Indigenous Ecuadorian Village Battles Oil Giant—and Army January 14, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Ecuador, Energy, Environment, First Nations.
Tags: amazon watch, Ecuador, ecuador indigenous, ecuador oil, Ecuador petroleum, environment, fossil fuels, petroamazonas, petroecuador, rainforest, roger hollander
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‘We may die fighting to defend the rainforest’
An indigenous community in the Ecuadorian rainforest says they “will die fighting to protect the rainforest” after they say they were swindled by an oil company into signing away rights to 70,000 hectares of one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.
An Amazonian species of dragonflies with iridescent wings is among the species found in Yasuni national park in Ecuador, the most biodiverse region on Earth, under siege by the state-backed Petroamazonas oil company. (Photograph: Kelly Swing/Estacion Tiputini Colegio de Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales/Universidad San Francisco de Quito)
But the state-backed oil company, PetroAmazonas—backed by the Ecuadorean army—plans to begin prospecting the Kichwa village on the Napo River on Tuesday, The Guardian reports.
PetroAmazonas, one of the biggest oil companies in South America, originally offered the village a new school, university places for village children and better healthcare, but dropped those provisions before the chief of the village signed away the rights to the land for $40 per hectare.
But the community secretary, Klider Gualinga, said 80 percent of the village opposes the deal, which he says has not yet been finalized. He told The Guardian, “People think it is dishonest and the oil company is treating them like dogs. … They’re very upset and worried. We have decided to fight to the end. Each landholder will defend their territory. We will help each other and stand shoulder to shoulder to prevent anyone from passing.”
“If there is a physical fight, it is certain to end tragically,” Shaman Patricio Jipa said. “We may die fighting to defend the rainforest.”
It makes me feel sad and angry. Sad because we are indigenous people and not fully prepared to fight a government. And angry because we grew up to be warriors and have a spirit to defend ourselves. I wish we could use this force to fight in a new way, but our mental strength is not sufficient in this modern world.
There is huge concern the oil company will move quickly to clear the land. When that happened elsewhere, they used armed troops, beatings and abductions to remove those who stood in their way.
Jipa and his wife, Mari Muench, a British businesswoman, are fighting the plan.
Scientists say a single hectare in this part of the Amazon contains a wider variety of life than all of North America. The Amazon rainforest and other tropical forests are also among the earth’s best defenses against climate change, absorbing some 20 percent of carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels.
“Protecting the Amazon basin, which contains the largest tropical rainforest on the planet, is critical to our planet’s climate stability,” according to Amazon Watch.
Irreversible Climate Change Looms Within Five Years November 9, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Energy, Environment.
Tags: cabon dioxide, carbon energy, clean energy, climate change, climate control, climate crisis, climate summit, co2 emissions, coal energy, emissions, energy, environment, fossil fuels, renewable energy, roger hollander
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LONDON – Unless there is a “bold change of policy direction,” the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system, the International Energy Agency warned at the launch of its 2011 World Energy Outlook today in London.
Coal-fired power generating station in Shanxi, China. (Photo courtesy Skoda Export) The report says there is still time to act, but despite steps in the right direction the door of opportunity is closing.
The agency’s warning comes at a critical time in international climate change negotiations, as governments prepare for the annual UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, from November 28.
“If we do not have an international agreement whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door will be closed forever,” IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol warned today.
“Growth, prosperity and rising population will inevitably push up energy needs over the coming decades. But we cannot continue to rely on insecure and environmentally unsustainable uses of energy,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.
“Governments need to introduce stronger measures to drive investment in efficient and low-carbon technologies,” she said.
“The Fukushima nuclear accident, the turmoil in parts of the Middle East and North Africa and a sharp rebound in energy demand in 2010 which pushed CO2 emissions to a record high, highlight the urgency and the scale of the challenge,” van der Hoeven said.
Some key trends are pointing in worrying directions, the agency told reporters today. CO2 emissions have rebounded to a record high, the energy efficiency of global economy worsened for second straight year and spending on oil imports is near record highs.
In the World Energy Outlook’s central New Policies Scenario, which assumes that recent government commitments are implemented in a cautious manner, primary energy demand increases by one-third between 2010 and 2035, with 90 percent of the growth in non-OECD economies.
In the New Policies Scenario, cumulative carbon dioxide emissions over the next 25 years amount to three-quarters of the total from the past 110 years, leading to a long-term average temperature rise of 3.5 degrees C.
“Were the new policies not implemented, we are on an even more dangerous track, to an increase of six degrees C.
