Donald Trump once say that the most important thing when you're rich is that you always give back to society from your own resource.
As I mentioned in the beginning, poverty I think can end when those who are able to decide to end it. This does not mean that the task is up to the richest people in the world however, but rather it is something for all of us to carry and take ownership of. Even as a student I can make a difference when it comes to poverty. Sometimes we think that our little gift won't have an impact or make a difference, but it is when all those little gifts are combined that the difference is made.
Together with others who are able, we can end poverty even when it is just by changing one life at a time. As one of Hillsong's latest slogans is: "Because we can!"

Nicolas Legler

I believe humility is one of the most misunderstood concept of the NT. The church over the centuries has become small and irrelevant partly because of a wrong view on humility. Biblical humility doesn't mean that we have to live a life with our head down, crushed and without resources. Real biblical humility acknowledges that God is the ultimate source of everything. As it is written in Eph. 2:8-10: We cannot boast in our good works because everything has been prepared by God in advance for us to do. Everything is his and comes from him. There is no reason for us to take credit for it. Understanding this is being humble.

But we have been created to do good works. It is God's purpose for us to do good on earth. Following Jesus' calling in Lk. 4:18-19 these good works imply more than "just" preaching the Gospel to a lost generation. Jesus always preached and healed, taught and reached out to the poor and the outcasts of society. This is the calling of the church: teaching and doing.

To be effective in living out her calling the church needs more than just prayer; she needs willing people and monetary resources. God is eager to release resources to fulfil his purposes on the earth - and he uses us human as conduits for his supply. Living in (humble) poverty doesn't help the poor. Seizing every opportunity to unlock resources to help finance the calling of the church does. No false humility please - this is much too selfish...!


In such a global community how can we have become so niave to the plight of the third world. No longer is there an excuse to feel useless and unable to help or make a difference. I was in Thailand a couple of months ago and I was so struck at the struggle of organisations and missionaries trying to practically do something for these people. At the end of the day a global world means a global economy and a global economy means everything costs money and their is always a continual need. There are so many organisations set up around the world to cater for the needs of the impoverised, yet they have no support. Missionaries and these groups are practically out in these countries catering how they can for these people. Yet without funding they have nothing to give. We need to understand many of us are not in the position to pack up and move to India to help orphans in Calcutta, yet there are organisations and people there doing that very thing as their lifes work. It is a responsibility of the church to make sure there is adequate funding for these groups so that they can fully be utilised to their fullest impact. If Sider's principles of living more humbly is a way in which we as individuals can obstain from living beyond our required needs then so be it. It comes down to the individual living out of conviction for our brothers and sisters and the church stepping forth and partnering with these people doing the work of the church in these countries. In such a commercial world we can so easily conform to the unnecessary 'necessities' of this day and age yet it is down to the individual to respond appropriately. There is no universal standard of giving that you can place on people, it comes down to Christians realising the responsibility we have as the body of Christ to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters. Whatever that means for you individually. The heart of the church should be a spirit of generosity not for ourselves but for our suffering neighbours. Not only internationally but nationally aswell. There is so much we can do in our own backyard.

Kate Tennikoff

Chris made a comment towards the end of her post, which relates to something which I have personally been giving a lot of thought to lately. She mentioned, that in her opinion, the issues poverty and the environment are both connected. The more I think about this, the more significant her comment seems.

I have recently been reading Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth". (There is also a film that many of you may have seen). Through reading this eye-opening book I have come to realise that tackling the issue of poverty on a global scale must be done whilst simultaneously tackling the ecological crisis.

So before we go “gun ho” with plans to industrialise third world nations, it may be worthwhile giving weight to the fact that the industrialisation of the so called ‘first world’ and the green house emissions which have resulted, have themselves significantly contributed to world poverty. Increases in green house emissions for instance have resulted in escalated desertification of nations, as well as unpredictable weather patterns making farming essentially a game of chance. Additionally, the world is more and more frequently experiencing storms of a devastating nature. The increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, and the resultant global warming has caused storms, which have all but wiped out entire crops. Statistics show this in only on the increase.

In fact, even if we were to wipe out world poverty tomorrow, it will only be a temporary/bandaid measure. Give it 50-100 years and we will have the issue of re-locating literally hundreds of millions of people, who will lose their homes as a result of rising sea levels. In addition to this, there will only be increased desertification and loss of land from the melting ice-caps.

