Monday, November 7, 2011

Seven Billion, and the One-percenters are Counting on Collapse, Oddly enough

After three children, Filipino mother Gina Judilla tried to induce abortion, but failed. She can't get birth control. (IHT)

Cross-posted with permission from the Guttmacher Institute.

This fall, world population will reach 7 billion people at a time of accelerated environmental disruption. This article is part of a series commissioned by RH Reality Check to examine the causes and consequences of population and environmental change from various perspectives and the policies and actions needed to both avoid and mitigate the inevitable impacts of these changes.

Women  & BC --

According to the United Nations, the world’s population will reach seven billion later this year and, if current trends continue, will rise to more than nine billion by the middle of this century.1 This new population milestone—and the projection—prompt renewed debates about the balance between population size and consumption of natural resources, about age structure and political stability, and about the consequences of rapid population growth rates for poor countries’ ability to develop economically.

These relationships and others pertaining to population size and the rate of population growth are complex and their implications often controversial. To a large extent, however, these macro-level dilemmas reflect a micro-level problem about which there is a universal consensus and where the solution is relatively straightforward. Millions of women and couples, especially in the developing world, are still unable to control for themselves the timing, spacing and total number of their children. Recognition of this fact provides a road map for moving forward that can address the needs of the people and the planet at the same time.

That path forward must include a central focus on increasing access and eliminating barriers to voluntary contraceptive services. Responding directly to individual people’s needs and desires to determine for themselves whether and when to have a child will contribute significantly toward their ability to lead healthier, more productive lives. In turn, these benefits for individuals and families accrue to their communities and to society at large. Ultimately, the impact would be felt at the global level. Meeting the stated desires of all women around the world to space or limit births would result in the world’s population peaking within the next few decades—and then actually starting to decline.

All of the articles in this series can be found here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stoppping Science in its Tracks -- Presidential Hopefuls Lack Skills to Understand Science, Sustainability

While presidential hopefuls from the Rotten Tomatoes leagues -- Republican candidates, Tea Bag Party, Cain, Koch-supported anything -- take shots at EPA, anything tied to environmental sustainability, and science in general, and the record profits of Exxon and other energy companies splash on the news headlines, we have real issues to fight onward for.

Arctic --

Dear Friend,
Right now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking for your input on a plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that, for the first time, could recommend Wilderness protection for the Arctic Refuge's Coastal Plain — the Refuge's biological epicenter that has been in Big Oil's sights for decades.  This plan will guide how the Arctic Refuge will be managed for the next 15 years or more.

A Wilderness recommendation could protect this unparalleled area and the abundant wildlife that depends on it— including polar bears, musk oxen, caribou, and millions of birds from around the globe. But to make sure the final version of the Fish and Wildlife Service's plan includes a Wilderness recommendation,  we must demonstrate overwhelming support for protecting the Refuge's Coastal Plain. If we speak with a loud and united voice, we'll be sending a strong message that the Fish and Wildlife Service can't ignore.

Will you speak up for the Arctic Refuge? Please sign our letter to Secretary Salazar and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

There are some places in this country that define what it means to be American — the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska is one of those places. For the past 50 years our country has remained committed to protecting one of our last wild places.  Some places are just too extraordinary to drill, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of them.

This year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make some big decisions about the future of the Arctic Refuge. If we all speak out, we can make sure that those decisions offer the critical Coastal Plain the strongest possible protections from Big Oil and harmful development.

Please sign our letter to Secretary Salazar and the Fish and Wildlife Service, and speak out for this national treasure.

Thanks for all you do,

Cindy Shogan
Executive Director
Alaska Wilderness League
Western Australia --

Monday, October 31, 2011

Peter Ward's Under a Green Sky Elegantly Traces the Real Cause of Dinosaur Extinction

....And the UW professor is hitting the headlines with some comments concerning this bizarre back-slapping self-congratulatory crap that the world is all rosy and sustainable now that "we hit only 7 billion humans" only Halloween, 2011, no less.

We seem to have one movement now that is relevant -- how the 1 percent of the globe is pushing its consumer cart and energy-sucking ways and capital-grubbing mentality over the cliff, with the 99 percenters attempting to wrest back community, democracy, control of the village that it is to raise a village. Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Towns/Occupy Colleges, et al, will persist unfortunately on one hand because more are joining the ranks of the 17 percent unemployed, and, fortunately, there is no other option than to camp out, dialogue and build the movement to tar and feather corporations and CEO devils.

National Geographic, in all its mainstream and sometimes reactionary glory, has a year-long series on the 7 billion person gambit -- check it out:

There's even an app at National Geographic for population countdown to load on those unnecessary "dumb-down" phones.

In the meantime, in the Evergreen State, the incompetent administrators and bureaucrats have gone forward with another 15 percent cut to the future of this generation and others: these overpaid bloated administrative class are finding more faculty to cut from colleges, finding more programs to diminish, finding more affective education to put on the chopping block and on the posts for the whipping boy mentality those who ascribe to the propaganda-laden Waiting for Superman (a pro-for-profit in PK-12 education movie made by the idiot who gave us Gore and Inconvenient Truth) to whip up fury from the one-percenters and their ignorant minions in the Republican, Democratic and Tea Bag cults to attack independent science and independent education.

