“The UN will not deliver”: Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch, on the UN Climate Summit Proposals

Photo taken at Flood Wall Street by Rachel Smolker.

Photo taken at Flood Wall Street by Rachel Smolker.

Rachel Smolker, co-director of Biofuelwatch and an organizer with Energy Justice Network, wrote this excellent essay reflecting on the proposals from the UN Climate Summit and the events in NYC around the summit, which include everything from the Climate March to a private sector lunch where the CEO of Saudi gas company Aramco announced a new “Oil and Gas Climate Initiative.”

Smolker draws on her years of work fighting false solutions to climate change to put the most recent proposals into sharp perspective.

Corporations Are Not Going to Save Us From Climate Disruption
By Rachel Smolker, Truthout. September 29, 2014.

This past week in New York saw some remarkable actions around climate change. The massive People’s Climate March was perhaps the main media spectacle, but it was not the only, or necessarily the most important event. Another important one: the Climate Justice Summit, which featured the voices and testimonials of people all around the country and the globe who are on the frontlines, bearing the brunt of both ruthless extraction and destruction of their lands and livelihoods, and also experiencing most directly the impacts of climate change itself. Many were tearful as they described lives and lands laid to ruin by tar sands, fracking, coal, uranium mining and more. The brutal, relentless and rapacious greed of corporate profiteers in the fossil fuel industries, big agribusiness and forestry and financial sectors seems almost unfathomable.

Read the whole article here.

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Hearst Newspapers uncover GMO apple tree plots in Washington State

How do you like them GMO apple trees? Obviously, we don’t.

Hearst uncovered information showing that heavy rains washed out or otherwise damaged test plots, raising the specter of unwanted dispersal of genetically engineered trees and crops.

Hearst uncovered information showing that heavy rains washed out or otherwise damaged test plots, raising the specter of unwanted dispersal of genetically engineered trees and crops.

Using the Freedom of Information law, Hearst Newspapers recently uncovered hindreds of infractions with genetically engineered crops and trees, including the location of an experimental apple tree plot run by Gebbers Farms in Brewster, Wash. According to an article in the Seattle Pi, the little-known U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service halfheartedly issued the farm with a few superficial citations for planting genetically engineered apple trees too close to natural one, thereby risking contamination.

Bill Lambrecht’s article “Gene-altered apple tested in Washington state” lists the Gebbers cover-up along with other startling GMO-related infractions that were poorly penalized, including issues with field trials, noncompliance from Monsanto, permits issued to plant GMO crops in environmentally-sensitive areas and animals that stumbled upon, and subsequently ingested, GE test plots.

These findings unearth more instances of the U.S. government concealing layer after layer of misinformation about genetically engineered crops and trees. This all comes at a time when public opinion and government propaganda about genetically modified foods are clearly at a stand off. Why is it so hard for the U.S. and other governments to back off from GMOs and GE trees when the majority of the population, their constituents, are clearly against it? By letting these pro-GMO companies off lightly, the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service continues to serve as another reminder of the wasteful spending in U.S. government and the unacceptable corporate greenwashing that influences public policy.

Gene-altered apple tested in Washington state

by Bill Lambrecht, Seattle Pi, Sept. 5, 2014

An inspection of an orchard of experimental, genetically modified apples in central Washington last year turned up a troubling finding – gene-altered trees flowering less than 100 feet from conventional apple trees.

The grower, Gebbers Farms of Brewster, Wash., previously had been cited for conducting a field trial too near conventional apples, failing to keep good records and making no effort to keep animals away from the plot.

[...]

Among the findings of Hearst’s investigation:

  • Minimal penalties: The Agriculture Department issued just two civil penalties for field trials infractions since 2010 despite sending out nearly 200 notices of non-compliance – incidents from minor paperwork violations to lost seeds to modified plants sprouting where they shouldn’t.
  • Monsanto mistakes. The Missouri-based biotechnology pioneer, which has conducted about a quarter of all the field trials in the United States, received at least 35 notices of non-compliance from 2010 through 2013, more than any other company. In 2010, the company paid a civil penalty after accidentally ginning experimental cotton two years earlier in Texas, an error that led to unapproved cottonseed meal and hulls consumed by livestock and exported to Mexico for animal feed.
  • California “pharming”: APHIS is approving permits for pharmaceutical corn in an environmentally sensitive area along the Central Coast even though the head of the company founded another company that contaminated Midwestern crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs.)

