Monday, September 19, 2011

Sustainability through Environmental Protections

There are actions, petitions and struggles out there to stop this unending attack on ecosystems. Below that cut and paste actions, you'll see a piece on smallholder farmers' movements published in Down to Earth NW. But first, a few struggles going on in the environmental "community."

  • Target: President Barack Obama, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe

  • Sponsored by: Sierra Club

  • We've waited more than fifty years for this moment: to permanently protect the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness.

    The Arctic Refuge is valuable for its unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values, not its development potential. Oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge would harm the wildlife and wilderness, adding to the stress the region already faces from global warming. Once this wilderness is destroyed, it's gone forever.

    Big Oil wants to drill in the coastal plain and change this magical place forever. Take this historic opportunity to protect the wildlife and wilderness of the Arctic Refuge.


    Another one --

    Dear Citizen,

    Time is Running Out to Save Seal Pups From Toxic Fumes

    Save spotted seals and other Arctic animals

    Right now, families of seals are swimming in Arctic waters. But just like you and me, seals need to breathe and must take a break from their underwater lives to come to the surface for air.

    But imagine if instead of inhaling crisp, clean Arctic air, seal pups are forced to breathe in oil and its toxic fumes – potentially deadly poisons they can’t escape.

    Our government is about to let oil companies drill in the Arctic, endangering seals, other marine animals, and local communities who rely on a healthy Arctic Ocean. But the drilling hasn’t started yet – and we still have a chance to save seals from a slow, painful death from toxic oil.

    Tell our government you won’t let it put the lives of seal pups and other Arctic animals on the line – speak out against Arctic offshore drilling now and help us reach our goal of 30,000 signatures in the next 72 hours»

    Recently, the government approved Shell's plan for exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea. Other oil companies are hot on their heels. But the truth of the matter is that there are no proven techniques for successfully cleaning up Arctic oil spills.

    The results of an Arctic oil spill would be deadly. Spilled oil would gather in openings in the ice – the same openings that marine mammals like seals use to come up for air. Inhaling oil and its toxic fumes can slowly poison, or even kill, marine mammals. Once seals’ coats get oily, they lose their insulating powers, leaving them to freeze to death without the protection of their coats.

    Shell says they can clean up 95% of an oil spill. Not only has that never happened in an offshore oil spill, anywhere in the world, Shell has not proven their equipment will work in the Arctic. Just last month, a leak from a Shell drilling platform dumped more than 50,000 gallons in the North Sea and they cleaned up hardly a drop.

    Luckily, it isn’t a done deal yet – we still have a chance to stop drilling in American Arctic waters until Shell and other oil companies can prove without a doubt they can clean up their mess. But there is no time to waste.

    Don’t let Shell and other oil companies pull the wool over our government’s eyes – stand up for the lives of seals and other Arctic animals and help us reach our goal of 30,000 signatures in the next 72 hours»

    For the oceans,
    Tatiana Marshall


    Dear Paul,

    You made yesterday a success.

    In the months that went into planning 24 Hours of Reality, I saw firsthand the passion and energy of our Climate Presenters, staff and partners around the globe who are calling attention to the climate crisis and working to solve it.

    Yesterday, I was honored to see your passion and your energy. I can't thank you enough for making 24 Hours of Reality a global success.

    By the time our chairman, former Vice President Al Gore finished his presentation, the 24 hour long event had 8.6 million views.

    I am incredibly proud that so many people around the world participated, but it's also important to remember the individual actions it represents. There are countless stories of impressive grassroots mobilization. A company in Tel Aviv hosted a watch party at their headquarters. A group of graduate students in Athens, Georgia rented out a popular local movie theater. People across the world joined hands to say: Climate change is real, it's happening now and the time to act is now.

    But this is just the beginning. There are important actions you can take today:
    Request a presentation. There are more than 3,000 trained Climate Presenters around the globe.

    Organize an event and invite a Presenter to come to your community.
    Go local: Team up with our partners around the world and help solve the climate crisis. Visit our website to find a partner organization near you.

    Moving Planet: On September 24, hit the streets with for a global day of action. Find an activity near you.
    Check our comprehensive video library to watch highlights from 24 Hours of Reality.