Funny thing is that Peter Ward, at UW, now a 150-year old, a lumpy state land grant college looking to attract Asian students for the 3 times the tuition they garner while pushing out domestic students, would be on the chopping block if he was a young whipper snapper, barely starting his shaky tenure process (tenure is on the chopping block too).

So, Ward's green sky is all about the agnotology in paleontology whereby the meteor impact theory tied to extinction on earth of 90 percent of all species has been propped up by a gullible media, disarrayed academic collection of disciplines. Read the book and see how we now are pushing back that media hype of a giant ball of ice killing everything. Think climate change -- bubbling up basalt fields, oceans switching off and flushing into a current and deep water fury, and microorganisms hissing up methane and hydrogen sulfide from Davey Jones locker. It's a great piece of writing, the book. 

National Geographic preface:

Population is a complicated topic. With the worldwide population slated to top 7 billion in 2011, we decided it was one we needed to tackle. But we wanted to do it in a way that gives readers room to think. We spread out our coverage over a year, with articles that take deep dives into specific issues—demographics, food security, climate change, fertility trends, managing biodiversity—
that relate to global population. Our reporting is collected here

From Alternet, Scott Thill's piece TODAY --

10 billion or more expected to stress the planet's already overweight system by 2100.

"Let's assume the average weight, or mass, of a human is 50 kilograms, or 120 pounds," University of Washington paleontologist and The Flooded Earth author Peter Ward told AlterNet. "That takes into account all the fat men, and all the kids, so it's a ballpark figure. That means 350 billion kilograms, or 770 billion pounds, of humanity on the planet. I wonder if this is the highest mass of any chordate on Earth. Only rats might weigh more of all natural populations."

But even rats have the good sense to abandon a sinking ship. Not so for humanity, whose resource wars have created a hyperreal dragnet that has caught up everything from mass-media distractions like Herman Cain and Mommar Gaddafi to worthy insurgencies like Occupy Wall Street. As those stories, for better or worse, dominated the news cycle, British Petroleum was quietly freed to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after turning it into a marine nightmare since 2010. Exxon Mobil posted a $31 billion profit on the year thanks to billions in groundless government subsidies. American rivers and streams have become hypersaturated with carbon dioxide, and Arctic sea ice has become as thin as the United States is fat in the gut and head. Environmentalists and other concerned parties can be forgiven for not breaking out the bubbly because the planet has managed to spawn seven billion souls with increased life expectancy, thanks to miracles of science and industry. Because in the scariest scenario, that same science and industry could doom most, and perhaps even all, of us.

"Seven billion is not a time for unbridled celebration," cautioned Bill Ryerson, fellow at the Post-Carbon Institute and president of Population Media Center and The Population Institute. "It must be a catalyst for people, leaders and advocates regarding the steps we need to take to achieve sustainability."

NOTE -- Anything tied to discussing population planning -- think about maintaining birth control on the one-percenters

From Alternet --

"Slowing population growth would not only help to avert these challenges, but also aligns with women's own wishes," explained UC Berkeley School of Public Health lecturer Martha Campbell, "Globally, there are about 80 million unintended pregnancies each year, and 40 million induced abortions, most conducted in unsafe, painful and dangerous ways. Surveys have shown that over 200 million women do not want to become pregnant, but are not using modern contraception."

"Emission of carbon dioxide per year is equal to the product of four quantities: population, wealth per person, amount of energy required per year to generate this wealth and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of energy generated," Michael Schlesinger, atmospheric sciences professor and director of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Climate Research Group, told AlterNet. "Although the latter two quantities are projected to decrease during this century, the carbon dioxide emission per year is projected to increase. The cause of this increase is the projected increase in human population from seven billion now, to nine billion in 2050 and perhaps 12 billion in 2100. Reducing this carbon dioxide emission would be greatly enabled by reducing population growth, help safeguard Earth's climate and reduce the level of poverty in the world. A win-win solution."

Schlesinger and colleagues Michael Ring, Daniela Linder and Emily Cross have submitted a plan to the journal Climatic Change to mitigate, reduce and zero out greenhouse-gas emissions by 2065. They are hoping that COP 17, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban this November, takes notice. But their plan, and all of those from similarly concerned scientists around the world, simply cannot be efficiently executed if population growth continues to exponentially replicate. Solutions are everything this late in the game, and there are no solutions if increasing billions whittle the planet's natural bounty and biodiversity down to the bone.

"If we don't reduce our collective resource use, move concretely towards environmentally sustainable practices both in our households and countries, and pay serious attention to global population stabilization, we will have an imbalance," said Ryerson. "We've already crossed the threshold."

Monday, October 10, 2011

What Would Steve Jobs Say about OWS -- Occupy Wall Street?

Edison? Ford. The innovator of today's cool computerized world of music downlads, the iPod and iPad.

Dead at 56, Steve Jobs, and the witty obituaries -- Read Jobs backing of using LSD, and how Bill Gates should have dropped a few tabs!

One of the most meaningful to us at The Fix was what he said in a commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, a year after his cancer diagnosis:

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.…Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."

