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#Canada hates unethical oil: http://clicktotweet.com/qZt7B | And so does @NaomiAKlein and @SapienceFilm. The world needs more Canada.
Alberta's Tar Sands are a true embarrassment for us Canadians; not only is it a human rights crisis for the Indigenous communities living in Alberta and British Columbia, but an environmental disaster of epic proportions.
Many pipelines transport this dirty oil all around North America, and our exports make us the United States' biggest provider of oil. In the last few years, a new extension to a current pipeline has been proposed to carry Tar Sands oil all the way to Texas, putting some of North America's most fragile ecosystems and waterways in serious peril.
Bill McKibben and his team at 350.org helped spearhead a movement called Tar Sands Action (http://www.tarsandsaction.org), enlisting the help of people all over the US and Canada willing to express their dismay and anger about this possible new pipeline.
As of November 6th, thousands of people have risked arrest, standing in front of the White House, as well as Canada's Parliament in Ottawa, to protest.PLEASE SHARE this Thought Bubble by RETWEETING:
#Canada hates unethical... more
Alaskans know all about severe weather, but what could hit tonight and through Wednesday has the National Weather Service in full alert mode.
With blizzard warnings issued for an amazingly wide swath of Alaska’s western coast, officials are warning of major coastal flooding, heavy snowfall and winds up to 75 mph.
As forecasters wait to see if the storm continues to morph into one of the most severe Bering Sea storms on record, officials certainly haven’t downplayed the danger of the situation.
The combination of all the wind, snow and coastal flooding has the National Weather Service warning people that this could turn into a life-threatening situation. “This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm which will be one of the worst on record over the Bering Sea and the west coast,” says the National Weather Service.
With a warning of hurricane-force winds in effect from the Chukchi Sea Coast south to the Kuskokwim Delta area, the wind could send swells as high as 25 feet in the Bering Sea, which has the potential to push sea ice onto shore.
While the marine warnings stretch across almost Alaska’s entire coastline, the expected blizzard conditions could drop well over a foot of snow in a hurry.
Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/11/08/massive-alaska-storm-could-be-one-of-the-worst-on-record/#ixzz1dAOEpXGrAlaskans know all about severe weather, but what could hit tonight and through... more
We need more than sound bytes in an election year. Now, I am really not too hopeful considering that BP will once again be allowed to drill in the Gulf and Shell is going to be allowed to drill the Arctic. So while this action alone even if it isn't approved won't actually stop the tarsands, or stop BP, or stop Shell, or stop Chevron, it will stop a catastrophe waiting to happen to our water, agriculture, climate balance and health. And President Obama, I don't really think you have any other choice. You need to make the right one, and not because it is close to an election year, but because you meant what you said in 2007 when you were running the first time. Actions speak louder than words.
http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/11/04/361628/keystone-xl-pipeline-ad/We need more than sound bytes in an election year. Now, I am really not too hopeful... more
Belo Monte Dam construction site was occupied by 400 indigenous people, fishermen and riverine community members who oppose the project due to its severe environmental impacts and human rights violations. The occupation was a collective decision made by 700 representatives from local communities who attended a seminar against the Belo Monte Dam held this week in Altamira, and it proved an important step forward in the continuing struggle to halt the project. http://www.makeahistory.com/index.php/recent-news/43020-occupy-belo-monte-update-on-the-belo-monte-dam-protestBelo Monte Dam construction site was occupied by 400 indigenous people, fishermen and... more
1 year ago
Governments are ignoring a vast store of knowledge -- generated over thousands of years -- that could protect food supplies and make agriculture more resilient to climate change, says a briefing published today by the International Institute for Environment and Development. [paper attached here]
It urges negotiators at the UN climate change conference in Durban later this month to give stronger support to traditional knowledge and address the threats posed by commercial agriculture and intellectual property rights.
The paper includes case studies from Bolivia, China and Kenya that show traditional knowledge and local farming systems have proved vital in adapting to the climatic changes that farmers there face.
This includes using local plants to control pests, choosing traditional crop varieties that tolerate extreme conditions such as droughts and floods, planting a diversity of crops to hedge bets against uncertain futures, breeding new varieties based on quality traits, and having systems in place to protect biological diversity and share seeds within and between communities.
But the paper warns that government policies tend to overlook such knowledge and fail to protect farmers' rights to grow traditional crops, benefit from their use and access markets.
“Policies, subsidies, research and intellectual property rights promote a few modern commercial varieties and intensive agriculture at the expense of traditional crops and practices,” says the paper's lead author Krystyna Swiderska, a senior researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development.
“This is perverse as it forces countries and communities to depend on an ever decreasing variety of crops and threatens with extinction the knowledge and biological diversity that form the foundations of resilience.”
The paper says that while modern agriculture and varieties may increase productivity, environmental stress and climatic variability mean the survival of poor farmers depends on more resilient and readily available traditional varieties.
“It is because of famers' intimate knowledge of nature that traditional farming practices have persisted for thousands of years and overcome climatic threats,” adds Swiderska.
