Killing of Environmental Activists Rises Globally
As head of his village, Prajob Naowa-opas battled to save his community in central Thailand from the illegal dumping of toxic waste by filing petitions and leading villagers to block trucks carrying the stuff — until a gunman in broad daylight fired four shots into him.
A year later, his three alleged killers, including a senior government official, are on trial for murder. The dumping has been halted and villagers are erecting a statue to their slain hero.
But the prosecution of Prajob’s murder is a rare exception. A survey released Tuesday — the first comprehensive one of its kind - says that only 10 killers of 908 environmental activists slain around the world over the past decade have been convicted.
The report by the London-based Global Witness, a group that seeks to shed light on the links between environmental exploitation and human rights abuses, says murders of those protecting land rights and the environment have soared dramatically. It noted that its toll of victims in 35 countries is probably far higher since field investigations in a number of African and Asian nations are difficult or impossible.
“Many of those facing threats are ordinary people opposing land grabs, mining operations and the industrial timber trade, often forced from their homes and severely threatened by environmental devastation,” the report said. Others have been killed over hydro-electric dams, pollution and wildlife conservation.
The rising deaths, along with non-lethal violence, are attributed to intensifying competition for shrinking resources in a global economy and abetted by authorities and security forces in some countries connected to powerful individuals, companies and others behind the killings.
Interesting that the investigators found that “authorities and security forces” (e.g., government) are complicit. I wonder how they found this information (or if they assumed it)?Anyone have this report? If so, can you kindly send it to me?
Growth for Growth's Sake Will Kill Us All?
Thought provoking piece by Al Jazeera guest writer questions the limits of perpetual economic growth. What do you think?
Why is it important to publish in a nonprofit journal?
“Aggressive growth is impossible ecologically and implausible economically. We need economic strategies at the local, state and national levels that prioritize community benefit over corporate gain, and which presume a need for local resiliency instead of depending on uncontrolled growth. We also need to develop new strategies to democratize wealth in the face of extreme inequality.
Like the programs developed in “the state and local laboratories of democracy” that led to the New Deal, numerous experiments percolating across the country in the “new economy” — building cooperative and community-owned businesses, developing locally focused supply chains at a municipal and regional level, building new forms for public ownership of essential services like banking and power generation — may just point the way.
The end of growth poses a long-term systemic challenge, and such explorations suggest that a new direction may be quietly being explored in the midst of economic and ecological degradation. It is a direction that is likely to accelerate as economic and social pain of the decaying economic system continues to force Americans to explore solutions that take us beyond the tired nostrums of the past.”
—Gar Alperovitz is a professor of political economy at the University of Maryland and a founder of the Democracy Collaborative. He is the author of “What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution.”
Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene is one of my favorite science journals. All articles are open-source - meaning they’re free - no registration or fees. They focus on environmental scientific research in an “era of accelerated human impact.” Humans have disturbed virtually every natural system on earth.
So, how do we share knowledge about scientific research? Currently, there’s a maturing debate about whether scientific research should be free or paid. I’m quite interested in this debate. Especially since my tax dollars pay for much of this research, but I don’t have access to it. In fact, most science is publicly funded by taxpayer dollars typically through universities and direct government grants. The balance of journals get their funds from subscriptions, which average about $5,000 per year. Yes, you can subscribe to Scientific American for $25, yet the annual ‘script for the Journal of Coordination Chemistry is $11,000!
When a researcher publishes their findings, scientific journals charge the public very high fees for access, which prevents the majority of the world from learning more.
I think this is reasonably indefensible.
One article from the journal Nature typically costs $20 to $30. One of my articles published with International Journal of Climate Change costs $10 (I share it for free with those that ask).
The debate is so powerful that The Guardian newspaper created a special section called Open Source Scientific Publishing. It focuses on the changing landscape of scientific publishing, and the debates make for fun, if not serious, reading.
And there is a protest movement by senior scientists to boycott some of the bigger scientific journals in favor of open source, free access publications. The University of California has also joined the fight, protesting these high fees.
Some have argued that science journals are more interested in selling subscriptions, where they favor “superstar” researchers who can capture more fees over less flashy researchers. Competition among science journals is a surprisingly ugly business.
So, should science be free? I think so.
For my part, I favor peer-reviewed, open-source science publication generally, and the journal Elementa specifically. Elementa is a non-profit publisher of science with overlap in my field of climate change and climate adaptation. The partners are BioOne, Dartmouth, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington.
Take a minute to read what the editors of Elementa have to say about why open source science matters and why it should be free to everyone.
Study: Eastern chickadee populations moving fast in response to global warming
Earth and Environmental Science: John Geissman
“I have never been a fan of huge for-profit publishers of science. Most have taxed the system in a very painful way. The more opportunities scientists have to publish their contributions in nonprofit journals, the better. Elementa provides a very important venue for scholars addressing a range of topics that are important to society, right now.”
“A lot of the time climate change doesn’t really seem tangible,” said lead author Scott Taylor, a postdoctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “But here are these common little backyard birds we all grew up with, and we’re seeing them moving northward on relatively short time scales.”
The birds moved so fast the scientists had to add an extra study site partway through their project in order to keep up.
In Pennsylvania, where the study was conducted, the hybrid zone is just 21 miles across on average. Hybrid chickadees have lower breeding success and survival than either of the pure species. This keeps the contact zone small and well defined, making it a convenient reference point for scientists aiming to track environmental changes.
“Hybridization is kind of a brick wall between these two species,” said Robert Curry, a professor of biology at Villanova University, who led the field component of the study. “Carolina Chickadees can’t blithely disperse north without running into black-caps and creating hybrids. That makes it possible to keep an eye on the hybrid zone and see exactly how the ranges are shifting.”
The researchers drew on field studies, genetic analyses, and crowdsourced bird sightings. The data was matched with winter temperatures observations, and the scientists also closely studied the birds’ DNA to pinpoint the distribution of the two species.
I like the idea that climate change will create new species through hybrids.