But equally suggestive, at least to us, is a quote from Steve Jobs to New York Times reporter John Markoff, who interviewed him for his 2005 book What the Doormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer. Speaking about his youthful experiments with psychedelics, Jobs said, "Doing LSD was one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life." He was hardly alone among computer scientists in his appreciation of hallucinogenics and their capacity to liberate human thought from the prison of the mind. Jobs even let drop that Microsoft's Bill Gates would "be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once." Apple's mantra was"Think different." Jobs did. And he credited his use of LSD as a major reason for his success.

Read more:

What Do Steve Jobs' Obituaries Leave Out? His Appreciation for LSD

Apple's legendary co-founder Steve Jobs said acid was one of the most important things he did in his life.
October 7, 2011 |
Want to get the latest on America's drug & rehab culture? Sign up for The Fix's newsletter here.


Occupy Wall Street Hitting Critical Mass on Columbus Day... And Can Only Get Bigger

It's Columbus Day, which means many Americans, including students, have the day off—which means Occupy Wall Street is expecting a swell of numbers today. And after Paul Krugman's awesome column in the Times yesterday, a must read,

Plutocrats React to OWS: Krugman Calls it Panic

The Pundit-Elite Class is besides themselves, trying to figure out how to put this Citizen's Action genie back in its bottle ... and so they just keep doing what they do best -- lie, censor, obscure, mis-construe. And above all, shift the debate ... redirect those Citizen advocate spotlights ... to anywhere, but on them.

Panic of the Plutocrats
by Paul Krugman, NYTimes -- October 9, 2011
Nonetheless, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced “mobs” and “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” The G.O.P. presidential candidates have weighed in, with Mitt Romney accusing the protesters of waging “class warfare,” while Herman Cain calls them “anti-American.” My favorite, however, is Senator Rand Paul, who for some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads, because they believe rich people don’t deserve to have them.
The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favorreact with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.
They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whoseaftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees -- basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.

And what they are Panicking about most of all -- is that bright light will finally uncover, the "rigged game" they've been scamming us with, all along ...
They're panicked that we may discover their hypocrisy for calling us "Mobs" while previously issuing Congressional "Resolutions of Thanks" for similar Tea Party demonstrations:

....[cont.]'s not inconceivable that the crowds will contain a reader or two who wasn't planning on heading to the protest before reading it.

Many noted over the weekend that the tide was turning for OWS, at least in the mainstream media... that publications which refused to acknowledge the movement at its start were now publishing several stories a day about it, and positive ones at that. Here's a good example: CBS, that bastion of middle-of-the-roadness, has published an article on its website entitled "Occupy Wall Street's Drumbeat Grows Louder":

On "The Early Show" Monday, Former Senator Russell Feingold, D-Wis., said of the protests spreading across the country, "I'm not just pleased about it, I'm excited about it."

He reflected on the pro-labor demonstrations in Wisconsin earlier this year that were sparked by the governor's fight to take away collective bargaining rights from public sector workers in his state. "We did it here, and I think this is going to happen all over the country," Feingold said, "because people have been kicked when they are down, over and over again. You can only kick people so long before they react.

"This is time now for accountability, and this is a good way to show people how strongly we feel. The working people of this country have been treated very brutally and it has to change."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Environmental News -- Tar, Seals, Arctic, More

So, 10 years of Aghan War -- $1.2 million per grunt on the ground for a year's worth of failure. Nobel Prize gives award to 4 great women. AOccupy Wall Street surges. Occupy Colleges comes on strong. Occupy Seattle, Spokane! Here is a quick update not on those great stories, news breaking stories like the Chilean students, in the tens of thousands, being fire hose sprayed by the flagging vanguard in Santiago. Fed up? You bet. Occupy Wall Street, here in Seattle, elsewhere, is a movement spurred by tech savvy folk. The powers that be are scared. But some environment news first, today.

Seal pups rely on their warm insulating fur to keep them warm in Arctic waters.

But when that fur is covered in oil, it loses its ability to insulate – and even seals can freeze to death.
Right now our government is opening up the Arctic to oil companies – even though there is no proven way to clean up an oil spill in icy conditions. That’s why we have to stop this drilling before it starts, but we don’t have much time left.

We only have until midnight. Don’t let seals freeze to death – help keep oil off seals and out of Arctic waters.

Drilling in the Arctic Ocean is a huge gamble, with thousands of seals, other marine animals, and vibrant coastal communities on the line. Even in the best conditions, like those in the Gulf of Mexico – calm weather, warm water, and nearby response teams – cleaning up spilled oil is risky, dangerous, and imprecise. Only about 10% of the oil was recovered in the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year, and Arctic conditions are, to put it mildly, less than ideal.

Oil booms don't work in ice. Once oil is spilled, it will spread and stay – in the middle of the homes of seals and other Arctic animals – for a very long time.

That’s why we are fighting to keep oil from being spilled in the first place. We have just until midnight to raise the money we need to keep up this critical fight and work to protect our oceans by:

Fighting the expansion of offshore drilling into the fragile Arctic Ocean in court.

Reaching thousands more activists to put pressure on government regulators to make the right decisions.

Demanding that our government require tested and proven oil spill response plans and not just take the word of oil companies that they can clean up an Arctic spill.

Working with local native communities to document traditional knowledge and combine it with scientific information to map special areas at risk.

