Tag Archives: water

Earth Minute this week on Detroit’s water crisis

The shocking water crisis in Detroit: hundreds of thousands of people being denied access to water. 

The Earth Minute is written and recorded by GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann in partnership with KPFK. For more on Anne, see her biography on our website and as a speaker in GJEP’s New Voices Speakers Bureau – The GJEP Team

Click here to listen: 


Over the last decade, Detroit residents have seen water rates rise by 119 percent. Photo by Bigstock/IPS

Over the last decade, Detroit residents have seen water rates rise by 119 percent. Photo by Bigstock/IPS

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Filed under Earth Minute, Earth Radio, KPFK, Water

Water cut-off in U.S. city violates human rights, Say activists

, June 19, 2014. Source: IPS

Over the last decade, Detroit residents have seen water rates rise by 119 percent. Photo by Bigstock/IPS

Over the last decade, Detroit residents have seen water rates rise by 119 percent. Photo by Bigstock/IPS


UNITED NATIONS, Jun 19 2014 (IPS) - When the United Nations reaches out to resolve a water or sanitation crisis, it is largely across urban slums and remote villages in Asia, Africa or Latin America and the Caribbean.

But a severe water crisis in the financially bankrupt city of Detroit in the U.S. state of Michigan has prompted several non-governmental organisations and activists to appeal for U.N. intervention in one of the world’s richest countries.

“This is unprecedented,” said Maude Barlow, founder of the Blue Planet Project, a group that advocates water as a human right.

“I visited the city and worked with the Detroit People’s Water Board several weeks ago and came away terribly upset,” she told IPS. Continue reading

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Road block to stop theft of water from Yaqui peoples

By Giovanni Velasquez, 11 July 2013.  Source: Intercontinental Cry

Vícam, Sonora, México – Traditional Authorities and the Yaqui people remain firm more than a week after the start of their road block of the international highway 15 (Mexico-Nogales) near the community of Vícam, announcing that they will take stronger actions. The action is in response to the state government’s refusal to stop the operation of the Independence Aqueduct that has illegally extracted the first volumes of water from the El Novillo dam.

Extraction began in early May, even though the state government did not have permission from the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) to transfer the water. There is also a Supreme Court (SCJN) resolution that ratified protection for the tribe pending the Environmental Impact Assessment (MIA), which is required to legally begin taking the water.

On May 8, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the traditional authorities of Vícam, citing the dossier 631/2012 for violation of their right to consultation by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT). However, neither the Sonora state government nor federal authorities have complied with the Supreme Court’s decision to stop construction of the Independence Aqueduct. On the contrary, they have concealed the continual operation of the water pumps that CONAGUA helped to install to suck water from the Rio Yaqui near the dam El Novillo.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Indigenous Peoples, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Water

More threats from fracking: radioactive waste

Pennsylvania’s DEP begins study on radioactivity from oil, gas development; follows other studies showing high levels of radium, boron

By Andrea Germanos, January 25, 2013.  Source: Common Dreams

The controversial drilling practice known as fracking is under renewed scrutiny, this time for producing radioactive waste.

A resident holds up contaminated water from her well, located near a fracking site. (Photo: Public Herald)

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday it was embarking on a year-long study of radioactivity in by-products from oil and natural gas development.

But findings and any action from the study may come too late for people like Portage, Pennsylvania resident Randy Moyer, who is suffering from a flurry of health problems he believes are the result of radiation exposure from his work transporting fracking wastefluids. Pennsylvania’s Beaver County Times reports:

Moyer said he began transporting brine, the wastewater from gas wells that have been hydraulically fractured, for a small hauling company in August 2011. He trucked brine from wells to treatment plants and back to wells, and sometimes cleaned out the storage tanks used to hold wastewater on drilling sites. By November 2011, the 49-year-old trucker was too ill to work. He suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, difficulty breathing, swollen lips and appendages, and a fiery red rash that covered about 50 percent of his body.

“They called it a rash,” he said of the doctors who treated him during his 11 trips to the emergency room. “A rash doesn’t set you on fire.”

Moyer spent most of last year in his Portage apartment, lying on the floor by the open screen door because his skin burned so badly, while doctors scrambled to reach a diagnosis.

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Hydrofracking, Pollution, Water

Climate change and the Syrian uprising

By Shahrzad Mohtadi, August 16, 2012. Source: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Article Highlights:

  • A drought unparalleled in recent Syrian history lasted from 2006 to 2010 and led to an unprecedented mass migration of 1.5 million people from farms to urban centers.
  • Because the Assad regime’s economic policies had largely ignored water issues and sustainable agriculture, the drought destroyed many farming communities and placed great strain on urban populations.
  • Although not the leading cause of the Syrian rebellion, the drought-induced migration from farm to city clearly contributed to the uprising and serves as a warning of the potential impact of climate change on political stability.

Two days short of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, Al Jazeera published an article, headlined “A Kingdom of Silence,” that contended an uprising was unlikely in Syria. The article cited the country’s “popular president, dreaded security forces, and religious diversity” as reasons that the regime of Bashar al-Assad would not be challenged, despite the chaos and leadership changes already wrought by the so-called Arab Spring. Less than one month later, security forces arrested a group of schoolchildren in the Syrian city of Dara’a, the country’s southern agricultural hub, for scrawling anti-government slogans on city walls. Subsequent protests illustrated the chasm between the regime’s public image — encapsulated in the slogan “Unity, Freedom and Socialism” — and a reality of widespread public disillusion with Assad and his economic policies.

Among the many historical, political, and economic factors contributing to the Syrian uprising, one has been devastating to Syria, yet remains largely unnoticed by the outside world. That factor is the complex and subtle, yet powerful role that climate change has played in affecting the stability and longevity of the state.