I hope this doesn’t seem too much like “doom and gloom”. I am just realising more and more of late, that it is not just a matter of choosing to make both "world poverty" and "world ecology" important issues, worthy of our attention and action. It is a matter of realising that they are inextricably linked as must be dealt with simultaneously.

Joshua Ballard

50 to 100 years...

I've seen some of the stats on greenhouse emissions, and Kyoto Protocols and the like.

The stats are ridiculous. (as in crazy, not necessarily untrue)

Just for the U.S. To Ratify the Kyoto Protocols would over the next 20 years cost over 700 billion dollars in unadjusted 1997 USD. The adjusted output of carbon dioxide would only drop by 2.5% Yes, big numbers in anyone's counting.

The cost for the US NOT having Ratified Kyoto has already cost them in the billions already.


Consider that a country like Uganda has a total annual budget of just over 2 Billion USD.

Quite frankly, we care more about Global Warming of a few degrees, which COULD have a large effect in 100 years, more than the millions of people who ARE dying every day NOW.

As an example...Since DDT was banned in the United States on the back of bad research, 50 MILLION children have died in Africa from Malaria and related issues. USAID refuses to fund residential/commercial (not agricultural) DDT spraying in Africa EVEN WHEN they acknowledge the Research that has been produced which shows that in these applications, DDT is not any more harmful than drinking coffee.

This spraying has taken place in South Africa and effectively wiped out Malaria in that particular region.

Since vinyl medical products have been shown to have negative effects on a certain (low minority) portion of the population with certain traits...Funding has been cut to those who would use these products on even those people who ARE NOT affected negatively.

In a region where hundreds of millions of people are lacking in medical treatment, when someone does try and help, to be hog-tied by stupid policies that try to help a few hundred thousand out of that group at the expense of the rest...are plain stupid.

The hundreds of thousands in the minority group CAN STILL be treated with the (much) more expensive non-vinyl based products. Instead, western policies have forced the use of the more expensive products on those who don't need them. It is important to note as well, that in this case, cost is not connected to quality either.

Think of it...(NOTE: these numbers are only for illustration purposes)

200 million people treated at a couple dollars per treatment. $400 million dollars.

500 thousand people treated at the more expensive ten dollars per treatment. $5 million dollars.

$405 million dollars...everyone is treated.

What is happening is that the policy forces the 200 million people to be treated at the more expensive rate.

The cost jumps from $405 million dollars to $2,005 million (2.05 billion) dollars.

Stupid spending decisions. The medical difference between these two numbers is negligible.

I don't think it's necessarily the Africans that need the education at this point...its us.

(That statement was obviously a Rhetorical one, don't whinge at me for that one. I'm not talking about childrens education, I'm talking about government level policy intervention)

We already have the tools we need to deal with this.

Think of the studies that state that if only American Evangelical church goers tithed a full 10%, that there would be financially no need for world poverty. This is even taking into account the full running costs of our churches AS THEY SIT...this isn't cutting programs for the sake of social programs...this is everything staying as it is.

The study states that there would be 80 billion dollars left for evangelism ANNUALLY. (This number is supposed to be more than what the global church spends on missions at the moment, which would include some of our World Vision type programs)

The reason I point this far as Kyoto ratification process? This is a ridiculous amount more than what the church could produce on a sustainable basis.

The problem isn't the money...there is plenty of money around, the problem is stupid policies that blow it up the wall on stupid things. Oh, and high level corruption in third world (as well as first world) government as well. I mean, when you look at the wages some of these beaurocrats earn, you almost can't blame them.

Economics training for the Church. I think that's a significantly more important thing than whinging about Liberation / Prosperity...ultimately, they both aim towards the people living healthier lives, Spiritually and Physically. But without appropriate economic understanding, we'll be guilty of the same stupid policies that everybody else gets themselves into in the name of politics.

Afte all, since the 1960s the US has spent literally TRILLIONS of dollars on the "war on poverty" and it has done squat (at least in relation to what we spend now...think 'Law of diminishing returns'). Could go a long way to explaining some of the apathy connected to Aid work in the world.

I say all of this as someone who actually wants change in these areas, but unless we identify the reasons they are in this does no good to say "give more money"

We need to appropriately manage the money we are giving already.