Seal pups are relying on us to keep oil out of their homes. You could make a huge difference in the future of our oceans.

TAR SANDS XL Pipeline FEEDS Climate Change, Billionaire Koch-habit

Alberta’s Tar Sands: One of the Most Destructive Projects on Earth

One of the Most Destructive Projects on Earth

Located beneath 4.3 million hectares of boreal forest, an area the size of Florida, the tar sands are the dirtiest source of oil in the world. Few Canadians know what is happening in northern Alberta. While many may know about Alberta’s immense oil reserves in the tar sands (2nd only to Saudi Arabia) few know the environmental and social devastation that is taking place.The tar sands could destroy over 149,000 square kilometres or Boreal forest an area the size of Florida. By 2020 they are expected to emit more than 141 million tonnes of greenhouse gases – more than double that currently produced by all the cars and trucks in Canada and Alberta is now home to the world’s largest dam and it is built to hold the toxic waste from just one Tar Sands operation.The tar sands of Alberta are now the world’s largest industrial operation. Because of their sheer scale, all Canadians have become hostage to their development. Instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Canada is quickly increasing them and fully half of that emissions growth is projected to come from the Tar Sands.This is just beginning. The Alberta government has already given approvals that will double the size of existing operations, and has been talking with the US government to grow the Tar Sands five-fold in a “short time span” looking to move from 1 million barrels of oil per day to over 5 million The Tar Sands are now the biggest capital project anywhere on Earth and the biggest energy undertaking anywhere.With the Tar Sands, Canada has become the world’s dirty energy superpower.
A few quick facts:

• The Tar Sands can single handedly prevent Canada from meeting it’s international obligations under the Kyoto protocol. By 2020 the tar sands are expected to release over 141 megatonnes of GHG – twice that produced by all the cars and trucks in Canada.

• An area the size of the state of Florida (149,000 km2) can be leased to oil sands development in the future.

• It takes 3-5 barrels of fresh water to get a single barrel of oil from the tar sands. 350 million cubic metres is the volume of water currently allocated to the tar sands, the equivalent to the water required by a city of two million people.

• Cumulatively, the environmental impact of the tar sands has made Alberta the industrial air pollution capital of Canada, with one billion kilograms of emissions in 2003.

• 600 million cubic feet of Natural gas is used every day – that’s enough to heat more than three million Canadian homes.

• First Nation communities downstream of tar sands operation have been experiencing unprecedented rates of bile and colon cancer, lupus and other diseased that they believe are attributable to tar sands.

• 70% of the crude oil being extracted from the tar sands is exported directly to the United States mostly for use in transportation.

Across the country, individual Canadians are taking action to fight climate change. Most provincial governments – other than Alberta – have begun to meaningfully respond. But every step forward is undermined by ever larger greenhouse gas emissions from the Tar Sands. If we care about our planet or our future we need to STOP THE TARSANDS.

Arrests Made and Thousands More Expected in DC as Protests Grow to Block Tar Sands Pipeline

At stake is what has quickly become the largest environmental test for President Obama before the 2012 election.

Why the Tar Sands Pipeline Will Be Game Over for Our Planet

The country's leading climatologist talks about why he was arrested at the Tar Sands protests in DC and what the pipeline will mean for our future.

Tar Sands Action organized a civil disobedience sit–in at The White House to oppose construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that began on August 20 and will culminate in a big rally on September 3rd. On August 29 I joined 60 religious leaders and other fellow protestors. I was arrested that day. But before I was handcuffed, I addressed fellow activists who had gathered outside The White House with these words:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Spokane Lost a River and Sustainability Advocate, Lawyer -- His Voice is in Us All

Mike Chappell, who worked at Gonzaga running the environmental law clinic, died recently. Here are some decent eulogies on him --

Published on September 14, 2011

Halfway through what has been an incredibly difficult week I reflect on one of my biggest inspirations and share stories, links and quotes from those he touched


Mike Chappell, the visionary lawyer and environmentalist who helped breathe life into the Spokane Riverkeeper program, dies suddenly.


Writer suggests environmental advocates ‘think like eco-systems’

By Paul K. Haeder

I had all sorts of thoughts swirling in my head while listening to Frances Moore Lappe, author of 1971’s book, “Diet for a Small Planet.”

Here, she discussed how she thinks people’s sense of powerlessness is the real dilemma facing us, not climate chaos, not six species going extinct daily, and not global hunger affecting billions.

Lappe’s backdrop at Seattle’s Town Hall lecture earlier this month was the quote, “Hope is not what we find in evidence. It is what we become in action.” I’ve been really pondering the question of life and death, after the recent passing of 44-year-old Mike Chappell, Gonzaga environmental lawyer.

I’d seen Frances’ daughter, Anna Lappe, at Spokane Community College in April 2010 as part of the Spokane Earth Day lead-up in conjunction with Get Lit! A day later I spoke with Mike about the pressing issues of the environmental movement under President Obama, a disarrayed Democratic party and recalcitrant Republican gang under the thumb of a tea party.

Mike’s message to me in 2010 was both pessimism and also confidence that solutions already figured out and yet to be uncovered would be the leading edge of change if only young people could get ahold of individual and collective power and will. Mike was blown away Spokane was so engaged, literary and environmentally speaking.

