Yunque Rainforest and other News!
This page is dedicated to bringing awareness to the public about the detrimental forces that affect the El Yunque National Rainforest and the rest of our beautiful planet.
1. The upwind destruction of habitat. Building large tracts of cement houses causes thermal currents to rise prematurely and does reduce the amount of rain that reaches the Luquillo Mountains. Urge local politicians to add more protective zones around the rainforest. The El Yunque rainforest is experiencing less rainfall.
2. The Federal Budget has been cut to all things environmental and especially the Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife. So when you visit this beautifully preserved forest be sure to leave a donation! Either pay to go into the visitor center or just leave a donation at a ranger station.
3. Should the Puerto Rican government allow the growth of genetically modified crops?
by Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero:
"If the American people are for the most part unaware of genetic engineering and food biotechnology issues, the people of Puerto Rico are blissfully in the dark – so far.
Puerto Rico now has a new crop: the biotech harvest. Read the entire blog.
Much of the genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybean seed planted in the United States comes from this Caribbean island. Furthermore, Puerto Rico is also a preferred location for agricultural biotechnology experiments." . . . According to data from the US Department of Agriculture.
Prince Charles of England has his own organic farm at his Gloucestershire estate. He made a statement to the press:
"Companies developing genetically modified crops risk creating the biggest environmental disaster of all time", Prince Charles has warned. . . GM crops were damaging Earth's soil and were an experiment "gone seriously wrong", he told the Daily Telegraph. . . A future reliance on corporations to mass-produce food would drive millions of farmers off their land, he said.
“In a walk through old growth forest, there are thousands if not millions of chemicals and their synergistic effects with one another,” Diana Beresford-Kroeger said: “What trees do chemically in the environment is something we’re only beginning to understand.”
Trees also absorb pollutants from the ground, comb particulates from the air and house beneficial insects.
Some studies support a role for trees in human health. A recent study by researchers at Columbia found that children in neighborhoods that are tree-lined have asthma rates a quarter less than in neighborhoods without trees. The Center for Urban Forest Research estimates that each tree removes 1.5 pounds of pollutants from the air. Trees are also used to remove mercury and other pollutants from the ground, something called phytoremediation. And, of course, trees store carbon dioxide, which mitigates global warming.
Dr. Wilson, at Harvard, said that more research into the role of trees in the ecosystem was imperative and that it was alarming how little was known. “We need more research of this kind to use the things we have, such as trees, to their fullest,” he said.
By JIM ROBBINS of the New York Times published August 11, 2008
The Eleventh Hour film clip with Leonardo DiCaprio
Glaciers suffer record shrinkage
Some glaciers in Europe have suffered significant losses. The rate at which some of the world's glaciers are melting has more than doubled, data from the United Nations Environment Programme has shown. Average glacial shrinkage has risen from 30 centimetres per year between 1980 and 1999, to 1.5 metres in 2006.
Some of the biggest losses have occurred in the Alps and Pyrenees mountain ranges in Europe. Experts have called for "immediate action" to reverse the trend, which is seen as a key climate change indicator. Estimates for 2006 indicate shrinkage of 1.4 metres of 'water equivalent' compared to half a metre in 2005.
Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary General of the UN and executive director of its environment programme (UNEP), said: "Millions if not billions of people depend directly or indirectly on these natural water storage facilities for drinking water, agriculture, industry and power generation during key parts of the year. There are many canaries emerging in the climate change coal mine. The glaciers are perhaps among those making the most noise and it is absolutely essential that everyone sits up and takes notice.
"If the sky is not in love, then it will not be so clear. If the sun is not in love, then it will not be giving any light. If the river is not in love, then it will be in silence, it will not be moving. If the mountains, the earth are not in love, then there will be nothing growing." Rumi - Sufi Mystic and poet
The Roar of Rumi - 800 year birthday!
by Rita Farrell:
Global warming has plunged the planet into a crisis and the fossil fuel industries are trying to hide the extent of the problem from the public, NASA's top climate scientist says. "We've already reached the dangerous level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," James Hansen, 67, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. "But there are ways to solve the problem" of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which Hansen said has reached the "tipping point" of 385 parts per million.
Hansen calls for phasing out all coal-fired plants by 2030, taxing their emissions until then, and banning the building of new plants unless they are designed to trap and segregate the carbon dioxide they emit. . . "The problem is that 90 percent of energy is fossil fuels. And that is such a huge business, it has permeated our government," he maintained.
