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Global Warming

Kenya Diaries: Day 14, Part 2 - Malaria and the Climate Crisis

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 18:38:00 PM PDT

I spent my only full day in Kisumu learning about how the climate crisis is allowing malaria to move to areas where it previously could not survive. And I had the privilege of learning from Andrew Githeko, a world-renowned Kenyan expert on malaria who is on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

You can see the rest of the Kenya series here.

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 2804 words in story)

Kenya Diaries: Day 14 - The Kisumu Yacht Club

by: Jill Richardson

Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 02:43:18 AM PDT

On the 13th day of my trip, I flew from Nairobi to Kisumu. It's a very short flight, but would have been a very long bus-ride. The next day, I arranged to meet a man named Andrew Githeko, who turned out to be kind of a big deal. And by kind of a big deal, I mean that he was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore.

For the full Kenya series, see the table of contents here.

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Going Green: 12 Simple Steps for 2012

by: NourishingthePlanet

Wed Dec 28, 2011 at 11:53:36 AM PST

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet.

As we head into 2012, many of us will be resolving to lose those few extra pounds, save more money, or spend a few more hours with our families and friends. But there are also some resolutions we can make to make our lives a little greener. Each of us, especially in the United States, can make a commitment to reducing our environmental impacts.

The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Broadening access to sustainable energy is essential to solving many of the world's challenges, including food production, security, and poverty.

Hunger, poverty, and climate change are issues that we can all help address. Here are 12 simple steps to go green in 2012:

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Worst Food Additive Ever? It's in Half of All Foods We Eat and Its Production Destroys Rainforests

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 11:43:25 AM PDT

What could be so terrible? Palm oil, of course. I wrote this piece for Alternet (the original has links) and was so scandalized by what I learned while writing it that I've decided to cross-post it here.

On August 10, police and security for the massive palm oil corporation Wilmar International (of which Archer Daniels Midland is the second largest shareholder) stormed a small, indigenous village on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They came with bulldozers and guns, destroying up to 70 homes, evicting 82 families, and arresting 18 people. Then they blockaded the village, keeping the villagers in -- and journalists out. (Wilmar claims it has done no wrong.)

The village, Suku Anak Dalam, was home to an indigenous group that observes their own traditional system of land rights on their ancestral land and, thus, lacks official legal titles to the land. This is common among indigenous peoples around the world -- so common, in fact, that it is protected by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indonesia, for the record, voted in favor of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. Yet the government routinely sells indigenous peoples' ancestral land to corporations. Often the land sold is Indonesia's lowland rainforest, a biologically rich area home to endangered species like the orangutan, Asian elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, Sumatran tiger, and the plant Rafflesia arnoldii, which produces the world's largest flower.

So why all this destruction? Chances are you'll find the answer in your pantry. Or your refrigerator, your bathroom, or even under your sink. The palm oil industry is one of the largest drivers of deforestation in Indonesia. Palm oil and palm kernel oil, almost unheard of a decade or two ago, are now unbelievably found in half of all packaged foods in the grocery store (as well as body care and cleaning supplies). These oils, traditional in West Africa, now come overwhelmingly from Indonesia and Malaysia. They cause jawdropping amounts of deforestation (and with it, carbon emissions) and human rights abuses.

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 1200 words in story)

Day 1, Part 4: Potatoes, Quinoa, and the Climate Crisis

by: Jill Richardson

Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 21:55:39 PM PDT

This diary is part of a series describing my trip to Bolivia to study food sovereignty, agroecology, and climate change. On our first day, we saw a presentation I had literally waited a year to see. Last year I arrived a day late to Bolivia and missed it, and the listened to everyone talk about how great it was for the rest of the trip. And.... it WAS great! The presentation was made by Eliseo Mamani Alvarez from Fundacion PROINPA. Here is the second part, which focuses on two very important crops, potatoes and quinoa. Please at least read the part about quinoa and learn about the impact of the recent popularity of quinoa in the U.S. and Europe on the Andean people and their land.

Previous diaries can be seen here:

Day 1, Part 1: The El Alto Market
Day 1, Part 2: Intro to Bolivian Climate and Climate Change
Day 1, Part 3: Intro to Andean Biodiversity
Day 1, Part 4: Potatoes, Quinoa, and the Climate Crisis
Day 2: The La Paz Foodshed
Day 3: Agriculture in Chicani, A La Paz Suburb
Day 4: Coffee!
Day 5: Yungas
Day 6: Yungas to Santiago de Okola
Day 7: Santiago de Okola
Day 8, Part 1: Festival in Cochabamba - Morenada
Day 8, Part 2: Festival in Cochabamba - Morenada
Day 8, Part 3: Festival in Cochabamba - Tinku
Day 8, Part 4: Festival in Cochabamba - Caporales
Day 8, Part 5: Festival in Cochabamba - Street Food

You can also find diaries from my 2010 trip to Bolivia here.

