LANGELLE PHOTOGRAPHY

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

Posts from the ‘Climate’ category

All photos taken by Orin Langelle in Nicaragua unless noted.

Posoltega, Nicaragua: This tree was uprooted and stuck upside down in the mud after the crater lake of the Las Casitas volcano collapsed during Hurricane Mitch causing a major mudslide that buried entire villages near Posoltega, Nicaragua. The tree marks the mass grave of thousands of people, and the land affected by the mudslide resembles a desert.

The following article was published twenty years ago in ACERCA NOTES when I was the coordinator of ACERCA (Action for Community and Ecology in the Rainforests of Central America). ACERCA’s findings cited climate change as one of the factors that exacerbated the tragedy caused by Hurricane Mitch. Climate change was not on the minds of many people twenty years ago. Little did I know then that climate change would be on so many people’s minds today and actually be recognized as a major threat to life on Earth if systemic changes do not happen economically and politically in the next twelve years.  – Orin Langelle

The Special Report was excerpted from the “Preliminary Report to the Nicaragua Network Environmental Task Force.”

SPECIAL REPORT: HURRICANE MITCH IN NICARAGUA

Environmental Degradation, Deforestation, [Climate Change] Exacerbated Tragedy

by Orin Langelle

From October 25 to November 2, 1998 Nicaragua suffered a full scale disaster with Hurricane Mitch. Action for Community and Ecology in the Rainforests of Central America (ACERCA) called for and organized an environmental justice fact-finding research delegation to the region co-sponsored by Witness For Peace). In the first part of February [1999], the ACERCA-WFP delegation traveled in Nicaragua to get an eye-witness account. The delegation was the first from the United States to look into environmental factors of the hurricane. The following information is from many sources.

Posoltega, Nicaragua: During Hurricane Mitch, Johana Medín and her baby boy were swept away in the torrent of the Las Casitas volcano mudslide. For over 2 kilometers she held on to her baby and saved his life. Other survivors were not so lucky. Some were stuck in the mud for up to six days and had to have their limbs amputated. Others swallowed stomachs full of the mudslide and became sick. There were over 5,000 refugees.

Although Hurricane Mitch was a Category Five Hurricane with winds that ranged from 250-300 kms per hour with intense rain, the Nicaraguan government took no measures to prepare. In actuality, Hurricane Mitch did not hit Nicaragua, but Nicaragua suffered horrendous indirect effects.

Hurricane Mitch exposed in Nicaragua what has been present for many years. Decades of land abuse and environmental neglect magnified the hurricane’s devastating toll in death and damage. A combination of many social, political and economic factors caused the environmental degradation that exacerbated the tragedy. Deforestation played a major role. United States policy toward to Nicaragua contributed to these factors. Other factors include Global Climatic Change. Additionally, the government of Nicaragua ignored many warnings that could have prevented the tremendous loss of human life.

Hurricane Mitch destroyed roads, communications, houses and wells. Raging rivers washed away farmland and many zones were flooded for long periods of time. The damage to agriculture, ranching and human life was unprecedented with thousands dead and tens of thousands homeless.

The hurricane hit the poorest of the poor and will have long-term effects on food production for the entire populace. Seventy-two percent of all that was planted was lost. Small farmers were hit the hardest losing 90% of their beans and 80% of their corn.

Brief Historical Sketch Leading to Mitch

Development and exploitation of resources and people began with the Conquistadors ad has continued to this day.

These children [were] working for 9 Cordobas a day [US$.76 in 1999] picking peanuts in a field in the district of Chinandega, one of the districts hardest hit by Hurricane Mitch. The parents of these children [were] in Costa Rica, trying to earn enough money to send back to Nicaragua so they [did] not lose their lands to the bank. These small producers lost almost all of their crops to the hurricane.

The United States, through financial and military support and intervention, has influenced Nicaragua for many years, from the 1800s to the present. In the 1950s, large cotton export operations flourished in the Pacific, clearing land, ruining soil with monoculture crops and pesticides, and forcing people to move to more marginal lands. Deforestation was rampant. This and other export commodity crops such as coffee, sugar, tobacco and cattle pushed the agricultural frontier toward the eastern rainforests. Behind this was the US sponsored Somoza dictatorship.

A revolutionary government came into power in 1979, inheriting poverty, environmental devastation and debt. The US, unhappy about a government it could not control, took measures to eradicate the new Nicaraguan government which had begun taking drastic measures to alleviate the social and ecological crisis it inherited. After the Sandinistas assumed power in 1979, the US used a “clean up” operation, to eliminate the perceived “socialist threat” throughout Central America. The real purpose of the ‘clean up” was to set up governments in Central America that would be conducive to the neoliberal free market economy. These economic policies force the exploitation of natural resources and people.

