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Brazil: Mozambique Cedes Land to Brazilian Agribusiness

The government of Mozambique is ceding 6 million hectares [pt] of land to Brazilian farmers (this corresponds to two-thirds of the landmass of Portugal) to grow soy, cotton and corn in the northern provinces Niassa, Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Zambézia. The idea is to draw on the Brazilian experience in the Cerrado (Brazil's savanna), where since the 1960s the agricultural frontier has advanced into the interior with industrial livestock and soy plantations.
In Brazil, this inward push of agriculture and meat production has led to the devastation of 80% of the Cerrado, which is recognized as one the richest grasslands in the world in terms of biodiversity. The degradation of this habitat, which occupies a quarter of Brazilian land, has drained and polluted the hydrological basins of the region, considered the principal water sources of the country.

With the deal from the Mozambican government, the Brazilian agricultural frontier is now set to cross the Atlantic Ocean towards the African Savanna. For geographer Eli Alvez Penha, author of the book, “Relações Brasil-África e Geopolítica do Atlântico” (”Brazil-Africa Relations and the Geopolitics of the Atlantic”), the “ecological and cultural similarities” means there is a “good ecological match” between Brazil and the African continent.

In an interview [pt] on the website of the Federal University of Bahia Press, Penha discusses, among other things, a comment by Kenyan agricultural specialist Calistous Juma that “for each African problem, there exists a Brazilian solution.” Penha adds, “I would say, that the reverse is also true.”

Brazilian agribusiness, based on the depletion of natural resources, now hopes to export its unsustainable model of GMO seeds, soil management that leads to degradation, and land exploitation based on a failed model of agrarian reform. As early as 2006, the website Repórter Brasil [pt] pointed out the new direction for the Brazilian agricultural frontier:MORE

This will end well.
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Mining for El Salvador's Gold -- In Washington

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Cabañas, El Salvador, to meet with some of the bravest and most successful environmental activists in the world. Ordinary villagers in this remote area of the country have joined with religious groups, research centers, and others to take on the powerful international mining companies that are seeking to plunder their country's gold. So far, the activists have been winning this David-vs.-Goliath fight. Two successive Salvadoran governments have denied permits for gold mining on environmental and human health grounds.

Last week, however, these activists suffered a setback — not from their own government, but from an obscure tribunal in Washington, DC. Two transnational mining companies have used rules in the "free trade" agreement between the United States and six countries in the region to sue the government of El Salvador. They are demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for the denial of mining permits. The first company to file suit, Pacific Rim, has just won the first stage of the proceedings by overcoming the Salvadoran government's effort to get the case thrown out on jurisdictional grounds.

The tribunal's decision to give the green light to this controversial case should send shudders down the spines of advocates for the environment, community rights, and democracy. The type of investment rules employed by Pacific Rim to mine for gold in international tribunals are contained in thousands of bilateral investment treaties around the world and more than a dozen existing and pending U.S. trade agreements. What's happening to El Salvador could happen almost anywhere, despite the struggles of activists to defend their environmental rights.


via [ profile] romp

Like Witchsistah said today...

One thing I love about all the current and past talk about environmentalism (and by love I mean side-eye and severely smirk at) how First World Whites are all about blaming ALL of mankind for the current polluted state of the earth. "We need to save the planet!" "We are destroying the earth!"

Um, who is this "We," White folks?

Why not put blame where blame is due on Industrial Revolution-derived, White Western technologies?

As well as greedy-assed, I will steal your shit and how dare you try to stop me fuckery like this???? Why not, indeed?
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Honduras: Aguán Massacres Continue to Support Production of Biodiesel

Campesinos Killed, August 20th and 21st, Following on Massacre of 11 People, August 14th and 15th
  • As Canada Signs "Free Trade" Agreement with the repressive Honduran regime
  • As the US names a Biofuel Specialist as Ambassador to Honduras, and
  • As the UN Clean Development Mechanism Certifies Dinant Carbon Credits

According to reports, around noon on Saturday, August 20, 2011 Secundino Ruiz Vallecillo, vice president of the Movimiento Campesion Unificado del Aguan del a Margen Derecha (MUCA-MD), and president of the San Isidro Empresa Campesina Cooperative, was shot and killed while in a taxi in the town of Tocoa by a masked gunman aboard a passing motorcycle.

That afternoon Arnoldo Portillo, member of the 5 de Enero Empresa Campesino Cooperative, of the La Concepcion community, left his home, and did not return. His neighbors began a search early the morning of August 21, 2011. His badly brutalized body was found in the dump of the La Lempira campesino community; he had been killed by machete strikes and gunfire.

Later on August 21, 2011, at approximately 8pm, Pedro Salgado, the president of the 5 de Enero cooperative and his wife, Irene Licona, were murdered in their home by machetes and gunfire. Salgado, like the presidents of all the cooperatives claiming rights to land used by African palm oil businessmen in the Aguan, had been subject to constant death threats. Salgado had recently met with the commander of the Xatruch operation, asking for protection.

