Category Archives: Biodiversity

Monsanto suspected in Monarch butterfly population decline

Over the past 20 years, the Monarch butterfly population has decreased up to 90 percent, according to a study by Lincoln Brower, a leading Monarch researcher at Sweet Briar College. The culprit? In an article by Mike Kilen in the Des Moines Register, Brower points a stern finger toward Monsanto’s Roundup, which kills off milkweed, the caterpillar’s only food source.

A monarch butterfly pauses on a milkweed plant on Bill and Sibylla Brown’s land in Decatur County in southern Iowa. Milkweed is the monarch caterpillar’s only food. Photo: Photos Special to the Register

A monarch butterfly pauses on a milkweed plant on Bill and Sibylla Brown’s land in Decatur County in southern Iowa. Milkweed is the monarch caterpillar’s only food. Photo: Photos Special to the Register

The fact that it took 20 years to discover such a startling decrease in a species makes us wonder what else is declining from Roundup poisoning? And how long until we discover that? Often, it is too late for many animals whose habitats are coveted by human beings; let’s hope the Monarch stands a better chance.

Monarch butterflies dying — and Roundup is a suspect

by Mike Kilen, August 29, 2014, Des Moines Register

The monarch butterfly weighs a fourth of a gram, yet migrates thousands of miles every September through Iowa to overwintering grounds in Mexico.

[...]

It’s why on Monday Brower joined three nonprofit organizations, including the Center for Biological Diversity, to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rule the monarch butterfly threatened and give it Endangered Species Act protection.

His studies have included visits to Iowa, a state that historically has been a prime territory for their birth, but now is at the center of his criticism.

He blames the decline in migration numbers on the widespread use of Roundup herbicide, used to kill milkweed but not the genetically-engineered row crops resistant to it. Milkweed is the monarch caterpillar’s only food.

Check out the full article, Monarch butterflies dying — and Roundup is a suspect, on the Des Moines Register.

 

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Birds contaminated by mercury sing shorter, softer songs

Scientists have discovered that the songs of birds nestled in the woods of the South River have changed, due to mercury contamination from a nearby factory. The affected birds have shorter, softer and simpler songs compared to the same species from unpolluted areas.

Songbirds like this one Kelly Hallinger is holding had surprisingly high mercury levels. Photo: Dan Cristol

Songbirds like this one Kelly Hallinger is holding had surprisingly high mercury levels. Photo: Dan Cristol

Heavy metal songs: Contaminated songbirds sing the wrong tunes

by By Helen Fields and Alanna Mitchell, Environmental Health News, August 28, 2014

Standing in the woods along the South River, Kelly Hallinger held the microphone up to capture the cacophony of songs, one at a time: the urgent, effervescent voice of the house wren, the teakettle whistle of the Carolina wren and the sharp, shrill notes of the song sparrow.

It was the summer after her freshman year at the College of William and Mary, and Hallinger was working with her professor, ecologist Dan Cristol, to investigate the effects of mercury left behind by a factory. Over and over she recorded birdsong, visiting various sites in the woods and along the shore, some polluted, some unpolluted.

When she got back to Williamsburg with her tape recorder, Hallinger sorted through the hours of bird songs. She turned them into digital files in the computer, then analyzed them. The differences were striking: The wrens and sparrows along the contaminated South River were singing simpler, shorter, lower-pitched songs.

Scientists have long known that mercury is a potent toxicant: It disrupts the architecture of human brains, and it can change birds’ behavior and kill their chicks. But after extensive research in Virginia, scientists have shown that mercury also alters the very thing that many birds are known for – their songs.

Read the full article at Environmental Health News.

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Gran Canal in Nicaragua would displace Indigenous peoples, wreak havoc on ecosystems

 

Rama people, one of the Indigenous groups most under threat by the canal. Photo by MaSii via Mongabay.com

Rama Cay, island of the Ramas, one of the Indigenous groups most under threat by the canal. Photo by MaSii via Mongabay.com

A Chinese consortium plans to start construction on a canal through Nicaragua by the end of this year, with the completion date of 2019.

Jeremy Hance of Mongabay.com has written an excellent article on how the canal threatens the Indigenous peoples and protected areas that stand in its way, and the ripple effects that it would have on ecosystems throughout Nicaragua.

The Gran Canal: will Nicaragua’s big bet create prosperity or environmental ruin?
By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com. August 27, 2014

A hundred years ago, the Panama Canal reshaped global geography, allowing ships for the first time to bypass the long and perilous journey around Cape Horn by simply cutting through a continent. Now a new project, spearheaded by a media-shy Chinese millionaire, wants to compete with the infamous canal, building a 278-kilometer (173-mile) canal through Nicaragua. While the Nicaraguan government argues the massive project will change the country’s dire economic outlook overnight—Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti—critics contend it will cause undue environmental damage, upend numerous communities, and do little to help the people of Nicaragua.

