Up for grabs: Land and food in a hungry world

By Suzanne York, April 14, 2014. Source: How Many?

Image: Stephanie McMillan

Image: Stephanie McMillan

The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, warned that battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to ten years as a result of climate change.  As he was talking of the risks of climate change, the UN announced that food prices had risen to their highest in almost a year.

 At about the same time as these announcements were happening, the Oakland Institute released a report on the World Bank and land grabs, stating that the World Bank was destroying traditional farming to support corporate land grabs (where corporations, individuals and governments buy or lease prime agricultural lands, often displacing poor and marginalized communities who have lived there for generations).

The Uptick on News on Food Security

It’s easy for some to dismiss talk of food shortages and insecurity as just more “chicken little warnings” that have been wrong in the past.  But a look at recent news on food security should give people cause for concern. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs

Why US fracking companies are licking their lips over Ukraine

By Naomi Klein, April 10, 2014. Source: The Guardian

A large field of fracking sites in a Colorado valley. 'The industry’s singular solution to the climate crisis is to dramatically expand an extraction process that releases massive amounts of climate-destabilising methane.' Photograph: Ted Wood/Aurora Photos/Corbis

A large field of fracking sites in a Colorado valley. ‘The industry’s singular solution to the climate crisis is to dramatically expand an extraction process that releases massive amounts of climate-destabilising methane.’ Photograph: Ted Wood/Aurora Photos/Corbis

The way to beat Vladimir Putin is to flood the European market with fracked-in-the-USA natural gas, or so the industry would have us believe. As part of escalating anti-Russian hysteria, two bills have been introduced into the US Congress – one in the House of Representatives (H.R. 6), one in the Senate (S. 2083) – that attempt to fast-track liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, all in the name of helping Europe to wean itself from Putin’s fossil fuels, and enhancing US national security.

According to Cory Gardner, the Republican congressman who introduced the House bill, “opposing this legislation is like hanging up on a 911 call from our friends and allies”. And that might be true – as long as your friends and allies work at Chevron and Shell, and the emergency is the need to keep profits up amid dwindling supplies of conventional oil and gas.

For this ploy to work, it’s important not to look too closely at details. Like the fact that much of the gas probably won’t make it to Europe – because what the bills allow is for gas to be sold on the world market to any country belonging to the World Trade Organisation. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Fracking

April 17: International day of peasant struggles

April 8, 2014. Source: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

This year we dedicate the 17th of April, international day of peasant struggles, to the defense of seeds. Seeds are an essential basis for achieving food sovereignty because almost everything in agriculture depends on them: What we can plant and how it is grown; the quality and nutrition of our food, our ability to account for different tastes and cultural preferences; and also the wellbeing of our communities, our ecosystems and the planet. In this article we explain why this implies not so much the defense of seeds as such but especially the defense of peasant seeds—that is, seeds that remain in the hands of the peasant and family farmers of the world. We also give some examples of how we are carrying out this defense among the organizations in the 73 countries that make up La Vía Campesina.

The seeds used in agriculture are different from those that exist in non-cultivated nature. Until several thousand years ago the enormous diversity of peasant varieties of rice, potatoes, cabbages or barley did not exist as such. The richness of our nutrition today is based on the knowledge, practices, visions and needs of the peasant communities around the world that created them in the first place. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

False solutions in new IPCC climate report denounced

April 13, 2014. Source: Biofuelwatch

Photograph: Ed Andrieski/AP

Photograph: Ed Andrieski/AP

Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group on Mitigation of Climate Change released its “Summary for Policy Makers” [1]. Climate, energy and social justice groups [2] commend the IPCC for clearly acknowledging the close link between economic growth and increased greenhouse gas emissions but warn that the report falls far short on translating this insight into meaningful, holistic and bold pathways to mitigation.  They point to the disproportionate influence of economists, engineers and environmental managers, and a dearth of climate scientists, ecologists or other experts from key relevant disciplines in the group.

The groups are particularly concerned that large-scale bioenergy and biofuels, waste incineration, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) are referred to as “low carbon” in mitigation models, despite concerns raised elsewhere that some of those technologies are risky, unproven and could actually make climate change worse [3].  They are also decry IPCC’s support for increased use of fossil gas over the next few decades [4] and by their endorsement of failed market mechanisms, including cap and trade [5]. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

California drought gives boost to anti-fracking movement

By Haya El Nasser, April 11, 2014. Source: Al Jazeera America

California is known for the twin threat of natural disasters from drought and earthquakes, with both phenomena certain to give many residents serious concern.

But there is one group that is starting to reap serendipitous marketing ammunition from the state’s current historic drought and the ever-present worry of ground-shaking tremors: the anti-fracking movement.