“To sweep away all of that knowledge and the biological diversity it relates to in favour of a limited set of modern seed varieties means putting the private interests of commercial seed corporations ahead of the public interest of sustaining food and agriculture.”
More at the linkGovernments are ignoring a vast store of knowledge -- generated over thousands of... more
Luis Garcia was close to tears. For three days, he had guided eight international journalists through a tract of Amazon so thick with wildlife that experts are yet to fully catalogue its riches. At a small Ecuadorian airport, Garcia gave a final, wet-eyed pitch on the threatened Yasuni National Park and, as he spoke, they appeared: the flashy watches, slick sneakers and logo-stitched chambray shirts of the oil industry.
In Coca, an industrial smudge of a town on the Amazon's western edge, two types of passengers use the airport - oil executives and eco-tourists. The oil executives are Spanish, Chinese, American and South American corporates extracting, or eager to extract, the heavy crude beneath the emerald forest. The eco-tourists - birdwatchers and backpackers sporting expensive waterproofs and zip-off trousers - are headed to the biodiversity haven of the Yasuni. Two industries are feeding from the Amazon; but only one is likely to prevail.
Ecuador, and the wider international community, faces a quandary in the Yasuni. It is, scientists believe, the most species-rich spot in the western hemisphere. But an almost irresistible thing lies untapped in the park's underbelly: one-fifth of Ecuador's oil.
In his hands ... Ecuador's President, Rafael Correa, has threatened to renege on a proposal to leave $3.6 billion of oil under the Amazon.
To solve this dilemma, this poor South American nation has come up with a unique idea that, if successful, could change the way the world deals with its most precious places and provide a concrete way to reduce carbon pollution in developing nations.
Ecuador wants the world to pay compensation for leaving 846 million barrels of oil under the park. The asking price, $3.6 billion over 13 years, or half the oil's value when the proposal was conceived, will help switch Ecuador from oil to renewable energy, halt deforestation, boost scientific research and support Yasuni's indigenous communities, two of which live deep in the park in voluntary isolation. The deal would ensure 407 million tonnes of carbon dioxide stays in the ground (Australia's annual emissions: 542 million tonnes).
The trust fund, set up last year by the United Nations Development Program, already has $52 million in donations and pledges from countries, including Australia, which recently committed $500,000, Italy, Turkey Colombia, Peru, France and Belgium. A New York investment banker has donated her annual salary and Bo Derek, Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and Al Gore have lent their support. The only problem now, besides the global financial meltdown tightening Europe's purse strings, is Ecuador's left-wing President, Rafael Correa, appears to be holding the Yasuni as an environmental hostage.
Gas is flared off from an oil facility near Yasuni National Park in Orellana Province, Ecuador. Photo: Theresa Ambrose
Correa has driven the proposal to save the park, but has now issued a deadline: if pledges do not reach $100 million by December, he will reconsider Plan B - drilling for oil. ''We are renouncing an immense sum of money,'' Correa said on his September trip to the UN in New York. ''For us, the most financially lucrative option is to extract the gasoline.'' This is why the Herald and other journalists, were, courtesy of the Ecuadorian government, on a canoe in a small creek, deep in the Yasuni: Correa wants the world to see how special this national treasure is before he changes his mind.
The jungle sounds hit first. It's a twittersphere of chirps and odd calls, one like a car alarm, another the trill of a mobile phone, yet another like the yap of a small dog. The smell is like a Queensland night, frangipani-sweet and tropical. Above, a butterfly ballet: electric-blue morphos the size of small birds lope past. Strange dragonflies, like bright-red-winged matchsticks, hover above the creek and water-walking river spiders, like long-legged huntsmans, sun themselves on logs. These are just the small things.
Capuchin monkeys, the most intelligent of American monkeys, and olive-and-turmeric squirrel monkeys (our guide Luis Garcia: ''Oh nice, nice, I love these monkeys! Perfecto!'') trapeze and bungee-jump along the creek, while red howler monkeys release their unsettling horror-movie roars. But it was Yasuni's birds, creatures gilded with gold, azure, crimson and jade, that put on the most extraordinary show.
Last year, a team of scientists who want to save Yasuni compared the richness of the park to other parts of the Amazon and globally. They found the park was one of the planet's most biodiverse places because of the concentration of species across all taxonomic groups - amphibians, birds, mammals and plants.
This is partly because of Yasuni's isolation (canoe is the main form of access) but mostly because it was a refuge for plants and animals in the last major climate upheaval, the Pleistocene epoch, which ended 12,000 years ago. Yasuni is known as ''core Amazon'' because its position near the Andes' eastern flank guarantees reliable rain. For these reasons, scientists believe it will become a species refuge in the next major climate upheaval brought to us by global warming, while much of the Amazon may become drought-affected.
But there's more to the Yasuni than its potential for a David Attenborough documentary. The director of Harvard's Centre for Health and the Global Environment, Eric Chivian, a Nobel peace prize winner, has made a plea to save Yasuni in science's name. Yasuni's potential in unlocking a cancer treatment or amphibian-based painkiller or antibiotic should not be lost, he says. ''If we destroy the Yasuni it will not just be a tragedy for those species and the people that live there, it will be a tragedy for all mankind, for human health,'' he told a government-made documentary. Ecuadorian professor of biological science David Romo told us in Quito it would take 400 years to identify Yasuni's insect species.