Kate Tennikoff

The dollar figures that Joshua mentioned are almost unfathomable to me. They certainly are startling. I am just wondering WHY the 700 billion US though? Excuse my ignorance. (I am certainly no economist). Is the expense the cost of changing from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources? It is undeniable that this can be a costly exercise, yet in the long run, energy sources like wind farms for instance, run at very little cost. Solar power, although VERY expensive to set up, is in the long run tapping into a “free” energy source. Geothermal energy is another source…really the list just goes on…

I guess one expense I can think of, in ratifying the Kyoto protocol, is that it could potentially cost the US car manufacturers, and oil companies significantly (Some would argue that such companies have an ‘interesting’ relationship with the US government, which affected the government’s decision to ratify the agreement…speculation? Perhaps!).

And yet the irony is, that it doesn’t even HAVE TO cost them (well the car manufacturers at least). It’s a matter of innovation. It’s always amazes me how innovative the Japanese people are. In Australia at the moment you have a long wait if you order a Toyota Prius for instance (hybrid vehicle). Demand is exceeding production rate. How crazy! Looks like Toyota are doing pretty well financially speaking, whilst making a huge impact on green house emissions. The question I have to ask is why do we continue to manufacture and sell old technology, which only adds to the ecological crisis, when the answer is starring us in the face. Significant changes can be made elsewhere as well. It’s as simple as changing a light globe! Literally, if just one light globe per house in the US, was swapped for an energy saving globe, it would be the equivalent of removing one million cars from the road.

Given that there are many economically viable ways to reduce green house emissions, I am wondering if the figure of 700 billion is based on what it would cost the US to purchase emissions credits from other nations, if they exceeded their emissions reduction target as set by the Kyoto protocol, (each year for the next twenty years.) Yet if the US exceeded their target reductions for instance, they would obviously benefit financially from being able to sell emissions credits to other nations. It really surprises me that the US and Australia haven’t signed. In fact over 200 cities in the US have actually ‘ratified’ the agreement on their own. Are they suffering economically? Well they don’t appear to be. Decreasing green house emissions is not economic suicide. Whilst it may require initial outlay the benefits far exceed the cost.

It also seemed strange to me Joshua used the word ‘could,’ in referring to global warming. Yes I guess the icecaps may take longer than the 100 years to melt. That is true. There is some ambiguity. But we can’t deny what IS happening already. So irrespective of how long it takes, it will happen (if things don’t change). The melting process has started, and yet this is just ONE of the affects of global warming.

Why am I harping on this???? Because I care for the planet, and just as passionately want to make poverty history. Australia pledged a one billion dollar tsunami relief package for Indonesia. It was shocking to see the amount of people affected by the tsunami. Lives lost, children orphaned, homes destroyed, businesses ruined. The re-building process is expensive and lengthy. Then we can’t forget Hurricane ‘Katrina’. Untold devastation, which in the short term resulted in down right anarchy, rape….. need I go on??? Can nations like the US and Australia keep paying the clean up bills and cost of re-establishing entire regions on a yearly basis? (These are the prospects if global warming continues as it has been) In addition Australia is in a drought and our farmers are in dire need. Doesn’t this qualify as poverty?

The question is what has CAUSED these disasters and what will continue to cause them if we don’t do something? Global warming! It’s amazing how much media can distort the truth. In fact in the US 48 “NOBEL Prize winning” scientists signed a statement to say that: “By ignoring scientific consensus on critical issues such as global climate change, President Bush and his administration are threatening the earth’s future”.

Yes there are those living in poverty today and yet this will only increase, (exponentially????) if we do not deal with contributing factors. Often people say in regards to poverty, that we should give people a hand “up” as well as the all-important hand “out”. Yet even this is only a temporary measure and essentially a ‘bandaid solution’, if we don’t deal with global warming at the same time. Joshua stated “Quite frankly, we care more about Global Warming of a few degrees, which COULD have a large effect in 100 years, more than the millions of people who ARE dying every day NOW.” And yet it is not that global warming COULD have an effect. It IS having an effect (as seen in the examples given above). Should we help the ‘millions’ who are dying now? Undoubtedly! Yet should we not also consider the ‘hundreds of millions’ in the future?

