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VANDANA SHIVA: Traditional Knowledge, Biodiversity and Sustainable Living

An Interview with Dr Vandana Shiva, one of the world's foremost environmentalist, anti-GM activist and an advocate of ecological farming and sustainable agriculture as a solution to climate change, food security, hunger and peace. The interview was taken on 16th March 2011, during "Grandmonther's University" a three day course at Navdanya Biodiversity Farm at Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India which Dr. Vandana Shiva founded in 1987 to help save traditional seeds. The farm also undertakes research and training, along with the important role of distributing native seeds to farmers in the region.

Please see the full article at

The interview was conducted by Geraldine, Emiliano and Bhavani. Bhavani Prakash is the Founder of
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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: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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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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countries really really badly, so we need to be aware of how the bastards do it:

'Merchants of Doubt': How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues From Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

Ben Santer is the kind of guy you could never imagine anyone attacking. He’s thoroughly moderate—of moderate height and build, of moderate temperament, of moderate political persuasions. He is also very modest—soft-spoken, almost self-effacing—and from the small size and non-existent décor of his office at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, you might think he was an accountant. If you met him in a room with a lot of other people, you might not even notice him.

But Santer is no accountant, and the world has noticed him.

Read more... )

If you contribute $25 to Truthout you can get the book itself, btw, cause this an excerpt thereform...

Climate Change: African Agriculture and Food Supply at Risk

BONN, Jun 18, 2011 (IPS) - Climate change and global warming are likely to have dramatically negative effects on African agriculture and food supply by reducing river runoffs and water recharge, especially in semi-arid zones such as Southern Africa, two new reports say.

Both studies were released while thousands of delegates from around the world gathered during Jun. 6- 17 in the German city of Bonn to take part in the new United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference. New research supports the need for a revamped international regime of reduction of greenhouse gases emissions, the main cause of global warming. MORE

Developing Countries Pledging More Emissions Cuts Than Industrial North

BONN, Jun 17, 2011 (IPS) - Negotiations over a new international climate agreement are on the brink as new analyses show that carbon emission reduction promises by industrialised nations are actually lower than those made by China, India, Brazil and other developing nations. Even with all the promises or pledges added together they are still far short of cuts needed to prevent global temperatures from rising two degrees Celsius, experts reported here.

"It’s a very sad picture we see here," said Marion Vieweg of Climate Analytics, a German NGO that analyses climate science and policy.

"The rich nations are doing nothing to improve their emissions pledges," Vieweg told reporters during the final hours of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiating session here in Bonn. These meetings are intended to work out the details for a new international agreement for government ministers to consider at the 17th Conference of the Parties under the UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa in late November. MORE
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The Chilling Beauty of Brazil's Green Desert

When travelling through the Minas Gerais state last April, the blogger known as the Viajante Sustentável (The Sustainable Traveller) spoke to inhabitants of the Jequitinhonha valley [en], and discovered how the region's visual and social landscape has changed over the last twenty years:

A catastrófica monocultura de eucalipto pelas empresas privadas nas cabeceiras dos rios e riachos, além de envenenar o solo, expulsou a fauna e flora do local, secou as nascentes e o lençol freático. O deserto verde do eucalipto tornou-se uma calamidade socioambiental. A região já foi auto-suficiente em alimentos essenciais, cultivados pela agricultura familiar, integrados com a natureza. A situação mudou radicalmente, exibindo riachos completamente secos, sem olhos d’água, rios cada vez mais baixos e assoreados, praticamente toda a alimentação proveniente de distribuidores em Belo Horizonte, pastos abandonados. Enquanto isso, as transnacionais de eucalipto e celulose engordavam os lucros.

The disastrous concept behind growing company-owned eucalyptus monocultures in river and stream sources not only poisoned the soil, but also destroyed local flora and fauna and dried up streams and the water table. Consequently, the eucalyptus green desert became a social and environmental calamity. The region already produced essential foods in a sustainable manner, as food was grown using integrated farming, but the situation changed radically. The streams completely dried up, there were no freshwater springs, water levels gradually decreased, silt levels increased, farms were abandoned and practically all food came from distributors in Belo Horizante. Meanwhile, the eucalyptus and cellulose transnational corporations were making huge profits.

