Fukushima police have finally reacted to a criminal complaint filed against TEPCO and 32 of its top officials two years ago over the contamination caused by the 2011 nuclear disaster. They have referred the case to prosecutors.
The Fukushima District Prosecutors’ Office will now determine whether to pursue criminal charges against the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and its top management over the leaks of highly radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.
The criminal complaint alleges that the company and its executives failed to manage storage tanks of contaminated water or build underground walls to block the flow of radioactive material into the sea at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Notable people on the list include TEPCO’s President Naomi Hirose, former Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former President Masataka Shimizu.
Police have reviewed claims filed by local residents after 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from TEPCO tanks.
Investigators say that since the complaint was launched in 2013, they have conducted interviews with TEPCO officials and analyzed other relevant information on suspicion of environmental pollution offense law violations. The police will document their observations and present the case to the Prosecutors’ Office.
TEPCO has not made any public comments on the matter, but has said that company officials were in contact with investigators, according to NHK.
The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is considered to be the world’s worst environmental catastrophe since Chernobyl. As of March, about 600,000 tons of contaminated water are still contained within TEPCO tanks. According to preliminary estimates, site cleanup may take up to 40 years.
Far from the expected development, forestry plantations and other carbon market initiatives in Uganda have severely compromised ecologies and livelihoods of the local people.
By Kristen Lyons and Peter Westoby · The Conversation · September 19, 2015
In recent years there has been significant movement toward land acquisition in developing countries to establish forestry plantations for offsetting carbon pollution elsewhere in the world. This is often referred to as land grabbing.
These carbon trading initiatives work on the basis that forestry plantations absorb carbon dioxide and other polluting greenhouse gases. This helps to undo the environmental damage associated with modern western lifestyles.
Carbon markets are championed as offering solutions to climate change while delivering positive development outcomes to local communities. Heavy polluters, among them the airline and energy sectors, buy carbon credits and thereby pay local communities, companies and governments to protect forests and establish plantations.
But are carbon markets – and the feel good stories that have sprung up around them – all just a bit too good to be true?
There is mounting evidence that forestry plantations and other carbon market initiatives severely compromise livelihoods and ecologies at a local level. The corporate land grabs they rely on also tend to affect the world’s most vulnerable people – those living in rural areas.
But such adverse impacts are often written out of the carbon market ledger. Sometimes they are simply justified as ‘externalities’ that must be accepted as part of ensuring we avoid climate apocalypse.
Green Resources is one of a number of large-scale plantation forestry and carbon offset corporations operating on the continent. Its activities are having a profound impact on the livelihoods of a growing number of people. Norwegian-registered, the company produces saw log timber and charcoal in Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. It receives carbon revenue from its plantation forestry operations.
In Uganda, the focus of our research, Green Resources holds two licenses over 11,864 hectares of government-owned, ‘degraded’ Central Forest Reserve. Historically, villagers could access this land to grow food, graze animals and engage in cultural practices.
Under the licensed land agreement between Uganda’s government and Green Resources, more than 8,000 people face profound disruptions to their livelihoods. Many are experiencing forced evictions as a direct result of the company’s take over of the land.
Carbon violence on local villagers
Villagers across Green Resources’ two acquisitions in Uganda report being denied access to land vital for growing food and grazing livestock. These are at Bukaleba and Kachung Central Forest Reserves. They also cannot collect forest resources. Many say they are denied access to sites of cultural significance and to resources vital to their livelihoods.
There are also many stories about land and waterways that have been polluted by agrichemicals the company uses in its forestry plantations. This has caused crop losses and livestock deaths.
Many of those evicted, as well as those seeking to use land licensed to Green Resources, have also experienced physical violence at the hands of police and private security forces tied to the arrival of the company. Some villagers have been imprisoned or criminalised for trespass.
These diverse forms violence are directly tied to the company’s participation in the carbon economy. Thus Green Resources’ plantation forestry and carbon market activities are inflicting ‘carbon violence’ on local villagers.
Green Resources appears to be continuing to tighten the perimeter of its plantation operations as part of ensuring compliance with regulations and certifications required for entry into carbon markets. This further entrenches these diverse forms of violence. In short, subsistence farmers and poor communities are carrying heavy costs associated with the expansion of forestry plantations and global carbon markets.
Green Resources does engage in some community development activities, but these are largely disconnected from local villagers’ needs and aspirations. Interviews with 152 affected villagers across the two sites highlight that access to land to produce food is the most pressing issue. This is an issue that Green Resources has done little to address.
The loss of access to land and sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable populations is unjust and unacceptable, particularly when rural people in Uganda contribute little to carbon pollution.
In 2014 the Oakland Institute, an independent policy think tank based in California, US, published its report on Green Resources. The company has responded, most notably in a strong letter from the CEO. While he sought to discredit the researchers and the report, he failed to engage with substantial issues of concern arising from the research.
At least one company board member has publicly acknowledged problems in company relations with affected communities, especially at the Bukaleba site. These are issues raised by a number of other researchers over a number of years.
