Posts Tagged ‘mining’

Navajo President fails the Earth and the Navajo People

Navajo President fails the Earth and the Navajo People

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Posted 23 September 2011, by Calvin Johnson, Censored News, bsnorrell.blogspot.com

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Navajo President Ben Shelly, who urged the protection of the earth and respect for Dine’ culture at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, has line item vetoed the Navajo Green  Economy Office.
President Shelly’s words to the world will be meaningless if he continues to promote coal-fired power plants. The Navajo Nation already has three coal-fired power plants, with coal mines, and Shelly is pushing for another coal fired power plant.

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TOO LITTLE TO LATE
NAVAJO PRESIDENT MISSED THE OPPORTUNITY IN FEBRUARY 2011 TO SAVE THE PEAKS

By Calvin Johnson, Navajo from Leupp, Ariz.

Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com

Calvin Johnson

This is a response to a video of Navajo President Ben Shelly at the United Nations making a plea for Protection of San Francisco Peaks. The Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly as a leader of Navajo Nation had a prime opportunity in February of 2011 to negotiate usage of reclaimed water of San Francisco Peaks. At the time, The City of Flagstaff wanted to drill 6 new wells utilizing C-Aquifer on Red Gap Ranch which is city-owned land near Winslow. Then Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly then threatened to file a suit against the City of Flagstaff. But then in May of 2011, Navajo Nation and City of Flagstaff agreed to a deal regarding C-Aquifer water usage of up to 2.6 trillion gallons a year.

Why would the Navajo Nation agree to such a deal when the City of Flagstaff is selling reclaimed water for skiing? The Navajo Nation President missed the prime opportunity to negotiate the taking of the reclaimed water usage off the table. This is so (bleeped) up!!!

The City of Flagstaff wants to use clean Navajo water underlying the Navajo Nation but the Nation buckles down to City of Flagstaff (Non-Natives including Corporations). I wished our Navajo Nation leaders would take a stand and defend human rights and protect sacred sites, period.

Now am watching the video of Ben Shelly pleading for help, it is sickening — am sorry this is not defending human rights and protecting sacred sites. Maybe this will be a lesson learned from our leaders. But kudos for finally speaking up.

Calvin Johnson
PO Box 5527
Leupp, AZ 86035

Also see: Anna Rondon: Navajo president vetoes Navajo Green Economy Office funding
http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/anna-rondon-navajo-president-vetoes.html

 

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http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/navajo-president-fails-earth-and-navajo.html

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Cree George Poitras: Ottawa Tarsands Action Monday

Cree George Poitras: Ottawa Tarsands Action Monday

OTTAWA TARSANDS ACTION – Why am I attending?

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Posted 24 September 2011, by George Poitras, Censored News, bsnorrell.blogspot.com

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George Poitras is a former Chief, Mikisew Cree First Nation

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George Poitras

In the past year and even more so in the past few weeks a lot of debate has focused on the tarsands in northeastern Alberta as “ethical oil.” Advertisements taken out on the Oprah Winfrey Network by EthicalOil.org, why Oprah Winfrey has endorsed this propaganda by big oil is anyone’s guess?! The advertisement suggests why should America be dependent on Saudi Arabian oil, “a state that doesn’t allow women to drive, doesn’t allow them to leave their homes or work without their male guardian’s permission.” That there is a better alternative, “Ethical oil from Canada’s oil sands.” Apparently meaning a more human alternative.

Names synonymous of this “ethical oil” notion include Alykhan Velshi, Ezra Levant. Proponents who happily began to espouse the controversial two words include Canadian politicians like environment minister Peter Kent and prime minister Stephen Harper as they traverse the globe promoting investment in the tarsands.

The tarsands have been mined, primarily open-pit, for the past 40 years in what is known as the traditional lands of many Treaty 6 and Treaty 8 First Nations. The total tarsands deposit, the size of England, is known to be the second largest oil deposit in the world, second to Saudi Arabia. Only 3% of the total deposit has been mined in the past 40 years and Dr. David Schindler, a world renowned water expert, proved last year that there has been virtually no monitoring of what has also been characterized the largest industrial project in the world. A claim that the local Indigenous peoples have made for decades with proof of deformed fish, observation of poor water quality, receding water levels, impacts to animal health, and more recently in Fort Chipewyan, an increase in rare and aggressive cancers.

Tarsands a humane alternative?

When local physician Dr. John O’Connor raised concerns of disproportionate numbers of unusual cancers in Fort Chipewyan in 2006, the government of Canada, or physicians from the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch lodged complaints against him including a charge of “causing undue alarm” to residents of my community of Fort Chipewyan. Canada’s charges against a family physician has never before been heard of in the history of Canada. For my community of Fort Chipewyan, this unprecedented action by the government of Canada essentially signaled to us that Canada didn’t care what claims Dr. O’Connor was making or that people in Fort Chipewyan might be living in a situation with an epidemic of rare and aggressive cancers. The claims were eventually proven by an Alberta Cancer Board Study in 2009 because of our unrelenting efforts; perhaps we shamed the Canadian and Alberta governments into doing so by successfully making our concerns a part of the international debate of this “dirty oil” campaign and not because the governments felt it was the “ethical” or “humane” thing to do.