OVER 50 CAMPESINOS KILLED, & counting ...

These killings occurred amidst a military occupation, called the "Xatruch II" operation, that was launched after two massacres on August 14th and August 15th that left 11 dead.

Since training of African palm oil company paramilitary security forces reportedly began in January 2010, over 50 campesinos have been killed, the majority in drive-by shootings.

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Conference for Water and Pachamama

“This Conference arises from the need to articulate the isolated struggles from different parts of the continent, that we are suffering the same consequences”, said Carlos Pérez Guartambel, Quechua lawyer, water systems leader, and coordinator of the Continental Conference of the People of Abya Yala for Water and Pachamama [Encuentro Continental de los Pueblos del Abya Yala por el Agua y la Pachamama], celebrated June 21st to 23rd, 2011.

“The same language used by multinationals about a responsible and sustainable mining industry is repeated by Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, [and] Alan Garcia in Peru. Not even Chávez is immune. Up against that, we see the weakness of isolated struggles”, adds Pérez. The Conference was called by the country’s principal social movements: the Azuay Union of Community Water Systems, Ecuarunari, Conaie, the Ecumenical Commission on Human Rights (CEDHU), and Acción Ecológica, among others[1].

Some two thousand people from 15 countries in the Americas participated in the conference, debating around three topics: Living Well or Sumak Kawsay; extractivism; and the commoditization of nature, the mass media and culture. Activities were held at a youth camp and combined workshops and debates with videos and music.

Water was at the center of the assembly; the communities have an intimate relationship with it, “especially indigenous women, who are the key to this resistance”, declares Pérez. In southern Ecuador, transnational mining interests have bought politicians, journalists and local governments, but they have not yet been able to drive a wedge into the community of campesinos, who do not live on the land but “with the land”, as the Quechua say.MORE

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FEATURES South African food sovereignty campaigners move to occupy land by Ronald Wesso

Ronald Wesso reports on the Food Sovereignty Campaign in South Africa, which is taking steps towards agrarian reform and food sovereignty through land occupations.

Furious emerging farmers in the Kareeberg municipality in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province have decided to stop paying rent for the municipal owned land they are farming on. These farmers have been robbed and excluded from land ownership and access by colonial conquest, segregation and apartheid. Now South Africa’s protection of capitalist property and its neo-liberal state policies are keeping them landless still.

‘Our members cannot be held back anymore,’ says Basil ‘Die Hond’ Eksteen of the Kareeberg Emerging Farmers Association. ‘They are just too angry. We talked, we wrote letters, we marched - now we are ready to take the land. The municipality gives us no support and now they want to charge us these impossible rents. They know we can’t pay. They just want to get rid of us and put white, commercial farmers on the land. We are in contact with a group in the Kimberley district that has occupied a farm of one of the richest land owners there. A man that owns 15 farms while people sit with nothing. Neither the police nor the army has been able to remove these members from the land. If they can do it, so can we!’

Since 1996 the South African government has followed a strict neo-liberal policy path that includes cutting state expenditure on ‘unprofitable’ social services. A key strategy has been to cut transfers of funds from the national treasury to local governments by more than 90 per cent over a ten year period, while at the same time transferring responsibility for delivering social services such as housing, water, electricity, health and policing from the national to local governments. The national treasury could thus balance its books and even generate a surplus, but municipalities had to deliver far more services to many more people with less resources. They therefore became trapped in a well-known cycle of poor service delivery, desperate cost recovery and community protests. As far as municipal land is concerned the pressure became overwhelming on municipal executives to charge the highest possible rents. Emerging farmers find it unaffordable, which leaves them effectively landless, as the national land reform process is a complete failure that managed to transfer less than five per cent of agricultural land from white to black ownership.MORE
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FEATURES:The agony of Ogoni by Nnimmo Bassey

A recent report on the pollution of Ogoniland prepared by United Nations Environment Programme marks ‘the first official confirmation’ that there is ‘a major tragedy on our hands’, writes Nnimmo Bassey.

When the Ogoni people demanded a halt to the unwholesome acts of the Shell Production and Development Company (SPDC or Shell) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the government called them names and unleashed security agents to maim, rape and murder and hound many into exile.

The report on the pollution of Ogoniland prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and released on August 4, 2011, marks the first official confirmation that there is a major tragedy on our hands. UNEP's report unequivocally shows that the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) under the prescient leadership of Ken Saro-Wiwa was not crying wolf when it maintained that grave injustice was being inflicted on Ogoniland.

UNEP officials say the report was issued to respond to innuendos. At over $9 million, this must be the most expensive innuendo-dousing report on record. Whether the "innuendo" provoked the study or the release of the study is not known. But if it was that the report was a prelude to resumption of oil exploitation in Ogoniland, it is certainly not doused.

