Guilt and the high price of Valentine Roses

Warning: If you've already bought those Valentine roses, you may want to skip this. Just saying.

One of the dilemmas that any environmentalist has to deal with is guilt—our own, yes, but making others feel guilty, too.

Maybe that’s one reason why ecology and being Catholic go so well together. We can never turn a blind eye to what effects our actions are having on someone else.

Well, just in time for St. Valentine’s Day, here’s some news from The Guardian to make all you buyers of very expensive roses (especially in Europe and the United Kingdom) feel, umm, guilty ...

Consumer appetite for cut-price Kenyan roses for Valentine's Day is "bleeding the country dry" by threatening the region's precarious ecology.

University of Leicester ecology and conservation biologist, Dr David Harper, warned. Harper has spent over 30 years researching wetland conservation at Kenya's Lake

Naivasha and said the growth of the flowers is draining the valuable water supply.

Seventy per cent of roses sold in European supermarkets come from Kenya, most from Naivasha. Harper called on UK supermarkets to show more concern about the health of the environment that the flowers come from.

He said: "A notable few of the farmers sending roses to Europe are showing concern and an eagerness to pioneer a sustainable way forward: the best flower farms have achieved Fairtrade status, which brings money back into the workforce for social welfare improvements. Two farms have even seconded senior managers to help Kenya's water management agency at Naivasha."

But he warns that the massive scale of UK supermarket promotions of flowers over Valentine's Day—and subsequently on Mother's Day—without concern for where or how environmentally sustainable roses can be grown, will just increase the export of water—the scarcest natural resource in Kenya.

Well, a discussion may be valuable here. Is this industry good for providing an income to people who need it? Or is it just simply exploitive and damaging? Thoughts?

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.