Archive | Biodiversity

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Mitología indígena y cambio climático

Posted on 17 December 2009 by editor

Imagen del libro "A Vulnerabilidade do Ser", cortesía de Claudia Andujar

Imagen del libro "A Vulnerabilidade do Ser", cortesía de Claudia Andujar

Por Marina Barbosa *

COPENHAGUE (Tierramérica) En la mitología de los baniwas, yanomamis y  desanas, etnias que habitan el noroeste del estado brasileño de Amazonas fronterizo con Colombia y Venezuela, se encuentran explicaciones y advertencias sobre el cambio climático.

Según André  Baniwa, viceintendente del municipio de São Gabriel da Cachoeira, los efectos del clima ya fueron previstos por hombres de grandes poderes. Continue Reading

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No To False Alternatives

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor

Demonstration for climate justice in Copenhagen. Credit: Courtesy of Cindy Snodgrass

Demonstration for climate justice in Copenhagen. Credit: Courtesy of Cindy Snodgrass

By Joshua Kyalimpa

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Looking at what is on the table this week, Camilla Moreno would rather no climate deal at all is reached this week, than have 192 countries embrace what she calls false alternatives.

Moreno is with the forests and biodiversity programme of Friends of the Earth in Brazil. She is worried about some of the proposals for reducing deforestation. She’s opposed to the way carbon trading schemes in the deal could support the parceling out of large chunks of indigenous people’s land to companies and wealthy Brazilians. Continue Reading

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Latin America’s Green Path Forward

Posted on 15 December 2009 by editor

Laura Tuck

Laura Tuck

By Laura Tuck*

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) What happens at the global summit this week in Copenhagen is of utmost importance for Latin America and the Caribbean.

While expectations are that binding agreements on emission targets will probably not be signed until next year in Mexico City, there are many decisions – such as compensation for avoiding deforestation, technology transfers, financing of greenhouse gas reductions and adaptation to climate change – in play. The region has a stake in all of these and can play a critical role in reaching agreement on each. Continue Reading

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¿Dónde está la voz de América Latina?

Posted on 14 December 2009 by editor

Manuel Rodríguez Becerra, ex ministro de Medio Ambiente de Colombia. Crédito: Confecoop

Manuel Rodríguez Becerra, ex ministro de Medio Ambiente de Colombia. Crédito: Confecoop

Por Daniela Estrada

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva)  “Nos preocupa que la voz de América Latina se hace sentir a través de las ONG multinacionales, que pueden ser muy respetables, como la WWF, Conservación Internacional, Amigos de la Tierra, pero pensamos que debe haber una voz de América Latina que no esté permeada por los intereses del Norte”, dijo a TerraViva el ex ministro de Medio Ambiente de Colombia, Manuel Rodríguez. Continue Reading

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REDD: No Clear Targets

Posted on 13 December 2009 by editor

Jungle on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Credit: Diana Cariboni/IPS

Jungle on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Credit: Diana Cariboni/IPS

By Servaas van den Bosch

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) With five days to go at COP15 the REDD proposal no longer offers tangible targets for halting deforestation. A safeguard on the conversion of natural forest into plantations has been re-inserted though.

Reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) could lower global CO2 output by 15 percent, say scientists. Continue Reading

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Small Farmers Can Cool the World

Posted on 12 December 2009 by editor

Alicia Muñoz of La Via Campesina in Chile. Credit: TerraViva/A. Libisch

Alicia Muñoz of La Via Campesina in Chile. Credit: TerraViva/A. Libisch

By Stephen Leahy

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Industrial agriculture may emit nearly half of climate-heating greenhouse gases, but that reality has gone unrecognised by negotiators at the climate treaty talks here, say farmers with La Via Campesina, an international movement of hundreds of millions of small-scale peasant farmers.

“Small-scale farmers use 80 percent less energy than large monocultures,” said Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, a Haitian farmer with Mouvement de Paysan, through a translator.

