Saturday, March 6, 2010

Activist Call Out: We Must Stand with Tim DeChristopher

Note: This is an urgent call and should have been posted much earlier - my fault,  but there is still time to be part of the action if you want to get involved and we should all be.

By Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben, Huffington Post, February 8, 2010

The climate movement is at a turning point. Copenhagen failed to produce a meaningful binding agreement. The Senate's proposed climate legislation doesn't come close to solving the crisis and even that weak measure appears stalled. Climate change denialists, meanwhile, are in a celebratory mood, with far too many ill-informed citizens falling for their aggressive misinformation campaign.
It's time for the movement that had so much momentum in the lead up to Copenhagen to go on the offensive once again. We see the trial of Tim DeChristopher as just such an opportunity. What follows is a joint statement we helped draft, along with fellow author Terry Tempest Williams and world-renowned climatologist Dr. James Hansen. If you agree, please help us spread the word.

Dear Friends,

The epic fight to ward off global warming and transform the energy system that is at the core of our planet’s economy takes many forms: huge global days of action, giant international conferences like the one that just failed in Copenhagen, small gestures in the homes of countless people.
But there are a few signal moments, and one comes next month, when the federal government puts Tim DeChristopher on trial in Salt Lake City. Tim—“Bidder 70”– pulled off one of the most creative protests against our runaway energy policy in years: he bid for the oil and gas leases on several parcels of federal land even though he had no money to pay for them, thus upending the auction. The government calls that “violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act” and thinks he should spend ten years in jail for the crime; we call it a noble act, a profound gesture made on behalf of all of us and of the future.
Tim’s action drew national attention to the fact that the Bush Administration spent its dying days in office handing out a last round of favors to the oil and gas industry. After investigating irregularities in the auction, the Obama Administration took many of the leases off the table, with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar criticizing the process as “a headlong rush.” And yet that same Administration is choosing to prosecute the young man who blew the whistle on this corrupt process.
We cannot let this stand. When Tim disrupted the auction, he did so in the fine tradition of non-violent civil disobedience that changed so many unjust laws in this country’s past. Tim’s upcoming trial is an occasion to raise the alarm once more about the peril our planet faces. The situation is still fluid—the trial date has just been set, and local supporters are making plans for how to mark the three-day proceedings. But they are asking people around the country to flood into Salt Lake City in mid-March. If you come, there will be ample opportunity for both legal protest and civil disobedience. For example:
  • Outside the courthouse, there will be a mock trial, with experts like NASA’s Jim Hansen providing the facts that should be heard inside the chambers. We don’t want Tim on trial—we want global warming on the stand.
  • Demonstrators will be using the time-honored tactics of civil disobedience to make their voices heard outside the courthouse in an effort to prevent “business as usual”—it’s business as usual that’s wrecking the earth.
  • There will be evening concerts and gatherings, including a “mini-summit” to share ideas on how the climate movement should proceed in the years ahead. This is a people’s movement that draws power from around the globe; for a few days its headquarters will be Salt Lake City.
You can get the most up-to-date news at, including schedules for non-violence training, and information about legal representation. If you’re coming, bring not only your passion but also your creativity—we need lots of art and music to help make the point that we won’t sit idly by while the government tries to scare the environmental movement into meek cooperation. This kind of trial is nothing but intimidation—and the best answers to intimidation are joy and resolve. That’s what we’ll need in Utah.
We know it’s short notice. Some of us won’t be able to make it to Utah because we have other commitments or are limiting travel, and if you’re in the same situation, will also have details of solidarity actions in other parts of the country. If you can contribute money to help make the week’s events possible, click here. But more than your money we need your body, your brains, and your heart. In a landscape of little water, where redrock canyons rise upward like praying hands, we can offer our solidarity to the wild: wild lands and wild hearts. Tim DeChristopher deserves and needs our physical and spiritual support in the name of a just and vibrant community.

Thank you for standing with us,
Naomi Klein,
Bill McKibben,
Terry Tempest Williams
Dr. James Hansen

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2010 International Year Of Biodiversity

The United Nations has proclaimed 2010 as an International Year Of  Biodiversity but there is not much being heard about actions that ordinary citizens are taking to promote the IYB's agenda. It is not creating the buzz it should. We are nearing the third month of the year but most information you get on the subject are from press releases from the UNEP. Ordinary citizens just do not seen to give a damn about International Year proclamations. I don't as I see it as UN's way of simply  paying lip service to developmental issues of global concern that really needs concerted global action to have them addressed. Anyway if you are up to it, here are things you could do to participate.