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 2007 words in story)

Bolivia Diaries, Day 1, Part 3 - Intro to Andean Biodiversity

by: Jill Richardson

Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 17:21:41 PM PDT

This diary is part of a series describing my trip to Bolivia to study food sovereignty, agroecology, and climate change. On our first day, we saw a presentation I had literally waited a year to see. Last year I arrived a day late to Bolivia and missed it, and the listened to everyone talk about how great it was for the rest of the trip. And.... it WAS great! The presentation was made by Eliseo Mamani Alvarez from Fundacion PROINPA. Here is the first part.

Previous diaries can be seen here:

Day 1, Part 1: The El Alto Market
Day 1, Part 2: Intro to Bolivian Climate and Climate Change
Day 1, Part 3: Intro to Andean Biodiversity
Day 1, Part 4: Potatoes, Quinoa, and the Climate Crisis
Day 2: The La Paz Foodshed
Day 3: Agriculture in Chicani, A La Paz Suburb
Day 4: Coffee!
Day 5: Yungas
Day 6: Yungas to Santiago de Okola
Day 7: Santiago de Okola
Day 8, Part 1: Festival in Cochabamba - Morenada
Day 8, Part 2: Festival in Cochabamba - Morenada
Day 8, Part 3: Festival in Cochabamba - Tinku
Day 8, Part 4: Festival in Cochabamba - Caporales
Day 8, Part 5: Festival in Cochabamba - Street Food

You can also find diaries from my 2010 trip to Bolivia here.

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 449 words in story)

Bolivia Diaries: Day 1, Part 2 - Introduction to Bolivian Climate and Climate Change

by: Jill Richardson

Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 21:18:37 PM PDT

This diary is part of a series describing my trip to Bolivia to study food sovereignty, agroecology, and climate change. On our first day, we saw two introductory presentations. The first was on Bolivia's geography and ecosystems, and it was given by a Bolivian biologist (and friend) named Gabriel.

Previous diaries can be seen here:

Day 1, Part 1: The El Alto Market
Day 1, Part 2: Introduction to Bolivian Climate and Climate Change
Day 1, Part 3: Intro to Andean Biodiversity
Day 2: The La Paz Foodshed
Day 3: Agriculture in Chicani, A La Paz Suburb
Day 4: Coffee!
Day 5: Yungas
Day 6: Yungas to Santiago de Okola
Day 7: Santiago de Okola
Day 8, Part 1: Festival in Cochabamba - Morenada
Day 8, Part 2: Festival in Cochabamba - Morenada
Day 8, Part 3: Festival in Cochabamba - Tinku
Day 8, Part 4: Festival in Cochabamba - Caporales
Day 8, Part 5: Festival in Cochabamba - Street Food

You can also find diaries from my 2010 trip to Bolivia here.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 994 words in story)

ALEC's Attack on the EPA

by: Jill Richardson

Wed Jul 20, 2011 at 18:21:09 PM PDT

Last December, almost like clockwork, Republicans sounded the alarm about the out of control EPA. Out of control? What had the EPA suddenly done to earn such criticism? With the recent spotlight on ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the story now makes sense.

On December 1-3, 2010, ALEC held a policy summit in which it brought its troops in line on the issue of "the EPA's regulatory trainwreck." Specifically, ALEC members - which include many corporations that profit from dirty energy (such as ExxonMobil, BP America, and Chevron) - were unhappy that the EPA was attempting to follow the law under the Clean Air Act by regulating greenhouse gas emissions. ALEC sought to frame this effort as "higher prices, fewer jobs, and less energy."

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Water

by: Jill Richardson

Sun Jan 16, 2011 at 21:27:06 PM PST

Here in Southern California, they say that if you want to grow anything, the first thing you need to "plant" are irrigation pipes (or hoses). We've got the perfect temperature year-round to grow food, but we don't have the perfect amount of rainfall. And - despite the six straight days of near-constant rainfall we just had - this year is predicted to be a dry year for us.

Where the rainfall from those six days wasn't causing floods or mudslides, the majority of it was squandered. In our yard, we collected a tiny fraction of the rain in our 60 gallon rain barrel. Significantly larger rain barrels cost hundreds of dollars, like the 1300 gallon barrel a friend has, which ran her $1300. For us and for so many others, most of the rain that fell on our yard went down the drain. Our roof, our yard, and our driveway are all set up to direct the rain right into the sewers. So are most other yards around here. Once the water runs into the sewers, I believe it is channeled into the ocean.