“Peasant farmers from La Via Campesina and others can help cool the planet,” Jean-Baptiste told a press conference at the Klimaforum09, the alternative climate action talks being held here in Copenhagen Dec. 7-18.

Unlike the official talks, set in a remote location surrounded by police and razor wire, Klimaforum09 is being held in the city’s community centre and is free and open to the public.

“System Change for Climate Change” – that’s the phrase most often heard at the Klimaforum09 and in parts of Copenhagen.

La Via Campesina’s claim that industrial agriculture is by far the biggest source of carbon emissions is based on a recent study that looked at all emissions from the global food system.

This includes oil-dependent industrial farming, together with the expansion of the meat industry, the destruction of world’s savannahs and forests to grow agricultural commodities, the use of fossil fuel energy to transport and process food, and the extensive use of chemical fertilisers.

The study was conducted by GRAIN, an international non-governmental organisation that promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity to support local communities.

“These results are horrifying. So much carbon is lost from the soil using monoculture practices,” said Camila Montecinos, the lead GRAIN researcher from Santiago, Chile.

The study looked at all the available scientific literature and worked with soil scientists to arrive at this “rough” but thorough estimate, Montecinos told TerraViva.

The study does not include methane emissions from animals and their manure because studies conflict and incorporating manure into the soil increases fertility and soil carbon, she explained.

Surprisingly, one-third of the emissions come from food processing and transport, although the former is responsible for most. The bulk of emissions come from land use changes – conversions of forest and grasslands – and from direct agricultural production like fuel use, fertiliser and tillage.

Calculations in the report show that policies oriented towards agriculture in the hands of small farmers and focused on restoring soil fertility could, over the next 50 years, capture about 450 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is more than two-thirds of the current excess in the atmosphere.

“The evidence is irrefutable. If we can change the way we farm and the way we produce and distribute food, then we have a powerful solution for combating the climate crisis. There are no technical hurdles to achieving these results, it is only a matter of political will,” said Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN, in a release.

Governmental policies and trade agreements the world over support industrial agriculture production and the study shows this must change in order to stabilise the climate, Montecinos said. “No governments are talking about this,” she noted.

Worse still, many of those policies are pushing small farmers off the land, the ones who are by far the most efficient in terms of carbon emissions and energy use, she said.

Ending such policies and giving the lands back to small farmers could result in major emission reductions on the order of 50 to 66 percent, said La Via Campesina in a news release.

“Such a transformation of world agriculture would not only greatly contribute to solving the climate crisis – it would also provide healthy food for all – as well as provide livelihoods to millions of women and men,” the group said.

When asked what he would like to tell the negotiators at the official climate talks, Jean-Baptiste said: “We have to change the model of production and consumption, especially in the northern half of the world.”

“Corporate control and concentration has not provided any solutions. Instead people suffering more than ever,” Alicia Muñoz from Via Campesina in Chile told TerraViva. “The men standing up there [at the official negotiations] will never solve the problems of poverty and climate change.”

“Women need to be involved and part of the solution,” she stressed.

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Systematic Suppression of Systemic Solutions?

Posted on 11 December 2009 by editor

Credit: Claudius

Credit: Claudius

By Ashok Khosla *

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) Systemic failures, such as sudden changes in climate, accelerated loss of biodiversity and rapid growth of poverty and population, can only be solved by systemic solutions that address the deeper, underlying causes of these failures.

Moreover, since many of these problems are inter-related, they generally have to be solved together – where possible – to get maximum all-round benefits at least cost; when necessary, to minimize the likelihood of ameliorating one while worsening the others. Continue Reading

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La culpa también es de las vacas

Posted on 11 December 2009 by editor


Por una dieta vegetariana. Crédito: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

Por una dieta vegetariana. Crédito: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

Por Mario Osava


RÍO DE JANEIRO (IPS/TerraViva)  La ganadería vacuna debería tener la misma prioridad que el cambio climático, las armas nucleares y las guerras en el debate internacional, pero no está en la pauta, lamentó el activista brasileño João Meirelles Filho, autor de dos libros sobre la ocupación amazónica.

