Category Archives: Latin America-Caribbean

Scientists try to put brakes on Nicaragua’s Gran Canal, citing threats to water, biodiversity, and Indigenous communities

 

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Lake Nicaragua, Photo by Aaron Escobar/Creative Commons 2.0 via mongabay.com

Jeremy Hance has an update on Nicaragua’s Chinese-backed Gran Canal plan: The Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation has officially advised against the canal, citing a truly devastating list of social and ecological damage that would result from it.

GJEP is firmly against mega-dam projects, and the Gran Canal is one of the most mega being planned right now: It’s important that scientists are doing the work of charting the effects and mongabay.com is keeping us updated.

Scientific association calls on Nicaragua to scrap its Gran Canal
By 
Jeremy Hancemongabay.com. 27 October 2014.

The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC)—the world’s largest association of tropical biologists and conservationists—has advised Nicaragua to halt its ambitious plan to build a massive canal across the country. The ATBC warns that the Chinese-backed canal, also known as the Gran Canal, will have devastating impacts on Nicaragua’s water security, its forests and wildlife, and local people.

Read more at mongabay.com!

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Filed under Biodiversity, Latin America-Caribbean, Mega-Dams, Water

Latin America farmers face harshest climate change challenges

Latin America and the Caribbean house a third of the world’s fresh water and a quarter of its medium to high potential farm land, according to the Inter-American Development Bank and the Global Harvest Initiative. However, a quarter of these farmers live on less than two U.S. dollars a day. In addition to that staggering poverty rate, the region is often at the center of hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Photo: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Clearly, as an article on Upside Down World points out, Latin American is positioned perfectly to fall hard due to rising temperatures, worker exploitation, land grabbing and other issues related to climate change. Without access to real, long-term system change that harmoniously intermixes with their indigenous way of life, the people in these areas will feel the full wrath of climate change.

Latin America on a Dangerous Precipice 
by Diana Cariboni, Upside Down World, 03 October 2014

(IPS) – “We could be the last Latin American and Caribbean generation living together with hunger.”

The assertion, made by Raúl Benítez, a regional officer for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), shows one side of the coin: only 4.6 percent of the region’s population is undernourished, according to the latest figures.

By 2030, however, most of the countries in the region will face a serious risk situation due to climate change. With almost 600 million inhabitants, Latin America and the Caribbean has a third of the world’s fresh water and more than a quarter of its medium to high potential farmland, points out a book published this year by the Inter-American Development Bank in partnership with Global Harvest Initiative, a private-sector think-tank.

It is the largest net food-exporting region, while it uses just a fraction of its agricultural potential for both consuming and exporting.

Read the full article here.

 

 

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Filed under Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean

“Until the Rulers Obey”: co-editors of new collection gathering together the voices of contemporary Latin American social movements at Burning Books tonight

unnamedBuffalo’s Burning Books is hosting Clifton Ross and Marcy Rein tonight, October 1st at 7 PM.  Ross and Rein will be discussing their new book, Until the Rulers Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements.

This volume features sixty-seven interviews with leaders and grassroots activists from fifteen countries presenting their work and debating pressing questions of power, organizational forms, and relations with the state. These interviewees have mobilized on a wide range of issues: fighting against mines and agribusiness and for living space, rural and urban; for social space won through recognition of language, culture, and equal participation; for community and environmental survival. The book is organized in chapters by country, each introduced by a solidarity activist, writer or academic with deep knowledge of the place.

Upside Down World recently ran a fascinating excerpt from their introduction.

Until the Rulers Obey: Learning from Latin America’s Social Movements
By Clifton Ross and Marcy Rein. Upside Down World. September 24, 2014.

A wave of change rolled through Latin America at the turn of the twenty-first century, sweeping away neoliberal two-party governments, bringing calls to re-found the states based on broad participation and democratically drafted constitutions. The power and motion of this wave, often referred to as the “Pink Tide,” came from the social movements that had been gathering force for over a decade—rebuilding in spaces opened by the fall of US-backed military dictatorships, rethinking in the spaces opened by the crumbling of the Soviet socialist models.

These movements galvanized long-silent—or silenced—sectors of society: indigenous people, campesinos, students, the LGBT community, the unemployed and all those left out of the promised utopia of a globalized economy.  They have deployed a wide array of strategies and actions to some common ends. They march against mines and agribusiness; they occupy physical spaces, rural and urban, and social space won through recognition of language, culture, and equal participation; they mobilize villages, towns, cities and even nations for community and environmental survival.  They are sloughing off the skin of the twentieth-century bipolar world, synthesizing old ways of working and finding new paths into an uncertain future.

Read the whole excerpt here!

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Filed under Events, Latin America-Caribbean, South America

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.

Continue reading

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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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Filed under Biodiversity, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Forests and Climate Change, Great Lakes, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Human made disasters, Industrial agriculture, Latin America-Caribbean, Oceans, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Uncategorized

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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Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Energy, Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Independent Media, Latin America-Caribbean, Oceans, Oil, Pollution, Uncategorized

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