The IEA projects that China will consolidate its position as the world’s largest energy consumer. It consumes nearly 70 percent more energy than the United States by 2035, even though, by then, per capita demand in China is still less than half the level in the United States.
The share of fossil fuels in global primary energy consumption falls from around 81 percent today to 75 percent in 2035.
Renewables increase from 13 percent of the mix today to 18 percent in 2035; the growth in renewables is underpinned by subsidies that rise from $64 billion in 2010 to $250 billion in 2035, support that in some cases cannot be taken for granted in this age of fiscal austerity.
By contrast, subsidies for fossil fuels amounted to $409 billion in 2010.
“As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the “lock-in” of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals,” said Birol.
The World Energy Outlook also presents a 450 Scenario, which traces an energy path consistent with meeting the globally agreed goal of limiting the temperature rise to two degrees Celsuis above pre-industrial levels.
Four-fifths of the total energy-related CO2 emissions permitted to 2035 in the 450 Scenario are already locked in by existing capital stock, including power stations, buildings and factories, the report finds.
Without further action by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place would generate all the CO2 emissions allowed in the 450 Scenario up to 2035.
“Delaying action is a false economy,” Birol warned, saying that for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.
’24 Hours of Reality’: Reality Show Worth Watching September 11, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Energy, Environment.
Tags: 24 hours of reality, Al Gore, climate change, climate change deniers, david suzuki, environment, fossil fuels, gas emissions, global warming, greenhouse gas, oil industry, reality tv, roger hollander
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Most reality TV has little to do with the real world. But here’s an online show that will reflect what is happening in and to our world: 24 Hours of Reality will feature 24 presenters in 24 time zones talking about the climate crisis in 13 languages. It starts September 14 at 7 p.m. local time in Mexico City and wraps with a live multimedia presentation from New York City by Nobel laureate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore at 7 p.m. on September 15.
Climate change is reality. It’s happening in front of our eyes, and massive volumes of research from climate scientists around the world confirm that it will get worse if we fail to do something about it. The facts are no longer in dispute. Greenhouse gas emissions, mainly caused by humans burning fossil fuels, are warming the planet. And the consequences aren’t pretty: health problems caused by pollution; increasing extreme weather events leading to floods, droughts, and storms; shrinking glaciers and related impacts on water supplies and agriculture; insect infestations; conflict over dwindling resources; threats to the survival of plants and animals… the list goes on.
Some people don’t recognize how serious the problem is, delaying efforts to resolve it. And the longer we put off finding and implementing solutions, the harder and costlier it will be to overcome the impacts. Former World Bank chief economist Lord Stern estimated that keeping heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions below levels that would drive climate change to catastrophic levels could cost up to two per cent of global GDP, but failure to act could be economically disastrous.
People accuse me and other environmentalists and scientists of being “alarmist.” But the situation is alarming, and it’s even more alarming that some people ignore it, perhaps believing it will go away – or that the crisis doesn’t even exist. In part, this disconnect with reality is because industrial interests spend billions of dollars sowing doubt and confusion, continually promoting discredited theories – just as they’ve done with issues including the dangers of tobacco smoke and the harmful effects of chlorofluorocarbons on the ozone layer. They tell us climate change doesn’t exist, or that it’s caused by volcanoes or the sun, or that it’s part of a natural cycle – even that God will regulate the climate to the advantage of humans.
But as Al Gore points out, “The deniers may have millions of dollars to spend, but we have a powerful advantage. We have reality.”
That reality includes mountains of published, peer-reviewed research by close to 98 per cent of the world’s climate scientists, as well as real-time observation.
The David Suzuki Foundation’s executive director in Quebec, Karel Mayrand, will deliver the 24 Hours of Reality French presentation at 7 p.m. French Polynesia time (midnight Montreal time). He’ll be joined by two more Canadians, Peter Schiefke in Victoria at 7 p.m. Pacific Time on Sept. 14, and Carl Duivenvoorden from New Brunswick at 7 p.m. Greenland time (6 p.m. New Brunswick) on Sept. 15. They and others will show there is no debate among scientists and knowledgeable people over the existence of human-caused climate change. If there is to be debate it should focus on what to do about it. Doing nothing, as some of the industry shills argue we should, is not a viable option.