“California faces two interlinked crises, a water crisis and a climate crisis, and fracking makes both of these problems worse,” said Kassie Siegel, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit conservation group.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing — a method of high-pressure injection of substances to extract oil from rock formations — has become a hugely controversial subject across the United States. Defenders of the process, especially the oil and gas industry, hail it as a solution to America’s energy woes. Critics say it is highly pollutive and contributes to climate change at a time when the country should be moving away from fossil fuels.
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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, Fracking, Hydrofracking, Water

UK energy agency wins ‘biomess’ award as major biomass industry conference is targeted by environmentalists

April 10, 2014. Source: Biofuelwatch

Awards1

Photo: Biofuelwatch

Campaigners have awarded the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) the “Biomess Award” after coming out on top of an online poll coinciding with a major biomass industry conference in London, with Drax and the Green Investment Bank coming a close second and third place, respectively.

The award for forest destruction was given at an alternative awards ceremony held last night outside a gala dinner for delegates. After a last-minute change of venue the dinner took place at the conference venue, Grange St Paul’s Hotel. More than 40 people held banners reading: “Big Biomass Fuels: Deforestation, Landgrabbing & Climate Change” and “Big Biomass Is Greenwash not Renewable Energy”.

Biofuelwatch Campaigner Duncan Law, who hosted the satirical awards ceremony, said:

The people have spoken, and as far as they’re concerned DECC are the biggest biomass baddie. Through their outrageous support for the biomass industry they have fuelled a new market for burning wood, and rewarded irresponsible companies such as Drax and their pellet suppliers Enviva for clearing ancient forests and pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Humor

Earth Watch: Rachel Smolker

On April 10th 2014, Dr. Rachel Smolker spoke with Margaret Prescod about geoengineering and other false solutions to climate change.

Listen here to Dr. Rachel Smolker on the Sojourner Truth Show

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Evidence of acceleration of anthropogenic climate disruption on all fronts

By Dahr Jamail, April 10, 2014. Source: Truthout

Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout

Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout

 

This month’s dispatch comes on the heels of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report, and the news is not good.

“No one on this planet will be untouched by climate change,” IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri announced. The report warned that climate impacts are already “severe, pervasive, and irreversible.”

The IPCC report was one of many released in recent weeks, and all of them bring dire predictions of what is coming. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued a report warning that “the rate of climate change now may be as fast as any extended warming period over the past 65 million years, and it is projected to accelerate in the coming decades.” The report went on to warn of the risk “of abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes in the Earth’s climate system with massively disruptive impacts,” including the possible “large scale collapse of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, collapse of part of the Gulf Stream, loss of the Amazon rain forest, die-off of coral reefs, and mass extinctions.”
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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Oceans, Oil, UNFCCC

Colombia’s breadbasket feels the pinch of free trade

By Helda Martínez, April 8, 2014. Source: Inter Press Service

The home of a poor farming family in the mountains of Cajamarca, in the central Colombian department of Tolima. Photo: Helda Martínez/IPS

The home of a poor farming family in the mountains of Cajamarca, in the central Colombian department of Tolima. Photo: Helda Martínez/IPS

“Things are getting worse and worse,” Enrique Muñoz, a 67-year-old farmer from the municipality of Cajamarca in the central Colombian department of Tolima, once known as the country’s breadbasket, said sadly.

“Over the past five decades, the situation took a radical turn for the worse,” activist Miguel Gordillo commented to IPS, referring to what is happening in Tolima, whose capital is Ibagué, 195 km southwest of Bogotá.

“Fifty years ago, Ibagué was a small city surrounded by crops – vast fields of cotton that looked from far away like a big white sheet,” said Gordillo, head of the non-governmental Asociación Nacional por la Salvación Agropecuaria(National Association to Save Agriculture).

“In Tolima we planted maize, tobacco, soy, sorghum and fruit trees, and the mountains that surrounded Cajamarca were covered with green coffee bushes protected by orange trees, maize and plantain, and surrounded by celery,” Muñoz said.

His voice lost in the past, he said the farms in the area also had “piggies, chickens, mules, cows; everything was so different.”

Gordillo said, “In the north of the department we had fruit trees of all kinds, and the rivers were chock full of fish. There’s still rice, some maize, coffee…but even the fish have disappeared.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Ethiopian military opens fire on resettled communities

April 4, 2014. Source: Ethiopian Satellite Television

A squad of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) that has travelled to the Southern Omo region of Ethiopia to quell the month long fights between the Bodi and Konso communities has on April 2, 2014 fired heavy weapons on the Bodi people wounding many. Among the wounded, at least 17 elderly women, children and youth are attending medical treatment in Hana Health Centre in Jinka, Southern Ethiopia, the Omo Peoples Democratic Unity (OPDU) office told ESAT.

The Administrator and the Deputy Administrator of Selamago Woreda are in a row with the Head of the Security Head of the area following the actions taken by the ENDF.

According to OPDU, the Konso elders have complained to the officials “When you resettled us here, you told us that you have talked with the people and that everything was alright. However, after we have come here we faced several clashes. Despite our progresses in resolving our conflicts via peaceful and traditional methods, you have taken such a reckless measure which could dim our hope of living together after now. ”

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Filed under Africa, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Political Repression, War