Rio+20: Declaration of Kari-Oca II Adopted by Five Hundred Indigenous Representatives in Sacred Ceremony

Written by Jeff Conant
Thursday, 21 June 2012 08:54

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 19, 2012 – Over five hundred Indigenous Peoples from Brazil and throughout the world gathered at Kari-Oca II, an encampment seated at the foot of a mountain near Rio Centro, to sign a declaration demanding respect for Indigenous Peoples’ role in maintaining a stable world environment, and condemning the dominant economic approach toward ecology, development, human rights and the rights of Mother Earth.

“We see the goals of UNCSD Rio+20, the “Green Economy”, and its premise that the world can only ‘save’ nature by commodifying its life-giving and life-sustaining capacities as a continuation of the colonialism that Indigenous Peoples and our Mother Earth have faced and resisted for 520 years”, the declaration states.

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Americans Least Green—And Feel Least Guilt, Survey Suggests

Global survey reveals differing attitudes on green living..


Commuters on bicycles, electric bikes, and mopeds buzz through Shanghai, China, in 2008.
Photograph by Eugene Hoshiko, AP

Americans are the the least likely to suffer from "green guilt" about their environmental impact, despite trailing the rest of the world in sustainable behavior, according to a new National Geographic survey.

This year's Greendex report, conducted by the National Geographic Society and the research consultancy GlobeScan, also found that Americans are the most confident that their individual actions can help the environment. (National Geographic News is a division of the Society.)

(How green are you? Find out with the Greendex calculator.)

"There's a disconnect there, and we hope the Greendex helps shed light on it," said Eric Whan, GlobeScan's director of sustainability.

"In our culture of consumption, we've sort of been indoctrinated to believe that we can buy ourselves out of environmental problems," said Whan, who's based in Toronto, Canada, another country ranked low in the survey.

"But what people need to realize is that the sheer volume of consumption is relevant as well." (Listen to NPR's coverage of Greendex.)

Conducted by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan since 2008, the Greendex report explored environmental attitudes and behaviors among 17,000 consumers in 17 countries through an online survey that asks questions relating to housing, transportation, food, and consumer goods. (Learn more about how Greendex is created.)

This year Americans ranked last in sustainable behavior, as they have every year since 2008. Just 21 percent of Americans reported feeling guilty about the impact they have on the environment, among the lowest of those surveyed.

Yet they had the most faith in an individual's ability to protect the environment, at 47 percent.

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Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way

Why are we told a broken system that creates vast inequality is the only choice? Spain's amazing co-op is living proof otherwise

Richard Wolff
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 24 June 2012 10.13 EDT
Dani Martinez, innovation director at Orbea bicycles, part of Mondragon Co-operative Corporation, in Mallabia, 2011. Photograph: Vincent West/Westphoto for the Guardian

There is no alternative ("Tina") to capitalism?

Really? We are to believe, with Margaret Thatcher, that an economic system with endlessly repeated cycles, costly bailouts for financiers and now austerity for most people is the best human beings can do? Capitalism's recurring tendencies toward extreme and deepening inequalities of income, wealth, and political and cultural power require resignation and acceptance – because there is no alternative?

I understand why such a system's leaders would like us to believe in Tina. But why would others?

Of course, alternatives exist; they always do. Every society chooses – consciously or not, democratically or not – among alternative ways to organize the production and distribution of the goods and services that make individual and social life possible.

Modern societies have mostly chosen a capitalist organization of production. In capitalism, private owners establish enterprises and select their directors who decide what, how and where to produce and what to do with the net revenues from selling the output. This small handful of people makes all those economic decisions for the majority of people – who do most of the actual productive work. The majority must accept and live with the results of all the directorial decisions made by the major shareholders and the boards of directors they select. This latter also select their own replacements.

Capitalism thus entails and reproduces a highly undemocratic organization of production inside enterprises. Tina believers insist that no alternatives to such capitalist organizations of production exist or could work nearly so well, in terms of outputs, efficiency, and labor processes. The falsity of that claim is easily shown. Indeed, I was shown it a few weeks ago and would like to sketch it for you here.

In May 2012, I had occasion to visit the city of Arrasate-Mondragon, in the Basque region of Spain. It is the headquarters of the Mondragon Corporation (MC), a stunningly successful alternative to the capitalist organization of production.

MC is composed of many co-operative enterprises grouped into four areas: industry, finance, retail and knowledge. In each enterprise, the co-op members (averaging 80-85% of all workers per enterprise) collectively own and direct the enterprise. Through an annual general assembly the workers choose and employ a managing director and retain the power to make all the basic decisions of the enterprise (what, how and where to produce and what to do with the profits).

