Saturday, April 28, 2012

The City By The Sea: The Future of Karachi's Coastline

This documentary explores alternatives to haphazard development along Karachi's coastline in light of the basic principles of urban planning.

The Urdu version is up here:

Friday, April 27, 2012

"Climate-induced community relocation: community-based adaptation strategies to protect human rights".

Robin Bronen and Tiina Kurvits attended the 6th Conference on Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change last week in Hanoi, Vietnam and Robin gave a talk entitled "Climate-induced community relocation: community-based adaptation strategies to protect human rights". Robin is participating in an Many Strong Voices (MSV) project on human rights and relocation. Hers was the only talk at the conference from an Arctic perspective and the session chair noted that the conference should give more attention to the cryosphere in the future. There was considerable interest in the work that MSV is trying to do in linking peoples from different regions address climate change.

You can read an interview that Robin's gave at the conference at Alaskan villagers become climate refugees as homeland melts<>
There is also an interview posted on youtube from the conference:

Alaskan villagers become climate refugees as homeland melts

HANOI (AlertNet) – The 400-strong Eskimo community in Newtok in western Alaska is living on shaky ground. Literally.

The permafrost – the permanently frozen subsoil – on which the village is located is melting as temperatures warm.

Advanced erosion caused by the Ninglick River next to the village and seasonal flooding and storm surges are further threats to its existence.

The Arctic Sea ice which normally acts as a buffer to storm surges is also reducing, making the village vulnerable to future extreme weather events, said Robin Bronen from the University of Alaska who has been working with the community for five years.

“We don't have hurricanes in Alaska but we've been experiencing hurricane-force winds,” she told AlertNet at the sixth International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Newtok, which is below sea-level, is already facing problems with saline intrusion in the water systems, she said.

“They have serious issues with sanitation too because the sewage lagoon is eroding. It was on top of frozen earth and it's now melting,” added Bronen, who is also a human rights lawyer.

For this Yup’ik-speaking Eskimo community of subsistence hunters and fishermen, the only option left for adapting to the changing climate is to relocate.

The Newtok Planning Group, made up of community elders, federal and state agencies and non-government organisations, has chosen a spot nine miles south on Nelson Island called Mertarvik – it means “getting water from the spring” in Yup’ik.

“Their vision of their community is to be sustainable and resilient for the long-term so they're looking at alternative technologies to get the electricity they need and alternative forms of housing so they use less energy,” said Bronen.

Like the residents of Newtok many other people around the world are likely to become climate refugees in the coming decades. Experts say Newtok’s experience underlines the urgent need to come up with a co-ordinated approach for relocating communities forced to abandon their homes because of rising sea levels and changing weather patterns. More


Thursday, April 26, 2012

World needs to stabilise population and cut consumption, says Royal Society

Economic and environmental catastrophes unavoidable unless rich countries cut consumption and global population stabilizes.

World population needs to be stabilised quickly and high consumption in rich countries rapidly reduced to avoid "a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills", warns a major report from the Royal Society.

Contraception must be offered to all women who want it and consumption cut to reduce inequality, says the study published on Thursday, which was chaired by Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir John Sulston.

The assessment of humanity's prospects in the next 100 years, which has taken 21 months to complete, argues strongly that to achieve long and healthy lives for all 9 billion people expected to be living in 2050, the twin issues of population and consumption must be pushed to the top of political and economic agendas. Both issues have been largely ignored by politicians and played down by environment and development groups for 20 years, the report says.

"The number of people living on the planet has never been higher, their levels of consumption are unprecedented and vast changes are taking place in the environment. We can choose to rebalance the use of resources to a more egalitarian pattern of consumption ... or we can choose to do nothing and to drift into a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills leading to a more unequal and inhospitable future", it says. More


The Blue Iguana Program


Save the Bees -Avaaz

Posted: 24 April 2012

Quietly, globally, billions of bees are dying, threatening our crops and food. But if Bayer stops selling one group of pesticides, we could save bees from extinction.