Read the full article here.

 

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Filed under Campaign to STOP GE Trees, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Greenwashing, Politics, Synthetic Biology, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Tree Plantations

Indigenous Organizers Lead Climate Critiques in NYC

Here’s a set of articles and videos highlighting the key role played by Indigenous organizers, many good friends of GJEP’s, in critiques leading up to and coming out of the Climate events of last week.

First, Indigenous Rising posted a video of Kandi Mossett, Climate Campaign organizer for Indigenous Environmental Network, describing her experience within the UN Climate Summit and her frustration at the lack of urgency in world leaders and at how even the few members of civil society allowed in were sidelined. “The planet is going to go on with or without us. It’s up to us to decide if we’re going to be here or not.”

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Fracking, Idle No More, Indigenous Peoples, Tar Sands

Anne Petermann Speaks to Counterspin about Direct Action, the UN, and the Climate Actions in NYC

FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) has a weekly radio show called Counterspin.  The program reaches 150 noncommercial stations across the United States and Canada. This week Global Justice Ecology Project’s Anne Petermann was one one of the guests. She spoke about her experiences at UN Climate Conventions between 2004 and 2011.

“The UN has worked hard to squeeze civil society and grassroots voices out of the dialogue and process,” she said.  “The UN has demonstrated time and time again that they have no interest in what grassroots voices have to say. There is no way that corporate dominated government is going to make any difference with climate change.” “Direct action, directly confronting the powers that are oppressing us and destroying the environment and taking power in our own hands is how we force change and force the transformation that we need.”

She also spoke about her and other’s concerns that the People’s Climate March did not have strong overarching demands, and that many of the groups at the table included industry, bankers, Goldman Sachs, Duke Energy, and others that promote corporate profiteering as a part of corporate campaign on climate change strategies.

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Filed under Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees

U.S. government to pay Navajo Nation $554 million

In reparation for mismanaging 14 million acres of their lands, United States government will pay the Navajo Nation more than $500 million. According to an article by Reuters reporter Steve Gorman, this record settlement is the result of the U.S. government using “land held in trust for the tribe and leased for such purposes as farming, energy development, logging and mining.”

Photo: www.salon.com

Photo: www.salon.com

Even though Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly hails the outcome victorious, I’m curious to know how much the government made by prostituting out these Navajo lands. How much does their profit compare to their payout? The article doesn’t give specifics and some late night Internet research revealed no answer, either. This record settlement is the highest paid out ever, which is an obvious achievement for native and indigenous peoples, but in return the Navajo Nation promised to “forego further litigation over previous U.S. management of Navajo funds and resources.” What’s being hidden here?

U.S. To Pay Navajo Tribe $554 Million In Landmark Settlement

by Steve Gorman, Reuters/Huffington Post, September 24, 2014

The Obama administration has agreed to pay the Navajo Nation a record $554 million to settle longstanding claims by America’s largest Indian tribe that its funds and natural resources were mishandled for decades by the U.S. government.

The accord, resolving claims that date back as far as 50 years and marking the biggest U.S. legal settlement with a single tribe, will be formally signed at a ceremony on Friday in Window Rock, Arizona, the capital of the sprawling Navajo reservation.

The deal stems from litigation accusing the government of mismanaging Navajo trust accounts and resources on more than 14 million acres (5.7 million hectares) of land held in trust for the tribe and leased for such purposes as farming, energy development, logging and mining.

In return for $554 million, the Navajo agreed to dismiss its lawsuit and forego further litigation over previous U.S. management of Navajo funds and resources held in trust by the federal government.

The deal does not preclude the tribe from pursuing future trust claims, or any separate claims over water and uranium pollution on its reservation, Navajo Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said.

Read the full article here.

