Dakar rally is a great race/adventure and a great show. But Dakar also means a huge damage to the environment.
All countries have the right to decide how to exploit their territories. But all countries should always take into account the impact of any activity on the natural environment.
The Dakar is not particularly bad compared to most activities in the developed world. It would be unfair to treat him as a devil just because it’s the most broadcasted, while industries, mining, ski resorts and other topics, are also having a brutal impact despite not being so visible.
In the end it comes down balance between the cost to the environment, and the social or economic benefit.
One example is my beloved Pyrenees, where if I could vote, I would choose to prohibit ski resorts because they hurt the mountains, the landscapes and require many natural resources; but I have to understand that are key to tourism, and both directly and indirectly create a lot of work (Hotels, commerce, product and related services sales…), and many taxes are paid, and we can have hospitals, schools, roads and, finally, by the whole economy, achieve good welfare.
The problem comes when a government thinks that to reach a certain wellfare worth everything, and that any price to be paid on the environmental level or in the resources overexploitation is justified if that entails short-term wealth. It is unfortunately the most common case, and denotes a huge short-termism as both governments and citizens.
It is a reality that his great race is important for the economy and the promotion of the countries where it is celebrated; but it should be seen whether the environmental price paid is or is not acceptable. In addition, the organization often instead of paying the countries for the intensive and aggressive use of their territories, they charge them a lot of money in order to have the honor of hosting the event.
We do not have to be hypocritical and criticize the Dakar in distant countries while benefiting at home of shameless exploitation of our natural resources, since everyone has an equal right to exploit their natural environments. But everyone should also be responsible to develop sustainable economic activities and in balance with the natural environment.
Criticizing is easy, proposing is more difficult, but what really matters is the action. In my case I have very clear that despite loving and enjoying so much the Dakar (I’ve raced it 9 times), I will never do it again just for pleasure or for making my challenges, if my participation is not useful to achieve higher purposes reporting and activating attitudes and commitment to a more sustainable future (in this case towards efficient mobility and clean energy). My evolution in consciousness and commitment to the ecosystem, does not let me doing it any more. How I did last year, taking part in the race with the first 100% electric car in its history, and like it does Greenpeace when using a pollutant diesel boat in order defend environmental causes, I would only return to this emblematic motor racing but also polluting and hyper aggressive with the natural environments crossed, if it’s useful to defend from there important causes of sustainability.
To have fun there are many other exciting activities that are very or completely neutral to the environment.