Archive for the ‘ecology’ Category
FLORIDA FOREST TO BE DESTROYED FOR BIO-TECH CITY
February 14, 2011: Two FAU Alumni go to great heights to defend Endangered Species in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida suspend themselves 30 feet from the ground in the pine trees of the Briger Tract Forest in protest of the FAU/Scripps Bio-tech City plan.
Tree-sitters display banner reading “Defend These Forests”, visible to all Northbound I-95 traffic.
- Tree-sitters on Briger Tract site (561) 324-1033
- Ana Rodriguez, on site at FAU Campus Protest: (561) 374-3268
- Maya, on site at FAU Campus Protest: (413) 695-2249
Two “Tree-sitters” on the Briger Tract Forest in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida suspend 30 feet in the air holding a banner reading to all of northbound traffic on Florida Interstate I-95 to highlight their concerns regarding the FAU Scripps Bio-technology.
Law Enforcement with the Florida Department of Transportation and City of Palm Beach Gardens arrived at approximately 9 am to the site located on the northbound side of I-95 just south of the Donald Ross exit.
FDOT and PBG Gardens police have told the FAU Alumni “tree-sitters” to leave the site or risk imminent arrest. The two FAU Alumni remain suspended 30 foot high from pine trees, holding a banner that reads “Defend These Forests”.
The tree-sitters sited on-going concerns about the proposed development which their group, Everglades Earth First, has been voicing at City and County public meetings over the past year.
One tree-sitter commented “As an FAU Graduate and Palm Beach County resident I am dismayed at the lack of protection for the Endangered Species on the FAU Scripps development site. The Scripps “bio-tech city” plan promotes sprawl and will destroy endangered species located on the Briger Tract Forest. We have tried legal means to protect the site, but the developers and politicians have ignored our concerns. If the state and county refuse to protect endangered species then we must take action to preserve the remaining natural beauty of Florida.”
Further comment from the tree-sitters is available through the media contact. The tree-sitters and their banner are visible from Northbound I-95, at the Donald Ross exit adjacent to proposed “biotech city” of the Scripps Research Institute.
In conjunction with the tree-sit, forty protesters are currently converged at the existing FAU/Scripps Florida building located at 120 Scripps Way on the FAU Honors Campus. City of Jupiter police and FAU campus police are on site at the protest and have briefly detained at least one person.
“The Scripps Bio-tech City development violates the Palm Beach Gardens Comprehensive Plan. said Ana Rodriguez on-site at the FAU/Scripps protest. The government’s approval of Scripps’ Bio-tech city demonstrates that they are unwilling to protect critical habitat for Endangered Species. We are concerned about the environmental impacts of the development and the hazards of bio-technology. With bio-technology comes genetic engineering, infectious diseases and animal testing in our backyard.”
Bio-technology has been a controversial science receiving critique from farmers, the scientific community and residents globally.
The group says that the action marks the beginning of a collaborative campaign to stop the clearing of the Briger Forest, on the ground and in the treetops. Earth First! activists plan to maintain a presence on the site to ensure no endangered species habitat is destroyed, and no animals are abused in the proposed vivisection labs.
From Common Dreams:
African-American farmers have staged a massive protest in Washington DC calling on the US government to deliver on cash payments promised to the group years ago.
In 1999, black farmers won a landmark case that granted them a billion-dollar compensation settlement on the grounds of racial discrimination by then US authorities.
But now the group says that tens of thousands of African-American farmers have not received the funds that they were promised.
Al Jazeera’s John Terrett reports from Washington DC:
Every week I will post a short biography from The United Nations Who’s Who of Women and the Environment. This week is featuring Mei Ng from China:
From meeting rooms to pollution hotspots, from lobby platform to legislative chambers, from recycling sweatshops to landfills, from congested streets to country parks, from consumer wasteland to green homes, from kindergartens to university lecture halls, from freezing air-conditioned offices to wind farms in southern China, from urbanized Hong Kong to unsustainable villages and drought plagued provinces in developing China, Mei Ng’s green footprint has travelled far and wide. In the last 15 years, her effort to promote awareness and transfer NGO experience has helped to catalyze the budding green movement in China since 1992. Mei Ng’s green message has travelled 26500 km to 15 provinces and touched over 860,000 people.
Mrs. Mei Ng is the Director of Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong). She was elected to the UNEP Global 500 Roll of Honor in 2000. In the same year, she was appointed by the State Environmental Protection Agency as China Environment Envoy. In 2003, Mrs Ng was decorated with the Bronze Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong SAR Government for her environmental contribution to Hong Kong.
Mrs. Ng has actively participated in environmental policy development and community mobilization. She was appointed to the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) since 2001 and invited as an advisor to the Hong Kong Sustainable Industry Council.
