How do we grieve the death of a river? — Spotted Horse Press by Winona LaDuke

How do we grieve the death of a river? Written by Winona LaDuke   “Our people blocked the road. When the troops arrive, we will face them .”– Ailton Krenak, Krenaki People, Brazil  This eighteen months saw three of the largest mine tailings pond disasters in history.  Although they have occurred far from northern Minnesota’s pristine waters, we may want to take heed as we look at a dozen or more mining projects, on top of what is already there, abandoned or otherwise. These stories, like many, do not make headlines. They are in remote communities, far from the media and the din of our cars, cans and lifestyle.  Aside from public policy questions, mining safety and economic liability concerns, there is an underlying moral issue we face here:the death of a river. As I interviewed Ailton Krenak, this became apparent. The people in southeastern Brazilian call the river Waatuh or Grandfather. “We sing to the river, we baptize the children in this river, we eat from this river, the river is our life,”  That’s what Ailton Krenak, winner of the  Onassis International Prize, and a leader of the Indigenous and forest movement in Brazil, told me as I sat with him and he told me of the mine waste disaster. I wanted to cry. How do you express condolences for a river, for a life, to a man to whom the river is the center of the life of his people? That is a question we must ask ourselves. November 2015’s Brazilian collapse of two dams at a mine on the Rio Doco River sent a toxic sludge over villages, and changed the geography of a world.  The dam collapse cut off drinking water for a quarter of a million people and saturated waterways downstream with dense orange sediment. As the LA Times would report, “Nine people were killed, 19 … listed as missing and 500 people were displaced from their homes when the dams burst.” The sheer volume of water and mining sludge disgorged by the dams across nearly three hundred miles is staggering: the equivalent of 25,000 Olympic swimming pools or the volume carried by about 187 oil tankers. The Brazilians compare the damage to the BP oil disaster, and the water has moved into the ocean – right into the nesting area for endangered sea turtles, and a delicate ecosystem. The mine, owned by Australian based BHP Billiton, the largest mining company in the world, (and the one which just sold a 60-year-old coal strip mine to the Navajo Nation in 2013) is projecting some clean up. Renowned Brazilian documentary photographer Sebastiao Salgado, whose foundation has been active in efforts to protect the Doce River, toured the area and submitted a $27 billion clean-up proposal to the government.  “ Everything died. Now the river is a sterile canal filled with mud,” Salgado told reporters. When the mining company wanted to come back, Ailton Krenak told me,  “we blocked the road.” They didn’t get the memo. – Read more at: http://americanindiansandfriends.com/news/how-do-we-grieve-the-death-of-a-river-written-by-winona-laduke#sthash.oVTqm8uZ.dpuf

Source: How do we grieve the death of a river? — Spotted Horse Press by Winona LaDuke

Antarctica shaping up as 21st century geopolitical hotspot – Nature, News, Society – NZEDGE

Antarctica shaping up as 21st century geopolitical hotspot The locale of one of today’s greatest real estate development grabs might surprise you. It’s not Dubai, Las Vegas, or Shanghai, but the frozen continent that rests at the end of the world. Writing in The New York Times in late December 2015, Simon Romero describes increased activity from various global players, including Russia building its first Orthodox church (with logs imported from Siberia), China’s plans to operate five bases (complete with indoor badminton court in its Great Wall Station), and India’s spaceship-looking Bharathi base, built on stilts and interlocking shipping containers. “An array of countries is rushing to assert greater influence here,” Romero writes, “with an eye not just toward the day those protective treaties expire, but also for the strategic and commercial opportunities that exist right now.” Why the race to the bottom? “The newest players are stepping into what they view as a treasure house of resources,” University of Canterbury School of Social and Political Sciences Professor Anne-Marie Brady told the Times. A treaty banning mining in Antarctica—which shields coveted reserves of iron ore, coal, and chromium—is expected to come up for review by 2048 and the continent’s mineral, oil, and gas deposits are all highly prized. The Times article details how researchers recently found deposits that hint at the existence of diamonds in the region and geologists estimate the area holds at least 36 billion barrels of oil and natural gas. Rather than the desolate, monolithic icescape of popular imagination, Antarctica is shaping up to be a 21st century geopolitical hotspot. Professor Brady is perhaps the world’s foremost scholar at navigating Antarctica politics. Editor of The Emerging Politics of Antarctica (2012, Routledge Advances in International Relations and Global Politics), a volume that examines the post-Cold War challenges facing the continent’s governance, Professor Brady specializes in subject matter related to the power and influence of China, New Zealand’s largest trading partner and the nation that arguably has the fastest-growing operations in Antarctica. Prof. Brady has published groundbreaking research in the field, covering China’s modern propaganda system and the nation’s relationships with Antarctica and the Pacific, as well as major revisionist histories of the Long March and of New Zealand’s national icon, Rewi Alley.