Mike represents the goodness of hard environmental work drenched in a healthy dose of hope and skepticism.

Lappe’s dominant message was positive, AFTER, citing how out of balance, or mal-aligned with nature, our world has become. She reiterated that for every one of our representatives, corporations and special interests own two dozen lobbyists.

Then there’s the 2005 Citi Bank memo to investors proclaiming America as a plutocracy, and that the top 1 percent of our population controlling the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90 percent is a thing of glory.

Lappe was in Bellingham and Seattle for the launch of her new book, “Eco Mind: The World We Want,” and her controlling theme is steeped in neuro-psychology, cultural framing and what she calls “thought traps.”

From Eric Fromm to Adam Smith to Wangari Mathai, Lappe is steeped in a globalist viewpoint, looking now — after 20 books — at how we need these “thought leaps,” that even the hard earnest work of environmentalists needs to be stripped of the “thought trap” of “we’ve hit our ecological limits.”

“This puts the blame on nature,” she says of environmentalists who drill the message of scarcity as a dominant theme. “This focus on quantities, on things humanity needs, puts the blame on nature.”

Her talk was splashed with studies and factoids she used to try to break apart that mind trap. How some studies say that up to 80 percent of all energy generated in this country is wasted, and that more than 50 percent of food grown here is thrown away. Adding to the food analogy, she pressed that 40 percent of calories consumed by youth are empty calories.

She pressed that we are at a moment when the eco-mind is aligning with nature’s collective and holistic cycles. While we have the backdrop of extreme concentration of power, lack of transparency and the blame game, Lappe continually imparted how “blown away” she has become over the past few years witnessing how powerlessness is being replaced with collective will and action.

Smallholder farmers worldwide still account for 70 percent of the food produced. Niger has re-greened 12.5 million acres with 200 million trees. The president of that country put it wisely: “We stopped the desert and everything changed.”

The United Nations Agro-forestry group has recently stated one-third of the world’s carbon pollution could be dealt with through reforesting programs.

Lappe’s message ended with a critique of the trap that says “it’s too late to avoid suffering … with climate change … and a billion people going hungry.”

“Solutions to global crises are within reach,” she said. “Our challenge is to free ourselves from self-defeating thought traps so we can bring these solutions to life.”

This idea of fear causing us to fight or flee must be expunged, Lappe says, to be replaced with the idea that fear is a type of power to inspire.

“When I met Wangari Maathai on the first Earth Day in 1970, she was planting seven trees in Kenya as a tribute to seven environmentalists,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, isn’t that nice.’ I gave her little chance of accomplishing much. Through her work, Wangari has planted 40 million trees in Kenya and won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2004.”

It’s about imagining a world outside our frames and contexts. To learn how to walk with fear and use fear as a prod, a reminder that we are collectively in this struggle.

As Lappe reminded us that powerlessness and futility end up in depression and inaction, that there are 50 percent more suicides globally than homicides, she made it clear that there are more cooperatives in the world than corporate thugs.

Mike would have smiled at Frances Moore Lappe’s message that we have to think and act like an ecosystem:

“What is ecology but the science of relationships? If we look through an ecological lens we can see the core lessons that all organisms including human organisms are shaped by the relationships we have and the contexts in which we grow,” she said.

That’s how Mike Chappell lived his life – helping shape relationships in Spokane toward the shared values of healthy water, air, soil and communities.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Did these Nobel Laureates Sign On to a Collective Letter to Obama Administration?


Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) – Ireland

Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) – Ireland

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Laureate (1980) – Argentina

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate (1984) – South Af

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Laureate (1989) – Ti

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Laureate (1992) – Guatemala

President José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate (1996) – East T

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997) – USA

Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2003) – Iran
Nine Nobel Peace Laureates -- including the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu -- have called on President Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada’s Boreal forest to refineries in Texas. The pipeline will drive more destruction of songbird habitat, fuel global warming, and threaten drinking water for millions of Americans. The U.S. State Department is rushing towards approval of this fiasco. Please join the Nobel Laureates by sending a message to President Obama, urging him to stop the pipeline before it’s too late.

We did it! Thanks to donations from thousands of supporters like you, our ad carrying a message to President Obama from nine Nobel Peace Laureates -- including the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu -- against the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is running in today’s national New York Times.

And because of your extraordinary generosity, we were able to run the same ad in The Washington Post, bringing even more pressure to bear on the White House!

Spreading the Nobel Laureates’ message far and wide could be a turning point in our campaign to stave off one of the most destructive projects on Earth. We are going to reach millions more Americans and leading opinion makers who can make their own opposition felt in the critical weeks ahead when the President must decide whether to accept or reject the tar sands pipeline.

Frances Beinecke

Natural Resources Defense Council

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--

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    The Death Nail of Solar Energy in the USA? Thanks, Obama!


