Sen. Bernie Sanders is telling the American people what the supporters of Keystone XL don’t want them to hear. The pipeline won’t create jobs, but it will cause the price of gas to increase in the United States.
(Excerpt-click the link above to read this article on Truthout)
In the case of the Zapatistas, it is the desire for a world outside of neoliberal exploitation, in which life is not disposable. Or, as the Zapatistas are fond of saying, a world in which many worlds can fit.
For 10 years now, the Zapatistas have been living autonomously, creating a world not consumed by capitalism’s manufactured desire. It would be naive to assume that there haven’t been serious stumbling blocks to overcome, but nevertheless they have managed what many believe to be impossible, a life outside of capitalism’s culture of disposability. They have refused to be relegated to an undignified living death as excess and created a new world based on dignity, autonomy and sovereignty. The Zapatistas haven’t moved with the speed that many thinkers and activists would like, but that is perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned from them. In the First Declaration, they note that they are the product of 500 years of anti-colonial resistance, and each communiqué since then has highlighted the continued need to resist exploitation and exclusion in all their forms. Only through continuous resistance can people realize the memory of a non-disposable future. The process of de-colonialization and resistance to dehumanizing forces is never-ending, so patience is by far the most important virtue. Or, as the Zapatista axiom states, “we walk slowly because we are going far.”
by Mark Olalde
Erle Rahaman-Noronha cutting produce on his farm. (Credit: Mark Olalde/IPS)FREEPORT, Trinidad and Tobago – Erle Rahaman-Noronha is not a revolutionary, not in any radical sense at least. He is not even that exciting. In truth, Rahaman-Noronha is merely a man with a shovel, a small farm, and a big dream. But that dream is poised to conquer the Caribbean.
Rahaman-Noronha wants to see ‘permaculture’ – short for permanent agriculture – take root and spreads across the Caribbean, and he is doing his part by teaching anyone who will listen about its benefits.
Joining him is a fluid group of permaculturalists working from their home islands and sharing the same goal: to harness permaculture as a solution to climate change, food and water insecurity, and rising costs of living.
“You can start in your backyard, so there’s no cost. You can implement certain parts of it in your apartment…If you have a porch with some sunlight, you can plant something there and start thinking about permaculture.”
— Erle Rahaman-Noronha, permaculturalist
Author of the manual, Australian Bill Mollison, first used the term nearly four decades ago and since then the idea has spread to Europe and the U.S. Now, the developing Caribbean is beginning to embrace the philosophy of permaculture, especially since 2008’s global recession.
Born in Kenya, Rahaman-Noronha – whose work was recently highlighted in a TEDx talk – fulfilled a keen interest in the environment by studying applied biochemstry and zoology in Canada.
“I’ve always had a strong passion for the outdoors and conservation, but just doing conservation doesn’t make money,” he says with a chuckle. “Permaculture allows me to live on a site, produce food on a site, produce an income, as well as practice conservation.”
Wa Samaki is Rahaman-Noronha’s permaculture farm, and it has been his workplace, classroom, grocery store, and home since he relocated to Trinidad in 1998. Meaning “of the fish” in Swahili, Wa Samaki covers 30 acres in Freeport in central Trinidad.
Although he uses no fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides, Rahaman-Noronha is able to make a living off the farm’s fruit, flower, lumber, and fish sales. His newest addition is a large aquaponics system, a closed loop food production system in which fish tanks and potted plants circulate water and sustain one another.
With his partner John Stollmeyer, Rahaman-Noronha works to spread awareness of permaculture across the Caribbean, home to nearly 40 million people who are particularly susceptible to climate change.
The pair consults Trinidadian businesses, teaches permaculture design courses (PDCs), and holds workshops everywhere from Puerto Rico to St. Lucia. “How are we going to create sustainable human culture?” Stollmeyer asks. “Discovering permaculture for me was a wake up call.”
Where environmentalism meets savvy economics
The need for conservation is in no small part a result of climate change, especially when the Hurricane Belt covers nearly all of the Caribbean.
Trinidad and Tobago continues to compound the issue as both a major exporter and consumer of fossil fuels. The country produced more than 119,000 barrels of oil per day in 2012 and 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that same year, all the while boasting the second highest rate of CO2emissions per capita in the world, more than twice that of the United States.
United Nations data dating back to 2005, the last time such statistics were compiled, indicates that industrialised agriculture accounts for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In this environment, Rahaman-Noronha’s goal is to become an incubator of conservation start-ups that cannot secure necessary bank loans. Currently, he houses beekeepers and a wildlife rescue center on the farm for minimal rent, and he hopes that list will grow.
One such entrepreneurial mind that passed through Wa Samaki was Berber van Beek, a native of Curaçao who recently moved home after years of wandering the world. Before returning to the Caribbean, she practiced permaculture across Europe and Australia, but when van Beek wanted to develop her skills in a tropical climate, she came to Rahaman-Noronha.