Solutions exist, although the cost and severity of the challenge is greater now than in 1988 when climatologists first called for emissions reductions. As more people become aware of the problem and its causes, and learn about the motives of the deniers, it becomes more likely that we’ll find ways to reduce the consequences and put humanity on a path to healthier lives on a healthier planet. We can’t argue with people who deny reality. All we can do is to make sure the voice of reason speaks louder and that those of us who care about humanity join together to find better ways to live on our Earth. Please visit ClimateRealityProject.org to find out how you can tune in to 24 Hours of Reality. Choose the presentation and time zone you want, or take part in the entire event. You can even set up viewing parties with family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. And spread the word. We need to speak up for the future of humanity.
The time to act is now.
Alberta can help save the planet September 1, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Ecuador, Environment.
Tags: alberta, biodiversity, Canada, climate change, Ecuador, environment, eucador yasuni, fossil fuels, guillermo granja, roger hollander, tropical biodiversity, yasuni
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Hoatzins perch on a tree at the Yasuni National
Park in Ecuador. The park and the nearby Tiputini Biodiversity Station
sit on top of some 846 million barrels of oil. Alberta could improve its
reputation and help protect the region by contributing to a fund that
would invest in renewable energy instead of oil, a reader writes.
Photograph by: Guillermo Granja, Reuters, File, Edmonton Journal
August 30, 2011
Re: “Ecuador’s climate plan worth a look,” The Journal, Aug. 24.
the last 10 years, we have been blessed to be able to escort biology
students to the most remarkable place on our planet – Tiputini
Biodiversity Station in Eastern Ecuador.
TBS is located in
pristine, primary lowland tropical rainforest, right beside Yasuni
National Park. Yasuni has been named a UNESCO heritage site because of
the biological treasures it houses and because it is the home of
indigenous Warani people who live traditionally in harmony with their
Our students (mostly second-year science students)
who venture to TBS as a field experience for their tropical biodiversity
course, start out with some trepidation – after all, most people think
about poisonous snakes and countless insects with fear.
couple of days in the rainforest, however, they have an epiphany. When
they see their first scarlet macaw (one of 550 different species of
birds), or their first golden mantled tamarin (one of 12 types of
primates there) or they climb to the canopy of one of the giant trees
(there are about 1,500 species at TBS – 500 per hectare) or they swim in
the Tiputini River with pink river dolphins, the students are changed
forever. This is the magic of TBS.
Besides housing the richest
biodiversity in the world, TBS and Yasuni Park are important to Ecuador
for another reason, however. They happen to sit on top of some 846
million barrels of oil.
Even if developed in the most
environmentally sustainable way possible, oil extraction will have
drastic consequences on the landscape, biota and native people. When we
were there in May, we saw and heard helicopters flying over the forest
every day. In addition, extraction and burning the fossil fuels will
contribute to our global climate change.
This conundrum, whether
to develop the oil resources that lie under the richest biological area
in the world, or not, has been solved by the people of Ecuador.
a meeting of the United Nations, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa
suggested his country would leave the oil where it is if developed
countries like Canada and the United States gave $3.6 billion U.S. to a
fund managed by the United Nations. This amount was equal to about half
of the revenue that the Ecuadorian people would be forgoing.
far, this suggestion has been resoundingly disapproved by the government
of Canada. But consider this – we in Alberta will spend more than $3
billion defending oilsands development, contributing to unproven CO2
sequestering technology and providing oil extraction companies with
That’s just Alberta. Imagine the benefits we could
derive by contributing at least some of this money to the Ecuadorian
plan. Our tarnished environmental reputation would immediately be
improved and our participation would encourage other countries to
participate as well.
In addition, we just might help to address the global problems of climate change and loss of biodiversity.
For once, we Albertans would be seen as stewards of the planet rather than as pillagers.
Michael Stock, department of biological sciences, Grant Mac Ewan University; Rick Lewis , director, MacEwan International
“Planetary Emergency:” Hansen Joins Tar Sands Protest August 29, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Energy, Environment.
Tags: alberta tar sands, Canada, civil disobedience, clean energy, environment, fossil fuels, global warming, james hansen, keystone xl, oil pipeline, roger hollander, tar sands, tar sands pipeline, tar sands protest, wlianna mintz
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As President Obama’s deadline to approve or disapprove licensing of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline draws closer, NASA’s lead climatologist, Dr. James Hansen, addressed reporters at the National Press Club to explain the grave consequences of approving such a project.
James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, addresses a crowd of protesters at a White House climate change rally in October 2010. “We have a planetary emergency,” Hansen, an adjunct professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and at Columbia’s Earth Institute, told reporters Monday. (Credit: Chesapeake Climate) “We have a planetary emergency,” Hansen, an adjunct professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and at Columbia’s Earth Institute, told reporters Monday.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed 1,700 mile pipeline system that would be utilized to transport crude oil from Canada to oil refineries in the midwestern region of the US. Environmentalists, including some in Congress, oppose it on the grounds that it could disrupt and taint domestic clean water supplies, and could jeopardize efforts to shift to clean energy sources.