It is shocking that in the face of the Ogoni tragic environment the UNEP report suggests a possible restarting of oil exploitation in Ogoniland. That may be likened to obtaining blood from a dying man.

The report largely says what has been known and said before. But this is official and very valuable. When Shell doled out the funds for the study, they claimed they did so on the basis of the polluter-pays principle. True. Shell polluted Ogoniland, just as they and other companies have done and continue to do all over the Niger Delta.

Claims by Shell that a majority of the oil spills in Ogoni are caused by interference by local people flies in the face of the observations in the UNEP report. The report says the bush refineries, for example, became prominent from 2007. Obviously, one of the conclusions should have been that with livelihoods utterly destroyed, some of the people had to find a means of survival and chose this unfortunate and illegal trade. With UNEP's obvious care not to antagonise Shell in the report, this path was not pursued. MORE
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Unfortunately the (white) writer of this makes the story all about her, but Thara's awesome still shines through:

Creation of the Golden Pants


Each garment I have is fundamentally important. There are now 15 items last count, including my socks, underwear and accessories. Every item is celebrated, and well loved. I admiringly gaze at my uncrowded, tidy closet each morning. More often than not, (this winter especially), there is one pair of pants that make their way onto my body, day after day…the “Golden Pants”, as they have lovingly been nicknamed. Their creation took place some time back, and since that time I have worn them to the point of living in them. Their creator and designer is Berkeley scientist, Thara Srinivasan.

I originally met Thara at a UC Berkeley botanic garden dye workshop. She humbly mentioned and offered that she could do some sewing, as well as some carbon accounting for the project. It wasn’t an offer for just any sewing project, she said she could re-create my favorite pair of pants in our limited supply of bioregional fibershed fabric!

I realized immediately the uniqueness of a person who could live in the world of fabric construction, while simultaneously compile the necessary data for something as complex as a CO2 footprint. I came to realize later that in fact that these are just two of her many talents.

Thara learned to sew by constructing a pattern and making a replica of her own favorite jeans. (Not exactly a simple first sewing project.)

The idea of making your own jeans at home, without the consult of a tenured seamstress, causes Thara’s friends to laugh with amazement and respect. ”She just decided that she was going to make pants for herself that fit her the way she wanted them to…. it’s just amazing!” said her close friend and scientist Danielle Christianson.

Srinivasan received her pHd in biomimetic chemistry from UC Berkeley and did her post doc work in Ecology and Environmental Policy. ’I don’t recommend doing a post doc in a different field from your pHd studies!‘ she says with a laugh. ‘It’s not easy.’ The studying and computer time were physically exacerbating and since her completion of the post doc, she has become a certified yoga instructor, a massage therapist and a docent at the UC Berkeley Botanic Garden– teaching children about the amazing plant species we share this planet with. ’I wanted to get outside, and to be healthy, and not in pain, a life behind a computer is not a good one,’ she said light heartedly.

Perhaps it is the young students she leads through the garden and the time spent with pollinators, but Srinivasan has taken on another creative venture– she is writing a book for young adults. (It’s an incredible work, I recently had the chance to read the first draft of the first chapter). The storyline combines the essential and magical essence of honeybees, the ability for children to harness solutions to our environmental crisis, and the rapid disappearance of our world’s species. The book weaves together her broad knowledge of ecology, and her expansive creative capacities.

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School Gardens Promote Learning While Fighting Hunger

GUATEMALA CITY, Aug 11, 2011 (Tierramérica) - "Yesterday I planted 20 broccoli plants at home. God willing, they will grow and we will be able to eat them," said 12-year-old Juan Francisco Ordóñez, a student at a school in San Cristóbal Totonicapán where a school garden has been established in an attempt to alleviate hunger.

By the end of this year, the Alliances to Improve the Situation of Children, Food Security and Nutrition programme, initiated in 2010, will have planted a total of 44 school gardens in the western Guatemalan department (province) of Totonicapán. While serving as a teaching tool, the gardens are also aimed at combating the high rates of chronic malnutrition in this Central American nation.

"We learn how to plant vegetables and when to water them. We’re growing radishes, beets, onions, chard, hierba mora (Solanum nigrum) and broccoli," explained Ordóñez, a sixth-grade student who has planted a similar garden at home to help his parents and six brothers and sisters.

The principal of his school, Benjamín Tax, told Tierramérica that "we are happy because children and parents have come to ask us for seeds to plant at home."

The signs of hunger are evident in the classroom. "It is reflected in a lack of concentration and poor performance. When the children see that the school snack provided by the government is being prepared, their attention wanders," he commented.

In early July, the school’s 211 students celebrated their first harvest. "We made a salad with the chard and also fried it and made soup, but it was all eaten at the event," said Tax. MORE
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An Urban Jungle for the 21st Century

SINGAPORE — The math is impressive. In the last 25 years, the population of Singapore has nearly doubled, to more than five million. Over the same period, its green cover — planted areas that appear green on satellite photos, from parks to rooftops — has increased from a little more than a third of the city-state’s area to nearly half.

