Benno Hansen

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  1. Oil have been found in the underground below Lake Albert on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Western companies are working with the Ugandan government to get development under way but a myriad of issues seem to delay the project: Criminal and rebel activity is up and rising, Ugandan democracy is struggling for control with the shady closed door negotiations and now US troops enter the picture. Al Jazeera summed up the situation in less than two minutes, October 14th: Recipe for an oil war Heritage Oil and Tullow Oil are guessing the 2.5 billion barrel or larger field is the largest onshore field found in sub-saharan Africa in more than two decades. Production of 150,000 barrels of oil per day by 2015 place Uganda among top 50 oil producing nations is planned. The latter company, Irish Tullow Oil, is now accused of having bribed three Ugandan ministers with 100 million USD in July 2010 in return for concessions. The ministers resigned October 2011. Tullow denies allegations, maintain an anti-bribe image and have funded a lake rescue station which they claim have already saved the lives of more than 70 local fishermen. Also in the deal are French Total and Chinese Cnooc. Those corporations are expected to claim 2/3 of the 3-4 billion USD hoped to be made annually. A leaked US embassy cable (Wikileaks, #08KAMPALA393) reveals Uganda have been asking for help stepping up security in and around the oil rich area. John Morley of Tullow Oil is quoted for saying that as oil activity on Lake Albert increase a security presence would be vital. The cable mention "several clashes on Lake Albert between oil companies and entities from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) demonstrate that oil production has increased local tensions and exacerbated cross-border hostilities". In 2007 a British drilling platform worker was killed by Congolese soldiers who claimed the barge had strayed into Congolese waters. Although the Ugandan and Congolese governments are talking and are in agreement concerning the precise geography of the border the armed forces on the Congolese side of the border are not always government-related. An intervention overdue? Several militias fight in the area and in just recent months thousands have had to fled their homes, hundreds have been kidnapped. Adding to the Congolese militias the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels as well as the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony add to the insecurity. FDLR is a Hutu group whose two top leaders are held in France and Germany on charges of crimes against humanity yet whose troops raped at least 154 civilians from July 30 to August 3, 2010, in the town of Luvungi. LRA is the Ugandan theocratic militia of self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Kony, who claims to be acting on orders from spirits sent by God, and whose ranks have been inflated by an estimated 66,000 children abducted for soldiering. October 2005 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants on Kony and four other leading members of LRA; the 33 charges include murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement and pillaging. Recently, the Ugandan presiden spent US$780 million on six Russian jet fighters. A decision that raises eyebrows in a country with a GDP of less than 500USD per capita. "We don’t live in an enemy-free neighbourhood. So, don’t look at the purchase in terms of cost. The Great Lakes region is one of the most unsafe regions." - Ugandan presiden Yoweri Museveni Since 2008 the US have donated more than 40 million USD on supporting the Local counter-militia efforts. And now 100 Green Berets have been sent as military advisers for the governments of the region. They are receiving a warm welcome. "For 20 years, the government of Uganda has been pleading with our American and European friends to help in the LRA problem, because these are international terrorists. We wanted our friends to help in providing technical support — such as intelligence — because they have the best." - Uganda's acting foreign minister Henry Okello Oryem "Any support to tackle the LRA is a good move [...] South Sudan is already working with Uganda's army in operations against the LRA, and we will be pleased to work with anyone who can help us combat the threat [...] We have large communities whose lives are ruined by these rebels, so the sooner we can end this once and for all will be something we will look forward to." - South Sudan army spokesman Philip Aguer "The Central African Republic today more than needs external assistance like that of United States [...] Many hundreds of our people have been killed, others kidnapped or displaced, their homes ransacked, destroyed, their possessions looted. It is unbearable." - CAR Deputy defence minister Jean-Francis Bozize Thus, the link between the US troops and the oil is still a "conspiracy theory". Obama and the US is simply making friends while helping the world get rid of monsters. Human Rights Watch has advocated for intervention for years. Yet at home knee-jerk reactions are dominated by right-wing isolationism/grudges and left-wing anti-war sentiments. The enemy within A recent report, "Oil Extraction and the Potential for Domestic Instability in