Four European countries have begun banning these poisons, and some bee populations are already recovering. But Bayer, the largest producer of neonicotinoids, has lobbied hard to keep them on the market. Now, massive global pressure from Avaaz and others has forced them to consider the facts, and in 24 hours, Bayer shareholders will vote on a motion that could stop these toxic chemicals. Let’s all act now and shame the shareholders to stop killing bees.

The pressure is working, and this is our best chance to save the bees. Sign the urgent petition and send this to everyone -- let's reach half a million signers and deliver it directly to shareholders tomorrow in Germany! Click Here





Wednesday, April 25, 2012

China and the Geopolitics of the Mekong River Basin

Two decades after the Paris Peace Accord that ended the proxy war in Cambodia, the Mekong Basin hasre-emerged as a region of global significance. The rapid infrastructure-led integration of a region some call “Asia’s last frontier” has created tensions between and among China and its five southern neighbors – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Both expanded regional cooperation as well as increased competition for access to the rich resources of the once war-torn region have created serious environmental degradation while endangering food security and other dimensions of human security and even regional stability.

China’s seemingly insatiable demand for raw materials and tropical commodities has made it a fast-growing market for several Mekong countries and an increasingly important regional investor. Economic integration has been boosted by a multibillion dollar network of all-weather roads, bridges, dams, and power lines largely financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that is linking the countries of the Lower Mekong to each other and to China. To date, the ADB’s Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) cooperative development program has primarily benefited large population centers outside the basin proper in China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Unfortunately, the same infrastructure that speeds the flow of people and goods to urban centers also facilitates the environmentally unsustainable exploitation of the forests, minerals, water resources, and fisheries that are still the primary source of food and livelihoods to millions of the Mekong’s poorest inhabitants.

No aspect of China’s fast-growing role and influence in the Mekong region is more evident and more problematic than its drive to harness the huge hydroelectric potential of the Upper Mekong through the construction of a massive cascade of eight large- to mega-sized dams on the mainstream of the river in Yunnan Province. The recently completed Xiaowan dam, the fourth in the series, will mainly be used to send electricity to the factories and cities of Guangdong Province, its coastal export manufacturing base some 1,400 kilometers away. China’s Yunnan cascade will have enough operational storage capacity to augment the dry season flow at the border with Myanmar and Laos by 40-70 percent, both to maintain maximum electricity output and facilitate navigation on the river downstream as far as northern Laos for boats of up to 500 tons.

Continue reading on the Stimson Center.

Photo Credit: “Xiaowan Dam Site,” courtesy of International Rivers.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Revisiting our limits (To Growth)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Club of Rome’s famous report The Limits to Growth, which developed a number of possible trajectories of human development from 1972 until 2100. Most of these scenarios projected ‘overshoot and collapse’: rapid industrial production, resource consumption and increasing pollution emissions overshoot biophysical planetary boundaries by around 2050, leading to a collapse in food production and population by end of the century.

The frightening truth is that in 2012 many of its findings are still valid and we remain on the same potentially catastrophic pathway.

The report also developed stabilisation scenarios, and these remain potential future pathways. To avoid overshoot and collapse, according to the report, it is necessary to stabilise our economies, currently based on increasing material through-put; to slow and stabilise population growth; and to reduce pollution levels, all before mid-21st century. The two latter goals are relatively uncontroversial in most parts of the world, but even questioning the need for on-going economic growth is still highly politically sensitive.

Forty years have passed since the publication of The Limits to Growth. If the models are correct – and so far they look that way – business-as-usual is not an option: we do not have another 40 years to waste before taking action and changing course.

Still, the debate about the limits of economic growth has arisen once more, especially in Europe. In France, the movement debating these issues goes by the name “La Decroissance” -- literally, “De-growth”, referring to the controlled downscaling of production. This political and counter-cultural movement, which stands for the egalitarian use of global resources, is barely known outside the Francophone world, but has nonetheless produced valuable texts such as La Décroissance: 10 questions pour comprendre et en débattre (“De-growth: 10 questions to understand the debate”). More



Monday, April 23, 2012

Connect the dots

Bill McKibben’s has launched Connect the Dots Day. Scheduled for May 5 this global initiative is to draw attention to the fact that people all over the world recognize that climate change is happening (see poll results in New York Times article) and it is creating unpredictable weather events.
McKibben is asking everyone to get involved with an event of some kind: a presentation, a protest, a community project, pictures, or another idea. Once compiled, they will deliver the message to politicians and media the world over.