“He gave me a lot of freedom on his farm to make and create a design,” van Beek says, describing a garden of banana trees she planted at Wa Samaki.
In Curaçao, van Beek uses permaculture as more than simply a food source. She realises its social potential and is working to start after-school programmes for at-risk youth who can learn useful gardening skills and the responsibility and respect for nature that come with caring for their own gardens.
In addition, she is soon opening her first large-scale organic gardening class, closely resembling a PDC.
Such initiatives are urgently needed in Curaçao, which is facing a stagnant economy and is currently nursing a youth unemployment rate of 37 percent.
According to van Beek, shifting global climates and markets have major effects on her own island in which nearly everything must be imported. “If you go to the supermarket, look where your food is coming from. Is it coming from Venezuela or is it coming from the U.S. or is it coming from Europe?” she says. “People could be more aware of what to buy and what not to buy.”
The problem, experts say, is regional. According to the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA – a group of nonprofits focusing on agricultural issues – around 80 percent of food consumed in the Caribbean is imported.
The beauty and purpose of permaculture is that it is a system of solutions that can be practiced at any level to combat environmental issues.
“You can start in your backyard, so there’s no cost. You can implement certain parts of it in your apartment if you really need to,” Rahaman-Noronha explains. “If you have a porch with some sunlight, you can plant something there and start thinking about permaculture.”
Naturally, van Beek took his message to heart, keeping a perfectly groomed permaculture garden in her own tiny backyard, using dead leaves as fertiliser and recycled rain and shower-water to sustain the plants.
“Seeing is believing,” she says. It’s her own quiet mantra, spoken when she describes her approach to spreading permaculture, and vocalised when she needs the energy to keep pressing on and to convince others that this is the right path.
Rahaman-Noronha, too, has worked to convert non-believers. From schools who tour the wildlife center and his farm to the several thousand people who watched his TEDx talk online, he is adamant that he has traded in misconceptions for progress.
“I think [the reason] I don’t get challenged…is that I’m not just preaching permaculture,” he says. “I’m actually practicing it.”
© 2014 IPS North America
Permaculture Poised to Conquer the Caribbean | Common Dreams.
Thank you for posting this. This information needs to spread so far and wide that it becomes common knowledge. People would not support these corporations or the use of these fuels if they were fully aware of the insane costs.
Thank you for posting this! You must be doing some good in the world because when I try to share your posts on Facebook it goes haywire. 🙂 (I’m going to share this anyway!)
The Mi’Kmaq stopped the seismic testing in preparations for fracking on their land by a U.S. company
The Mi’kmaq Warriors, Germaine Jr Breau & Aaron Francis who have been held in custody since the day of the raid on Oct 17th, are now facing trial in Moncton courts. They are currently facing indictable charges for being true to their inherent responsibilities as L’nu people by protecting the lands and waters against corporate imperialists, SWN. We are unsure how much longer Aaron & Jr will have to sit in jail, having already served over 5 months without conviction. The financial burden of supporting imprisoned warriors has been carried solely by the family and loved ones and it’s time that changed. Again we are uncertain as to the outcomes of sentencing, but Jr & Aaron have plead to a number of charges. Support funds will be…
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Thom Hartmann Interviews Guy McPherson: Is Earth On The Verge Of Runaway Warming?
This issue is the one that changed my life, my goals, my beliefs about many things, and my career path. My understanding, awareness and determination to change these things expanded from this point.
I have always been an environmental and justice activist- I developed that way in the womb and have some of my earliest memories of protests.
But something about a photo in an article about the uranium pollution at four corners tore something integral in my heart. I felt it tearing just like catching your shirt on something sharp and afterwards nothing was ever the same again.
The photo was a mother cradling her nine year old daughter who was obviously frail and dying from leukemia caused by exposure to radiation in her drinking water, and dust in the air.
The article detailed a broad spectrum of horror that is day to day normal for the people who live there and it all upset me but that photo is seared into my mind like the brand is seared onto a cow. It still haunts me almost 20 years later.
When you think of cheap electricity to dry your clothes faster than hanging them up, for playing video games or watching tv or YouTube, for neon signs and air conditioning- do you ever, even once think of people like that mother and her dying child?
Or maybe the folks bathing in bottled water when they can get it in West Virginia after the coal waste spill?
The nightmares that make our pretty, convenient, thoroughly paved lifestyle possible are usually carefully hidden or denied so we can easily avoid making the connection.
But that doesn’t mean the connection isn’t real.:-(
CHURCH ROCK, N.M. — In this dusty corner of the Navajo reservation, where seven generations of families have been raised among the arroyos and mesas, Bertha Nez is facing the prospect of having to leave her land forever.
The uranium pollution is so bad that it is unsafe for people to live here long term, environmental officials say. Although the uranium mines that once pocked the hillsides were shut down decades ago, mounds of toxic waste are still piled atop the dirt, raising concerns about radioactive dust and runoff.
