By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project, 20 November 2014
Global Justice Ecology Project is in Paraguay for two weeks of meetings to strategize means to address the impacts of wood-based bioenergy, genetically engineered trees and livestock on deforestation levels, and the solutions to the climate change and deforestation crisis provided by local communities maintaining and caring for their traditional lands.
Aydah from the Solomon Islands speaks at the meeting. If biomass energy is not stopped, her islands will continue to drown. Photo credit: GJEP-GFC
Today’s meetings included the participation of activists from throughout Africa, Asia, the South Pacific, North and South America and Eastern and Western Europe. The topic at hand was the problem of wood-based bioenergy–specifically electricity derived from cutting down forests, destroying biodiversity, polluting the atmosphere and displacing forest-based Indigenous and local communities.
Biomass also comes with an enormous cost in waste. In the Drax UK biomass plant, Biofuelwatch has calculated that of every three trees burned, two are wasted as heat. Half of one UK power station takes more wood than the entire UK produces every year and supplies only 4.6% of the country’s electricity demand. These power stations require co-generation with coal, so increased use of biomass = increased use of coal. Without the biomass conversion, this Drax plant would have had to close by 2016. The conversion to co-generation with biomass is allowing it to stay open, enabling continued and increased use of coal.
The study “Factor GMO” was announced in London earlier this week and will focus on USA based seed and chemical company Monsanto’s GMO maize products. The study is a 3 year $25 million project and will begin next year.
A Russian group working with scientists is set to launch what they call the world’s largest and most comprehensive long-term health study on a GM food.
The $25m three-year experiment will involve scientists testing thousands of rats which will be fed differing diets of a Monsanto GM maize and the world’s most widely-used herbicide which it it is engineered to be grown with.
by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project
During Obama’s State of the Union address last night the presence of the star of the reality TV show Duck Dynasty might have been the most real part of a very surreal evening.
Of particular note were Obama’s comments on energy and climate change.
While the US Southeast was being hammered by a highly unusual winter storm which stranded thousands in the metro Atlanta area, (no, this does not disprove climate change you nitwits, climate scientists have warned for years that a warming globe means extreme and unpredictable weather) Obama was proclaiming a desire to address climate change so that “when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, [we can say] yes we did.”
This sounds wonderful until we consider the “all of the above” energy strategy Obama touted earlier in the speech, which gives a nod to some of the dirtiest, most polluting and destructive energy sources. It includes shale oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota–the gas flares of which can be seen from space. This shale oil is so extremely volatile that in the past year two trains carrying bakken oil have exploded. It means more coal; it means more deep water offshore drilling of the type that caused the BP oil spill disaster. It means more nukes, even in the shadow of the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima. And it means more fracking. Obama made a big show of his support for natural gas “if extracted safely,” which it is not.
Obama spent exactly one paragraph on climate change. He declared it a fact. That anyone even needs to do that in this day and age, decades after global warming was identified as a problem, after the Northeast US was smashed by not one but two hurricanes in two consecutive years, after Super-Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, after the record droughts in Australia, Africa and the US Midwest–to name just a few climate-related catastrophes of the past 8 years–is astounding. However, climate change is not only a fact. In my opinion it is the single greatest threat to future generations of humans and most other species. Yet it merited only a passing mention. One paragraph out of a 13 page speech.
Johanna de Graffenreid from the Citizen Action for Real Enforcement Campaign in West Virginia discusses the fallout of the January 9th chemical spill which left over 300,000 people without water, and the history of lax regulatory enforcement of extractive industries in WV.
Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.
WARSAW, POLAND, November 15, 2013 — Friends of the Earth International today strongly denounced the Japanese government which stated at the UN climate talks that it is breaking its promises to reduce climate change-causing greenhouse gases. 
Japan is the world’s fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
“While the planet is hurtling towards catastrophic climate change, and thousands are dead due to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Japan announced it will not reduce its carbon emissions as much as previously promised. This Japanese announcement flies in the face of the scientific evidence recently released by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change,” said Dipti Bhatnagar, International Coordinator of the Climate Justice & Energy programme, Friends of the Earth International.
During the last major climate conference in 2012 in Doha, Tetet Lauron, a delegate from the Philippines, spoke of the devastating effects of Typhoon Bopha that hit the Philippines during that conference, killing hundreds. She said then: “I am Tetet. I am a citizen of the world. This is not an equal nor equitable or world — and I’ve had enough! To the wealthy, industrialized countries who are bracking and deleting away the survival of the people of the developing world [a reference to the rich nations’ tactics during negotiations over text]: You’ve used up more than the lion’s share of the world’s resources and you are historically the world’s largest polluters. We want you to commit — and honor those commitments. …” See below:
ANNE PETERMANN, email@example.com, @Climatejustice1
Petermann is executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project, which runs theclimate-connections.org blog.
She said today: “With Typhoon Hiayan ripping through the Philippines, we are once again staring climate catastrophe square in the face. This typhoon, with winds up to 230 mph is being called the strongest cyclone ever to make landfall. But it is likely just the beginning.
“The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this past September was once again clear in its warning that a warming globe means more unstable weather. The waters of the Pacific that fed this typhoon were unusually warm, lending tremendous energy to the storm.
“Typhoon Haiyan is ravaging the Philippines only a few days before the opening of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland on Nov. 11, where once again it is predicted that no concrete action to limit climate change emissions will take place.
“But this storm should be a wake up call to the UN negotiators in Warsaw regarding the concrete impacts of their decades of inaction.
“Typhoon Haiyan is once again demonstrating how countries in the Global South sit directly in the path of the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions historically put out by the Global North.
“We are trying to reach our colleague, Tetet Lauron, of the Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change, who is based in Manila for first hand word of this storm, but so far phone calls are not going through.”