Uganda", warns about other dangers than cross-border guerrilla warfare: the possible side-effects of a sudden large scale resource industry entering a developing economy. President Museveni, who first seems to have orchestrated the addition of a third presidential term to the constitution then won a low turnout election disputed by international observers, is already speaking of "his" oil. "If Museveni gains access to substantial oil revenue, the combination of considerable oil funds and strong presidential powers could increase the ability of his government to remain in power indefinitely. [...] Increases in corrupt behavior would essentially require secrecy in government dealings. A reduction in government transparency in oil and tax revenue management would then incentivize Museveni’s government to become increasingly autocratic in its relationship with the public and political opponents, as has so often been the pattern in other oil producing states." Also, susceptibility to the Dutch Disease should be considered: "If the government does not reinvest revenues into public works to soften the blow of economic change, domestic instability may ensue [...] The poor and disaffected youths are the most likely to turn to violence in order to redress socio-political grievances. A young, growing, and increasingly urban population indicates the potential for civil strife in Uganda. The added stress of urban migration associated with oil production may only exacerbate the dynamics behind civil strife. [...] If Museveni’s government makes its decisions public and is held accountable, it is more likely to choose anti-corruption policies that are favorable to the public interest." The report estimate the risk of civil war in Uganda as 1.96% if the new found resource wealth is handled wisely, 14.05% if not. Dutch Disease effects could be both mitigated and worsened by the fact that multiple industries are likely to boom: in 2010 firms from Russia, China, India, Australia and South Africa started operating in Uganda after finds of copper, iron ore, cobalt, tin, gold and platinum. "We must be Africa’s Norway. We must manage our oil resources in the stellar manner in which Botswana has managed its wealth from diamonds." - Bank of Uganda Governor, Emmanuel Mutebile We haven't heard much from the hopeful Iraqi politicians who once voiced similar intentions with their oil. However, it does seem Obama is at least trying to do better than his predecessor(s). And if a US president can't even go to war against someone as evil as Joseph Kony he truly can do nothing at all - yet, who knows if the Tea Party will side with Kony and his lunatic army? Learn more: The Independent (Uganda) / Oil could cause war, Capital News (Kenya) / Uganda welcomes US troops to hunt rebel leaders, Sunday Monitor (Uganda) / Here is what is at stake with Uganda’s oil, The Atlantic / Why Is Obama Sending Troops Against the Lord's Resistance Army?, allafrica.com / Uganda: Scramble for Minerals Begins.
  2. On Thursday the 15th of September 2011 the Danish right wing government of the past decade lost its slim majority. The former opposition is currently negotiating the alliance of a new government which looks like it will be more green than red. From 2001 and until recently, Denmark was run by a liberal-conservative government supported by a far right nationalist party. Although holding a narrow majority of seats in parliament, this constellation pulled through a constant flow of tax breaks and privatizations made possible by feeding the Danish People's Party lumps of – excuse me – xenophobic policies in turn for their votes. This dictatorship of a majority if there ever was one – more often than not, the remaining near-half of parliament was held from influence – is set to end, it appears, not to be replaced by a corresponding red block of parties. Firstly, because the Social Democrats have wowed to end it. Traumatized by the Iraq war, in which Denmark participated on the most narrow of parliamentary majorities, they have promised to work for a change of law to require 2/3, not 50%, of the votes for such serious decisions as wars. Secondly, because the traditional power balances of the parties were shattered by voters this time. The victors, the Socialist People's Party especially, lost eight seats combined and must rely on two supporting parties – the centrist Danish Social Liberal Party and the Marxist Red-Green Alliance – who in turn earned eight seats each. That and the occasionally possible deal with some of the right wing parties. Actual democracy, everyone is hoping. What is certain to end and even be somewhat reversed is the xenophobic policies. The mechanism of buying capitalist laws with racist or nationalist laws have been exhausted. Recently Germany was angered by Denmark reinstating border controls although abandoned everywhere in the European Union and Danes – leftist, centrist and moderately rightist alike – have witnessed too many disputes with NGOs over international law and humanitarian treaties. But will a fully “red†government replace the old one? No. Although, ironically, they were the most critical of the opposition parties when immigration laws were ever tightened, the differences between the centrists and the Marxists are too many and too big. But there is something else the entire opposition has in