The ACERCA delegation worked with the community of Chimaltepe begin a tree nursery. The nursery is a step for sustainability for that community.

Neoliberal policies are directed in part by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank through Structural Adjustment Policies which divert spending from the social sector (health, education, environment) toward debt payment. SAP’s benefit big business and certain government officials involved in those business ventures. At present [1999] Nicaraguan owes over US $46 billion. The US is a major influence in World Bank policy of how much money is loaned and is the only country with the power of an adhoc veto. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the hemisphere, behind Haiti.

Environment Prior to Mitch

Much of Nicaragua prior to Mitch was in an accelerated state of environmental decline.

One hundred thousand hectares per year are deforested. Before Mitch it was estimated that a record 300,000 hectares would be lost in 1998 alone; no one will now know due to Mitch.

Eighty percent of water sources are contaminated. Contamination in the Atlantic region is from mining, the Central region from petrochemicals related to agricultural practices.

Seventy-five percent of rivers in the Pacific region have dried up in the last 30 years due to deforestation and land abuse. There is a tremendous scarcity of water.

Tons of topsoil per hectare are lost each year in the Pacific region. In the dry season winds blow off the topsoil and in the rainy season it washes away.

These loggers were hired by a foreign multinational that was involved in an illegal timber operation.

Deforestation in the Pacific region has led to less rainfall in those areas. Some will become desert zones.

In 1998 there were 15,000 fires in agricultural and forested areas. For three months, Nicaragua appeared to be in flames. The forest fires destroyed vegetation under trees and when Mitch saturated the ground with water, many trees were swept away.

Nicaragua was an ecological disaster waiting to happen. When tree cover was eliminated and crops such as cotton were planted, there was an intense overuse of agricultural chemicals. The soil lost its capacity to hold plant life. Winds caused dust storms and further depleted the soil. Additional, the lack of trees next to rivers could not hold the banks together.

The majority of the land was in the hands of a few people and the poor were forced to move to the agricultural frontier or to survive by degrading the land, soil and forests. This further destabilized the soil. poverty and environmental degradation are intrinsically linked.

When Mitch rained, as much as 40 inches in a three day period, where there was no tree cover and little plant life to slow the rain runoff, sharp surges of water rushed off of mountains and fields into rivers causing flooding and mudslides of unprecedented portions.

Global Climatic Change 

The author and photojournalist, Orin Langelle, covered with dust while documenting the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. He is in a Russian truck and was photographed by Cliff McCarthy from the Nicaragua Network.

Two of the most important environmental concerns are deforestation and Global Climatic Change.

Global Climatic Change is making is making predictability impossible. Each year severe weather events will come more often. More hurricanes are inevitable. Global Climatic Change will affect Nicaragua (and other countries in Central America) because they do not have the appropriate technologies needed to cope with it like other developed countries.

Responsibility lies with industrialized countries, especially the US. Excessive levels of carbon in the atmosphere and lack of green to absorb the carbon are causing the severe El Niño effects.

Wiwili – Deforestation and Flooding of the Rio Coco

Although only five centimeters of rain fell in the village of Wiwili on the Rio Coco, water in the Rio Coco rose 20 meters washing away 640 houses and affecting 1300 other houses. Deforestation upriver was to blame. The Nicaraguan government was warned about flooding on the upper reaches of Rio Coco but did not notify the people downriver of the upcoming flood.

Las Casitas Volcano

The circumstances surrounding the collapse of the Las Casitas volcano crater lake should indict the government of Nicaragua for gross negligence. At 11:40 am on Friday, October 30, the crater lake of the Las Casitas volcano collapsed causing a mudslide that swept down the side of the mountain careening over small villages in its path killing over 2500 men, women and children.

On Wednesday, October 28, INETER (Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies) warned the government that conditions were becoming unstable throughout Nicaragua for potential mud and landslides. In the village of Posoltega on Thursday, October 29, Mayor Felicita Zeledón alerted the media of those conditions. President Alemán called her an alarmist. After the volcano collapsed on Friday, Zeledón told the media that she estimated 1000 people died. Alemán called her a liar. The government had enough time to begin evacuation of the surrounding communities but did not take action.

Some people were stuck in the mud for up to six days. Limbs had to be amputated due to complications for being submerged in the mud. Others were carried kilometers away. Some people are still sick [when the article was originally written] from swallowing and inhaling mud. Many survivors are traumatized. Many lost entire families.

