Tag Archives: Ecosystems

Bolivia Set to Pass Historic 'Law of Mother Earth' Which Will Grant Nature Equal Rights to Humans

Bolivia Set to Pass Historic ‘Law of Mother Earth’ Which Will Grant Nature Equal Rights to Humans By Keph Senett: With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans. The piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction.

The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

In late 2005 Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales. Morales is an outspoken champion for environmental protection, petitioning for substantive change within his country and at the United Nations. Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest countries, has long had to contend with the consequences of destructive industrial practices and climate change, but despite the best efforts of Morales and members of his administration, their concerns have largely been ignored at the UN.

Just last year, in 2010, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca expressed his distress “about the inadequacy of the greenhouse gas reduction commitments made by developed countries in the Copenhagen Accord.” His remarks were punctuated by the claim that some experts forecasted a temperature increase “as high as four degrees above pre-industrial levels.” “The situation is serious,” Choquehuanca asserted. “An increase of temperature of more than one degree above pre-industrial levels would result in the disappearance of our glaciers in the Andes, and the flooding of various islands and coastal zones.”

In 2009, directly following the resolution of the General Assembly to designate April 22 “International Mother Earth Day”, Morales addressed the press, stating “If we want to safeguard mankind, then we need to safeguard the planet. That is the next major task of the United Nations”. A change to Bolivia’s constitution in the same year resulted in an overhaul of the legal system – a shift from which this new law has sprung.

The Law of Mother Earth has as its foundation several of the tenets of indigenous belief, including that human are equal to all other entities. “Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family,” Choquehuanca said. “We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values.” The legislation will give the government new legal powers to monitor and control industry in the country.

“Existing laws are not strong enough,” said Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5m-strong Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia (a group that helped draft the law). “It will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels.”

Bolivia will be establishing a Ministry of Mother Earth, but beyond that there are few details about how the legislation will be implemented. What is clear is that Bolivia will have to balance these environmental imperatives against industries – like mining – that contribute to the country’s GDP.

Bolivia’s successes or failures with implementation may well inform the policies of countries around the world. “It’s going to have huge resonance around the world,” said Canadian activist Maude Barlow. “It’s going to start first with these southern countries trying to protect their land and their people from exploitation, but I think it will be grabbed onto by communities in our countries, for example, fighting the tarsands in Alberta.”

Ecuador has enshrined similar aims in its Constitution, and is among the countries that have already shown support for the Bolivian initiative. Other include Nicaragua, Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda.

National opposition to the law is not anticipated, as Morales’ party – the Movement Towards Socialism – holds a majority in both houses of parliament. On April 20, two days before this year’s “International Mother Earth Day”, Morales will table a draft treaty with the UN, kicking off the debate with the international community.

Read the entire document (in Spanish) here.

Related story: Ecuadorians Win Judgement Against Chevron in Amazon Case, Company Refuses to Pay.

Update May 23, 2011: Turkey considering ecological approach to new constitution. Read more here.

US EPA Public Comment period open: US EPA News Releases – Water Update on Waters of the U.S. Draft Guidance

6/27/2011 US EPA News Releases – Water Update on Waters of the U.S. Draft Guidance Contact Information: Enesta Jones, jones.enesta@epa.gov, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355: WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have extended the public comment period by 30 days for the draft guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act. In response to requests from state and local officials, as well as other stakeholders, EPA and the Corps will take additional comment until July 31, 2011 on this important draft guidance that aims to protect U.S. waters. These waters are critical for the health of the American people, the economy and ecosystems in communities across the country. This change in the public comment period will not impact the schedule for finalizing the guidance or alter the intent to proceed with a rulemaking.

Public input received will be carefully considered as the agencies make final decisions regarding the guidance. These comments will also be very helpful as the agencies prepare a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The original 60-day public comment period was originally set to expire on July 1, 2011. The agencies will be publishing a notice of this 30-day extension in the Federal Register.