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Or maybe its this: "Exploitation by Any Other Name (Might be Monsanto)"

Whoever titled the sections had a definite sense of humor...

GMOS and Peru: The Debate Continues

In Peru, the debate over the introduction of GMOs into the country has been very public, involving a plethora of participants such as scientists, chefs, farmers, restaurant owners, politicians, and far-ranging members of civil society. Several Peruvian regions, including Cusco, Lambayeque, Huánuco, Ayacucho, and San Martín, were the first to declare themselves “GMO-free zones.”[i] Lima soon joined as the newest GMO-free zone in late April.[ii] This move came just days after President Alan García and former Peruvian Minister of Agriculture Rafael Quevedo had signed Supreme Decree 003-2011-AG on April 15.[iii]

The decree, which was actually drawn up two years ago, set up an agency to regulate the research, production, and trade of GMOs.[iv] Rafael Quevedo, who has since resigned from office due to intense criticism surrounding his stance on GMOs, claimed that the order was merely “a regulation which tries to eliminate errors, control the use of genetically modified organisms, and make sure they don’t come into the country if they are found to be a risk.”[v] However, many citizens felt that the decree paved the way for a flood of transgenic products into the country, which could hurt its rich biodiversity and its growing market for high quality organic products. The immediate backlash against the signing of the decree indicated that there, indeed, existed widespread support for a GMO-free Peru. Such indications were soon confirmed, as Peru’s Congress recently repealed the decree on June 8 by a 56 to 0 vote, with two abstentions.[vi] The bill has placed a “10-year moratorium on the entrance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for cultivation and breeding or any other type of transgenic products.”[vii] However, the transgenic battle in Peru is far from decidedly won, as the moratorium simply puts the heated spar on a temporary hold.

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'Whoever Opposes Mining is Seen as a Terrorist':Wikileaks on the US and Peru: Spying on Indigenous Groups, Defending Mining Companies

A Wikileaks cable reveals the US Embassy in Lima, Peru, identified Indigenous activists and tracked the involvement of Bolivian President Evo Morales, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivia Ambassador Pablo Solon, prominent Quechua activist Miguel Palacin Quispe and community leaders.

Since the writing of this cable, the bonds with Native Americans and First Nations have grown stronger in the struggles for justice. Bolivian President Morales and Ambassador Solon were in the forefront of the Indigenous global climate change efforts in 2010. Palacin was in Tucson for an anti-mining conference in 2007, and more recently with Indigenous Peoples from around the world at the climate summits in both Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

The US Embassy report dated March 17, 2008, focuses on Indigenous activists and their supporters who, the cable states, were organizing "anti-summit" protests against the European Union-Latin American Heads of State summit scheduled for mid-May of 2008 in Lima.

James Nealon at the US Embassy in Lima wrote the cable released Sunday, Feb. 13. "The greatest concern among our European Union mission colleagues is the threat that radicals could hijack the protests by aggressively confronting ill-prepared security forces, as occurred in Cusco in February."MORE
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sounds like a plan:

LOCKED DOWN: Native Americans arrested defending sacred San Francisco Peaks

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Six people were arrested, including four Native Americans, after they locked themselves to heavy equipment this morning, protesting the destruction of sacred San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. They are being taken to Coconino County jail.
Native Americans are protesting pipeline construction to the Snowbowl ski resort, which would carry sewage water for snowmaking.
Native American medicine men gather herbs for healing on the mountain. Since time immemorial, the mountain has been sacred to 13 area American Indian Nations.

Here's their statement, released as they locked themselves to heavy equipment on Thursday, June 16:

“Today we take direct action to stop further desecration and destruction of the Holy San Francisco Peaks. We stand with our ancestors, with allies and with those who also choose to embrace diverse tactics to safeguard Indigenous People’s cultural survival, our community’s health, and this sensitive mountain ecosystem.