common: green policies! If they live up to the promises their political programs share we can expect some of the following from the next Danish government: Actual legislation on CO2 targets and reduction rate - CO2 emissions reduced by at least 40% by 2020 Half of electricity from wind and biogas produced from all major agricultural manure by 2020 Fossil energy replaced with renewable energy in electricity and heating sector by 2035 Gross energy consumption to be reduced by at least 40% and fossil energy for transport phased out by 2050 Accelerated construction of planned off shore wind farms, new near-shore wind farms and new turbines on land Increased energy saving requirements of energy companies and increased funding for energy research and development Accelerated energy renovation of public buildings and public housing Copenhagen road paywall, investment in improved public transport, accelerated infrastructure for electric cars and a tax on flight tickets Often visitors to Denmark express respect for our wind mills and green initiatives. Our country is mentioned in documentaries and international news for our sustainable solutions and bicyclists. The truth is, for the past ten years we have been showing off efforts of the Social Democratic 1990s. While the Danish People's Party and the Liberal Party harbored some of the last climate change deniers (allowing only rare environmental initiatives supported by the Conservatives) Denmark was left behind by other Scandinavian and European countries on being green. Germans now both recycle more and build windmills at least as good as ours. We botched COP15, remember? But Denmark is now back among the most ambitious of nations. And the first half of 2012 the new Danish government will hold Presidency of the Council of the European Union. So, see you in a second, green Europe. Source of green policy summary: Information.dk / Og vinderen blev det grønne Danmark. A decent summary of the election in English at The Economist / A left turn for Denmark.
  3. Wednesday the 6th of July 2011 Wangari Maathai received a honorary doctorate at Copenhagen University and spoke about her work with the Green Belt movement, the Taking Roots movie and more. Watch her speech, I recorded it for you. [15:39] Protecting forests is extremely important [...] also very important for conflict [...] many of the local conflicts that we were having, especially in East Africa, [...] were being fed by competition over resources. Especially over land, [?], farming land, water, watering points [?]. And many of these conflicts are unavoidable unless we learn to manage the resources in a responsible way, in an accountable way and also we learn to share these resources in a more equitable way. Now, these are words, but when you translate them into practicalities on the ground it is actually [?] possible to stop people fighting. If there is no water and there is only one watering point people will fight over that watering point. If the rivers stop flowing [...] people will fight. And usually when people fight, that's when [the developed, rich world hear about the developing, 3rd world and begin to wonder] 'why are they fighting?'. Well they are fighting over resources because either those resources are degraded, they are diminished or they are exhausted or they are not being shared equitably.
  4. Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer

    With a title like Climate Wars this book looks "alarmist" even to someone sick and tired of being called just that. But actually, it is far less dramatic than the action paced science fiction that may come to mind. Written by a veteran soldier with academic degrees in military history and years of experience in journalism. Based mainly on the projections made by army analysts of the world from the prognoses in the IPCC 2007 report. For those of us with academic backgrounds in ecological science and/or a couple of years of climate debate behind us several of its chapters are climate change science and policy repetition. But for me - working on mapping the links between natural resources and conflict - chapter 1 is a great summary with extra insights to the geopolitics of predicted climate change impacts. And the factual chapters are interspersed with scenarios which are great and briefly outlined below. Being eager to dissect the book for information I find the structure of the factual / non-scenario chapters a bit too mixed up to help make the book as a whole more of a page turning thriller. COP15, for example, is summarized in chapter 6, Real World Politics. Perhaps I could have done with the part about the Copenhagen Accord [p. 209]: Only a last minute intervention by the British, Americans and Australians, who called for an adjournment and used it to bundle the hapless Rasmussen out of the chair [My emphasis. I have a thing about the obvious incompetence of the Danish prime minister], prevented the 'Copenhagen Accord' from being formally rejected at the plenary session. During the recess, they managed to negotiate a last minute compromise in which the accord was neither accepted or rejected. It was simply 'noted'. And with that, everybody went unhappily off to bed and thence to the airport. But not only is that entire chapter about COP15 - the topic is mentioned several other places in the book. Similar little issues