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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.

Peruvian Amazon Faces Cold Temperatures: Consequences of Climate Change

Imagen en flickr del usuario @Christianhold (CC BY 2.0).

Image on flickr by usuario @Christianhold (CC BY 2.0).

Peruvian journalist and writer Paco Bardales, comments with other colleagues the waves of cold weather, or friajes, that recently affected usually hot Iquitos. These weather phenomena have gone from sporadic, as the group remembers from their childhood, to more frequent and longer lasting, so much that the state agency Meteorology and Hydrology Service (Senahmi, according to its name in Spanish) has decided to issue cold weather alerts for the cities located in Peruvian Amazonic regions. On the conversation, the group reflects that these frsots are due to climate change. Is this so? No doubt about it. Man has influenced in this change, and even Andean and Amazon communities are not to blame, they suffer from floodings, diseases, and all other consequence affecting their health and environment.

El impacto de la contaminación y los daños al ambiente sin duda han ido afectando las temperaturas. El Perú es considerado como uno de los países más vulnerables ante los impactos del cambio climático. Según estimaciones del MEF, los posibles daños económicos causados por este aspecto podrían llegar hasta los diez mil millones de dólares de aquí al año 2025.

The impact on contamination and damages to environment have undoubtedly been affecting temperatures. Peru is considered one of the most vulnerables countries to the impact of climate change. According to tne Ministry of Economy estimates, potential economic damages caused due to these changes could reach ten thousand million US dollars from now to year 2025.

National and international entites aim to create awareness and inform. One of the main actions are workshops about Conference of the Parties about about Climate Change (COP-20). And as Paco says:

La preocupación resulta importante, pues, al fin y al cabo, la Amazonía será fundamental en la mitigación del cambio climático. Ojalá no sea tarde para nosotros mismos.

Concern becomes important, as, after all, the Amazon region will be fundamental on mitigating climate change. Hopefully, it's not too late for ourselves.

Film Shows How a Malaysian Tribe is Stopping Loggers from Destroying their Land

selungoSunset Over Selungo is a 30-minute film documenting how the indigenous Penan tribe is defending the remaining rainforest of Borneo island in Malaysia. Borneo is the largest island in Asia. The film was made by independent British filmmaker Ross Harrison

#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.

Video Animation Explains How Principle of “Free Prior and Informed Consent” Can Empower Indigenous Peoples

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact has uploaded a video animation explaining the principle of “Free prior and informed consent” or how communities should have the right to decide for the development of their lands.

Will Trinidad & Tobago's Government “Listen, Learn & Lead”?

Blogger and public relations professional Dennise Demming is disillusioned with Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who claims to “listen, learn and lead”, but then takes action to the contrary. Demming first cited the example of the country's recent Constitutional Amendment Bill, with which, “despite popular objection, the Government manoeuvred their way and got the Independent bench to support this unpopular change to the constitution.”

Now, she wonders why the government has not listened, learned and led when it comes to the Highway Re-Route Movement. Environmentalist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh has undertaken a second hunger strike in protest over a portion of proposed highway that will displace a community and could also have a negative environmental impact. Amidst ongoing construction work on the highway, the Prime Minister has, thus far, refused to meet with Kublalsingh to discuss alternative routes. Demming says:

Re-routing the highway is a reasonable request by a credible group of activists which has come together under the leadership of the PM’s one time friend Dr. Wayne Khublalsingh. I salute this man who is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the environment. No matter how this hunger strike ends, his blood is staining the hands of each member of the PP [People's Partnership] Government.

Industrial Pollution Kills Hundreds of Wild Birds in Inner Mongolia

More than 500 dead wild water birds appeared in the lake areas of Inner Mongolia since this summer as a result of water pollution. The poisonous water, as reported by local herdsmen, came from factories from a nearby eco-industrial area. Annie Lee from China Hush wrote a photo feature on the situation.

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