"On May 25th 2011, sanctioned by the US Forest Service, owners of Arizona Snowbowl began further destruction and desecration of the Holy San Francisco Peaks. Snowbowl’s hired work crews have laid over a mile and a half of the planned 14.8 mile wastewater pipeline. They have cut a six foot wide and six foot deep gash into the Holy Mountain.
"Although a current legal battle is under appeal, Snowbowl owners have chosen to undermine judicial process by rushing to construct the pipeline. Not only do they disregard culture, environment, and our children’s health, they have proven that they are criminals beyond reproach.

"Four weeks of desecration has already occurred. Too much has already been taken. Today, tomorrow and for a healthy future, we say “enough!

"As we take action, we look to the East and see Bear Butte facing desecration, Mt. Taylor facing further uranium mining; to the South, Mt. Graham desecrated, South Mountain threatened, the US/Mexico border severing Indigenous communities from sacred places; to the West, inspiring resistance at Sogorea Te, Moana Keya facing desecration; to the North, Mt. Tenabo, Grand Canyon, Black Mesa, and so many more, our homelands and our culture under assault.

"We thought that the USDA, heads of the Forest Service, had meant it when they initiated nationwide listening sessions to protect sacred places. It fhe process was meaningful, we would not have to take action today
Media Watch: Arizona Snowbowl and Racism in the Media
Although the protesters statement was available on the Internet all day at Google News, the media chose to criminalize the protesters without explaining the sacred nature of the mountain for Native Americans. The majority of the media in Arizona and nationwide simply posted AP's article, without questioning it, researching the facts or Today in the media, the majority of reporters failed to even mention the most basic reason for the protest.

It is here on San Francisco Peaks that Native Americans offer ceremonies for healing and for protection. Native American medicine men use the plants on the mountain for healing herbs, the same plants that would be doused with sewage water for snowmaking if the Snowbowl continues with its plan to use recycled wastewater for snowmaking. The mountain is sacred to 13 American Indian Nations. AP's article simply criminalizes the young people and fails to point out that these young people made the decision to be arrested in order to bring attention to the desecration of sacred San Francisco Peaks. AP failed to even provide one quote from the protesters lengthy statement. The statement was available, and easy to find, all day. It was posted Thursday morning in the Narcosphere, which appears on Google News, and was posted at Censored News all day.MORE
I am fairly sure that this fuckery is breaking UN laws on the Rights of Indigenous people too. NOT that the US gives a fuck. 
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Business Lobby Resists Ban on ‘Perverse’ Emissions - Part 1

BRUSSELS, Jun 2, 2011 (IPS) - For years, European governments and corporations have made use of a loophole in the Kyoto protocol on climate change to make exorbitant profits. According to some sources, this lucrative scheme has caused more pollution than ever before.

The Kyoto protocol allows European companies to ‘offset’ their excess emissions of greenhouse gases by buying emissions reductions in developing nations. This provision is called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The eligibility of the overseas projects and the issuance of emission credits - which in this case are called Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) - are controlled by a council at the U.N., the CDM Executive Board.

In June 2010, two environmental NGOs - CDM Watch, based in Bonn, and Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), with offices in Washington, DC and London - discovered that European governments and corporations were grossly misusing the CDM. Fifty-nine percent of all CERs originated from the same 19 projects, though a total of 2,800 projects were registered. These 19 projects all produced HCFC-22, a refrigerant gas that is banned in the U.S. and Europe under the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer because of its ozone-depleting properties. In developing countries the gas must be phased out by 2030.

HCFC-22 is also a ‘super green house gas’ that is 1,810 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Furthermore, HFC-23, the unwanted by-product of the manufacture of HCFC-22, is 11,700 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

When the producers of the refrigerant choose to burn the by-product HFC-23 instead of venting it into the air, they are eligible for heaps of credits under the CDM. Burning one tonne of HFC-23 would bring in 11,700 CERs or emission credits for the plant burning the gas.

It turned out this was a very lucrative business. Burning the equivalent of one tonne of carbon dioxide only cost 25 U.S. cents while the credits could be sold on the European market for not less than 19 dollars.