Another initiative regarding climate change has been undertaken by iMatter. Five youths have taken the bold step of suing the federal government for failing to protect the atmosphere. They held rallies throughout the United States on Earth Day, March 22, 2012. And on May 11 in Washington, DC, the lawsuit is being heard. The basic premise is that the atmosphere is a public trust for all generations and the government has a legal responsibility to protect it. The lawsuits would also require the government to put into place plans to reduce carbon emissions by at least 6 percent per year.

In 2008, Lester Brown wrote about the need to connect the dots in his book Plan B 3.0 in relation to water and food.

The link between water and food is strong. We each drink on average nearly 4 liters of water per day in one form or another, while the water required to produce our daily food totals at least 2,000 liters—500 times as much. This helps explain why 70 percent of all water use is for irrigation. Another 20 percent is used by industry, and 10 percent goes for residential purposes. With the demand for water growing in all three categories, competition among sectors is intensifying, with agriculture almost always losing. While most people recognize that the world is facing a future of water shortages, not everyone has connected the dots to see that this also means a future of food shortages.” More


Sunday, April 22, 2012

International Permaculture Day

SUNDAY 6TH MAY is International Permaculture Day which occurs 1st Sunday of May annually.

To take part, you can run an event, post some news or upload a short event or project video (2-5 mins). Share anything that shows how innovative, fun and productive permaculture is!
All contributions will then be shared via

Preserve The Home Of The Human Race



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Looting the Pacific: ICIJ investigation on BBC World News

Produced by London-based tve for BBC World News, "Looting the Pacific" features an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists' probe into the plundering of one of the world's last great fish stocks. Read the full investigation here: BBC World News will broadcast "Looting the Pacific" at the following times (all times GMT): Saturday April 21 at 9:30 am and 9:30 pm Sunday, April 22 at 2:30 am and 3:30 pm


A star volunteer shows we can all make difference



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Our star volunteer shows we can all make a difference

Dear Nick

Please share this email with someone else who will be inspired by my story.

Find out how you can help the campaign here.

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My name is Diana Marquand, I am am a supporter and volunteer for the Eradicating Ecocide team and was asked by Louise to share my story in a newsletter.

I was born into a very political family; my father was economic adviser to the government during WWII. His best friend was Elwyn Jones, a junior barrister who prosecuted the Nazi war criminals. Elwyn told me once never to “obey orders” if I knew that the orders were wrong. This message has always stayed with me, and I have always campaigned against things I believe are wrong including nuclear weapons, the Iraq war and apartheid.

My father told me once that if I wanted to change things I should write to my MP. In opposition to the war in Iraq I organised a letter writing group to stop this. We wrote to our MP, to government ministers and also collected signatures for petitions which we hand delivered to Parliament. We also liased with the local mosque. Eventually our MP resigned his cabinet post and voted against the war.

My road to Earth rights and Ecocide

I continued campaigning on separate environmental issues, but I wanted something that connected all these issues.

Whilst working as a Children's Guardian it occurred to me that nature doesn't have a voice to speak out against the destruction humans are causing to the Earth. I thought that the Earth is in need of guardians too.

I then saw the Bolovian Ambassador speaking and learnt that indigenous people believe that nature has the right to exist and all beings are interconnected. The Ambassador spoke about an international law to protect the Rights of Mother Earth and a crime of Ecocide to punish those who do not respect the Earth’s rights.

I had found what I was looking for: a legal obligation to care for the Earth. I looked this up on the computer and found Polly Higgins. Polly came to speak at an event I organised in Swansea and people travelled long distances to hear her.

We can all make a difference....

