Note: Global Justice Ecology Project has always maintained that the only solution to prevent runaway climate chaos is to confront the root causes of the problem. Economic domination and the spread of neoliberalism, through free-trade agreements like NAFTA, are the driving forces preventing real solutions to climate change. These agreements, and the institutions like the WTO and World Bank that support them, have us in a chokehold of the entrenched powers of the global economic elite. GJEP has witnessed this dynamic of top-down control first hand, from the local level all the way to the halls of the UN climate negotiations. Until we cast away the chains of free trade agreements and the neoliberal doctrine, our communities will continue to suffer, pipelines or not.
-The GJEP Team
By Farron Cousins, May 13, 2013. Source: DeSmog Blog
As the public anxiously awaits the U.S. State Department’s final decision on the fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the discussion has largely ignored the elephant in the room: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.)
Thanks to NAFTA, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, the State Department will likely be able to do little more than stall the pipeline’s construction. In its simplest form, NAFTA removes barriers for North American countries wishing to do business in or through other North American countries, including environmental barriers. The goal of the agreement was to promote intra-continental commerce and help the economies of all involved in the agreement.
Before diving into NAFTA, it’s important to take a look at what the State Department and the media have done so far in regards to Keystone XL. Before she left office and was replaced by John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ties to the project were almost too many to count. Most notable was the fact that many of her former staffers and associates were lobbyists for Keystone, and they had a direct line into both Clinton and President Obama.
It is likely a result of these connections that the State Department’s environmental assessments were strikingly flawed and inadequate. As the NRDC pointed out, many of the so-called “standards” that the State Department put in place regarding the pipeline were simple “smoke and mirror” schemes to distract the public, and they failed to do their due diligence by considering alternative paths for the pipeline. Furthermore, climate impacts from operation and construction were almost completely ignored.
By Stephen Leahy, May 16, 2013. Source: Inter Press Service
Hubbard glacier in Seward, Alaska. Photo: Bigstock
Many eyes are turning north to the Arctic, some in horror at the rapid decline of a key component of our life support system, others in eager anticipation at the untapped resources beneath the vanishing snow and ice.
“I’ve worked in the north for 21 years and the scale and speed of change up there is astonishing,” said Douglas Clark of the University of Saskatchewan.
“These changes, taken as whole, and reflected in our report, keep me awake at night,” Clark told IPS.
Rapid and even abrupt changes are occurring on multiple fronts across the Arctic, according to the Arctic Resilience Report (ARR).
And what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.
“It’s the first international report to tell the world to buckle up, we’re on a wild roller coaster ride and we don’t know what’s coming,” he said.
By Andrew Martin, May 9 2013. Source: Bloomberg
A worker stands wearing a gas mask inside the Doe Run Peru refinery in La Oroya, Peru. Photo: Meridith Kohut/Bloomberg
Across the river from Belinda Elida Barja’s two-room apartment, the lead and zinc smelters of Doe Run Peru spread smoke and dust in the mountain town of La Oroya.
Her 9-year-old son Kenyi has headaches, memory loss, stomach ailments and difficulty concentrating, Barja said. The lead in his blood measured 41 micrograms per deciliter in a 2007 test — eight times the level the U.S. government considers a cause for action. Barja blames Doe Run Peru.
“They just think about making money,” she said.
Most of La Oroya’s children suffer elevated lead levels, according to the Peruvian government. Parents say some have symptoms — consistent with lead poisoning — that include anemia, convulsions, stunted growth, mental retardation and the ills Barja said her son suffers.
The question of responsibility is at the center of a high-stakes clash between Peru and U.S. billionaire Ira Rennert, who owned Doe Run Peru for more than a decade through Renco Group Inc. Far from defensive, Renco is demanding $800 million from Peru because it ordered a costly pollution clean-up that the company says forced Doe Run Peru into bankruptcy in 2010. Renco has said it’s not responsible for the children’s ailments. Continue reading
By Vladimir Nardin, February 12, 2013. Source: pissedconsumer.com
Valentine’s Day reminds us each year that romance isn’t dead. We hope.
Ah, but that red rose you receive will be dead in days. Its petals will wilt and fall, its novelty will wear off. Its innocence died long before. Your sweetheart did not pick the rose from a neighbor’s lawn; more likely it was picked in Colombia or Ecuador by an underpaid and possibly underage laborer, then imported and marked up for the masses.
From Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, 2012, the United States Customs and Border Protection agency processed approximately 842 million cut flower stems grown abroad. Sixty-seven percent came from Colombia and 23 percent came from Ecuador. Its country of origin isn’t stamped on each petal, but a Valentine’s flower is like a garden-variety cell phone or designer shoe: Rarely made in the USA.
The reason, of course, is cheap labor. In 2003, the International Labor Rights Forum launched the “Fairness in Flowers campaign” in response to the substandard working conditions in South America. There, ILRF reports a litany of labor issues. The right to organize is routinely denied. Sexual harassment and forced pregnancy tests are part of the “office culture.” Toxic pesticides and fungicides cause health problems – particularly in Ecuador, where an estimated 20 percent of the flower workers are children.