These projects soon attracted Western investment banks that wanted to share in the profits: JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Rabobank and Fortis. Next to these banks, the Italian, Dutch and British governments appear several times on the list of investors. Large energy companies including E.ON (Germany), Nuon (Netherlands), RWE (Germany), Enel (Italy) and Electrabel (Belgium) are also involved as project participants. MORE

Business Lobby Resists Ban on ‘Perverse' Emissions - Part 2

Just weeks before the 2010 U.N. COP16 climate talks in Cancún, Europe’s climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard proposed a ban on all HFC-credits in the European system of emissions trading (ETS) to take effect Jan. 1, 2013. On that date, the second phase of the ETS is due to end, after which new rules could apply.

Industry lobby groups and business organisations resisted the ban. Brussels-based NGOCorporate Europe Observatory made use of Freedom of Information Regulations here to obtain documents and reconstructed the full story.

BusinessEurope is the most influential lobby group in Brussels, representing 40 industrial and employers’ federations from 34 European countries. In October 2010, BusinessEurope’s Director- General Philippe de Buck sent a letter to Hedegaard and Commissioner of Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani in which he spells out his opposition to limiting the use of credits from the CDM.

BusinessEurope also made use of a new employee, who had just finished three years of work at the European Commission of Enterprise and Industry. In an email to his former colleagues at the Commission, this employee refers to a recent goodbye drink and expresses his wish to keep on working together in his new lobbying function. In an attachment, he forwarded the position paper of BusinessEurope - which opposes the ban.
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The Economic Benefits of a Green Chemical Industry
in the United States Renewing Manufacturing Jobs While Protecting Health and the Environment
PDF Report.

Study on Benefits of a Green Chemical Industry

James Heintz: People think the EPA can regulate dangerous chemicals, but current legislation is not effective


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. In 1976, an act was passed called the Toxic Substance Control Act. It grandfathered about 62,000 chemicals and, according to most critics, was rather weak in enforcing chemical companies to really disclose to the EPA what their chemicals were made of. It put the burden of proof onto the EPA to prove that these substances would not cause harm, where the chemical companies did not have any burden, really, of proof on them. And as a result, there was a new act that's been proposed. It's called the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. It was introduced by Senator Lautenberg from New Jersey, and he produced a little video on YouTube to introduce his act. And here's a little clip from it. MORE

Study: Regulating Dangerous Chemicals Does Not Cost Jobs


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. According to a new report, even low-end estimates of health costs of exposure to hazardous industrial chemicals amount to thousands of deaths and billions of dollars. In terms of children's health outcomes, 100 percent of cases of lead poisoning are a result of chemical exposure, 10 to 35 percent of asthma cases, 2 to 10 percent of certain cancers, and 5 to 20 percent of neurological problems. In California, in regard to deaths specifically linked to occupational health and safety factors, 80 to 90 percent of cancer deaths, 100 percent of occupational lung disease deaths, 40 to 50 percent of deaths associated with neurological disorders, and 40 to 50 percent of deaths associated with renal disorders [are] attributable to industrial chemical exposures. As a result of these kinds of statistics, many people are calling for a reform of the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. But chemical industry associations and defenders say any reform, any more regulation, will lead to less jobs, more outsourcing of production. Well, a new study by James Heinz and Robert Pollin of the PERI institute, sponsored by the Blue Green Alliance, has actually come to the conclusion that more regulation would lead to more jobs, not less. Now joining us from Amherst, Massachusetts, is one of the authors of that study, James Heinz. Thanks for joining us, James.MORE
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El Salvadoran Government & Social Movements Say No to Monsanto

On the morning of Friday, May 6th President Mauricio Funes of El Salvador’s left-wing FMLN party, arrived at the La Maroma agricultural cooperative in the department of Usulután for a potentially historic meeting with hundreds of small family farmers. Usulután has often been referred to as the country’s bread basket for its fertile soil and capacity for agricultural production, making it one of the most strategic and violent battleground zones during El Salvador’s twelve year civil war between the US-supported government and the FMLN guerrilla movement.

Once again, Usulután has entered the spotlight for its agricultural reputation. The FMLN, which initially formed around an ideology of national liberation from US hegemony, has now adopted the goal of “food sovereignty,” the idea that countries hold the right to define their own agricultural policies, rather than being subject to the whims of international market forces. On Friday, officials representing the Ministry of Agriculture and the local governorship accompanied President Funes in inaugurating a new plan aimed at reactivating the country’s historically ignored rural economy and reversing El Salvador’s growing dependence on imported grains.