The development of Yasuni's Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini (ITT) oil blocks is also likely to affect the ''uncontacted peoples'' of the Tagaeri and Taromenane tribes. In 2007 the park's southern area was declared a no-go zone or intangible, after a series of murders and massacres involving illegal loggers and tribal reckonings. In 1987, an oil helicopter dropped a priest and nun into a Tagaeri camp; they were later found dead with multiple spear wounds. No one knows how viable these tribes are long-term (they are thought to number between 400 and 500 people) but their wish to remain in isolation is now recognised under the Ecuadorian constitution. ''Obviously we are afraid that any of the oil activity will be the end for these people,'' says Professor Carlos Larrea, an economist at Ecuador's Andean University, and a technical consultant to the so-called Yasuni-ITT initiative.
Ecuadorians already know the costs of oil extraction. In February, an Ecuadorian court fined American oil multinational Chevron $US8.6 billion ($8 billion) for polluting the Amazon. The action was brought by 30,000 people. In a country that relies on oil for 57 per cent of its export income, not even Yasuni has remained untouched. The Spanish company Repsol has wells in one area of the park, which unleashed oil spills and road damage. The day this development came to Yasuni in 1993 was a day the 47-year-old Luis Garcia never forgot. ''It was so sad to see a bulldozer on this side of the river,'' he said, referring to the great Napo River, which runs along the park's flank.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/meet-cash-deadline-or-the-drillers-move-in-20111028-1mo86.html#ixzz1cCjLFhPMLuis Garcia was close to tears. For three days, he had guided eight international... more
President Obama broke his campaign promises in backing Bush-era trade pacts that repeat mistakes of NAFTA
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With President Obama’s backing, Congress yesterday passed trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that are based on the flawed model of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, had the following statement in response:
“President Obama broke his campaign promise by championing these unjust trade deals. The pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama will empower big multinational corporations and Wall Street investors to pursue quick profits at the expense of environmental protections, human rights and shared economic prosperity.
“The investment chapters of the three trade deals, which open the door to corporate attacks on environmental protections, are especially alarming. If, for instance, a South Korean uranium mining company thought a U.S. environmental law impinged on its ‘right’ to make profits, it could sue our government through a biased international tribunal, bypassing U.S. courts and threatening to override decisions made through our democratic institutions.
“The passage of the Colombia deal is downright shameful. This deal promises to fuel ongoing armed conflict in Colombia, including intimidation and murder of local activists and union leaders. The deal will also encourage foreign investments in destructive palm oil plantations, mines, oil drilling and other projects designed to exploit Colombia’s natural resources and export the profits overseas. Afro-Colombian and indigenous peoples are at particular risk of displacement.
“As polls demonstrate, Americans understand that current U.S. trade policies are not working in the public interest. As protesters on Wall Street and in other cities across the country challenge the deepening poverty, unemployment and inequality in our country, President Obama has led us toward more of the same.
“President Obama must change course as he negotiates the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, and its investment chapter in particular, must not be based on the same failed and unjust model.”
More at the linkPresident Obama broke his campaign promises in backing Bush-era trade pacts that... more
Eighty-five percent (85%) of respondents to Amandala’s online poll say that Belizean authorities should NOT permit the cultivation of genetically altered or transgenic corn, or any other such genetically-engineered agricultural produce here in Belize.
Over the recent weeks, the public debate has been raging over whether Belize should exploit genetically modified organisms or GMOs—touted as hardy, economical and high-yield—or whether Belize should, instead, keep its agricultural sector as natural as possible.
The debate has been triggered by reports that Monsanto Bt corn, which has an implanted bacterial gene that produces a toxic pesticide from within the plant itself, has been imported into the country for test plots.
Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agricultural and Fishers, Gabino Canto, had told Amandala that the trial run in Belize should not pose a danger of cross-pollinating other natural cornfields, since the 20 pounds of seed would be planted under quarantine, and the 6 plots of about 15 by 20 feet, to be surrounded by electric fencing, would be under the watch of a guard to discourage theft of the GMO corn.
We understand that some high-ranking technical staff in the Government service, including some who sit on the Biosafety Council, firmly objected to their superiors, and Cabinet has since declared that it will not allow the propagation of GMO seeds in Belize.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced on Wednesday, October 5, on the KREM WUB Morning Vibes, that the GMO corn will be destroyed with the Government Press Office as witness. We have tried to find out from Mr. Barrow if independent media can also witness the event, but we have not gotten a response to our query.
How will the government verify that no one will try to pull a fast one, by switching the Monsanto corn with regular corn?
Since Barrow’s announcement, members of the public have been advocating for confirmation testing to ensure the seeds earmarked for destruction are really the said GMO seeds.
More at the linkEighty-five percent (85%) of respondents to Amandala’s online poll say that... more
Presidential Proclamation -- Columbus Day, 2011
COLUMBUS DAY, 2011
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus and his crewmembers sighted land after an ambitious voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. The ideals that guided them to this land -- courage, determination, and a thirst for discovery -- have inspired countless Americans and led to some of our Nation's proudest accomplishments. Today, we renew our commitment to fostering the same spirit of innovation and exploration that will help future generations reach new horizons.