    It is up to you to continue to stand up for reality and share the truth about the climate crisis. We will succeed because we must. Thank you,

    Maggie L. Fox
    President and CEO
    The Climate Reality Project


    The right to grow

    Brazilian farmworker tells crowds to unite against Big Ag
    Paul K. Haeder / Down to Earth NW Correspondent

    It might not be easy to fathom, but think 2,500 Nicklesvilles in terms of sheer numbers of displaced – landless and homeless — farmers. That was what one farmer from Brazil recently alluded at the Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair.

    Yes, the Harvest Fair in early September was phenomenal in its own rural-to-urban way. I counted two chicken coops, 80 vendors, loads of fresh produce, elfin garlands on old and young alike, children chomping on fresh peaches, a few goats, music and an overflow number of enthusiastic folk pushing through the corporate miasma that’s infected almost everything Seattle, especially our food.

    Did I mention the 80-degree weather on September 10 nourishing the activities at Meridian Park, behind the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford? Over 400 people amassed at 2 p.m. checking out urban gardening, community empowerment, talks and music.

    Even with all of those green-loving and farmer-based activities, one demure non-English speaker was in the wings, watching the goat talk/demonstration by Lacia Lynne Badley. While the permaculture connection was made by Badley and her three mixed breed goats, Janaina Stronzake was waiting for her interpreter to help her decode from Portuguese and Spanish into English, in order to share her work with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement, the largest peasant movement in Latin America with over 1.5 million members.

    It was clear to the small tent audience that listened to Janaina, articulate, with a second master’s degree almost complete, she is the real thing.

    “We were small farmers, my family and I, but we lost our land in the 1970s. In 1984 we joined the landless farm workers movement and occupied land.”

    The organization is called, MST, or more formally, Movement for the Liberation of the Landless (Movimento de Libertação dos Sem Terra, MLST), and the Land, Labor, and Liberty Movement (Movimento Terra, Trabalho e Liberdade , MTL.

    The worldwide landless farmer movement totals 2.5 million fighting for land and social justice.

    She illuminated some startling facts about Brazil –
    • the rich, 1 percent of the population, owns 46 percent of land
    • that land produces less than 30% of food consumed by Brazilians
    • 90 percent of public subsidies goes to that 1 percent

    Yet, Stronzake made it clear that 70 percent of the food produced for Brazilian consumption comes from small farms, amounting to only 24 percent of the farmland and less than 10 percent of public subsidies.

    “Why do we have to occupy lands? Why do we have to fight this system of industrial agri-business?”

    She harkened back to 1500, when Portugal “discovered” Brazil, and quickly put into place the “three pillars” of agricultural production, still used by transnational agro-businesses today:

    1. slaves
    2. monoculture for exportation back to the colonizing country
    3. plantations

    Janaina pointed out that today, those three pillars are now buttressed by a fourth and equally deadly one – genetically engineered plants, pesticides and more toxins in both the production and harvesting of crops.

    Add to that economies of scale killing ag jobs, larger and more frequent land grabs, and millions of traditional farmers pushed off land and into cities looking for work and food.

    It’s then a vicious cycle: “When the farmers aren’t eating or are under-resourced, violence ensues … impacting not just Brazil,” she said. Militaries rise, and governments become despotic.

    Think of millions of displaced farmers crossing borders because their access to water, soil and seeds has been wrested away by governments in collusion with companies like Bayer, Monsanto, Novartis, Syngenta, Cargill.

    The irony is that the impacts from industrial agriculture hit the health of communities, especially women, hard. Then this Brave New World order unfolds — the pharmaceutical company, Novartis, produces drugs that treat the cancers and depression that come from the chemicals and seeds companies like Syngenta concoct.

    Janaina committed to the Seattle Tilth Harvest Festival and later that evening with a Community Alliance for Global Justice and Grassroots International event to promote collective power and solutions to this sick agro-chemical model. The farm workers movement in Janaina’s country has occupied land and put offspring into schools and colleges.

    While farmers historically have had high levels of illiteracy and education, the movement in Brazil has put investments into educating farmers to navigate the arenas of politics, bio-intensive organic farming and community development and engagement.

    “Each city and community can implement another model,” she said. “We can together fight for food sovereignty — the right to access water, soil … to own seeds. But only together can we unite against transnational organizations and countries that support them to get to this old-new model.”

    For more about Brazil or the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement--

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