Despite this, both the Alberta and Canadian governments continue to this day, to deny there is any concern with cancers in Fort Chipewyan.

The governments of Alberta and Canada have for the past 15 years relied on the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) to monitor the Athabasca River and the fish health. Every study since then has concluded that there was little to no impacts from tarsands development on the water or the fish health. A position that was proven wrong by Dr. David Schindler. Essentially, the RAMP which is 100% funded by the oil companies and who’s data is proprietary, and the Alberta and Canadian governments have been lying to the downstream impacted communities but also to Albertans and Canadians. They both shamefully admitted this following Schindler’s study just days before Christmas in 2010.

Fishermen in Fort Chipewyan have been saving deformed, tumoured, discoloured, and other problem fish for many years. Many residents in my community have chosen not to eat any fish from the Athabasca River or Lake Athabasca, a sad commentary to impacts on a peoples way of living. In June 1970, a Suncor pipeline break spilled 19,123 barrels of oil, roughly 3 million liters, into the Athabasca River which reached Lake Athabasca. This shut down the fishing industry on Lake Athabasca for two consecutive years. The fishermen held a press conference in October 2010 in Edmonton, Alberta displaying many of the collection of problem fish. This generated further international attention to the tarsands industry and its impacts to water and fish health.

Indigenous leaders in the downstream community of Fort Chipewyan have been chastised by oil company executives when they speak publicly to the press about their concerns of impacts from tarsands. They have gone so far as threatening, that should the Indigenous leaders continue, there would be repercussions to their First Nation-owned company’s contracts within certain oil company sites. Oil company executives regularly question the Indigenous leaders when their own community members speak out publicly on issues and I have seen those members silenced.

Two years ago I attended a protest in Trafalgar Square in London, England. We drew a crowd of about 500 supporters and this protest generated so much publicity internationally by England’s BBC and Canada’s CBC who were present and did live interviews. Three weeks after this action which I dubbed the “bloody oil tour” an executive from a major oil company flew to my community to meet with my Chief & Council and in no uncertain terms stated that they didn’t like that I traveled internationally and generated so much negative publicity on the tarsands industry. They also stated that they knew of all my actions in the past years because they said they had a binder “this thick” to prove it. He further suggested that somehow I should be “silenced” or even “terminated” or there would be repercussions. Two weeks later, the First Nation-owned company contracts worth millions were terminated displacing approximately 65 employees. I chose to leave my employment shortly thereafter.

An ethical, humane future for impacted communities?

In a recent trip to the Amazon and in conversation with a colleague from Nigeria, I told him many of our issues, our concerns, the repercussions we receive for being vocal. He was in complete disbelief. He said in a million years he would not believe all of this would occur in Canada, a developed G8 country. He said Canada is known as a safe country for its citizens. Canada is known as a country that prides itself for protection of human rights within its own borders and beyond.

I also tell my fellow leaders in Fort Chipewyan and to those young, brave members of my community, that the repercussions for speaking publicly is nothing compared to what we will see in the future. That if only 3% of the total deposit has been mined and the environmental impacts are so significant, that there will be many more generations of our people who will take up this challenge and they will face much more backlash than what we are seeing today from what has become a ruthless and aggressive race to exploit the tarsands. That many of our people will continue to see the early demise of their lives from rare and aggressive cancers the same way we watched our youngest victim at the age of 28 succumb to his cancer just months after being diagnosed. That if we see our environment in such a negative state today, do we think that we are capable of handing down to future generations a healthy environment? That if Canada and Alberta today ignore and repeatedly, knowingly infringe on our Constitutionally protected Treaty Rights, will our future generations be able to meaningfully exercise their right to hunt, fish and trap? Will our people in 20 years from now be able to enjoy a traditional diet of fish, moose, ducks, geese, caribou?

While I do not condone any ill-treatment on women in Saudi Arabia, Indigenous peoples in Canada’s tarsands should not be a pawn or be sacrificed to allow certainty for Canada, Alberta and multinational corporations to exploit the tarsands at all costs! From an Indigenous perspective, watching and being victim to the 40 years of unrelenting, unfettered, unmonitored development of the tarsands, there is nothing “ethical” or “humane” about the development of the tarsands!

I will be in Ottawa on Monday, September 26th to oppose the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline because an approval means an expansion of production of tarsands by a million barrels a day, further exacerbating local Indigenous peoples grave concerns about the development of the tarsands.

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http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/cree-george-poitras-ottawa-tarsands.html

UN: Indigenous Peoples abused in race for natural resources

UN: Indigenous Peoples abused in race for natural resources

Indigenous peoples suffer abuses in race for natural resources – UN rights expert

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Posted 20 September 2011, by Brenda Norrell, Censored News, bsnorrell.blogspot.com

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Special Rapporteur James Anaya

UN News Centre

20 September 2011 
Posted at Censored News

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Extraction of natural resources and other major development projects in or near the territories of indigenous peoples is one of the most significant sources of abuse of their human rights worldwide, an independent United Nations expert warned today.