Hansen argued that if humans continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, 20-40 percent of species on the planet will become extinct by the end of the century. The hydraulic cycle, he said, has become more extreme, resulting in extreme floods and drought intensification. Coral reefs are being destroyed, sea levels are lowering and glaciers are receding, causing rivers to run dry, he added.
Hansen warned that if the next phase of the Keystone pipeline is approved, America will continue to feed its “oil addiction” and will continue to burn fossil fuels, further destroying the environment.
“Fossil fuels are finite,” Hansen stated. “We’ll have to move to clean energy at some point so we may as well do it before we burn all the fossil fuels and ruin the future of our children.”
Hansen was among the first group of scientists to spread such warnings of global warming 30 years ago. Frustrated that his cries over the threat of climate change was going unheard, Hansen turned to civil disobedience in 2009. He has been arrested twice for protesting mountaintop removal coal mining, once in West Virginia and once outside the White House.
Following his remarks at the NPC, Hansen joined more than 60 religious leaders outside the White House to spread awareness of the environmental dangers of the Keystone XL pipeline as part of a civil disobedience act that has been going on for weeks.
For Obama, No Opportunity Too Big To Blow December 22, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Economic Crisis, Environment.
Tags: auto bailouts, bank bailouts, carbon, climate change, copenhagen, copenhagen failure, Economic Crisis, emissions, fossil fuels, green vision, naomi klein, obama failure, stimulus package
Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone’s fault. It did not happen because human beings are incapable of agreeing, or are inherently self-destructive. Nor was it all was China’s fault, or the fault of the hapless UN.
There’s plenty of blame to go around, but there was one country that possessed unique power to change the game. It didn’t use it. If Barack Obama had come to Copenhagen with a transformative and inspiring commitment to getting the U.S. economy off fossil fuels, all the other major emitters would have stepped up. The EU, Japan, China and India had all indicated that they were willing to increase their levels of commitment, but only if the U.S. took the lead. Instead of leading, Obama arrived with embarrassingly low targets and the heavy emitters of the world took their cue from him.
(The “deal” that was ultimately rammed through was nothing more than a grubby pact between the world’s biggest emitters: I’ll pretend that you are doing something about climate change if you pretend that I am too. Deal? Deal.)
I understand all the arguments about not promising what he can’t deliver, about the dysfunction of the U.S. Senate, about the art of the possible. But spare me the lecture about how little power poor Obama has. No President since FDR has been handed as many opportunities to transform the U.S. into something that doesn’t threaten the stability of life on this planet. He has refused to use each and every one of them. Let’s look at the big three.
Blown Opportunity Number 1: The Stimulus Package When Obama came to office he had a free hand and a blank check to design a spending package to stimulate the economy. He could have used that power to fashion what many were calling a “Green New Deal” — to build the best public transit systems and smart grids in the world. Instead, he experimented disastrously with reaching across the aisle to Republicans, low-balling the size of the stimulus and blowing much of it on tax cuts. Sure, he spent some money on weatherization, but public transit was inexplicably short changed while highways that perpetuate car culture won big.
Blown Opportunity Number 2: The Auto Bailouts Speaking of the car culture, when Obama took office he also found himself in charge of two of the big three automakers, and all of the emissions for which they are responsible. A visionary leader committed to the fight against climate chaos would obviously have used that power to dramatically reengineer the failing industry so that its factories could build the infrastructure of the green economy the world desperately needs. Instead Obama saw his role as uninspiring down-sizer in chief, leaving the fundamentals of the industry unchanged.
Blown Opportunity Number 3: The Bank Bailouts Obama, it’s worth remembering, also came to office with the big banks on their knees — it took real effort not to nationalize them. Once again, if Obama had dared to use the power that was handed to him by history, he could have mandated the banks to provide the loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn’t tell the failed banks how to run their businesses. Green businesses report that it’s harder than ever to get a loan.
Imagine if these three huge economic engines — the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill — had been harnessed to a common green vision. If that had happened, demand for a complementary energy bill would have been part of a coherent transformative agenda.
Whether the bill had passed or not, by the time Copenhagen had rolled around, the U.S. would already have been well on its way to dramatically cutting emissions, poised to inspire, rather than disappoint, the rest of the world.
There are very few U.S. Presidents who have squandered as many once-in-a-generation opportunities as Barack Obama. More than anyone else, the Copenhagen failure belongs to him.