The Assassination

Nicaraguan National Assemblyman Jose Cuadra (right) speaks to ACERCA environmental justice delegation on Hurricane Mitch after the delegation returned to Managua in February 1999. Witness For Peace’s Ellen Yerby (center) and Rita d’Escoto-Clark (left) of the Nicaraguan-US Friendship Office.

continued: In an interview with National Assembly congressman and member of the government’s Environmental Commission, José Cuadra, Cuadra blamed congressman Eduardo Callejas for the collapse of the volcano. Cuadra said that Callejas deforested the slopes of the volcano in the 1960s and 70s. Pedrofélix Obregón and Elvira Blass of Comunidad Ambientalistas told us in addition to the deforestation of Las Casitas, Callejas was building 11 telecommunication towers on top of Las Casitas and also was building a road to the top of the mountain, further damaging the integrity of its slopes. Centro Humboldt’s Magda Lanuza told us that Callejas was still cutting trees on the slopes for coffee production as late as last year [1998].

In January of this year [1999], Callejas was placed on the Environmental Commission.

José Cuadra Assassinated on 18 August 1999

“Keeper of Morals” Shot Under Suspicious Circumstances

José Cuadra was held in considerable esteem by most of his colleagues, and called the keeper of morals by one legislative reporter. He had a strong anti-corruption track record, protesting a pay rise, which his fellows voted for themselves in the beginning of 1999. He also fiercely contested the recent enormous rises in the cost of electricity.

His killers used high-powered AK assault weapons.

Some of Cuadra’s colleagues, most notably Conservative Party Chief, Noel Vidaurre, speculate openly that the motive for his death was political.

When the ACERCA delegation met Cuadra in Managua in February 1999, Cuadra, in addition to putting the blame on Eduardo Callejas for the volcano collapse, said that he had information that President Alemán planned to make one million dollars a month as Nicaragua’s President. Cuadra also told ACERCA that he was investigating Alemán’s ties to the multinational fishing industry.

 

Lawmaker, 2 Others Killed in Shooting August 19, 1999From the Los Times Times Wire Reports:

A leading Nicaraguan Conservative Party lawmaker, the son of the Conservative Party chief and their driver were shot to death, National Police said in Managua. Jose Alfonso Cuadra, 40, Julio Enrique Ruiz, 26, and driver Francisco Celino were traveling to a political function when they were attacked by three armed assailants in the northern province of Matagalpa, Capt. Isabel Largaespada said. The National Assembly suspended its legislative session to mourn the “irreparable loss of one of its outstanding members.” In 1997, Cuadra was second vice president of the Assembly. Ruiz was the son of Conservative Party chief Julio Luis Quezada.

 

Note on a photograph by Langelle

Posoltega: The tree marks a mass grave, and the land affected by the mudslide resembles a desert.

This photograph on the right is an image that is etched in my brain. It is the one that never goes away. This photo impacted me on a very real aspect of what it means to be a concerned photographer – documenting a reality of a tragedy – hoping that the image of that tragedy will be used to prevent another. I took the photo while standing on a mass grave.

And today that photograph can be viewed as a warning of the climate chaos that has begun – and may it help counter the societal amnesia from which we collectively suffer.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

Clearcut area of forest by Dominion Energy for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This cut is near Wintergreen Resort, a four-season mountain resort on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Nelson County, Virginia.                                                                                       photo: Orin Langelle

 Atlantic Coast Pipeline Already Destroying Forests

Ernie Reed, from the Nelson County District Board of Supervisors, gave Dr. Mary Finley-Brook and me a tour of some of the sites where the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would go through Nelson County. Dr. Mary Finley-Brook serves on the Virginia Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and is a professor of geography and the environment at the University of Richmond.

This photo was taken close to where a drill would bore beneath the Appalachian Mountain National Scenic Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway through the mountain gap between Three Ridges Wilderness (George Washington National Forest) and Devil’s Knob (at Wintergreen Resort). The mountain consists of greenstone and granite.  The bore would be over 4,200 feet long and 46 inches in diameter for a 42” pipeline that would contain fracked natural gas at a pressure of 1440 pounds per square inch.

Dr. Finley-Brook (left) and Ernie Reed (right) by a solar powered USGS Water Quality monitoring Station in Nelson County, VA. Photo: Orin Langelle

The drill is estimated to require almost 30 million gallons of potable water. The polluted water and residue from the drilling then must be contained, transferred to tanker trucks and trucked to a waste disposal site, yet to be determined. Nelson County has declined an offer from Dominion to purchase this water and a source for it is yet to be determined

Although the ACP has not yet received final approval, Dominion Energy is clearing some corridors of forest where they have purchased easements through the threat of eminent domain. This clearcutting is considered a “preconstruction activity” by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

If constructed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be 604 miles long and cross West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Approximately 300 miles of the pipeline would run through forested land.

Below:

This video footage is from JR Chopper and other credits are listed at the end of this short clip. While I did not take photos for this clip, I am working on a documentary photo essay of the ACP and I did help in production of this clip.