“In its prevailing form, the model for advancing with natural resource extraction within the territories of indigenous peoples appears to run counter to the self-determination of indigenous peoples in the political, social and economic spheres,” the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In a report based on answers to a questionnaire he distributed to governments, indigenous peoples and organizations, business corporations and other actors, he cited conflicting viewpoints on the potential adverse impact and benefits of such activities as mining, forestry, oil and natural gas extraction and hydroelectric projects in indigenous territories.

He said he had made it a priority to reconcile the differing views and courses of action to ensure the full protection of indigenous rights and promote best practices through a broad dialogue with governments, indigenous peoples’ organizations, corporate actors and international institutions, in which consensus-building would be a key element.

“The lack of a minimum common ground for understanding the key issues by all actors concerned entails a major barrier for the effective protection and realization of indigenous peoples’ rights,” he added, praising a new Peruvian law compelling private companies to consult indigenous communities before going ahead with major projects such as mining.

Among key concerns, Mr. Anaya included the gradual loss of control by indigenous peoples over lands, territories and natural resources; water source depletion and contamination for drinking, farming and grazing; the adverse effects of water and airborne pollution on overall community health; and an increase in infectious diseases spread by interaction with workers or settlers.

Another concern was the adverse impact on indigenous social structures and cultures, including alarming rates of alcoholism and prostitution previously unheard of among such peoples, imported by illegal loggers or miners, non-indigenous workers and industry personnel in specific projects, and increased traffic due to the construction of roads and other infrastructure.

“Submissions by indigenous peoples and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also reported an escalation of violence by government and private security forces as a consequence of extractive operations in indigenous territories, especially against indigenous leaders,” Mr. Anaya noted. “A general repression of human rights was reported in situations where entire communities had voiced their opposition to extractive operations.”

Several governments highlighted the key importance of natural resource extraction projects for their domestic economies that, reportedly accounting for up to 60 to 70 per cent of the gross national product (GNP) in some countries, with positive benefits for indigenous peoples.

Mining companies noted that indigenous peoples have been direct beneficiaries of basic infrastructure construction such as roads, communications, electricity and water services, as well as health and educational opportunities.

But most indigenous peoples underscored the adverse effects on their environment, culture and societies, which they said outweighed the minimal or short-term benefits arising out of extractive operations.

For example, a member of the Pemon people of Venezuela reported that benefits from extractive industries were not a top priority within the community, which sought “healthy communities, with no infections, in a pollution-free environment,” Mr. Anaya said.

Similarly, an organization representing the traditional authorities of the Cofan people of Colombia concluded that “indigenous peoples are left with no option other than to try to find something positive for their communities out of the disaster left behind by the extraction of oil, mineral, and other resources” in their lands.

“The vast majority of indigenous peoples’ responses, many of which stemmed from the direct experience of specific projects affecting their territories and communities, rather emphasized a common perception of disenfranchisement, ignorance of their rights and concerns on the part of States and businesses enterprises, and constant life insecurity in the face of encroaching extractive activities,” Mr. Anaya said.

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http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/un-indigenous-peoples-abused-in-race.html

Life in an unhealthy climate

 

Life in an unhealthy climate

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Posted 16 September 2011, by Mandi Smallhorne, The Mail & Guardian (M&G Media, Newtrust Company Botswana Limited and Guardian Newspapers Limited), mg.co.za

 

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Too hot to handle A firefighter battles a fire fuelled by strong winds and record temperatures in Vyksa, Russia. (Mikhail Voskresensky, Reuters)

Krish Perumal does not look forward to Durban’s summers. A ­middle-aged ­supervisor in a rubber-producing company, he was struck by asthma about 25 years ago when he was in his early 30s. “It’s worse when it’s hot and humid,” he says. “When you get bad wheezing, then you can get the flu.”

Perumal believes his condition is caused by industrial pollution — and he may be right. He lives in south Durban, home to two of South Africa’s biggest oil refineries and more than 120 industries, and more than 280 000 people. The area is a notorious pollution hot spot and a study done a few years ago showed that children here were twice as likely to get asthma as those in the northern parts of the city.

But there is reason to believe that global warming may be playing a part in the rise in respiratory disease here and elsewhere (asthma rates have been soaring around the world in the past three decades). Average temperatures in Southern Africa have risen by 1.5°C over the past century as opposed to 0.8°C globally, according to Dr Francois Engelbrecht of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The combination of higher temperatures and industrial pollutants is bad news for asthma sufferers like Perumal — and gives him a special interest in the 17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17), which will take place in Durban from November 28.

The pollutant by-product of interest here is ozone, which is something most of us connect to the hole in the ozone layer happening in the Antarctic high up in the sky. But ground-level ozone is common in our cities. It forms when nitrogen oxides (NOx, a product of combustion in cars, trucks, industrial processes and coal-fired power plants) react with volatile organic compounds in sunlight, explains Dan Ferber, co-author with Dr Paul Epstein of Changing Planet, Changing Health (University of California Press).