But it is not enough. In Singapore’s next “green road map,” its 10-year development plan, the country aims to go from being “a garden city” to “a city in a garden.” “The difference might sound very small,” says Poon Hong Yuen, the chief executive of the country’s National Parks Board, “but it’s a bit like saying my house has a garden and my house is in the middle of a garden. What it means is having pervasive greenery, as well as biodiversity, including wildlife, all around you.”

Read more... )

From the NYT


Jul. 29th, 2011 12:30 am
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PAKISTAN After the Flood, Green Homes

KARACHI, Jul 28, 2011 (IPS) - Subhan Khatoon’s brand new home is nothing like the one that got washed away, along with all her worldly goods, in the 2010 monsoon floods that submerged a fifth of Pakistan and left 2,000 people dead.

Before that deluge, Khatoon, 45, could not have dreamed of owning a well-ventilated house with such luxuries as an attached toilet and a clean kitchen.

Khatun was lucky that the district administration of Khairpur identified her village Darya Khan Sheikh, on the banks of the Indus in Sindh province, as one of the worst affected, and her house as one that had been completely destroyed and, therefore, merited replacement.

Paperwork over, architects and engineers from the voluntary Heritage Foundation (HF) began designing Khatoon’s new home using locally available materials under its ‘Green Karavan Ghar’ initiative, which runs a similar rehabilitation project in the Swat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The vision behind the HF initiative is the use of local materials and a workforce backed by students from schools of architecture and engineering.

Established in 1984 by Yasmeen Lari - incidentally Pakistan’s first woman architect - the HF basically documents historic buildings and works for their conservation, but came forward to help with post-disaster reconstruction.

"These young professionals must learn to respect the traditional ways of building and also get hands-on training both technical and humanitarian in nature," Lari told IPS.

They have already handed over 104 homes in two villages in Sindh, all built with bamboo, lime (as opposed to cement) and mud. Not only can these be made speedily, they are cost-effective at Pakistani Rs 55,000 (647 US dollars) and have a low carbon footprint.

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Large-Scale Mining to Test Rights of Nature in Ecuador

Ecuador is the only Andean nation without any large-scale metallic mines (such as gold and copper). This unique state of affairs is about to be tested in the next few weeks when the Correa government signs exploitation agreements with Chinese and Canadian transnational miners looking to exploit the country's copper and gold reserves. More importantly, the legitimacy of the nation's Constitution, which grants nature rights, will also be tested.

There is no other economic activity in the world that would so clearly violate the rights of nature as large-scale open-pit mining. Large-scale mining, unlike petroleum, creates environmental liabilities that can endure for thousands of years. The impacts are order of magnitude worse.

Bingham Canyon, an active open pit copper mine in Utah, can be seen from outer space
. It is over a kilometer deep and four kilometers across. A similar gaping hole in Chile's Atacama desert, the Chuquicamata copper mine, has eaten a good part of the town by the same name and can, likewise, be seen from outer space. The infamous Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea, on the other hand, has devastated a whole river's ecosystem, impacted fisheries and, by the time the mine closes, it will have destroyed 3,000 square miles of tropical forests, as well as the livelihood of 30,000 local inhabitants. The still-active mine disgorges nearly 160,000 tons of spent ore and waste rock per day into nearby rivers.

Water is the resource most impacted by these mines.
Many mines around the world, including some in the US and Canada, are leaching heavy metals into rivers and the ocean today, and will continue to do so for thousands of years. Millions of gallons per day may have to be used, transported- and contaminated- as part of a normal mining operation. A good deal of that water will be mixed with toxic chemicals like cyanide, in order to extract the few grams of gold that is usually found in a typical ton of gold-bearing ore. Some of the water draining from mines is as acidic as car battery fluid, and more toxic.

In fact, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, mining in the US accounts for over one half of all toxic releases into the environment, and produces an unimaginable 8-9 times more solid waste, per weight, than that all its municipalities put together. The costs of stabilizing and treating some of these impacts are staggering. A mining project in Montana is the single biggest Superfund site in the US, with nearly one billion dollars earmarked to try to clean up the huge toxic mess left behind after decades of mining and milling.1 You'd think so much destruction would add greatly to a country's economy. Yet, in the US, the economy of mining adds less than 1% to the nation's Gross National Product.

Thus, it is clear that there is no way that large-scale mining can avoid serious, irreversible, and long-lasting environmental impacts. MORE

And there are troubling signs aplenty: People's Court Finds Ecuador's President Guilty of Criminalizing Protest

It's been three years since Ecuador became the first country in the world to grant nature "inalienable rights" in its constitution. As the country (on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorian plaintiffs) continues in its ongoing legal battle against Chevron (formerly Texaco) for damages associated with the company's destructive practices in the Amazon, another enforcement issue is emerging: the criminalization of protest. The situation in Ecuador will certainly serve to inform policies as other countries -- like Bolivia and Turkey -- prepare to enact their own similar environmental laws.