Source: Antarctica shaping up as 21st century geopolitical hotspot – Nature, News, Society – NZEDGE

The Arctic Paradox Poses Questions about Sustainable Development – Guest Blog by Christine Russell – Scientific American Blog Network

Call it a contradiction of glacial proportions—an Arctic paradox. The world pushes for stronger protective measures to curb climate change scientists say is accelerating the destruction of the Arctic—melting ice sheets, thawing frozen soil and threatening the iconic polar bear.  Call it plan A. There is a contingency plan, however, that takes advantage of new Arctic opportunities—in shipping, mining, drilling and national security—if the big melt continues apace. Call it plan B.

Source: The Arctic Paradox Poses Questions about Sustainable Development – Guest Blog – Scientific American Blog Network

Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada’s resource agenda, documents reveal | Environment | theguardian.com

The Canadian government is increasingly worried that the growing clout of aboriginal peoples’ rights could obstruct its aggressive resource development plans, documents reveal.

Since 2008, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has run a risk management program to evaluate and respond to “significant risks” to its agenda, including assertions of treaty rights, the rising expectations of aboriginal peoples, and new legal precedents at odds with the government’s policies.

Yearly government reports obtained by the Guardian predict that the failure to manage the risks could result in more “adversarial relations” with aboriginal peoples, “public outcry and negative international attention,” and “economic development projects [being] delayed.”

“There is a risk that the legal landscape can undermine the ability of the department to move forward in its policy agenda,” one Aboriginal Affairs’ report says. “There is a tension between the rights-based agenda of Aboriginal groups and the non-rights based policy approaches” of the federal government.

The Conservative government is planning in the next ten years to attract $650 billion of investment to mining, forestry, gas and oil projects, much of it on or near traditional aboriginal lands.

Critics say the government is determined to evade Supreme Court rulings that recognize aboriginal peoples’ rights to a decision-making role in, even in some cases jurisdiction over, resource development in large areas of the country.

“The Harper government is committed to a policy of extinguishing indigenous peoples’ land rights, instead of a policy of recognition and co-existence,” said Arthur Manuel, chair of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, which has lead an effort to have the economic implications of aboriginal rights identified as a financial risk.

“They are trying to contain the threat that our rights pose to business-as-usual and the expansion of dirty energy projects. But our legal challenges and direct actions are creating economic uncertainty and risk, raising the heat on the government to change its current policies.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs declined to answer the Guardian’s questions, but sent a response saying the risk reports are compiled from internal reviews and “targeted interviews with senior management in those areas experiencing significant change.”

“The [corporate risk profile] is designed as an analytical tool for planning and not a public document. A good deal of [its] content would only be understandable to those working for the department as it speaks to the details of the operations of specific programs.”

Last year Canada was swept by the aboriginal-led Idle No More protest movement, building on years of aboriginal struggles against resource projects, the most high-profile of which has targeted Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry Alberta tar sands to the western coast of British Columbia.

“Native land claims scare the hell out of investors,” an analyst with global risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group has noted, concluding that First Nations opposition and legal standing has dramatically decreased the chances the Enbridge pipeline will be built.

In British Columbia and across the country, aboriginal peoples’ new assertiveness has been backed by successive victories in the courts.

According to a report released in November by Virginia-based First Peoples Worldwide, the risk associated with not respecting aboriginal peoples’ rights over lands and resources is emerging as a new financial bubble for extractive industries.

The report anticipates that as aboriginal peoples become better connected through digital media, win broader public support, and mount campaigns that more effectively impact business profits, failures to uphold aboriginal rights will carry an even higher risk.

The Aboriginal Affairs’ documents describe how a special legal branch helps the Ministry monitor and “mitigate” the risks posed by aboriginal court cases.

The federal government has spent far more fighting aboriginal litigation than any other legal issue – including $106 million in 2013, a sum that has grown over the last several years.

A special envoy appointed in 2013 by the Harper government to address First Nations opposition to energy projects in western Canada recently recommended that the federal government move rapidly to improve consultation and dialogue.

To boost support for its agenda, the government has considered offering bonds to allow First Nations to take equity stakes in resource projects. This is part of a rising trend of provincial governments and companies signing “benefit-sharing” agreements with First Nations to gain access to their lands, while falling short of any kind of recognition of aboriginal rights or jurisdiction.

Since 2007, the government has also turned to increased spying, creating a surveillance program aimed at aboriginal communities deemed “hot spots” because of their involvement in protest and civil disobedience against unwanted extraction on their lands.

Over the last year, the Harper government has cut funding to national, regional and tribal aboriginal organizations that provide legal services and advocate politically on behalf of First Nations, raising cries that it is trying to silence growing dissent.

via Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada’s resource agenda, documents reveal | Environment | theguardian.com.

Botswana government lies exposed as diamond mine opens on Bushman land – Survival International

A $4.9bn diamond mine will open on September 5 in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the ancestral land of Africa’s last hunting Bushmen, exactly ten years after the Botswana government claimed there were “no plans to mine anywhere inside the reserve.”

The Bushmen were told they had to leave the reserve soon after diamonds were discovered in the 1980s, but the Botswana government has repeatedly denied that the illegal and forced evictions of the Kalahari Bushmen – in 1997, 2002 and 2005 – were due to the rich diamond deposits. It justified the Bushmen’s evictions from the land in the name of “conservation”.