Leading a dedicated team to catalyse sustainability thinking, environmental governance and public participation, her priority campaigns include responsible consumption, renewable energy, community participation and sustainable development through women and youth empowerment.
Her millennium vision is to mobilize women folks to safeguard their environmental and quality of life. Turning pig waste-to-energy in China’s arid western region to halt logging and desertification and raising awareness of women factory workers in Southern China’s pollution hotspots, Mei Ng believes in lighting a candle rather than curse darkness.
As a sustainability pathfinder, Mei Ng has been lighting small candles in Hong Kong and China. She believes in Do-It-Yourself Environmentalism in keeping with the spirit of Sustainability.
Taking a cue from 2003′s Calendar Girls, a movie in which older British women bare all for leukemia research, Erika Biddle decided to jump on the train of the increasingly popular brand of calendars where locals pose naked for a cause.
In celebration of Earth Day’s 40th birthday, Biddle only asked women over 40 to pose, resulting in 15 women ages 44-78 posing au naturale in naturally beautiful locations.
The 500 calendars were sold, raising $8,000 for the non-profit organization Green Living and Education.
To hear about all the locations Biddle chose, read the full article here
In other Nude News, these women (and 2 men!) protested naked against the war in Afghanistan, hoping to put an end to the myth that War is Peace
Native forests in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are being destroyed to plant new crops of “profitable” trees. Non-indigenous, but fast growing trees like eucalyptus and pine are being planted to produce large-scale wood, pulp and paper production. Along with destroying the forest, these trees also use more water and degrade the soil of these South American countries.
Rural women’s organizations and environmental groups have drafted letters to the forestry companies in protest but have been ignored and pushed out of the way by claims that these “tree plantations” will act as carbon sinks, helping to offset green house gasses and carbon emissions.
Among the many negative aspects of the “unsustainable” development model followed by the forestry industry, [the women] denounced that companies pressure families into selling their farmland, that the industry creates few jobs for women, that tree plantations are depleting water resources, and that these changes have significant social impacts, such as a breakdown in the social fabric, leading to domestic violence and sexual harassment among the affected communities.
Promoting plantations as forests is “misleading,” said the rural women’s organisations and environmental groups, which pointed to the “countless negative impacts” that these projects have on the lives of rural families, and particularly on women, who are “disempowered” by the expansion of these single-crop plantations.
The document the women put forth was signed by the March of Women, The Peasant Women’s Movement of Brazil and the Centre for Environment Studies. It was also backed by GRAIN, Friends of the Earth, The Rural Women’s Movement and the World Rainforest Movement.
These tree plantations are more than just a minor headache. Along with pushing rural families off their land in Brazil, the plantations have ruined the livelihoods of the families as the land suffered severe droughts, abrupt temperature changes, severe loss of biodiversity, food crop reduction, drying up of water sources and degradation of soil fertility.
Two books have resulted from this ordeal, Brazil: Women and Eucalyptus: Stories of Life and Resistance, and The European Union’s Role in the Disempowerment of Women of the South through the Conversion of Local Ecosystems into Tree Plantations.
To understand more about this ongoing struggle, read the full article on Common Dreams
Every week I will post a short biography from The United Nations Who’s Who of Women and the Environment. This week is featuring Parveen Abrar of Hyderabad, India:
Recycling is the only suitable way to stop the damage caused to sanitation systems by plastic bags. Youth Sciences Association for the Environment (YSAE) has developed a method by which polythene bags can be recycled and converted into decorative items like tea mats, caps, hats, mats, handbags, wall hangers, ladies’ purses, baskets, school bags, key rings and more.
This recycling method has gained great popularity amongst women. Ms.Parveen Abrar, a founding member of YSAE, has trained over 1000 girls in recycling plastic bags, presenting them also with the means to generate income, by marketing household items made of recycled bags. In 2000, 2001 and 2005, she organized training workshops in Karachi, Tando Allahyar, Tando Muhammad, KhanVillage, Abri Kather and Hali Road in Hyderabad.
Parvenne Abrar holds an MA in Economics and a Master’s in education. She is a Master trainer for the ESRA USAID Program in Sindh, Pakistan.
The poorest billion people on the planet contribute only 3% of the global carbon footprint. Those same billion people will also bear the brunt of climate change. Those people tend to be farmers, and they tend to be women.
The UN Population Fund has issued a new state of the world’s population report about the impact of global climate change on women, stating that “Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes…Girls drop out of school to help their mothers with these tasks. This cycle of deprivation, poverty and inequality undermines the social capital needed to deal effectively with climate change.”