with, for example, the necessary scientific explanations which come and go in different chapters. Exactly where they are needed, perhaps, if you don't know them already and isn't a "book dissector" like me. And underlining the fact that diplomacy and war are each others extensions. The Dyer scenarios The future scenarios are not predictions. They are more like not unlikely cases told with some necessary filling from Dyer's imagination. The longer into the future one tries to imagine the more uncertainty is in play - but the first scenarios are quite imaginable. Although summed up in chronology below they are not necessarily interlinked while also not mutually exclusive. Incident scenarios Scenario 2, Russia 2019: The Colder War. The oil and gas revealed beneath the melting North Pole and the new trade routes opening between fewer and fewer icebergs does not lead to war between Russia and the USA. Of course. But it does lead to a lot of discussions on interpreting traditions for drawing sea borders as well as incidents of alleged violations of said disputed borders. Not just regarding drilling but also with incidents of detained fishermen. After years of non-violent conflict - during which the negotiations under UNFCCC has suffered greatly - Russia comes out much stronger: Its northern shores have benefited most from new sea routes due to their head start with a strong fleet of sea ice capable ships and well settled infrastructure, they have strong claims for some of the new resources and it's all coupled with some positive climatic impacts on the nations agriculture. Scenario 3, United States 2029: The US-Mexican border is finally sealed off forcefully and completely after surges of refugee influx caused by runaway desertification in a country whose farmers are already struggling financially. The United States of Mexico collapses and several northern regions are effectively ruled by warlords. Inside the USA a strong ethnic group of Mexican heritage is increasingly in opposition to the rest of the country. Scenario 4, Northern India 2036: India and Pakistan have shared glacier fed rivers for their water supply for decades although otherwise having a periodically hostile relationship. Droughts worsened by climate change, growing populations and increasing consumption have tempted governments to blame the hardships of their peoples on externalities - the neighbours - and forced Pakistan to ration food. After years of fragile peace a military coup and an attack on a dam escalates into an exchange of nuclear warheads. The result is hundreds of millions of casualties and two devastated countries still ruled by the same governments. Scenario 7, China 2042: During the '30ies two kinds of terrorist groups are added to the ones previously known to be desperate enough: some from disgruntled oil exporting countries experiencing unforeseen financial losses and some from within the West made up of "leftists" furious at their governments for doing much too little of what they have been asking for (renewable energy etc.) while stepping up efforts on what they have been arguing against (geo-engineering, nuclear power etc.). The former cannot attack inside the West and instead aim at those of their neighboring countries who have begun exporting, for example, sunlight generated power. The latter accomplishes some minor attacks on airlines and even a more serious one on a nuclear power plant. While the world heats and the people of the West become increasingly divided over geo-engineering suddenly China and Indonesia acts without anyone's agreement. The Earth is dimmed by "artificial volcanic sulfur" being released into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, shortly after the project has begun working a real mega-size volcanic eruption triples the effect. The following years harvests fail world wide: hundreds of million of people die from starvation and almost as many from the armed conflicts, local genocides and mass-migration it incites. Scenario 1, The Year 2045: The EU has collapsed and the Northern Union of Scandinavia, Poland, Germany, Benelux and France is fending off hordes of immigrants while the north of Italy has separated itself from the south of Italy. Russia is enjoying relative prosperity due to positive effects on its agriculture but is also facing some trouble over disputed Siberian territories eyed by a re-united China. Britain and Japan is guarding their shores fiercely while stacking nuclear arms. Temperatures are up and still rising. Scenario 6, United States and United Kingdom 2055: The American people never learned to understand the problem of climate change. Peak oil hits hard and the globalized food trade largely collapses: "in this new and unforgiving world, self-sufficiency was the sole basis for security" [p. 182]. Gulf Coast states are devastated by hurricanes and floods, California's agriculture collapses from perpetual drought. A third party - called "The Goddies" - gains major political influence and the borders are shut tight. Similarly in Europe, the northern countries are getting overrun by people leaving the southern EU states. European Union collaboration starts to strain as food aid is sent south and northern borders tighten despite treaties. Increasingly, the border patrols sealing off Africa and the Middle East is made up of soldiers from northern