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VIDEO: How Palm Oil is Causing Environmental Destruction in Indonesia

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.

Video: Amazon Indigenous Tribe Protests Hydroelectric Dam Construction

Indigenous people from the Munduruku ethnic group are fighting against the construction of the São Luiz do Tapajós dam in the state of Pará, Brazil. The dam will mean the flooding of 700,000 km2 in their homeland.

The Brazilian Federal Government plans to build up to five dams in the Tapajós River, where dozens of indigenous communities live. Together with São Luiz do Tapajós, the Jatobá dam was due to begin construction in 2015, but socio-environmental difficulties may have postponed that deadline to at least 2020. The two dams will cost together US$7 billion.

The Munduruku claim they have not been consulted about the project. For years, the Munduruku people from the Sawré Maybu community, which will be directly affected by the construction of São Luiz do Tapajós dam, have pressured the federal government to demarcate their lands. The demarcation would create a legal obstacle for the continuation of the dam's project.

A documentary about the issue was produced by videomaker Nayana Fernandez.

UPDATE 09/12/2014: Together with other organizations, Nayana Fernandez has launched a crowfunding campaign to help the Munduruku pressure the government to demarcate their territory, officialize two associations, build a website and translate and dub the documentary into their native language (most Mundurku people do not speak Portuguese). Supporters can contribute with a minimum of US$10. 

Do You Know What Sustainable Fashion Is?

After watching Sweatshop TV series, where three Norwegian youngsters travel to Cambodia to discover the miserable living conditions of garment industry workers, Rut Abrain reflects on sustainable fashion.

Sustainable garments are those that take care of the environment on the electing their raw materials and their manufacturing processes. Likewise, those that respect human rights of individuals involved in the manufacturing and promote a fair international trade, without unfair competition. Rut invites us to reflect on responible use and explains thatl although there is mo regulation for sustainable fashion, there are seals that certify it:

- El más reconocido es GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), la norma líder mundial en el procesamiento de textiles hechos con fibra orgánica, que incluye criterios ecológicos y sociales, y sustentada por certificaciones independientes en toda la cadena de provisión textil.

- Otros como Textile Exchange, también conocido como Organic Exchange, que opera a nivel internacional y está comprometido con la expansión responsable de sostenibilidad textil.

- Un tercer sello es Oeko-tex, que se dedica al control de las sustancias nocivas. Se definen como un sello de garantía para todo tipo de productos textiles inocuos para la salud.

- The best known is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), world leader standard in organic fabric processing, that includes ecologic and social critera, supported by independent certifications all along the textiles supply chain.
- Others such as Textile Exchange, also known as Organic Exchange, that operates internationally and it's commited with responsible expansion of textile sustaintability.
- A third seal is Oeko-tex, in charge of damaging sustances. They are defined as a seal of guarantee for all harmless textile product.

You can follow Rut Abrain on Twitter.

This post was part of the twenty eighth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 10, 2014.

#ThrowAwayYourGum, Recycling Initiative in Argentina

In some streets of the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, pink boxes have appeared specially for bubble gum to keep public spaces clean. The gum collected can be recycled in items such as rubber boots and sandals, among other things.

On Twitter, some users thought the initiative was a good idea, while others were skeptical:

Each day we throw away 650,000 pieces of gum on the ground in Buenos Aires. Now you have the bins to throw them in there!

A very good idea. #sustainable #recycling #BuenosAires #ThrowAwayYourGum #IHadToTweetIt

#Throwawayyourgum and put it in! Will they last? I doubt it. We'll see, we'll see.

A Mouse Amidst the Mist

First thing in the morning, amidst the mist that populates the waves in the township of Guetaría, a typical fishing village in the shores of Guipuzkoa (Basque Country), we can discern the shape of Mount of San Antón, which as we can see on J. G. del Sol Cobos in this image from this group blog, resembles a mouse. All along the rough way up, we have one of the best sights of the Basque Country. There is even a lighthouse on top that integrates the landscape and makes us think of the traditional lifestyle in this area of Northern Iberian Peninsula.

This so well-known shape in Guetaría connects through a tombolo (branch that gets two parts together) with solid ground, and from different point of view will look as the tail of a rodent.

Image by of the Guetaria Mouse from Zarauz, Guipuzkoa, Spain.

After some research about the history of this natural park surrounded by the Cantabrian sea, we know that until the 16th century it was an island. Today, it's a famous spot in Guipuzkoa, where we can find plants and trees as native as exotic, besides a fantastic panoramic view of the coastline.

You can follow J. G. del Sol Cobos on Twitter.

This post was part of the twenty sixth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on october 27, 2014.

Lima Offers a Space for Reflection on Climate Change With the People's Summit

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.

Fotografía de la Cumbre de los Pueblos frente al Cambio Climático, extraída del sitio Claves 21, utilizada con autorización

Image of Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change, taken from site Claves 21, used with permission.

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.

The schedule of the summit includes lectures, conferences and activities, and there is also a community radio and a local manufacturer fair.

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.

Do You Read Ecolabels When Shopping?

Rut Abrain Sanchez on her blog Esturirafi defines and identifies legal and volunteer product labels. Among the latter we find ecologic labels, “so manufacturers show us they are abiding by a series of requirements and for the consumer to be able to identify products environmentally more sustainable”.

There are Type I, Semi-type I, Type II and Type III ecolables. Abrain Sanchez mentions the first two of them, the most common:

Ecoetiquetas (Tipo I). Son sistemas voluntarios de etiquetado ambiental que identifican y certifican de forma oficial que los productos que la llevan tienen un menor efecto sobre el medio ambiente.

