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Biodiversity / Biodevastation

Stories about Biodiversity and Biodevastation.

Criminalizing environmental activism

By: 
Moira Birss

As threats to the environment increase across Latin America, new laws and police practices take aim against the front line activists defending their land and resources.

Berta Cáceres, assassinated in her home on March 3, 2016, was just one of hundreds of Latin American environmental activists attacked in recent years. At least 577 environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs) were killed in Latin America between 2010 and 2015—more than in any other region—as documented by Global Witness. But in addition to physical violence, EHRDs face threats and harassment through judicial proceedings, severely impeding their work. Before Cáceres’ murder, she faced trumped-up charges stemming from her leadership in opposition to hydroelectric dams on her indigenous community’s territory.

El Diablo in Wine Country

By: 
Mike Davis

This is the deadly conceit behind mainstream environmental politics in California: you say fire, I say climate change, and we both ignore the financial and real-estate juggernaut that drives the suburbanisation of our increasingly inflammable wildlands. Land use patterns in California have long been insane but, with negligible opposition, they reproduce themselves like a flesh-eating virus. After the Tunnel Fire in Oakland and the 2003 and 2007 firestorms in San Diego County, paradise was quickly restored; in fact, the replacement homes were larger and grander than the originals. The East Bay implemented some sensible reforms but in rural San Diego County, the Republican majority voted down a modest tax increase to hire more firefighters. The learning curve has a negative slope

The Wolf Killers Wore Green

By: 
GEORGE WUERTHNER

The shooting of the Profanity Pack last year and now a kill order for the Smackout Pack in Northeast Washington clearly demonstrated the failure of the current strategy of many conservation groups who are involved in wolf recovery efforts.

In this case, a number of organizations, including Wolf Haven International, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Humane Society had joined the Wolf Advisory Group or WAG, a collaborative group that worked with the state of Washington as well as other “stake holders” (read ranchers) to produce a wolf recovery strategy.

Hurricane Harvey and the Dialectics of Nature

By: 
Louis Proyect

Between 1872 and 1882, Frederick Engels worked on a book titled The Dialectics of Nature that sought to apply Marxist dialectics to the natural world. Although it was never completed and is filled with dated ideas about science, it is a work that has earned the respect of some of the most important scientists on the left such as Stephen Jay Gould who praised its best known chapter that was issued separately as a pamphlet—The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man. Long before people such as Barry Commoner and Rachel Carson were laying the groundwork for the eco-socialism of today, Engels anticipated the kind of contradictions that have led to three disastrous hurricanes: Katrina, Sandy and now Harvey.

Want to avert the apocalypse? Take lessons from Costa Rica

By: 
Jason Hickel

If we want to have any hope of averting catastrophe, we’re going to have to do something about our addiction to growth. This is tricky, because GDP growth is the main policy objective of virtually every government on the planet. It lies at the heart of everything we’ve been told to believe about how the economy should work: that GDP growth is good, that it’s essential to progress, and that if we want to improve human wellbeing and eradicate poverty around the world, we need more of it. It’s a powerful narrative. But is it true?

Maybe not. Take Costa Rica. A beautiful Central American country known for its lush rainforests and stunning beaches, Costa Rica proves that achieving high levels of human wellbeing has very little to do with GDP and almost everything to do with something very different.

Meat industry blamed for largest-ever 'dead zone' in Gulf of Mexico

By: 
Oliver Milman

The global meat industry, already implicated in driving global warming and deforestation, has now been blamed for fueling what is expected to be the worst “dead zone” on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

Toxins from manure and fertiliser pouring into waterways are exacerbating huge, harmful algal blooms that create oxygen-deprived stretches of the gulf, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, according to a new report by Mighty, an environmental group chaired by former congressman Henry Waxman.

Kaboom Town

By: 
by Abrahm Lustgarten

COLFAX, Louisiana — Two years ago, the U.S. military had an embarrassment on its hands: A stockpile of aging explosives blew up at a former Army ammunition plant in Minden, Louisiana, sending a cloud of debris 7,000 feet into the sky.

Local residents, alarmed by toxic contaminants from the accident, were nothing short of furious when they learned what the military intended to do with the 18 million of pounds of old explosives still remaining at the depot. The Army was set to dispose of the explosives through what are known as “open burns,” processes that would result in still more releases of pollutants.

The Final Conquest

By: 
Andreas Malm

...

Dominica was the last island to be colonized. Flat like the side of a coin, Barbados could be shaved clean of all natural vegetation and transformed into one great plantation for whipping profits out of black bodies and red-brown soil. The same fate was bestowed on island after island, but this one held out for long. As Lennox Honychurch, one of the country’s pre-eminent historians and intellectuals, writes, “[It] continued to stand green and defiant in the center of the chain of the Lesser Antilles,” until the British finally conquered it in 1761. Having exhausted much of the soil on Barbados and other old sugar islands, planters were by now clamoring for fresh land and immediately set about surveying, enclosing, auctioning, and buying plots.

Learning to Live in the Dark: Reading Arendt in the TIme of Climate Change

By: 
Wen Stephenson

...

Writing in 1954, between the first and the significantly revised 1958 edition of Origins, she observed: “Insofar as [totalitarian] ideological thinking is independent of existing reality, it looks upon all factuality as fabricated, and therefore no longer knows any reliable criterion for distinguishing truth from falsehood.”

This is crucial, and not only as a premonition of the way today’s far right seems to adopt (and distort) postmodern theory to construct a world of “alternative facts.” For Arendt, it’s the key that unlocks the totalitarian mindset. Noting that “it would be quite possible for totalitarian rulers or the men immediately surrounding them not to believe in the actual content of their preaching,” she sees through the delusions of a new generation of leaders, which has somehow, it seems to her, “lost even the ability to distinguish between such believing and non-believing.” At which point, she draws the all-important line from belief in nothing to belief in anything:

As the rich move away from disaster zones, the poor are left behind

By: 
Leah Platt Boustan, Maria Lucia Yanguas, Matthew Kahn, and Paul W. Rhode

Every year, major earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes occur. These natural disasters disrupt daily life and, in the worst cases, cause devastation. Events such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy killed thousands of people and generated billions of dollars in losses.

There is also concern that global climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of weather–related disasters.

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