Using the power of photojournalism to expose social, economic and ecological injustice

Copenhagen, Denmark: “Fingers” are pointed at Corporations and Bankers as the drivers of climate change during the UNFCCC (2009)                                                                            Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

The scientific UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a report warning there are only a dozen years to prevent climate catastrophe. The time is ticking…above countdown as of 13 December 2018.

Intro from Orin Langelle 13 December 2018: I was going to wait until the final words were hammered out at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Conference of the Parties 24 (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland that began on 2 December and is scheduled to conclude 14 December 2018. But why wait when I already know the outcome.

The UNFCCC will agree to meet again next year and no binding deals by the parties will happen this year.

Why do I know that? From my first UNFCCC experience as an activist photographer in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2004 to my last consecutive UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa in 2011, all I ever saw was business as usual as Earth’s life support systems become more fragile. Already in 2004 it was widely understood that climate change was already well underway, but this year it is glaringly apparent as extreme weather around the globe gets even more extreme, with records breaking left and right.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in October of this year (2018) warning there are only a dozen years to take the measures necessary to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C – beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people; not to mention non-human species.  The IPCC even went so far as to say that avoiding catastrophic climate change will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” Quite a statement from a group of scientists.

We are already in the sixth massive extinction; the likes of which have not been seen on Earth for at least 65 million years. This is the alarming finding of a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

In other words, we are up shit’s creek without a paddle. The human race though, has an ethical and moral obligation to find that paddle. I have not seen any real efforts to find that paddle at any UN climate conference. Nor have I seen any political will from governments to acknowledge what it might take to find that paddle. No, it is up to us. It is up to us to work for radical systemic transformation. Not reform. Its too late for reform. We can see the iceberg up ahead. We need to stop the ship, not re-arrange the deck chairs.

Every year, the UN climate conference is the same – sort of like the Groundhog’s Day movie where Bill Murray relives 2 February over and over.

Below is an article I wrote from a hotel in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico one week after I attended the miserable UN climate conference in Cancún (2010).  I could probably write virtually the same piece after this year’s climate COP in Katowice, Poland.

Running to Catch a Bus to the Apocalypse

by Orin Langelle     First published in Climate Connections | 17 December 2010

Not just once but twice. Two times I had to run to catch the bus that was going from the Hotel Zone in Cancún to the Cancún Messe. From the Messe one had to take a shuttle to get into the main buildings of the Moon Palace where the UN climate talks were being held or to get to the media center. The UN made it quite hard to get to the Moon Palace from the Hotel Zone or downtown, so missing a bus was a big deal time-wise.

One of the shuttle buses from the Messe to the Moon Palace. California and the Mexican state of Chiapas recently made of a bilateral deal on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) that involves African Palm plantations. The “Ecobus” was later seen being filled with normal petrol. photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Why to the apocalypse?  Because it’s the end of the world as we know it and the UN climate negotiations are about the commodification of life. To quote Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network on the UN climate talks, “It’s the World Trade Organization of the sky.”

And the sky is the limit.  Everything has a price. From trees to water to air; in fact the Earth and all life is for sale. They may as well put bar codes on tigers. But wait, they kind of are. Charismatic fauna should be used to create premiums on schemes to save the forest—as World Bank chief slimy asshole Robert Zoellick explained at a day-long conference devoted to REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation]. (The UN doesn’t even know what a forest is—tree plantations, devoid of biodiversity are considered forests in their profit-motivated brains). This was my seventh United Nations Frameworks Convention on Climate Change. I started  in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2004 – then followed with Montreal, Canada—Nairobi, Kenya—Bali, Indonesia—Poznan, Poland—Copenhagen, Denmark—and finally Cancún, Mexico. [I held out one more year and attended the climate COP in 2011 Durban, South Africa.]

Buenos Aires was my first experience with how the UN climate talks function. Business comes in and runs the show while lip service is given to NGOs and Indigenous Peoples. Buenos Aires was a fucking trade show where Clean Coal, Nuclear Power and other industries had booths to sell their snake oils of destruction.

Are things really that bad?

Indigenous Peoples with UNFCCC gags in Bali, Indonesia (2007). photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Year after year these talks get worse and worse. Voices of opposition slowly were eroding with one the first egregious cases erupting in Bali [Indonesia].  Indigenous Peoples were invited to a meeting with the UN president. They went. He wasn’t there. He was at another place. The Indigenous Peoples went there. There, they were met by armed guards who wouldn’t let them in.  The next day, at a guerilla press conference, Indigenous Peoples showed up with UNFCCC gags across their mouths.