In 2000, however, Botswana’s Minister of Minerals, Energy & Water Affairs told a Botswana newspaper, “the relocation of Basarwa (Bushmen) communities from [the Central Kalahari Game Reserve] is to pave way for a proposed Gope Diamond Mine”; and in 2002, the Bushmen told Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, “Foreign Minister General Merafhe went to the reserve and told us we had to be moved because of diamonds.”

The mine opening has also exposed Botswana’s commitment to conservation as window dressing. The government falsely claims that the Bushmen’s presence in the reserve is “incompatible with wildlife conservation,” while allowing a diamond mine and fracking exploration to go ahead on their land.

via Botswana government lies exposed as diamond mine opens on Bushman land – Survival International.

A life of activism gives you hope, energy and direction | rabble.ca

Maude Barlow received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from York University in Toronto yesterday morning. Here are her speaking notes for the Convocation ceremony.Chancellor Gregory Sorbara, President Mamdouh Shoukri, the Senate of York University, and all the graduation students, It is a great honour to share this convocation with you today. I am moved by your grace, energy and hope on this lovely June day.In the few minutes I have to share with you I would like to urge you all, no matter what your education specialty, what vocation you choose, or where you live, to give some of your precious life energy to the great environmental challenges that face us today.

….

via A life of activism gives you hope, energy and direction | rabble.ca.

Koch Brothers Get Ready To Drill In The Oilsands

The uber right-wing billionaire Koch brothers, owners of the U.S.’s largest private company, are some of the country’s most influential Tea Party supporters, climate change deniers and anti-union activists.

Now Canadian oil is on the cusp of adding to their empire.

Already the largest foreign leaseholder in Alberta’s controversial oilsands, a Koch Industries subsidiary has filed an application to start development on the Dunkirk commercial scale oil project.

Koch Oil Sands Operating ULC, on behalf of Koch Canada Exploration submitted an application late last month for development to the Alberta Energy Regulator, and has also filed terms of reference for an environmental impact assessment to Alberta Environmental and Sustainable Resource Development.

via Koch Brothers Get Ready To Drill In The Oilsands.

On the road to reconciliation, tension between miners and Aboriginals grow

TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – While Canada has come a long way in reconciling pre-existing Aboriginal sovereignty with assumed Crown sovereignty, tension is rising between the proponents of several new mining projects located on Crown lands, or within Aboriginal reserves, and Aboriginals, who increasingly assert their rights.

In recent weeks, several Aboriginal communities have voiced their concerns regarding proposed mining projects, insisting on their right to self-determination.

For example, this week the West Moberly First Nations were in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, in Nanaimo, where they argued their case against a proposed coal project in an area 34 km north of Chetwynd, in north-east British Columbia, which had been deemed of “critical spiritual and cultural importance” by the community.

Last summer, the Energy and Mines Ministry issued mining permits to Canadian Kailuan Dehua Mines – a Chinese-backed mining company – for its Gething project, authorising the company to remove 100 000 t of material, transport 15 000 t of coal and construct the main components of a mine that would operate for about 30 years.

via On the road to reconciliation, tension between miners and Aboriginals grow.

Noam Chomsky: Canada on Fast-Speed Race to Destroy the Environment | Common Dreams

Harpers pro-oil, anti-science policies have been the target vocal, widespread opposition, including recent sweeping mobilizations by Indigenous communities like the Elsipogtog First Nation fighting fracking exploration in New Brunswick.\”It means taking every drop of hydrocarbon out of the ground, whether its shale gas in New Brunswick or tar sands in Alberta and trying to destroy the environment as fast as possible, with barely a question raised about what the world will look like as a result,\” Chomsky told the British paper, referring to Harpers energy policies.Yet there is resistance, he said, and \”it is pretty ironic that the so-called least advanced people are the ones taking the lead in trying to protect all of us, while the richest and most powerful among us are the ones who are trying to drive the society to destruction.\”

via Noam Chomsky: Canada on Fast-Speed Race to Destroy the Environment | Common Dreams.

Deep Seabed Mining | Greenpeace International

s land-based minerals become depleted and prices rise, the search for new sources of supply is turning to the sea floor. This emerging industry, facilitated by advances in technology, poses a major threat to our oceans, which are already suffering from a number of pressures including overfishing, pollution, and the effects of climate change.

The remote deep and open oceans host a major part of the world’s biodiversity, and are vital for our survival on Earth. The deep sea plays an important role in regulating planetary processes, including regulation of temperature and greenhouse gases. It supports ocean life by cycling nutrients and providing habitat for a staggering array of species.

Deep seabed mining could have serious impacts on the ocean environment and the future livelihoods and wellbeing of coastal communities. Only 3% of the oceans are protected and less than 1% of the high seas, making them some of the least protected places on Earth. The emerging threat of seabed mining is an urgent wake-up call.

via Deep Seabed Mining | Greenpeace International.