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  Environment Damage

Bali has big ecological problems, its extraordinary culture and unparalleled natural environment coming under increasing stress.

As far back as the 1930s the filmmaker Andreas Roosevelt suggested the island be turned into a sort of Hindu theme park, insulated from contamination by the modern world. He wanted Bali maintained as a living cultural museum to remind the rest of us what we had lost. Roosevelt's well-meaning but absurd proposal obviously never was taken seriously.

The devastation of the Balinese environment over the last 20 years is shocking. With virtually no enforceable environmental protection laws, no environmental monitoring, few waste disposal programs or facilities, and great social inequality in the face of undisciplined growth and development.

Bali desperately needs a master plan for sustainable long-range development. The present situation poses an extreme danger for the present inhabitants as well as for generations to come. The lack of planning and ineffective environmental regulations are a far greater threat than any cultural influences from abroad.

Motivated solely by economics, the Balinese are doing it to themselves at least as much as we're doing it to them. Although you do see occasional signs of a new environmental consciousness, restaurants still throw their waste into roadside drains, households dispose of garbage in irrigation canals and rubbish piles spill down into streams where people bathe.

A walk down Kuta Beach reveals sand full of bottle caps, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers. No attention is given to preventing leakage of toxic liquids from rubbish dumps. Fishermen plunder the coastal waters of coral, fish and shells. Small plastic bags of tropical fish are sold to dealers, who in turn sell the fish to buyers in the cities.

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