The company has not publicly articulated what it is doing to address the social and environmental problems associated with its corporate practices. Green Resources must demonstrate how it is seeking to deal with the substantial adverse impacts associated with its activities.
It’s not just about money
More broadly, there are increasing calls for reform of global plantation forestry and carbon markets to alleviate the burden subsistence farmers carry alongside their expansion. Similarly, there are calls for reform to corporate practices, including community development initiatives and employment practices.
We would suggest that such reforms should be directed towards reducing the gap between the winners and losers in global carbon markets. There must be recognition of common property rights and access and use rights of local people in license areas. This must be done alongside valuing indigenous and local people’s knowledge of forests and ecosystem management.
There are also stronger calls from climate movements for the transformation of global energy futures. Those include the support for renewable energy to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and the subsequent reliance on offset initiatives.
Movements for climate justice in Africa and elsewhere demonstrate the growing resistance to market based and techno fixes as the means to avert climate change. These calls for justice challenge change agents to move beyond simply tweaking at the edges of carbon markets.
They need to imagine a future where social and environmental justice – not money and markets – are at the centre of thinking and planning.
Pro-NATO, pro-U.S. ‘socialist’ scholar invited to speak at ‘Socialist Resistance’ conference in London.
The political group ‘Socialist Resistance’ in England held an education conference in London on Sept 26, 2015 featuring a Ukrainian diaspora scholar, Marko Bojcun, who delivered a strong message that the rightist, neo-conservative regime in Kyiv should be supported and that the United States and NATO should be pressured to provide more and heavier arms to it. His talk was titled ‘Russian imperialism today‘. The conference theme was ‘Imperialism, globalisation and climate change’.
Bojcun is Director of the Ukraine Centre, London Metropolitan University. He is a PhD university graduate in Canada. In April 2015, he co-signed an open letter appealing to President Petro Poroshenko not to sign into law anti-communist, thought-control measures which had been approved by the Ukrainian Rada. Poroshenko approved the laws. The result has been a harsh crackdown on political, press and other forms of expression in Ukraine as well as the banning of political parties. Among the parties banned by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine have been the large Communist Party of Ukraine and two smaller parties calling themselves communist.
In his speech to the conference, Bojcun reviewed the current situation in the countries bordering, or close to, Russia. He reported favorably on the efforts of the U.S. and EU to “aid” these countries in the face of alleged Russian economic ‘pressure’ and ‘aggression’ against them. At the 23′ mark, he reports on the efforts of Western powers to help Azerbaijan “break out” of its economic ties to Russia. (Those trade and other ties, actually, are an important lifeline for the people of that country heavily dependent on oil revenues. Many Azeris live and work in Russia and send home their earnings.)
Bojcun dismissed the argument that NATO is engaged in a military buildup in eastern Europe and a threatening stance against Russia and he argued that NATO should be supplying many more weapons and other military aid to Kyiv. Referring to the NATO summit meeting in August 2014, he lamented that “Poroshenko came away with absolutely nothing that he asked for. He was not going to be armed.
“I know there are American advisers in Ukraine and there are some who are training [Ukrainian] forces there. But neither the U.S. nor NATO are supplying Ukraine with lethal weapons. Some NATO countries, very small countries such as Lithuania, have promised to. But this is really not serious.”
“NATO is concerned, first of all, with securing its own member states. It doesn’t have the capacity to do that, to my way of thinking, should Russia decide to make a move northward [??] to the Baltic states. That is a cause of great concern.”
Bojcun then argued it is Russia which is engaged in a military buildup in eastern Europe. “Russia, on the other hand, has military bases in eight of the former Soviet republics. Eight of them. And it has been building them since 2003…
“So, the Russian capacity to strike in the neighbourhood of Ukraine is far superior than the NATO one, and it is growing. One needs to take that into account.
“Looking into this long argument that has been made about NATO expansion into east-central Europe, I agree, NATO made an expansion into east-central Europe. But, that happened. We are into a period since the 2008 financial crisis and the Russo-Georgian War  where the U.S. is really a reactive force and is not [reacting] in kind to the Russian military buildup.”
Also speaking on Ukraine at the same conference was Catherine Samary, a pro-Maidan French intellectual and leader of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) of France. Her talk was titled ‘Socialists’ attitudes to Russian expansionism’.
Socialist Resistance calls itself “An ecosocialist organisation opposed to imperialist wars and capitalism.”
The recordings of the two speeches are posted to the website of the rather mis-named ‘Ukraine Solidarity Campaign’ based in the UK. There is no broadcast of discussion by conference participants following the speech by Bojcun to know what, if any, disagreement with the speech was expressed by conference participants or by his conference co-speaker.
Marko Bojcun spoke in London on May 27, 2014. The talk took place two days after the presidential election in Ukraine. In his speech, Bojcun welcomed the election of Petro Poroshenko. He shared the platform with Gabriel Levy (pseudonym), a pro-Maidan writer who publishes People and Nature.