At the recent week-long Continental Conference in Defense of Water and Mother Earth that took place June 17-23 in Cuenca, Ecuador, a (non-binding) people's court heard hours of testimony regarding charges that the current Ecuadorean government, under the leadership of President Rafael Correa, is criminalizing "defenders of human rights and nature." The jury of this "Court of Ethics" concluded that "there is a systematic practice to discipline social protest and thus eliminate it...While justice is employed to criminalize the defenders of nature, it remains passive before human rights violations committed against them and against nature."

Correa was in power when the country's Constitution was redrafted to include the new language. Even at the time of the vote, some analysts were focused on how the changes might help Correa "gain and hold more power".

The people's court, which has no jurisdictional power, made a series of recommendations, including that the president refrain from making public statements that delegitimize and stigmatize environmental activists. According to Upside Down World, Correa made the following statement in 2007, at the beginning of his term: "Don't believe in romantic environmentalists. Anyone who is opposed to development in this country is a terrorist." He was referring to the community of Dayuma, Orellana which was protesting oil drilling in their territory. 

ETA: ECUADOR Fate of Untapped Oil Hangs in the Balance - of Trust Fund
QUITO, Jul 14, 2011 (IPS) - "Ecuador will not wait ad infinitum" for a decision by the international community, and "at the end of the year" President Rafael Correa will decide whether to extract oil that was to have been left underground at the Yasuní nature reserve, non-renewable natural resources minister Wilson Pástor has announced. The novelty in Tuesday's announcement was that Pástor detailed an oil production plan, in the event that drilling goes ahead. He said 14 wells would be drilled, with an investment of 8.6 billion dollars at the extremely attractive internal rate of return of 99 percent. The minister also gave the possible start date for production in the oilfields as the third quarter of 2012, and added that "the fields are less than 100 km away from an oil pipeline that has spare capacity." He was referring to the Heavy Crude Pipeline (OCP), built in Ecuador by private companies to transport oil from the Amazon jungle to the Pacific coast, and mainly owned by the Spanish firm Repsol. Pástor's announcement at the opening session of the First Latin American and Caribbean Seminar on Oil and Gas, organised by the Ecuador-based Latin American Energy Organisation (OLADE), was the most detailed so far from a government spokesperson about the option to exploit the crude oil.
The Under Secretariat of Hydrocarbons Policy has already been contacting potential interested parties since March, in case the drilling goes ahead. The initiative for not extracting the oil was originally proposed 20 years ago by Fundación Natura, the largest environmental organisation in Ecuador, and has since been supported by a number of environmental and indigenous groups defending the Yasuní National Park and its buffer zone, where the oilfields are located.

The Yasuní is one of the world's most highly biodiverse regions, with more plant and animal species found in one hectare than in the whole of North America, according to scientific studies.

It is also home to the Tagaeri and Taromenane indigenous groups who are living in voluntary isolation from the outside world.

The Yasuní, declared a national park in 1979 and a World Biosphere Reserve 10 years later, covers an area of 982,000 hectares of the Upper Napo river basin.

Leaving one of the country's largest oil reserves underground would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for global warming, by 407 million tonnes, environmentalists say.

The environmentalists' proposal was adopted by Correa when he took office in 2007, and he made it official Jun. 5, 2007 at the United Nations as a multifaceted project, combining protection of the environment and of indigenous communities with promotion of renewable energies, to which the funds would primarily be devoted. MORE
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Women Keen to Ease Greenhouse Effect on Their Ability to Provide

WINDHOEK, Jul 4, 2011 (IPS) - A successful entrepreneurial programme in the north of Namibia that infuses farming practices with gender-responsive environmentalism may serve as a model for other countries on the African continent.

"Rural women in Africa are burdened with providing for the household. They are the farmers, working the fields, cooking and trying to make a modest cash income on the side," says Marie Johansson, the chief executive officer of Creative Entrepreneur Solutions (CES) in Ondangwa, Northern Namibia, in southern Africa.

"You see a woman, sitting at a service station selling bread and it seems like a nice way to make an income. But poverty profiles show that she gets up at three in the morning to prepare the dough, then she makes breakfast, then she bakes the bread, then she works in the field for a couple of hours, before walking the 10 kilometres to the service station.

"There she sells bread all day long, maybe making an overall profit of five Namibian dollars (0.75 U.S. dollars). After that, of course, it’s back home to cook, clean and prepare for the next day, all the way up ‘til bedtime at midnight."

For women already locked into a harsh existence, floods, droughts and higher temperatures are unwelcome guests that affect harvests and their ability to provide.

Says Johansson: "Men do mostly not have this vicious cycle of working and sleeping, so they tend to pay less attention when land issues are discussed in climate change adaptation workshops. But the women will say that the first thing they want to do is to secure the household staple food production, no matter what.