The struggle against the pipeline has called into question many different practices by Dominion Energy regarding environmental, racial and class injustices. – Orin Langelle

 

Leave a comment

Souparna Lahiriri [see NOTE below] (right) at the Global Forest Coalition World Cafe that discussed forests, trees and GFC’s climate change campaign (which includes the Life as Commerce, post-Paris plantations and bioenergy campaigns). photo Orin Langelle

Montreal, Quebec, Canada (4 July 2018) – The Global Forest Coalition started day two of their 2nd Members Assembly with regional meetings that included Indigenous Peoples, forest activists and researchers from around the world.

The morning’s proceedings discussed regional proposals for GFC’s work programs from 2018 to 2022 and suggestions for improvements in GFC’s functioning as a coalition.

GFC’s 2nd Members Assembly is occurring while the United Nation Convention on Biological Diversity is holding a Subsidiary Meeting (SBSTTA) which has a major focus on synthetic biology and other dangerous new technologies such as gene drives, also taking place in Montreal.

Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle represented Global Justice Ecology Project in the day’s meeting. GJEP attended GFC’s Members Assembly to discuss GJEP’s work on the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees. – Orin Langelle

__________________________

Breaking news

[NOTE] 6 May, OPINION/INDIGENOUS RIGHTS: Al Jazeera by Souparna Lahiriri,  Saving tigers, killing people – States are evicting and murdering Indigenous people in the guise of biodiversity conservation

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leave a comment

Please view the exhibit here HERE

PREMIER EXHIBIT @ CEPA: CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY & VISUAL ARTS CENTER

January 26 – February 24, 2018 at CEPA’s FLUX Gallery (1st Floor), 617 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203

Shut out – Indigenous Peoples’ protest at United N Climate Conference. (Bali, Indonesia 2007)

CEPA Gallery is pleased to present, Portraits of Struggle, a selection of photographs spanning four decades by award winning photographer and activist Orin Langelle. Continued on CEPA’s Portraits of Struggle page.

 

Leave a comment

Marchers at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark point at Corporations and Bankers as the drivers of climate change. photo: Langelle (2009)

This article is by Dave Bleakney, 2nd National Vice-President Canadian Union of Postal Workers. It was originally translated and published in a German daily, OXI, about the recent UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Congress of the Parties 23 (UNFCCC COP 23) in Bonn. The German translation follows the English below.

I chose the image above as part of my goal of illustrating articles on this website with relevant historical photographs in an effort to ensure that movement history is never forgotten nor the lessons lost. – Orin Langelle

Deutsche unten

COPPING OUT AT COP, Avoidance and possibility in a burning world

During the recent Bonn summit a taxi driver provided a clear summary. Asked what he thought of COP 23, he replied “the climate is in crisis, but here, this is about money”. He had provided what had been missing inside. As we race toward certain and expanding catastrophe, he underscored that profiteering off a destructive cycle production, consumption, shipping, the unnecessary transport of products over vast distances and continuous growth models form the basis from which these discussions are framed. It is as though the elephant in the room is never acknowledged, with few exceptions.

How does this appear? In North America you can try this experiment. Turn down the volume of your TV and watch the myriad of commercial advertisements where someone is unhappy until they possess a certain product and suddenly, presto! Everything is great and everyone is happy. The same rubric repeats, again and again. Buy and smile. Smile and buy. Crave to belong as if this will somehow connect us together and create momentary windows of happiness while the earth burns. A crude system of modern feudalism has engulfed the planet where a handful of men – eight, to be precise – own half the planet. In this obscene reality a man can be worth more than a nation. Political leaders and major institutions act as though by convincing a handful of rich sociopaths we can save life on the planet.

Yet power does not, and never has, surrendered anything without a fight or creation of something new. Our uncomfortable future demands that climate criminals should not be enabled with our caps in hand with appeals to do the right thing – certainly those outcomes have been far too modest to date. The rules of the game must change that would remove them from their pedestals of power and our addictions to things we really do not need (and often having them increases the cycle and need for more) while altering the current definitions of value including patriarchal approaches thousands of years old of competition and “winning” at the expense of another.

At COP we are like hamsters on a wheel, living off the ripples of colonialism and wealth accumulation while discussing the speed at which the wheel turns through a series of silos and frameworks. What is needed is to get off that wheel and reconnect with our essence, the earth, and one another.

