Category Archives: Climate Justice

Orin Langelle responds to Rolling Stone article, “Green Going Gone: The Tragic Deforestation of the Chaco”

Orin Langelle, Board Chair, Global Justice Ecology Project

I am impressed to see attention being given to the Chaco region by Christine MacDonald’s Rolling Stone article.  I also witnessed some of the tragedy of the Chaco and Paraguay itself.

In 2009 I traveled to the Chaco with Dr. Miguel Lovera, my friend and the chairperson of Global Forest Coalition and part of the Ayoreo support group, Iniciativa Amotocodie.

Dr. Lovera became National Secretary for Plant Safety for Paraguay during Fernado Lugo’s presidency. In her article, MacDonald writes that “Lugo was swept from office in 2012 [by] an impeachment carried out by the Paraguayan Congress.” My colleagues in Paraguay would disagree with the term “impeachment.” To them it was a coup that forced Lugo out of office in 2012.

Because of the coup, Dr. Lovera lost his job as National Secretary for Plant Safety for Paraguay.  While National Secretary, Lovera was in constant battle with the soy mafia and tried to stop the introduction of GMO cotton. Lovera had armed guards in his home due to his ongoing campaign to stop GMOs. No doubt Paraguay’s agribusiness leaders and their friends at Monsanto celebrated the fact that Lovera was removed from office.

 When I was in the Chaco in 2009 it was evident that things were bad and were going to get worse.  One of the tragic realities is the ongoing hostilities against the indigenous Ayoreo People of the Chaco. I was invited by the Ayoreo community to photograph Campo Lorro, where some of the first Ayoreo People captured were sent when Mennonite farmers established settlements on their land.

Below is one of photos I shot in Campo Lorro for the photo essay “Sharing the Eye.”

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There are still uncontacted Ayoreo living in the Gran Chaco. They do not want contact with “civilization” and wish to remain in their forest home. Today, however, cattle ranches, expansion of genetically modified soybean plantations for biofuels, hydroelectric dams and mineral exploitation threaten the forests of the Chaco.

The Rolling Stone article by Christine MacDonald definitely documents the ongoing tragedy of the Chaco. A subtitle in her article, “Animal Cruelty is the Price We Pay for Cheap Meat,” highlights the policies of US-based agribusiness giants Cargill Inc., Bunge Ltd., and Archer Daniels Midland Co.

Besides reading the Rolling Stone article, you can also see more from Global Forest Coalition on the negative impact of unsustainable livestock production in South America, the continent with the highest deforestation rates on earth: Redirecting Government Support for Unsustainable Livestock Production key to Biodiversity Conservation, Claim New Report and Briefing Paper.

Read the Rolling Stone Article:  Green Going Gone: the Tragic Deforestation of the Chaco, by Christine MacDonald

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Land Grabs, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, South America, Uncategorized

Mexican judge bans Monsanto GMO soybean crops

2013 Monsanto protests in Mexico. Photo: cipamericas

2013 Monsanto protests in Mexico. Photo: cipamericas

A federal judge in Mexico overturned a permit that allowed Monsanto to plant GMO soy when evidence proved that the frankenplants endangered native honeybee colonies.

Victory is sweet!

In his article, “Monsanto in Mexico: Court rules against the Gene Giant in Yucatan,” Devon G. Pena explains the situation:

According to reports appearing in the Mexican print media, a federal district court judge in Yucatán yesterdayoverturned a permit issued to Monsantothe U.S.-based multinational corporation that is a leading purveyor of genetically modified crops (GMOs). The permit, which had been issued by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food on June 6, 2012, allowed the commercial planting of GM soy bean in YucatánThe ruling was based on consideration of scientific evidence demonstrating (to the judge’s satisfaction) that GMO soy crop plantings threaten Mexican honey production in the states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán. (Read More)

Across the globe, governments backed by corporate cash call for scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful, but when that proof is placed before them, they dodge reality and keep on pushing their agendas. Mexico revoking Monsanto’s permit shows other governments that it is not too late to turn away from Big Ag and back to the people.

 

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by | July 25, 2014 · 3:00 PM

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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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Earth Radio, Earth Watch, Indigenous Peoples, KPFK

On Bill McKibben’s ‘call to arms’ for the New York climate summit

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, from the Venezuela Social Pre-COP

Today’s blog post is not addressing directly what is happening here in Venezuela at the SocialPreCOP, but something on the minds of many people here–the next step in the series of climate meetings/actions this year.  That is the upcoming climate march planned for New York City on September 21st, two days before UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conference (COP20) in Lima, Peru. Part of the objective of the Venezuelan government at this SocialPreCOP meeting is to come away with a set of demands from people gathered here that they can take to this exclusive summit.