Europe but eventually these countries decide to pull back and guard only their own territories. Multi-year scenarios: Scenario 5: A Happy Tale: Sincere and determined action is taken to combat climate change - but only after conversely harsh shocks from peak oil causing price leaps, a series of brutal natural disasters around the world and a Bangladesh threat a radical geoengineering initiative on their own if the rest of the world does not cooperate in combination shake up humanity. Global diplomacy works - but too late and too little. A green society keen on geoengineering is created but only some are fortunate enough to survive with it. Scenario 8, Wipeout: 150-200 years into the future the average temperature has climbed by about 9 degrees from failure to curb climate change. Two groups of civilized settlements survive along the Arctic shores and small, more primitive societies here and there where conditions allow. Inland territories on continents suffer complete desertification. Increasingly, the oceans start to smell like rotten eggs. A process is being initiated in which hydrogen sulfide is being released to deteriorate the quality of air for all breathing forms of life while also breaking down the ozone layer. Which in turn will help scorch the remaining life in ultraviolet radiation. Only the harshest and luckiest life forms will make it to the other side of the "greenhouse extinction" event. A phenomenon that was known to paleontologists, not climatologists. The progress of which no human will live to experience, only few will recognize as it starts. So, Dyers book is really good. But my own will be even better! ;-) Related info Video interview with transcript: Democracy Now!, July 2010 / Gwynne Dyer on "Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats", Gwynne Dyer at Wikipedia, Gwynne Dyer's website. Plus the following video interviews / speeches:
  5. Rebecca Sargent at a piece of conflict has been reading CLIMATE CHANGE, CONFLICT AND FRAGILITY - Understanding the linkages, shaping effective responses (pdf), a report by Dan Smith and Janani Vivekananda of International Alert (It's from November 2009 and a copy of it has been waiting on my hard disk for me to read it for quite a while now. But why not check out Rebecca's take on it right away?). Part one - Exacerbation of conflict in fragile states during climate change One needs only see the example of the Haitian earthquake, the current flooding in Pakistan or even the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in the southern US to know that extreme weather can have an effect on peace and security in an area. [...] Current international negotiations on reducing global warming and responding to climate change almost entirely ignore the aspect of this heightened risk of conflict. [...] Managing water supply is vital. Not only is it necessary for human life, but water shortages also affect agriculture causing increased food insecurity, especially for the poor. [...] Water shortages and food insecurity often lead to violent conflict where poverty, weak governance, political marginalization and corruption reign supreme. [...] Migration of people increases the likelihood of conflict, as newcomers are seen as an unwanted burden that compound social pressures or even transfer conflict from one location to another. Attempting to block immigration with regulations and physical barriers may exacerbate the conflict risk. Part two - Policy and adaptation recommendations for reducing conflict risk Good governance means increased resilience to violent conflict or poverty. [...] Many rich countries will be simultaneously shifting to low-carbon economies to meet demands on climate change adaptability. This shift must be peace-friendly and supportive of the adaptive development happening in poorer countries. For example, a switch to bio-fuel in richer countries caused food prices to rise by 30% in 2008, which directly caused violence in over 30 countries. Rebecca's final comment isn't from the report: If these crises are compounded and not isolated to one location within a nation, or result in large-scale destruction of entire areas, even rich states may be unable to deal with the crises that emerge. The expectations in richer states for action is higher, therefore state failure may be reacted to with all the more intense violence. [caption id="attachment_2517" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Figure 1, page 10, chapter 2.3 Climate change in fragile states."][/caption] The report exists in a context of development aid hence to some degree focus on how foreign aid from rich countries should change. From the Conclusion: It is wrong to imply that henceforth there will be old-style development with adaptation on top. [...] it seems likely that much and probably most expenditure on adaptation will simply be indistinguishable from expenditure on development because the activities will be fused. The over all conclusion is summed up in five bullet points: Adaptation to climate change needs to be conflict-sensitive. Peacebuilding needs to be climate-proof. A low-carbon economy must be supportive of development and peace. Poor countries’ social capacity to understand and manage climate and conflict risks must be strengthened. Climate-related migration should be planned for and coped with peacefully.