The opening ceremony for the new plan was hosted by the Mangrove Association, a non-governmental organization established by members of a grassroots social movement called La Coordinadora del Bajo Lempa y Bahia de Jiquilisco (known locally as La Coordinadora), which has been supporting initiatives for food security and environmental sustainability in Usulután for over 15 years. MORE
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2011 Goldman Prize for South & Central America: Francisco Pineda, El Salvador

Living under the constant threat of assassination, Francisco Pineda courageously led a citizens' movement that stopped a gold mine from destroying El Salvador's dwindling water resources and the livelihoods of rural communities throughout the country. Learn more at

This video is narrated by actor and environmentalist Robert Redford.

The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world's largest award for grassroots environmentalists.

Learn more at

Francisco Pineda
El Salvador Oil & Mining

Living under the constant threat of assassination, Francisco Pineda courageously led a citizens’ movement that stopped a gold mine from destroying El Salvador’s dwindling water resources and the livelihoods of rural communities throughout the country.

Mining and Water

For small farmers and communities in rural El Salvador, water is more valuable than gold. Without country-wide water delivery infrastructure, people in these areas must rely on the bodies of water nearby to feed their crops and sustain their personal needs. However, it is estimated that 90 percent of the country’s surface water bodies are contaminated. Nearly all municipal and industrial wastewater is discharged into rivers and creeks without treatment, reducing clean water availability for rural populations. Only three percent of the country’s natural flowing rivers remain pristine. The clean water that still flows in the Rio Lempa, El Salvador’s longest river with a watershed extending to nearly half of the country, is absolutely essential to the lives and livelihoods of the region’s rural people. A total of four million people rely on this water source.

Mining represents the greatest threat to El Salvador’s water supply. The US-Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has made doing business in El Salvador easier for foreign companies, and thus exploration permits have been issued for a variety of development projects, including gold and silver mines. Gold mining is notoriously damaging to the environment. Mine operators often employ a process known as cyanide leeching, whereby cyanide, a highly toxic chemical, is mixed with water pulled from local supplies and applied to rock deposits to extract the gold within them. The toxic runoff then spreads to surrounding land and often ends up contaminating rivers, creeks and groundwater. MORE

Goldman Prize Winner Francisco Pineda Risks His Life to Battle Gold Mining Operation

Read more... )


Jan 2011 El Salvador: Fallen Anti-Mining Activists Honored with Vigil

Read more... )

2009 Headlines:

The Story of MARCELO RIVERIA Pacific Rim Silent in Wake of Violence Against Anti-mining Protesters in Cabañas, El Salvador

Read more... )

The Mysterious Death of Marcelo Riveria

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El Salvador: Ramiro Rivera Shot to Death in Cabañas

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They pay the price for our luxuries.
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'Brazil 'to step up Amazon activists' protection'

The Brazilian authorities say they are ready to offer increased protection to environmental activists considered most at risk after receiving death threats. Ministers held an emergency meeting on violence in the Amazon, where three activists were killed last week.

"We will not accept these murders," said Rural Development Minister Afonso Florence.

The Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) has a list of 125 activists who have been threatened. Justice Minister Luiz Paulo Barreto said they would analyse the CPT's information and respond on a case-by-case basis. At their meeting in the capital, Brasilia, on Monday, ministers agreed to increase co-operation between the federal and state governments.

"We will intensify monitoring and investigation and strengthen actions leading to sustainable development in the region," Mr Florence told reporters.

The talks came after three campaigners were killed in the Amazon.

On Friday, rural leader Adelino Ramos was shot dead in Porto Velho, capital of Rondonia. The CPT said Mr Ramos had denounced illegal loggers in the states of Acre, Amazonas and Rondonia. He had survived a bloody dispute in 1995, when some 300 police officers opened fire on a landless workers' camp near the town of Corumbiara, killing at least 10 people.

