Tag Archives: global warming

KPFK Earth Watch interview: On Climate Change and Obama’s State of the Union Address

This week’s “Earth Watch” segment on KPFK features Dr. Rachel Smolker, Co-director of Biofuelwatch, who weighs in on President Obama’s proposals on climate change in his State of the Union Address.

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, GE Trees, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs

Three responses to Bill McKibben’s new article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”

The following three pieces, by Anne Petermann, Dr. Rachel Smolker, and Keith Brunner were written in response to Bill McKibben’s new article in Rolling Stone magazine, titled, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math: Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – make clear who the real enemy is.

The System Will Not be Reformed

Response by Anne Petermann

Bill McKibben, in his new Rolling Stone article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” does an effective job at summarizing the hard and theoretical numbers that warn us of the devastating impacts of continuing to burn the Earth’s remaining fossil fuel reserves–yet it somehow falls short of its stated goal to help mobilize a new movement for climate action.

While the article is full of facts and figures and the future they portend, it falls into several traps common to US-based environmentalists, which undermine its movement-building objective.

The first and most obvious trap is relying on math to mobilize a movement. Environmentalists, often worried about attacks on their credibility, or afraid they will be labeled “emotional” by industry, tend to focus on statistics, mathematical analyses and hard science to make their case.  Unfortunately statistics like “565 Gigatons or 2,795 Gigatons” do not inspire passion.

While McKibben is focusing on Gigatons and percentages and degrees Celsuis, however, corporations like Shell are running multi-million dollar ad campaigns with TV commercials that feature families having fun, hospitals saving lives, children getting good educations, because of fossil fuels.  Coal = energy security; natural gas = maintaining the American way of life.  And as Dr. Rachel Smolker of BiofuelWatch points out below, some of these very same companies are moving into the bioenergy realm–wreaking yet more havoc on communities and ecosystems in the name of supposedly “clean, renewable energy.”  They are playing both sides of the field in the effort to ensure Americans do not feel their way of life is in any way threatened–ensuring them that they can have their cake and eat it too.  For while China may have surpassed the US in total annual carbon emissions, the US still leads, by far, the per capita release of CO2 emissions.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, Rio+20

Kent State survivors seek new probe of 1970 shootings

Note: Forty-two years ago today, US National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed students at Kent State University who were protesting the Vietnam War and its expansion into neighboring Cambodia.  Four were killed and nine wounded.  Justice has never been served to the victims of this atrocity.

Four decades later, the US is sending men and women overseas to fight wars for oil at the same time that the very life-support systems of the planet are on the verge of a complete meltdown from fossil fuel-induced global warming and its resulting climate chaos.  These wars enable the 1% to continue their grossly unsustainable lives of privilege at the expense of the rest.

After the Kent State massacre, students rose up across the country.  Hundreds of colleges and universities were shut down by student protests and outrage.

Today the stakes are higher than ever.  Can we share and  learn from the experiences of the movements from the 1960s and encourage a new era of global direct action–a new era of outrage?

The 1% will not change with niceties, permitted marches or orchestrated mass-arrests.  They will not change through the corporate-owned electoral process.  As Frederick Douglass pointed out:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

I would add to this that it is not enough merely to demand.  The demands must be backed up by action: action in the form of general strikes, student shut downs and the total obstruction of business as usual.  After all, it is literally our future that is at stake.

–Anne Petermann for the GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from Reuters

FILE PHOTO 4MAY70 - Students dive to the ground as the Ohio National Guard fires on faculty and students at Kent State University in this May 4, 1970 file photo. MMR/AA
 By Kim Palmer

KENT, Ohio | Thu May 3, 2012 11:23pm EDT

(Reuters) – Survivors of the shooting of 13 students by the Ohio National Guard during an anti-war demonstration at Kent State University in 1970 called on Thursday for a new probe into the incident that came to define U.S. divisions over the Vietnam War.

Four students were killed and nine wounded in the shootings on May 4, 1970 that followed days of demonstrations on the campus after disclosures of a U.S.-led invasion of Cambodia that signaled a widening of the war in Southeast Asia.