  • About biodiversity in your city, region and country
  • How your consumption patterns and everyday actions may impact on biodiversity, sometimes in distant ecosystems

  • Make your views known to the government and the private sector
  • Share your knowledge with people around you
  • Get your stories to the press so you can share them with the rest of the world

  • Make responsible consumption choices
  • Support activities and organizations that conserve biodiversity
  • Join a local environmental NGO or organize your own activities that will help biodiversity
  • Be creative and find solutions to biodiversity loss
  • Send your pictures, artwork, videos and other creations to the press and share them with the world 

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Easy Tips To Going Green

    It takes only small steps to make a big difference.

    Creating a new, climate-friendly energy future is a daunting task. But in reality, small steps by many people will change the world and protect the planet.

    Here is  a short list of the things you can do today to make a difference. Many of the items listed below will save you money too. That’s right—you might even make a little green by being green.

    Seal the deal. We waste a lot of energy inadvertently heating and cooling the outdoors. Fully close windows, weather strip, caulk gaps and holes and upgrade your insulation and windows when you renovate—you can save up to 20 percent on your annual heating and cooling costs.

    Recruit the best. Upgrade to high efficiency (ENERGY STAR) water heaters, AC units, lighting and appliances when it is time to replace old units—many of these upgrades even are available with substantial tax breaks!

    Surf. Many states, cities and utilities have programs that make up the cost difference between high-efficiency appliances and the average. Do a quick Internet search on your local utility Web site to see if there are such programs in your area. Energy saved is money saved.

    Set and forget it. A programmable thermostat reduces energy use by adjusting temperatures while you sleep or when you’re not home. Keep your home at 68 in the winter and 72 in the summer—just a few degrees can save you more than 10 percent on your heating bill. 

    Put the bottle down. Bottled water and other highly packaged items contribute to landfills and emissions. Filter systems are cleaner and cheaper. Ninety percent of the cost of bottled water goes to the cap and bottle, making it 240 to 10,000 times more expensive than that of tap water!

    Designate a driver Where possible, use public transportation or carpool. Better yet, walk or bike instead and enjoy the fresh air—studies show that getting out of your car makes you healthier and happier.

    Talk it up. Share what you do with your friends and coworkers. Let your public officials know that you care about climate issues and remember them in the voting booth.

    More you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and do your part to address our global climate challenge.

    • Plant trees, which absorb carbon dioxide
    • Use rechargeable batteries
    • Wash your clothes in cold or warm water
    • Turn off the heated dry function on your dishwasher
    • Change your light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) 

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    End Asbestos Exports, Scientists Tell Charest

     Scientists from 28 countries have called on Quebec Premier Jean Charest, currently in India on a trade mission, to ban asbestos exports. India is Canada's largest importer of asbestos. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

    The controversy surrounding Quebec’s asbestos industry has moved up a notch with Premier Jean Charest’s trade mission to India, one of the biggest importers of Canadian asbestos. 

    In a letter to Charest, over 100 scientists from 28 countries called for a ban on Quebec's export of asbestos to the developing world. Charest arrived in India on Sunday.

    The scientists say Quebec uses virtually none of the asbestos it mines, spends millions of dollars removing asbestos from its schools and buildings, and that its own health experts have shown that it is impossible to use any form of asbestos safely.

    Yet the province continues to promote and export the product to developing countries “where protections are few and awareness of the hazards of asbestos almost non-existent.” 

    “This seems to represent a high level of hypocrisy,” the letter states. The scientists note that the asbestos industry in India has notified a number of scientists that legal action will be taken against them if they do not retract their published articles concerning the threat to health posed by chrysotile asbestos.

    The campaign is being promoted by the Pennsylvania-based Environmental Health Trust and the Cancer Association of South Africa.

    South Africa used to export asbestos, but has now banned it. If a country facing enormous economic hardships like South Africa can ban asbestos, then why can't Quebec?” said Dr. Devra Davis of the Environmental Health Trust, in a statement.

    Asbestos was widely used around the world between the 1950s and the 1970s. Because of its status as a deadly carcinogen, the European Union banned the mineral over a decade ago. Thetford Mines in Quebec, a town of 26,000, is home to Canada’s only remaining asbestos mining operation.