A nivel europeo existen sistemas nacionales de ecoetiquetado como el Ángel Azul de Alemania, AENOR Medio Ambiente de España o la Etiqueta Ecológica Europea (conocida como flor europea).

Etiquetado semi-tipo I. Estas ecoetiquetas suelen pertenecer a organizaciones sociales, asociaciones sectoriales, agrupaciones de empresas fabricantes, etc. cuyo principal objetivo es conseguir que la mayor cantidad de productos posibles se certifiquen bajo su sistema, para lograr el mayor reconocimiento posible por parte de los consumidores.

Dentro de este tipo se encuentran las etiquetas de agricultura ecológica, pesca sostenible, consumo energético, uso de madera (FSC, PEFC), productos textiles… Las que solemos encontrar en muchos productos que compramos a diario. A partir de hoy te vas a fijar mucho más :-)

Ecolabels (Type I). a volunteer system of environmental labelling that officially identifies and certifiies that products bearing it have a lesser effect on the environment.

In Europe, there are ecolabelling national systems, such as Blue Angel in Germany, AENOR Environment in Spain or Ecologic Label (known as European flower).

Semi-type I label. These ecolabels usually belong to social organizations, sectorial associations, groups of manufacturing firms, etc. with the aim of having the most possible products certified under this system, to achieve that most consumers recognize the products.

This type contains labels from ecologic farming, sustainable fishing, energetic use, wood (FSC, PEFC), textile products… We find these labels in many products we purchase on a daily basis. From now on, you'll sure look more in depth at labels :-)

Rut has been previoulsy quoted here. Her social networks are Twitter, G+ and Flickr.

This post was part of the thirtieth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 24, 2014.

VIDEO: How a Laos Dam Project Could Endanger Communities in Cambodia

EarthRights International has uploaded a video about the threat posed by a mega dam construction in Laos to communities situated along the Mekong River in Cambodia. Laos and Cambodia are neighbors in the Southeast Asian region.

What is Your Carbon Footprint?

Image from blog Esturirafi. Used with permission.

Today it is becoming increasingly common to hear about climate change, a topic everybody talks about but are rarely aware of its real impact. We've heard many times that we are all contributing to the destruction of the planet, but how can we know the footprint we are leaving behind? This is the question that Ruth Abrain Sanchez asks on her blog:

Para qué sirve

A nivel personal: para saber cuál es tu impacto sobre el medio ambiente. Por ejemplo, si consumes mucha electricidad y vas siempre en coche tu huella será alta. Es una manera situarnos en la escala eco-friendly :-)

What is this for

On a personal level: to know what is the impact on the environment. For instance, if you consume to much electricity and always go on car, your footprint will be very high. It's a way to place ourselves on the eco-friendly scale :-)

In this eco-blog, we see some guidelines to calculate our carbon footprint (CO2 produced all along our life) and become as eco-friendly as possible.

As the blogger tells us, we only need three steps to get to the result: the first would be gathering data, such as electricity, water, gas, etc. We go on looking for the factors, that is, to know the total CO2 per consumption, and finally, a calculation with this formula: Carbon footprint = Amount x Release factor.

With this simple yet useful information we come closer to the environment, aware of the damage we cause, and can try to reduce them as much as possible.

You can follow Ruth Abrain on Twitter.

This post was part of the twenty-sixth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on October 27, 2014.

Hirotan Forest, an Increasingly Rare ‘Satoyama’ School Connecting Rural Japanese Kids to Nature

生まれて初めてのこぎりで竹を切り、手作りした装置や食器を使って流しそうめん体験。外で食べるそうめんの味は最高! 撮影は2014年8月2日、SanoRieによる。使用許可済み。

Children are being taught how to make use of an abundent satoyama resource, bamboo. Bamboo can be used for tools, food, or in this case, a sluice for slurping noodles in the summertime (eating noodles outside in summer is always fun). Photo taken in August 2014. Image credit: SanoRie.

A satoyama school in rural Toyama Prefecture Japan's Hokuriku “north lands” that was closed down earlier this spring has been given new life.

Satoyama is a term rich with meaning in Japan, and broadly refers to an intensively cultivated land that blends in with the surrounding environment. Much of rural Japan was once such satoyama, where wet rice cultivation not only depended on clean water flowing from the surrounding hills, but the rice fields played a keystone role in supporting a rich, vibrant ecosystem.

A satoyama school, then, resided at the heart of a community, serving as a method for transferring important lessons about land stewardship to future generations who would continue to live in and help sustain the satoyama. As Japan's rural population declines, over the past two decades these schools have continued to shut down.

In the case of the Toyama school, a group of local parents, caregivers and other volunteers have resurrected the school and have called it Hirotan No Mori, or Hirotan Forest. The repurposed school, now a community NGO, posts photos and information about classes and events on their Facebook page.

The purpose of Hirotan Forest is to provide local children of all ages the opportunity to experience nature. The school is located about 30 minutes by car from the small rural city of Takaoka in Toyama, quite close to the Japan Sea coast.

Hirotan Forest gives kids a chance to experience the traditional pursuits of rural kids: digging up bamboo shoots, gathering to watch fireflies in June, and making traditional crafts out of bamboo. In November there are plans to give children the opportunity to build a treehouse in the forest.

The idea is to teach children about rural traditions while allowing them to experience a deeper connection with the natural world. The hope is to pass on methods of living within and protect their satoyama and at the same time learn how to enjoy both working and passing time in the surrounding forest.

Ultimately, the satoyama school and Hirotan Forest are also all about preserving a way of life that is vanishing in the rest of Japan as the population ages.

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