    Joe Stephens is on Democracy Now today talking about this story of Obama, Rahm Emanual, Joe Biden and others botching solar energy's key role in America's future. Read Michael Klare's piece here on

    How America's Decline Is Linked to Oil

    America's rise to supremacy was fueled by control over the world's oil supply. Now, the decline of the U.S. coincides with the decline of oil as a major energy source
    Check it out at Tom Dispatch -- 
    We are up a creek without a paddle when we are so tied to Oil. Up to $20 billion a year to air condition the US mercenary forces in those wars in the middle east. The US military is the single largest consumer of oil, gas, fuel, diesel, etc. 
    So, read the Stephens piece on Solyndra. Read the Post's follow up, 5 Myths about the Solyndra Collapse:

    Solyndra loan: White House pressed on review of solar company now under investigation

    By and Carol D. Leonnig, Published: September 13

    EXCLUSIVE | The Obama White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s factory, newly obtained e-mails show.

    The Silicon Valley company, a centerpiece in President Obama’s initiative to develop clean energy technologies, had been tentatively approved for the loan by the Energy Department but was awaiting a final financial review by the Office of Management and Budget.

    The August 2009 e-mails, released exclusively to The Washington Post, show White House officials repeatedly asking OMB reviewers when they would be able to decide on the federal loan and noting a looming press event at which they planned to announce the deal. In response, OMB officials expressed concern that they were being rushed to approve the company’s project without adequate time to assess the risk to taxpayers, according to information provided by Republican congressional investigators.

    Solyndra collapsed two weeks ago, leaving taxpayers liable for the $535 million loan.

    One e-mail from an OMB official referred to “the time pressure we are under to sign-off on Solyndra.” Another complained, “There isn’t time to negotiate.”

    “We have ended up with a situation of having to do rushed approvals on a couple of occasions (and we are worried about Solyndra at the end of the week),” one official wrote. That Aug. 31, 2009, message, written by a senior OMB staffer and sent to Terrell P. McSweeny, Biden’s domestic policy adviser, concluded, “We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence reviews.”

    White House officials said Tuesday that no one in the administration tried to influence the OMB decision on the loan. They stressed that the e-mails show only that the administration had a “quite active interest” in the timing of OMB’s decision.

    “There was interest in when a decision would be made because of its impact on whether an event involving the vice president could be scheduled for a particular date or not, but the loan guarantee decision was merit-based and made by career staffers at DOE,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

    Solyndra spokesman David Miller said he was unaware of any direct involvement of the White House in securing or accelerating the loan.

    The e-mail exchanges could intensify questions about whether the administration was playing favorites and made costly errors while choosing the first recipient of a loan guarantee under its stimulus program. Solyndra’s biggest investors were funds operated on behalf of the family foundation of Tulsa billionaire and Obama fundraiser George Kaiser. Although he has been a frequent White House visitor, Kaiser has said he did not use political influence to win approval of the loan.

    The White House has previously said that it had no involvement in the Solyndra loan application and that all decisions were made by career officials based on the merits of the company.

    It is not clear from the e-mails whether the White House
    influenced a final decision to approve the loan guarantee.

    The Sept. 4, 2009, groundbreaking event went ahead as scheduled, with Energy Secretary Steven Chu in attendance and Biden speaking to the gathering by satellite feed.

    Republican investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is holding a hearing about Solyndra on Wednesday, concluded that the White House set a closing date for the OMB approval even before the OMB review had begun.

    The White House pressure may have had a “tangible impact” on the OMB’s risk assessment of the loan, the congressional investigators concluded.

    In one e-mail, an OMB staff member questioned whether the review team was using the best model for determining the financial risk to taxpayers in evaluating the Solyndra deal.

    “Given the time pressure we are under to sign-off on Solyndra, we don’t have time to change the model,” the staffer wrote.

    Solyndra was a favorite of the administration until two weeks ago, when the company abruptly shuttered its factory and filed for bankruptcy court protection, leaving 1,100 people out of work and taxpayers on the hook for the loans. Last week, FBI agents searched the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters in a raid that Miller said appeared linked to the loan guarantee.

    In one e-mail, an assistant to Rahm Emanuel, then White House chief of staff, wrote on Aug. 31, 2009, to OMB about the upcoming Biden announcement on Solyndra and asked whether “there is anything we can help speed along on OMB side.”

    An OMB staff member responded: “I would prefer that this announcement be postponed. . . . This is the first loan guarantee and we should have full review with all hands on deck to make sure we get it right.”


    There are still plenty of nagging questions about the collapse of Solyndra, the California-based solar-panel maker that went bankrupt last month after getting $535 million worth of loan guarantees from the Obama administration. Such as: Did the Energy Department fail to do due diligence? And did the White House intervene inappropriately in pressing for the loan guarantees?

    But as Solyndra becomes the newest political chew toy, there’s been no shortage of hyperbole about the affair — especially over what it means for energy policy more broadly. On Tuesday, for example, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who chairs the oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that Solyndra’s downfall proves “that green energy isn’t going to be the solution.” That’s quite a leap. So here’s a look at five overheated arguments about Solyndra’s bust:

    1) This scandal is no big deal. To the contrary, evidence is mounting that there was something irregular about the way the Solyndra deal got greenlighted. My colleagues Joe Stephens and Carol D. Leonnig have obtained e-mails showing that the White House pressed the Office of Management and Budget to hurry up in reviewing the deal (note, however, that this only came after the Energy Department had approved the loan), even as OMB officials voiced concern about being rushed.
    Does that prove the White House engaged in cronyism, shoveling cash toward a political ally? Not necessarily. Democrats have pointed out that Solyndra’s loan process was initiated by the Bush administration and that many key investors were Republicans. Still, there could have been other reasons the deal was hastened. As a former Clinton energy aide stressed to me, it was arguably a mistake to sell the loan guarantees as job-creating stimulus (the program was expanded as part of the 2009 stimulus bill). “It means you try to force huge amounts of money quickly through processes that aren’t quite ready yet,” the aide said. “It’d be better to have a calmer, steadier source of funding.”

