Thursday, 25 February 2010

Five ways to make a killing on the environment -- and the alternatives

Doomsday Seed Vault on the remote Arctic island of Svalbard
administered by GCGTrust
1. Monopoly rights on seeds
BASF, Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Dupont and biotech partners have filed 532 patent documents (a total of 55 patent families) on so-called “climate ready” genes. Farming communities in the global South – those who have contributed least to global greenhouse emissions – are among the most threatened. The top 10 multinationals have cornered the seed market, use climate change to argue that any other choice will "starve" millions, lobby governments and WTO to make their monopoly legal, and enforce it over farmers' rights. See the ETC study Patenting the Climate Genes, Quaker International Affairs Programme (QIAP) book The Future Control of Food, the Schmeiser lawsuit, and the Doomsday Vault.

2. Land grabs for agrofuels
Joan Baxter's book Dust from Our Eyes gives examples from Mali. She worked for two decades in Africa. See our previous post about land grabs in the Third World, the secret World Bank report on how financial speculation drove up food prices, UN and Jubilee analysis of the food crisis and its threat to MDGs.

3. Rogue fleets fishing to extinction, to benefit banks
See Boris Worm's warning in a previous post, and Callum Roberts book Unnatural History of the Sea.

4. Slice-and-dice derivatives trading in pollution permits
Derivatives caused the 2008 financial meltdown that was bailed out with our grandchildren's earnings; now OTC speculators want to repeat the bubble. In 2008 the Financial Times reported carbon trading doubling, but warned that 140 of 170 carbon offsets were "poor quality". Recently traders have sliced-and-diced these. See our previous post: climate justice vs the carbon casino, updated in the recent FOE study Dangerous Obsession, and Mark Schapiro, "Conning the Climate", Harpers Feb 2010. In 2009 China threw the risk back on derivatives traders, but in 2010 in the US, they are still refusing Federal Reserve regulation.

5. Industrial agriculture, feedlots and fish farms (breeding grounds for superbugs)
See this 2010 scientist's blog on superbugs updating the New Yorker 2008 investigative report. Feedlots have been accused of fostering flu viruses. Fish farms have spread viruses worldwide, despite years of warning, which -- typically -- BC lobbyists and governments have denied.

6. Tarsands and the "security" of the US empire: blood for oil
Canadian ecojustice groups raised questions of the tarsands' true cost years ago, to denials from Alberta and federal governments. Pipelines and projects are now being quadrupled despite warnings by ethical analysts that environmental damage is being hidden from investors. Federal studies long kept secret show woodland caribou being driven to extinction. Alberta's Parkland Institute shows US strategy calls for further involvement in wars to protect oil supply. Examples are the Afghanistan war, its connection with US pipelines, and Pentagon geopolitical studies (2006, 2007, 2008). Already the world's biggest oil consumer, in 2007 the US military reported that its new tactics (supposed to protect "security of supply") require four times as much oil per soldier as in the Gulf War of 1991.

Hopeful alternatives
1. a list of ecojustice goals from Climate Justice Now!
2. New Economics Foundation, Other Worlds are Possible: Human progress in an age of climate change (Dec 2009) with 28 case studies from around the world.
3. British Quakers' Sep 2009 Zero Growth conference: summary, conference powerpoints and mp3 sound recordings; queries and readings for a one-hour workshop.

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