The September climate march was called for by Big Green NGOs 350.org and Avaaz, who have thrown copious quantities of cash at it. But many environmental and climate justice organizations and alliances based in the New York/New Jersey region and across the US have demanded a seat at the organizing table to ensure that the voices of front line and impacted communities are heard, despite their small budgets.

The demands of the march: there will be none. That’s right. The march will simply bring together an estimated 200,000 people to march through the streets of New York and then…  There will be no rally, no speakers, no strong political demands.  Just people showing up with the overarching message that the world’s leaders should take action on climate change.

Please.

What kind of climate action should be taken is a question that has long been debated by climate justice activists, organizations, social movements and Indigenous Peoples all over the world for decades.   “Climate action” can include things like geoengineering schemes–manmade manipulations of nature on such a massive scale that the impacts can’t possibly be known, but could definitely be catastrophic.  They can also include actions already taking place, such as the building of vast hydroelectric dams that flood vast expanses of land and displace thousands of Indigenous Peoples or land-based communities. Climate action can also include ongoing grabbing of land for the development of vast plantations of oil palm, GMO soy or non-native trees for so-called bioenergy.

So no, not all “climate action” is created equal.  A lack of clear justice-based and ecologically sound demands in this “historic” march will leave a vacuum.  And no vacuum remains empty for long.  It’s simple physics.  The media will not cover a march with no demands. They will find a message.  And likely, as so often happens, those with the connections and the money will win the messaging game.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Posts from Anne Petermann

Ife Kilimanjaro’s perspective starting the Venezuela Pre-COP

Ife Kilimanjaro is co-director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) and one of the three delegates from the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance at the Venezuela Social Pre-COP, along with Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network) and Diana Lopez (Southwest Workers Union). She shares her perspective on the pre-COP in a recent blog post, beginning with concerns and questions shared by others:

Though there are some questions circulating about the underlying intentions of the Venezuelan government and caution by people who know what it is like to be tokenized or have their work/ideas appropriated by larger bodies and institutions (be spoken for by them), one thing is clear; that this is a huge (though not unprecedented) undertaking deserving of note.

She further articulates goals similar to that expressed by Anne Petermann’s first post from the Pre-COP, but also adding specific events of particular interest:

While here, we aim to  deepen relationships with national and international groups that work to address the causes and impacts of climate change; deepen understanding among international allies of the ways that people of color, poor folks and Indigenous communities are negatively impacted by U.S.-led domestic and international policies and practices; and build unity and support toward the Our Power national gathering (Richmond) and the People ‘s Summit (New York). 

These goals and topics, hopefully, will be further developed in the days to come.

 

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Venezuela Blog post #2: Buen Vivir vs. Predator Capitalism

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, from the Social PreCOP in Venezuela

Traditional dancers and music at the Social PreCOP dinner reception in Venezuela. Photo: Petermann

Another theme of the Social PreCOP meeting I am attending in Venezuela is Buen Vivir, loosely translated as “the good life,” a worldview toward which increasing numbers, especially in Latin America, are striving. Buen Vivir speaks to a philosophy of living derived from an Indigenous worldview that life should be about living in harmony with one’s community and one’s environment—and not about exploitation or commerce or about making others rich with one’s labor.

Achieving Buen Vivir is directly linked to the official theme of the conference: Changing the System, Not the Climate. This theme’s roots come from the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. There, the US led secret meetings with a small cabal of countries to hammer out the infamous “Copenhagen Accord,” which was introduced at the last minute to the negotiations, flying in the face of the long arduous consensus process in which the other delegates had been engaged for two weeks.

Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now! organized a “Reclaim Power” march in Copenhagen, where more than 300 Indigenous Peoples, social movements, NGOs, activists and even country delegates marched out of the conference, demanding “system change not climate change.” They attempted to meet up with activists marching to the conference from the outside for a Peoples’ Assembly, where real peoples’ solutions to the climate crisis would be identified. The assembly was brutally attacked by the Danish Police, and several activists were charged with terrorism.

Bsq6Pm5IQAA5NaKAccording to Venezuelan Climate delegate Claudia Salerno in her address to the crowd yesterday morning here, Hugo Chavez was so inspired by the march out and the outrage of the activists against the US manipulations that he brought the idea of “System Change not Climate Change” into his thinking about climate change. In Venezuela’s final Copenhagen press release he stated:

In Copenhagen, from the beginning, the cards were on the table for all to see. On the one hand, the cards of brutal meanness and stupidity of capitalism, which did not budge in defense of its logic: the logic of capital, which leaves only death and destruction in its wake at an increasingly rapid pace.  One the other hand, the cards of the peoples demanding human dignity, the salvation of the planet, and for a radical change, not of the climate, but of a world system that has brought us to the bring of unprecedented ecological and social catastrophe.