Kent State was shut for weeks after the shootings and student strikes closed down schools across the nation.

On the eve of the 42nd anniversary of the shootings, four students wounded that day asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate digitally enhanced audio evidence they believe proves an officer ordered the guardsmen to fire on the unarmed students.

A command to fire has never been proven and guardsmen said they fired in self-defense. Criminal charges were brought against eight guardsmen, but a judge dismissed the case. Wounded students and families of those slain later received a total of $675,000 after civil lawsuits.

The shootings also spawned an investigative commission, numerous books and Neil Young’s song, “Ohio,” which became an anti-war anthem. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a teenage girl kneeling over the body of one of the slain students became an enduring image of the tragedy.

In 2010, Alan Canfora, one of the wounded students and director of the nonprofit Kent May 4 Center, asked the Justice Department to review the enhanced recording, which was taken 250 feet from the guardsmen when they fired their shots in 1970.

Canfora and other audio specialists say the enhanced recording shows a clear military order to fire seconds before the shooting. The troops fired 67 shots over 13 seconds.

A Justice Department official closed the matter last month, finding the recordings were still inconclusive.

Canfora, and other wounded students Dean Kahler, Thomas Grace and Joe Lewis, asked Holder on Thursday for a new probe, saying anyone involved in the shooting should be offered immunity to provide information. They asked any surviving guardsmen to come forward with information.

“I was an angry young man for a number of years,” Canfora said. “We have to work within the system. I’ve learned a lot since we were younger. I believe they were ordered to shoot us.”

Kahler, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since the shooting, told Reuters: “We want justice in a sense, to have the truth. It would be nice to know what actually happened.

If the United States does not open a new investigation, the May 4 group plans to appeal to the International Court of Justice, the U.N. Human Rights Council or the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Canfora said.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Peter Cooney)

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Political Repression

Corporate takeover of UN Climate Conference

Note: The following cross-post is from the March 2012 newsletter, published in London, England  from our friends at the Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA).  I have known ENCA contacts and activists Nick Rau and Sheila Amoo-gottried for over a decade now and they have graciously put me up in their homes a few times in London.  Martin Mowforth, from the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences at Plymouth University has been sending me the ENCA newsletter for more years than I can remember.  I always am grateful to see it arrive.

I received this edition last evening, opened it immediately and was quite surprised to see the following piece written by ENCA’s Barney Thompson.  I smiled when I read the paragraph that begins, “With a similar outlook to ENCA, GJEP highlights the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination…”  We’re very honored to be considered in the same vein as ENCA, and appreciate the coverage we receive in the following post.

Thanks to ENCA for all of their amazing work in Central America and the service they provide by supporting the people who live in that region and for getting the word out to the rest of the world.

¡La lucha sigue!

-Orin Langelle for the GJEP Team

This short article is a summary of the Global Justice Ecology Project Press Release (13 December 2011) ‘GJEP Direct Action and Climate Justice at the UN Climate Talks’, GJEP, Hinesburg, USA.

Summary by ENCA member Barney Thompson

Frustrated by the lack of any significant progress at the recent UN Climate Conference in South Africa, the US based NGO Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) took direct action alongside hundreds of African youth activists and civil society representatives. On the final day of the conference they staged a sit-in in the convention centre halls which resulted in arrest, ‘debadging’ and ejection from the event. They were one of the very few organisations there to take any such direct action in protest at the corporate takeover and the dominance of empty rhetoric over binding action that has now become the norm at the UN climate talks.

GJEP is removed by UN security during sit-in occupation Photo: Ben Powless

With a similar outlook to ENCA, GJEP highlights the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination. They work to build bridges between social and environmental justice groups (including those in Central America) to strengthen their collective efforts. In Durban, GJEP raised awareness of the messages of such climate justice experts and front line community representatives by connecting them with major international media outlets for interviews as well as delivering press releases and conferences. Included in the speakers was Friends of the Earth El Salvador’s Ricardo Navarro, also a friend of ENCA. They also participated in a march for climate justice attended by tens of thousands of people before then deciding in frustration to take more direct action.

