Monday, 22 June 2009

The Amazon, Chevron /Texaco and the rest... is this the true cost?

The Amazon basin covers over seven million square kilometres in nine countries, contains the world's largest tropical rainforest, houses nearly fifty percent of the planet's terrestrial biodiversity and is being devastated by deforestation in order to strip it unsustainably of its natural resources.

The in progress and proposed large-scale development projects, such as as new roads, power lines, oil & gas pipelines, dams, and massive timbering operations are financed by economic globalisation. These projects blight millions of hectares of pristine frontier rainforests and the lives of the indigenous people who depend on these forests for their physical and cultural survival.

To take one event of many that happen in the Amazon, just outside the Northern Peruvian town of Bagua, indigenous people were protesting against the free trade decrees issued by President Garcia under special powers granted by Congress in the context of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. This had been going on for 56 days without incident when, in the early hours of June 5th, police began to approach the demonstrators as they were sleeping along the Fernando Belaúnde Terry road and fired teargas grenades and live ammunition. Eyewitnesses report that police also attacked from both sides firing live rounds into the crowd as people fled into surrounding steep hillsides, many becoming trapped.

This resulted in 25 protesters confirmed dead and over one hundred wounded, although the actual figures may be far higher as many eyewitnesses in Bagua reported that they saw police throw the bodies of the dead into the Marañon River from a helicopter in an apparent attempt by the Government to underreport the number of indigenous people killed by police. Hospital workers in Bagua Chica and Bagua Grande corroborated that the police took bodies of the dead from their premises to an undisclosed location. Several people reported that there were bodies lying at the bottom of a deep crevasse up in the hills, about a mile from the incident site, but when the Church and local leaders went to investigate, the police stopped them from approaching the area.

So how was this reported in the West? The main report was in the LA Times under the headline ‘Insurgents threaten Peru's Stability’ and that ‘Protests by indigenous communities over oil drilling and mining in the Peruvian Amazon region turned violent Friday, leaving at least 13 people dead in clashes with police and subsequent rioting’.

It is difficult to report on events thousands of miles away and I have been checking this out as thoroughly as possible, hence the gap between posts, but the inescapable facts are that when both witnesses describe and readily available photographs show armed police in full riot gear on the ground and in helicopters firing teargas grenades and live rounds on unarmed protesters wearing shorts and t-shirts it is quite easy to work out what occurred.

There are more images of the above event HERE and details of the Chevron/Texaco involvement in the Amazon disaster HERE

I wrote this and remembered St. Paul’s words in Corinthians that “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres".

The events that I have described above, the killing young men, woman and children who are concerned enough to protest about their future and the destruction of their environment is simply 100% evil.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

It is the answer to our environmental problems.

“What difference can I make?” I hear this question on many occasions when the global environmental problems are mentioned. Another comment is “The problems are massive, I feel that’s it’s a case of ‘Eat Drink and be Merry, for tomorrow we die’, don’t you?”

Well, actually, no I don’t!

Do you remember the story of David and Goliath? There is no way David should have won, but he did. What about Nelson Mandela, he was imprisoned for 27 years and yet ended up as South Africa’s first Black president. He supported reconciliation lead the transition towards multi-racial democracy in South Africa and has been praised by many including former opponents. On a more recent scale, James Dyson took ten years to get his vacuum cleaner onto the market, because no existing manufacturer wanted to make it.

All the above did what they did because they knew what was right. To hell with what almost all believed was impossible they had right on their side and despite popular opinion and the odds that were stacked against them they were not going to give up.

Opinion Pollsters publish the results of their efforts and inform us what is possible and the environmental movement, we are told, is simply a ‘Green Bubble’. I wonder what the odds the pollsters would have given David’s chances against Goliath, or Nelson Mandela’s chances of becoming President Mandela, or of Dyson’s vacuum cleaner making it to production...

It’s the backyard vegetable gardener who is disparaged as ecologically insignificant by many, but the chaos theory shows how the flap of a butterfly’s wings can start a hurricane, and as Rosa Parks showed an individual action can start a chain reaction.

So, what if the backyard gardener believes that what is important is to do what is right, and by dedication and example in looking for a better way to live, for themselves and their families, others begin to question the way that they live? What if in their questioning others look closely at the way they live and the resources they use?

Believe in yourself, because while you you may not be a backyard gardener, you are the butterfly’s wings.

Please left click the picture because you are never to old or to young to start.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Roz Savage, environmental campaigner par excellence

I am a huge fan of this young woman (and not for simply the reason that may first come to your mind either) because this British ocean rower is an eco activist who came to prominence in 2005, when after 11 years as a management consultant, she embarked upon a new career by rowing solo 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.

It is an unlikely and amazing transformation from a late 30 year old office worker to a 40 year old ocean rower, but now Roz is attempting to become the first woman to row solo across the Pacific, after this she will then walk from London to Copenhagen (no, you read that correctly... walk) armed with an environmental mission called 'Pull Together'.

This initiative aims to inspire people to take action on CO2 levels by walking more and driving less. Calling upon her supporters around the world to 'Pull Together', Roz will challenge them to match her 10,000 oar strokes each day with 10,000 steps. All the steps logged by participants around the world on the site will be aggregated and expressed by a number of laps around the earth completed during the challenge. For every 53 people that complete 1,000,000 steps, an earth lap will be added. Just before her 24 May launch, she provided the opening remarks to attendees of Al Gore’s Climate Project Summit and became a Climate Change Ambassador.

Her efforts will focus on the upcoming climate change conference in Co2penhagen in December. In partnership with, on 24 October -- a designated global day of action on climate change -- Roz and thousands of supporters will assemble at Big Ben in London and, over a period of six weeks, march more than 600 miles to Copenhagen to address the conference delegates. At this time, Roz will deliver the results of the initiative, essentially a walking petition, as a symbol of joint commitment to taking immediate, aggressive action to reduce global CO2 levels, for more info click on her website HERE.

Global warming is mainly the result of CO2 levels rising in the Earth’s atmosphere; both atmospheric CO2 and climate change are accelerating. Climate scientists say we have years, not decades, to stabilize CO2 and other greenhouse gases and this level needs to be 350ppm (parts per million). OK, so what is the C02 level now? It is 389.47... for more info click on to website HERE.

And while you are there, don't forget 'World Environment Day' which is Friday 5th June. If you want to organise an event or be involved in an event to coincide with C02penhagen in October then click HERE.