Fast forward to CorporateHaven (Copenhagen) last year [2009]. Finally people were catching on to what the climate negotiators were up to and finally people started to revolt. Climate Justice Action was formed to do outside actions and CJA teamed up with Climate Justice Now!, an inside group formed in Bali that promoted a more leftist analysis than the other inside NGOs associated with Climate Action Network. CJA and CJN! planned a “Reclaim Power” action where people from CJA planned to march to the convention center where the negotiators were huddled and have a Peoples’ Assembly with folks who marched out from the inside, led by a contingent of Indigenous Peoples.

The march out of the convention was met by police (2009). photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC

Both of the marches were stopped and CJA and CJN! never came together for the Peoples’ Assembly as activists from both sides were brutally attacked by Danish police.

CJA did manage to have its own Peoples’ Assembly, however.

Some of us knew the negotiators’ legitimacy was slowly dissolving and the UN climate talks would never be the same again.

The next UNFCCC was to be held in Mexico City, but officials changed the venue to Cancún. Could this be because they thought outside protests could be better contained, as they were in 2003 when the WTO met [there]? To use the words of an Alaskan buffoon and Tea Party icon [Sarah Palin], “You betcha!”

This month, in Cancún, the UNFCCC was stripped bare of any legitimacy.  Business was the order of the day and NGOs, IPOs [Indigenous Peoples Organizations], smaller nations, journalists and youth had no space unless they took it. Youth took it. Indigenous Peoples took it. Some NGOs took it. Through demonstrations that permeated the talks it was evident that the UNFCCC was no more than the World Carbon-Trading Organization. UN security even beat up a Reuters photographer and stole his camera for photographing UN security over-reacting to a youth protest. (When journalist[s] are attacked it usually means those in control are afraid of being exposed; it also means that those in control will start to get very bad press).

The so-called Cancún Agreements are a farce that would be laughable except for the fact that the UN negotiators are putting all life on Earth for sale.

And why shouldn’t it be with business, the World Bank and phony environmental organizations like Conservation International dealing the cards? There is some really evil shit going on.

Robert Zoellick and his eyes wide shut during the failed Cancun 2003 WTO talks. photo: Langelle/GJEP

I was in Cancún in 2003 where the WTO was held. The U.S. trade representative was Robert Zoellick. Zoellick is also one of the founders of the Project for a New American Century and one of the architects of the ongoing oil war on the Iraqi people. Now he is the President of the World Bank.

Can you say American Empire? An empire of death, racism, genocide, and colonialism. An empire that, with the other rich nations, thinks they are in control of the world.

So is it the end of the world as we know it? Yes. It has to be. Life can’t continue in the direction that it is headed, run by these greedy fucking jerks. Is the apocalypse nigh? It depends. One version of apocalypse means a dramatic and catastrophic conflict, typically seen as likely to destroy the world or the human race. It also could be interpreted that ‘destroy’ really means to destroy unjust economic systems. This will destroy the concept of putting a price tag on life as it is now but could also result in new way of life in harmony with the earth.

Zapatista Commandante Tacho in La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico (1996). photo: Langelle/GJEP

So is there hope? Of course. Maybe when the Mayan calendar ends in 2012, we will see a much-needed rebirth in balance with the earth. Maybe people will figure things out and band together in solidarity. Maybe social movements will swell and overthrow the maniacs that are now in charge. If any of those scenarios occur—and it’s the end of the world as I know it, I will feel fine.

I continue to dream what many say is impossible. I’m sitting in a hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico writing this blog post a week after the Cancún mess. In Chiapas, when the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect on New Years Day in 1994, a band of  Indigenous Peoples called the Zapatistas started a revolution in Chiapas stating that NAFTA “is a death sentence for Indigenous Peoples.”

That revolution continues to this day. It is a revolution of hope and dignity. Autonomous Regions and cooperatives exist in many parts of Chiapas.

The start of the Zapatista rebellion was summed up by these words:  ¡Ya Basta! (Enough Already) and La Lucha Sigue, Zapata Vive! (the struggle continues, Zapata lives!)

It’s time for a global ¡Ya Basta! or we certainly are headed toward the much more sinister meaning of apocalypse.