Ground-level ozone irritates the respiratory system, damages lung tissue and reduces lung function. It triggers coughing, chest discomfort, a scratchy feeling in the throat and other symptoms. It makes people more susceptible to respiratory infections and it exacerbates asthma and emphysema.

Effects on health
When he started working on the book, Ferber says, he had no idea what he would discover. “The overall scope of the potential health problems was surprising to me.”

Ferber says that because scientists focus on their own specialities, the public receives information about climate change piecemeal — a study that looks at how crops are being affected; research on expanding ranges for mosquitoes; insight into changing patterns of rainfall. It is only when you step back and try to take in the whole picture that you realise this should be framed “as a public health crisis”, he says.

Consider how all-encompassing the effects on health are. Most of South Africa has been malaria-free hitherto. But it is common cause that climate change will likely increase the range of the Anopheles mosquito that carries malaria. It will also alter — sometimes increasing, sometimes reducing — the range of other insects that carry disease, such as the ticks that carry Congo fever. South Africa needs to be prepared for a possible rise in insect-borne diseases.

Then there is water. “Water is the primary medium through which people in Africa will experience climate change impacts. By 2020, it is estimated that 75-million to 250-million Africans will be exposed to increased water stress,” writes Dr Mary Galvin in a forthcoming publication by the Environmental Monitoring Group, Water and Climate Change: An Exploration for the Concerned and Curious. Projections indicate that South Africa will not benefit from the fact that warmer air holds more moisture: specific climatic features mean that, overall, we will be hotter but not get much increase in useful rainfall.

Some of the rainfall will come in extreme weather events such as the recent floods in the Newcastle and Upington regions, which can damage crops and do not necessarily sink into the underground water table, instead running off and washing away precious topsoil.

What does this mean for our health? Water is, of course, a vital nutrient, but it is also crucial to a secure food supply. A reduced rainfall, combined with changes in times when crops can be planted and harvested because of higher temperatures, will likely add to greater food insecurity. Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, DC, has estimated that for every 1C increase in temperature, yields of staple grains will drop by 10%. This, of course, like all the impacts of climate change, will hit the poor hardest.

“I can say with confidence that there is a link between rising food prices and climate change,” says Ferber. Drought in Australia, wildfires in Russia and other events affect global food supply. In August, for example, China Daily reported that South Korea’s rice harvest was expected to reach a 10-year low next year because of abnormal weather conditions, which we should perhaps be calling the “new normal”.

An absence of fresh, clean water in adequate amounts for drinking and washing, coupled with undernourished people add up to a perfect health storm: water-borne diseases like cholera thrive in such conditions and malnourished people’s immune systems are unable to mount a sufficient defence.

We should be putting thought into adapting to a water-poor future, says Galvin: “Sustainable water usage solutions that could be implemented not simply by ecologically progressive households or municipalities but on a national scale include rainwater-harvesting landscapes for growing food, from commercial agriculture to small-scale farms to homestead gardens; the use of grey water to irrigate agriculture, parks and public sites; ecological treatment of sewage; dry sanitation systems such as compost toilets and pit latrines; and reducing water leaks.

“Adaptation will also require improving river and local wetland health; adjusting farming practice with resilient crops and shifting seasons; expanding the number of households with food gardens; and preparing for drought or floods.”

Heat effects on productivity
We all know about the 2003 heat wave, the hottest on record in more than 450 years, which killed about 40 000 people in Europe. Perhaps we dismiss the significance of this in our minds because the news focus was on the elderly people who died in great numbers. What went largely unnoticed at the time was a significant increase in deaths among those under 65 — demonstrating that heat has a substantial effect on younger people too. Interestingly, although far more elderly women than men died, men were about twice as likely to die as women in the younger age group.

Heat waves will be more common in future, but the increase in average temperatures alone is likely to have an impact on human health in ways that will reduce productivity, shorten life spans and decrease wellbeing significantly, as Professor Tord Kjellstrom and his South African colleagues pointed out at a seminar at the University of Johannesburg in August. Kjellstrom is an internationally recognised expert on the health impacts of climate change — he is part-time professor and visiting fellow at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University in Canberra and is developing a global programme of studies on high occupational temperature health and productivity suppression (Hothaps) that is aimed at quantifying the impacts of heat exposure at work.

In a warming world we will experience the highest temperatures during the day, while we are at work. The majority of workers will not be able to escape the heat in air-conditioned offices. They will be out in the fields harvesting crops, labouring on construction sites or in factories that are inadequately cooled — doing the work that feeds us and gives us the pleasant and useful things in life.

Professor Angela Mathee, head of the Medical Research Council’s Environment and Health Research Unit, and colleagues Joy Oba and Andre Rose have done a pilot study as part of Hothaps. They demonstrated that many outdoor workers were already exposed to alarmingly severe health and productivity impacts from heat exposure.