And as cleanup efforts continue, Ms. Nez and dozens of other residents of the Red Water Pond Road community, who have already had to leave their homes at least twice since 2007 because of the contamination, are now facing a more permanent relocation. Although their village represents only a small sliver of the larger Navajo nation, home to nearly 300,000 people, they are bearing the brunt of the environmental problems.
“It feels like we are being pushed around,” said Ms. Nez, 67, a retired health care worker, who recalled the weeks and months spent in motel rooms in nearby Gallup as crews hauled away radioactive soil from the community’s backyards and roadsides.
These days, this sprawling reservation, about the size of West Virginia, is considered one of the largest uranium-contaminated areas in United States history, according to officials at the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency has been in the throes of an expansive effort to remove waste from around this tiny and remote Navajo village, and clean up more than 500 abandoned mine areas that dot the reservation.
Federal officials say they have been amazed at the extent of the uranium contamination on the reservation, a vestige of a burst of mining activity here during the Cold War. In every pocket of Navajo country, tribal members have reported finding mines that the agency did not know existed. In some cases, the mines were discovered only after people fell down old shafts.
“It is shocking — it’s all over the reservation,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the E.P.A.’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “I think everyone, even the Navajos themselves, have been shocked about the number of mines that were both active and abandoned.”
Between 2008 and 2012, federal agencies spent $100 million on the cleanup, according to the E.P.A.; an additional $17 million has been spent by energy companies determined to be responsible for some of the waste.
But the scope of the problem is worse than anyone had thought. The E.P.A. has said that it could take at least eight years to dispose of a huge pile of uranium mine waste that has sat near Red Water Pond Road since the 1980s — waste that must be removed before the area can finally be free of contamination.
“The community is frustrated, I know I’m frustrated — we’d like it to go quickly,” Mr. Blumenfeld said.
But before the latest round of cleanup can begin, an application to remove the waste pile must be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which will then conduct environmental and safety reviews. That process will probably take two years, and there is the possibility that public hearings on the plan could extend the process several more years, said Drew Persinko, a deputy director for the commission.
That time frame seems unreasonably long for tribal members, who said that spending so long living away from the reservation has been difficult. So far, the E.P.A. has spent $1 million on temporary housing for residents of Red Water Pond Road; much of that cost will be reimbursed by General Electric, which acquired the old Northeast Church Rock Mine site in 1997, and also its subsidiary company, United Nuclear Corporation, which operated the mine.
As in the past, the relocations will be voluntary. Some residents wondered — as they have for years now — if the land will ever really be clean.
“Our umbilical cords are buried here, our children’s umbilical cords are buried here. It’s like a homing device,” said Tony Hood, 64, who once worked in the mines and is now a Navajo interpreter for the Indian Medical Center in Gallup. “This is our connection to Mother Earth. We were born here. We will come back here eventually.”
Residents still remember seeing livestock drinking from mine runoff, men using mine materials to build their homes and Navajo children playing in contaminated water that ran through the arroyo. Today, the site near Red Water Pond Road holds one million cubic yards of waste from the Northeast Church Rock Mine, making it the largest and most daunting area of contamination on the reservation.
The waste does not pose any immediate health risk, Mr. Blumenfeld said, but there are concerns about radioactive dust being carried by the wind, runoff from rain, and the area’s accessibility to children, who can slip in easily through a fence.
Under a plan being developed by General Electric and the E.P.A., the waste would be transported to a former uranium mill just off the reservation — already considered a Superfund site — and stored in a fortified repository. The estimated cost is nearly $45 million.
“General Electric and United Nuclear Corporation are committed to continue to work cooperatively with the U.S. government, Navajo Nation, state of New Mexico and local residents to carry out interim cleanups and reach agreement on the remedy for the mine,” said Megan Parker, a spokeswoman for General Electric.
The Navajo E.P.A., which is an arm of the tribe’s own government, for years has been calling for a widespread cleanup of abandoned mines. Stephen Etsitty, the executive director of the agency, said he was hopeful that progress was finally being made, but acknowledged that the scope and technical complexity of the operation at Red Water Pond Road was unprecedented.
“We’re pushing and doing as much as we can to keep the process going as fast as we can,” Mr. Etsitty said. “It’s just taken so long to get there.”
On a recent day, Ms. Nez and several other residents stood on a bluff near a cluster of small homes and traditional Navajo hogan dwellings as the wind whipped across a valley that once bustled with mining activity.
The group talked of their grandparents — medicine men who were alive when the mines first opened — and wondered what they would think about Red Water Pond Road today.
“They would say ‘How did this happen? They ruined our land,’ ” Ms. Nez said. “ ‘How come you haven’t prayed to have this all fixed up?’ ”
(Please click the link below to read this article on the New York Times site with links, photos and comments
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