GJEP’s Executive Director Anne Petermann was one of those arrested and she released the following statement:

“I took this action today because I believe this process is corrupt, this process is bankrupt, and this process is controlled by the One percent. If meaningful action on climate change is to happen, it will need to happen from the bottom up. The action I took today was to remind us all of the power of taking action into our own hands. With the failure of states to provide human leadership, and the corporate capture of the United Nations process, direct action by the ninety-nine percent is the only avenue we have left.”

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, UNFCCC

This Week’s Earth Minute: EU’s Renewable Energy Target is Destroying Forests & Worsening Climate Change

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

Go to the link below and scroll to minute 44:12 to listen to this week’s Earth Minute:

April 3, 2012 Earth Minute

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

The European Union’s goal of providing 20% of their energy from renewable sources is coming under attack from environmentalists because of the heavy reliance on energy from burning trees.

On 29 March, a call challenging this goal was launched at the European Parliament.  It stated, “We’re paying people to cut their forests down in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, yet we are actually increasing them.”

Because it is mistakenly considered ‘carbon neutral’, wood-based electricity is given numerous government subsidies in the EU, the US and elsewhere.

There is a significant gap in time, however, from when carbon is released from cutting, transporting and burning a tree–to when the carbon is re-stored by a new tree that has grown to the same size.  This carbon gap lasts for decades.

The “carbon neutral” label of wood-based energy is ironically creating intense pressure to cut and burn forests in the US and globally for energy production, threatening massive deforestation at the same time that scientists are emphasizing the crucial role forests play in stabilizing the climate.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Earth Minute, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Posts from Anne Petermann

This Week’s Earth Minute: Earthquakes and Tsunamis = Climate Change

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

Go to the link below and scroll to minute 40:58 to listen to this week’s Earth Minute:

March 27, 2012 Earth Minute

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

Earth Minute 3/27/12

On Sunday night, central Chile was violently shaken by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake–its second in two years.  In April 2011, Japan experienced a nuclear disaster following a severe earthquake and resulting tsunami.  In January 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, and in April 2010, Iceland’s volcano erupted, disrupting air travel across the Atlantic.

Are these events related?  According to a recent article in the UK Guardian, they were likely the result of climate change–in particular, the rising of sea levels.

As the polar ice caps melt, and the ice sheets on Greenland and Iceland vanish into the ocean, sea levels rise.  The enoromous weight from all of that added water causes the Earth’s crust to shift and bend.  This in turn sets off seismic shocks–including earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions–particularly along coastal areas.

As naturalist John Muir pointed out, “Whenever we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.

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Filed under Climate Change, Earth Minute, Natural Disasters, Posts from Anne Petermann

History and Photos of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

Genetically engineered trees (GE trees) are also known as genetically modified trees (GM trees) or transgenic trees.  This refers to trees which have been genetically altered through the insertion of foreign DNA to give the trees unnatural characteristics such as the ability to kill insects, resist toxic herbicides, grow faster or have modified wood composition.

This Nov. 11, 2008 photo released by ArborGen shows a field trial of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in Sebring, Fla. South Carolina-based ArborGen received federal approval to plant 260,000 GE eucalyptus trees in locations around the South for use by International Paper, MeadWestvaco and Rubicon LTD. (AP Photo/ArborGen)

The release of GE trees into the environment is extremely dangerous and the impacts of the escape of these trees into native forest or other ecosystems is unknown, but likely to be extremely destructive.  If GE trees are released on a large scale, the escape of pollen or seeds from these trees is both inevitable and irreversible.  Contaminated trees would go on to contaminate more trees in an endless cycle.  For this reason, we began campaigning to stop GE trees as soon as we learned about them in 1999, when we were still Native Forest Network, launching the official first campaign against GE trees in June of 2000.  In April of 2003 we co-founded the STOP GE Trees Campaign.