"What's become clear to me in the past several years is that both the executive branch and the legislative branch are strongly influenced by special fossil fuel interests," . . In a recent survey of what concerns people, global warming ranked 25th. . . . "The industry is misleading the public and policy makers about the cause of climate change. . .
Loosing our democracy: . . . . There are many levels at which a market economy called corporate globalization has to kill democracy in order to survive. Take the birth of World Trade Organization (WTO), an undemocratic institution. There are no negotiations on the rules it imposes. These rules are created undemocratically. Then, every time these rules are implemented, there are protests. Normally in democracy, if the will of people say change this policy, governments change. Unfortunately, governance today is run by corporations not the people. Every step of deepening the market economy is a depletion of democracy. Our very governments have been stolen from us, and we have to use democracy to counter these rules, this paradigm, and the absolute destruction [it causes]. . . See complete article at bottom of this page.
3. Not about the rainforest but I hope you care ! :
Update February 6 2008 Whales win, president looses.....
Back to federal court, another big victory for whales was scored -- this time over the President of the United States!
February 5, 2008, a federal judge struck down a waiver issued by the White House that would have exempted the U.S. Navy from obeying a key environmental law during sonar training exercises that endanger whales.
In doing so, the court affirmed the bedrock principle that we do NOT live under an imperial presidency. Both the White House and the military must obey and uphold our environmental laws.
In last night's ruling, Judge Cooper called the Navy's so-called emergency "a creature of its own making," and reaffirmed that the military can train effectively without needlessly harming whales.
UPDATE January 2008.. Americas proud WOLVES to be slaughtered. More info.
Say goodbye to the 10,000-year-old Holocene Epoch and hello to the Anthropocene Age.
Humans have altered Earth so much that scientists say a new epoch in the planet's geologic history has begun.
Among the major changes heralding this two-century-old man-made epoch:
• Vastly altered sediment erosion and deposition patterns.
Major disturbances to the carbon cycle and global temperature.
Wholesale changes in biology, from altered flowering times to new migration patterns.
• Acidification of the ocean, which threatens tiny marine life that forms the bottom of the food chain.
The idea, first suggested in 2000 by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen, has gained steam with two new scientific papers that call for official recognition of the shift. As early as the late 1800s scientists were writing about man's wholesale impact on the planet and the possibility of an "anthropozoic era" having begun, according to Crutzen, who is credited with coining the term Anthropocene (anthropo = human; cene = new) back in 2000. That year, Crutzen and a colleague wrote in the scientific newsletter International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme about some of the dramatic changes:
"Urbanization has ... increased tenfold in the past century. In a few generations mankind is exhausting the fossil fuels that were generated over several hundred million years." Up to half of Earth's land has been transformed by human activity, wrote Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer of the University of Michigan. They also noted the dramatic increase in greenhouse gases and other chemicals and pollutants humans have introduced into global ecosystems.
In a separate paper last month in the journal Soil Science, researchers focused on soil infertility alone as a reason to dub this the Anthropocene Age. (The term "age" is sometimes used interchangeably with "epoch" or to indicate a transition period between epochs.) As an example, they said, agriculture in Africa "has so degraded regional soil fertility that the economic development of whole nations will be diminished without drastic improvements of soil management." "With more than half of all soils on Earth now being cultivated for food crops, grazed, or periodically logged for wood, how to sustain Earth’s soils is becoming a major scientific and policy issue," said Duke University soil scientist Daniel Richter. . . . Richter's work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The epochal idea has merit, according to geologist Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University.
"In land, water, air, ice, and ecosystems, the human impact is clear, large, and growing,"Alley told ScienceNow, an online publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "A geologist from the far distant future almost surely would draw a new line, and begin using a new name, where and when our impacts show up."
Humans Force Earth into New Geologic Epoch Visit LiveScience.com for more daily news, views and scientific inquiry with an original, provocative point of view.
4. Environmental Defense Action Fund Declarations . Add your comment about what the major issues are today in terms of halting the destructions going on on our planet.
"Every generation confronts a unique challenge that tests its collective mettle. For us, that challenge is global warming. Help us draft a declaration for signature by all Americans who are committed to stopping global warming. Be one of the first to add your ideas to the Declaration.
Fourth Warmest June on record
June 2007 was the fourth warmest June for the globe on record, and the period January - June of 2007 was the second warmest such period ever, according to statistics released by the National Climatic Data Center. The global temperature record goes back 128 years. The global average temperature for June was +0.55°C (+0.99°F) above the 20th century mean. Over land, June global temperatures were the third warmest ever measured. Ocean temperatures were a bit cooler (eighth warmest on record). All land areas, with the exception of Argentina, were warmer than average during the period January-June 2007.