En Brasil la ganadería es la mayor causa de emisiones de gases invernadero, al provocar cuatro quintos de la deforestación amazónica y tres cuartos de las quemas de bosques y vegetación agrícola en todo el país, además generar el grueso del gas metano emitido en el proceso digestivo del vacuno. Continue Reading

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Act Now to Save The Planet

Posted on 11 December 2009 by editor

Danish children planting trees. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS

Danish children planting trees. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS

By Mohan Munasinghe*

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) The climate is changing faster than forecast only two years ago: 2,700 experts at the IARU Climate Congress in March 2009 warned that the IPCC predictions made in 2007 are already out of date, for example 3 degrees C global temperature rise by 2100. The latest information indicates more severe warming exceeding 4-5 C.

Rising temperatures are already penalising the poor most, who ironically contributed least to the problem. Global warming is impacting global food and water supplies, raising sea levels, melting ice sheets and increasing the number and intensity of severe weather events. Continue Reading

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Portraits: Quechua Women from Peru Attuned to Pachamama

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

Irma Luz Poma Canchumani, a Quechua woman from Peru, at Klimaforum. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS

Irma Luz Poma Canchumani, a Quechua woman from Peru, at Klimaforum. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS

“We came to Copenhagen to bring harmony to the whole world,” Irma Luz Poma Canchumani, a Quechua woman from Peru, told TerraViva. Her village participated with others in five countries – Canada, Cameroon, Kenya, Panama and the Philippines – in making a documentary produced by the British organisation InsightShare, which was shown at Klimaforum.

“In the video (called ‘Conversations with the Earth’) you can see reality. We did not come to accuse, we came to show that Pachamama (Mother Earth) is life, that water is life, not money. We want to show how we live,” said Poma, who travelled to Copenhagen with her mother, funded by InsightShare.

They both live in the town of Cochas Grande, where they say the climate is already changing. “For example, the water is disappearing. It comes from the snow and ice on the Huaytapallana mountain, which is gradually losing its ice cap. We need rain at seed time (for potatoes, maize, wheat, barley and beans) and there isn’t any,” she said.

“We want to infuse harmony and make the whole world aware that we must care for Pachamama, because Pachamama gives us life. You may have a lot of money, but what are you going to eat? Money?” asked María, who has also visited the Bella Center, where the official COP 15 negotiations are taking place.

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Latin American Women Want Change in Trade Rules

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Guatemalan indigenous girls. Credit: Danilo Valladares/IPS

Guatemalan indigenous girls. Credit: Danilo Valladares/IPS


Daniela Estrada

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – “We don’t need to change the climate, we need to change trade,” said Brazilian activist Marta Lago at Klimaforum, the civil society meeting held in parallel with the climate change summit in the Danish capital.

Lago and Norma Maldonado from Guatemala, who belong to the International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN), criticised the free trade treaties signed by Latin American countries with the United States and the European Union in a panel Tuesday.

They said free trade agreements accentuate poverty and the loss of biodiversity, as a result of megaprojects for the extraction of natural resources which use water intensively, spew out pollution, and exacerbate the effects of climate change.

Examples are mining projects, construction of large hydroelectric dams, and plantations of monoculture crops and genetically modified (GM) organisms.

Free trade deals include strict regulation of intellectual property rights for patented GM seeds, which harms small farmers, creating food insecurity in poor communities that already suffer from harvest variability because of global warming.

“Where there is biodiversity, where there is wealth, where there is culture, that’s where corporate interests flock,” Maldonado, deputy head of Ecumenical Services for Christian Development in Central America (SEFCA), an organisation working with women and young people for community development and political effectiveness, told TerraViva.

SEFCA’s work covers a wide range of issues, focusing on the recovery of traditional farming practices, the carving out of local markets for products, the improvement of the diets of people in rural communities and the provision of training for international trade negotiations.

