Planet Watch
Waj√£pi

Protect indigenous rights in biodiversity framework

Amnesty International cautioned¬†against potential threats to indigenous peoples’¬†rights in the monitoring process for progress towards the Global Biodiversity Framework. The organization emphasized the imperative for states to engage in consultations with indigenous communities and secure their “free, prior, and informed consent” in conservation projects, in line with the¬†Universal Declaration on¬†the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The statement warned against “fortress conservation” methods in which original inhabitants¬†are forcibly evicted from protected areas.¬†(Photo of¬†Waj√£pi indigenous people in Brazil via¬†Mongabay)

Planet Watch
anthropocene

Sixth mass extinction lops branches off tree of life

The sixth mass extinction, primarily driven by human activities, is more dire than previously anticipated, with entire branches on the tree of life now disappearing, finds a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers from Stanford University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico assessed 5,400 genera of terrestrial vertebrates, including 34,600 species. The staggering results: 73 genera have become extinct since 1500 AD. This rate of extinction surpasses the last million years by 35 times. In other words, in just five centuries, human actions have triggered a surge of genus extinctions that would have otherwise taken 18,000 years. The researchers refer to this as a “biological annihilation.”¬†(Photo: CounterVortex)

Southeast Asia
Dhamma Sakyamuni

Malaysia rainforest at issue in fight over historic monastery

A Buddhist monastery carved out of a cave complex in the rainforest of Malaysia stands to be evicted after losing a legal appeal in its case against a cement manufacturer. The Court of Appeal ruled for Associated Pan Malaysia Cement in the case brought by the century-old Dhamma Sakyamuni Caves Monastery, finding that the company has the right to evict “squatters” from the tract at issue in a limestone massif known as Gunung Kanthan‚ÄĒdespite the fact that it lies within the Kinta Valley National Geopark. The forested massif is home to several endangered species of both flora and fauna, and most of it has already been cleared for quarries. After the appeals court ruling, the Perak state government formed a special committee to mediate in the conflict. The Dhamma Sakyamuni monks pledge they will resist eviction. (Photo via¬†Free Malaysia Today)

The Amazon
yasuni

Win for rainforest in Ecuador elections

Winning 60% support¬†in Ecuador’s election is a ballot measure to permanently bar oil drilling from Yasun√≠ National Park, a world biodiversity hotspot in the Amazon rainforest. Parastatal PetroEcuador must now halt extraction at Bloc 43, which lies near the heart of the reserve. Likewise approved by a wide margin was a referendum on halting copper, gold and silver mining activity in the Choc√≥ Andino de Pichincha, a biosphere reserve outside of Quito. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Mexico
maiz

Podcast: Mexico and the struggle for the genetic commons

In Episode 166 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses how a little-noted US-Mexico dispute on trade and agricultural policy has serious implications for the survival of the human race. Washington is preparing to file a complaint under terms of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement over Mexico’s decree banning imports of GMO corn, slated to take effect in January 2024. Concerns about the (unproven) health effects of consuming GMO foods miss the real critique‚ÄĒwhich is ecological, social and political. GMO seeds are explicitly designed as part of an “input package” intended to get farmers hooked on pesticides and petrochemical fertilizers, and protect the “intellectual property” of private corporations. Agribusiness, which can afford the “input package,” comes to dominate the market. Eased by so-called “free trade” policies, agbiz forces the peasantry off the market and ultimately off the land‚ÄĒa process well advanced in Mexico since NAFTA took effect in 1994, and which is related to the explosion of the narco economy and mass migration. The pending decree holds the promise of regenerating sustainable agriculture based on native seed stock. It is also a critical test case, as countries such as Kenya have recently repealed similar policies in light of the global food crisis. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Sin Ma√≠z No Hay Pa√≠s)

