Stories from Quick Reads and Environment
A scientific publication in the Journal of Ecological Economics argues that “over-exploitation of either Labor or Nature will result in a societal collapse” if nothing is done to prevent it.
Based on a mathematical model, the study explains (via The Guardian) that the convergence of ” the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity” and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” will increase the likelihood of the fall of society as it was observed for previous human civilizations.
That collapse is already a reality in the south of Madagascar, a region that has suffered recurrent bout of famine over the past decade. 300,000 people are at risk of famine in the region because of a severe and prolonged drought since November 2014. 90% of the Malagasy population live with less than 2 USD/day, a stark reminder of the growing inequity on the African continent. John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo is an accountant manager from the region. He visited the city of Ambovombe and could not hold back his tears from what he saw. He hesitated but felt compelled to share the urgency of the situation by posting photos of children fighting for their lives because of lack of food. Kotovaoarivelo writes :
Je ne peux pas me taire et faire comme si de rien n’était devant la gravité de la situation vécue au quotidien par nos compatriotes dans le sud. Ces photos parlent d’elles même. Je ne vais pas vous prendre la tête pour ces photos, mais quand même en vous bousculant juste un peu pour réfléchir avec moi sur les pourquoi et les comment de toutes ces choses qui font chaque jour le calvaire de ces pauvres gens. Je vais vous révéler là des photos pour ne pas dire des informations qui passent presque inaperçues [..] Nos dirigeants sont occupés ou aveuglés par d’autres choses qu’ils ne pourront jamais déchiffrer le message sur les regards de ces pauvres enfants
I cannot keep quiet any longer and pretend as if nothing is happening in the face of the grave situation that our countrymen in the south face on daily basis. These photos speak for themselves. I will not bludgeon your head with these photos, but I hope they will jost your awareness a little and help you reflect with me about the plight of these people. I am merely sharing my pictures so that their suffering will not go unnoticed [..] Our political leaders are so busy or so blinded by other things that they cannot feel the message in the eyes of these children, seeking help.
Indigenous People, Afro-Colombians and Peasants Unite Against Illegal Mining in River Ovejas, Colombia
Despite threats, indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia, members from five different areas within the ancestral territory of Sat Tama Kiwe de Caldono, Afro-descendents from the La Toma Community Council and resident campesinos in the surrounding areas joined together to protest against illegal mining in the area of Río Ovejas in the north of Cauca. The demonstration began on Friday, 13 February and lasted for three days.
Natalio Pinto, one of the participants, told Global Voices that participation was something of a stress test:
El recorrido se hizo al borde del río, abriendo trocha y cruzando las montañas, fueron 3 días de jornada, casi 30 horas.
The route followed the river, opening trails and crossing the mountains. It lasted three full days, nearly 30 hours.
With regards to the protest's goals, she added:
El tercer día del encuentro se dio una asamblea en la cual participaron los indígenas de La Laguna Siberia, Territorio ancestral Sa’th Tama Kiwe, el Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma, así como campesinos que viven en zonas cercanas y representantes de otros consejos comunitarios afros y cabildos indígenas. La idea es formar un frente común en defensa del territorio y en contra de la minería ilegal y multinacional que amenaza el río Ovejas. La jornada sirvió también para solidarizarse con las compañeras que participaron en “la marcha de los turbantes” en noviembre/diciembre pasado. La marcha de los turbantes llevó a mujeres del Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma caminando desde el Cauca hasta Bogotá para pedirle al Estado una respuesta efectiva contra la minería ilegal en el río Ovejas. A raíz de esto amenazaron a varias lideresas de la comunidad, la cuales tuvieron que salir desplazadas.
On the third day of the protest, there was a meeting in which indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia participated, alongside those from the ancestral territory of Sa’th Tama Kiwe, the Afro-Colombian Community Council from La Toma and campesinos that live in nearby areas as well as representatives from other Afro-Colombian community councils and other indigenous councils. The idea is to form a common front in defense of the land and against illegal and multinational mining that threatens the River Ovejas. The event also served to show solidarity with female colleagues that participated in the ‘march of the turbans’ in November/December last year. The march of the turbans involved women from the Afro-Colombian Community Council in La Toma walking from Cauca to Bogota in order to request an effective response from the State regarding illegal mining in River Ovejas. As a result of this, various female leaders were threatened and furthermore had to leave displaced.