I have given many talks on Ecocide throughout Wales and plan to organise more. I have sent out copies of the Welsh translation of the Bill of Rights for the earth to Welsh Assembly members. If you can help with translations of the Bill of Rights or other documents please get in touch with Zoe.

All the resources you need to organise an event, including information on Ecocide and template letters are available on the Eradicating Ecocide website, along with lots of ideas of what you can do to help. Why not start a letter writing group like I did? It can be a lot of fun and you might end up making a real difference. You could write a letter to world leaders or a letter to the Earth. Writing to MPs is important and can make a difference, it is the MP's job is to represent his/her constituents.

Last Wednesday I organised a talk "Ecocide: the fifth Crime Against Peace." Inside the beautiful, peaceful church of St. Mary le Bow we were privileged to hear Polly Higgins speak about Ecocide. The event was hosted by Rachel Lindley who takes care of the church and organises “Just Share” events. There were also contributions from Alex Scrivener of the World Development Movement, Clive Menzies, who is an ex banker and spoke about the need for reform of the banking system. The evening finished with a short but moving piece by Tanya Paton from theOccupy Faith working group, who reminded us that all religions specify that we are all stewards on this planet.

I will be giving a talk about Ecocide to Friends of the Earth Wales in May. I am also liaising with my local Amnesty International group to explain that Ecocide is a crime against Humanity as well as Nature. Please write to Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Oxfam urging them to support the campaign. This is as much of a human rights issue as an environmental issue.

Since first meeting Polly I have got to know more people attracted to this movement for justice for the earth and I am impressed by the loving kindness and compassion generated by this campaign: it is a very real joining of hearts and minds and where each one of us can really make a difference.

With hope and peace

Diana Marquand

Help persuade the polititians

The Eradicating Ecocide team sent out Concept Papers to all the governments in the world, detailing why a crime of Ecocide is necessary and setting out the roadmap for putting it in place. Acknowledgments of receipt have been sent by The Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny T.D, Irish Prime Minister and President Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana.

Can you please send them a polite message to re-enforce how much their support is needed on the following email addresses: & Ask them to support the law of Ecocide and publicly give their voice to our campaign.


Volunteer or set up an action group

If you would like to volunteer for the campaign contact Head of Campaign Joe.

If you would like to set up an action group contact Zoe.


Friday, April 20, 2012

The Soil Solution What if a solution to climate change was just beneath your feet? Sustainable World Media visits with farmers, scientists, and educators who are exploring the connection of soil fertility to water quality, food security, and carbon sequestration. Produced by Jill Cloutier and Carol Hirashima


Monday, April 16, 2012

Counting The Cost: The Cost Of The War On Drugs

From the farmers to the traders, the cartels to the consumers, we assess the efecctiveness and the economics of the 'war on drugs'.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Will Permaculture become the new dominant narrative?

The dominant narrative of our culture is that economic growth can continue indefinitely but the realities of resource depletion, peak oil and ecosystem collapse mean this is wishful thinking. Cameron Leckie explains that if permaculture becomes the new dominant narrative, it will ensure that the changes that will eventually be forced upon us will be empowering rather than authoritarian or dictatorial.

Narratives define our society. Pick any significant issue and it is the narrative, rather than the 'facts,' which define it. Narratives have been part of the human experience for millennia and no doubt will continue to do so for millennia to come. They drive how we view the world, the way we live and the decisions that we make.

Narratives do not necessarily reflect reality. Rather they offer a version of reality which suits the group or groups of people that believe in the narrative (or want you to believe). Examples include religious or other groups which try to convince others that the end of the world is nigh but that the true believers will be saved and the cargo cults of the Pacific who believed that a combination of magic and religious rituals would result in more cargo/material goods arriving.

Narratives change over time. Change occurs as societies develop new understandings or differing groups within a society attempt to convince others of a particular narrative. Over time a dominant narrative tends to form. This does not happen by accident but is both perpetuated and strengthened through culture, media institutions, politicians and society at large. More



Saturday, April 14, 2012

Media Madness: Promoting Society's Worst, Ignoring Its Best

March Madness comes once a year. Media Madness is year-round. What the mass media choose to cover and feature try to turn the priorities of any sane society upside down.