Not only might the Gran Canal not monetarily benefit the Nicaraguan people in the near-term, but it might worsen living conditions, already destabilized by environmental issues and longstanding conflict. 

In fact, according to Huete-Perez, the canal will force the relocation of at least nine indigenous and Afro-Nicarguan communities in Nicaragua’s South Atlantic Autonomous Region. Although the autonomous regions were set-up to provide local communities with greater access and management of their natural resources, this special status doesn’t impact the approval of the Gran Canal. 

Read the full article on Mongabay.com.

 

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean

E.O. Wilson has a plan to save the world

Eminent Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, the great champion of biodiversity and the man who coined the term “biophelia,” has a plan to save the world from extinction.

It is a plan to set aside half of the world for wildlife and ecosystems. His vision of permanently setting aside protected areas is described and partially mapped in this important new article published in the September issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

the familiar Monarch Butterfly (danaus plexippus) is in rapid decline in North America due to pesticide use, climate change, and loss of habitat. -photo by Jay Burney

The familiar Monarch Butterfly (danaus plexippus) is in rapid decline in North America due to pesticide use, climate change, and loss of habitat. Photo by Jay Burney

Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the World for Wildlife?
By Tony Hiss, Smithsonian Magazine. September 2014 

The eminent evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson has an audacious vision for saving Earth from a cataclysmic extinction event.

“Battles are where the fun is,” said E.O. Wilson, the great evolutionary biologist, “and where the most rapid advances are made.” We were sitting in oversized rocking chairs in a northwest Florida guest cottage with two deep porches and half-gallons of butter-pecan ice cream in the freezer, a Wilson favorite. He’d invited me here to look at what he considers a new approach to conservation, a new ecological Grail that, naturally, won’t happen without a fight.

Wilson, 85, is the author of more than 25 books, many of which have changed scientific understanding of human nature and of how the living part of the planet is put together.

Known as the father of sociobiology, he is also hailed as the pre-eminent champion of biodiversity: Wilson coined the word “biophilia” to suggest that people have an innate affinity for other species, and his now widely accepted “theory of island biogeography” explains why national parks and all confined landscapes inevitably lose species. He grew up in and around Mobile, Alabama, and has been at Harvard for over 60 years but still calls himself “a Southern boy who came north to earn a living.” He is courtly, twinkly, soft-spoken, has a shock of unruly white hair, and is slightly stooped from bending over to look at small things all his life—he’s the world’s leading authority on ants. Wilson has earned more than a hundred scientific awards and other honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes. And perhaps his most urgent project is a quest to refute conservation skeptics who think there isn’t enough left of the natural world to be worth saving.

Read More Here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Forests and Climate Change, Great Lakes, Oceans, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Uncategorized

Human Rights are the front line of environmental defense

Photo: Alex Barber

Photo: Alex Barber

Paul Jay, of The Real News Network, produced “Protecting the Amazon Includes Defending Indigenous Rights,” a video interview with Hiparidi Top’Tiro Xavante, an Indigenous rights activist in Brazil.

The 13 minute piece elegantly describes the need to defend the way of life of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon in order to defend and protect the biodiversity and and ecological health of the Amazon, “the lungs of the world.”

Watch the video on Truthout

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Political Repression, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Uncategorized

Climate Activists need to demand system change!

System Change is needed. Without that, positive impacts on climate change will be a pipe dream

cochabamba2

The United Nations is gearing up for the COP 20 Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru in December of this year, and the  UN Climate Change Conference/COP21, to be held in Paris, France in late 2015. A primary goal of the Paris Climate Summit is to ratify a new legal agreement aimed at stemming climate change.

Many people across the earth are concerned UN efforts and these summits will come up far short of any meaningful goals.  This Inside Climate News article, MIT Study: Climate Talks on Path to Fall Far Short of Goals details some of the concerns.

In preparation for the Paris Summit, on 23 September of this year, the United Nations will hold a one day session on Climate Change.  This will garner significant press attention as world leaders including business and political mouthpieces continue to posture for “business as usual” solutions geared toward the potential 2015 legal agreement.

Preceding the one day UN session are two significant events in New York City that you can participate directly in. The Peoples Climate March will be held on Sunday Sept 21, 2014. Organizers are predicting that this will be the largest Climate March in history. Although organizers have not created any demands per se for the goals of the March they feel that press and media attention will go a long way toward establishing public support for change.

An affiliated event,  NYC Climate Convergence, will have an opening plenary session  Friday night 19 September. The weekend long event that will feature important speakers including Naomi Klein and Vandana Shiva, and is described as a weekend packed with skill-shares, teach-ins, speak outs, and protests. Global Justice Ecology Project, Biofuelwatch, and STOP GE Trees Campaign will be participating in these events. Climate Connections will cover these issues and events. Please send us your thoughts!