As each enterprise is a constituent of the MC as a whole, its members must confer and decide with all other enterprise members what general rules will govern MC and all its constituent enterprises. In short, MC worker-members collectively choose, hire and fire the directors, whereas in capitalist enterprises the reverse occurs. One of the co-operatively and democratically adopted rules governing the MC limits top-paid worker/members to earning 6.5 times the lowest-paid workers. Nothing more dramatically demonstrates the differences distinguishing this from the capitalist alternative organization of enterprises. (In US corporations, CEOs can expect to be paid 400 times an average worker's salary – a rate that has increased 20-fold since 1965.)

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Monsanto Trumps Food Safety and Democracy (Again)

Monday, 25 June 2012 09:05 By Charlotte Silver, Inter Press Service | Report

No GMOs label(Photo: Timothy Valentine)San Francisco - As the 2012 Farm Bill continues to take shape in the halls of the United States Congress, the immense influence of corporate interests is on display.

On June 21 the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly against the Sanders Amendment that would have allowed states to pass legislation that required food and beverage products to label whether or not they contain genetically engineered ingredients.

The amendment, proposed by Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is particularly relevant as many states prepare to vote on a ballot initiatives that would require such labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods.

Lobbyists from the biotech industry have ardently opposed GMO labelling. These opponents argue that because food labelling has historically been handled by the Food and Drug Association (FDA), it is a federal issue and, therefore, individual states do not have the right to implement such legislation. Indeed, in the case of Vermont, Sanders' home state, Monsanto successfully intimidated the state legislature from voting on a bill that would have required GMO labelling.

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Food Supply: 

Natural Law

From Rural Pennsylvania to South America, a Global Alliance is Promoting the Idea that Ecosystems Have Intrinsic Rights

By Jason Mark

Cathy Miorelli doesn’t think of herself as an environmentalist. When Miorelli decided to run for the city council of Tamaqua Borough – a small town in central Pennsylvania where she has lived her entire life – she didn’t have any sort of eco-agenda. It was 2004, and the hottest controversy in Tamaqua involved a proposal by an outside company to dump sewage sludge and coal fly ash into abandoned mining pits on the edge of town. But the main issue on Miorelli’s mind was creating more transparent governance on the council, which she says had long been dominated by an old boys’ network. “I was just concerned about everything overall, not really so much the environment,” says Miorelli, who has worked for 16 years as the nurse at the Tamaqua high school. “You know, I didn’t run on any kind of platform, saying that I was going to change the world here or anything.”


photo by Brett Weston, Corbis

She did change the world, though. Halfway through her one-term stint on the council, Miorelli spearheaded the passage of an anti-sewage sludge ordinance that included a provision recognizing the rights of “natural communities” to flourish – the first law of its kind in the world. The Tamaqua Borough ordinance inspired dozens of other communities in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania – including the city of Pittsburgh – to adopt similar rights of nature laws. Those ordinances then helped influence the people of Ecuador to put legal rights for ecosystems in that country’s new constitution. The idea that nature, just like people, possesses inalienable rights has percolated up to the United Nations, which has considered a proposal to adopt a “Charter on the Rights of Mother Nature.”

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Pennsylvania farming community turned into natural gas wasteland


A fracking operation takes place on leased farmland in Dimock, PA

The Titchen-Bohlander family has managed its farm, nestled in a lush agricultural community in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, for over 150 years in relative peace and quiet.  But this year is different. 

Steps Set for Livestock Antibiotic Ban

The Obama administration must warn drug makers that the government may soon ban agricultural uses of some popular antibiotics that many scientists say encourage the proliferation of dangerous infections and imperil public health, a federal magistrate judge ruled on Thursday.

The order, issued by Judge Theodore H. Katz of the Southern District of New York, effectively restarts a process that the Food and Drug Administration began 35 years ago, but never completed, intended to prevent penicillin and tetracycline, widely used antibiotics, from losing their effectiveness in humans because of their bulk use in animal feed to promote growth in chickens, pigs and cattle.

The order comes two months after the Obama administration announced restrictions on agricultural uses of cephalosporins, a critical class of antibiotics that includes drugs like Cefzil and Keflex, which are commonly used to treat pneumonia, strep throat and skin and urinary tract infections.