    2) Solyndra proves that energy-loan guarantees are a flop. Not exactly. The Energy Department’s loan-guarantee program, enacted in 2005 with bipartisan support, has backed nearly $38 billion in loans for 40 projects around the country. Solyndra represents just 1.3 percent of that portfolio — and, as yet, it’s the only loan that has soured. Other solar beneficiaries, such as SunPower and First Solar, are still going strong. Meanwhile, just a small fraction of loan guarantees go toward solar. The program’s biggest bet to date is an $8.33 billion loan guarantee for a nuclear plant down in Georgia. Improper political influence in the process is disturbing, but, at least so far, Solyndra appears an exception, not a rule. (That said, the GAO and others have pointed out potential pitfalls and the need for stricter oversight in the loan program.)

    3) The government should leave energy R&D to the private sector. Actually, there’s reason to think the private market is drastically under-investing in new energy technology. As a new report from the American Energy Innovation Council lays out, the utility sector spends just 0.1 percent of its revenues on R&D — the average for U.S. industries is 3.5 percent. The electricity sector is heavily regulated and capital-intensive — power plants last for decades and turn over slowly — and hence tends to focus less on innovation. What’s more, many objectives that may be in the public interest, such as reducing carbon emissions, aren’t fully valued in the marketplace right now.
    As such, the AEIC report concludes, “Energy innovation should be a higher national priority.” Right now, the federal government spends a middling amount on energy research (about $3 billion in 2009), compared with the sums lavished on the National Institutes of Health ($36.5 billion) or defense research ($77 billion). And the AEIC report recommends public support for all aspects of the innovation process, from basic research to pilot projects to helping companies commercialize their products. (Solyndra was in that last phase.)

    4) Solar is a doomed industry. This view has been gaining popularity, but it’s not borne out by the numbers. Prices for solar photovoltaic modules continue to tumble, even as fossil-fuel prices rise. A June report by Ernst & Young suggests that large-scale solar could become cost-competitive within a decade, even without government support. Of course, grid operators still have to grapple with the fact that the sun doesn’t always shine, but storage technologies continue to improve — in July, a solar plant in Seville, Spain, achieved continuous 24-hour operation using molten salt storage. All told, some 24,000 MW worth of projects are in the pipeline in the United States, led by California. Those projects may not all get completed, but that’s a lot of growth underway.

    5) It’s all China’s fault. This one is complicated. China does provide hefty subsidies to its solar industry. As Climate Progress’s Stephen Lacey details, the Chinese Development Bank offers cheap long-term loans to domestic manufacturers that dwarf anything Solyndra ever got. That allows Chinese solar companies to offer cutthroat prices and drive competitors out. And yet, as Westinghouse Solar CEO Barry Cinnamon explains, it wasn’t China that caused Solyndra to go belly-up — the company had invented a solar panel that didn’t use silicon, unlike its competitors, and foundered after silicon prices plummeted.

    What’s more, the fact that China hurls money at solar isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since cheaper solar prices can benefit the United States too. The Energy Department seems to have recognized that going toe-to-toe with China on direct subsidies may be futile and is instead trying to focus on complementary efforts to bolster innovation, through programs like its Sunshot Initiative. Also, for all China’s subsidy frenzy, the United States still exported $1.9 billion of solar products last year and actually has a trade surplus in solar with China.

    Five myths about the Solyndra collapse

    at 10:07 AM ET, 09/14/2011

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Traditional Corn WILL Weather Climate Change -- Monsanto's WILL NOT!

    Ahh, Monsanto, Dow Cargil, Syngenta, Norvis -- these giants are railroading into every country in the world to take our food away. Genetically altered, engineered, modified, trans-morphed, whatever you want to call them -- GE, GMO or Franken-foods, the bottom line is that king of high tech, Bill Gates, and spouse, Melinda, have their talons in the futures of smallholder farmers who DO NOT want their faux green revolution. We'll be looking at a study that shows that agro-ecological, or organic, can save the world, feed the world, and mitigate 1/3 of the carbon pollution we now have causing climate chaos.

    Here's the lo down on corn, where I spent a lot of my formative years as an activist, journalist and writer -- Mexico, Yucatan, Oaxaca. 

    MEXICO: Traditional Maize Can Cope with Climate Change By Emilio Godoy

    MEXICO CITY, Sept 8, 2011 (IPS) - Maize, Mexico's staple food as well as a symbol, has
    the potential to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects without any need for
    genetically modified seeds, according to agricultural scientists.

    Mexico has at least 59 landraces (traditional, locally-adapted strains that are rich in
    biodiversity) and 209 varieties of corn. White maize is the most commonly eaten variety,
    while yellow maize is used for animal feed or processed into cornflakes, starch and other

    Maize is thought to have developed from an ancestor grain in four possible geographical
    locations in Mexico, according to the 2009 study "Origen y diversificación del maíz, una
    revisión analítica" (Origin and Diversification of Maize: An Analytical Review) by
    researchers at the state Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM), the Autonomous
    University of Mexico City and the Postgraduate College.