“Global Goals” Is Lavishly-Funded Public Relations Endeavor “We the People” Never Voted For
This month delegates to the United Nations ratified the so-called “Global Goals For Sustainable Development.” This will involve a radical, far-reaching social and economic transformation of everyday life that has been in the works for decades.
In true Hegelian dialectic style, the program is taking place as various black swans linger on the economic horizon, while some of the very interests involved in the “Global Goals” are likewise putting the finishing touches on the Trans-Pacific trade agreement, designed to (not coincidentally) crush the nation state.
Such an ambitious program will cost, by the UN’s own estimate, as much as $5 trillion annually. A social makeover of this scale requires enlistment of ideologically-motivated shock troops from all walks of life to act as change agents in their own spheres. Thus a portion of such finances will be apportioned to thought and behavioral modification toward ideational acceptance of continued corporate ascendance, wealth and resource redistribution, and the breakdown of traditional borders that for better or worse have defined the human condition since the feudal era–from gender and common morality to the nation state. As the “Global Goals” website declares, “We are not a generation of bystanders. We are global citizens.”
Below is the campaign’s slickly produced promotional video.
Truthstream Media has developed a clever interpretation of the UN’s “Global Goals.” Unfortunately, these are by no means exaggerations but rather illustrate the hypocrisy of this campaign, which in reality involves an accelerated privatization of the commons and even our own bodies combined with elaborate psychological warfare to disguise such endeavors as social activism.
What’s that you say? You’re not on board? See you in the gulag, comrade.
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Translation: Centralized banks, IMF, World Bank, Fed to control all finances, digital one world currency in a cashless society
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Translation: Mass vaccination, Codex Alimentarius
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Translation: UN propaganda, brainwashing through compulsory education from cradle to grave
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Translation: Population control through forced “Family Planning”
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Translation: Privatize all water sources, don’t forget to add fluoride
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Translation: Smart grid with smart meters on everything, peak pricing
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Translation: TPP, free trade zones that favor megacorporate interests
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Translation: Toll roads, push public transit, remove free travel, environmental restrictions
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Translation: Even more regional government bureaucracy like a mutant octopus
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Translation: Big brother big data surveillance state
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Translation: Forced austerity
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
Translation: Cap and Trade, carbon taxes/credits, footprint taxes
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Translation: Environmental restrictions, control all oceans including mineral rights from ocean floors
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Translation: More environmental restrictions, more controlling resources and mineral rights
Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Translation: UN “peacekeeping” missions (ex 1, ex 2), the International Court of (blind) Justice, force people together via fake refugee crises and then mediate with more “UN peacekeeping” when tension breaks out to gain more control over a region, remove 2nd Amendment in USA
Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Translation: Remove national sovereignty worldwide, promote globalism under the “authority” and bloated, Orwellian bureaucracy of the UN
Aviation giant Boeing Co. is spending money on lobbyists and court cases in an effort to cover up one of the worst nuclear disasters in American history and avoid paying millions to clean up the still-contaminated site.
In 1959, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) north of Los Angeles leaked more than 300 times the allowable amount of radiation into surrounding neighborhoods, according to an in-depth investigation by NBC4 Southern California. That contamination is now linked to up to a 60% increase in cancer in the area.
After a power surge occurred in one of the nuclear reactors, operators of the facility for weeks deliberately released radiation into the atmosphere to avoid a nuclear detonation similar to Chernobyl.
Boeing’s acquisition of SSFL in 1996 has prevented any proper investigation into current radiation levels at the site and stalled any cleanup efforts, according to the NBC4 investigation.
In 2007, the California legislature passed a law asserting that Boeing was obligated to clean up SSFL, even though it did not own the site at the time of the accident. A higher court invalidated the law, ruling it was too stringent.
Eventually, California’s EPA drafted agreements for the Department of Energy, NASA, and Boeing to commit to a cleanup. Boeing was the only entity that refused to sign.
A recent media report about Washington’s plans to upgrade nuclear bombs in Western Germany resulted in Russia expressing concern, but the United States denied allegations of violating the
Linda Adams, the former head of the state EPA, told NBC4 that Boeing hired “a large army of lobbyists … to do everything they could to stop a cleanup to that level.”
The lobbyists included “Peter Weiner, a former environmental aide to Gov. Jerry Brown, Winston Hickox, a former head of the California EPA, and Robert Hoffman, the former chief lawyer of the Department of Toxic Substance Control. All three left government service and have worked on behalf of Boeing to kill a full cleanup of Santa Susana.”
Boeing also gave thousands of dollars in campaign donations to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Barbara Boxer and California Sen. Kevin De Leon.
De Leon is the Chairman of the Committee that confirmed Barbara Lee as Director of the Department of Toxic Substance Control, which is the agency tasked with forcing Boeing to conduct a cleanup.
Lee admitted to NBC4 that SSFL “has a lot of contamination,” but does not “believe there is a current exposure to communities.”
In 2012, Boeing put together a PR team with a campaign strategy to “target media” and put out the message that the “site poses no risk to human health today,” NBC4 reported.