Salerno led the effort inside the negotiations to ensure Obama’s Copenhagen Accord was rejected. There was a moment at the end of the negotiations, in the middle of the night where she, using her metal name tag as a gavel, demanded attention from the COP President who was ignoring her.  She famously cut open her hand in her attempt, but was ultimately successful, and the Copenhagen Accord was merely “Acknowledged” and not adopted—a huge blow to President Obama.

The utter lack of real progress, and the growing domination of the climate talks by corporate interests is part of the story of how this Social PreCOP meeting came about. The goal of this meeting and the next PreCOP meeting in November is to bring the demands of the People to the governments of the world in advance of the next Climate Conference in Lima, Peru as a means to create a great mobilization to contribute to the salvation of life on earth—and the human species.  The Venezuelan government hopes to incorporate the social movement agendas into the official framework and negotiations, to speak, as they put it, “against the Capitalist predator model.”

While I honestly cannot bring myself to believe that the UN Climate Conference will accomplish anything but more of the same, I am here for the work outside of the official agenda, the face time with allies, the discussions between social movements from different parts of the world to share their experiences in dealing with the climate crisis. I am here to learn what People are doing/inventing/exploring in their efforts to cope with/address/take action against the horrific reality of climate change, on top of the already horrific reality of the neoliberal stranglehold attempting to choke the independence, the creativity and the life out of the vibrant and rich countries of the Global South—the heart of Buen Vivir.

Photo 1: 7/15 event, taken by Anne Petermann
Photo 2: Claudia Salerno at opening event, Social PreCOP Twitter feed

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Blogging from the Venezuela Climate Summit

Report from GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann from the Venezuela Social Pre-Cop on Margarita Island.

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“Changing the System not the Climate”/“Cambiando el Sistema no el Clima” 

That is the theme here at the Climate Change meeting being held on Margarita Island in the Caribbean off of the coast of Venezuela.

The meeting, organized by the Venezuelan government, brings together social/ecological justice organizations such as ours, with NGOs and representatives from social movements, Southern governments and a few UN-lings to hash out a new set of justice-based demands to bring to the upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP 20) in Lima Peru in December.

The meeting here is a reaction to the increasingly heavy-handed approach of Northern governments–led by the United States–to dominate the annual UN climate COPs.  Of course the US government cannot really be blamed, it is only doing what its corporate puppet-masters demand–pushing their profit-motivated false solutions coupled with a fanatical obsession with suicidal business-as-usual schemes until the world ends.  Simple.  The fact that these obsessions are already leading to climate-chaos driven suffering in poor communities all over the world–especially in the South, but including the North, and yes, even the US–is of no relevance.

The hope, as espoused by the Venezuelan hosts here, is to come up with a new set of demands/solutions/ideas that might be able to advance a peoples’ effort to stabilize the climate and stave off the worst of the oncoming climate catastrophe.

Of course the fact that the host country is one of the world’s leading oil producers is a slight problem, and one that is already being hotly debated both within these walls and by those who have sought to condemn the meetings before they even happen.

Flying to this meeting was itself a surreal experience, as it always is pumping out carbon emissions as part of an effort to help organize a coordinated response to the system that is literally destroying our ability to live on the planet.  But a global problem of the scale of global warming demands a global movement coordinated in some fashion, and in my experience, this is best done face to face.

But soaring over Caracas last night, gazing down at the bejeweled coast, densely populated by the water and leading in multicolored strands up the hillside, so much like an ostentatious necklace adorning a starlet on the red carpet, was a sight that both inspired, awed and humbled me.  It reminded me that I was again outside of the United States and back in a country where life is so much more alive.

Buen Vivir (The Good Life)

Photos: Anne Petermann interviewed by a reporter in Venezuela. Below also shows Lindsey Gillies, part of the GJEP team there.

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Sea level rise threatens future of Pacific and Indic islands peoples

By CIEMEN, June 25, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry
Kiribati: Toani Benson stands on the ruins of the store that sold him petrol for his school's generator in the mid-1990s. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Global Mail

Kiribati: Toani Benson stands on the ruins of the store that sold him petrol for his school’s generator in the mid-1990s. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Global Mail

While a conference of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change was being held in Bonn (4th to 15th June), Republic of Kiribati President Anote Tong was recalling that, according to scientific projections, the disappearance of his country under the Pacific Ocean waters seems to be unavoidable. Tong noted that, apart from Kiribati, also the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and the Maldives are facing a similar situation: those islands have been inhabited for centuries or even millennia by peoples who currently have their own, sovereign states. But all those islands rise very little above the ocean’s surface, and because of current sea level rise, many of them may soon find themselves sinking. This is one of many effects triggered by climate change, mostly due to pollution from Northern countries and developing countries such as China. Continue reading

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