Tag Archives | Environmentalism

2012: The Year We Did Our Best to Abandon the Natural World

Picture: USDOD (PD)

George Monbiot writes in the Guardian:

It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half-century.

Three weeks before the minimum occurred, the melting of the Arctic’s sea ice broke the previous record. Remnants of the global megafauna – such as rhinos and bluefin tuna – were shoved violently towards extinction. Novel tree diseases raged across continents. Bird and insect numbers continued to plummet, coral reefs retreated, marine life dwindled. And those charged with protecting us and the world in which we live pretended that none of it was happening.

Their indifference was distilled into a great collective shrug at the Earth Summit in June. The first summit, 20 years before, was supposed to have heralded a new age of environmental responsibility.

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Tiny Pacific Island Becomes The First Completely Solar-Powered Nation

Think a completely renewable-energy-based society is a pipe dream? Tiny Tokelau will no longer rely on imported diesel, instead switching over to solar panels and coconut-based biofuel. Fiji, the Cook Islands, Samoa, and Tuvalu plan to follow suit in the next decade. Voice Of America reports:

The remote islands of Tokelau have become the first territory in the world to be powered by the sun, officials say. The move is expected to save money and ease the environmental burden of relying on imported fossil fuels.

“The Tokelau Renewable Energy Project is a world first. Tokelau’s three main atolls now have enough solar capacity, on average, to meet electricity needs,” said New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister Murray McCully in a statement. “Until now, Tokelau has been 100 percent dependent upon diesel for electricity generation, with heavy economic and environmental costs.”

The island nations of Samoa and Tuvalu are aiming to get all of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

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Endocrine Disruptors from Personal Care Products Found in Statewide Survey of Minnesota’s Rivers and Lakes

Via ScienceDaily:

A science team from Arizona State University, in collaboration with federal partners, has completed the first statewide analysis of freshwater bodies in Minnesota, finding widespread evidence of the presence of active ingredients of personal care products in Minnesota lakes, streams and rivers.

These products are a billion dollar industry and can be found in antimicrobial soaps, disinfectants, and sanitizers to scrub our hands and clean countertops. Hundreds of antimicrobial products are sold in the U.S., many marketed with efficacy claims that remain elusive due to the short duration of the average consumer’s handwashing practices. The fate of these products can be traced from home use to sewers to wastewater treatment plants to eventually, downstream bodies of water.

The research team focused on two active ingredients found prominently in anti-bacterial soaps — triclosan and triclocarban — which have come under scrutiny by the EPA and FDA due to their environmental and human health concerns.

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New Zealand Grants Personhood Rights To River

In my eyes, this makes more sense than the Citizens United ruling. Via Care2:

In a landmark case for the Rights of Nature, officials in New Zealand recently granted the Whanganui, the nation’s third-longest river, with legal personhood “in the same way a company is, which will give it rights and interests”. The decision follows a long court battle for the river’s personhood initiated by the Whanganui River iwi, an indigenous community with strong cultural ties to the waterway.

Under the settlement, the river is regarded as a protected entity, under an arrangement in which representatives from both the iwi and the national government will serve as legal custodians towards the Whanganui’s best interests.

While it may seem an odd extension of rights, in many ways it harkens back to a time when mankind’s fate was more readily acknowledged as being intertwined with that of the rivers, lakes, and streams that sustained us.

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Inside The FBI’s Manual On The Anarchist/Environmentalist Threat

They are often students, are paranoid and resent authority, and hatch their plots in coffee houses and underground clubs. Via Green is the New Red, meet the FBI’s public enemy number one:

The materials…to train agents to identify and investigate “domestic terrorist” groups such as “black separatists,” anarchists, animal rights activists, and environmentalists…were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the ACLU. They offer additional insight into a disturbing pattern of FBI activity misrepresenting political activists as “terrorists” and manufacturing “domestic terrorism threats” where none exist.

Juxtapose this with militia extremists and white supremacists, who have murdered, lynched, bombed, assaulted government officials and created weapons of mass destruction. To most reasonable people, such a stark disparity between these groups would raise questions about how the FBI is allocating its domestic terrorism resources. How did such misguided policies come about?

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Fake Crowdsourced Ad Campaign Celebrates Shell Oil

As the energy giant pushes into the Arctic, the Let’s Go Public! Arctic Ready ad contest, involving user-submitted captions paired with photos of the pristine north, has drawn attention with a clever simulation of corporate social media engagement going off the rails:

Here at Shell, we’re committed to online social media. After all, it’s the fuel that lubricates the engines of internet communication.

Today, we want to take the Arctic Ready message offline, directly to the drivers who benefit from Shell’s performance fuels. That’s why we’re launching a new campaign (deadline this Thursday!), from which the best ads will be printed and posted in strategic locations worldwide.

So take a moment to add your own slogan to our beautiful new collection of images. The next place you see it might be your own rearview mirror. Because tomorrow is yesterday, accelerated. Let’s go.

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U.S. Coast Guard Creates ‘Protest-Free Zone’ Surrounding Shell Oil Drilling Area In Alaska

Odd how these protest-free zones always happen to coincide with where protest would be most necessary. PressTV writes:

The United States Coast Guard will establish and enforce “a 500-meter safety zone” around the Shell Oil Company’s drilling vessel Noble Discoverer as it drills exploratory offshore wells in the sensitive Arctic waters off the coast of Alaska beginning this July.

The ‘buffer zone’ would apply to all vessels, but the ‘special rules’ are clearly designed to make it more difficult for those trying to protest against the Shell’s oil drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas this summer.

“For any group or individual intending to conduct lawful demonstrations in the vicinity of the Noble Discoverer,” reads the USCG memo, “These demonstrations must be conducted outside the safety zone.” While acknowledging the negative impact on the “environment and indigenous people” a mid-ocean collision caused by environmental activists attempting to block or board the ship could have in the Arctic, the USCG report made no mention of what impact a massive oil spill in the area would have on the same.

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Futureconomics of Food

Vandana Shiva writes on the intersections of capitalism, the state, agribusiness, and a burgeoning organic movement in South Asia. Via Al Jazeera:

The economic crisis, the ecological crisis and the food crisis are a reflection of an outmoded and fossilised economic paradigm — a paradigm that grew out of mobilising resources for the war by creating the category of economic “growth” and is rooted in the age of oil and fossil fuels. It is fossilised both because it is obsolete, and because it is a product of the age of fossil fuels. We need to move beyond this fossilised paradigm if we are to address the economic and ecological crisis.

Economy and ecology have the same roots “oikos” — meaning home — both our planetary home, the Earth, and our home where we live our everyday lives in family and community.

But economy strayed from ecology, forgot the home and focused on the market.

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Why Libertarians Must Deny the Effects of Pollution

George Monbiot. Photo: SlimVirgin (CC)

George Monbiot. Photo: SlimVirgin (CC)

Matt Bruenig writes on his blog:

George Monbiot had an article in the Guardian on Monday about bastardised libertarianism and its inability to understand the real freedoms being fought for by environmentalists and social justice advocates. However, Monbiot’s treatment of environmentalism’s threat to libertarianism was a bit sloppy. He got sucked into the negative freedom and positive freedom debate, and although he worked his way to the correct conclusion ultimately, I felt like the clarity was lacking.

So I want to explain more clearly just how much environmentalists stick in the side of libertarian ideology. First, consider what libertarians of the sort Monbiot criticizes are really about philosophically: they favor a procedural justice account of the world based heavily on property rights. This is the newest face of libertarianism. Gone is the appeal to utility and desert. The modern libertarians try to prop up their political ideas almost solely through a rigid formalism of property rights.

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