Ten weeks before his arrival in the Americas, Columbus and his crewmembers set sail from Spain in search of a westward route to Asia. Though their journey was daring, it did not yield the trade route they sought. Instead, it illuminated a continent then unknown to Europe, and established an unbreakable bond between two distant lands.
These explorers, and countless others that followed them, encountered indigenous peoples that had lived in the Western hemisphere for tens of thousands of years. On this day, we also remember the tragic hardships these communities endured. We honor their countless and ongoing contributions to our Nation, and we recommit to strengthening the tribal communities that continue to enrich the fabric of American life.
Columbus returned to the Americas three more times after his first historic voyage, and his journey has been followed by millions of immigrants, including our Nation's earliest settlers and Founders. Born in Genoa, Italy, Christopher Columbus was the first in a proud tradition of Italians to cross the Atlantic to our shores. Today, we recognize their indelible influence on our country and celebrate the remarkable ways Italian-Americans have shaped the American experience.
The excitement Christopher Columbus and his crewmembers experienced that October morning is felt every day by today's pioneers: entrepreneurs and inventors, researchers and engineers. On the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's voyage, we celebrate the pursuit of discovery as an essential element of the American character. Embracing this heritage and inspiring young people to set their own sails, our Nation will reach the shores of an ever brighter tomorrow.
In commemoration of Christopher Columbus's historic voyage 519 years ago, the Congress, by joint resolution of April 30, 1934, and modified in 1968 (36 U.S.C. 107), as amended, has requested the President proclaim the second Monday of October of each year as "Columbus Day."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 10, 2011, as Columbus Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I also direct that the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of our diverse history and all who have contributed to shaping this Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
BARACK OBAMAPresidential Proclamation -- Columbus Day, 2011
COLUMBUS DAY, 2011
BY THE... more
The Obama administration said Monday it was moving forward with oil-drilling leases off the coast of Alaska issued by the Bush administration in 2008, a victory for oil companies in the battle over Arctic Ocean drilling.
The Interior Department said it would uphold nearly 500 leases issued in the Chukchi Sea after several environmental groups challenged the sale of the leases in court.
The department's decision came in response to the lawsuit filed by environmental groups, and those groups still had the option of challenging the department's determination.
Among the companies securing leases in what is known as Lease Sale 193 was Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the energy giant already at the center of another high-profile fight to secure permits to drill in the Arctic.
Shell said it planned to begin exploring the Chukchi Sea area in 2012. Spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh called the exploration plan "technically and scientifically sound."
Environmental groups oppose the Chukchi Sea leases, contending U.S. regulators don't know enough about the Arctic's marine life and ecosystem to allow drilling in the region. The groups, invoking last year's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, also raise concerns about the ability of energy companies to respond to spills in the Arctic's icy waters.
The Interior Department's decision is the latest example of the Obama administration siding with energy companies against environmentalists amid a weak economy. Last month, President Barack Obama withdrew proposed ozone-emission rules that businesses said would have killed jobs.
"The Obama administration said it would make decisions in the Arctic based on sound science, but today it flunked the test," said Erik Grafe, a lawyer at Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm.
The fate of Lease Sale 193 has been uncertain since 2010, when a federal court told the Interior Department to reconsider certain aspects of the sale. Among the issues the court asked the department to re-examine were the environmental impact of natural-gas development.
Environmental groups and Alaska native organizations had sued the Interior Department in 2008 to challenge the lease sale. In the 2008 lease sale, the Bush administration collected bids worth about $2.7 billion.
The Interior Department said Monday it had addressed issues raised by the environmental groups. It said those drilling in the area would be required to mitigate risks to wildlife and take precautions against spills.
The debate over Lease Sale 193 represents the latest skirmish in a broader battle over Arctic drilling. Last week, environmental groups sued to block Shell's plans to explore in the Beaufort Sea, east of the Chukchi, saying the company hadn't yet developed an adequate oil-response strategy.
More at the linkThe Obama administration said Monday it was moving forward with oil-drilling leases... more
In July I attended a public debate in London on the potential for REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) to make international forestry more just. The debate brought together a wide variety of stakeholders in REDD in order to assess its possibilities and its frailties. The panel leading the discussion included John Vidal from the Guardian and representatives from DFID, ODI, and FERN among others. What became increasingly clear during the debate is that although the international community appeared to be pushing on with REDD, it remains a highly contested and confused idea.
For those still unsure of what the initiative is, REDD is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests. It offers incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. However, the discussion highlighted fears that REDD may perpetuate, or even deepen, forest people’s historical dispossession from their forests.
The discussion focused on the concept of justice within REDD and the focal point of the evening turned out to be “local justice”. The question was - what is happening to the local people on the ground where these initiatives are implemented? It became increasingly clear, by hearing arguments from members of FERN and from those on the ground, that it is forest people that often are the ones who are most negatively affected by these projects. There is an overriding fear that REDD may not be dissimilar to other big money projects affecting the forests. For instance, a member of the audience, who had worked on a REDD project in Peru, stated that it was seen as more dangerous than palm oil plantations. The fear is that these projects can potentially, and almost by nature, take over entire forests, leaving indigenous people to lose the land earmarked for these REDD projects.