Focus groups in Johannesburg and Upington spoke of increased thirst, excessive sweating, exhaustion, dry noses, blisters, burning eyes, headaches, nose bleeds and dizziness, among a host of other effects including chronic tiredness: “When it is very hot, sometimes when you wake up in the morning you feel exhausted,” said one Upington participant. As temperatures rise further in the near future, symptoms like these will have to be urgently addressed by employers and the government.

Sweating it out
Excessive perspiration is a serious heat-related health concern that can become a killer. Kjellstrom spoke about South American sugar-cane cutters who sweated several litres of fluid in a day, but only brought two litres of water to work with them because they had to walk and could not carry more. Because the employers did not provide water in the field, each day they would have to wait until knock-off time to replace the deficit, which had led to a spate of life-threatening kidney conditions in relatively young workers.

The imbalance of salts that results from heavy sweating is one reason why heat exposure reduces productivity: it leads to a lessened ability to work intensively and a loss of perceptual and motor performance — even mild dehydration has been shown to decrease mental performance. The brain also sends a signal to decrease muscle tone, which leaves people feeling tired and listless.

People will be working at a slower pace — if you are working in a consistent temperature above 28°C you should work only half your normal hours, says the professor — and their risk of accidents on the job also will increase. There are psychosocial effects as well: aggression rises, for example, increasing the risk of conflict and interpersonal friction in the workplace.

In addition, Kjellstrom points out, heat in many workplaces will interact with chemicals such as solvents and pesticides used on the job; these will evaporate faster, boosting the danger of exposure for workers. And workers who wear protective clothing will be hotter while at the same time being less able to perspire as effectively. In Southeast Asia, innovators are coming up with concepts to tackle this problem. One inventor has developed a vest containing tubes of material that stay frozen solid until about 25°C — when the temperature hits 30°C you stick it in the freezer again.

South African research
“We’ve known about the effects of heat in the workplace for a long time,” says Kjellstrom. But it is only recently that people have begun to link this knowledge with the oncoming juggernaut of climate change.

Interestingly, the original research on heat and labour was done right here in South Africa about 60 years ago. Dr CH Wyndham tested the work capacity of fit young men who came to work in the hot underground of Johannesburg’s mines. He found that although about 64% of men could cope with moderate physical labour in hot conditions, only a few were able to cope with heavy labour. He decided to acclimatise them by having them exercise in a “warm gym” daily for a few weeks, after which the number who could do hard labour jumped to 29% — still less than a third. Wyndham’s concept is still in use to acclimatise and harden new recruits and men who return to the mines after holidays.

Will our future climate be hot enough to trigger these on-the-job health problems? The answer is yes. At the CSIR recently, atmospheric modeller Dr Francois Engelbrecht presented the results of six simulations or models of our future, the largest exercise of its kind ever done here. The news is not good: Southern Africa has an observed temperature increase over the past century of double the global average, and this trend will continue over the decades between now and century’s end. So if — and it’s an unlikely prospect — we manage to keep the global increase down to two degrees, Southern Africa will experience four. This means that whereas a pleasant Gauteng January day between 1960 and 2000 was usually about 25°C, it would in future be about 29°C. If, as many scientists now believe is likely, the increase is three or four degrees globally, we are going to have some stinking hot summers.

The middle class and the wealthy will be able to buy their way out of many of these impacts for the next decade or so — air conditioners and filters will protect us from the heat and pollutants and insect repellents from mozzies and ticks. And we will probably moan at the price of water and food. But climate change will affect the poor the most, worsening the divide between rich and poor and placing serious demands on the public purse.

Few hold out much hope for a meaningful and binding treaty at COP17. But the dark picture experts paint of our future health prospects if we do not act, and act now, ­provides South Africans with urgent reasons to hope — and lobby — for an outcome that holds some promise.

 

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Caravan to Black Mesa 2011

Caravan to Black Mesa 2011

Join the Caravan in Support of Indigenous Communities Who Are in Their Fourth Decade of Resisting Massive Coal Mining Operations on Their Ancestral Homelands of Big Mountain; Black Mesa, AZ. November 19th – 26th, 2011

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Posted 13 September 2011, by Brenda Norrell, Censored News, bsnorrell.blogspot.com
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Communities of Black Mesa Have Always Maintained That Their Struggle for Life, Land; Future Generations Is For Our Collective Survival.

Greetings from Black Mesa Indigenous Support,

We are excited to once again extend the invitation from Dineh resisters of the Big Mountain regions of Black Mesa in joining a caravan of work crews in support of the on-going struggle to protect their communities, ancestral homelands, future generations and planet that we all share. These communities are in their fourth decade year of resistance against the US Government’s forced relocation policies, Peabody Coal’s financial interests, and an unsustainable fossil fuel based economy.

Participating in this caravan is one small way in supporting these courageous communities who are serving as the very blockade to massive coal mining on Black Mesa. The aim of this caravan is to honor the requests and words of the elders and their families. With their guidance we will carry their wishes & demands far beyond just the annual caravans and link this struggle with social, environmental, and climate justice movements that participants may be a part of.