Images have circulated on Twitter:
Indigenous community from Caldono protest against illegal mining in favor of the River Ovejas.
In other areas support of the fight against mining was also heard:
Acabo de llegar de una minga en el norte del Cauca; aprendí más sobre el río Ovejas. Ahora grito y gritaré más fuerte:¡No a la mega minería! — paola ochoa rivera (@visosvioleta) febrero 16, 2015
I've just left the protest in the north of Cauca; I learned a lot about the River Ovejas. Now I shout and I will shout even louder: No to mega mining!
Twitter users tweeted in solidarity:
“UNIDAD indígenas/campesinos/afros!! “Minga en defensa del territorio, del río Ovejas, porque la minería está destruyendo lo que es nuestro” — Kiwe Nasa (@KiweNasa) febrero 16, 2015
‘UNITY indigenous/campesinos/Afro-Colombians!!’ ‘Protest in defense of the River Ovejas territory because mining is destroying what is ours’
The 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP20/CMP10) was held in Lima between December 1 to 12, and was chaired by the host country, Peru. During the conference, Bolivian president Evo Morales, emphatically appealed to consider climate change as a direct consequence of capitalist system and urged industrialized countries to accept the consequences of their actions:
— Noticias Indígenas (@Servindi) diciembre 9, 2014
Evo Morales urges to listen to indigenous people and to fight against capitalism during COP20.
Damián Profeta sums up the ten main points of Morales’ speech, and he highlisghts:
- ‘Hay que crear un Tribunal Internacional de Justicia Climática’ [encargada de] ‘juzgar a países que no cumplen sus compromisos y los tratados internacionales y a los que hacen mucho daño al ambiente’ [...]
- ‘Que el sistema capitalista asuma su responsabilidad en el cambio climático’ [...]
- ‘En la lucha contra el Cambio Climático los países del Norte nos han llevado a un terreno infecundo’ [...]
- ‘El medio ambiente debe ser administrado comunitariamente porque la naturaleza misma es comunitaria’
- An International Court of Climate Justice [in charge of] judging countries that don't fulfil their obligations and international treaties and those who harm environment a lot must be implemented [...]
- The capitalist systema should take responsibility on climate change [...].
- In the fight against climate change, the Northern countries have taken us to a sterile ground [...]
- Environment must be managed communally, as nature itself is communal
Some Twitter users answered reminding him his actions about the construction of a highway along the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS):
— Miguel Miranda (@MiguelMirandaBo) diciembre 9, 2014
Evo proposes community property to save the planet? OK, let's stop the highway across TIPNIS and individual property by coca growers.
The team of Coconuts TV went to south Sumatra in Indonesia to document the impact of the burning of peatlands and forests to make way for the expanding palm oil plantations. The burning of forests in Sumatra is causing the displacement of endangered species in the island; and it also creates a deadly haze that affects Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Vanuatu has suffered its worst disaster on record with the impact of Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam, with the President of Vanuatu blaming climate change for extreme weather (Guardian 16Mar2015).
…Cyclone Pam and the devastation of Vanuatu and other Pacific nations is one more step on the road to a climate agreement in Paris in December 2015.
John also speculates about Australia's contribution to foreign aid and its role at the UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in Paris later this year.
His post also has links to organisations where you can give donations for emergency relief for Vanuatu.
As a subtropical/tropical island, Taiwan usually covers with wetness and green. However, last year, there were only two typhoons, the island is now facing the worst drought in a decade.
Independent reporter Chu Shu Chuan reported that the storage of 12 major reservoirs is reduced to less than 50%, according to the Waer Resources Agency on its February 8 press release. 8 municipalities in Taiwan have started second stage water restrictions since Feb 26.
Chu's follow-up report highlighted that the storage of one of the major reservoir, the Shinmen Reservoir has dropped to 27% and the water supply of its major industrial users will be reduced by 7.5% from March 13.
If the drought cannot be eased when rains come in spring, the industrial parks in Taiwan may face the shortage of water that cannot be simply solved by adjusting the manufacturing schedules.