A University of Michigan study found that rates of cancer were 60% higher in the area around SSFL than in other regions. Boeing dismissed the analysis, saying it found no proof of health side effects due to radiation.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Hal Morgenstern, accused Boeing of manipulating his work. Morgenstern wrote in a letter to California State Senator Joe Simitian, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Quality:
“I would like to make it clear to your Committee that Boeing’s claim made about the conclusion of our study is false. We did not conclude that there was no excess cancer in the communities surrounding SSFL. Furthermore, Boeing’s quotes from our report were taken out of context, and they failed to report our specific findings that contradicted their claim.”
Morgenstern noted that cancers such as thyroid, bladder, and lymph tissue were both tested for and found.
In Paraguay’s vast Chaco region, the familiar sounds of the forest are being drowned out by the rumble of heavy machinery. “Where jaguars once trod, now there are just the tracks of bulldozers”, protests Porai Picanerai, a member of the Ayoreo tribe.
His people are being chased from their ancestral lands by Brazilian corporation Yaguarete Pora. While some Ayoreo remain hiding in the forest, living in fear and isolation, those forced out are vulnerable to disease and illness.
The Chaco is experiencing rapid deforestation thanks to companies like Yaguarete Pora, who are illegally clearing vast swathes of land for cattle ranching. Ironically, having promised a small, protected nature reserve, they continue to oust the forest’s most accomplished conservationists, its tribal people.
In spite of this, the company proudly flaunt the logo of the largest corporate responsibility initiative on the planet, the United Nations Global Compact.
This voluntary agreement advocates ten fundamental corporate responsibility principles, including the provision that “businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.”
Though Yaguarete clearly defy this responsibility, the Compact’s lax membership requirements allow corporations to engage in bad practices while sporting the UN seal of approval.
Such is the hypocrisy of 21st century greenwashing. With pressure mounting on companies to endorse high standards of corporate responsibility, many are failing to deliver. To mask the truth, companies frequently greenwash their activities by participating in seemingly eco-friendly ventures that disguise the true extent of the environmental and human damage they are causing.
With conservation and intergovernmental organisations cosying up to big business, the greenwash is increasingly sophisticated, posing an ever-greater threat to the lives of tribal peoples. Because their livelihoods depend on their unique local environments, this greenwashing poses a grave threat to their survival.
Corporate greenwashing is destroying tribal peoples
The Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (APECO) in Casiguran, the Philippines, is a 12,923 hectare area currently being developed into a self-sufficient commercial hub and special economic zone.
The project promises to bring “modernity with a touch of green” to Casiguran, boasting plans for eco-friendly features including a Marine Sanctuary and Mangrove Development Zone. For all this talk, the situation on the ground tells a dramatically different story.
If completed, APECO will strip 3,000 small farms and indigenous Agta households of their land. The Agta have reported intimidation, interrogation and assassination attempts relating to the project, which are further jeopardising a population already plagued by malnutrition and homicide.
What’s more, APECO’s ‘green’ promises appear entirely forgotten, as mangrove destruction and illegal logging are destroying the local ecosystem. The Agta’s message is simple: “The most important thing here is our land. If we don’t have it, then we won’t survive.”
Conservation organizations – the ultimate greenwash
Regrettably, corporate greenwashing at the expense of tribal peoples is widespread and recurrent. As if this wasn’t bad enough, an even more worrying trend has emerged.
Increasingly, well-known conservation groups are collaborating with companies to establish ‘green’ projects like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
RSPO, an association of palm oil industry stakeholders, was established with the objective of making sustainable palm oil the international norm. It is backed by prominent conservation organizations including Conservation International, the World Resources Institute, and founding member WWF.
Despite these reputable [sic] credentials, there’s a catch. Among RSPO’s members is Wilmar International, whose former subsidiary PT Asiatic Persada is responsible for the forced eviction of the Batin Sembilan from their homes in Jambi province of Sumatra, Indonesia.
The tribe have been arrested, attacked and murdered as their ancestral lands give way to palm oil plantations. Accusations of Wilmar’s bribery blighted negotiations to settle the dispute and culminated in the sale of PT Asiatic Persada, leaving the Batin Sembilan without recourse for their suffering.
Wilmar’s participation in RSPO shows that companies who feign social responsibility are still welcome in ‘green’ initiatives. Indeed, by cosying up to big businesses, which push for lenient responsibility standards, conservation groups enable companies to mask exploitative practices whilst gaining credibility for participating in sustainable projects.
This brand of greenwashing spells danger, not only for tribal peoples but also for conservation groups, who run the risk of guilt by association. So long as these organizations remain indifferent to corporate deception, their loyalty and integrity is called into question.
Hypocrisy at the highest level
Greenwashing can even implicate the institutions and funding bodies responsible for global development. Though these international organizations advocate sustainability, they frequently support projects that undermine this ethos.
As a case in point, in the early 1990s the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), a newly-established World Bank program, struck an agreement with the Cameroon government to conserve a 6 million acre area of rainforest. Yet as one indigenous Baka man observed, “those who now claim they are conserving the forest are the same people pillaging our forests.”