June temperatures were particularly warm across Southeast Europe, where temperatures soared to 40°C (104°F). At least 40 deaths were blamed on the heat, and electricity demand reached record levels. Winter in the Southern Hemisphere was colder than average in Argentina and Australia, and Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city, received its first significant snowfall since 1981 on June 27
Article on findings in Vieques Lagoon- Hurricanes for the last 5,000 years information.
ARCTIC ICE MELT . By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years.
Greenland's ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what it was just four years earlier, according to new NASA satellite data obtained by The Associated Press. "The Arctic is screaming," said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government's snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colo. Just last year, two top scientists surprised their colleagues by projecting that the Arctic sea ice was melting so rapidly that it could disappear entirely by the summer of 2040.
This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: "At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions."
So scientists in recent days have been asking themselves these questions: Was the record melt seen all over the Arctic in 2007 a blip amid relentless and steady warming? Or has everything sped up to a new climate cycle that goes beyond the worst case scenarios presented by computer models?
"The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming," said Zwally, who as a teenager hauled coal. "Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines."
|2. WORK IN PROGRESS.. this is not complete yet and may never be 'finished'... please come back soon . . Send an email to < firstname.lastname@example.org > to contribute information.
Defoliant spraying in the
forest Rio Icacos, Rio Cubuy and Rio Prieto comes out in the Rio Blanco and goes into the water supply to Vieques. Sprayed by the electric company, they will not stop doing this, they have a right as 'macho man' incorporated.
January 7-08 – Defoliant litigation proves evergreen. “Seventeen years after a class action settlement intended to end lawsuits over Agent Orange, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that two Vietnam veterans may sue companies that made the product.” (Bob Van Voris, “Agent Orange Suits Still Viable, 2nd Circuit Says”, National Law Journal, Dec. 12; Michael Fumento on Agent Orange).
Why We Face Both Food and Water Crises:
Why We Face Both Food and Water Crises By Maria Armoudian and Ankine Aghassian, AlterNet
Posted on May 15, 2008, Printed on May 28, 2008 http://www.alternet.org/story/85433/
Policy-makers are finally grappling with the growing global food and water crises that are upon us. While they grope for answers, Vandana Shiva reminds them that it was their wild economic schemes that created these crises in the first place.
The globalized economic structure is simply incompatible with the basic physics of the planet and the principles of democratic governance, she says. And until we align the economic system with those of the ecological system, the problems will only get worse.
. . . Shiva is a physicist, author, director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology and Ecology and the founder of Navdanya.
One aspect of the inconsistency is between the principles of Gaia, the principles of soil, the ecology, renewability, how the atmosphere cleans itself and the laws of the global marketplace. The global marketplace is driven by the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the illogic of so-called "free trade," which is totally not free. [The result of this incompatibility] is the current food crisis: The more agriculture is "liberalized," the greater the food scarcity, the higher the food prices and the more people will go hungry.
Never has there been this rate of escalation in food prices worldwide as we witness now with the global integration of the food economies under the coercive and bullying force of the WTO.
. . We see the worst dispossession in the countries of the South -- tragically -- those countries that could feed themselves. India, for example, was food self-sufficient. We were able to feed our people with a universal distribution system, affordable food for all, and agriculture policies that put food first. Small farmers could make a living.
But a decade and a half of globalization's perverse rules have led to 200,000 farmers committing suicide because they can't make a living anymore -- all their money goes to make profit for Monsanto or Cargill. Meanwhile, with the economy's so-called growth, people are starving. Per capita entitlement to food has dropped in a decade and half from 177 kg to 152 kg per year.
This contradicts the false propaganda being spread about the reason prices are rising. They say it is because Indians are getting richer and Indians are eating more. Well, some Indians are getting richer, but they're not eating more. There's a limit to how much you can eat. . . . [But in reality], the average Indian is eating less. The average child has a bigger chance today of dying of hunger. The Cargill's of the world have a stranglehold of the world's economy; they're harvesting super-profits while people die of hunger.
India, under the perverse growth of globalization, has beaten out Africa in the number of hungry people. While we have 9.2 percent growth measured by GNP and GDP, 50 percent of our children have very severe malnutrition. Fifty percent of deaths for children under five are due to lack of food. That's about a million kids per year.