But ever since that six day deluge, we've had precious little rain. I can't remember the last time it rained, and the weather forecast now predicts 10 days of sunshine. As a gardener, I'm getting frustrated. I've been watering the plants with my watering can, but nothing beats rainfall. The effect rain has on plants (compared to watering, and assuming the rain doesn't result in a flood) is simply magical. Drip irrigation is pretty good, but rainwater comes without any of the salts that are in irrigation water. (Drip irrigation using rainwater collected in a rain barrel would work well, I suppose. But that brings us back to the need for an expensive rain barrel.)

What I'm learning about water as a gardener has major implications for my entire region. Living soil can hold more water than dead soil. Last summer, one particular part of our garden with very poor soil could hardly grow a thing. Most everything I planted there died, and it was more than a problem of nitrogen, although that was likely a problem too. When plants didn't die, they grew very slowly. This is even true of plants with low nitrogen needs, like beets.

Watering this part of the yard was impossible. The water could hardly penetrate the soil, and instead it evaporated off the top. This meant that the plants got very little water, and it would require a ridiculous amount of water (losing a lot to evaporation) just to get the plants what they needed.

When the rainy season came this year, I was ready. I planted cover crops all over that part of the yard - a mix of rye grass and hairy vetch, with a fava bean planted every 8 inches.  With the rain, the cover crops thrived. I am now in the process of killing them and leaving them on the soil as a mulch for when I plant my brassica plants there. We'll see if the brassica plants survive this time around. I noticed we've also got some volunteer lettuce and dill growing there. I plan to add worm castings and compost to the top few inches of the soil after I harvest my brassica plants, and then I want to grow corn, beans, and squash in that area this summer. And hopefully, by then, the soil will have some ability to hold water. Hopefully, when I water that area this summer, the water won't just evaporate off the soil's surface as it did last summer.

What all of this says to me is that we will be a lot better off if for having less water in advance than if we wait until it's too late. If the climate crisis is going to bring extremes like droughts and floods (not just here, but all over the world), then it's true that an ounce of preparation is better than a pound of cure. When there's plenty of water supplied by moderate rainfall (and no flooding), it's no big deal if your soil can't hold much water. So what if the water runs off or evaporates? It'll rain again soon. But once you've got extremes (droughts and floods), good soil that holds water is crucial. And at that point, it will be a lot more difficult and resource-intensive to improve your soil than if you had done it before when the weather was less extreme.  

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Cancun: The Conclusion (With Drinking Game)

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 13:01:25 PM PST

Cancun's over. Done. We're finished until next year, in South Africa. I am planning to go next year, come hell or high water. While it's obvious that the UN wants civil society to stay the hell away from these talks, I hear from those who are there that Cancun was incredible from a networking perspective, helping those of us who are actually "doing something" to connect with one another and work together going forward.

The official process in Cancun resulted in what is being called a "modest" agreement, which sounds to me more like "a modest proposal." I spent yesterday listening about it on Democracy Now! and crying, but now I think I'm ready to write about it.

We are witnessing nothing less than the end of our planet, I am afraid. And this process is much more painful and irreversible to some countries, compared to others. If we "compromise" to limit the average global temperature rise to a certain number of degrees, or total emissions to a certain number of tons of CO2 per year, it's not much of a compromise for the island nations who end up underwater, or for countries like Bolivia who lose their glaciers and become deserts. It's not much of a compromise if only half of the countries on earth become uninhabitable and the corporations only forego half of their profitability from emitting carbon, and yet that seems to me where we are heading. More below.

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Code REDD in Cancun

by: Jill Richardson

Wed Dec 08, 2010 at 19:20:58 PM PST

The thousands of farmers, peasants, young people, and indigenous who are in Cancun to make their voices heard are finally getting some press. Of course, Democracy Now is covering them, but now The Guardian has posted articles like "CancĂșn climate change conference: indigenous voices gather strength" and "The peasant view of CancĂșn talks: 'They want to turn the air into a commodity'". The Guardian reports on yesterday's march. However, they don't add that Mexican police in riot gear stopped the march long before it got to its destination. Also, according to the La Via Campesina, which I've posted below, the governments of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela have joined La Via Campesina in denouncing the "elite climate talks."

A particular sticking point for the protesters is REDD, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. REDD is a system of rich countries paying poor countries to protect their forests. The protected forests would then count for carbon credits. Of course, the protection of the forests might also mean poor indigenous people being tossed out on their asses from their homelands, which they often do not have legal titles to (even though their ancestors lived there for centuries).