    "Climate change will have different impacts, because corn varieties are adapted to very
    specific conditions," Carolina Ureta, a researcher at the UNAM Biology Institute, told
    IPS. "While some varieties will benefit, others will be harmed."

    "We can focus our attention on varieties that grow in adverse conditions, and see what
    genetic improvement is possible," she said.

    Ureta has been working since 2009 on a research project titled "Effects of Climate Change
    on the Distribution of Mexican Maize and its Wild Relatives", due to be completed in 2012
    as the final stage of her doctorate in biological sciences. Her research is to be
    published in a forthcoming issue of the U.S. journal Global Change Biology.

    According to her results, the territorial distribution of maize is expected to shrink 15
    percent by 2030, and 30 percent by 2050. The north of the country will be most affected
    because of its drier conditions.

    Maize is a symbolic crop in Mesoamerica, the region covering southern Mexico and Central
    America, because of its vital importance in pre-Columbian culture.

    Some 3.2 million Mexican farmers cultivate maize, and over two million of these producers
    use it for family consumption, according to official statistics.

    Farm workers harvest white maize, in particular, for domestic consumption, while they
    import yellow corn for animal feed. The government projects white maize output of 23
    million tonnes this year, and a further nine million tonnes of yellow maize will be
    purchased abroad.

    "The potential to face up to climate change lies in producing seeds in situ, the way it
    has always been done in traditional environmentally-friendly agriculture," Aleida Lara,
    coordinator ofGreenpeace Mexico's sustainable agriculture and transgenics campaign, told

    In fact, traditional farming systems are being studied by three scientists, from the NGO
    Biodiversity International, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and
    theInternational Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), whose results were
    published in August in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    The results suggest that "traditional seed systems may be able to provide farmers with
    landraces suitable for agro-ecological conditions under predicted climate change
    scenarios," Mauricio Bellón, David Hodson and Jon Hellin concluded in their paper titled
    "Assessing the vulnerability of traditional maize seed systems in Mexico to climate

    The scientists studied the structure and spatial scope of traditional maize seed systems
    in 400 households from 20 communities in five states of eastern Mexico, at altitudes
    between 10 and 2,980 metres above sea level.

    In their view, given the expected changes in agriculture and climate, the introduction of
    genetically modified maize (engineered to contain genes from other species, such as
    bacteria, to confer resistance to insects or
    herbicides) represents a threat to native species.

    "We have enough diversity to be able to introduce adaptation methods without the need for
    transgenics," said UNAM's Ureta, who belongs to the Union of Scientists Committed to
    Society (UCCS). "Very few landraces have been genetically characterised, and transgenics
    could contaminate the genotypes that have not been produced commercially. Therefore, we
    should develop our own technology, to meet our own needs," she said.

    Mexico's agriculture ministry decided in March to approve a pilot study of genetically
    modified yellow maize resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, carried out by U.S. seed
    giant Monsanto on less than a hectare of land in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas.

    Since 2009, the government has received 110 applications for experimental cultivation of
    transgenic maize and 11 for pilot programmes. The ministry has granted 67 permits for
    experimental planting, on nearly 70 hectares of land in states in the north of the

    Environmental organisations are accusing the government of conservative President Felipe
    Calderón of breaking the Biosecurity Law for Genetically Modified Organisms, in force
    since 2005, which stipulates that centres of origin of native seeds must be determined
    before any permission is granted for transgenic crops.

    They want the government to reinstate the moratorium on transgenics that was in place
    from 1999 to March 2009.

    The environmental watchdog Greenpeace reported the existence of transgenic maize in six
    of Mexico's 32 states, as well as imports of genetically modified seeds.

    "In 2009 we requested the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to grant
    precautionary measures against the sowing of transgenic seeds, because of the delay by
    the Mexican justice system in enforcing the law in an issue of national security," said
    Greenpeace Mexico's Lara.

    CIMMYT, founded by U.S. scientist Norman Borlaug (1914-2009), the "father"
    of the Green Revolution that spread chemical fertilisers on fields all over the world,
    has determined that transgenes – genetic material transferred from one species to another
    – may affect the environment and farmers' welfare, and have commercial costs, such as
    licences and distribution fees.

    "Maize landraces in Mexico show remarkable diversity and climatic adaptability, growing
    in environments ranging from arid to humid and from temperate to very hot. This diversity
    raises the possibility that Mexico already has maize germplasm suitable for the 'novel'
    crop environments predicted for 2050," says the paper by Bellón, Hodson, and Hellin, who
    works at CIMMYT.

    CIMMYT maintains a germplasm bank containing at least 25,000 maize seeds, while Mexico's
    National Institute of Forestry, Agricultural and Livestock Research (INIFAP) runs a
    similar bank of 11,000 seeds. But these stored seeds may not be fully suited to future
    climate conditions.

    National Maize Day will be celebrated in Mexico Sept. 29, organised by the "Sin Maíz No
    Hay País" (Without Corn There is No Country) campaign undertaken by a coalition of NGOs
    to protect native maize from genetically modified seeds.

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