During the evening, several other members of the audience stated it was governments, and not large corporations, who were taking control of the forests. The ODI representative feared that REDD projects will reaffirm the ownership of the forests by the state. For example, as the government controls the carbon it trades, the forests fall under their control. This will go on to reinforce highly centralized, top down decision-making, something GBM works to move away from.
The panel was in agreement about what must be done, forest peoples and local communities must be included and able to make decisions for the future of forests in all REDD projects. Increasing evidence from Brazil and elsewhere indicates that tenure reform, that is placing control of forest resources into the hands of indigenous and other forest-dependent communities, contributes to local well-being and forest protection.
More at the linkIn July I attended a public debate in London on the potential for REDD (Reducing... more
It is now on to phase two. The risks these people took should not be forgotten.
President Obama, this is not going away.
NO to Keystone XL!
YES to climate leadership!It is now on to phase two. The risks these people took should not be forgotten.... more
The Tar Sands protest has rekindled my love for American Indian music. This should be an amazing music lounge! Remember the Hawaiians and even non-Indian artists…..The Tar Sands protest has rekindled my love for American Indian music. This should be... more
A spry 80-year-old cruises through the thick vegetation of western Borneo, or western Kalimantan, as it's known to Indonesians. Dressed in faded pinstripe slacks and a polo shirt, Layan Lujum carries a large knife in his hand. The chief of the island's Sekendal village is making his morning rounds.
Layan is a member of an indigenous ethnic group called the Dayaks, who once had a reputation as fierce headhunters. As on most mornings, his first job on a recent day is to tend to his rubber trees.
He uses a blade to cut a few grooves in each tree, allowing its white latex sap to trickle into a cup. Then he plucks a handful of fern leaves and snaps off the tops of a dozen or so bamboo shoots and puts them in a bucket. In a few minutes, he has enough for lunch. He goes to the river to wash and chop the shoots.
Layan Lujum, 80, Sekendal's village chief, cuts grooves in one of his rubber trees. Indigenous people in Borneo say they can make more money selling the latex sap from rubber trees than working on the area's palm oil plantations.
Andrew Limbong/for NPR Layan Lujum, 80, Sekendal's village chief, cuts grooves in one of his rubber trees. Indigenous people in Borneo say they can make more money selling the latex sap from rubber trees than working on the area's palm oil plantations.
Environmentalists say Layan's lifestyle is a form of "indigenous knowledge" that has allowed the Dayaks to both use and protect Borneo's forests. But those same forests are now a staging ground for a complicated clash. It involves economic growth, land rights and environmental concerns, development and traditional cultures, as well as a broader fight in Indonesia against entrenched corruption.
'This Is Our Sacred Grove'
Back near Sekendal, Layan explains how the Dayaks in his community view ownership of the surrounding land.
"These stands of bamboo don't belong to anyone in particular. Anyone can take some," he says. "The rubber trees belong to me. The bamboo here is very abundant. If you go upstream, there's even more."
This is not virgin forest, Layan says. It's owned by the community, and it's been cleared and replanted with useful flora such as cocoa and rambutan trees. There is one stand of virgin forest left in the area, but it's used for something very different.
"This is our padagi, or sacred grove," Layan says in a hushed voice. "It's been here since the time of our ancestors, and we come here to pray."
Birdsongs resonate through the forest canopy towering overhead. Down below, moss grows on an altar for making sacrifices. The spirits of the Dayak ancestors inhabit this hallowed glade, Layan says, and it is forbidden to take any plants or animals out of it.
"We come here to ask for help in times of trouble, for example in times of war, and then we are victorious," he says. "We ask for bountiful rice harvests. We ask for the sick to heal. We make offerings to the spirits, even though we can't see them."
Conservation Efforts Under Way
Indonesia remains Asia's most-forested nation, but it has suffered serious deforestation in recent decades, contributing to Indonesia's status as the third-largest emitter of carbon after the U.S. and China.
And perhaps there is no starker example than Borneo — roughly three-quarters of which belongs to Indonesia, the rest to Malaysia and Brunei.
Conservationists are urging Indonesia's government to respect the Dayak's rights to their traditional lands and to affirm their stewardship of the forests based on their animist religion. But in much of Borneo, it appears too late.
Where forests once stood, towns now hum with traffic and commerce. According to Indonesian government statistics, 60 percent of Borneo's rainforests have been cut down. Only 8 percent of its virgin forests remain, mostly in national parks. Western Borneo is the most denuded.
Efforts to combat deforestation are under way. In May, the Indonesian government announced a two-year moratorium on cutting down virgin forests. As well, a U.N.-backed scheme will see developed countries paying Indonesia to protect its rainforests.
But it's too soon to say how effective these measures will be, calling into question the sustainability of Indonesia's current economic boom, which is largely dependent on the extraction of natural resources.