Orin Langelle directs Langelle Photography, a component of Global Justice Ecology Project’s Global Justice Media Program. Langelle, along with Anne Petermann founded Global Justice Ecology Project in 2003. Petermann and Langelle have worked in struggles for justice from local to national to international for many years. GJEP is a co-founder of the Durban Group for Climate Justice (Durban, South Africa 2004), Climate Justice Now! (Bali, Indonesia 2007), and Climate Justice Action (Copenhagen, Denmark 2008), all of which have deep and powerful critiques of carbon offsets and carbon markets. GJEP is also a founding member of the U.S. Climate Justice Alliance.


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Grabbing by Capitalism

Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP’s coordinator of Environmental and Climate Justice Program addresses Buffalo’s 2nd Annual Anti-Gentrification Summit. Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Executive Director of PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing) Buffalo is on the left. photo: Langelle

Buffalo, NY’s Anti-Gentrification Summit

plus land grabs, climate change connections

by Orin Langelle

On 17 November 2018, the OUR CITY coalition presented the Second Annual Anti-Gentrification Summit and said it would be “a day of inspiration and workshops that will help arm the citizens of Buffalo with the tools and information needed to combat the issues that matter most to us – the people!” The Summit took place at the East High School in Buffalo, NY’s East Side. The East Side is one of the most polluted areas in Buffalo.

Keynote speaker Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP’s coordinator and co-founder of its Environmental and Climate Justice Program, addressed the large diverse crowd on such themes such as climate change, capitalism and the power of the people to stand together in determination and love.

Some of the workshops scheduled at the Summit included ‘From Undocumented to Citizen: Building a City Where All Immigrants are Able to Live With Dignity and Their Rights Protected,’ ‘There’s More Than One Justice. How about Climate?’ along with ‘Collective Ownership for Community Wealth’ to name a few.

Global Justice Ecology Project‘s Executive Director Anne Petermann and I attended the conference after we were invited by Clarke Gocker, Director of Policy and Strategy of PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing). We both had heard of PUSH and knew a little about them, but  started to know more about them when I presented last month in Resilience: Through the Lens, a photo class for the community, organized by The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, and the CEPA Gallery | Contemporary Photography and Visual Arts Center. Clarke was one of the people who attended.

The following week Clarke and I got together at the PUSH offices to discuss the Summit. He thought it would it would be good if I could do a workshop during the Summit. Due to a variety of circumstances the workshop didn’t happen this time.

Clarke told me when we met at the PUSH offices prior to the Summit that he was inspired by my work documenting the resistance of communities, both globally and nationally. And how my photos on displacements–such as schemes to take Indigenous Peoples’ lands that would lead to the relocation of those communities, to other communities standing up to displacement due to fracked gas pipelines–could connect to anti-gentrification work. I never thought of my work relating to gentrification, but it made sense.

Most of my life I’ve worked to find and expose the intersections between ecology and economics; helping bridge one issue to other issues to help build anti-capitalist solidarity. But like so many others there is almost always is a disconnect of issues somewhere and gentrification was my disconnect. It is no longer.

Many of us who have worked for the planet, for communities and for the people have had instances of not finding, or unable to build, the bridges necessary for open dialogue. It happens far more too often than it should.

Gentrification and other Land Grabs can be bridges of understanding between those who live in cities and those who live in less populated communities. And like it or not, climate chaos is a bridge to the mutual aid we all must practice because I don’t believe the government will be of much assistance except to help the ruling class that is predominantly white.

An interesting article, HOW THE RICH WILL SURVIVE CLIMATE CHANGE DISASTER was published online in The Outline. Here is the final paragraph:

We are entering a dystopian future in which class-privileged white people are using privatized systems and their obscene wealth to avoid the catastrophic environmental effects of the racist capitalist system that they forced upon the world. While they are funding these privatized resource systems with the wealth they built off of marginalized peoples, wealthy white people are simultaneously supporting Trump in droves, who blamed forest management for [the California] fires and derided a United Nations report released last month finding that the world has 12 years to avert global environmental catastrophe. These fires and their disparate impact demonstrate a necessity for structural action on climate change and support for those who will be most harmed—poor people and people of color.

On a much brighter note it was great to see and talk, unfortunately only briefly, with Jacqui Patterson. Anne Petermann I have known Jacqui for over a decade due to working on Climate Justice issues nationally and internationally. Not many people can say that they’ve driven into a hurricane so they could be there to be of assistance. Jacqui can.

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Degawenodas (right) gives serious stare to one of the board members.        photo: Langelle/

More on the Sacred Seneca Burial Grounds. This is from Buffalo Rising. It includes a conversation with Degawenodas Ni Ah Agatayonih, born into the Wolf Clan of the Onondowa’ga:’ “I come in peace, but I am armed with the weapon of truth.”