Our concerns go directly to both demands and the need for system change as the only way to catalyze real strategies that can help to slow down or eventually reverse the onrushing impacts of climate change. These impacts include vast and deadly human rights issues based on the catastrophic consequences of ecological eviseration and the commodification of natural resources and life.

Join us by demanding system change. Identifying the real solutions,  published by System Change Not Climate Change outlines some of the fundamental components of the Cochabamba Peoples Agreement, and it leads the story by referring to our own Green Shock Doctrine.  What could be better for a Monday primer on what’s coming our way in the next several weeks?

Global Justice Ecology Project’s executive director Anne Peterman posted this article “The Need for Clear Demands at the Peoples’ Climate March”  about her perspective at Daily Kos earlier in August.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, COP21 Paris 2015, Green Economy, Occupy Wall Street, Uncategorized

Human rights and environmental concerns intersect with the murders of Honduran children deported from the US

All across the globe people are displaced because of violence.

These displacements are stimulated by land grabs, often incentivized by economic policies and politics that turn traditional lands into plantations for so-called green energy strategies.

If you are a regular reader of Climate Connections you know that these include giant wind farms, genetically engineered tree plantations, biomass farms, or other exploitive economic schemes that loot the land and kill the people.

All across the globe there are real faces and real people that suffer the tremendous consequences of the kind of exploitation. It is rooted in the rise of the dominant culture that promotes profit for the few and an apocalypse for the many.

Global Justice Ecology Project focuses on these intersections and we have written about this frequently. Our publication Green Shock Doctrine is an important piece that promotes a fundamental need for systematic change as a strategy for transforming the planet to a truly livable and sustainable place for all of us.

Those that defend deportation of political, economic, and environmental refugees, those that stand next to busses of frightened and detained children along our borders, those that literally rock the busses and threaten to set fire to them, are either ignorant of the US role in the economic exploitation of these cultures and the resulting impact on climate change, or are deliberately set upon the poor people of the earth in a genocidal campaign to eliminate humanity from this earth.  Look into the lives of these children and their families and understand what we have done.

Five Children Murdered After They Were Deported Back to Honduras
By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee. ThinkProgress. August 19, 2014.

A volunteer brings water, food, and diapers to Central-American women and children dropped off at the Greyhound bus station in Phoenix, Arizona. CREDIT: VALERIA FERNÁNDEZ/ AP

A volunteer brings water, food, and diapers to Central-American women and children dropped off at the Greyhound bus station in Phoenix, Arizona.
CREDIT: VALERIA FERNÁNDEZ/ AP

Between five and ten migrant children have been killed since February after the United States deported them back to Honduras, a morgue director told the Los Angeles Times. Lawmakers have yet to come up with best practices to deal with the waves of unaccompanied children apprehended by Border Patrol agents, but some politicians refute claims that children are fleeing violence and are opting instead to fund legislation that would fast-track their deportations.

San Pedro Sula morgue director Hector Hernandez told the Los Angeles Times that his morgue has taken in 42 dead children since February. According to an interview with relatives by the LA Times, one teenager was shot dead hours after getting deported. Last year, San Pedro Sula saw 187 killings for every 100,000 residents, a statistic that has given the city the gruesome distinction as the murder capital of the world. That distinction has also been backed up by an U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency infographic, which found that many Honduran children are on the run from extremely violent regions “where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the U.S. preferable to remaining at home.” Hugo Ramon Maldonado of the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras believes that about 80 percent of Hondurans making the exodus are fleeing crime or violence.

Read the whole article here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Chiapas, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Migration/Migrant Justice, Political Repression, Politics, Racism, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Uncategorized

From Ferguson to Africa: The Tentacles of Institutional Racism

It is not only in Ferguson, MO where state-sanctioned and institutional racism is being exposed.  This new report demonstrates how the majority white UK is trying to convince Africans to grow and eat dangerous genetically engineered crops that have been rejected in Britain and the European Union.

British think tank tells Africans to grow and eat GMOs

by Claire Robinson,

Chatham House, GM and Africa

Chatham House report misleads about GMO risks and promises, writes Claire Robinson

report from the British foreign policy think tank Chatham House on agricultural biotechnology in Africa claims that GM “offers advantages over conventional plant-breeding approaches”.

The report notes, “Accordingly there are a various projects under way to develop new GM varieties for African farmers, ranging from drought-resistant maize to varieties of cassava, banana, sorghum, cowpea and sweet potato with resistance to pests and disease.”

Mercifully the report’s release has been low-key in the UK, where the long-suffering public must be tired of hearing rich white Brits telling Africans that they should grow and eat experimental GM crops on the basis of no evidence that they will be beneficial.

It is, however, being publicised in Africa.

For the entire article, click here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Racism