GJEP board chair unveils social and environmental justice photography at #SeeMeTakeover in Times Square

Photography amplifies the truth with stillness. In that single frame, that isolated millisecond, a truth is revealed, a visual message that can be understood regardless of language, culture or economic status.

G8 Riot Clown

G8 Riot Clown

For Orin Langelle, photographer and board chair of Global Justice Ecology Project, that message is to document a truth we face at GJEP every day – the struggle to create a world that prioritizes social and environmental justice. Since 1972 Langelle has given a voice to these conflicts in his powerful images, documenting peoples’ resistance to war, corporate globalization, ecological destruction and human rights abuses. From protestors and policemen at Vietnam War protests to going behind rebel lines with the Zapatistas in Mexico, Langelle has seen the world change through the lens of his camera.

Amador Hernandez Elders

Amador Hernandez Elders

“In my travels on this planet, I have seen a lot,” Langelle wrote on his website. “I have witnessed the beauty of this Earth and the efforts of many peoples striving for justice, and I have seen the ugliness of the abuse of people and the land—dictated by the greed of the power elite and those who serve them.”

Three of Langelle’s poignant shots will be prominently projected over the bustle of Times Square in New York City as part of the #SeeMeTakeover project on July 24, 2014, from 8-9 p.m. The project will showcase the work of artists and photographers from around the world on two of the largest video billboards at 46th St. and Broadway.

Upside-down Kuna

Upside-down Kuna

Langelle’s photographs capture more than a moment; they document the struggle of activists, indigenous peoples and organizations that fight to protect this planet and its inhabitants from the crushing axe of corporate greed. Langelle’s photography transports audiences into those moments, compelling them to look into the faces of truth and daring them to take action. Langelle is also a member of the steering committee of the international Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees and part of the Critical Information Collective. View more of his work at http://photolangelle.org.

About the photos in the SeeMe Takeover Times Square event:

 G8 Riot Clown (2007): This clown in front of riot police was one of 80,000 demonstrators in Rostock, Germany protesting a meeting of the G8–the world’s eight richest nations–in Heiligendamm, Germany near Rostock in early June 2007. Shortly after this scene, police used water cannons to spray the crowd with water mixed with tear gas.

Amador Hernandez Elders (2011): Journalist Jeff Conant and I took an investigative trip to Chiapas, Mexico, where we met the people of Amador Hernandez, an indigenous village based in the Lacandon jungle (Selva Lacandona). They invited us to document and learn of the plans of the government to relocate them from their homes. What we uncovered was another battle in the ongoing war between a simpler or good way of life (buen vivir) vs. the neoliberal development model.  Following our exposé, the government retreated from its plans and the community was not relocated.

Upside-down Kuna (2010): 2010 marked the 80th anniversary of the establishment of Kuna Yala, the autonomous territory of the Kuna people. The territory was officially recognized in response to political pressure and resistance by the Kuna, which began in 1925 in response to the violent suppression of Kuna cultural practices. In this photo, a Kuna youth walks upside down on Wichubwala island in Kuna Yala, off the east coast of Panama.

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GM agriculture does not deliver higher yields than organic processes

bananas-925216“Failure to Yield,” a study produced by the U.S. Union of Concerned Scientists, shows that the bio-fortification of bananas in Uganda and genetic engineering of bovines in the “1000 bull genome project” does not actually combat hunger, malnutrition or result in higher yields. A recent article in the Inter Press Services by Julio Godoy explains how these two projects fall short when compared to traditional, organic methods.

Through his foundation, Bill Gates has dropped $10 million on engineering vitamin A fortified bananas in Uganda. However, the increase isn’t enough to match the nutritional content in other indigenous foods. The “1000 bull genome project” set out to genetically engineer cows to produce thousands more gallons of milk. While the cows do produce more milk, they also calve only twice in their lives and die young.

Godoy writes, “Failure to Yield also analyses the potential role in increasing food production over the next few decades, and concludes that ‘it makes little sense to support genetic engineering at the expense of (traditional, organic) technologies that have proven to substantially increase yields, especially in many developing countries.’” 

If the threat to ecology and biodiversity won’t get the corporations to listen, how about this – genetically engineering plants and animals is a waste of money. That’s more in line with their priorities, right?

Do Not GM My Food!
Julio Godoy, July 18, 2014, Inter Press Service

Attempts to genetically modify food staples, such as crops and cattle, to increase their nutritional value and overall performance have prompted world-wide criticism by environmental, nutritionists and agriculture experts, who say that protecting and fomenting biodiversity is a far better solution to hunger and malnutrition.