In response to the stunning inequality of the impact of climate change, UNFPA calls for measures to improves the lives of women and mitigate the impact of climate change. That includes supporting education for women and girls, expanding access to reproductive health services, and doing better research on gender and population dynamics in climate change. It’s small stuff compared to the magnitude of the problem of climate change. Better, though, than nothing.
By Kathambi Kinoti
This article is the third in a four-part series that explores the gendered impact of climate change. The first article discussed how women are impacted by climate change, while the second examined how women address climate change. This third article looks at how some women’s organizations are engaging with the process leading up to and during the UN Conference on Climate Change to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009.
The Earth Summit, which was held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, established United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which came into force two years later. While the UNFCCC is aspirational, its Kyoto protocol which came into force in 2005, goes further in setting binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012.
Since the Earth Summit, parties to the UNFCCC meet every year to negotiate targets for mitigating climate change. This year’s talks will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark in December, and are particularly critical to ensuring that a comprehensive international climate change mitigation framework is in place by 2012.
Neither the UNFCCC nor Kyoto recognise the gender dimensions of climate change, and women’s organizations have been working hard in the lead-up to Copenhagen to ensure that the conference’s outcome document is gender responsive. One of the organizations at the forefront of this work is the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO). Cate Owren, who co-ordinates WEDO’s gender and climate change work, spoke with AWID about the participation of women in the Copenhagen conference and their hopes for the outcomes.
AWID: What has WEDO been doing in preparation for the Copenhagen conference?
CATE OWREN: WEDO has been working on climate change for several years now in a variety of capacities: by conducting research and analysis, broadening and strengthening our network of women’s organizations around the world, and engaging in targeted advocacy at the national and global levels, WEDO seeks to raise awareness about the gendered dimensions of climate change, advocate for gender, and make project implementation more effective for both women and men. In 2007 at the Bali Conference of Parties, WEDO co-founded – together with UNDP, IUCN and UNEP – The Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) . Now comprised of 38 UN and civil society institutions, the GGCA works toward a mission of ensuring that all climate change policies, decision-making processes and finance mechanisms are gender-responsive.
AWID: What concerns do women have firstly about climate change in general, and secondly about the content and process of the Copenhagen conference in particular?
CO: Women are caretakers and managers of natural resources around the world, so stress to or changes in the natural environment have a direct impact upon women and their families and wider communities. Women still make up the large majority of the world’s poorest, as well, which puts them at great risk. There are countless ways in which women, unfortunately, remain in the “most vulnerable” category. But what is far more critical right now – especially in the lead up to and outcome of Copenhagen – is that women’s capacity to act and contribute to climate change solutions at all levels is fostered and ensured. Women are innovators, teachers, caregivers, leaders, organizers, providers, and more. Their experience and expertise must inform all aspects of climate change decision-making and implementation.
AWID: What advocacy opportunities exist for women’s organizations within the Copenhagen process?
CO: Civil society participation has strengthened and expanded in the past few years – certainly in alignment with increasing global recognition of the gravity of climate change as a major crisis of our time. Women have participated in numerous ways and this year a major achievement was made: the Gender and Women Constituency was given provisional status. Finally, women and gender equality observer organizations have a formal opportunity to work together to input into the process.
For WEDO, and as part of the GGCA, we work with member institutions to work meaningfully with Parties to secure effective places for gender text in thenegotiating documents.
AWID: What outcomes do you hope for from Copenhagen?
CO: First and foremost, we are hoping for a strong, comprehensive agreement. Ideally, gender equality language would be reflected in each area: Shared Vision, Adaptation, Mitigation, Technology, Capacity Building, and Finance. Throughout this year, gender language has been in each of these areas! But as negotiations continue, language is streamlined, and the specific references have fallen out in most places. We are hoping that the momentum will not be lost and that a gender-sensitive strong outcome is indeed possible. We continue to work with our partners and with governments to find ways to make this happen.
Latrice Davis of Women’s News reports that even though there are efforts to get clean, safe drinking water to the women who need it most, it is unlikely any of the programs working toward that goal will have much of an impact.
Here’s the full story:
Improving water quality and access can help lower maternal mortality rates, say advocates. Now a new fellowship program is being launched to explore various solutions to the maternal health problem in the world’s poorest nations.
(WOMENSENEWS)–Knowledge has long been cited as the tool most needed to lower maternal mortality rates, but Global Water, a volunteer organization based in Oxnard, Calif., says what women in developing countries also need to combat this problem is water.
“Not having the proper amount of water on a daily basis puts stress on the body, which affects a woman’s life span,” said Ted Kuepper, the organization’s executive director, in a telephone interview. “It also affects their ability to further their education and break out of poverty.”
To help disrupt this cycle, the New York-based international reproductive health organization EngenderHealth is launching a fellowship program with Ashoka, an organization of social entrepreneurs with headquarters in Arlington, Va., to focus on improving maternal health in the world’s poorest nations. The initiative will concentrate on parts of the world with the highest maternal and child mortality rates, says Tim Thomas, senior advisor of the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth.