. . The media orchestrates every analysis and interpretation. They would like this crisis to look like a success of globalization, and they would like to offer more globalization as a solution. In fact, the World Bank has said there should be more liberalized trade. Before the WTO was formed, we had protests with 500,000 farmers on the streets of Bangalore in 1993 to say that this is a recipe for starvation, for destroying agriculture, self-reliance and food security. And the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs -- before the WTO was born -- had a press conference to say that globalization will make food affordable for all.
They forget that food ultimately is not produced in the speculation and commodity exchanges controlled by Cargill in Chicago. It is produced by hard working women and men working with the soil and sun. And if you destroy the capacity of the people to work the land and the capacity of soil to produce, you're going to have hunger. The tragedy is that the hunger of today and the rise of food [prices] is the result of globalization policies, and it is being implemented on a global scale. Unless we bring local food sovereignty and "food democracy" back into the picture, we will not have a solution to this.
. . . Global agribusiness, which makes huge money out of the feed industry, is creating this pressure while destroying what I would call the "real free economy" -- the free-range cattle, the free range chicken -- and replacing it with prison factories for animals. In fact, in my interpretation, even the Avian flu is being used to violently shut down small economies, the free economies of Asian peasants, and turning them into Tyson and Cargill factory farming systems.
. . . Further, the long distance trade is responsible for adding . . more carbon emissions. Taken together, more than 25 percent of climate instability is being caused by unsustainable farming that [simultaneously] displaces small peasants, creates poverty and bad food. So, tomorrow we could solve 25 percent of the planet's climate instability if we returned to ecological agriculture as the earth wants it, farming according to 10,000 years of wisdom that evolved from the third world.
Research that we are undertaking now shows a 200 percent higher level of carbon return and 10 times higher level of moisture retention. So if increased drought is one consequence of climate change, what you need is sorted organic matter, not more chemical fertilizers. We have two issues pertaining to climate change: We need to get rid of emissions from agriculture and long-distance transport.
This means ecological farming, localization of the food system and only importing what can't be grown locally -- not forcing imports as the U.S has done on India. It has forced us to buy wheat, give up our mustard and coconut oil and to live on soya. These trade factors are "forcings" that are causing more damage to our climate and destroying our food culture, nutrition and access to food.
Finally, biodiverse systems actually produce more food. It is an illusion that because there's a food crisis, we must have [genetically modified food] spread around the world. First, genetically-engineered crops don't produce more food. And secondly, they make the soil more vulnerable to climate change. They are herbicide resistant and toxin traps. That is not a yield increase.
AlterNet: So the genetic altering of food ultimately exacerbates the already difficult circumstances with food shortages.
VS: Absolutely. I think any recipe today offered in agriculture should be measured against the test of whether it will enhance the food production capacity of the poor and if it will reduce the pressure on the planet.
AlterNet: Let's also incorporate another concept that you feature in your writing -- "biopiracy."
They stole Neem, which is a tree that gives us [natural] pest and fungal control through its oil. The USDA along with Grace claim to have invented Neem. Of course, my grandmother and my mother used it. Then, I popularized it after Bopal with a campaign called "No more Bopal. Plant a Neem." When I saw this patent, I had to fight it. We fought for 11 years, and eventually the biggest governmental powers and one of the biggest chemical companies were beaten out by a coalition of civic society groups and movements.
Another case of biopiracy is the famous Basmati rice that comes from my valley. A company in Texas claims to have invented it. The third case was Monsanto, which claimed to have invented an ancient wheat variety, which is very low in gluten. The problem with biopiracy is not simply that they're taking genetic material and knowledge for free, but that they are claiming an exclusive right to it and then demanding royalty, claim and fame from the very communities and societies [from which they have taken it], communities that have had this biodiversity and this knowledge for years.
. . . If I had to rank criminality of corporations, Monsanto will easily walk away with the highest award. Monsanto has taken over the control of world's seed supply. It has bought up every small seed company in India, Brazil and the United States and become the biggest seed corporation. But its entire model of functioning is through corruption. They corrupted the United States decision-making such that U.S. citizens no longer have a right to know what they are eating, whether milk has bovine growth hormone in it or if soybeans and corn are genetically engineered. They are spreading this corruption worldwide.
I am fighting them through three cases in our supreme court. . . . the worst thing Monsanto is doing is buying Delta and Pine Land, a company that has the patent for terminator technology that designs seeds to be sterilized. It is genetically engineering life for life's extinction.