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Alternative Conference in Cancun

by: Jill Richardson

Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 19:12:23 PM PST

While the nations of the world meet in a luxury resort to accomplish nothing, the people of the world are meeting nearby. And as our national media ignores it, India's national paper is covering it. This alternative forum is called Alternative Global Forum for Life, Environmental and Social Justice and it's being put on by La Via Campesina, the international peasant farmer movement. The major idea coming out of this alternative forum is that the plan to "make a business out of climate change" via carbon markets is bogus.

From their article:

As opposed to the U.N. meeting, which is meant to make a business out of climate change, the Via Campesina Forum is a collective space for people and non-governmental organisations to debate on the crucial issues affecting their communities. No one here has faith in the U.N. meeting yielding any result.

Since November 28, people having been travelling around Mexico, and this Forum is a means of bringing pressure on the government.

"This is not an exclusive matter of the government; the people have to be involved too. The Mexican government is promoting programmes that will help U.S. interests and transnational companies," Mr. Gomez says. Seventy per cent of the Mexican territory is given over to mining, and some 25 per cent in concessions to Canadian companies. All its rivers are polluted, but everything is a business - garbage, water, he says.

The U.S. media has given this alternate forum little coverage. You can find information on Huffington Post, It's Getting Hot in Here, and, of course, Democracy Now. I highly recommend watching or listening to today's show of Democracy Now. They will be in Cancun all week. I also VERY highly recommend reading Ronnie Cummins first person account of Cancun, which he wrote and posted on the Organic Consumers Association site on December 1.

I've posted the latest release from La Via Campesina below.

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Cancun News

by: Jill Richardson

Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 15:36:46 PM PST

Time for an update on all of the nothing that's happening in Cancun right now. My recommendation for the delegates there: Skip the meetings and go SCUBA diving in the ocean instead, to make sure you see all of the beautiful marine life that won't be around much longer. To learn the story behind the scenes, check out the Guardian's account of the Wikileaks cables, which show how the U.S. pressured other nations to agree to the Copenhagen accord, one which won't solve the climate crisis. I love how they refer to Bolivia as an "unhelpful" nation for wanting to truly cut global emissions and limit the average global temperature increase. Yes, Bolivia, it is quite "unhelpful" that you don't want the Altiplano, where the majority of your population resides, to turn into a desert.

Meanwhile, caravans of some 4000 pissed off Mexican farmers are making their way to Cancun:

This series of mobilizations seeks to publicize the grave conditions of social and environmental deterioration found in the cities, communities and towns of Mexico, due to the politics of privatization of public goods, the impunity with which industries operate with respect to environmental regulations and to the violations of the social and labor laws of the citizens.

The caravans have noted the serious pollution of the rivers in the country. It's known that sixty percent of the groundwater and watersheds are contaminated; seventy percent of the soil has some form of erosion and the contamination of transgenic corn is present in fifteen states of the republic, to mention only the most dramatic cases.

The mask of the government trying to appear as an active defender of nature and preoccupied with the climate crises is deteriorating with the advance of the caravans.

I encourage you to read the article, which goes into some devastating details about the environmental problems in Mexico that this caravan is highlighting as it makes its way to Cancun.

More climate news:

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

COP16: The Cancun Climate Summit

by: Jill Richardson

Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 14:14:46 PM PST

Today begins the Cancun Climate Summit, also known as COP16 (Conference of Parties 16). Little is expected to happen in terms of a meaningful global agreement that will curb, prevent, or roll back the climate crisis. However, civil society is taking an active role in this meeting, and if there is news, it will be of the many protests, unofficial dialogues, papers, presentations, etc, that happen during the next 11 days.

Here are a few highlights:

Our national bird should be the ostrich.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 396 words in story)

Just Looking

by: Eddie C

Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 22:45:51 PM PST

Posted at Daily Kos and as "My Views from Last Week" at Star Hollow Gazette.

I have a few pleasant photography stories to tell from a week ago. Between the autumn color and the desperation of one last warm weather week, it was a good week for a photo buff. Now don't go busting my bubble by just looking at the photos because you can learn a lot from a photographer. We see things.

Below you will find a Third Rock from the Sun brief encounter during an evening walk in the Village. I have several memories from a lecture I attended on photojournalism. There is a pleasant Veterans Day walk under the George Washington Bridge on the New Jersey side followed by a sunset from the New York side. Then a Friday afternoon walk in Central Park with some music videos I made and all day Saturday there too. There is even a little taste of Florence, Italy.  

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