In this madness, the darker your skin the more you pick up the slack now resulting in myriads of climate refugees fleeing a crisis created while a minority of the planet went shopping. Under current conditions this phenomenon will play out over and over. Hungry people intent on survival will be blamed and shamed, even attacked for doing the only thing left to them: escape to a better place. When people are hungry, what can you expect? Famine breeds war and conflict. The world’s greatest militarist, the United States, built on dispossession has essentially been at war with someone on a continuous basis for nearly two centuries of conquest, often aided by one ally or another. Since 2001, that nation alone has spent $7.6 trillion on the military and Homeland Security in an ongoing war economy.

Little was accomplished at COP, a few very modest breakthroughs (or diversion) lacking any enforcement mechanisms or meaningfully incorporating a gender or Indigenous analysis into the core of action. While climate talks are essential, they are rendered ineffective by living in this bubble. One former UNFCCC official told me that people know this but are locked into a series of “frameworks” and disconnected silo building that does not dare upset the apple cart, a centuries-long mercantilism built on exploitation, greed and accumulation at the expense of the other and all living systems. This same system that uses the atmosphere as a chemical sink for profit. The oil continues to flow and the coal dug.

No longer can it be business as usual where the new normal is unprecedented and frequent catastrophic weather conditions (which can only get worse) and will be normalized for new generations. A tweak here and there won’t cut it.

Indigenous peoples appear to have a better grasp of living with the earth rather than against it as their lands continue to be exploited for resource extraction and profits. Indigenous voices are tolerated, welcomed even, but rarely is this wisdom applied to our reality. In the Canadian context, this vision is met by a system where Indigenous colonized peoples are undermined by super mines, pipelines and general disrespect.

It does feel good to see any progress whatsoever and we hang our hat on that. Political cachet can be earned by playing to domestic audiences as part of this theatre. No better example exists than the myth of Canada as a progressive nation and its new proposed phase-out of coal policy. Through carbon offsets, which shall keep the coal burning until at least 2060 and exports continuing after that date (hardly a victory). While presented as progress it is ineffective, and a diversion which obscures the continuing plan to build pipelines and keep dirty Canadian oil flowing. The tyranny of oil extraction and the use of the atmosphere as a chemical sink for profit remains while the human and animal population subsidize this senseless tragedy.

Who will take on international transport, shipping and aviation? If these sectors were a country they would be the seventh largest polluter where products that could be produced locally at less environmental cost are shipped vast distances.

What does this mean for workers? As we say, don’t oppose, propose. The Union I represent, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers know that a just transition out of destructive practices requires better approaches that we all need to be a part of. We live in a society where some work too much and others have no possibility at all. Incorporation of other more holistic and sustainable values allows us to step outside the box and refocus. Our Delivering Community Power initiative, driving Canada Post to be an engine of the next economy including the use of renewable non-polluting energy, transforming and retro-fitting post offices to produce energy at the local source and eliminate carbon from delivery systems– the latter which has already happened in over 20 cities in Norway (and is growing). Putting more postal workers on the street and less cars also means more face to face contact and added community value by checking in on senior citizens who are isolated. Postal workers have put climate change on the bargaining table. By incorporating Indigenous and feminist values of nurture and care into our future we shift the nature of work and become meaningful actors in solutions. This approach was energized and inspired by the LEAP Manifesto which calls for a restructuring of the Canadian economy and an end to the use of fossil fuels. This is framed by respect for Indigenous rights, internationalism, human rights, diversity, and environmental stewardship. We cannot leave it to corporations and politicians. We are all part of this solution now and have the opportunity to claim the space to do it.

The indigenous Ojibwe have a saying about the seven generations. They say that for every move we make, it must always be done with a view on how it could impact people seven generations from now. The leaders of this planet would do well to listen to that advice.

We require a new kind of COP. There will be no shopping on a dead planet and reassembling the deck chairs of the Titanic will not help. Creativity and better value systems can.

 

Dave Bleakney (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) über den Bonner Klimagipfel, die Notwendigkeit Spielregeln zu ändern und feministische und indigene Ansätze in die Bekämpfung des Klimawandels zu integrieren. Ein Gastbeitrag.

Ein Taxifahrer fasste den vergangenen Klimagipfel in Bonn sehr treffend zusammen. Auf die Frage, was er über den Gipfel dachte, antwortete er: »Das Klima ist in der Krise, aber hier geht es um Geld.« Und genau das ist das Problem. Was der Taxifahrer meint ist, dass es im Hinterkopf der Beteiligten nicht etwa die drohende Klimakrise ist, sondern die Profite aus destruktiven Produktionszyklen, Konsum, Verschiffung, Wachstumsmodellen und dem Transport von Produkten über weite Strecken. Bis auf wenige Ausnahmen wird dieses Problem ignoriert.