    Despite its links to cancer and other health problems, several countries, mostly in the developing world, still import asbestos from Canada. The less dusty chrysotile, or white, asbestos is said to be a safer form of the product.

    The position taken by the governments of Canada and Québec is that chrysotile asbestos can be used safely as long as strict precautions are followed. The Indian asbestos industry also claims that the country’s factories have safety protocols in place to protect workers.

    The Chrysotile Institute, an asbestos lobby group, dismissed the concerns raised in the scientists’ letter.

    “Instead of giving new scientific research or data, they are just launching accusations,” the institute’s president, Clément Godbout, told the Canadian Press.

    “If they have new data and studies showing that the way chrysotile is used today in Canada and Quebec is an unacceptable risk for people, please send them to us because I've never seen such a study.”

    The scientists also want Quebec to stop funding the pro-asbestos lobby. New Democrat MP Pat Martin, who has long opposed Canada’s asbestos policy, said no other commodity enjoys the protection of the Canadian government the way the $100-million-a-year asbestos industry does.

    “More than 160 trade junkets in 60 different countries is what the asbestos industry brags it has done through our Canadian embassies, our trade commissioners, etc. Not even Canadian wheat is so aggressively promoted as much as the asbestos industry,” he told India Abroad newspaper.

    He explained that “there’s an “emotional affinity for asbestos in Quebec” that stems from the great asbestos strike of 1949, traditionally portrayed as a turning point in Quebec history that eventually led to the so-called Quiet Revolution. It also helped launch the political career of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
    After Rene Levesque was elected premier in the 1976, one of the first things he did was to nationalize the asbestos industry—the first national act of the new nation of Quebec, as Levesque put it.

    “Now, the people of Quebec talk of asbestos with pride because of its history. It is too emotional a question for Quebecers. It is almost anti-Quebec to be anti-asbestos,” Martin said.

    Martin, who once worked in an asbestos mine in the Yukon Territory, has been lobbying to have asbestos put on the international list of hazardous substances. He told India Abroad that both Canada and India should “join hands” in seeking a ban on asbestos in all its forms.

    “Asbestos and tobacco are the two industries where the industry knows well it is killing people, but it survives by junk science and aggressive lobbying of politicians,” he said.

    By Joan Delaney
    Epoch Times Staff

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    E-waste Getting Out of Control

    A typical "free" e-waste collection event
    Photo Credits: BAN

    As the worlds population increases so does the amount of waste generated and it all has a drastic effect on the planet. The waste is thrown into a landfill, recycled, reused, or melted down and made into new objects.
    Rising consciousness of the impact humans are having on the earth means green issues are becoming higher on peoples list of priorities. In an attempt to try and save it from further damage environmental researchers are constantly exploring new techniques and methods that will hopefully shape the future of waste management.
    The amount of electronic products used in each country is astounding, every year alone there are thousands upon thousands of disused computers thrown into landfills - when you realize that a computer is made up from over 1,000 materials and the average lifespan is just 2 years, then it becomes clear they contribute significantly to the e-waste stream. E-waste is also highly toxic as it can cause serious health and pollution problems as it contains harmful contaminants including lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium and brominated flame retardants.
    If left to sit in a landfill these toxic chemicals filter into the soil and atmosphere, which in turn have a negative effect on the local community. In some countries the dumping of electronic waste in landfills is now illegal. E-waste also gets incinerated which releases heavy metals, including lead and mercury, into the environment which ultimately end up in the food chain.

