Trees, bills, internet hysteria and Greenpeace gets some local flavour

Peruvian Amazon

In 2001 I was lucky enough to spend some time in the Peruvian Amazon. It was a remarkable, life-changing experience. At that stage, land near the main northern Amazonian city, Iquitos, was becoming degraded, but much of the surrounding forest was still intact.

Now, the Peruvian government has pushed through legislation to allow intensive mining, logging and large scale farming in the rainforest, precipitating violent clashes with indigenous groups trying to preserve their homeland.

You can support the campaign urging President Alan García to immediately cease the suppression of indigenous protests, to suspend laws that open up the Amazon to extractive industries, and to engage in a genuine dialogue with the indigenous groups by visiting the Avaaz site.

Proposal to ban organic farming

Two months ago, whizzing around the internet like a radioactive neutron was the story of the US bill HR875 that will ban organic farming. Well, perhaps not quite so fast, as it seems to still be circulating locally. There’s even a Facebook group, and it’s a lot larger than ours! Except that the headlines are misleading. The bill is flawed, and has numerous problems, but it won’t ban organic farming. The story is misleading, and distracting from some other, real, threats. The bill ostensibly aims to improve food safety, and requires farms to allow their records to be inspected, and to comply with certain food safety standards, not all of them ideal. But to say that it outlaws organic farming is a bit like saying paying tax is equivalent to outlawing earning an income.

Gloom and doom

It’s easy for us to become discouraged, as we are bombarded by bad environmental news all the time. The positive aspect is that most of the damage being done these days, we know about. Our modern world is more transparent than ever before, and news flashes around the world minutes after it happens. There’s so much happening, and the negative is often easier and more appealing.

But there are so many positives happening all the time. A recent Yale study analysed 240 independent studies and concluded that ecosystems, once left to recover, often do so remarkably quickly. Forests can recover in 42 years, ocean bottoms in 10 years, and ecosystems stressed by invasive species in as little as five.

If we stopped the destruction today, we could see a pristine and abundant planet in many of our lifetimes

If we actively help the recovery, things can happen even quicker. Remember “a 20-year tale of hope”, featured on our website, with Willie Smits demonstrating his work of restoring a destroyed rainforest.

Greenpeace has a South African leader

In November, South African Kumi Naidoo takes up the role of Executive Director of Greenpeace, when Gerd Leipold steps down after nearly nine years as activist-in-chief. Having been active in the struggle against apartheid, working in the area of youth development, Naidoo fled the country due to police harassment. He returned in 1990 and has been active in the NGO sector, being a founding director of SANGOCO, the South African National NGO Coalition).

Going on to serve as chairperson of the Partnership for Transparency Fund, and serving on UNIFEM and UNDF as an advisory board member, he was appointed by the UN Secretary-General to the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN Civil Society Relations, became a member of the steering committee of the World Economic Forum’s Global Governance Initiative, co-chair of the International Facilitation Group of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), and chair of the International Facilitation Group of the Global Call to Action against Poverty.

Greenpeace, being a vocal and visible organisation have faced criticism from all sides. It’s easy to criticise action, but there’s no doubt Greenpeace are an effective organisation making a number of positive contributions. We wish them and their new Executive Director well.

To order, head on over to www.ethical.org.za.

Have a great week,
the Ethical Co-op team

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Natalie

    I attended a presentation of the Air Quality By-Law ammendments yesterday, which was hosted by the City of Cape Town's Air Quality department. I expected a typical "governemt style" attitude and approach... I was so pleasantly surprised! The City Of Cape Town has set a goal to have the cleanest air of any city in Africa. The "brown haze" as it was called has been analysed and industry has been given until 11 September to "clean up", which is when the new by-law kicks in. Emmision allowances and heavy polluters have been identified and a crack team of experts and watchdogs have been appointed for this to be managed and implemented. What impressed me so much about my day with this department was the open nature in which both business and governemnt have approached this issue. I applaud Neil Roussow and his team for a truly excellant piece of legislature and a most uplifting and inspiring day!

  2. Ethical Co-op » Blog Archive » Salt, and updates on the Peruvian Amazon, Biowatch and the Wild Coast.

    [...] wrote last week about the situation in the Peruvian Amazon. Well, thanks to everyone who responded - your [...]