"A woman tends to take an interest in topics like conservation farming and drip irrigation because for her it is vital to get as much food from her land as possible. ‘How do I plan my farm with these floods?’ ‘Should I maybe diversify into rice production?’ These are the questions they face."

With a handful of other women Johansson started Creative Entrepreneur Solutions in 2007. She helped poor women in the townships to strengthen their small informal enterprises, or start new ones.

In 2009 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) approached CES to roll out a community- based adaptation programme in 20 communities in five Namibian provinces. The programme has been extremely successful.

"Our approach works because it is a bottom-up approach. If the donors walk out tomorrow, it will still work. Most donor-funded or government-initiated programmes fail because they don’t ask the people what they want and create no sense of ownership."

Instead, CES started self-help groups modelled on initiatives in India. Communities organise themselves in cooperatives to tackle climate change issues, or build up savings for business ventures. MORE
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Mermaids and Toxic Waste: The First Science Fiction Novel Published in [one of] Zimbabwe’s Native Language Does Zimbabwe only have one native language? No it doesn't. And its not only spoken in Zimbabwe either. Eyeroll

UK-based Zimbabwean author Masimba Musodza has written the first science fiction novel in ChiShona, the native language of the Shona people of Zimbabwe and Southern Zambia. And it tells the story of native beliefs clashing with corporate mad science. MunaHacha Maive Nei is also the first chiShona novel available on the Kindle. According to the ImageNations blog, this is a huge step forward in a region where English, or a pidgin version of English, is still considered the "most common form of communication." Musodza, who's also the author of some detective novels and the novel The Man who turned into a Rastafarian, has lived in England since 2002. (ChiShona is a common enough language in England that it's used on official forms.)
Here's how Musodza's press release describes the novel:
MunaHacha Maive Nei weaves issues of greed & corruption, sustainable development, international corporate intrigue and concerns around bio-technology. Chemicals from a research station conducting illegal experiments begin to seep in to the local ecosystem, causing mutations in the flora and fauna. When a child is attacked by a giant fish, the villagers think it is an affronted mermaid-traditional custodian of the ecology- and seek to appease it according to the prescription of folk-lore. However, the reality of what is happening soon becomes evident, a reality more terrifying than any legend or belief.

Be still my heart!!!
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INDIA 'Seed-Mothers' Confront Climate Insecurity

BHUBANESWAR, India, Jul 1, 2011 (IPS) - In eastern Orissa state’s tribal hinterlands about 200 ‘seed-mothers’ are on mission mode - identifying, collecting and conserving traditional seed varieties and motivating farming families to use them.

The seed-mothers (bihana-maa in the local dialect) from the Koya and Kondh tribal communities have reached 1,500 families in the Malkangiri and Kandhamal districts and are still counting. These women are formidable storehouses of knowledge on indigenous seeds and biodiversity conservation.

Collecting, multiplying and distributing through exchange local varieties of paddy, millet, legume, vegetables and leafy green seeds, the seed-mothers already have a solid base of 80 converted villages.

As they spread their message through the hinterland, targeting another 140 villages, the women also promote zero dependence on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

Considering that Malkangiri is Orissa’s least developed district, with literacy at a low 50 percent and isolated by rivers, forests, undulating topography and poor connectivity, the achievement of the seed-mothers is admirable.

The struggles of Malkangiri farmers with climate change is visible in the Gudumpadar village where seed-mothers are passionately reviving agricultural heritage and convincing the community to stay with local seeds and bio-fertilisers and pesticides.

"This is the best way to cope with erratic rainfall, ensure the children are fed and avoid the clutches of moneylenders," says 65-year-old seed-mother Kanamma Madkami of Kanjeli village, who has multiplied 29 varieties of local millet and paddy seeds. MORE

xposted: to politics.
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2008 Belize sows seeds for food security

Both Palma and Miller can't say for certain why fresh vegetables in Belize have been relegated to the backburner, but they have their theories.

One theory for this shift is a transition to a cash-based economy. Miller says families now need cash to participate in the economy, and to, for instance, send their children to school.

"Public schools require that you have pens and paper and books and uniforms, which requires cash," Miller said. "So now the person who used to grow the vegetables goes out, leaves their village, and does construction work to go make cash money. They can leave their corn, their beans, their rice, and their staples and come back and harvest, but that's not true with a vegetable garden. So there went the vegetables."