Research support for Naomi Klein’s reporting from Copenhagen was provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.
© 2009 The Nation
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, now out in paperback. Her earlier books include the international best-seller, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies; and the collection Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (2002). To read all her latest writing visit www.naomiklein.org
Tags: advertising, australia, carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon emissions, clean coal, climate change, coal, coal contamination, coal emissions, coen brothers, environment, false advertising, fossil fuels, fred pearce, greenpeace, greenwash, kevin rudd, miliband, new generation coal, roger hollander, tv advertising
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Misleading and duplicitous ads on ‘clean coal’ cannot camouflage the stench of fossil fuels
The fightback begins here. Well, we can hope. The misleading and downright duplicitous ads against clean coal chronicled here are now being contested by – you guessed it – an ad.
Last week the Academy-award winning movie producers Joel and Ethan Coen began airing their commercial on cable TV in the US. It is a spoof air freshener advert with a suburban housewife spraying her home with a coal-black aerosol from a can called Clean Coal. Explaining the magic ingredient, the presenter says that “Clean Coal harnesses the awesome power of the word clean”.
It ends with the caption for anyone with a comedy bypass: “In reality, there is no such thing as clean coal.”
Meanwhile, a thick spray of the white stuff in Washington DC couldn’t prevent some 2,000 protesters gathering at the Capitol Hill power plant to protest that the plant burns coal to provide steam heating for the federal legislature’s cavernous halls.
The snow did allow a mocking Fox News to report that the scene was “reminiscent of a day in January 2004 when Al Gore made a major address in New York – on one of the coldest days in the city’s history.” They really can’t get over Gore, can they?
But we all have our obsessions, and I fear that the alliterative power of “clean coal” is destined to reoccur in this column. It is just so pervasive and so toxic. It seems capable of camouflaging every stench of the industry. And even the distant prospect of it is just so damned convenient for politicians caught between coal and environment lobbies.
In Britain, the prospective “clean coal” technology known as carbon capture and storage looks like it is being lined up as a fig leaf for the construction of new coal-burning power plants. How else can one explain contradictory messages from ministers in recent days?
This week the word from Whitehall has been that a decision on the Kingsnorth power plant, likely to be the first of several such plants, had been delayed until the autumn, while the cabinet minister responsible for both energy and climate policy, Ed Miliband, conducted a review of coal policy because of climate concerns.
But I am having trouble reconciling that with last week’s speech by energy minister Mike O’Brien at a coal industry conference in London where he said “we will need new fossil fuel plants, including coal” to meet a “generation capacity gap by 2015″.
Which is it to be? Watch out for “clean coal” to bridge the climate gap. But we may be asked to glossed over the fact that, as O’Brien helpfully explained, Britain’s first project to see if it can make the technology work at an actual power station won’t begin its first tests until 2014 – a bit late to plug an energy gap a year later.
The doublespeak is in overdrive right now in Australia, from where reader Patrick has sent me updates on the launch of the Australian Coal Association PR campaign New Generation Coal. It has a multi-million dollar media budget for promoting clean coal.
We should be grateful that, like its counterparts round the world, the ACA now concedes that climate change has to be beaten. And unlike many countries, the Australian $40-billion coal industry is spending a few tens of millions of dollars a year on R&D into carbon capture and storage.
But it is small stuff that they are selling big. And one snappily-titled project, Zero-Gen in Queensland, is reportedly on the brink of collapse because of a funding dispute between industry and government.
The Australian industry’s claim that carbon capture and storage will be “commercially viable by 2017″ is far-fetched to say the least.
Nobody else in the world thinks that is possible. And that, I’d guess, includes the Australian government, which recently snubbed UN climate negotiators by setting itself a derisory target of reducing domestic CO2 emissions by just 5% by 2020.
Australia is built on coal. It gets 80% of its electricity from burning the stuff. But domestic emissions are just the start. It is also the world’s largest exporter. As another reader Dave points out, Newcastle in New South Wales is the world’s busiest coal exporting terminal, sending abroad 80 million tonnes of the black stuff every year, mostly to fast-growing Asian economies like China and Thailand.
So not only are Aussie greenhouse gas emissions among the world’s highest (per head of population, more than twice those of Britain) they are also doing their best to bump everybody’s up as well.
Until its Labor prime minister, Kevin Rudd, starts doing something about that, his claimed green credentials will be just greenwash.
• How many more green scams, cons and generous slices of wishful thinking are out there? Please email your examples of greenwash to firstname.lastname@example.org.