Wie äußert sich das? In Nordamerika ist es beispielsweise so, dass man die Lautstärke des Fernsehers runterregeln kann und auch ohne Ton sehen kann, dass eine Vielzahl an Werbungen anhand eines Schemas ablaufen: Jemand ist so lange unglücklich bis er ein bestimmtes Produkt besitzt und dann ist alles toll und jeder ist glücklich. Dieses Schema wiederholt sich immer und immer wieder. Kauf und lächle. Sehne dich nach Besitz als ob dieser uns irgendwie verbinden würde und ein Glücksmoment kreieren könne während die Erde brennt. Die Erde wurde von einem primitiven System des modernen Feudalismus verschlungen. Nur eine Handvoll Männer – um genau zu sein acht – besitzt die Hälfte des Planeten. In dieser empörenden Realität kann ein einzelner Mann mehr wert sein als eine ganze Nation. Führende Politiker und wichtige Institutionen tun so, als ob man durch das Überzeugen eine Handvoll reicher Soziopathen das Leben auf der Erde retten könnte.

Bis heute hat Macht noch nie etwas ohne Kampf aufgegeben oder etwas Neues erschaffen zu haben. Unsere unbequeme Zukunft verlangt, dass die Klimasünder nicht auch noch mit den Möglichkeiten ausgestattet werden sollten, für uns zu handeln. Sie haben bisher nur sehr selten das Richtige getan. Die Spielregeln müssen sich ändern. Die Klimasünder müssen vom Sockel der Macht gestoßen werden. Und wir müssen gegen unsere Sucht nach Dingen, die wir nicht wirklich brauchen ankämpfen. Diese treibt uns nur in einen Strudel aus Besitz und Verlangen. Außerdem muss man die gültigen Definitionen von Wert anpassen – auch indem man jahrhundertealte patriarchale Ansätze von Konkurrenz und Gewinn überdenkt.

Wir sind wie die Hamster in einem Rad. Wir zehren von den Wellen der Kolonialisierung und Wohlstandsakkumulation. Auf dem Klimagipfel konnten wir lediglich die Geschwindigkeit, mit der sich das Rad durch Silos und Gerüste dreht, diskutieren. Wir müssen von diesem Rad runterkommen und mit dem Wesentlichen in Einklang kommen: mit der Erde und miteinander.

In diesem Wahnsinn gilt: je dunkler die Hautfarbe, desto mehr ist man betroffen von den Auswirkungen der Klimakrise. Unzählige Klimaflüchtlinge fliehen von einer Krise, die sich entwickelt hat während eine kleine Zahl an Menschen auf dem Planeten einkaufen war. Unter den gegenwärtigen Bedingungen wird sich das nicht ändern. Hungernde Menschen, die versuchen zu überleben, werden selbst verantwortlich gemacht, ja sogar attackiert, dafür dass sie das Einzige tun, was ihnen übrigbleibt: an einen besseren Ort zu fliehen. Was kann man anderes erwarten, wenn Menschen hungern? Hunger verursacht Krieg und Konflikte. Die USA, die auf Enteignung gegründet sind, führen seit fast zwei Jahrzehnten ununterbrochen Eroberungskriege – oft mit Hilfe von Verbündeten. Seit 2001 haben die USA über 7,6 Billionen US-Dollar nur für Militär und Staatssicherheit in einer dauerhaften Kriegsökonomie ausgegeben.

Wenig wurde beim Klimagipfel in Bonn erreicht. Es gab einige, sehr kleine Durchbrüche, doch denen fehlt es an Durchsetzungsmechanismen. Indigene und Geschlechteranalysen fehlen völlig. Obwohl solche Klimagipfel essentiell für unsere Zukunft sind, sind sie unwirksam. Ein früherer Mitarbeiter der Klimarahmenkonvention der Vereinten Nationen erzählte mir, dass dies den Menschen durchaus bewusst sei, Rahmenbedingungen die Handlungsmöglichkeiten jedoch einschränken würden. Man würde nur die Pferde scheu machen, wenn man versucht, alles über den Haufen zu werfen: den jahrhundertealten Merkantilismus, das System aus Ausbeutung, Gier und Akkumulation auf Kosten anderer. Und so fließt das Öl weiter, wird die Kohle weiter abgebaut.

Es kann nicht weitergehen wie bisher. Das neue Normal ist beispiellos und die katastrophale Wetterlage kann auch nur noch schlimmer werden. Wir können den Zustand nicht für künftige Generationen normalisieren. Es hilft nicht, nur hier und da ein wenig zu verändern.

Indigene scheinen ein besseres Verständnis vom Leben im Einklang statt gegen die Erde zu haben während ihr Land weiterhin für Profite ausgebeutet wird. Indigene Stimmen werden oft ignoriert und nur selten wahrgenommen. Ihr Wissen nicht genutzt. Im kanadischen Kontext zeigt sich dies folgendermaßen: Indigene wurden kolonialisiert und heute durch Superminen, Pipelines und generelle Missachtung gefährdet.