It isn't just keeping their kids in school that has farmers traveling to town for work. Because of many disastrous trade agreements forged by the U.S., farmers can no longer make wages that allow them to work solely on the farm, where they could cultivate supplemental gardens. Read more... )

Lord, I have seen that same story of American media advertsing changing customs for the worse and it drives me up the wall. Fresh pork and callaloo is less than Vienna sausages? Really? Then again it took living here for a while to see through the lies and glossy adverts. Oh god:/ On the hand, this is way more indepth. 11 page PDF FOOD SECURITY AND THE POVERTY PARADOX AT THE LOCAL LEVEL: THE CASE OF NORTH/SOUTH BELIZE
Food security at the household level is not only a factor of quantity, but also whether members of the household eat on time and/or have a greater selection of foods for meal preparation (Palacio, 1982). Cultural belief systems about food and health, rather than the nutritive value of food, contribute to dietary practices in Belize. Cultural practices place constraints on the type (quality) and the amount (quantity) of food items selected for consumption. It is the significance of lard or oil as mentioned above, to add “richness” to the diet. In some cases the timing of the arrival of foods, affects quantity and quality of foods consumed. In Barranco, the untimely arrival of the fisherman makes daily food supply uncertain at the household level. Similar examples are prevalent in both northern and southern communities, where production is limited despite proximity to the sea and available, arable land. I will outline three areas of cultural influences. One is the need to combine solids and liquids in the folk belief system (Palacio, 1982), the second is the deliberate refusal of certain foods to children and pregnant women (Brady, 1990); the third is the obligation to share foods in indigenous religious belief systems of the Garifuna people. Read more... )
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Africa: Bike share Systems Already Thrive

Cape Town is one of the growing number of cities worldwide that is considering 'bike-share', a local authority-owned bicycle transport system aimed at short-term trips around the city. There are already more than 130 city bike-share systems worldwide, from the most famous, Velib in Paris, to the most recent, Barclays (Boris' Bikes) in London, and the largest, Hangzhou, in China.

Bicycle sharing systems, also known as public bike schemes, are designed for quick urban trips and to complement public transport, enabling people to complete the last few kilometres of a journey by bike rather than on foot.

Unlike with leisure bicycle rentals, users toting smart cards can pick up a bicycle at one location (every 300 metres or so) and drop it off at another. The systems offer fast and easy access, with no large deposits, documentation or attendants. Pricing systems are geared toward short commuter trips. Often such systems are government subsided, or funded through advertising revenue. They're slick, stylish, and fully automated - with touch-screen maps, GPS-based route planners and sophisticated tracking devices.

"These systems are significant public transport projects in their own right, as well as important urban economic development, urban quality, climate change and public health interventions," says Bradley Schroeder, ITDP (Institute for Transport Development Policy) bike-share technical expert.


But here's the thing: had Sibomana been in Rwanda, the country of his birth, or Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe or Zambia, for that matter, he could either have left behind his shoes as 'insurance', or simply taken a bicycle taxi and sailed forth into the gale.

For public bike systems are already common practice in much of rural and urban Africa, albeit on a smaller, and less-sophisticated scale.

In Malawian towns, suits and 'Sunday best' are common cycling attire, although the bicycles are refurbished second-hand imports from India or China. And the 'bike-share' operators, entrepreneurs at dusty road-ride stalls, have dealt with the issue of theft not with smart cards and auto-locking but by never letting the bicycle out of their sight.MORE
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Biopiracy: Let's BAG It!

Working with nature, farmers in the South Asian countries of Pakistan, India and Nepal have cultivated basmati rice for countless centuries. Rice is an integral part of many of the region's diverse cultures. In some of the ancient texts, rice has been associated with prana, or breath. Basmati literally means "fragrant earth" and is considered one of the most aromatic and flavorful rice varieties in the subcontinent. It is also one of the more lucrative export rice crops from South Asia. The Basmati rice exports of Indian farmers alone are worth over $270 million (US). Quite a sizeable amount for any transnational corporation to get their hands on.

In 1997, the powerful United States Patent Office gave Rice Tec, Inc., the patent on Basmati rice. Rice Tec, Inc. is an US-based corporation in Alvin, Texas and a subsidiary of the larger Rice Tec Group whose CEO is Hans-Adam 11, the prince of Leichtenstein. By cross-breeding two Basmati rice varieties the owners of Rice Tec insist that they have invented a "novel" variety of this age-old rice from South Asia. Their patent covers any Basmati variety crowd with a semidwarf strain grown anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. More ominously, the patent also covers any basmati rice that resembles the original plants they used in their cross-breeding methods. This could potentially extend their patent to South Asia.

What the Rice Tec patent covers are the breeding methods as well as the germplasm of the basmati rice variety Rice Tec claims to have "invented." Now, while the patenting of the breeding method is itself a theft of farmers' knowledge and a privatization of the common, age old practice of cross-breeding, the patenting of germplasms of plants amounts to nothing less than the colonization of life.MORE

TED Case Studies: BASMATI

Read more... )

India-U.S. Fight on Basmati Rice Is Mostly Settled

Read more... )

On my booklist: Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge by Vandana Shiva I'd prefer to buy it from South End Press but thier website is not working right now? At least , my computer doesn't want to access it. Got the south end press link!
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
as [personal profile] spiralsheep informed us a few days ago. This is his reasoning for his actions:

OP-ED:Drilling Deep Mistakes in the Arctic
By Kumi Naidoo*

THE INSTITUTION PRISON, NUUK, Greenland, Jun 20, 2011 (IPS) - Nuuk is a long way from my hometown of Durban, and the Arctic is a long way for an African to come to campaign about climate change. Yet, here I sit, in a jail cell, with my colleague Ulvar Arnkvaern, in the ‘Institution’, a prison in Greenland’s capital. I sit here for breaching an exclusion zone and climbing aboard a dangerous deep water drilling rig some 120 km off Greenland’s coast.