On 24 May, the bodies of Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo were found on a nature reserve, Praialta-Piranheira near Maraba, where they had been working for the past 24 years. According to family and friends, the couple had received numerous threats in the past two years for their environmental activism.

On Saturday, farmer Eremilton Pereira dos Santos was found shot dead in the same area as the couple. Police said there was no link between the murders.

The CPT says that over the last decade, 1,855 people have received death threats. Of these, 42 were murdered and another 30 had actual attempts on their lives.

"In the Amazon, killing and clearing (the forest) go hand in hand," the CPT said in a statement, calling on the government to do more to tackle the violence.'
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[personal profile] spiralsheep
'Brazilian Amazon activist and wife ambushed and killed

A prominent Brazilian conservationist and his wife have been killed in the Amazon region, police have said.

They said Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo were ambushed in Para state, near the city of Maraba. The environmentalist had repeatedly warned of death threats against him by loggers and cattle ranchers. News of the killings came hours before Brazil's Chamber of Deputies passed a law that eases deforestation rules.

The government has ordered an immediate investigation and promised to catch those responsible for the deaths of Mr Da Silva and his wife. The bodies of the couple were found inside the nature reserve, Praialta-Piranheira, where they had been working for the past 24 years. According to family and friends, the pair had been subjected to numerous threats in the past two years for their environmental activism. They made a living with eco-friendly cultivation of nuts, fruit and rubber.

News of the deaths came just hours before Brazil's Chamber of Deputies voted on changes to the existing Forest Code. The legislation, first enacted in 1934 and subsequently amended in 1965, sets out how many trees farmers can cut down. Regulations currently require that 80% of a landholding in the Amazon remain forest, 20% in other areas. The new bill, which now needs approval from the Senate and President Dilma Rousseff, reduces the amount of land farmers must keep as forest. Other changes include some amnesties for those who have illegally cleared land in the past. Proponents of change argued that the law impeded economic development and said that Brazil had to open more land for agriculture. Opponents described the legislation as a "disaster".

"It heightens the risk of deforestation, water depletion and erosion," Paulo Gustavo Prado from Conservation International-Brazil told Reuters.'



May. 23rd, 2011 09:46 am
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Curbing foreign ownership of farmland

As international food prices continue to soar, land purchases by foreign investors face ban in much of Latin America.

...The governments of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay are drafting laws to curb acquisition by foreigners of extensive tracts of their fertile agricultural land.

Despite slight differences between them, the proposed measures are generally fairly mild. None of these three member countries of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) - the other member is Paraguay - proposes to ban land sales to private or public foreign capital, nor to regulate land use, nor to repossess land that has already been sold.

But they are attempting to set limits on further expansion of rural properties in the hands of companies or citizens belonging to foreign countries that regard them as an asset to supply food for their own markets, or as a speculative investment.

Brazil has already passed a law limiting the purchase of land by foreigners, and by Brazilian companies partly owned by foreign capital, while Argentina and Uruguay are studying similar bills.

Alarm has arisen over the increasing purchases of land in these countries in recent years, due to soaring international food prices and the lack of other safe options for financial investment.

A 2008 report by Grain, an international non-governmental organisation working on behalf of small rural food producers, had already warned about this trend and described concrete examples of its advance.

China, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, India, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are all buying or leasing fertile land in other countries where food is not always abundant, the Grain report says. MORE
spiralsheep: The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity (ish icons Curiosity Cures Boredom)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
Source: by Roger Harrabin

Biofuels targets are 'unethical', says Nuffield report

EU biofuels targets are unethical, according to a report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. Its authors recommend the targets should be lifted temporarily until new safeguards are put in place for biofuels grown in Europe or imported. But they stop short of calling for a complete halt to biofuels, which some environmentalists want. And they hold out the hope that new technologies may be able to develop biofuels from cellulose. Crucially, they hope this could be done in a way that does not damage the environment or compete with food crops. However, they acknowledge that progress towards these new biofuels is too slow, and that the next-generation fuels available are too expensive. They want governments to do more to encourage biofuels that use less land, fertiliser and pesticide.