By assisting with direct on-land projects you are supporting families on their ancestral homelands in resistance to an illegal occupation and destruction of sacred sites by Peabody Energy. We will be chopping and hauling firewood, doing minor repair work, offering holistic health care, and sheep-herding before the approaching freezing winter months.

Indigenous nations are disproportionately targeted by fossil fuel extraction & environmental devastation; Black Mesa is no exception. Peabody Energy, previously Peabody Coal Company (the world’s largest private-sector coal company) is continuing to scheme for ways to continue their occupation of tribal lands under the guise of extracting “clean coal”.

Peabody’s Black Mesa mine has been the source of an estimated 325 million tons of greenhouse gases that have been discharged into the atmosphere.* In the 30+ years of disastrous operations, Dineh and Hopi communities in Arizona have been ravaged by Peabody’s coal mining. As a result of the massive mining operation, thousands of families have had their land taken away and been forcibly relocated. Peabody has drained 2.5 million gallons of water daily from the only community water supply and has left a monstrous toxic legacy along an abandoned 273-mile coal slurry pipeline. Furthermore, Peabody has desecrated & completely dug up burials, sacred areas, and shrines designated specifically for offerings, preventing religious practices. The continued mining by Peabody has devastating environmental and cultural impacts on local communities and significantly exacerbates global climate chaos.

A trench carved out by a Peabody dragline in order to access coal seams. Photo: Jonathan LeFaive

Relocation laws have made it nearly impossible for younger generations to continue living on their homelands. Institutional racism has fueled neglect and abandonment of public services such as water, maintenance of roads, health care, and schools. Many of the residents in the regions of Black Mesa that we’ll be visiting are elderly and winters can be extremely rough on them in this remote high desert terrain. Due to lack of local job opportunities and federal strangulation on Indian self-sufficiency, extended families are forced to live many miles away to earn incomes and have all the social amenities (which include choices in mandatory American education).

It is increasingly difficult for families to come back to visit their relatives in these remote areas due to the unmaintained roads and the rising cost of transportation. As one of their resistance strategies they call upon outside support as they maintain their traditional way of life in the face of the largest relocation of indigenous people in the US since the Trail of Tears.

May we stand strong with the elders & families of Black Mesa in their declaration that “Coal is the Mother Earth’s liver” and join them in action to ensure that coal remains in the ground! Families of Black Mesa are determined to repair and end the devastating impacts of colonialism, coal mining, and forced relocation of their communities, sacred lands, and our planet. False solutions to climate change and large scale coal extraction must be stopped!

Drawing on the inspiration of the elders & families of Black Mesa, they offer us a transformative model for the strategic, visionary change that is needed to re-harmonize our relationships with one another and with the planet. But too often Black Mesa becomes invisibilized as other human rights, environmental justice and climate justice struggles are showcased and highlighted in both the mainstream & progressive media. The truth is that all of these struggles are interconnected and central to our collective survival is the need to increase the visibility of struggles such as Black Mesa, a decades-long indigenous-led resistance to the fossil fuel industry, in related movements for human rights, environmental, climate & social justice.

Forging links between people grounded in movements based on social and ecological justice and the Black Mesa resisters (who are also grounded in these movements) is essential to address the disproportionate problems of poverty and disenfranchisement to achieve social, environmental, & climate justice.

On-Going Resistance To The Continued Desecration Of The Sacred San Francisco Peaks:

Blockade Halts Ski Resort Destruction & Desecration of Holy Mountain. Photo: www.indigenousaction.org

The struggle to protect the San Francisco Peaks is part of an international movement to protect sacred sites and is intricately connected with the struggle to protect the sacred places of Big Mountain & Black Mesa, AZ. The San Francisco Peaks has considerable religious significance to thirteen local Indigenous nations (including the Havasupai, Dine’ {Navajo}, Hopi, and Zuni.) In particular, it forms the Dine’ sacred mountain of the west, called the Dook’o’oosłííd.

In recent months the San Francisco Peaks has been desecrated by Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort with permission from the US Forest Service by cutting 40 acres of pristine forest and laying miles of pipeline to spray artificial snow made of sewage water that would be bought from the City of Flagstaff. In response, there has been a convergence on the peaks to protect what has yet to be desecrated and create a long term form of protection for the Mountain including demonstrations, encampments, multiple lockdowns, further litigation, and tribes filing a human rights complaint with the United Nations.
If you’re visiting Black Mesa, then you will be likely be traveling through the vicinity of the holy San Francisco Peaks which is located just outside of Flagstaff, AZ. Stay posted for updates & how you can support the protection of the Peaks at http://www.truesnow.org and http://www.indigenousaction.org

Support the Action in Stopping the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) “States & Nation Policy Summit” in Scottsdale, AZ; Nov 30 – Dec 2, 2011:

ALEC- a conglomerate of legislators and corporate sponsors is planning to meet for their “States and Nation Policy Summit” just outside of Phoenix, AZ (Scottsdale) from November 30-December 2, 2011 . “The group’s membership includes both state lawmakers and corporate executives who gather behind closed doors to discuss and vote on draft legislation. ALEC has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months for its role in crafting bills to attack worker rights, to roll back environmental regulations, privatize education, deregulate major industries, and pass voter ID laws”.** Arizona politicians and the private prison industry, under ALEC, finalized the model legislation which became SB 1070, the harshest anti- immigrant measure in the country and a license for racial profiling.
Thanks to ALEC, at least a dozen states have recently adopted a nearly identical resolution asking Congress to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop regulating carbon emissions (which they recently did): http://www.democracynow.org/2011/9/7/smog_v_jobs_is_obama_admin”.
A Peabody Energy representative is on the Corporate Board of ALEC. Kelly Mader, the Vice President of State Government Affairs at Peabody was given ALEC’s 2011 Private Sector Member of the Year Award. In these closed door ALEC meetings, it is no wonder that corporations such as Peabody serve state legislators their agendas on legislation which directly benefit their bottom line. Mader is due to attend the ALEC meeting in Phoenix.

Families of Black Mesa may need supporters to watch over their home and animals so that they can attend the ALEC demonstrations. Please contact BMIS if you can help with this as well as additional logistics such as funds, transportation, and lodging. Thank you!

The struggles on Big Mountain are directly connected to the struggles on the San Francisco Peaks and the movement to stop ALEC. Stay tuned for possible actions and protests in support of struggles to protect ancestral homelands & sacred sites, to stop corporate profiteering off the exploitation, suffering and degradation of us all -particularly indigenous peoples, migrants, the working class, prisoners, and essentially all of Mother Earth.

“Arizona Says NO to Criminalization, Incarceration, & Corporate Profiteering at the Expense of Our Communities” http://azresistsalec.wordpress.com/ *
For additional info on ALEC: http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

Ways you can support:
Join the Caravan: Connect with a coordinator or create a work crew in your region. Contact BMIS so that we can connect you with others who may be in your region. So far caravan coordinators are located in Prescott, Phoenix and Flagstaff, AZ; Denver, CO; Santa Cruz, CA; Eugene and Portland, OR; and the San Francisco’s Bay Area. Meeting locations and dates will be posted on the BMIS website & our facebook page as coordinators set them up. This caravan will be in collaboration with the annual Clan Dyken Fall Food and Supply Run on Black Mesa. It is of the utmost importance that each guest understands and respects the ways of the communities that we will be visiting. Prior to visiting Black Mesa, all guests must read and sign the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Guide: http://blackmesais.org/tag/cultural-sensitivity/

Host or attend regional organizational meetings in your area: We strongly urge participants to attend or organize regional meetings. Due to the large number of caravan participants in past years, we are limiting the number to just under 100 this fall. Please register early and plan on attending meetings held in your region. There you’ll engage in political education work and help regional coordinators plan logistics, fundraisers, and collect donated food and supplies ahead of time.

Trucks, chainsaws, & supplies are integral to the success of the caravan. The more trucks we have, the more wood, water and other heavy loads we can transport. Axes, mauls, axe handles, shovels, tools of all kinds, organic food, warm blankets, and did we mention trucks? — either to donate to families or to use for the week of the caravan–are greatly needed on the land to make this caravan work! We’ve got a 501-C3 tax-deductible number, so if you need that contact us. Please keep checking the BMIS website for an ongoing list of specific requests by Black Mesa residents.

A Navajo man holds up a piece of coal that is spotted with “fool’s gold”. Photo: Jonathan LeFaive

Challenge Colonialism! One of our main organizing goal’s is to highlight anti-colonial education within all the regional meetings leading up to the caravan. In addition to the Cultural Sensitivity Guide, we encourage you to bring articles, films, and other resources to your regional meetings & host discussions that further our collective understanding for transforming colonialism, white supremacy, genocide, & all intersections of oppression. We have started a resources list, which is now on the website.  Feel free to share with us any resources that you like so that we can build upon this list & strengthen our growing support network! In addition please check out our Points Of Unity.

Fundraise! Fundraise! Fundraise! As a grassroots, all-volunteer network, we do not receive nor rely on any institutional funding for these support efforts, but instead count on each person’s ingenuity, creativity, and hard work to make it all come together. We are hoping to raise enough money through our community connections for gas, specifically for collecting wood and food for host families, and for work projects.   Host events, hit up non-profits, generous food vendors, and folks in your own networks. An article that we want to highlight is ‘8 Ways to Raise $2,500 in 10 Days’. Check our website soon for this document, template letters to vendors, fundraising guidelines, and more. You can Donate here: http://blackmesais.org/donate/

Stay with a family any time of the year: Families living in resistance to coal mining and relocation laws are requesting self-sufficient guests who are willing to give three or more weeks of their time, especially in the winter. Contact BMIS in advance so that we can make arrangements prior to your stay, to answer any questions that you may have, and so we can help put you in touch with a family. It is of the utmost importance that each guest understands and respects the ways of the communities that we will be visiting. Prior to visiting Black Mesa, all guests must read and sign the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Guide: http://blackmesais.org/tag/cultural-sensitivity/
Give back to the Earth! Give to future generations!
May the resistance of Big Mountain and surrounding communities on Black Mesa always be remembered, and supported!