Two cases have received world-wide attention: one is a project to genetically modify bananas, the other is an international bull genome project.

In June, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it has allocated some 10 million dollars to finance an Australian research team at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), working on vitamin A-enriched bananas in Uganda, by genetically modifying the fruit.

On the other hand,  according to its project team, the “1000 bull genomes project” aims “to provide, for the bovine research community, a large database for imputation of genetic variants for genomic prediction and genome wide association studies in all cattle breeds.”

Read More…

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Filed under Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

Utah Tar Sands Resistance

fe1768d42035b27d1d3c190903e37054_normalYesterday, about 80 activists formed a blockade to halt construction of a tar sands strip mine in the Book Cliffs of eastern Utah. The mine is being built by US Oil Sands, a Canadian company, and would be the first in the US. The action was led by the Climate Justice Summer Camp, which was holding a two-week direct action camp nearby.

The mine is located on traditional Ute hunting lands and in the Colorado River Basin, which provides drinking water to 40 million people. As Peaceful Uprising argues,

Tar sands and oil shale mining and refining, if allowed to begin in the U.S., would rob us of our water rights. The Colorado’s flow is diminishing, not increasing, and these mining and refining processes require massive amounts of water. This inescapable reality would cause widespread conflicts over water, as water rights were seized from farmers and communities. We will not allow tar sands and oil shale profiteers to seize the water that rightfully belongs to everyone.

During the protest, those locked to equipment were arrested along with other supporters, leading to 21 arrests total, and protesters were faced with police brutality. To follow the events of the blockade and give support, go to the twitter feed for Utah Tar Sands Resistance and donate on their website: http://www.tarsandsresist.org/ or here.

For background, check out our KPFK interview from March with Melanie Martin, from Peaceful Uprising. 

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Indigenous Mountain Farmers Unite on Climate Change

Photo: Chris Stowers/Panos

Photo: Chris Stowers/Panos

With representatives from more than 10 countries, The International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples formed in May as a coalition to lobby against climate change by advocating for traditional farming strategies. The group called on governments to “support climate change adaptation measures based on traditional knowledge; promote indigenous languages; and bridge local knowledge and science to create effective solutions for conservation, food security and climate adaptation.” While collaboration and shared knowledge are honorable ideas, we at GJEP are curious about the organizations behind the movement and hope that there are no hidden motives lurking beneath the curtain.

Indigenous Mountain Farmers Unite on Climate Change
July 15, 2014
by Sci Dev Net

Farmers from 25 indigenous mountain communities in ten countries have come together to share traditional knowledge that could help them to mitigate climate change and to lobby governments for greater recognition of their unique knowledge.

The International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples was formed at a workshop in Bhutan last month (26 May-1 June). It includes communities from Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Taiwan, Tajikistan and Thailand.

Member communities from Bhutan, China and Peru had already agreed to exchange seeds at a meeting held in Peru earlier this year (26 April-2 May). The agreement was extended to the other members at the most recent meeting.

The farmers say the network will enable communities to access new seed varieties that are more resilient to pests and drought; will help increase their crop diversity; and will reduce their dependence on corporate-owned seeds.

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Obama’s policies of extreme energy extraction take another step

A number of news sources reported this weekend on the White House approving the use of underwater sonic blasts to pinpoint oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean. This is a step in the process to large-scale offshore oil drilling in federal waters.

The Washington Post reported:

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acknowledged that thousands of sea creatures will be harmed but ultimately decided to approve this exploration in the outer continental shelf from Delaware to Florida.

The sonic blasts are, of course, just the very start.

Energy companies need the data as they prepare to apply for drilling leases in 2018, when current congressional limits expire.

Offshore Oil Rig. Reuters.

Offshore Oil Rig. Reuters.

Oil companies, with the government’s blessing, plan to drill offshore all along the East coast, with only the North East off limits.

A quote by an engineer for American Petroleum is particularly ominous:

 

“One thing we find is, the more you get out and drill and explore to confirm what you see in the seismic, you end up finding more oil and gas than what you think is out there when you started,” Radford said.

Florida communities have pushed back, in particular:

Florida has already felt the devastating effects of an uncontrolled oil release with the Deepwater Horizon event, of which cleanup efforts are still ongoing,” said John Morris, a county commissioner whose constituency includes the beach town.