With me I carried the signatures of some 50,000 people who are demanding that the oil rigs operators Cairn Energy publish its ‘oil spill response plan’. I also wanted to personally call for drilling to stop immediately. Since my arrest I am told over 20,000 more people have gone to the Greenpeace web site - and added their names to the growing petition.

I came in defence of the fragile Arctic environment. I became the 22nd Greenpeace activist who in the last few weeks has volunteered to climb the rig in the middle of the Arctic. I came to add my body to the protest and my voice to the call for sanity and an end to dangerous deep water oil drilling in the Arctic. I became the 22nd activist to be arrested and held in a Greenlandic cell.

How can it be that in the wake of the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill disaster an oil company can be allowed to drill at a similar depth in the Arctic, where any clean up operation would be all but impossible. Given the events of the Gulf of Mexico blow-out it would be logical that greater transparency and public scrutiny would be needed, not less or none.
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
So I was clearing out my journal and came upon this old post. Let me know if any of the links are bad.

Toxic inaction:Why poisonous, unregulated chemicals end up in our blood

Toxic dumps in Africa

Dumped in Africa: Britians toxic Waste

Industrial Waste

Somalia & the Mafia, the nuclear waste dump zone

Ship breaking in India

Ghana : A dumping ground for e-waste

Americas e-waste adds to global dump

japan twisting arms of Asian neighbours to take toxic waste

Welcome top the world of hazardopus waste inventories

Japan dumping toxic waste in Thailand as part of freetrade agreement

One more failed US enviro policy

ENVIRONMENT-FRANCE: Dismantling End-of-Life Ships Requires Global Answers<./A>

pushing dirty energy on developing nations

Japan may dump toxic waste in India

Taiwan exporting toxic waste to cambodia

Japan toxic waste, the Philippines Two

Basel action network takes on japan

Japan, South Korea dumping in China

India Lindane tixic dumping pdf

Thai activists scream at Japan deal

Toxic Terror book

Japan Phillipine I give you healthcare workers, you take my toxics

Japan trade frays tempers:Surayud urged to take long, cool look at consequences of toxic-waste dumping and intellectual-property theft

2000 article japan dumps in the pihillipines

US dump waste in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin Port in India

Hazardous waste management in india

UNCTAD promotes toxic waste dumping in Asia

US pushing India to legalize more toxic dumping, at the same time illegally dumping it anyway

US dumping toxic navy ships on the third world

Solar panel manufacturers from US dumping in China

US dumping in Haiti

The toxic waste watchdog organization Basel Action Network (BAN) today slammed the government’s plans to scuttle the former aircraft carrier FORRESTAL[1] in deep water as an “artificial reef” instead of having the ship safely recycled at one of the half-dozen active ship dismantling yards in the U.S.

Austrailia dumping mining debris in Papua New Guinea river water

Australia dumping in Phillipines and India

US targets Australia from nuclear dumping ground

Australia gots one waste management facility

16 November 2002 – Australian company Rio Tinto's gold mining operation in Lihir, Papua New Guinea has been under scrutiny by the Secretariat of the London Convention for dumping toxic waste at sea.

Australia dumps toxic waste in Hong Kong

Australia duumps in China

Australia mining waste dumped into locals water

West dumps more toxic waste on poor countries

Britain dumping in India

Britain dumps in Africa

Britain dumps in Brazil

The root of this obscene trade lies in the fact that it costs only $2.50 a tonne to dump toxic waste in Africa compared to $250 a tonne to dump waste in Europe. As a result, less than half of the electrical items thrown away last year were disposed of in accordance with EU rules. Britain

Italian mobsters dumping toxic trash all over the world

Italy dumping in Somalia

Pirates of Somalia: Curse of the Mafia Nuclear Waste Dumps and Thanks for All the Fish

A Toxic International Partnership (PDF)

What happened on the Ivory Coast?

Taiwan Used Bribes, Corruption to Dump Mercury Waste in Cambodia

California says hell no to toxics first dumped in Cambodia

POC community

Dumping of toxic waste a human rights issue

From the Cambodian pov

South Korea dumped waste in Japanese waters for 15 years

Toxic Korean garbage littering japan's beaches

Northern Dumping in the South USA (google books)

Global Outbreak of Toxic Waste Dumping

August 2017

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