This agreement masked a hefty World Bank loan to fund the logging of a further 3.5 million acres of forest. For the Baka hunter-gatherers and their neighbours, this proved disastrous. Unable to claim their land rights, and prohibited from entering the protected forest to gather resources, they have struggled to survive. In Republic of the Congo, the Baka and Mbenjele suffered a similar fate at the hands of another GEF project.
Such institutional double-dealing delivers a damaging twin blow to tribal peoples – first, their environment is destroyed by commercial activity, and then conservation projects deny them access to their surviving lands and resources.
The World Bank’s conflicted sponsorship doesn’t end there. Today, the Bank is set to profit from its investment in the controversial UN REDD+ scheme, which encourages carbon offsetting to maintain a global equilibrium. Simultaneously, billions of dollars are lent to companies in the extractive industries, the most highly polluting sector.
This has led some to dub the World Bank a ‘climate change profiteer‘.
What next for tribal peoples?
It’s evident that greenwashing is evolving, and with it the challenges that tribal people face. As conservation and development organizations collaborate with irresponsible corporations, the distinction between protector and perpetrator becomes blurred.
This results in indigenous rights violations going unpunished, while organizations that should be working with tribal peoples to protect the environment are discredited. If green initiatives are to live up to their word, they must respect the land ownership rights of tribal peoples and legally obtain free, prior and informed consent.
Environmental groups must also insist on greater transparency among corporate participants. Until then, greenwashing will continue to mask the destruction of the world’s last refuges for tribal peoples.
Three members from the Guatemala’s Council of Displaced Peoples, CONDEG, were kidnapped on Thursday in the palm oil producing town of Petén.
Local human rights organization, UDEFEGUA, issued a press release Thursday denouncing inaction on the part of local authorities following the disappearance.
“We reiterate and demand immediate action by the authorities to ensure the security, life and physical integrity of the human rights defenders,” the statement read.
Police officials have not identified any suspects or persons of interest involved in the incident.
According to local media reports, the kidnappers are demanding the reversal of a Guatemalan court ruling, which ordered local palm oil manufacturer Repsa to temporarily halt its operations due to unethical environmental practices.
The decision was handed down Wednesday after local residents filed legal motions against the company for contaminating drinking water and endangering protected species along the La Pasión River.
Last June, heavy rains caused a holding pond containing chemicals to overflow into the river, marking the second time in two years that communities in northern Guatemala have seen large scale fish die-offs in their rivers.
Water pollution is a major environmental problem associated with palm oil production, according to labor watchdog Verité.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources recently concluded that the La Pasion River had been polluted with malathion, an agricultural pesticide.
The court ruling, however, angered some local residents who depend on the company for work. Repsa employs more than half the local population and the majority of jobs center around the palm oil industry.
Guatemala has become the ninth largest palm oil exporter in the world, and the second largest palm oil exporter in Latin America.
Russia’s government has decided against producing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Friday.
The deputy prime minister underscored the need to draw a “clear distinction” between this decision and science and research projects in fields such as medicine.
“As for genetically modified organisms, we have decided against the use of GMO in food production,” Dvorkovich said.
A law requiring manufacturers to label products whose GMO content is higher than 0.9 percent has been in effect since 2007.
It seems to be all over the place!
– 27 February, 2015
By Seth Borenstein and Luis Andres
“Glacial Melting In Antarctica Makes Continent The ‘Ground Zero Of Global Climate Change‘
…Parts of Antarctica are melting so rapidly it has become ‘ground zero of global climate change without a doubt,’ said Harvard geophysicist Jerry Mitrovica…”
– March 2010
“Barrow, Alaska: ‘Ground Zero for Climate Change’”
“At climate change’s ‘Ground Zero‘
COUTONOU, BENIN – Women are most vulnerable but also a resource for survival
(UPDATED) – Here at the fringes of climate change’s ‘Ground Zero’, no mourning bell tolls for the women who are most vulnerable to climate change’s impacts,…”
– August 1, 2012
“The Southwest: Ground Zero for Global Warming
Experts warn that the American Southwest will be the part of the nation hit first, worst and hardest by global warming…”
– August 1, 2015
“…Most sentient people in what we like to call the Sunshine State already knew that Florida was Ground Zero for climate change…”
“Ground zero for climate change
Former CEJ environmental journalism fellow Susan Moran reports from Palmer Station in Antarctica“
– 13 September 2013
“Agate Beach: Ground zero for new research on Global Warming and resulting ocean behavior
There is some commotion going on at Agate Beach these days as ocean scientists set up equipment to measure wave ‘run up’…”
“With rising waters in South Beach, FDOT busy on Alton Road drainage
Alton Road may be Ground Zero for climate change as flooding woes have environmentalists and activists warning about the effects of sea-level rise.”