“The trade treaties give (foreign countries) a legal claim to plunder our natural resources. We cannot separate the trade treaties from their everyday effects: the privatisation of water; the loss of land; the mining companies that use 250,000 gallons of water a minute for free, while polluting our rivers,” she said.

“Guatemala was the birthplace of many food crops, and yet its people are undernourished. Children are dying of hunger. How can we have a country that produces food, but all of it for export, to sell to the great international markets?” she demanded.

In her view, the EU “gives with one hand,” through development aid, “and takes away with the other,” by means of its trade treaties.

In Guatemala, SEFCA works with Q’eqchi’ indigenous communities that are recovering degraded coffee plantations.

Women bear the brunt of climate change effects, Lago and Maldonado said, as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) stated in its latest report.

SEFCA is making a documentary to raise awareness on the water crisis, which includes footage, screened at Klimaforum, showing rural women who spend four hours a day fetching water from streams around their communities.

According to Maldonado, “the problem of water has been, and will continue to be,” a women’s issue, “for cultural reasons,” because they are the ones who do most of the cooking, bathing of children and washing of clothes in their homes.

“Lack of access to water adds to women’s burden,” already a heavy one, she said.

“Women take four hours to fetch two gallons of water at a time, and then we want them to further their education and participate in community affairs. What time do they have for this?” she asked.

How much do Guatemalan women supported by SEFCA know about climate change? According to Maldonado, they are unaware of factors like greenhouse gas emissions and other scientific aspects. “Actually, I don’t understand them very well myself, yet,” she admitted.
“What we are very well aware of is that there are constant landslides and floods, while we women can’t even swim, that the weather is getting hotter all the time, that the rhythm of the crops is altered – sometimes the coffee is ripe in January and previously it was in October – and the cycles and agricultural calendars are upset, and we don’t have enough water,” said the activist.

“We may not know what a carbon sink is, but we do know that our land is being taken from us,” said Maldonado, who said she has been threatened and intimidated for her opposition to free trade agreements in Guatemala.

“A wave of repression swept the country when the first free trade treaty between Guatemala and the United States was signed. Since then there has been systematic persecution of the leadership and raids on organisations (opposed to the trade accords). They searched my house, injured two colleagues, took our computers: we are on their blacklist,” she complained.

Maldonado is in Copenhagen, but she said she “expects nothing” from the Dec. 7-18 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, attended by delegates from 192 countries and 3,500 journalists. She says she is putting her faith in the alliances that emerge from Klimaforum, where the keynote is scepticism of the current development model.

This huge alternative meeting is being held in a multi-purpose centre in the Danish capital that includes a conference centre and is 15 minutes by train from the Bella Centre, the venue for COP 15.

The Klimaforum programme lists 150 panels and talks, 50 exhibitions and 30 artistic events, including documentaries, theatre and music, which will continue until Dec. 18.

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Cambiar el comercio, claman latinoamericanas

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor


Niñas guatemaltecas. Crédito: Danilo Valladares/IPS

Niñas guatemaltecas. Crédito: Danilo Valladares/IPS

Por Daniela Estrada


COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) “No necesitamos cambiar el clima, necesitamos cambiar el comercio”, dijo la activista brasileña Marta Lago en el Klimaforum, el principal ámbito de la sociedad civil paralelo a la COP-15.

Lago y la guatemalteca Norma Maldonado, ambas de la Red Internacional de Género y Comercio (IGTN, según sus siglas en inglés), cuestionaron los tratados de libre comercio firmados por países de América Latina con Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea, en una charla ofrecida el martes. Continue Reading

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No Closed Doors at Parallel Climate Summit

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor


Indigenous leader Angélica Sarzuri from the Bolivian highlands speaks at Climate Bottom. Credit: Matthew McDermott

Indigenous leader Angélica Sarzuri from the Bolivian highlands speaks at Climate Bottom. Credit: Matthew McDermott

By Enrique Gili

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Two blocks from the Metro station on the busy M-1 Line, the first indication that pedestrians are slipping into the space-time continuum known as the “Free City” is the ubiquitous graffiti and occasional “boom!” of small explosive devices like M-80s echoing through the cobbled streets.