However, the drilling would happen on federal waters, outside of reach from any local ban. While the article emphasizes the devastating effects of sonic booms on marine life and possible pollution from drilling, the dangers of such deepwater drilling extend even further. The thoughtlessness is mind-boggling, unless the whole thing is seen as desperate attempts in the era of extreme energy.

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Biomass unspoken driver of Oregon logging spike

 

A slash pile at a timber harvest site in the Tillimook State Forest.

A slash pile at a timber harvest site in the Tillimook State Forest.

The AP recently reported that timber ‘harvest’ last year was at its highest since 2006; 4 Billion board feet. This marks a steady increase over the past 4 years. The state Department of Forestry identifies two causes for the increase: increased house construction and “the export market.”

“This [the spike] is most likely due to small forestland owners taking advantage of higher prices as a result of a still strong export market in 2013,” Kaetzel [economist in the Department] said in a statement.

The AP does not clarify what that market is, but we know it’s in large part biomass.

Photo Credit: Marcus Kaufmann, via Northwest Public Radio

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Study finds U.S. citizens want to see government action on climate change

For U.S. politicians, taking a solid stance on climate change is like the kiss of death. They avoid it like bad breath. However, a new study shows that more than half of the voters surveyed want to see their governmental representatives taking “unilateral action” to fight against climate change. A “unilateral” stance would be rather interesting for the U.S. government, seeing as how it consistently refuses to cooperate on this issue with the rest of the world.  Unfortunately, we cannot trust the US government to decide what kind of climate action to take, as President Obama has been quite clear that he considers fracked gas and nukes part of the climate solution.  The U.S. public needs to understand which methods really constitute as clean, sustainable energy and which ones are just politically safe shams, before they can demand real, just and ecologically appropriate action.  No fossil fuels, no false solutions,  just digging in to do the real work.

–The GJEP Team

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

A massive new study shows that voters are ready for the government to forge ahead even without an international agreement

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US pushing tar sands into Europe despite EU proposed block

IPS reports on US efforts to push tar sands oil into the EU despite resistance in Europe.

Newly publicized internal documents suggest that U.S. negotiators are working to permanently block a landmark regulatory proposal in the European Union aimed at addressing climate change, and instead to force European countries to import particularly dirty forms of oil.

Thousands of acres of trees and plants, in an area the size of Florida, must be stripped away and the ground torn apart to mine for tar sands oil.

Thousands of acres of trees and plants, in an area the size of Florida, must be stripped away and the ground torn apart to mine for tar sands oil.

Current negotiating texts for the TTIP talks are unavailable. But critics say the negotiations are forcing open the massive E.U. market for a particularly heavy form of petroleum known as tar sands oil, significant deposits of which are in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The oil industry has repeatedly expressed concern over the European Union’s potential tightening of regulations around transport fuel emissions, first proposed in 2009 for what’s known as the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). Yet according to a report released Thursday by Friends of the Earth Europe, the sector now appears to have convinced the U.S. government to work to permanently block the implementation of this standard.

 

 

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Earth Watch: Tom Goldtooth from the Venezuelan Social PreCOP

Tom Goldtooth presenting at the start of Mesa III: Social Participation in Decision Making

Tom Goldtooth (left, white shirt) presenting at the start of Mesa III: Social Participation in Decision Making

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Grassroots Global Justice delegate to Venezuela, spoke to Margaret Prescod (KPFK) from the Social PreCOP on Margarita Island.

Goldtooth spoke about the goals for the Social PreCOP, the vital importance of the inclusion of Indigenous peoples in climate discussions and action, the Indigenous-rooted concept of good living (buen vivir), and the need for real, sustainable climate action that does not accept false solutions like REDD.

Listen to the interview here, from the July 17th Sojourner Truth show.

Read the talking points from Tom’s presentation at the start of Mesa III: Social Participation in Decision Making here.

Tom Goldtooth is a member of our New Voices Speakers Bureau.

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Breaking Action Alert: Enbridge Blockaded

17 July 2014.  Source: Swamp Line 9 via Earth First! newswire

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Individuals from Six Nations and their allies have interrupted work on a section of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline. The work stoppage began around 10am this morning. Individuals involved asked workers to leave, asserting that the land is Haudenosaunee territory guaranteed under the Haldimand deed, and that Enbridge’s workers were present without consent or consultation.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Oil, Tar Sands, Uncategorized