– July 9, 2014
“Safe Coast Virginia: Report Offers Bold Flooding and Climate Action Plan
…Coastal Hampton Roads is already ground zero for climate change impacts in Virginia. By the year 2100, sea levels are projected to rise by as much as seven feet or more, …”
– 2 June 2008
“SAHEL: Region is ‘ground zero’ for climate change – Egeland
The Sahel region of West Africa is ‘ground zero’ for vulnerable communities struggling to adapt to climate change, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on conflict, Jan Egeland, said…”
– April 22, 2014
“Spending Earth Day at Ground Zero for Climate Change In America
…..Dr. Sellers remembered catching a glimpse of the Florida peninsula between his boots during a spacewalk……
Now that climate is changing, and as Nelson said at the start of the South Florida hearing: ‘This is Ground Zero.’…”
– January 28, 2014
“In a Global Warming World: Protect and Rebuild or Retreat?
Hurricane Sandy decimated coastal communities. Now what?
Consider, for instance, that a full-bore retreat would mean abandoning such historic sites as Ground Zero — a scenario that any New Yorker, let alone a mayor, would find hard to stomach….”
“Canadian north offers ‘ground zero’ view of global warming
‘This is really ground zero for global warming,’ said Will Steger, a 62-year-old Minnesotan who has been traveling the region for 43 years and has witnessed the impact of warming…”
– Oct 15, 2011
“Maldives, Ground Zero for Climate Change Impacts
If there is a ground zero for observing the impacts of a changing global climate the Maldives are definitely a front-runner…”
“Heart Of The Arctic: A Dispatch From Ground Zero For Climate Change
…I’m standing at ground zero for climate change. Nowhere else on Earth is it warming as quickly as in Greenland, the world’s largest island.”
“APR–MAY | 2009
…In our region, a rise of one metre would effectively put the small Pacific Island nations of Kiribati and Tuvalu at ground zero,…”
“A Journey Across the Ground Zero of Global Warming
…Bangladesh is a flat, low-lying land made of silt, squeezed in between the melting mountains of the Himalayas and the rising seas of the Bay of Bengal. As the world warms, the sea is swelling – and wiping Bangladesh off the map…”
– November 18, 2011
“India’s Climate Change Ground Zero
…the annual monsoon, and this season’s rains, which ended a few weeks ago, were a constant topic of conversation during the five days I’ve just spent traveling around the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. U.P., as people call it here,…”
– 8 September 2008
“The Ground Zero of Climate Change
Antarctica’s Whillans Ice Stream helps researchers predict climate change—and the fate of coastal cities around the world.
…It’s a typical summer afternoon on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. …”
– December 05, 2008
“Climate change ‘ground zero’ is far north Queensland
FORGET the melting ice caps – when it comes to climate change, Queensland’s vulnerable reef and rainforest is Australia’s ‘canary in the coalmine’.
According to experts, north Queensland is ‘ground zero’ for global warming…”
– Feb 17, 2013
The U.S. is ground zero for climate change
“…As climate change heats up the north Atlantic, the U.S. will heat up and dry out. Last summer was just the beginning of the catastrophic warming that will cause droughts that make the dust bowl look like the salad days…”
“The Powder River Basin — Ground Zero in Confronting the Climate Crisis
Getting to the Root of the Problem”
Post and Courier – Mar 24 2013
“Charleston ‘ground zero’ for climate change
…Future generations may look back on 2012 as the year the majority of our country took climate destabilization seriously,…..
…Climate change brings an added urgency to the Holy City. We are at its ‘ground zero’ with the emissions of the industrial economy…”
– 15 August 2014
“Caribbean population need to be more informed on climate change
…’For countries that we claim, correctly, are at ground zero of climate change, our populations are alarmingly un-informed of the wide -ranging impacts of this global crisis.’…
“Oceans and Coasts
How We Work to Adapt to Climate Change
Oceans and coasts are ground zero for climate change, and we’re helping people and marine life adapt.”
– 5 December 2014
“Cities in Climate Change Danger, Warns Captain Planet
[Cities: ground zero for climate change…]
But urban locations may also be ground zero for climate change, both as perpetrators of a warming atmosphere and as victims of its multi-tiered effects. So says Dr. Marshall Shepherd, a professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia…”
– Feb 17, 2010
“In the Tropical Forests of Sumatra: Notes from Climate Change “Ground Zero”
…While Indonesia is often referred to as Ground Zero of climate change, Palembang should be considered one of its most telling monuments…”
– 8 November 2012
“Arctic Archipelago: Ground Zero For Climate Change
….Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic, constituting the northernmost part of Norway. The archipelago features an Arctic climate, …”
– November 12, 2013
“Why the Philippines Is Ground Zero for Super Storms …And Why Recovery Is So Difficult
…Philippines negotiator Naderev Saño made an emotional plea to his peers, asking them to finally establish an international mechanism for addressing losses and damages linked to climate change…”
“Beaver and Climate Change
They are the West’s most savvy water engineers. Here on the Colorado Plateau, ground zero for climate change, we humans have a lot to learn from these furry creatures…Please spread the word to anyone who might enjoy and benefit from this opportunity to talk beaver!”
“Utah is Ground Zero for Global Warming?”