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Renewables Are a Reality: How We Can Ditch Fossil Fuels Without Any Help From Congress


Amory Lovins explains his plan for transforming our energy, transportation and industry sectors while at the same time growing our economy and cutting dirty fossil fuels.

Amory B. Lovins is fond of referring to the Rocky Mountain Institute, where he serves as chairman and chief scientist, as a “think and do” tank, and it’s clear that to Lovins the doing is every bit as important as the thinking. Hardly lacking in confidence or ambition, Lovins — in conjunction with his colleagues at the institute — has published Reinventing Fire, his step-by-step blueprint for how to transition to a renewable energy economy by mid-century. 

Impressive in both its scope and detail — Lovins discusses everything from how to redesign heavy trucks to make them more fuel efficient to ways to change factory pipes to conserve energy — the book lays out a plan for the U.S. to achieve the following by 2050: cars completely powered by hydrogen fuel cells, electricity, and biofuels; 84 percent of trucks and airplanes running on biomass fuels; 80 percent of the nation’s electricity produced by renewable power; $5 trillion in savings; and an economy that has grown by 158 percent.

In an interview with Yale Environment 360 senior editor Fen Montaigne, Lovins discusses how business and society can pull off this transformation even if the U.S. Congress keeps failing to act, why climate change need not even enter the discussion, and why the oil industry will ultimately forego fossil fuels and jump aboard the green bandwagon. “One system is dying and others are struggling to be born,” says Lovins. “It’s a very exciting time.”

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Energy: 

Fracking Cattle

07|15|10

by Ulla Kjarval

[Ulla Kjarval is a photographer, food blogger and grass-fed beef advocate who blogs at Goldilocks Finds Manhattan. Her family operates Spring Lake Farm in Delaware County, New York -mb.]

The battle over gas drilling has made its way to upstate New York and many farmers, especially those that rely on grasslands, are alarmed at the possible impact fracking - the relatively new technology for gas drilling - could have on their livelihoods. Dick Cheney’s 2005 Energy Policy Act, with its “Halliburton Exemption” significantly deregulated fracking, making it exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clear Air Act. Alarmingly if not surprisingly, the dismantling of these most basic safeguards to protect us from pollution seems to have not caused our lawmakers any concern.

Fracking allows drillers to tap gas reserves deep in the ground. To do so they rely on a high pressure mix of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals pumped into the ground to collapse and crack into horizontal deposits trapped in rock. Sadly, in areas where fracking has already happened there has been widespread pollution and ruined drinking water.

Already, the USDA quarantined 28 cattle in Pennsylvania who grazed on a pasture that was contaminated by fracking leaks. The state agriculture department said that the toxic water which included chloride, magnesium, potassium, and strontium, a heavy metal toxic to humans(especially to young children), has contaminated the cows' meat (via Reuters). Propublica reported last year that 16 cattle dropped dead after being exposed to fracking run- off. Farmers across Pennsylvania, which has seen heavy gas drilling, have spoken about birth deformities and sickness in their grazing cattle. As the prospect of natural gas fracking looms on the horizon for New York State, many area farmers are alarmed and concerned that it could put them out of business.

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Water Use: 

Modern Pioneers: What it’s like living in an Ecovillage

Living in community with one another is the foundation for a new pioneering, sustainable culture.

In 2006, I found myself visiting an ecovillage in northeast Missouri. My destination was Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, an intentional community dedicated to ecologically sustainable and socially rewarding lives, and sharing the skills and ideas behind that lifestyle. I was taken with the place rather quickly and knew that this was the change I wanted in my life, and the following spring, I became a resident. My own quest towards a more low impact lifestyle in a community setting was just beginning — indeed, this was the first and single most important step I made.

But what is Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, and why should you care? What’s living off the grid, and in a cooperative community all about, anyway? And how does it affect you?

What is Sustainable Community Living?

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is one of thousands of intentional communities all over the globe, with a specific focus on sustainable living and cooperation. With a current population of 50 members, the community has been steadily growing since its inception in 1996. Residents and members agree to several ecological covenants and guidelines upon joining the community, which offer boundaries as far as what is acceptable within the realm of our consumption and impact.

For example, no homes are allowed to heat or cool with fossil fuel energy — all homes use some form of renewable energy. No one is allowed to keep a personal vehicle on the property — instead, most of the members are part of a vehicle cooperative. All fifty members share a mere three vehicles (and drive a mere 10% of the average American). All gardening is organic, and homes are built using natural and reclaimed materials. Group decisions are made through the process of consensus. The goal of living more sustainably and cooperatively is reflected in all aspects of life.

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Intentional Community: 

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