The Council is an independent body that was set up 20 years ago to ponder ethical issues raised by developments in biology and medicine. It has been studying biofuels for 18 months - specifically relating to the EU Renewable Energy Directive target that biofuels should account for 10% of transport fuel by 2020, a much-criticised mandate originally designed as part of Europe's strategy to combat climate change.

Based on what it says is a set of ethical values which will be widely shared, the report says biofuels should:

* not be at the expense of human rights;
* be environmentally sustainable;
* contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gases (some currently increase greenhouse gases);
* adhere to fair trade principles;
* have costs and benefits that can be distributed in an equitable way.

These principles would be backed by a mandatory - and strictly enforced - EU certification scheme, a little like the Fairtrade scheme.

Full text of article for archiving purposes. )
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
via [personal profile] jhameia

Why oh WHY wasn't this frontpage headline news?

The City that Ended Hunger

“To search for solutions to hunger means to act within the principle that the status of a citizen surpasses that of a mere consumer.”
Oh! Thats why!!!

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I just. I cannot BEGIN to describe how refreshed and enthusiatic about humanity this story has made me feel!! participatory democracy!!!! Solving world hunger!! There is a difference between theory in books and actually SEEING that it has been done and CONTINUES TO BE DONE. Oh [personal profile] jhameia THANK YOU for linking this article.

And what is participatory democracy?

2005 BRAZIL People's Assembly Builds Participatory Democracy

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2002Porto Alegre's Budget Of, By, And For the People

How would you like to distribute 200 million dollars to your fellow citizens? That’s the amount of money the city of Porto Alegre spends in an average year for construction and services—money not committed to fixed expenses like debt service and pensions.

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OMG people!! LOOK AT THIS!!! This is like, my dream of what citizenship could be like!! Why isn't this is my media? In my scifi? In my fantasy??? In my news??? Why isn't this in my LIFE?????

I just...I cannot EXPLAIN how I feel, to see that this is possible and exists!!!! Its a not pipedream!!! WHEEEE!!!!!!!!!
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Resistance to fake marine 'protection' builds from Diego Garcia to Baja California :African Union supports Mauritius against UK's purported 'marine reserve'

Throughout the world, opposition is building to fake marine "protected" areas designed to fulfill the agenda of corporate globalization and the privatization of public trust resources.

The rights of indigenous people and fishing families are rarely considered in the creation of these unjust no fishing and gathering zones, whether they are installed in the Chagros Islands by the United Kingdom, the Sea of Cortez by the Mexican government, or along the California coast under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

The African Union recently backed Mauritius against the United Kingdom in the dispute over the Chagros Islands in the Indian Ocean. Secret cables between US and British governments released to the UK Guardian by Wikileaks disclosed how the so-called marine protected area supported by Greenpeace and other corporate environmental groups were installed to deny the native Chagossians the right of return and to allow alleged CIA renditioning of "terror" suspects on the US military base at Diego Garcia.MORE
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Dispatch From Cancun: Developing Paradise in the Suicide Capital

Today’s Cancun was built in early 1970’s under the leadership of then Mexican President Luis Echeverria, with the idea of creating the country’s premiere tourist destination—a new model for tourism development. It succeeded as a high-end tourism hub, and it did provide a model for Mexico and other parts of the world. But Cancun also succeeded in establishing what urbanists and geologists like Peter Weise called the “self destruction model of tourism development.”

The self-destructive model, according to Weise and others, begins when a remote, ecologically attractive area with low population density is identified as a potential hub for elite tourists—those willing to pay handsomely for privacy, isolation and unspoilt and beautiful environments. Rapid population growth and urbanization follows when, as in Cancun, large numbers of middle class tourists follow the more wealthy trend-setters. The need for more hotels, more entertainment venues, more development pushes the region into ecological imbalances that lead to the kind urban and environmental collapse found here today.

At the heart of it all is an economy and way of life dependent on cheap labor (the average Cancun worker makes less than $200 per month). That labor most often takes the form of migrant workers from other, poorer Mexican states like Tabasco. Local experts say that climate change-induced floods in Tabasco last September are pushing new waves of migrants to Cancun. Like Ruben, many of these migrant workers will experience crushing loneliness and isolation shortly after arriving.MORE

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