The land now encompassed by Syria is widely credited as being the place where humans first experimented with agriculture and cattle herding, some 12,000 years ago. Today, the World Bank predicts the area will experience alarming effects of climate change, with the annual precipitation level shifting toward a permanently drier condition, increasing the severity  and frequency of drought.

From 1900 until 2005, there were six droughts of significance in Syria; the average monthly level of winter precipitation during these dry periods was approximately one-third of normal. All but one of these droughts lasted only one season; the exception lasted two. Farming communities were thus able to withstand dry periods by falling back on government subsidies and secondary water resources. This most recent, the seventh drought, however,  lasted from 2006 to 2010, an astounding four seasons — a true anomaly in the past century. Furthermore, the average level of precipitation in these four years was the lowest of any drought-ridden period in the last century. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Political Repression, War

Extreme heat, drought show vulnerability of nuclear power plants

By Robert Krier, Aug 15, 2012. Source: InsideClimate News

Will 2012 go down as the year that left the idea of nuclear energy expansion in the hot, dry dust?

Google Earth map of nuclear power plants
Google Earth map of nuclear power plants, via Nature

Nuclear energy might be an important weapon in the battle against climate change, some scientists have argued, because it doesn’t emit greenhouse gases. But separate of all the other issues with nuclear, that big plus would be moot if the plants couldn’t operate, or became too inefficient, because of global warming.

In June, InsideClimate News reported on the findings of Dennis Lettenmaier, a researcher at the University of Washington. His study found that nuclear and other power plants will see a 4 to 16 percent drop in production between 2031 and 2060 due to climate change-induced drought and heat.
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Filed under Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Nuclear power

Navajo Council votes no! to Little Colorado River water rights settlement

By , cross-posted from InterContinental Cry

The vote was 15 against, six in favor, and three abstentions! Photo Dine’ Water Rights

Jul 5, 2012 – WINDOW ROCK, AZ – The Navajo Nation Council voted down the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Settlement Agreement on Thursday afternoon. The vote was 15 opposed, six in favor, and three abstentions.

Navajos opposed to the settlement say it is a scheme devised by Arizona senators, corrupt politicians and non-Indian attorneys to steal Navajo water rights for the Navajo Generating Station, one of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the US, and for non-Indians in Arizona to continue their lavish lifestyles.

Council Delegate Katherine Benally said, “I am speaking for the future generations. I have heard you my dear people. This settlement is the Genocide of our nation, and as a leader I will not allow that. As a women, I pray to water, I sit behind water and pray for it. I praise the efforts of my people and I ask you to support me, support us leaders as we move on. Let’s take this negative document and make it a positive one. One that will rejuvenate our people.”

Reporting from the council chambers, Dine’ Water Rights said so far today, most council delegates have opposed the scheme. The scheme has been promoted by Arizona Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain, along with the Navajo Nation’s non-Indian water rights attorney. The settlement would sever Navajos expansive water rights under the Winter’s Doctrine.

Navajo Council Delegate Katherine Benally told the council, “We must protect what is rightfully ours. Peabody’s greed and disrespect to our water and our resources needs to stop.” She is the Navajo council delegate for Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso and Kayenta, Ariz., in the region where Peabody Coal mines Black Mesa. The coal is used for the Navajo Generating Station near Page.

Benally told the council that Navajo communities have been misinformed about the settlement. Benally said only ten farms are listed in the settlement. Further, she said the Western Agency Council has unanimously voted this settlement down.

“We can not trust Kyl! He was an attorney for APS! He won on their behalf and cheated native people.”

“Tribal nations across this nation are looking at us they are looking to us to see if we will kneel down and bow to the federal government. Let us not only let our people down but all indigenous people across the united states,” Benally said, as reported by Dine’ Water Rights in the council chambers today, Thursday, July 5, 2012.

On today’s council agenda is Benally’s proposed legislation opposing the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Settlement Agreement. It also opposes the lease extension for the Navajo Generating Station, as stated in US Senate Bill 2109.

Please watch Censored News for updates on this story.

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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Natural Disasters, Water

Looking through a gender lens: water in the green economy

By Shiney Varghese, originally published by the Heinrich Boell Foundation
NOTE: While this piece was written before last week’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, Shiney Varghese, of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, has just sent it along to us with a request that we share it on Climate Connections. Shiney is one of our best thinkers on water and gender issues, as well as climate and agriculture, and we are proud to bring this piece out in the aftermath of Rio.
With the ‘green economy’ train out of the station, it is more importat than ever to remember that an economic framework, whether it is couched in Washington Consensus neoliberalism or in the green mystique of ‘ecosystem services’, runs fundamentally counter to a rights-based development framework. In this article, Shiney makes a bold effort to problematize the twin problems of economic crisis and ecological crisis through the lens of gender — an exercise that illuminates both water and gender, and can also instruct us in using Rights to resist the seductive power of the green economy.
–The GJEP Team
Every crisis can be an opportunity for addressing the root causes. Yet all too often the responses tend to be transactional in nature; rarely integrated or transformational. Such small adjustments seldom help us move towards solving the crisis itself. So far the Rio+20 negotiations on Sustainable Development talks have ignored the root causes and instead have focused on small changes.The breakthroughs achieved at the first UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 —articulated in Agenda 21—were informed amongst others, by Women’s Action Agenda 21 which stated in 1991 that, “We, women of many nations, cultures and creeds, of different colors and classes, have come together to voice our concern for the health of our living planet and all its interdependent life forms…… As long as Nature and women are abused by a so-called free market ideology and wrong concepts ofeconomic growth, there can be no environmental security.” Nor poverty alleviation or “hope for long-term survival or peace among peoples”, it goes on to add. (Women’s Action Agenda 21, accessed on May 20 2012)

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Filed under Climate Change, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20, Water, Women