Lands Stripped Away
Many Dayaks see it as just a matter of time before paved roads reach their villages and palm oil companies buy their land to convert into plantations.
Farmer Lambai Sudian sold his 25 acres of land for the equivalent of about $1,000. He says the company offered locals jobs on the plantation, water, roads and 20 percent of the palm oil profits. Four years later, none of it has materialized.
"Of course I regret selling," he says. "I regret it because the company didn't do what it said it would. If it did, we would be getting a share of the profits, and we'd be fine."
More at the linkA spry 80-year-old cruises through the thick vegetation of western Borneo, or western... more
1.National Biodiversity Authority to prosecute Mahyco/Monsanto and collaborators
2.'Development of Bt brinjal a case of bio-piracy'
1.National Biodiversity Authority to prosecute Mahyco/Monsanto and collaborators for promoting Bt Brinjal in violation of Biodiversity Protection Law
ESG India, 11 August 2011
In an unprecedented, though much delayed, decision, the National Biodiversity Authority of India (NBA) has decided to initiate legal action against M/s Mahyco/Monsanto and their collaborators for accessing and using local brinjal varieties in developing Bt Brinjal without prior approval of the competent authorities. The official resolution giving effect to this decision was taken in the NBA's meeting of 20th June 2011, the minutes of which were released only on 11 August 2011.
The decision of the NBA reads as follows:
"A background note besides legal opinion on Bt brinjal on the alleged violation by the M/s. Mahyco/M/s Monsanto, and their collaborators for accessing and using the local brinjal varieties for development of Bt brinjal with out prior approval of the competent authorities was discussed and it was decided that the NBA may proceed legally against M/s. Mahyco/ M/s Monsanto, and all others concerned to take the issue to its logical conclusion." (Emphasis supplied)
(Official copy of these minutes may be accessed here: http://www.nbaindia.org/meetings/meeting.htm )
The "alleged violation" referred to by NBA is based on a complaint filed by Environment Support Group before the Karnataka Biodiversity Board on 15 February 2011 (copy attached). Subsequently, the Board thoroughly and systematically investigated the matter and submitted in its 28 May 2011 letter to NBA that “six local varieties for development of Bt Brinjal” have been accessed in Karnataka by M/s Mahyco/Monsanto and their collaborators “without prior approval from State Biodiversity Board/National Biodiversity Authority”. Furnishing a variety of documents in support of its contention, the Board has sought “further action” by the Authority on the basis of ESG's complaint. (Emphasis supplied).
NBA subsequently sought "legal opinion” and decided to "proceed legally” against all involved in this case of biopiracy and "take the issue to its logical conclusion”. This should involve, as per law the Biological Diversity Act, initiation of criminal prosecution of key representatives of M/s Mahyco/Monsanto, University of Agricultural Sciences-Dharwar, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University-Coimbatore, Sathguru Management Consultants Pvt. Ltd. (representing the consortium involving United States Agency for International Development and Cornell University-USA) and others for fundamentally violating Sec. 4 and related provisions of the Biological Diverstiy Act.
ESG's complaint specifically charges these agencies for criminally accessing at least 10 varieties of brinjal in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu without in any manner seeking prior and informed consent from the National Biodiversity Authority, State Biodiversity Boards and applicable Local Biodiversity Management Committees as required. Such a rigorous process of appraisal is mandatory to protect loss of biodiversity due to misuse or overuse, theft of biodiversity and to secure biodiversity from contamination when transgencis are involved. In addition, the law mandates that when biodiversity is to be accessed in any manner for commercial, research and other uses, local communities who have protected local varieties and cultivars for generations must be consulted and if they consent benefits must accrue to them per the internationally applicable Access and Benefit Sharing Protocol.
Clearly aware of these laws that were fully in operation when Monsanto and its collaborators initiated research in developing Bt Brinjal in 2005, they deliberately chose to sidestep conformance with this critical legislation. When tackled by the Board during the investigation, Mahyco in its letter dated 25 June 2010 to the Board has categorically stated that it is "not in violation of any of the provisions of the Act" and claimed that the Bt Brinjal was developed by University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad. On its part the University has claimed in its letter dated 17 May 2011 that it has secured all permissions from various government departments, but does not produce any evidence of clearance under the Biodiversity Act. The extent to which Monsanto is dismissive of India's biodiversity protection laws is evident from a press release made by Dr. Usha Barwale Zehr, Joint Director, Research of Mahyco who claimed that “The Genetic Engineering Action Committee (GEAC), which is going to meet a 19 member Expert Panel on April 27, 2011, may accept the proposal for introduction of Bt Brinjal in the country.”1 Thus completely belittling biodiversity protection laws of India in which offences are cognisable and non-bailable. (A copy of the Act may be accessed here.)
more at the link.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_EKM-1o0J3yk/S-7UrJ7QW3I/AAAAAAAAAj8/VLJHUadLSYw/s1600/Picture+6.png1.National Biodiversity Authority to prosecute Mahyco/Monsanto and collaborators... more
Reporting from Seattle— Shell Exploration was conditionally cleared Thursday to proceed with the most ambitious oil and gas drilling program ever attempted in the U.S. Arctic, a plan that would offer access to a crucial new domestic energy supply in one of the most environmentally fragile regions on Earth.