With love,
Black Mesa Indigenous Support

Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) is a grassroots, all-volunteer collective committed to supporting the indigenous peoples of Black Mesa in their resistance to massive coal mining operations and to the forced relocation policies of the US government. We see ourselves as a part of a people powered uprising for a healthy planet liberated from fossil fuel extraction, exploitative economies, racism, and oppression for our generation and generations to come. BMIS stands with the elders of Black Mesa in their declaration that “Coal is the Mother Earth’s liver” and joins them in action to ensure that coal remains in the ground.
Address: P.O. Box 23501, Flagstaff, Arizona 86002
Voice Mail: 928.773.8086
Email: blackmesais@gmail.com
Web: www.blackmesais.org

Facebook: Black Mesa Indigenous Support
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(Ed Note: Missing photographs were missing from the original article at the time this post was accessed.)

(Ed Note: Please visit the original site for more content associated with this article.)

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http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/caravan-to-black-mesa-2011.html

Plant data helps map potential ‘bio-cultural diversity’ hotspots

Plant data helps map potential ‘bio-cultural diversity’ hotspots

Potential ‘hotspots’ across Australia for finding plants used in Aboriginal traditional medicine have been identified through a partnership between an international biodiversity information facility and Macquarie University.

The study produced a map of potential ‘bio-cultural diversity’ hotspots – areas suitable for the occurrence of multiple species known to be used in traditional medicine. Credit: (From Gaikwad J, Wilson PD & Ranganathana S (2011) Ecological niche modeling of customary medicinal plant species used by Australian Aborigines to identify species-rich and culturally valuable areas for conservation. Ecological Modelling, in press, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.07.005)

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Posted 12 September 2011, by Staff, ECOS Magazine (Csiro Publishing), ecosmagazine.com

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The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is an international, government-funded initiative focused on making biodiversity data freely available for scientific research and sustainable development. The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) hosts the GBIF national node in Australia.

The modelling study brings together the ALA and the Customary Medicinal Knowledgebase (CMKb) research group, based at Macquarie University. Researchers used data accessed through the GBIF portal and Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (AVH) along with the latest modelling technology to identify suitable ecological niches for 414 plant species of medicinal importance.

The research, led by Macquarie University’s Professor Shoba Ranganathan, with Dr Jitendra Gaikwad as the first author, was recently published in the journal Ecological Modelling. The main outcome was a map of potential ‘bio-cultural diversity’ hotspots – areas suitable for the occurrence of multiple species known to be used in traditional medicine.

‘Many plants brought into Australia by early settlers have become an integral part of Aboriginal traditional knowledge. Global data on these plants is essential, and we obtained this from the GBIF,’ said Dr Gaikwad.

‘For Aboriginal people, their connection with the land is a matter of survival, emotion and culture – it is not just a piece of land for them.

‘So let’s say a mining industry identifies an area that is inhabited by an Aboriginal community. This methodology allows us to evaluate the cultural value of the land.

‘We have used medicinal value, but we can use other socio-economic, traditional knowledge and biodiversity conservation aspects as well.

‘The next logical step would be to select an area and validate the distribution of the species and the cultural value in the field. But before that, we need to have active participation of Aboriginal communities to validate the results.’

According to the Director of ALA, Donald Hobern, study represents ‘an exciting and novel use of multiple heterogeneous datasets to explore the linkages between phylogeny – the study of the evolutionary relatedness of life forms – ecology, chemistry and human use of biodiversity’.

Source: ALA/GBIF

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http://www.ecosmagazine.com/?paper=EC11039

Winona LaDuke Speaks on Mining and Other Environmental Issues 2011 (TV)

Winona LaDuke Speaks on Mining and Other Environmental Issues 2011 (TV)

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Posted 09 September 2011, by Staff, News From Indian Country (Indian Country Communications, Inc), indiancountrynews.com

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Winona LaDuke was the 1st American Indian woman to ever run as vice presidential candidate alongside Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket. She is a known environmental activist and a Harvard educated economist.

For the last four years, Tommy Nelson has sponsored a birthday party for Winona at the infamous Tom’s Burned Down Cafe in downtown LaPointe on Madeline Island off of northern Wisconsin Lake Superior coast. Here she discussed the impact of big corporations and their attempt to mine and exploit the lands of Native and other Americans.

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Winona LaDuke speaks on Mining and other Environmental issues 2011

Video Link:

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http://cdn.livestream.com/embed/indiancountrytv?layout=4&clip=pla_ae3032f0-5b7d-4648-a8d0-57721d82113c&color=0xe7e7e7&autoPlay=false&mute=false&iconColorOver=0x888888&iconColor=0x777777&allowchat=true&height=295&width=480

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at livestream.com

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Click here to watch the video on the original website.

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(Ed Note: Please visit the original site for more video content)

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http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12290