Below is a brief history of the campaign to stop the release of genetically engineered trees.  Thanks to our generous supporters for making our work to protect forests and communities from the dangers of GE trees possible.

GE trees are still one disaster we can stop.  To join the campaign against GE trees email [email protected].  To sign the petition calling for a global ban on GE trees, please click here.  To read our report on the current status of GE trees, click here.

–Anne Petermann

Coordinator, STOP GE Trees Campaign

Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

History of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

 June 2000: Campaign against GE trees launched at Biodevastation protest during Biotechnology Industry Organization national conference in Boston.  Washington Post runs front page article about the campaign.

May 2001: Chapter on the dangers of GE trees published by GJEP Co-Founder Orin Langelle in the book Redesigning Life.

July 2001: Native Forest Network (NFN) report released From Native Forests to Frankentrees: The Global Threat of Genetically Engineered Trees.

July 2001: NFN organizes protest at GE tree conference at Skamania Lodge in Washington state.

GE trees action at International Paper subsidiary in Sacramento, CA. Photo: Langelle

March 2003: Action for Social and Ecological Justice, Rainforest Action Network and Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering organize GE tree protests at the World Trade Organization agricultural negotiations in Sacramento, CA.

December 2003: UN Climate Convention’s Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP 9) in Milan, Italy decides that GE trees can be used in carbon offset forestry plantations.

April 2004: STOP Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign founded.  Founding members include Global Justice Ecology Project, Sierra Club, Southern Forests Network, Dogwood Alliance, Forest Ethics, Forest Guild, GE Free Maine (now Food for Maine’s Future), Institute for Social Ecology, Klamath-Siskyou Wildlands Center, Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Rainforest Action Network.

April 2004: GJEP presents dangers of GE trees to delegates at the UN Forum on Forests in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mapuche activist shows us eucalyptus seedling covered with toxic pesticides responsible for contaminating the watershed. Photo: Langelle, 2004

September 2004: GJEP launches collaborative partnership with Indigenous Mapuche group Konapewman against GE trees and plantations in Chile.

October 2004: GJEP presents social and ecological dangers of GE trees during founding meeting of the Durban Group for Climate Justice in Durban, South Africa.

December 2004: World Rainforest Movement (WRM) report released, Genetically Engineered Trees, the Ultimate Threat to Forests.

December 2004: GJEP and WRM organize side event and press conference on social and ecological dangers of GE trees at the UN Climate Convention COP 10 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mapuche participant presents threats to Indigenous peoples.

September 2005: Award-winning GE trees documentary released: A Silent Forest: The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees, narrated by renowned geneticist Dr. David Suzuki.

MST camp in Espirito Santo, Brazil. Banner reads "eucalyptus plantations are not forests." Photo: Langelle

November 2005: Global Justice Ecology Project, World Rainforest Movement and FASE host joint international strategy meeting on GE trees in Vitoria, Brazil.  Participants attend from five continents.

March 2006: STOP GE Trees Campaign and EcoNexus campaign against GE trees at UN Biodiversity Convention COP 8 in Curitiba, Brazil.  UN decides to warn countries about GE trees, calls for application of the Precautionary Principle and launches a study into the ecological and social impacts of GE trees.

July 2006: UN Food and Agriculture Organization releases a report titled, Preliminary Review of Biotechnology in Forestry, Including Genetic Modification. In it, a survey of GE tree researchers reveals that their topmost concern about GE trees is the “unintentional contamination of non-target species.”  Their second greatest concern is public opinion of GE trees.

Boat action in Charleston harbor protests industry conference on GE trees and plantations. Photo: Petermann

October 2006: STOP GE Trees Campaign, Rising Tide and Katuah Earth First! organize protests and a boat action organized around the International Union of Forest Research Organizations “2006 Forest Plantations Meeting” in Charleston, South Carolina, US.

May 2007: STOP GE Trees Campaign launches “National Effort to Stop Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Plantations in US Southeast.”

June 2007: STOP GE Trees Campaign issues press release asking US health and environmental agencies to investigate potential link between pathogenic fungus and genetically engineered eucalyptus trees.