We are all excited to see the city of Buffalo reworked into a world class city. For some of us, nothing can stand in the way of making this happen, and that’s an admirable stance to take. But when we say “nothing”, do we really mean “nothing“?

Let’s take a step back and consider why Buffalo is different than other cities. We are a great city because of our people, our history, our heritage, and our love and respect for one another.

I want to see Buffalo built up, just as much as the next person. I want to see this city strong. At the same time, I understand that Buffalo is only as great as the sum of its parts. The parts that I am referring to include buildings, businesses, parks, schools, and people. All of its people. And when we talk about people, it’s important to talk about heritage.

Last month, I learned that there was a proposal on the table, to build an expansion of the Maritime

Recent rally where Carl Jamieson (Cayuga) gives a statement to the media outside of the Maritime Charter High School. Photo: Langelle Photography

Charter School on Buffum Street in South Buffalo. The charter school has outgrown its 266 Genesee Street location, and has purchased the former School 70 (long closed) at 102 Buffum to house its seventh and eight grades (now operational). This is great, considering that the building is already there – there’s no issue at hand. But moving forward, the school is looking to consolidate and expand to Buffum Street, which would further disrupt the site of the Indian burial ground. According to WBFO, “there is a $13 million plan for a gym and a high school building to open in September 2020. That would consolidate 450 students and 75 faculty.” The developer of the three-story, 65,000 sq.’ building, and 24,000 sq.’ gym is Ellicott Development. To continue



Newell Nussbaumer is ‘queenseyes’ – Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world’s largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | [email protected]

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Seneca Carl Jamieson (center) gives a statement to the media outside of the Maritime Charter High School. photo: Langelle/GJEP-

Buffalo, New York – Thursday 18 October – Maritime Charter High School

From Nekanęhsakt: Friends of Ękwehęwę

Seneca and allies entered a charter school board meeting where Carl Jamieson (rear left) spoke to the board. photo: Langelle/GJEP –

Buffalo sits on what is traditionally Native land from time remembered, most recently it was the home of the Seneca of the Buffalo Creek Reservation. There is a proposed expansion by the Maritime Charter school on Buffum Street in South Buffalo on to Seneca Burial grounds. The proposed expansion is just a few hundred feet from Seneca Indian Park which was a Seneca burial ground where Red Jacket and Mary Jemison were once buried, and just one block from Indian Church Road where only a few years ago Buffalo Sewer Authority excavated and unearthed remains of the deceased. “Buffalo Creek and Buffum Street are sacred lands and very rich in history and I think that a lot of suggestions of putting a school on a place that’s

Degawenodas (right) glares at Charter School board member when his comments were cut short and he was told he would have to make an official request to speak before the Board at their next meeting in one month.  When asked if the Board would be making its decision about the school expansion before that meeting, the Board said it did not know.  photo: Langelle/

sacred territory, I think there are better places for Maritime schools,” Carl Jamieson said. We are asking the Maritime Charter school to stop their plans for expansion onto what even NYS’s Historic Preservation Office has described as a site having “high cultural, historic and archeological sensitivity”. The people who really stand to gain on this project is Carl Paladino’s Ellicott Development Company which has a big investment and involvement in this project.

More on the Sacred Seneca Burial Grounds from Buffalo Rising




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I was honored last week to present some of my photography for a class, ‘Resilience: Through the Lens’ to community photographers in Buffalo, NY.

The largest Ayoreo concentration camp is Campo Lorro, Paraguay. photo: Langelle

‘Resilience: Through the Lens’ was organized by Rebecca Newberry, the Executive Director of The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, and Lauren Tent, the Education Director for the CEPA Gallery | Contemporary Photography and Visual Arts Center. My presentation to the class was held on October 4, 2018 at the CEPA Gallery.

Woman and daughter walking—another way out of Amador Hernandez is to walk the fifteen kilometers. The community was slated for forced relocation but resisted. photo: Langelle

I’m a member of CEPA and a co-recipient of Gallery’s 2017 Member’s Exhibition Award (please see the bottom of this post for further information regarding that exhibition and my subsequent solo show at CEPA’s Flux Gallery).

Although part of my presentation concerned my national and international photography that I have used to expose social, economic and ecological injustice, my main focus was my work with people of different communities. I showed photographs of the first concentration camp of Ayoreo Indigenous Peoples in Paraguay (above left), resistance in Amador Hernandez, an Indigenous village in the jungle of Mexico’s state of Chiapas (second above left) and most recently a detailed look into my work with Union Hill, a historic Black community founded by Freedmen and slaves.