“The rates are highest in Africa and South Asia,” he said in a telephone interview, but added that “we’re not committing to any particular countries at this point.”
That’s because EngenderHealth and Ashoka–who plan to recruit 32 candidates through its Changemakers online competition–are seeking proposals that focus on applicants’ areas of interest. Those selected for the program will spend nine months working on a tangible solution to a specific maternal health challenge, starting in September 2010.
Water Use Soars
Water use has grown at more than twice the rate of the world’s population over the past century, mostly for agricultural purposes, according to the 2009 United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report. This has left 884 million people at risk for–or already facing–a water shortage. The situation poses a huge threat to maternal health, but Thomas said it’s not the only contributing factor.
“There’s a panoply of factors that contribute to maternal mortality–everything from (the drug) misoprostol not being available to treat postpartum hemorrhage to the insufficient distribution of magnesium sulfate for preeclampsia in rural clinics,” he said. “This is where research is needed to coalesce and bring consensus, and that’s one of the jobs of the task force.”
Grace Lusiola, director of the EngenderHealth office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, works in conjunction with the government on strategies like the One Plan, a federal campaign unveiled in April 2008 to reduce maternal and child deaths. The campaign’s contributions to policy development include providing post-abortion care.
“Unsafe abortion is the leading cause of maternal death in Tanzania,” Lusiola said in an e-mail interview. “We’re increasing the number of facilities at the community level where women who have had unsafe abortions can go for medical care. Being able to get emergency care locally and not having to travel (long distances) saves lives.”
Another way to improve maternal health is through building latrines and hand-washing stations. Global Water assembles such facilities for elementary schools in rural areas, working with the Peace Corps to promote good hygiene and halt the spread of waterborne illnesses such as cholera, diarrhea, hepatitis and typhoid fever. On one visit to a village in Guatemala, Kuepper said, volunteers taught children about hygiene–despite lacking the basic tools.
“Those schools didn’t have any water, so they had the students pretend to wash their hands and brush their teeth,” he said. “It was an amazing sight.”
Still, good hygience practices are not common in many countries. A 2009 study published in the journal Health Education Research found that only 29 percent of 802 women surveyed in Kenya washed their hands with soap after using the bathroom, often due to lack of time and energy. (Washing one’s hands with just water is the norm throughout the country.)
“Key motivations for hand washing were disgust, nurture, comfort and affiliation,” wrote lead author Valerie Curtis of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “Fear of disease generally did not motivate hand washing,” as 43 percent of the women polled felt that diarrhea “is a normal part of growing up.”
Contaminated water is also commonplace in developing countries. The World Health Organization, or WHO, and the United Nations Children’s Fund issued a report in 2004 that found the definition of “safe water” varied from region to region. WHO has issued guidelines for maintaining water quality around the world since 1982, but leaves it up to each country to implement their own standards. Such inconsistency is why Global Water bypasses the government when it comes to installing water treatment systems.
“We’re trying to fill a void that’s been created by the leaders of the developing world themselves,” Kuepper said. “There’s a real lack of concern among these leaders to take care of their own people.”
The U.N. Millennium Development Goals Report indicates that at the global level maternal mortality rates fell by less than one percent annually between 1990 and 2005–far below the 5.5 percent annual improvement needed to reach the world body’s 2015 target. Of the eight Millennium Development Goals–U.N. benchmarks to reduce poverty and improve health–originally set in 2000, it’s the area that has seen the least amount of progress.
“Women’s health and empowerment is at the heart of all the development goals. I don’t think any of them can be achieved unless we scale up a full range of reproductive health services and policies for women in every part of the world,” Thomas said. “There’s such great momentum around maternal health because the crux of women’s reproductive health and rights is the saving of lives of women who are dying needlessly because of pregnancy or childbirth.”
Improving women’s access to clean water is directly linked to increasing their life expectancy. For example, a 2006 WHO survey found that women in countries such as Tanzania were only expected to live to the age of 51; one of the causes of death was consuming excessive levels of fluoride found in contaminated water. Those who do survive in countries with unsafe water have to deal with side effects like stiff joints.
“The body acclimates to some degree to accommodate the level of contamination in the water,” Kuepper said. But he pointed out that such adaptation only applies to microorganisms like bacteria and viruses, not minerals like fluoride and arsenic. Since water contamination remains an environmental hazard to women and children in the world’s poorest nations, he doesn’t envision the development goals being fulfilled within the next six years.
“I don’t see anything on the horizon to fix the problem. There’s not enough funding efficiently being spent in water-short areas of the world,” he said.