  6. During the end of September the "Arctic nations" - Canada, Russia, Norway, the United States and Denmark - met in Moscow to agree on territorial claims. (Strangely, I didn't notice any coverage at all in Danish media - while even Al-Jazeera warmed up for it.) "Serious political and economic interests are indeed crossing over in the Arctic. But I have no doubt that problems, including the continental shelf problem, can be solved in the spirit of partnership. It is well known that it is difficult to survive in the Arctic on your own. Nature itself makes people, nations and states help each other there. Unfortunately we are faced with alarmist predictions of a looming battle for the Arctic. We are monitoring the situation and making responsible forecasts." - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin "No one problem of contemporary Arctic can be resolved by one country alone. So that's why I think that we are doomed to co-operate in the Arctic. And military confrontation especially is completely counterproductive." - Russian Arctic expert Lev Voronkov Russia plans to invest 312.8 billion US dollars on exploration and promise extra tax breaks for oil corporations wanting to do business in the Arctic. They have sent a submarine to plant the Russian flag on the sea bed but complain about NATO's presence. The Arctic is thought to contain 25% of the planet's undiscovered oil and gas, about 200 billion barrels of oil. "The industry has been around the world discovering easy oil and gas there are only the more difficult and riskier regions left - and the Arctic is one of them" - Manouchehr Takin, Centre For Global Energy Studies "It is a reckless prospecting endeavour, trying to find new oil reserves in this fragile and pristine environment" - Greenpeace protestor I am reminded of George Monbiot's speech at Klimaforum09 (alternative COP15): "If governments were serious about climate change [...] they would be putting proposals here at Copenhagen this week to determine which parts of carbon reserves would be left in the ground. [...] they would also be proposing a total global moratorium on all prospecting for new reserves of coal, oil and gas." We have already found more than enough fossil fuel reserves to cause extreme climate change. We don't need the Arctic reserves to do that. A fact so blindingly obvious since they are only becoming accessible because of the melting ice caps. Sources include: Reuters / Russia's Putin urges Arctic resources deal, BBC / Arctic summit in Moscow hears rival claims and BBC / Melting ice opens up potential for Arctic exploitation.
  7. German scholar Wolfgang Sachs talked about sustainable development versus economic growth in Copenhagen on invitation by The Ecological Council, The European Environment Agency and the Danish newspaper Information. Wolfgang Sachs is a former professor, former chairman of Greenpeace Germany, author of several books and contributor to the IPCC. Sachs introduces with “the four directions†which are his logical answers to scarcity. Then his talk is divided in nine points; some skipped, others expanded. Focussing on growth, the efficiency paradox, green investments, sufficiency and commons here are a selection of quotes and notes. Introduction: The four directions “Let us speak about the success of Copenhagen [laughter from the crowd] everybody who is right in his mind, in the world, knows that we are entering a new historic age. Everybody who is clear in his mind knows that, let's call it universal encompassing environmental scarcity is to be with us for the 21st century.†“There are four possible reactions. [...] the first logical answer is, well, keep out people who might add to the aspirations; so it is a logical answer to go for exclusion. [...] Second logical answer when scarcity is looming [...] expansion is a logical response [nuclear power, genetic technology, capture and storage of CO2, geoengineering]. Third, [...] get better in the way we use things; so efficiency is another logical answer. [...] Fourth, [...] revise the aspirations.†Growth (11-17 minutes) “Growth [...] it is a very young phenomenon. Of course for many thousand, two thousand years certainly, humanity has lived without steady economic growth. More so, classical economists - Adam Smith, Malthus, [?] - still do not really have the idea about steady accelerating growth. Yes, there was the idea around that you might increase prospect [...] at some point it will kind of level out, it's not going to be, if you want, a human condition.†“The idea of permanent economic growth is an offspring of the fossil age.†Before second world war governments did not see economic growth as their main objective. Growth philosophy a product of the post-war effort to curb unemployment, thus only 40-50 years old. Efficiency paradox (22-28 minutes) Efficiency paradox: Efficiency leads to consumption. “The direct rebound effect is that once you can do something more efficiently you do more of the same thing. […] The indirect rebound effect is even more important: […] Where does the money go? […] Whereever you look it is very likely that there will be new energy and material demand associated with it.