Two members of the Union Hill community in Buckingham County, Virginia read a list of who was buried in this basically unmarked slave and Freedmen cemetery. The cemetery was hidden for many years. The list also contained the amount slave traders sold people to slave owners. photo: Langelle

The community of Union Hill is fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and a 55,000 horsepower compressor station planned by Dominion Energy. There are Freedmen and slave unmarked burial sites on or near the site where Dominion wants to build the compressor station.

Local residents see Dominion Energy’s disregard for their community as part of an established pattern of environmental racism in Virginia. The African American community fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a strong and proud community.

While at the burial site in Union Hill (above right) I was allowed to capture the intense feelings of the people present. To all it was a sad moment but, also a sense of closure to know where their ancestors are buried.

I discussed the impact that my photos and strategic communications had – and are still having.

This was no doubt one of my best experiences in sharing my images that are meant to foster social change while documenting history. The attendees at CEPA asked very pertinent questions and we engaged in an inspiring dialogue about photography and social change.

More on Orin Langelle and CEPA

On January 27, 2017 the CEPA Gallery (Contemporary Photography & Visual Arts Center) opened its yearly CEPA Gallery Members’ Exhibition. CEPA Gallery’s 2017 Members’ Exhibition featured the photography and photo-related work of some of Western New York’s most talented artists.

Photographers Natalie Dilenno and Orin Langelle received the 2017 Exhibition Awards.

The Exhibition Awards provided both Langelle and Dilenno to have solo exhibits at the CEPA Gallery in 2018.

Langelle Photography is a component of Global Justice Ecology Project‘s Global Justice Media Program

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¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art

148 Elmwood, Buffalo, NY (Allentown) 14201

 Langelle Photography and the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art are part of the Social Justice Media Program of Global Justice Ecology Project

One World: Issues Across and Through Skins


The Story of a Forest “private showing”


(Slider photograph by Johanna C. Dominguez)

One World: Issues Across and Through Skins

Premier Solo Exhibit by Johanna C. Dominguez

Opens: Friday, September 14, 6 p.m.- 9 p.m. with a wine and hors doeuvres Reception

Closes: Friday, November 2

Where: ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art – 148 Elmwood Avenue – Buffalo, NY

After the November 2016 election, Johanna Dominguez felt compelled to do something. Something ended up picking up her camera and documenting the different local rallies and efforts of activists across Western New York. She has combined these images with images she has taken abroad to bring together this show. The series of photographs have been taken between 2016 – 2018. There are many threats facing both people and animals today, and while these threats may seem specific, Dominguez’s work shows that the world is a lot smaller than we think.

Many may think “Water is Life” is specific to Standing Rock, but through Dominguez’s lens we see that this issue spreads far beyond the Dakota Access Pipeline. Energy corporations are capitalizing on and suppressing people across the globe. Habitats and ecosystems are also under siege both locally and abroad. It is not all doom and gloom though. There’s people and efforts out there to try and reclaim what was lost. One World: Issues Across & Through Skins shows the many positive efforts to make a space for life.

Dominguez wishes to point out that her camera is simply a vehicle and that the true stars are those within the photographs. They are the warriors. They are the changemakers. They are the ones on the frontlines fighting every day.

Free and open to the public


The Story of a Forest “private showing”

Directed by Suki deJong and Co-produced by GJEP’s Ruddy Turnstone (who will be present)

Saturday, September 15, 6 p.m. with a wine and hors doeuvres Reception

Where: ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art – 148 Elmwood Avenue – Buffalo, NY

The party continues on Saturday, September 15 at 6 p.m.with a “private showing” of the yet-to-be-released film of director Suki deJong’s The Story of a Forest. Co-producer Ruddy Turnstone, who staffs GJEP’s Florida office, will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions afterwards.

The Story of a Forest is a half hour documentary of the ten-plus year campaign that started in 2004 to stop the development of a Scripps Biotech campus in the middle of the biodiverse Briger forest and wetlands. The film features direct actions to save the forest, accompanied by the deep analysis of the global justice movement that swept the world a decade prior. The activists in The Story of a Forest waged a local campaign that exemplified the threats of corporate globalization worldwide.

The film will be shown at the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery and followed by a second wine and hors doeuvres reception.  The film is free and open to the public.

GJEP’s home office has been in Buffalo for the past six years with priorities ranging from international forest protection and advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ rights, to the International Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, and Orin Langelle’s Concerned Photography program. GJEP was founded in Vermont in 2003 by Orin Langelle and East Aurora native Anne Petermann to explore and expose the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction, and economic domination.