Recent statements by Bolivia’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia regarding nongovernmental organisations in Bolivia have triggered a heated debate on the left.
At an Aug. 11 media conference, Garcia accused NGOs of acting like political parties seeking to interfere in Bolivia’s domestic affairs. While respecting their right to criticize government policies, Garcia said foreign-funded nongovernmental organisations needed to understand their place within Bolivian society.
“Does this group of comrades have the right to form an NGO and produce and publish what they want? Of course they have the right to do this, but foreign NGOs do not have the right to come to Bolivia and say I am supporting Bolivia’s development while they do politics and defend the interests of transnationals,” he said.
He highlighted the fact that foreign companies and governments were the biggest backers of nongovernmental organisations. “What do we say to them?” he asked. “Finance in your own country, there is no need for you to come and interfere in our country, our relationship with foreign governments and companies is very clear: service in function of our policy and usefulness in function of a sovereign state; but not for the purposes of covert political action…”
Garcia said foreign governments were using NGOs to push policies that sought to stunt Bolivia’s development under the guise of protecting the environment. The four nongovernmental organisations Garcia singled out in particular during the media conference have been among the loudest critics of his government’s environmental policies.
In response, a number of academics from across the world signed an open letter stating concerns for what they viewed as “threats, which if they became a reality, would imply a grave blow in terms of restricting civil rights, among them, freedom of expression and association”. They argued the real issue Garcia had with these NGOs was that they had criticized his government’s shortcomings.
Others have defended these nongovernmental organisations on the basis of their role in promoting environmental struggles.
Contributing to the debate with an article on Alainet.org, Carmelo Ruiz said Garcia’s comments come at a time when falling commodity prices are exacerbating the contradictions of his government’s “progressive extractivist model”. Furthermore, he argued the Morales government was facing the threat of a rise in social and environmental protests.
Faced with this dilemma, Ruiz said critical voices had chosen to point out that “protest and repression is inevitable in extractivism”, while government spokespeople have preferred to blame discontent on “imperialist manipulations.”
Like Ruiz, many have tried to portray Garcia’s comments as something relatively new. However, his criticisms of NGOs predate his election to office or recent conflicts with certain indigenous and environmental groups.
For example, Garcia criticized the role of NGOs in Sociology of Social Movements in Bolivia, a book many of his current critics still hold up as the most authoritative studies of its kind.
In a chapter focusing on the highlands indigenous organisation CONAMAQ, Garcia notes that nongovernmental organisation financing resulted in the organisation taking on certain “bureaucratic-administrative characteristics”. It also in part explained CONAMAQ’s propensity to act less like a social movement and more like a lobby group that sought to “negotiate and reach formal agreements with government institutions and multilateral support organisms.”
The book noted how in certain communities, NGOs had artificially propped up “ayllus” (which make up CONAMAQ’s base) to compete for local influence against more radical peasant unions.
Criticism of nongovernmental organisations’ role in co-opting and dividing social movements is also present in another book he co-authored, “We Are No Ones Toys.” Notably, they appear in a chapter dedicated to the conflict between indigenous groups and coca-growers in the Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS).
In 2011, conflict between these sectors over a proposed highway through the TIPNIS boiled over to become an issue of national, and even international significance for the Morales government.
Throughout the chapter, a number of references are made regarding the heavy influence NGOs had over indigenous communities.
Commenting in the book on the role of nongovernmental organisations in TIPNIS, local coca-grower leader Feliciano Mamani makes many of the same criticisms Garcia Linera made more than half a decade later in his book Geopolitics of the Amazon.
Mamani said: “NGOs and other interests that come for our natural resources, control indigenous people through money… where ever there are natural resources there are hundreds of NGOs confusing indigenous peoples and making false declarations….”
Since coming into office, Garcia’s criticisms of nongovernmental organisations’ relationship with social movements have not changed, however his public critique of NGOs has broadened to encompass other issues.
Garcia has argued that nongovernmental organisations had a huge influence over government ministries prior to Morales election. He recounts: “When we came into government in 2006, we found an executive carved up and handed over to embassies and [NGOs]… We could not do anything without authorization either from the embassies… or certain NGOs.”
This was in large part due to the fact that international loans and aid made up about half of the state budget for public investment.
The Morales government was able to quickly assert its control over state institutions as a result of its policy of nationalizing natural resources. Increased revenue from resource extraction put the government in the position where it could set its own policies, free of dependency or interference by foreign governments or NGOs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, nongovernmental organisations’ hostility towards the Bolivian government has paralleled its loss of influence over state policies.
All this is also part of the context within which Garcia’s comments need to be placed.
Framing the debate however, as though it is simply about a government hiding behind the rhetoric of national sovereignty to crackdown on opponents – or alternatively, viewing all government critics as stooges for imperialism – will only lead to a dialogue of the deaf.
For starters, it should not be too hard to defend free speech at the same time as respecting Bolivia’s sovereignty.
The left has always opposed attempts by governments to crackdown on free speech, and should continue to do so when this occurs. But this is separate to the issue of allowing foreign governments and corporation to do as they please on Bolivian soil.