Hippies, bikers and freethinkers rule here, in the largest autonomous – and what many would argue unruliest – neighbourhood in all of Scandinavia.

Located on 85 acres on the grounds of a decommissioned military base is the alternative community of Christiania, where the sentiments of the 1960s still prevail, and the police tread lightly for fear of setting off the street battles that periodically rock the area.

For the next two weeks at least, Christiania has become the gravitational centre for radicals and environmental activists who have descended on Copenhagen to make their presence felt at the Dec. 7-18 U.N. Conference on Climate Change.

They are focused on a broad spectrum of social issues, ranging from indigenous rights to illegal mining.

In another part of the city, official delegates are negotiating future caps on carbon emissions behind the fenced perimetre of the Bella Centre, guarded by a cadre of polite but firm Danish police officers.

So, many of these activists will instead gather at the parallel Climate Bottom meeting in an improvised space consisting of a large circus tent located on the grounds of an eco-village.

The event was organised by Christiania community members eager to capitalise on the confluence of policymakers and stakeholders present for the COP 15 here.

Residents of Christiania note that it is not just Native people facing the prospect of being uprooted, sharing the common bond of having to adapt and change to new realities. Whether it’s a local municipality acquiescing to real estate developers, or the ever-present danger of losing one’s home to drought and wildfire, climbing temperatures linked to global warming are starting to affect nearly everyone on the planet.

“Christiania is being threatened by the local government because of our land,” said Doris Kruckenberg, a coordinator for the day’s discussion on North-South development issues.

Change was in the air as the sweet smell of marijuana wafted through the tent. Dreadlocked 20-somethings and bored-acting high school students gathered to listen to the presentations of activists about the plight of developing countries faced with the prospect of climate change.

Roberto Perez, a biologist and agronomist for the Cuba-based advocacy group Conservation for Nature, observed that tropical storms are raging through the Caribbean at unprecedented levels of intensity, compounding the misery of already poor island nations caught in the path of seasonal hurricanes.

“Climate change is a fact. We are already suffering,” he said.

It was a sentiment shared by many of the speakers attending the conference on a chilly and wet afternoon. Parts of the planet are getter hotter and wetter, while others are experiencing unprecedented drought. Glaciers are melting in the Andean range, and in Bangladesh, floods are sweeping valuable cropland into the sea.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, there will be 200 million displaced people roaming the planet by 2050 as a consequence of climate change.

Although no climate model is 100-percent uncertain, evidence of disruption can be found in Micronesia and Asia as peasant farmers and fishing communities find themselves forced to abandon their villages.

“It’s important that the people being devastated by climate change get to this event,” said Christian Fris Bach, a coordinator of food relief efforts and international director for DanChurch Aid.

Not all voices speak in unison as to what needs to be done or how to proceed. Tove Pederson, a spokesperson for Greenland’s climate delegation, contends that global warming presents a challenge and an opportunity to a nation covered in glaciers.

Retreating ice could expose vast deposits of previously inaccessible oil and mineral resources, potentially presenting a financial windfall for Greenland’s tiny native population, which depends on subsistence hunting and the odd tourist for their incomes.

“We have to live in this world. We can’t just sit down and cry and be paralysed by the fact the climate is changing. We have to face the challenges and take advantage of the new opportunities that arise,” said Pederson.

Attendees called for pushing past the boundaries that limit the parameters of the COP 15 to matters far more spiritual in nature.

Closing sessions featured calls to prayer and songs to the land, sea, and air, all common deities among traditional cultures around the world.

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ENVIRONMENT: Tree Plantations Are Not Forests, Women Activists Say

Posted on 01 December 2009 by admin

Brazilian women rally against deforestation

Brazilian women rally against deforestation

By Marcela Valente

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 1 (IPS) – Touted as “harvested forests,” single-crop tree plantations are fast encroaching on the native forests and grasslands of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, affecting the environment and the lives of local communities, rural women say.
Continue Reading

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