Jeder Fortschritt, so klein er auch sein mag, fühlt sich gut an und wir halten daran fest. Politische Mehrheiten werden gewonnen, indem ihnen etwas vorgespielt wird. Es gibt kein besseres Beispiel als der Mythos des progressiven Kanadas und seinem Weg aus der Kohleabhängigkeit. Der Emissionsausgleich lässt die Kohle noch bis mindestens 2060 brennen und ermöglicht Exporte, die auch nach diesem Jahr noch weitergehen können. Was als Erfolg verkauft wird, ist in Wahrheit ineffektiv und eine Ablenkung von den Plänen, weitere Pipelines zu bauen und das dreckige kanadische Öl weiter fließen zu lassen. Die Ölgewinnung und der Schadstoffausstoß gehen weiter, zu lasten von Mensch und Tier.

Wer kann es mit dem internationalen Transport, dem Schiffs- und Flugverkehr aufnehmen? Wären diese Branchen ein Land, wären dieses der siebtgrößte Umweltverschmutzer. Produkte, die zu geringeren ökologischen Kosten lokal produziert werden könnten, werden über große Distanzen in diesem Land verfrachtet.

Was heißt das für die Arbeiter? Wir sagen: bekämpfe nicht, mache Vorschläge. Die Gewerkschaft der kanadischen Postangestellten (Canadian Union of Postal Workers), die ich vertrete, weiß, dass der Übergang aus einer zerstörerischen Praxis besserer Ansätze bedarf. Wir leben in einer Gesellschaft in der Arbeit sehr ungleich verteilt ist. Einige haben sehr viel, andere gar keine Arbeit. Ganzheitliche und nachhaltige Werte erlauben es uns, aus unserer kleinen Blase herauszutreten und uns neu zu orientieren. Unsere Initiative »Delivering Community Power« treibt die kanadische Post dazu an, ein Motor für eine neue Ökonomie zu sein – unter Einbeziehung von lokaler erneuerbarer und umweltfreundlicher Energie und der Nachrüstung von Poststellen. So kann die Post den CO2 Ausstoß ihrer Zuliefererkette reduzieren. In über 20 norwegischen Städten wird die Post schadstofffrei ausgeliefert. Weniger Autos auf den Straßen, dafür mehr Postangestellte. Das bedeutet auch mehr Kundenkontakt. Wir Postangestellte haben den Klimawandel auf den Verhandlungstisch gepackt.

Wir können das Wesen der Arbeit ändern, in dem wir indigene und feministische Werte für die Erziehung und Pflege einbeziehen. Unsere Ansätze werden inspiriert und angetrieben vom LEAP Manifesto, das eine Restrukturierung der kanadischen Ökonomie und ein Ende der fossilen Energien fordert. Dieses wird gerahmt vom Respekt für indigenes Recht, Internationalismus, Menschenrechte, Vielfalt und ökologische Verantwortung. Wir können es nicht der Politik und den Konzernen überlassen. Wir alle sind Teil der Lösung und haben Möglichkeiten, den Raum einzufordern, um etwas zu verändern.

Ein Sprichwort der indigenen Ojibway sagt: Jeder Schritt, den wir tun, muss immer mit Blick darauf passieren, wie er die Menschen in sieben Generationen beeinflussen kann. Den Einflussreichen der Welt täte gut daran, diesem Rat zu folgen.

Wir fordern eine neue Art des Klimagipfels. Auf einem toten Planeten kann man nicht mehr einkaufen. Es wird nicht helfen, die Stühle an Deck der Titanic wieder aufzubauen. Kreativität und ein besseres Wertesystem hingegen können helfen.

Dave Bleakney
2nd National Vice-President
Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Leave a comment

Note: Ironically I am posting this on the Langelle Photography web page on May Day minus 1, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain; the city where this exhibit was photographed in 2008 – OL

An Opening Reception was held MAY 5th – 6 to 9 p.m. on First Friday at the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art, 148 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo.

Wine and Hors d’Oeuvres were available

Exhibit closes May 26th

About the exhibit, from photographer Orin Langelle:

“I first exhibited this in Copenhagen, Denmark during the UN Convention on Climate Change in 2009 at the Klimaforum. It can be interpreted in many ways but my original take was on climate change and then others likened it to the fleeting movement of our existence. I’ve been urged by several artists to display the exhibit in Buffalo because they feel, as do I, in the age of Trump, we are in an existential crisis and the concept of humanity is rapidly disappearing.

“I shot the exhibit in Barcelona, Spain in 2008, in two nights while I stood on a balcony ledge photographing the people who passed by on the avenue below.”

