Today was my favorite, easily. We trekked all around an area of the Mekong delta and toured a chocolate factory, an organic bee factory, ate lunch on the Mekong, and enjoyed a peaceful day with a slight breeze thus not the usual profuse sweat arriving either.
As we first walked around the mini island, I loved seeing the vast ecosystem of plants and animals and humans working in one grand environment. There were wild chickens clucking, friendly dogs loitering around, and hundreds of different kinds of plants and trees, all within a tourist area of Vietnamese people serenading us. All of these different lives were in one environment, peacefully. In America, I’ve become accustomed to never seeing dogs in restaurants, or chickens, or even eating under a pile of leaves, that I’ve forgotten how environmentally harmful I, along with millions of other people, really are.
I constantly use electricity, waste excess food, use air conditioning when I don’t need to, and drive a car usually by myself. Whereas the inhabitants of the Mekong delta are likely the eco-friendliest people on the planet. They live in a jungle/forest, use little to no electricity, rarely use A/C, and eat much of their diet from the plants and animals they themselves raise on the island. They live within an elaborate and complex ecosystem and have learned to adapt to it. If they were American, it would be highly likely that they turn this land into a luxury island for only the upper class. The people within the ecosystem is a subtle reminder to me that we need to learn to live within something bigger than us, not just in the business world, to survive.
With climate change scientists projecting horrible forecasts for the future if no action is taken, businesses must learn to deal with the government regulations from the government to prevent what the scientists fear. Therefore, we need to learn to be one step ahead of the game; it’s not enough to just follow the rules, we must exceed them to give a safer place for my generation and my children’s, too. To start, I know just the place to learn.
The Mekong people learned to become entrepreneurs within their environment. For example, one family started a bee farm that sells organic honey and serves food to tourists. This company is the perfect example because not only do they make money, but they improve the environment at the same time because bees are incredibly beneficial for the environment. While most people think being eco-friendly and running businesses are mutually exclusive, they’re not. We need o find smarter ways to do both ways well, and if we adopt similar practices to the ones in the Mekong delta, we’ll be well on our way.
Additionally, while the Mekong seems like a utopian area of Vietnam, it still faces many difficult issues. Mr. Hai, our instructor for the day, discussed how the water flow heavily erodes the land, and ruins it. This is a very harmful effect to the island and the people that live there because they often heavily rely on the crops and the land to make a living and to survive. If this keeps happening, the Mekong community can face disastrous effects within its own economy. Plus, this effect is multiplied by the fact that erosion is inevitable, one can only slow the effects of it. Therefore, the people are constantly fighting an unwinnable, uphill battle.
Next, another issue in the Mekong delta is neighboring countries creating dams and other structures upstream. While other countries may benefit from the small buildings, the rest of the long 4000km stretch of river and the inhabitants in and surrounding it suffer. It lowers the water level, lowers the water pressure, and leaves it less oxygenated. All three are very detrimental and it destroys the Vietnamese rice and fish economy because they heavily on the water from the Mekong. The country eats an average of 400lbs of rice and fish per year per person, and with the Mekong supplying a large majority of that, any factor hurting that can seriously hurt Vietnam’s economy and environment to; thus, we must find a way to stop it.