. . . Industrial agriculture requires ten times more water to produce the same amount of food than ecological farming does. . . Industrial agriculture has depleted water resources. In addition, as water has become polluted and depleted, a handful of industry saw water as a way of making super-profits by privatizing it. They are privatizing it in two ways. The first is through buying up entire civic, municipal distribution. The big players in this are Bechtel, Suez and Vivendi.
And interestingly, wherever they go, they face protests. Bechtel was thrown out of Bolivia. Suez wanted to take Delhi's water supply, but we had a movement for water democracy and did not allow them to take over. But there's a second kind of privatization, which is more insidious -- and that is the plastic water bottle. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are leading in this privatization. But in India where Coca-Cola was stealing water, I worked with a small group of village women, and they shut their plant down. Across India, these giant corporations are taking between 1.5 to 2 million liters of water a day and leaving behind a water famine.
. . As the water becomes increasingly scarce, the corporations who control the water become richer. It is the same with food. As food becomes scarce, the corporations controlling food become richer. That is the paradox of the global economy. Growth shows up in the profits of corporations while in the real world, the resources from which they make their profits, shrink.
. . There are many levels at which a market economy called corporate globalization has to kill democracy in order to survive. Take the birth of World Trade Organization (WTO), an undemocratic institution. There are no negotiations on the rules it imposes. These rules are created undemocratically. Then, every time these rules are implemented, there are protests. Normally in democracy, if the will of people say change this policy, governments change. Unfortunately, governance today is run by corporations not the people. Every step of deepening the market economy is a depletion of democracy. Our very governments have been stolen from us, and we have to use democracy to counter these rules, this paradigm, and the absolute destruction [it causes].
. . . I try to articulate an alternative vision in terms of a democracy. Global market economy makes the first citizen the corporation. The rest of us are slaves, second class citizens. Secondly, it creates an identity for the human species as consumers in a global supermarket. We are no longer creators and producers. We are just consumers of goods that corporations bring to us from the place where they can manufacture them -- at the highest cost to the environment and workers.
What we need is a reclaiming of who we are as human beings. We are first and foremost citizens of this beautiful planet. Our first duty is to protect this planet. And out of that flows the rights to the earth, air, water and food that the earth gives us. Those gifts are common resources, not commodities, private property or intellectual property. They are the commons of the earth and all of us have equal access to it. Nobody can interfere in the access of a person to their share of water, land and air. That interference is a violation of the rules of Gaia and the rules of democracy.
. . Most private property rights have been carved out of the shared resources of the earth. In India we say "land belongs to creation." We can use it and have "use rights," but that is different from ownership and tradable rights. It is British colonialism that created private property in land the way it is now practiced. Now, the World Bank is trying to create private property in land among indigenous communities. Water was never property either, but today, they are trying to change that. Seeds were meant to be shared and distributed, not treated as property. Intellectual property rights are as recent as the World Trade Organization and need to be eliminated because they are inconsistent with life [principles]. A world of the future governed by intellectual property rights over seed in Monsanto's hands is a future where biodiversity will be destroyed, farmers will be wiped out and there will be no food worth eating.
AlterNet: You've also been involved in the "slow food" movement and organic farming.
VS: I was just elected Vice President of Slow Food [International], and I chair an international commission on the future of food, a commission started by the region of Tuscany in Italy. I convinced the [founder], Carlo Petrini, to recognize that food does not begin in the kitchen or in the chef's hands. It begins in the farmers' fields. One of the contributions that I and my colleagues have made in the seed-saving and organic farming movements is the recognition that biodiversity, organic farming and small-scale agriculture produces more food. It is a myth created by industrial agriculture and agribusiness that monocultures and chemical farming produce more food. They use more energy and chemicals, and do not produce more nutrition per acre. In fact, they use ten times more energy inputs than they produce as food. So with the food crisis, it is vital that we move to efficient food systems that also give us better quality food.
. . We need more farms producing more locally-grown foods. This country that can subsidize biofuel and chemicals should instead subsidize the return of small farmers to the land. This would solve much of the unemployment problem too.
Maria Armoudian is a singer/songwriter, a commissioner on the environment for the City of Los Angeles and host and producer of the Insighters for KPFK. Ankine Aghassian is co-producer of the Insighters on KPFK and a human rights activist.
Note: Many small organic farms in the US are producing more food per acre and better quality food right now. They are showing the way back to a better global food production system that is essentially completely compatible with the points in this article.