Leave a comment

NEWS on Chile delegation investigation

An international delegation from the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees arrived in Sanitago, Chile on 20 March 2017 to document the social and ecological impacts of industrial tree plantations in the country, and their link to the recent wildfires that were the worst in Chile’s history.

Español abajo

Português abaixo

Español abajo

Português abaixo

This above a one minute trailer for a short video we recently completed about the struggle of Brazil’s MST (Landless Worker’s Movement) against the vast expanses of industrial eucalyptus plantations in the country.

The trailer and the full video is in Portuguese, with Spanish spoken translation and English subtitles.

The video is an interview with an MST militant, Eliane Oliveira, that we conducted in March during a delegation of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees in Chile.

We were there investigating the social and ecological impacts of industrial timber plantations on people, water, wildfires and ecosystems, as well as the potential for GE tree plantations to worsen these already severe impacts.

We brought Eliane Oliveira and two other organizers from Brazil to speak with the Indigenous Mapuche and other rural communities in Chile about the campaigns waged against eucalyptus plantations and GE trees in Brazil and the overlaps with the struggles against tree plantations in Chile. Eliane spoke about the MST campaign that is taking back land from the plantations to give to landless peasants in Brazil.

This interview emerged from that delegation and those conversations:

————————————————————————————————–

UPDATE: The international delegation from the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees (CSGETREES) completed their journey in Chile to document the social and ecological impacts of industrial tree plantations in the country, and their link to the recent wildfires that were the worst in Chile’s history.

Reports such as this from Biofuelwatch: Stop GE Trees Delegation Investigate Expansion of Wood-Derived Bioenergy in Chile are starting to be filed. Also posted was a radio interview with Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) and CSGETREES on Pacifica’s flagship station, KPFK, in Los Angeles: GE Trees and Plantations in Chile.

Expect new postings several times a week. GJEP is going to release a video soon of a MST militant who was ob the delegation from Brazil. She speaks about land use, tree plantations, political prisoners and much more.

Please stay tuned to the Chile Blog

Photo of Chilean flag in front of some of the fire devastation. Photo: Langelle

Chile: Water is Life

(Posted while in Chile on the delegation.)

MAPU [Chile]-An international delegation from the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees arrived in Sanitago, Chile on 20 March 2017 to document the social and ecological impacts of industrial tree plantations in the country, and their link to the recent wildfires that were the worst in Chile’s history.

The delegation also traveled to Mapu, the ancestral lands of the Indigenous Mapuche (People of the Earth) to investigate the depletion of water caused by the timber plantations and how this loss of water is impacting Mapuche sovereignty and the ability of the people to stay on the lands they have occupied for thousands of years. Only 13% of Mapuche people still live in the countryside, largely due to the loss of water on their lands.  The delegation also examined the impacts on other communities’ water rights, climatic disruption, repression, as well as gender issues and effects on women. Please view the ongoing fact-finding trip on the Chile Blog.

*ALFREDODSC_0007 copy 2

(Rio Cautín near Temuco, Chile) Before an early morning water ceremony, Alfredo Seguel from Red de Defensa de los Territorios, an Indigenous Mapuche organization, speaks about the significance of this river to the Mapuche and the importance of water to all life.  Photo: Orin Langelle

From Santiago, the delegation traveled to Concepción where it visited communities devastated by massive wildfires.  It also traveled into the countryside to see the impacts on the people and the ecological damage caused by industrial monoculture pine and eucalyptus plantations. Members of the delegation visited several universities and were involved in presentations and community discussions. The delegation was sponsored by OLCA (Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales).

Due to the water required to grow pines and eucalyptus in the plantations, the communities' water supply is scarce. Photo Orin Langelle

Due to the water used by industrial monoculture plantations of pine and eucalyptus trees, there is a serious lack of water in rural communities, and some communities have no water at all.  Photo Orin Langelle

The community members that the delegation spoke to blamed the timber industry for starting the forest fires for insurance money. Many of the trees were heavily infested by insects and the fires provided insurance money to the industry for their lost trees.

All signs point to the potential in Chile for future plantations of genetically engineered trees, which would make these impacts much worse.

There will be a full report of the findings of the delegation’s investigation.


Additionally on 22 April there will be a gathering and march in Concepción called for by social movements with the theme Water is Life. This is prior to the International Union of Forest Research Organization’s (IUFRO) Tree Biotechnology Conference from 4-9 June in Concepción. Most of the scientific and industry people going to the IUFRO conference are pro-GE Trees.

For more information about the fact-finding trip to Chile with the international Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees on the Chile Blog.

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment
EnglishFrenchGermanItalianPortugueseRussianSpanish