    The waste ends up in developing countries
    Photo Credits:  Greenpeace
    A good way to increase a product's lifespan is to reuse it. Mobile phones and computers are sent to developing countries for their use; however, in practice it doesn’t always work out to be the best option as once they are no longer required, the country has no hazardous waste facilities. It then ends up in scrap yards where workers, often children, are employed to sort it by hand where they are exposed to the toxic chemicals and poisons, along with the local community and surrounding environment. In developed countries, electronics recycling occurs in purpose-built recycling plants under strictly controlled conditions, in developing countries they have no controls in place.
    Computer recycling produces a large amount of reusable parts. The CRT glass is sent to a lead smelter to recover the lead or to a CRT glass manufacturer where the glass is used to turn out new CRT glass. The electronic components in the CPU, such as the main board, memory, hard drives, battery, power supply, and sound cards, are removed and sold on to different manufacturers or recyclers around the country. Plastics are separated and generally shredded for recycling, whilst metal components are also separated before being sent to scrap metal recyclers.
    The figures associated with e-waste are massive and it’s time leading electronic companies take more control of the situation and deal with the waste from their products. It is the fastest growing sector of the solid waste stream due to frequent upgrades of computers, TV’s, stereo systems and, particularly, mobile phones - in western countries people generally buy a new phone every 2 years.
    Manufacturers of electronic goods need to take responsibility for the products they make and avert an e-waste disaster. Their aim should be to design electronics that contain harmful materials and have an extended lifespan. They should also be in a position to take their products back once they have passed their sell by date and re-use and recycle them safely, and as appropriate. Some manufacturers now offer a ‘take back’ scheme whereby you can return your unwanted electronics to the company for recycling.
    Responsible disposal of electronic waste is not only the responsibility of leading electronics companies, it is everyone’s concern. Reuse is a resourceful way to recycle your appliances; you could give any unwanted items to friends, family, charity, or other community group that would make use of it. If the appliance doesn’t work then find your nearest e-waste recycling point.
    There are waste management services online that can assist with all facets of waste management and resource recovery, organizations with years of experience in putting into action effective, innovative and sustainable waste management and industrial services solutions.

    About the Author:
    Michiel Van Kets writes articles for Veolia Environmental Services, Australia’s environmental services leader in all facets of resource recovery and waste management services. The company has over 30 years industry experience in implementing effective, innovative and sustainable waste management and industrial services solutions. Visit the website for information on e waste recycling and facilities management Sydney services.

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Say Good Bye to Kiribati

    The Pacific islands of Kiribati were among the last places to be colonized by humans. But now, because of rising sea levels, they may be among the first to be abandoned.

    Should Kiribati President Anote Tong surrender to climate change and evacuate? Can anything be done to help him buy more time?

    Duration: 25:59
    Location: Kiribati
    Producer: James Heer
    Language: English

    Source: IFAD

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    Would These Children Ever Get Their Wish?

    Severn Suzuki speaking at UN Earth Summit 1992. Her call is as relevant then as it is now

    The transcript:

    Hello, I'm Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O. - The Environmental Children's Organisation.

    We are a group of twelve and thirteen-year-olds from Canada trying to make a difference: Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg and me. We raised all the money ourselves to come six thousand miles to tell you adults you must change your ways. Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future.

    Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come.

    I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard.

    I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. We cannot afford to be not heard.

    I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don't know what chemicals are in it.

    I used to go fishing in Vancouver with my dad until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going extinct every day -- vanishing forever.

    In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.

    Did you have to worry about these little things when you were my age?

    All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions. I'm only a child and I don't have all the solutions, but I want you to realise, neither do you!

    * You don't know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer.
    * You don't know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream.
    * You don't know how to bring back an animal now extinct.
    * And you can't bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert.

    If you don't know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!

    Here, you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organizers, reporters or politicians - but really you are mothers and fathers, brothers and sister, aunts and uncles - and all of you are somebody's child.
    I'm only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil -- borders and governments will never change that.

    I'm only a child yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.

    In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel.

    In my country, we make so much waste, we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, and yet northern countries will not share with the needy. Even when we have more than enough, we are afraid to lose some of our wealth, afraid to share.

    In Canada, we live the privileged life, with plenty of food, water and shelter -- we have watches, bicycles, computers and television sets.

    Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent some time with some children living on the streets. And this is what one child told us: "I wish I was rich and if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicine, shelter and love and affection."

    If a child on the street who has nothing, is willing to share, why are we who have everything still so greedy?

    I can't stop thinking that these children are my age, that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born, that I could be one of those children living in the Favellas of Rio; I could be a child starving in Somalia; a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India.

    I'm only a child yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this earth would be!

    At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us to behave in the world. You teach us:

    * not to fight with others,
    * to work things out,
    * to respect others,
    * to clean up our mess,
    * not to hurt other creatures
    * to share - not be greedy.

    Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?

    Do not forget why you're attending these conferences, who you're doing this for -- we are your own children. You are deciding what kind of world we will grow up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying "everyting's going to be alright" , "we're doing the best we can" and "it's not the end of the world".

    But I don't think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My father always says "You are what you do, not what you say."

    Well, what you do makes me cry at night. You grown ups say you love us. I challenge you, please make your actions reflect your words. Thank you for listening.