After years of legal wrangling by Shell and Arctic conservationists, the exploration plan in the Beaufort Sea off the coast of Alaska was tentatively approved by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which could clear the way for Shell to begin drilling three exploratory wells as early as next July.
Several key hurdles remain, including federal permits for discharging air pollutants and disturbing the whales, seals, walrus and polar bears that reside near the proposed drilling sites, and those hurdles could easily delay the drilling further, though opponents by now are running short of legal options.
A decision is expected as early as next week on the additional crucial issue of Shell's plan for cleaning up any oil spilled during drilling operations — a matter of concern because of the fragility of the Arctic environment and the difficulty in cleaning up oil amid ice floes, the towering waves of Arctic storms and the long hours of dark once the autumn drilling season winds to a close.
Conservationists also fear that drilling could disrupt a key resting and feeding area in Camden Bay for endangered bowhead whales.
Shell has a separate application under review to launch up to six exploratory wells in the nearby Chukchi Sea, an operation that also could get underway next year if approvals are in place.
"Shell has come back with the largest and most aggressive drilling proposal we've ever seen in the U.S. Arctic. We've never seen anything of this scale before in this country," said Holly Harris, attorney for the environmental law group Earthjustice, which has battled drilling plans in the Arctic.
"This is a disaster waiting to happen…. Scientific integrity and government accountability took their familiar back seat to oil company profits and power today," she said.
But officials in Alaska who have long been frustrated with lengthy court delays over opening production on what they see as a crucial and obvious new energy resource welcomed the federal agency's decision, which followed an earlier approval that was tied up by court orders for additional environmental reviews.
"Approval of this exploration plan is fantastic news for Alaska's oil and gas industry and is a welcome shot in the arm for Alaska's long-term economic good health," Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said. "I'm confident this will ultimately be the first of many developments to keep oil flowing through Alaska's economic lifeline, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline."
More at the link.Reporting from Seattle— Shell Exploration was conditionally cleared Thursday to... more
Plenty of people have heard of the recent oil spill on the Yellowstone River in Montana. Few are aware, however, that three weeks ago another leak formed a creek of crude running down to Cut Bank River just miles from Glacier National Park.
Cowardly local papers, perhaps for fear of hurting tourism or stepping in front of juggernaut corporations, have completely ignored reports from environmental officials and concerned citizens. They have often repeated the drilling company’s press releases verbatim.
We were on site and documented it. (Video at bottom)
The corporation’s reports are false. How can 420 gallons of oil travel a mile through a wheat field into a wetland, down a winding ravine and into a river? It was much much larger. We also do not know when it began, but we know it was three weeks ago was when it was first reported.
A break in an oil collection pipeline on the eastern prairie of the Blackfeet Reservation approximately 5 miles from the town of Cutbank has led to a flood of crude that has been flowing approximately one mile over land and into the Cutbank river. Tribal officials received word of the spill on Tuesday, but it remains unclear when, or why, the pipeline — which is managed by FX Drilling — actually began leaking oil.
Tribal officials confirmed that oil was spotted in the river at least two weeks ago by a kayaker who reported to 911 that he was paddling through oil. According to a preliminary investigation by the Blackfoot Environmental Department, FX Drilling attempted to fix the pipeline after the 911 call, but left the break unmended for over a week, claiming they were unable to access the site. Also, according to the investigation, FX failed to initiate cleanup on the site after fixing the pipeline.
On Wednesday, nearly three weeks after the initial discovery of the spill, absorbent booms were finally placed by Indian Country Environmental Associates (ICEA) on the shore of the Cutbank where the oil merges with the river. ICEA is a company contracted by the tribe to handle cleanup of oil spills on the reservation.
FX Drilling Corporation has claimed that the leak released “two barrels” of oil, or 84 gallons. However, officials with the Blackfeet Environmental Department have estimated the spill to be “several thousand gallons.” The volume of oil observed at the site was large enough to seep through a wheat field and down a coulee for approximately one mile where it entered the Cutbank River. It is the second significant release of oil into Montana rivers during the last month.
More at the link.Plenty of people have heard of the recent oil spill on the Yellowstone River in... more
Worldwide, 2010 was one of the two warmest years on record, says the 2010 State of the Climate report, released June 27 by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
On the Arctic, the State of the Climate shows how 2010 marked the end of the warmest decade since instrument records began in 1900.
The summer of 2010 in Greenland reveals the speed and breadth of the environmental change occurring in the Arctic, the report says.
In Greenland, warm air from the south was responsible for the longest period and largest area of ice sheet melt since at least 1978, and the highest melt rate since at least 1958, it says/
High summer air temperatures and a longer melt season also occurred in the Canadian Arctic, where loss from small glaciers and ice caps continued to increase.
A combination of low winter snow accumulation and high spring air temperatures also resulted in a record minimum spring snow, says the report, compiled by 400 scientists from 45 countries.