GJEP has a satellite office in Lake Worth, FL and their Press Secretary is based in St. Louis, MO.

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August 23, 2018

Survival International

Claudia Andujar, photographer and activist, with Davi Kopenawa, a shaman and key spokesperson for the Yanomami, 2010.
© © Fiona Watson/Survival

A woman who fled Nazi persecution as a child and later spearheaded a campaign to save an Amazon tribe is being awarded Germany’s top cultural honor, the Goethe Medal.

Claudia Andujar will receive the prestigious award at a ceremony in Weimar on August 28th. Previous winners include the musician Daniel Barenboim, the novelist John le Carré, and the architect Daniel Libeskind.

Claudia is being honored for her groundbreaking work with the Yanomami tribe, which led to the establishment of the largest forested area under indigenous control anywhere in the world. Experts say the Yanomami people would not have survived without Claudia’s activism. Survival International projected the campaign globally.

To read and see more of this historical achievement CONTINUE

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Women Traditional Healers (2011) – Amador Hernadez, Lacandon Jungle, Chiapas, Mexico: Women prepare their traditional medicines, which they harvest from the jungle. The Mexican government wanted the community to leave the jungle so they could sell the forests for “carbon offsets.” When this photo was taken, the Mexican military was scheduled to arrive in four days to forcibly remove the community. The people of the community resisted and they were not evicted. If people who live in forests are evicted and relocated, they will lose their traditional ways.                                    photo: Orin Langelle

“They see our Mother Earth as a business, and for us you should never see it like that. It’s our Mother, she can’t be sold.” ‘Francisco,’ Lacandon Jungle, Amador Hernandez, Chiapas, Mexico in A Darker Shade of Green (2012)

The myth of offsetting carbon emissions with forests

Forest carbon offsets neither protect forests nor reduce emissions. They allow continuation of business as usual. Under forest carbon offset schemes, forests are priced according to the carbon they contain, and credits can be earned by preserving those forests. Corporations can then buy those credits that are then used to further pollute rather than decrease their emissions.

For example, at the notorious Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, “offset” emissions will continue to devastate surrounding communities, and the gross level of emissions remains the same.

The tortured equations of forest carbon offsets also impact Indigenous and forest dependent communities globally, through forced relocations of entire societies so that governments can take over forests and sell the carbon stored as offsets.

Beyond the social injustice of forest carbon offsets is the simple scientific fact that offsets literally mean a net result of standing in place. If today’s living species are to survive, this will not suffice; what is required are drastic reductions in emissions at the source.

SHOULD WE PUT A PRICE ON CARBON? That Depends – Who Are “We”?

Presentation for the Panel “Should We Put a Price on Carbon?” Sheffield University Festival of Debate, 11 May 2018 by Larry Lohmann, The Corner House

Our colleague Larry Lohman stated in his opening:

Should we put a price on carbon? That depends on what our goals are and what we can expect prices to achieve.

If we’re looking for a solution to climate change, then putting a price on carbon isn’t a serious strategy. It can’t address the roots of the problem, and isn’t designed to.

However, if we’re driven less by concern over global warming than by incentives to try to help business muddle through a post-1970s profit crisis in an era of growing environmental regulation, then carbon pricing makes more sense.

In other words, deciding what to think about carbon pricing means deciding who you are and what side you’re on.

And in concluding Lohman said:

In sum, in reciprocally enmiring one another in a sucking swamp of economistic bullshit obligingly dug for them by various neoliberal expertocracies, business and the state have stumbled into a strikingly functional adaptive response to popular concern about climate change.9 Lamenting – as much to themselves as to others – that escape from their swamp is impossible, both capital and the state nonetheless try to console themselves that at least their antagonists in popular movements can’t easily get at them in their smelly refuge.

Are they right? Well, political realism does require us climate activists to acknowledge that carbon pricing – despite its ineffectiveness in addressing climate change – is not just another zombie shuffling interminably across the neoliberal policy landscape. There are good reasons for its continuing popularity among business, politicians and the experts that orbit them. These reasons must be fully understood if the rest of us are to move forward.


Carbon markets are business as usual and represent the commodification of Earth – Orin Langelle


“People have to think more holistically about their actions. Everything comes down to ‘how much money can I make from this.’ Until this changes, all this talk of environmental protection is bullshit.” Cree Helen Atkinson in Whapmagoostui, Quebec, Canada 1993

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