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Pacific Ecologist

Pacific Ecologist 15 Summer 2007/08

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  • Editorial: Democracy and compassion at the international level
    by editor Kay Weir

insights motivating change

  • Religion, ecology and economics
    Earth’s amazing life systems were a brilliant success until human civilisations began to disrupt the larger community of life developed over billions of years, writes theologian Thomas Berry. To become a positive presence on earth, we must develop the creative endurance to adapt our human role within the earth community, bringing about a spiritual reorientation so ecological integrity is recognised as central to the healthy functioning of both economics and religion. The natural world about us should be recognised as the primary manifestation of the world of the sacred.
  • The biggest confidence trick of all time
    The efforts of developed countries to persuade so-called ‘developing’ countries to emulate their affluent lifestyles are neither desirable nor honest, writes Edward Goldsmith, founding editor of The Ecologist. Before they proceed very far along the affluence way their development will be cut short by various factors. .
  • Stand up for the earth community: Win the struggle against global warming [160K PDF]
    Brendan Mackey and Song Li discuss two vital ingredients often overlooked in efforts to find solutions to global warming. Our generation must begin to care sufficiently about future generations, people in other countries, and the greater community of life, and demand our governments show international leadership in negotiating a new legally binding, equitable international climate agreement. Without this agreement, based on a world ethic of universal responsibility, our efforts will fail to solve global warming. Governments are wavering when leadership is needed. Everyone needs to take a stand, become a leader.
    Find out more about the Earth Charter in action

Sustainable pathways

  • Ecuador offers world a sustainable path [64K PDF]
    Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, an oil-producing country, offers the world a new economic model. By not exploiting petroleum reserves in Yasuni, an ecological zone, Ecuador will protect the world’s climate and preserve a rich biodiverse region. He invites the world’s rich countries, more responsible for climate change to help build a fair, more human civilisation.
  • Communities reduce ecological footprints
    Increasing numbers of communities all around the world are going green, according to a report from the Worldwatch Institute. Embracing a sustainable lifestyle is not about sacrifice but leading more fulfilling, less stressful lives.
  • Banrock champions wetlands – nature’s wonderful shock absorbers [96K PDF]
    By Peter Isaac, special correspondent.
  • Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world
    The United Nation’s latest Human Development Report 2007/2008 reflects on what is lacking to meet the challenge of climate change: a sense of urgency, and human solidarity.

trade: a weapon of mass destruction

  • Rigged trade ruins world’s poorest farmers
    No civilised community should tolerate the extremes of prosperity and poverty caused by trade practices, which deprive and impoverish millions of the world’s poorest, report Oxfam and Third World Network Africa. Rich-country members of the WTO, while protecting and subsidising their own domestic producers, force developing countries to open their markets, then dump their heavily subsidised products on them, destroying local food production and food security. Now the European Commission is threatening 76 of the world’s poorest countries, trying to force them into trade agreements which could be even more devastating. Reform of world trade is essential to end deep social injustice.

forests/climate environment

  • Adapting to climate change in poor countries: who pays?
    Climate change is forcing vulnerable societies to adapt to climate stress, largely caused by rich countries, who are funding billions of dollars of adaptation measures in their own countries. Oxfam estimates adaptation costs of global warming owed by rich countries to poor countries is around $50 billion annually, and far more if emissions are not cut soon. According to OXFAM’s Adaptation Financing Index, the USA, Japan, and Australia, should collectively be contributing almost 60% of all adaptation finance, but so far they have pledged nothing. Adaptation finance is owed not as aid from rich country to poor country, but as compensation from high-emitting countries to those most vulnerable to the impacts. It’s time rich countries lived up to their obligations.
  • Feeling climate: The shaman’s cure [170KB PDF]
    Peter Bunyard recently revisited Colombia where he met a Shaman who told him he must be valiant after showing him the annihilation development is bringing to the planet. Peter was invited by the Kamsá people to talk about the trees of the Amazon, and how, without the rainforest stretching thousands of miles to the tropical Atlantic, Colombia would desiccate and die. We must stop the destruction of the world’s tropical forests and understand the extraordinary role rainforests play in making global climate, to avoid disrupting the recycling of rain that keeps forests healthy, feeds mighty river systems and carries energy and water vapour to distant parts of the world.
  • Save Happy Valley: Protect the climate and a unique wetland ecosystem
    Frances Mountier of the Save Happy Valley Coalition reports on the campaign to stop coal mining in a unique sub-alpine wetland ecosystem, home to thirteen endangered species. The Coalition is selling carbon credits – an excellent investment! – after the state-owned mining company blamed the coalition for reducing its coal production from its opencast Stockton Mine. Solid Energy is a state-owned coal miner, producing over 4.5 million tonnes of coal annually, responsible for the same amount of emissions as all New Zealand’s domestic transport emissions annually. Stopping the coal mining operation will help save the climate and endangered species.
  • Globalisation and conflict: future scenarios
    Dennis Small discusses four possible development paths for the future outlined in the United Nation’s recent Global Environment Outlook, GEO-4, report: Markets First, Security First, Policy First, Sustainability First.

book reviews

  • Animate earth: science, intuition, Gaia by Stephan Harding
  • The Creation: an appeal to save life on earth by E.O. Wilson
  • The death of life: the horror of extinction by Sean Mcdonagh SSC
  • Free market missionaries by Sharon Beder
  • Surviving climate change: the struggle to avert global catastrophe edited by David Cromwell & Mark Levene
  • Towards a new global climate treaty: looking beyond 2012 edited by Jonathan Boston
  • Lao Tzu: the art of peace a new reading by John Patterson

Sustainable Agriculture/Food security

  • Organics tops in food security  and sustainability study
    A comprehensive study shows organic agriculture with its high yields has the potential to feed the world’s increasing population into the future on the same amount of land now used, or less. Properly intensified, organic agriculture could increase food security in developing countries, relieve rural poverty and produce much of the world’s food. Leguminous cover crops could easily fix enough nitrogen to replace the synthetic fertilizer now used and increase yields. Organic methods would also maintain soil fertility and reduce other detrimental impacts of conventional unsustainable agriculture: release of greenhouse gases, groundwater contamination, pest resistance and loss of biodiversity. More resources for research institutions dedicated to agroecological methods of farming and a committed public are essential to expand organic agriculture on a large scale and develop a sustainable global food system. This article is abridged from a June 2007 paper by Dr Catherine Badgley and others.
  • Restoring the Pacific Islands’ rich agricultural traditions: An urgent priority
    To conserve the Pacific Islands most vital biodiversity resources, the priority should be to protect and restore the rich agrobiodiversity and ethnobiodiversity systems that have served the peoples of the Pacific for thousands of years, reports Professor Randy Thaman. (Part one of a two-part article, part two in the next issue of Pacific Ecologist.)