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Filed under Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Political Repression, Politics

Another take on the UN Climate Summit Declaration on Forests

There’s been much in the news about the Declaration of Forests out of the UN Climate Summit. In this essay, Chris Lang of the REDD Monitor echoes criticisms made by GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann about the lack of anything binding in the declaration. Lang adds to this criticism an interesting account of its process and further close reading of the declaration itself. Really useful and important work!

The New York Declaration on Forests: An agreement to continue deforestation until 2030
By Chris Lang, REDD-Monitor.org. September 26, 2014

By signing the New York Declaration on Forests, which was announced this week during the UN Climate Summit, governments, companies, civil society and indigenous organisations have endorsed “a global timeline to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and [will] strive to end it by 2030″.

The declaration has been fêted in the media. The Independent asks “Is this the end of the ‘war on trees’?”, Treehugger describes it as an “Ambitious plan to end forest loss”, and the Guardian announces that “UN climate summit pledges to halt the loss of natural forests by 2030″.

Read the whole article here!

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Filed under Climate Change, Forests, REDD

Rev. Billy rejects corporate media, wants to connect directly with you!

If you have not experienced the wisdom and power of Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, be prepared to be amazed. This group of radical activist performance artists are brave, intelligent, and yes “Heavenly” warriors for system change. For years, under the guidance of Rev. Billy and Savitri D., they have been a non-stop force rallying against the insidious systems that are destroying the planet. Their top priority is the consumer society, contemporary trends in greenwashing,  and a reveal of the hidden hand. They have made some loud noises. They have been hit hard. They need, want, and deserve our support.

The group has now decided to flee the Facebook, YouTube and Twitter worlds.  This flight has been incentivized by the group being censored, chased, and in some instances, banished, from those worlds. This as they take on with direct actions, Monsanto, DARPA, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, Koch, and the underlying forces of corporatized society. Now they seek new media opportunities to connect with us,  it is important to know that Rev. Billy and the Choir are the canaries in the increasingly poisoned atmosphere that characterizes modern culture. They are constantly helping to lead the way to search for solutions for us all to survive.    You should know know that this form of media blackout from which they are moving away from, is coming for us all soon.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Idle No More, Independent Media, Uncategorized

Langelle Photography opens new gallery, launches updated website

Concerned photography — it’s about doing more than just documenting the world; it’s about educating and changing the lives of those who live in it. Instead of just being a passive observer behind a camera, concerned photographers are active participants with a camera in hand.

That’s what international photojournalist and social and environmental activist Orin Langelle has been doing for decades. His newest exhibit, Climate Change: Faces, Places & Protest – photos from the front lines, kicks off the October 3 grand opening reception of ¡Buen Vivir!, a new climate and social justice themed art gallery in Buffalo, NY. The event is open to the public and will include wine, live music and hors d’oeuvres.

Gallery-Poster-CC

Langelle Photography, a project sponsored by the Global Justice Ecology Project, documents the “struggle for societal transformation toward justice, equity and ecological balance.” This new exhibit focused on climate change continues that piercing look into the ramifications of corporate green washing on both the land and people. Photos featured span 5 continents, and range from the aftermath of hurricanes to protests and demonstrations during UN Climate Conferences. Langelle Photography recently launched an updated website, as well as new Facebook and Twitter feeds. 

¡Buen Vivir! Gallery Opens in Buffalo, NY, on 3 October
by Langelle Photography, 1 September 2014

A new gallery in the historic Allentown district in Buffalo, NY, ¡Buen Vivir¡, opens its doors Friday 3 October 2014 with an exhibit “Climate Change: FACES PLACES & PROTEST – photos from the front lines,” that showcases more than two decades of work by photojournalist and gallery curator Orin Langelle.

The opening reception is on Friday, 3 October, from 6 to 9 p.m., and the exhibit closes on 19 December. The gallery is located at 148 Elmwood Avenue.

The climate crisis was chosen as the theme for the gallery opening due the impacts it has on communities, ecosystems and human rights struggles. The theme is also timely. The exhibit begins shortly after the 21 September climate march and the 23 September UN Climate Summit hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in New York City, and ends just after the UN Climate Conference and Peoples’ Climate Summit, in Lima, Peru in December.

Read the full article here.

 

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Filed under Climate Justice, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle