Category Archives: Latin America-Caribbean

Confronting Climate Catastrophe: Direct Action is the Antidote for Despair

Or, Why the UN is Worse than Useless and we need to Flood Wall Street!

Climate Convergence Plenary Address, Friday, 19 September 2014

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer.  Photo: Photolangelle.org

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer. Photo: Photolangelle.org

Good evening everyone and thank you to Jill, Margaret and the other convergence organizers for the opportunity to speak to you tonight.

In four days time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conferences (or COPs as they are called) in Lima, Peru and Paris, France.

I was asked to put into context the reason for the march and actions this weekend–especially the problem of the corporate capture of the United Nations Climate Convention, which I have attended and organized around since 2004, when I attended my first UN Climate COP, in Buenos Aires, until 2011 when I was permanently banned from the UN Climate Conferences following a direct action occupation at the Climate COP in Durban, South Africa.

But I actually got involved with the UN Climate Conferences through the work I have dedicated myself to, which is stopping the dangerous genetic engineering of trees.

What happened was in 2003, the UN Climate Conference decided that GE trees could be used in carbon offset forestry plantations. Understanding that this was a potential social and ecological disaster, and being completely naïve about the UN process, we decided to go to the UN and explain to them why this was wrong, and to get them to reverse this bad decision.

But what we found out was that GE trees had been permitted in carbon offset forestry plantations because Norway had tried to get them banned. But Brazil and China were either already growing GE trees or planning to, so they blocked Norway’s proposal. As a result, GE trees were allowed simply because they could not be banned. The UN, we learned, does not reverse decisions, regardless of how ill-informed and destructive they are.

This is the dysfunction of the UN Climate Convention.

But let’s go back a minute to see how we got where we are now.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, COP21 Paris 2015, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Politics, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, UNFCCC, World Bank, WTO

Half of North American Bird species face disruption,decline

The National Audubon Society released a report this past Tuesday, September 9, indicating that 314 North American Bird species are on the brink, due to shifting and shrinking ranges that have a fundamental cause in climate change.  This includes loss of habitat caused by a number of factors including climate shifts and commodification of natural resources such as forests.  126 species are identified in the report that will lose more than 50% of their current ranges, some up to 100% by 2050.  Another 188 species face catastrophic loss of range by 2080. The Bald Eagle is expected to loose 73% of its range by 2080.  Familiar birds like the Baltimore Oriole, Common Loon, the Purple Finch, and the Wood Thrush may  will be significantly effected.  Some like the Trumpeter Swan will not survive.

 

Warblers such as this Yellow-throated Warbler are vanishing. Photo by Jay Burney 2014

An article published tuesday in the New York Times tells the story of the Audubon Report.

Climate change will Disrupt Half of North America’s Bird Species, Study Says.

Felicity Barringer   New York Times  September 8, 2014

The Baltimore oriole will probably no longer live in Maryland, the common loon might leave Minnesota, and the trumpeter swan could be entirely gone.

Those are some of the grim prospects outlined in a report released on Monday by the National Audubon Society, which found that climate change is likely to so alter the bird population of North America that about half of the approximately 650 species will be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find new places to live, feed and breed over the next 65 years. If they do not — and for several dozen it will be very difficult — they could become extinct.

The four Audubon Society scientists who wrote the report projected in it that 21.4 percent of existing bird species studied will lose “more than half of the current climactic range by 2050 without the potential to make up losses by moving to other areas.” An additional 32 percent will be in the same predicament by 2080, they said.

Read the New York Times Story

Read the Audubon Report

 

 

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Photos: Indigenous Warriors Take Action to Stop Illegal Logging

In the photo essay linked below, Reuters Photographer Lunae Parracho documents resistance by Amazon Indigenous warriors against illegal loggers destroying their homeland.Well worth a look!

13 Incredible Photos of Amazon Tribe Fighting Back Against Illegal Loggers

by WILL POTTER on SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 in ACTIVISM & ACTIVISTS’ RESPONSE

Photo by Lunae Parracha.  Courtesy Reuters

Photo by Lunae Parracha. Courtesy Reuters

Brazil is the most dangerous place in the world to be an environmentalist. It accounts for about half of all recorded killings of environmental advocates.

And those numbers are going up, globally. As I reported recently for Foreign Policy:

Between 2002 and 2013, at least 908 people were killed because of their environmental advocacy, according to “Deadly Environment,” a new report from the investigative nonprofit Global Witness. That’s an average of at least one environmentalist murdered every week, and in the last four years, the rate of the murders has doubled. In 2012, the deadliest year on record, 147 deaths were recorded, three times more than a decade earlier. “There were almost certainly more cases,” the report says, “but the nature of the problem makes information hard to find, and even harder to verify.”

That incredibly dangerous environment makes what photographer Lunae Parracho documented even more incredible.

Parracho (websiteTwitterFlickr) followed the Ka’apor tribe, an indigenous community in Brazil, as they fought back against illegal loggers.

Ka’apor warriors ventured into the Alto Turiacu territory in the Amazon basin to track down illegal loggers, tie them up, and sabotage their equipment.

They stole their chainsaws and cut the logs so the loggers couldn’t profit from them.

They released the loggers, but only after taking their shoes and clothes, and setting their trucks on fire.

To view the entire photo essay and article, click here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Uncategorized

BP will appeal $18 billion fine: That is the corporate message as people who have lost everything continue to suffer

The BP fine over the Macondo Gulf of Mexico disaster was unexpected, at least by BP.  The company had put aside $3.5 billion to pay its way out of the Clean Water Act violations and has fully intended to continue business as usual. However, Federal District Court Judge Carl Barbier in his 153 page decision ruled that BP is “grossly negligent” and engaged in decisions that were “profit” rather than “safety” driven. The finding of “gross negligence” increases the amount of the fine by up to four times. If the company had been found merely negligent, the fines could be $1,100 per barrel spilled. Gross negligence ups that to $4,300 per barrel.

BP continues to contest the amount spilled and has hired the the best science that money can buy and shady public relations advisors to convince the world that they didn’t really spill all that much oil.  Expect the appeal process to focus on that.  Meanwhile, according to the article below published by the Bellona Foundation, thousands of people affected by the disaster and the clean-up efforts are so sick that they will never work again, and never have normal lives.

 

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig explodes and burns, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico-

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig explodes and burns, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico-

 

BP found guilty of ‘gross negligence’ in Deepwater Horizon spill – victims far from rejoicing
By Charles Digges, Bellona Foundation. Sept. 5, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – British oil giant BP’s “gross negligence” and “profit-driven decisions” in the Gulf of Mexico was directly responsible for the worst accidental oil spill in history, Federal District Court Judge Carl Barbier ruled in New Orleans Thursday – to a tepid reception from those a possible settlement might benefit.

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which BP leased and operated, exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, killing 11 men and spewing 4.9 million of barrels of oil and plodded through 87 days of hit and miss attempts to plug it until it finally manage to seal it.

Read the whole story here

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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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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

Groups globally mobilize to stop commercial release of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in Brazil and US

Campaign to STOP GE Trees expands to four continents

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New York - Two unprecedented applications are pending that, if approved, would allow the commercial sale of millions of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees for development into vast industrial GE tree plantations in the US and Brazil. The Campaign to STOP GE Trees [1] is expanding and mobilizing to stop these and all large-scale releases of GE trees into the environment.

Banner photo (Plantations Are Not Forests) from last Friday's march:  Petermann/GJEP-GFC

Plantations Are Not Forests banner. Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC

In the US, ArborGen has a request pending with the Department of Agriculture to commercially sell freeze-tolerant GE eucalyptus trees; in Brazil, Futuragene has requested permission from CTNBio, the Brazilian biosafety regulatory agency, to release GE eucalyptus trees there. CTNBio is planning a public hearing on the Futuragene GE tree application on 4 September. The USDA could release their draft ruling at any time.

“We have tried to ban GE trees globally through various bodies of the United Nations, and now groups are coordinating internationally to stop any and all applications to legalize GE trees,” stated Winfridus Overbeek, Brazil-based Coordinator of the World Rainforest Movement and Steering Committee member for the Campaign. “It’s crucial that these potentially disastrous trees not be commercially released because the health and viability of entire forest ecosystems and the communities who depend on them will be at risk.”

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Privatization of Communal Lands for Energy, Agriculture, and Strategic Geo-Political Control Driving Indigenous Peoples Resistance

A detailed article published this week in Truthout makes a clear case for the link between privatization and commodification of lands, U.S. military and geopolitical goals, and indigenous peoples resistance and struggles in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Privatization of lands for giant energy farms such as wind, and large agricultural developments including biomass, and genetically modified organisms including food products and trees are deep concerns of the Global Justice Ecology Project.

In Oaxaca, a caravan of activists arrives to support those resisting the construction of the wind farm, in the face of more than 500 policemen attempting to take control of the territory. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

In Oaxaca, a caravan of activists arrives to support those resisting the construction of a giant wind farm, in the face of more than 500 policemen attempting to take control of the territory. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

 “Communal Lands: Theater of Operations for the Counterinsurgency”

By Renata Bessi, Santiago Navarro F. and Translated by Miriam Taylor, Truthout  

In 2006, a team of geographers from the University of Kansas carried out a series of mapping projects of communal lands in southern Mexico’s Northern Sierra Mountains. Coordinated by Peter Herlihy and Geoffrey B. Demarest, a US lieutenant colonel, the objective was to achieve strategic military and geopolitical goals of particular interest for the United States. The objective was to incorporate indigenous territories into the transnational corporate model of private property, either by force or through agreements. Demarest’s essential argument is that peace cannot exist without private property.

According to researcher and anthropologist Gilberto López y Rivas, “The agents on the expeditions consider the types of communal property in these lands, both collective and autonomous, to be an obstacle for the development plans currently being very aggressively executed, where there is capital from mining companies, pharmaceuticals, energy companies, among others,” he told Truthout. This is despite the fact that these communal lands in Mexico, for example, were recognized after the Mexican Revolution in 1910 and are lands that indigenous communities have possessed since time immemorial.

As the ideologue of these expeditions, Demarest considers collective land ownership to be the birthplace of delinquency and insurgency, and thus believes that collective property must be destroyed. He graduated from the School of the Americas, which is under the administration of the US Army and was founded in 1946 in Panama, with the objective of training Latin American soldiers in war and counterinsurgency tactics. In recent years, graduates from the School of the Americas have participated in assassinations in Colombia, formed part of the drug trafficking organization The Zetas, in Mexico, and were involved in the coup in Honduras in 2009, as was demonstrated by activists through a School of the Americas Watch lawsuit against the Department of Defense in February 2013. “Demarest is one of the coordinators of these expeditions. He was trained in the School of the Americas, later served as military attaché for the United States Embassy in Guatemala in 1988 and 1991, where a counterinsurgency project was implemented that caused terrible massacres of indigenous populations,” says López.

Read the full Truthout article here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Uncategorized