Illegal mining is a problem affecting the Colombian department of Santander, where residents have seen first-hand how extraction and other processes linked to mining cause pollution. The video below was produced by Corporación PODION, as part of the project “Caravan for the awareness and collection of complaints in defense of the land and the environment within the department of Santander”. It was carried out in October 2014 with the goal of highlighting different complaints and testimonies regarding the violation of environmental rights in the region:
The Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America explained the seriousness of the situation in Vélez and Landázuri in a statement:
La comunidad de estos dos municipios, se ha opuesto de manera enérgica ante el inminente deterioro de sus condiciones de vida y el grave daño ambiental que implicará la explotación de 60.000 toneladas de carbón al mes tomando 3 lt/seg de agua, lo que implica más de 93 millones de litros de agua anual, el vertimiento de 0.83 lt/seg , es decir, más de 25 millones de litros de agua contaminada vertida sobre sus territorios y, la remoción de más de 821.955 metros cúbicos de madera nativa, entre ceibas, roble y caracolí.
The community of these two municipalities has vigorously opposed the imminent deterioration of their living conditions and the serious environmental damage that the exploitation of 60,000 tonnes of coal monthly using 3 litres/sec of water will entail. This means more than 93 millions of litres of water yearly at a flow of 0.83 litres/sec. In other words, more than 25 million litres of contaminated water discharged over the land as well as the removal of more than 821, 955 cubic metres of native trees amongst which kapok, oak and cashew can be found.
Photos of the environmental damage caused by mining have circulated on Twitter:
— jhoney (@J_honey20) junio 9, 2014
ecocide in Santander, thousands of fish dead because of Hidrosogamoso
Twitter users have also expressed their disagreement with the mining developments in the region:
Imagínense esa locura. Santander es una zona inestable geológicamente y pretenden hacer minería y piscinas con cianuro. Un suicidio.
— yoligrilla (@yoligrilla) noviembre 25, 2014
Just imagine the craziness of this. Santander is a geologically unstable area and they are trying to mine and make cyanide pools there. Suicide.
Rut Abrain reflects on her blog Esturirafi about one of the main cause of climate change: the production of carbon dioxide (CO2). In this sense, the blogger stresses out that not only factories, vehicles and planes produce CO2, but also each one of un in our daily lives. To have an idea of the magnitude of the impact of our daily activities in the production of CO2, Rut suggests us to use this calculator.
Surprised? Yes, each one of us has some responsibility in climate change, and at the same time, each one of us is able to reverse that with small actions. Rut shares some advises to reduce pur production of CO2:
[...] – Reducir, reutilizar y reciclar. Esto tienes que aplicarlo en todas las facetas de tu vida: evita productos con un empaquetado excesivo, compra productos de segunda mano, separa los residuos de manera adecuada para su posterior reciclaje.
[...] – Reduce, reuse and recycle. You have to do this in all aspects of your life: avoid products with excessive packaging, purchase second hand articles, separate litter properly for further recycling.
Rut also says to reduce our “carbon footprint“:
- Ahorra energía, tanto electricidad, como gas natural, butano o gasoil.
- Compra productos locales.
- Camina, utiliza el transporte público, la bicicleta.
- Utiliza menos papel.
- Save energy, electricity, natural gas, domestic gas or diesel.
- Purchase local products.
- Walk, use public transportatipn.
- Use less paper.
The blogger ends up with a quote by Eduardo Galeano applicable to the impact these small actions have on reversing climate change:
Mucha gente pequeña en lugares pequeños, haciendo cosas pequeñas, pueden cambiar el mundo.
Too many small people in small places, making small things, can change the world.
You can follow Rut on Twitter.
As an alternative event during the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP20), with the aim of discussing solutions to reverse climate change, Lima, Peru will host another space for reflection about this issue: the Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change. Unlike COP20, this summit is made up of thousands of young people and individuals belonging to social organizations, trade unions, indigenous communities and rural groups.
The People's Summit on Climate Change defines this phenomenon as a direct consequence of the capitalist system, especially the role of providers of commodities the system has given Latin American countries.
Damián Profeta, an Argentinean journalist who is attending both events, sums up the approach of the People's Summit:
Para los participantes de la Cumbre de los Pueblos, el calentamiento global es intrínseco al sistema capitalista y la respuesta a ese problema debe ser cambiar los modos de producción y consumo. En variados discursos, los oradores apelaron a la “Madre Tierra”y repudiaron el extractivismo en los países latinoamericanos.
For People's Summit attendees, global warming is inherent to the capitalist system and the response to this problem should be changing the ways of producing and consuming. In several speeches, the lecturers appealed the “Mother Earth” and condemned the extractivie methods of the countries.
Where? Parque de la Exposición, Lima.
When? December 8-14, 2014.
For all those who won't be able to attend, you can follow the event on Facebook.