†For example, I bought a bike about a week ago. I use it to transport myself to and from work so it already did about 100 kilometers. That's a couple of kilos of CO2 saved right there. However, it is the stated policy of the Danish government to sell unused carbon quotas. The money they use on tax cuts for the rich and for companies. Thus, my green investment and biking effort is funding luxury yachts, stock market speculation and I don't know what else. “The precautionary principle [...] requires we begin research, debate, social experiments about how to live well with less or no economic growth.†Green investments (33-37 minutes) “Investments today shape the economy of tomorrow.†“There is a common ground [...] between green economy and degrowth. We need green investments because we need a different infrastructure. [Even if it comes with short term growth.] In the mid to long term a real green new deal has to incorporate a perspective of degrowth.†Sufficiency and the commons (37-51 minutes) “Cars are built for intermediate performance levels.†Effort is wasted in designing for top speed etc. “The more unequal a society is the less happy people are.†Unhappiness has environmental consequences as well as growth incentives, therefore promoting equitability creates sustainability. “If we'd had to pay for Wikipedia, we wouldn't have it.â€
  8. As seen on Global Voices: Russia: Unknown People in Masks and Police Attack Environmentalists From 20 to 40 young people in white masks attacked the camp of the defenders of the Khimki forest park [RUS], Igor Podgorny [RUS] and Novaya Gazeta [RUS] reported. The police intervention didn't help – instead several environmentalists and journalists were detained. Sounds nasty. By now a couple of main stream international media have picked up the story. Like AP: Police detain Moscow forest activists Russian police on Friday detained two journalists and 15 protesters at a suburban Moscow forest where they have been living to try to protect the woods from destruction. [...] The forest in Khimki has been the focus of controversy for years over plans to chop down much of it for highway construction. Khimki lies on the increasingly jammed route from Moscow to Sheremetyevo International Airport and St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city. A local newspaper editor who reported extensively on the issue was severely beaten in 2008 and left wheelchair-bound and brain-damaged. [...] The activists called the police at the break of dawn on Friday when a group of some 100 young men who had covered their faces blocked the campsite, thus allowing the [tree chopping in an alledgedly illegal area] work to resume, Moscow Regional police said in a statement. An associated protest was similarly cracked down upon reports The Moscow Times: 5 Detained in Bid to Give Khimki Timber to Putin “The police swooped down on us and detained us, acting in a very rude and harsh fashion and turning a peaceful event into a brawl,†[head of the Left Front group, Sergei] Udaltsov said. Also read: Environmental activists violently attacked by timber workers and Watch: Greenpeace activist violently attacked by bluefin tuna fishermen
  9. Now, this is the Google Search of the Day! 49 years old Connie Hedegaard, member of the Danish Conservative People's Party and minister for Climate and Energy has been appointed European Commissioner for the Climate. The EU didn't have a commissioner of the climate before. According to Barroso her job will be to retain the leadership role of Europe in global efforts to reign in greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. It will include the tasks and responsibilities of the former Commissioner for the Environment. Her Google quote of the day is noteworthy too: "Governments from all over the world are delivering before the climate conference. US and China have come forward. All across the globe, things are moving. This is good news" Good luck, Connie. AP / Barroso unveils lineup of new European Commission EU commission unveils new faces, new portfolios Photogallery of new commissioners at Wall Street Journal Connie Hedegaard entry at Wikipedia