People of vice, war, money, spectator sports and business receive media attention – oftentimes ad nauseam. People of virtue, peace, civics, health, labor and community engagement have to beg for media attention. Which of these two groups represents the most basic values of a civilized society that would restrain the excesses of the other group? You can guess!

There are many reasons for this chronic bias, beyond the power of commercial advertisers. The media believe that wrongdoing and greed and violence get readers and ratings while their opposites are dull soup.

But aren’t these opposites vital to the survival and well-being of a just society? Aren’t people who wage peace to prevent war, or demand health/safety over sickness/injury, more newsworthy when they expose people or companies that cause danger, damage and deaths?

Big-Time Greed is headline material, while Big-Time Thrift (e.g. efficiency for consumers) is boring, even when it concentrates on exposing Big-Time Greed. Aetna, Pfizer and avaricious middlemen are sometimes in the news when they exhibit gouging practices. But have you ever heard of Harvard researcher/lecturer Malcolm Sparrow, who for years has shown that at least ten percent of your healthcare spending goes down the drain due to preventable, computerized billing fraud and abuse? That amounts to $270 billion this year alone!

When news editors are asked why the media overwhelmingly cover the utterances of warmongers like William Kristol (The Weekly Standard) but ignore peace-advocates like Coleman McCarthy (The Nation and Progressive Magazine), they respond that Kristol has more influence.

But who gave Kristol influence? Why, the media who quote and interview him incessantly. Coleman McCarthy, a formerly syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, works to have colleges and high schools around the country adopt peace studies. He could give a lively interview on “Meet the Press” or “This Week” on the superiority of waging peace over waging war in advancing national security in countries around the world. More

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fault Lines: Punishment and Profits: Immigration Detention

The detention and deportation of immigrants has reached an all-time high under the Obama administration. Fault Lines investigates the business of immigrant detention and finds out how a few companies are shaping US immigration laws.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Peace Chiefs - A Talk by Tim Mac MacCartney

The Peace Chiefs We are called to step forward, to take our place, to find our courage and stand naked in the fierce temperatures of these extraordinary and wondrous times. The Peace Chiefs were warriors of the heart. They pledged themselves to peace. They followed the twin trail - the inner path of self-unfolding and the outer path of having effect in the world. Now amongst the valleys and hills of our land the story of the Peace Chiefs is whispered to the wind once more. It is a call sent out across the grey-misted waters of the Celtic sea from the songmakers and the storytellers. We belong to the land, we belong to the sea, we are called. Tim works at the Embercombe project

Sustainability equates to a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Peace making is another way of creating sustainability, of healing the earth and the people's therein. Going forward into this century, with all the overwhelming issues we have to face, without peace we shall not survive as a society in which we would want or children to live. Editor

Monday, April 2, 2012

We Need Many Strong, United Voices to Combat Climate Change

To deal with the threats and challenges of climate change we need solidarity. We need to recognize that no matter where we live, we are one people on a single planet, the only planet that we have. We need many strong voices speaking together -- the voices of people from all those regions that the 2007 IPCC IV Report identified as “vulnerable.”

by: Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Inuit environment, culture and human rights advocate, and former political leader, Ronald Jumeau, Seychelles Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing State Issues

We need the Arctic, where the rapidly melting multi-year sea ice is just one symptom of massive changes now underway. We need the small island developing States (SIDS) like Tuvalu, Barbados and Seychelles whose homes are threatened with inundation. And we need voices of people who live in high mountain regions, on deltas and in the vast Savannah of the Sahel.

We need many strong voices, united in their resolve to defend human rights and determined to see their cultures survive and thrive.

Twenty years. That's how long we have both petitioned the world community to save our lands, our peoples and ways of life. We have done so in every conceivable manner and with ever-increasing urgency. Twenty years ago, when we began to experience climate change in our lands and communities, we began to worry that our children would no longer grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. We worried too that our ancient cultures, deeply connected to our lands, might not survive into future generations. Today, our children now experience those changes with us every day, and join in the appeal for future generations.