This year’s update on climate information from every continent tracks 41 climate indicators, including the temperature of the lower and upper atmosphere, precipitation, greenhouse gases, humidity, cloud cover, ocean temperature and salinity, sea ice, glaciers, and snow cover.
These indicators show “a continuation of the long-term trends scientists have seen over the last 50 years, consistent with global climate change,” said Thomas R. Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.
The Arctic section of the State of the Climate says:
• Arctic sea ice extent in September 2010 was the third lowest of the past 30 years. After a record minimum summer sea ice cover in 2007, the upper Arctic Ocean remains relatively warm and fresh, instead of salty, “a condition that is affecting marine biology and geochemistry;”
• observations of changes to tundra vegetation indicate “continued increases in greening,” associated with more ice-free, coastal waters and higher tundra land temperatures;
• on Sept. 19, 2010, ice extent shrank to its annual minimum of 4.6 million square kilometres. That’s the third-lowest minimum recorded since 1979, higher only than 2008 and the record minimum in 2007. There has been a substantial loss of old, thick ice in the Arctic Basin compared to the late 1980s, with the pack ice in the central Canada Basin changing from a multi-year to a seasonal ice cover;
• “surface air temperatures through the 2010 summer were higher than normal throughout the Arctic, though less extreme than in 2007;”
• vegetation changed and increased on Baffin Island;
• there was more warming in relatively cold permafrost than in warm permafrost in 2010; and,
• a combination of low winter snow accumulation and above-normal spring temperatures created new record-low spring snow cover duration over the Arctic since satellite observations began in 1966;
You can read a full report and a highlights document online.Worldwide, 2010 was one of the two warmest years on record, says the 2010 State of the... more
A law is about to be approved in Bolivia that will mean the legalization of GM crops. The decision will be taken in the next few days.
Please urgently support the Bolivian organizations so that the country is free of GMOs.
Send the letter below to President Evo Morales at the following address:
with a copy to:
and to Karen Pomier: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mother Earth will thank you
To His Excellency the President of the State of Bolivia
In response to the alert from the social movements of Bolivia about the next consideration by the Legislative Assembly of the Law of Productive Community Agricultural Revolution, as well as recent statements by the Minister of Autonomy, Carlos Romero Bonifaz and the elation expressed by sectors linked to transnational agribusiness interests, at the opening up of Bolivia to the production and marketing of GMOs, we express our deep concern about the following:
You were the hope of environmental movements in the region and around the world, thus earning the trust we place in you, as the plurinational Bolivian State's first indigenous president, our hope as the shaper of the planetary changes needed when you said: "I am convinced that GM products do much damage. There is scientific evidence. Some, for sure ignore what I'm saying, but at some time all the world will recognise that we are right,” and then your excellency suggested that Bolivia be GM-free territory. (Sucre April 28, 2010).
Bolivia approved the new Constitution for the Plurinational State in January 2009, which, in Article 255 determines that the international relations and the negotiation, signing and ratification of treaties will be guided by "the principle of prohibition of the import, production and marketing of genetically modified and toxic elements that can damage health and the environment" ensuring food security and sovereignty of all the people.
While Article 409 of the CPE notes that the production, import and commercialization of GMOs will be regulated by law, we understood from their statements that this referred to GM soy approved in 2005, before you became president and that you had a commitment to the social organizations to reverse this situation.
Because of its geographical situation and the ancestral knowledge of its Indigenous peoples and peasants, Bolivia is a center of origin and diversity of many crops that have been the mainstay of the most important South American civilizations, which contributed to humanity the many varieties of corn, potatoes, quinoa, Amazon nuts. beans, chili, peppers, peanuts, Andean roots, etc, wealth which until today is cared for by Bolivian farmers who continue to contribute to food sovereignty worldwide. The GM crops undermine this wealth that helps to alleviate the world food crisis.
We are surprised that the bill called Productive Community Agricultural Revolution opens the country to GM through Articles 15 and 19. We fear that the hidden intentions of this bill are to carry out the largest attack on food sovereignty of peoples of the world by polluting the center of diversity for maize (by many scientists currently seen as the center of origin) is the Andean region, precisely where Bolivia is located. And on the other hand, we see the intention to introduce GM sugar cane and jatropha for the biofuels industry that they intend to implement in the Andean part of the Amazon region.
We trust that the government will reflect and correct these errors consistent with the defense of Mother Earth.
*************************************A law is about to be approved in Bolivia that will mean the legalization of GM crops.... more
I'm heartbroken. How much more devastation will be wrecked in pristine places for corporate greed? And because it is a land where indigenous people make their home, they mean nothing? Brazil just passed the bill to expand deforestation in the Amazon after activists had been murdered, and they now approve this mega dam which will be the third largest (Not learning from the Three Gorges Dam) against the voices and wishes of the indigenous people who live there who will now see their forests flooded and their way of life ended.This is also in the same area where we see increasing deforestation due to GM soy cultivation. The effects of destroying the lungs of our planet should be obvious to anyone with common sense. The people have vowed to fight on. So please if you would, sign the petition included here. Any project that will cause the devastation this will simply cannot be called sustainable.
You can sign the petition here.I'm heartbroken. How much more devastation will be wrecked in pristine places for... more