Africa
Rift Valley

African dissent from biodiversity protocol

The UN Biodiversity Conference, or COP15, concluded¬†in Montreal¬†with what is being hailed as a landmark agreement to address the current¬†unprecedented loss of species, now termed the planet’s sixth mass extinction. The centerpiece of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, conceived as a match to the Paris Agreement on climate change, is the so-called “30×30” pledge‚ÄĒwith countries committing to protect 30% of their territory for habitat preservation by 2030. The deal earmarks $30 billion per year to flow from wealthy countries to poor ones to assist in conservation programs. But the financial commitments are not binding, and were assailed by countries in the developing world as inadequate. After an all-night session,¬†the gavel was brought down on the deal minutes after the delegation¬†from the Democratic Republic of Congo pressed outstanding criticisms. This was decried by the DRC, Uganda and other African delegations.¬†A representative from Cameroon protested: “What we saw was a force of hand.”¬†(Photo of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley via Pixabay)

Planet Watch
maori

New Zealand declares ‘climate emergency’

The New Zealand parliament has passed a motion declaring a “climate emergency,” joining a growing number of nations that have formally acknowledged the crisis and approved similar declarations. The motion was supported by the Labour Party, the Greens and Te PńĀti MńĀori, while the National Party and ACT opposed it. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern moved the motion, calling climate change “one of the greatest challenges of our time,” and citing the “devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders.” The motion also notes “the alarming trend in species decline and [the] global biodiversity crisis, including the decline in Aotearoa‚Äôs indigenous biodiversity.” (Photo: Shutterstock via The Conversation)

The Amazon
TIPNIS

Bolivia: IACHR to hear TIPNIS case

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) formally agreed to hear a complaint filed by 64 indigenous communities in Bolivia’s eastern rainforest, accusing the Bolivian state of violating their territorial rights under the administration of ousted president Evo Morales. The complaint charges that Bolivian authorities undertook to build a highway through the Isiboro-S√©cure National Park & Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) without consulting or obtaining the consent of indigenous inhabitants. It also alleges that the government illegally used force to break up the cross-country “VIII Indigenous March” that was called to protest the road construction in 2011.¬†(Photo via Bolivia Diary)

Planet Watch
landgrab

Destruction of nature linked to new pandemics

Leaders from the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the World Health Organization and the World Wide Fund for Nature joined to issue a stark warning that pandemics such as COVID-19 are a direct result of the destruction of nature caused by human activity. In an op-ed published by The Guardian, top figures from each organization state that the destruction of forests and other habitats, coupled with trafficking in wildlife, is causing a growing number of animal diseases to migrate to human hosts. In a call to action ahead of the UN Biodiversity Summit, the three representatives cite prior examples of environmental destruction that triggered new virus outbreaks in humans. (Photo: Schadomski/DW, used with permission)

Watching the Shadows
conspiranoia

Podcast: COVID-19 and conspiracy theory

In Episode 51 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the dangerous, irresponsible and politically weaponized claims being avidly propagated about COVID-19. In addition to paving the way for Facebook and other platforms being given greater power to censor content, these claims serve to delegitimize any critique of actual abuses of power by the medical establishment, government and corporations. Worse, claims originating from social-media trolls and the yellow press are being weaponized by the US State Departmentand Chinese Foreign Ministry as propaganda in their New Cold War. Whether the virus originated in a Chinese government lab in Wuhan or the US government lab at Fort Detrick is probably unknowable, and of limited relevance to the dilemma of how to resist the fast-consolidating biological police state. Listen on SoundCloud. (Photo via Twitter)

East Asia
wenzhou

China: internal resistance to bio-police state

“Citizen journalists” and “netizens” in China who are critical of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak are being “disappeared”‚ÄĒbut online criticism is spreading faster than official censors can contain it, in by far the biggest eruption of dissent under Xi Jinping’s rule. At least one city, Wenzhou, has seen a street protest over the draconian controls the government is instating, in open defiance of the lock-down. Even voices from within China’s political establishment are saying this could be the biggest challenge to the regime’s legitimacy since 1989. (Image via¬†YouTube)

The Amazon
amazon

‘Development’ deal to ‘protect’ (=destroy) Amazon

The US and Brazil announced an agreement to promote private-sector development in the Amazon rainforest. US officials said a $100 million fund will be established to “protect biodiversity” by supporting businesses in hard-to-reach areas of the forest. As if to drive home how cynical all this is, just days later¬†Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro in his address to the UN General Assembly unabashedly asserted his right to go on destroying the Amazon, saying it is a “fallacy” to describe the Amazon as the heritage of humanity and a “misconception” that its forests are the lungs of the world. (Image via Veganist)