November 2007: Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition publish the report, The True Cost of Agrofuels: Impacts on Food, Forests, People and the Climate.

February 2008: GJEP, EcoNexus, GFC and WRM organize GE trees protest inside a UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Rome.

April 2008: Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition and the STOP GE Trees Campaign release the report, GE Trees, Cellulosic Biofuels and Destruction of Forest Biological Diversity.


Frankenforests threaten to take over UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference in Bonn, Germany. Photo: Langelle

May 2008: A major series of protests and side events are organized by a large international alliance of groups and Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations at the UN CBD convention in Bonn, Germany calling for a global ban on GE trees.  Unanimous support for the ban received from entire African delegation, many Latin American and Asian country delegations, and all NGOs and IPOs present.

November 2008: World Rainforest Movement releases GE Tree Research: A Country by Country Overview.

May 2009: Belgium Permanent Mission in Manhattan protested by Indigenous Peoples during the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues due to Belgium’s development of test plots of GE poplar trees.

May-June 2009: Living On Earth, an NPR program, interviews GJEP on the impacts of GE trees.

June 2009: Tree Engineer Steve Strauss, of Oregon State University, writes article “Strangled at Birth? Forest Biotech and the Convention on Biological Diversity” in Nature Biotechnology magazine which criticizes international regulatory hurdles created by GJEP’s efforts to ban GE trees internationally.

June 2009: The STOP GE Trees Campaign and allies submit nearly 17,500 public comments to the USDA opposing the USDA’s recommendation for approval of an ArborGen proposal to plant over a quarter of a million GE eucalyptus trees in test plots across seven states.  Only 39 favorable comments were received by the USDA.

August 2009: Jim Hightower national commentary airs: “The Invasion of Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus.”

Mapuche woman protests outside of the Belgian Mission in Manhattan. Photo: Langelle

October 2009: La Via Campesina, the world’s largest peasant farmer organization, organizes protests outside of the XIII World Forestry Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  GJEP speaks about GE trees.

February 2010: Groups Force USDA to re-release Draft Environmental Assessment on genetically engineered eucalyptus trees after their original EA lacked key US Forest Service hydrological studies.

May 2010: USDA approves ArborGen request to plant 260,000 genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in test plots across the US South despite overwhelming public opposition.

June 2010: Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch release new report, Wood-based Bioenergy: The Green Lie, at the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany during a European tour on the issues of GE trees and wood-based bioenergy.

July 2010: Global Justice Ecology Project, Dogwood Alliance, Sierra Club, Center for Food Safety, International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Biological Diversity file suit against the USDA over their approval of ArborGen’s large-scale test plots of GE eucalyptus trees.

August 2010: Charlotte Observer editorial, “Could eucalyptus trees be the kudzu of the 2010s?” [Note: the Charlotte Observer is the largest newspaper near ArborGen’s headquarters.]

 September 2010: Global Justice Ecology Project, Dogwood Alliance and the STOP GE Trees Campaign release a 5 minute video on the dangers of large-scale tree plantations and genetically engineered trees.

October 2010: ArborGen announces plan for Initial Public Offering (IPO) to raise funds for research.

Protest against the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility at the UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 2007. ArborGen is trying to get their GE trees into forest carbon offset projects. Photo: Langelle

2007-2010: GJEP organizes side events and press conferences with World Rainforest Movement, Global Forest Coalition, Climate Justice Now!, Indigenous Environmental Network and other groups at annual UN Climate Conferences linking GE trees to the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme and denouncing the UN’s definition of forests.

January 2011: ArborGen partner Range Fuels shutters taxpayer-subsidized cellulosic ethanol plant in Georgia, due to their inability to manufacture affordable cellulosic ethanol.

January 2011: ArborGen submits request to USDA for full deregulation and commercial approval of their GE eucalyptus trees.

January 2011: Des Moines Register article, “Court challenges stall new biofuel crops.”

April 2011: Biomass Power & Thermal Magazine article, “Genetic Engineering Hang-Up: Lawsuit highlights a barrier to biotechnology advancements in the US”

 May 2011: ArborGen postpones IPO indefinitely.