It is one thing to shut down nongovernmental organisations or jail opponents for what they say. Garcia has made it clear in his response to his critics that his government will not be closing down any NGO.
But it is quite another thing to deny the right of a sovereign government to control the flow of funds from hostile governments into its territory. Or is the left now going to argue that, in the name of “free speech”, foreign governments and corporations should be able to fund whoever they want in Bolivia?
We should use this opportunity to seriously discuss the various issues the debate has already thrown up. This includes, among others, the role of nongovernmental organisations in the Global South, how extractive industries have helped loosen foreign control over the Bolivian state, what alternative sources of funding might exist to enable this situation to remain, and what it would really take for Bolivia to overcome extractivism.
Despite Billion-Dollar Budget, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Cancels Project Studying Cancer near Nuclear Facilities
A five-year federal pilot program to determine levels of contamination around eight nuclear facilities in the United States was cancelled this week because, apparently, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is already doing such a fine job of oversight.
“The NRC continues to find U.S. nuclear power plants comply with strict requirements that limit radiation releases from routine operations,” agency spokesman Scott Burnell wrote in defense of the decision. “The NRC and state agencies regularly analyze environmental samples from near the plants. These analyses show the releases, when they occur, are too small to cause observable increases in cancer risk near the facilities.”
There is nothing to see, so why waste the time and money. “The NRC determined that continuing the work was impractical, given the significant amount of time and resources needed and the agency’s current budget constraints.”
The cost was $8 million, $1.5 million of which has already been spent. The NRC has a budget of more than $1 billion. Results from the testing were not expected until at least the end of the decade. The study, led by National Academy of Sciences (NAS) researchers, was meant to update a 1990 National Cancer Institute (NCI) report that focused on cancer mortality, with limited occurrence of the disease in two states.
The NRC decided in 2007 to update the report and contacted the NAS to commence a two-phase study of cancer risks in populations living near NRC-licensed facilities. Phase 1 was to determine if doing the study was feasible. The conclusion reached in 2012 was “Yes.”
Phase 2 was to be broken into two parts: planning and execution. The commission killed it on Tuesday. Nuclear sites to be studied included active and decommissioned plants in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey. A nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Tennessee was also on the list.
Supporters of the program are not happy. “Study after study in Europe has shown a clear rise in childhood leukemia around operating nuclear power facilities, yet the NRC has decided to hide this vital information from the American public,” said Cindy Folkers, radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear.
Folkers blamed nuclear industry manipulation. Beyond Nuclear points to the NRC staff recommendation (pdf) that the commission drop the program. The policy issue document mentions a cheaper, crummier project pitched by the president of the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), but the staff concludes that no study is worth doing.
U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), who pushed for the cancer study in 2009, also did not sound happy. He said,
“We need a thorough, accurate accounting of the health risks associated with living near nuclear facilities so residents can know if there are any adverse health impacts. But the NRC has decided to take a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ approach to this public health concern by ceasing work on what could be a lifesaving cancer risk research study.”
To Learn More:
Cancer Risk Study Canceled at San Onofre (by Morgan Lee, San Diego Union-Tribune )
Regulators Halt Study of Cancer Risks at 7 Nuclear Plants (by Stephen Singer, Associated Press )
NRC Pulls Plug on Cancer Study near Nuclear Plants (by Christine Legere, Cape Cod Times )
Memo on Analysis of Cancer Risks in Populations near Nuclear Facilities Study (Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff) (pdf)
The relocation process of a US military base in Japan’s Okinawa has been resumed, even though month-long talks between Tokyo and local authorities angered by the “troublesome neighbour” still haven’t broken the impasse.
The “concentrated discussions” on the project that faced fierce opposition of the locals ended in vain on Saturday and the construction works in Henoko, Okinawa, have now resumed, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reports.
The decision has sparked a wave of indignation among residents who demand the base to be shut down and rebuilt elsewhere in Japan or overseas. They took to the streets of Henoko, a small coastal area in Okinawa.
Their claim was backed by Takeshi Onaga, the outspoken governor of Okinawa, and other local officials.
“It was extremely regrettable. I will not let [the central government] build a new base in Henoko by any means,” the governor said.
The plan to move the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to Henoko, which is the southern island of Okinawa, was first announced in 1996 and has since disturbed the local population.
During a meeting with Onaga in April Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe noted that “the relocation to Henoko is the only solution,” though it had been voiced more than once that the base posed a hazard to nearby residents’ lives and needed to be moved.
Japan has already been shaken by a number of protests against the relocation plan earlier this year. Thousands of protesters from as far as Hokkaido to Nagasaki condemned the Japanese government’s policy on the matter and demanded their voices to be heard.
Washington doesn’t plan on closing the facility in Ginowan, which is currently located in a crowded urban area, until it is replaced by a new one.
Meanwhile, Shinzo Abe’s ratings keep on going down as the situation with the US airbase is intensifying and parliament is discussing a bill aimed at promoting Japanese military’s role in the world’s geopolitics.