It is hard to imagine us coming from more different backgrounds: one from a balmy archipelago in the Indian Ocean and the other from the cold expanse of the northern tundra. Yet today we join with our brothers and sisters from other islands and polar regions through the Many Strong Voices programme[3] — a network of individuals and communities in the Arctic and SIDS connecting for strategic action on climate change mitigation and adaptation. We reiterate our unequivocal appeal: The world must take action now to stop climate change and address the damage already done.

Now as we approach the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), we are running out of time. Last year’s climate change negotiations in Durban produced an agreement to adopt a binding legal agreement on climate change “as soon as possible, and no later than 2015.”[4]

We heard this kind of pledge leading up to the 2009 negotiations in Copenhagen that produced little of substance. Indeed, at the time the fact that the negotiation process itself lived on was heralded as a major victory.

Not to us.

As climate science has advanced, we now know the consequences of the world’s unwillingness to act. Even once the world agrees to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, warming from gases already in the atmosphere will tragically affect the most vulnerable regions of our planet. Sadly, as we have seen in places such as the Pacific island of Kiribati and the Alaskan community of Shishmaref, it may already be too late.

Even if the world forges an agreement three years from now, it will be very difficult to make the deep GHG emissions reductions that hundreds of scientific studies tell us -- clearly -- that we need to make in order to keep the world’s global average temperature from rising 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, let alone the 1.5ºC that the SIDS and a majority of the countries that have signed the UNFCCC are calling for. And we need to make sure that the rising line of emissions starts to bend down as 2020 dawns or it may be too late for our peoples and lands.

The impacts of climate change may be affecting small island states and remote Arctic communities with small populations, but they are also affecting hundreds of millions of people in the Ganges, Indus, Yangtze and other river systems dependent on glacial water for agriculture and drinking. If you look at it this way, the majority of the world’s population is experiencing the effects of climate change now.

Let’s be clear. This isn’t a numbers game. Article 3 of the UNFCCC clearly states that countries “should protect the climate system for the benefit of future and present generations of human kind on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities.” This means “developed countries should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.” We haven’t seen much of this leadership in the negotiating process.

Other major emitters and emerging economies cannot afford to continue with business as usual.

Now, as the world approaches the 20th anniversary of the Rio Summit where the UNFCCC was negotiated, much attention is being placed on how to achieve a sustainable future. We would like to point out that our peoples have overcome innumerable challenges to thrive in our Arctic and island communities for hundreds and thousands of years. Our cultures are sustainable. But recently, our elders have been warning us that the changes we witness are unprecedented in our histories. They see our ice melting and our seas rising and are very concerned about how the next generation will thrive in the rapidly changing lands of our ancestors. If we lose our ice and our lands, we lose our cultures — some of the richest on Earth.

Our primary objectives are clear: reduce global emissions to avoid catastrophic warming while recognizing common but differentiated responsibilities between countries; ensure adequate adaptation measures are taken in areas facing the adverse effects of climate change now and in the future; and include human rights protections in the final agreement.

If we can achieve these goals, it will mark a watershed in humankind's ability to look beyond immediate and parochial interests and to reconnect as a shared humanity. It isn’t that complicated. All it takes is for us to recognize our common interest and that we are all here on this planet together. More

For more information or contact John Crump (john.crump [at]

[1] Sheila Watt- Cloutier is an award winning Inuit environment, culture and human rights advocate and former political leader who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

[2] H.E. Ronald Jumeau is the Seychelles Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing State Issues.






Sunday, April 1, 2012

BRICS Look Past Dollar Demise To Build A bank For A Multi-polar world

The BRICS summit has wrapped up in India. Creating an alternative global lender and stepping away from the dollar as a reserve currency were among their main objectives. RT also spoke to Dr Sreeram Chaulia, who is a Vice Dean at the Jindal School of International Affairs. He believes institutions like the IMF and the World Bank have outlived their usefulness.