 June 2011: STOP GE Trees Campaign Action Alert against ArborGen coincides with Tree Biotechnology 2011 conference in Brazil.

Protest outside of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative conference in Burlington, VT. Photo: Langelle

September 2011: Protest organized to counter the push for GE tree sustainability criteria at the 2011 conference of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative in Burlington, Vermont.

October 2011: USDA grants $136 million for research into GE trees and other wood for bioenergy.

October 2011: Judge in GE trees test plot lawsuit rules in favor of USDA.

October 2011: Commercial Appeal article, “Court loss won’t stop environmentalists’ battle against modified-eucalyptus trees” [note: the Commercial Appeal is the largest newspaper in Memphis–home to ArborGen co-owner International Paper].

November 2011: article, “GE Trees in Sweden Cause Concern.”

January 2012: New video A Darker Shade of Green Documents Critical Perspectives on REDD reveals global resistance to forest-carbon projects as well as GE trees.

February 2012: COST Alliance formed in EU to advance GE tree “sustainability criteria” by “…improving the scientific basis for safe tree development…with the intent to supply the world with fuel, fibre and energy.”

March 2012: Action Alert launched to stop the expansion of ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus test plots in the US South.

March 2012: ArborGen Board announces major changes to Senior Management.

The false solutions circus at VT Yankee Protest. Photo: Dylan Kelley

March 2012: Vermont Yankee Protest–Protesters link nuclear power and GE trees as dangerous “false solutions” to climate change.

For a complete listing of news around genetically engineered trees, go to: http://nogetrees.org

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Energy, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, Water

Video: Spontaneous Volunteerism, Waterbury, VT

Hurricane Irene’s Damage and Response

Last week’s devastating tornadoes are the latest example of extreme weather.

It’s very hard these days to be optimistic about the climate chaos that should be evident to all.  It’s also hard to be optimistic about the mainstream conformists out there in the US who exist in their own mentally unbalanced world, seduced by the wonderland of daily corporate propaganda. Where their idea of “propaganda by the deed” is to buy some needless crap, while voting for rich guys who make wars.
Sometimes those of us who are paying attention can lose sight of the fact that some people in the United States actually do rise to the occasion of caring and helping when necessary. It’s just unfortunate that It’s just not that common and it just doesn’t happen enough, unfortunately.  But it should.
Hurricane Irene, tropical storm status when it reached Vermont last August, brought out the best in many people. The video Spontaneous Volunteerism Waterbury, VT is a testimony of how people can and do respond with help when disaster strikes.  People were taking care of each other.
The description under the YouTube video states: “Students in The University of Vermont’s “Rebuilding Vermont” course spent the Fall 2011 semester volunteering in communities recovering from Tropical Storm Irene. This final project explored the concept of “spontaneous volunteerism” through qualitative interviews with residents and and volunteers in Waterbury, Vermont.”As I watched the video, I was uplifted to see the help and aid of the people who responded to Irene’s aftermath and also the resilience of people forced to bounce back from disaster.  I was however, saddened that more people are not getting involved and preparing for volunteerism as climatic disruption keeps rearing its ugly head more and more frequently.
Maybe volunteerism isn’t the way to explain what I see as necessary if we are to survive the disasters that appear with little or no warning, be they tornado, hurricane, wildfire, flooding and so on.  Maybe it’s time for real community to come together–not just when disaster hits–but all of the time.  People practicing mutual aid and support instead of “I want my useless piece of shit. I really want it. And I want it now!”  But maybe real community is just a dreamer’s utopia.  Someone has to dream though, or everyone’s dream may become a nightmare.
-Enjoy Spontaneous Volunteerism, Waterbury, VT. –Jack Roseau
Note:  There are photos taken by GJEP’s Orin Langelle in the video that were borrowed from his Photo Essay from Vermont: The Recovery from Hurricane Irene Begins that includes commentary by GJEP’s Anne Petermann.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Natural Disasters