  10. Sometimes researchers are blamed of being alarmists stirring up fears of a fictional dystopia by the business-as-usual crowd. But it seems a forewarning of conflict over oil in Peru is proceeding according to exactly such a warning. The news first... 40+ dead at protest In extension of free trade agreements the Peruvian government has plans for 'developing' the Amazon homelands of many indigenous communities - opening it for oil, mineral, logging, and agricultural exploitation. Locals have been protesting some of these initiatives claiming they are unconstitutional and in violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. When police intervened fighting erupted. Body counts wary; one is as high as 81. President Alan Garcia Perez is claimed to have been behind a massacre on suspects of being Maoist guerrillas in 1986. A former army colonel turned politician is siding with the protesters. An arrest warrant has been issued on protest leader Alberto Pizango who has gone into hiding. Sources: Upside Down World / 50 Days of Protest and One Massacre in the Peruvian Amazon | Peruanista blog | The New York Times / 9 Hostage Officers Killed at Peruvian Oil Facility | AP / 9 more police killed in Amazon protests in Peru | AP / At least 31 killed in Peru Amazon clashes | Mongobay / Oil or Death in the Amazon Peer reviewed prophesies A 2008 paper on PLoS ONE discussed this ongoing and accelerating exploitation in "the most species-rich part of the Amazon". From the paper: Without improved policies, the increasing scope and magnitude of planned extraction means that environmental and social impacts are likely to intensify. [... We] consider the conflicts where the blocks overlap indigenous peoples' territories. Oil and gas development in the western Amazon has already caused major environmental and social impacts. Direct impacts include deforestation for access roads, drilling platforms, and pipelines, and contamination from oil spills and wastewater discharges. In Peru, hydrocarbon blocks now overlap 20 protected areas. Thirteen of these protected areas preceded creation of the oil blocks and lack compatibility studies required by the Protected Areas Law. the history of oil and gas extraction in the western Amazon is one of massive ecological and social disruption, the future need not repeat the past. No, it need not. But it just did. Heed the warnings of those who reason with statistics and logic. Finer, M., Jenkins, C., Pimm, S., Keane, B., & Ross, C. (2008). Oil and Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, and Indigenous Peoples PLoS ONE, 3 (8) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002932 Photo credit: Independent Journalist via Amazon Watch
  11. Thursday and Friday this week the top boys and girls of the European Union meet in Brussels. EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and Europe's commissioner for external relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, have prepared a report on climate change and security risks in advance of the meeting. Today the conclusion of the report is being quoted in literally every media across the world. Here are a few samples. BBC / EU warns of climate change threat. An EU report says climate change will have a growing impact on global security, multiplying existing threats such as shortages of food and water. Financial Times / Climate 'threatens' European security. Climate change poses serious security risks for the European Union, ranging from sharper competition for global energy resources to the arrival of numerous “environmental migrants†[...] In the Middle East for example, “existing tensions over access to water are almost certain to intensify ... leading to further political instability with detrimental implications for Europe’s energy security and other interests†[...] “A further dimension of competition for energy resources lies in potential conflict over resources in Polar regions which will become exploitable as a consequence of global warming.†[...] “Already today climate change is having a major impact on the conflict in and around Darfur.†With Canadian perspective: Political Crisis Looms In Arctic, Report Says. "The United States should not underestimate Canadian passions on this issue [...] Unless Washington leads the way toward a multilateral diplomatic solution, the Arctic could descend into armed conflict." - former U.S. Coast Guard commander Scott Borgerson. EUobserver.com / EU must boost military capabilities in face of climate change. The EU and member states should further build up their capabilities with regards to civil protection, and civil and military crisis management and disaster response instruments to react to the security risks posed by climate change [...] "Significant decreases [in crop yields] are expected to hit Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia and thus affect stability in a vitally strategic region for Europe," predicts the report, while "water supply in Israel might fall by 60 percent over this century." [...] "Some of these recommendations may well be sensible, but there's no way of knowing until they're fleshed out. The devil is in the detail. It's important to know what powers the EU will assume in the event," said Tony Bunyan, head of civil liberties group Statewatch. Benno Hansen is the author of Ecowar - a blog about links between conflict and natural resources. Image credit: Infomatique. Image licensed under a Creative-Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.