Craig Bennett


Could you back up your statement about DDT. I come from a farming - horticulture back ground and think your research regarding DDT is a bit dodgy - though I am open to being proven wrong.

The trouble with DDT unlike other herbicides is that it never becomes inert upon touching the ground and its carcigenic properties are terrible.

Thanks in advance, craig b

Joshua Ballard

As much as it pains me to do it, I'm going to reference the venerable, infallible Wikipedia on some of the general DDT stuff. for simplicity sake more than anything. There are plenty of references down the bottom of the wiki page that can be looked up for DDT Cancer studies.

The general consensus that DDT causes cancer has been shown to be inconclusive.

Also, as the Wiki article states:

"This use only requires a small fraction of that previously used in agriculture; for the whole country of Guyana, covering an area of 215,000 km², the required amount is roughly equal to the amount of DDT that might previously have be used to spray 4 km² of cotton during a single growing season."

The sheer amount of DDT being used previously was more the issue, rather than
it's use at all.

The anti-malarial use of DDT that is being proposed is not an indiscriminate blanketing of the entire country with the stuff. Not only does it work to kill mosquitos that carry malaria, it also works as a repellent, so even species of mosquitos that are resistant to DDT, are still kept at bay by the usage of the stuff.

You would be able to find further information from which should be a good starting point for more information.

Joshua Ballard

Hybrid cars are cool, I don't have a problem with them...but they still rely (heavily) on Oil.

Solar Technology is horribly ineffecient at the moment, with Solar Panel efficiency something around the region of 20%

Wind Farms have ecological impacts as well, and don't produce anywhere near enough power required for the amount of space they take up.

To convert to hydrogen fuel cell technology, some reports say that to enable the infrastructure required would necessitate 400 Gigawatts of Electricity production BEYOND what is currently used in America. Nuclear Technology is the only type of power source that is currently available that can generate the power required for such a conversion.

As far as Oil companies being associated with the American Government...bah, I'm so tired of hearing it. Of course they are. So what?
You think that Oil companies are just going to roll over and die when Oil becomes inefficent to produce? Of course not, they are going to stay in the power business. They are the ones that are developing future power technologies moreso than anyone else.

The end of efficient oil is not the end of the world.

Kyoto protocols are NOT working in a whole bunch of countries. Russia has met Kyoto standards, but only because their industrial economy is in the toilet. The real cost of meeting a couple of percentage points in output is found in the hundreds of thousands of people who now have no worthwhile jobs.

But hey, Russia may be able to sell their carbon credits for a measly billion dollars.

I'm also not sure if you understand how much $700 billion dollars would impact world poverty. It could basically turn Africa into a world superpower.

It's about priorities. Invest money in combatting world poverty NOW, and then in the next 10-100 years, there will be significantly MORE Technologies and People and Money available to combat Global Warming issues.

It's a bit like going into debt to get your professional degree so you can earn significantly more later.

(Sadly this does not translate directly in the case of Theology degrees for Bible College students. :( )

More info:

and the Wired News Report on Kyoto Emissions


Kate Tennikoff

Hey Joshua, I totally agree that what we spend our money on all comes down to priorities!

I am also aware of the effects of windfarms, particularly on bird-life (good point), and agree that nuclear power is an option that is definately worthy of our attention.

I'm still wondering however why it has to be either/or??? A battle between Poverty VS Environment. Deal with poverty NOW and deal with global warming LATER??? How much later? As much as we tend to be blissfully unaware as to the extent of global poverty, I think we are similarly unaware, (living in our lovely suburban dwellings, a convenient bubble located far from land-fills)... as to just how serious and URGENT global warming has become, along with its undeniable contribution to global poverty.

A further question I have is: Why does the budget for the environment have to take away from what is spent on making poverty history? Couldn't some of the required $700 Billion US needed over the TWENTY years to ratify Kyoto come out of the $450 billion dollars spent EVERY year by the U.S on military? (Sachs, J., The End of Poverty).

I think that $9000 billion (the total military expenditure for the US in the next 20 years) could possibly make a bigger dent for instance. Mind you, I'm not suggesting that the entire military budget of the US be spent on world poverty. It is just that, as I said before, the way money is spent is a clear reflection of our priorities, and I am of the opinion that the future of the earth is a worthy cause.

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