More information:
http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm

Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline! Please send a message telling Secretary Clinton to reject this disaster in the making.

Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline! The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada’s Boreal forest to refineries in Texas, driving more destruction of songbird habitat, fueling global warming, and threatening drinking water for millions of Americans. The U.S. State Department is rushing towards approval of this fiasco, which is designed to enrich the oil giants. Please send a message telling Secretary Clinton to reject this disaster in the making. Your message will be sent to: Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton

Message subject: Reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline: Dear Secretary Clinton, I am appalled that the State Department has been rushing headlong toward approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which could devastate the environment in both Canada and the United States. Tar sands development has been called the “most destructive project on Earth” because it is laying waste to the great Boreal forest, obliterating migratory bird nesting grounds and spewing excessive global warming pollution. In addition, transporting the world’s dirtiest oil to refineries in Texas will directly threaten some of the American heartland’s most sensitive ecosystems and drinking water supplies while raising gas prices in the Midwest.

It is unconscionable that your agency has still not studied the far-reaching dangers of this Big Oil-sponsored pipeline — or fully considered the clean energy alternatives. Your Administration’s own EPA has called your latest review “environmentally objectionable.” I call on you to deliver the kind of “robust review” that both you and President Obama promised the nation. An unvarnished report of this pipeline’s true environmental and economic costs will make it crystal clear that it is NOT in our national interest and must be rejected.

The Keystone XL pipeline will enrich the oil giants while Americans pay for it with our environment, our climate and even our lives. As we move toward a clean energy future, there is no room for the most destructive oil on the planet. I urge you to prevent this disaster-in-the-making by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sincerely,

6/17/2011 World People's Conference on Climate Change & the Rights of Mother Earth

Brenda Norrell From: World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth – June 17, 2011 in News, UN climate change negotiations: Building the People’s World Movement for Mother Earth. Press Release: Bolivia calls for urgent high level talks on cutting climate pollution. BONN, 17 june 2011 – At the close of UN climate talks in Bonn that failed to address the huge shortfall in emission targets compared to what the science suggests is necessary, Ambassador Pablo Solon of the Plurinational State of Bolivia called for a high-level meeting to discuss how to drastically reduce climate pollution. “In order to have success at the UN climate conference in Durban in December we need to have a clearer willingness to increase the emissions reduction pledges that are on the table.” Ambassador Solon said.

“We have seen in these two weeks not much engagement in science but a lot of engagement in business. There has been no movement on the big issue of reducing emissions but instead a proliferation of proposals on new market mechanisms.” Ambassador Solon said.

“All the reports show a problem of science and a problem of leadership. We need deep cuts and we need developed countries to take the lead That is why we propose an ad-hoc high level meeting dedicated to the issue of increasing targets.” Ambassador Solon said.

Reflecting on the two weeks of talks the Ambassador outlined concerns regarding the future of the Kyoto Protocol, with new market proposals, and hope for consideration of the rights of nature.

“The lack of ambition for Kyoto Protocol worries us very much. Countries are abandoning the international rule based system. Some developed countries are proposing effort for the second period that is even less per year than they are doing now.” Ambassador Solon said.

“We have seen proposals for markets for the oceans, so called ‘blue carbon’ we are surprised and concerned by these. The problem with the reference level for markets such as these is that it is based on assumptions that are not real. And there is the great possibility that the new market mechanisms will just create more hot air.” Ambassador Solon said.

“With parameters that are not real countries try to get a bigger share of certificates of reductions and in that way instead of developing new sources of finance we will develop new sources of deterioration of our natural systems.” Ambassador Solon said.

“Many of the proposals that we have had advanced have had interesting discussions such as the issue of the rights of nature an the integiry of ecosystems. This is key for us because we are all part of a system and until now we have not recognized the limits to our exploitation of natural resources that will affect precisely that system.” Ambassador Solon said.

5/31/2011 Please Tell US EPA to Protect Our Health from Toxic Pollutants

Join me in supporting this cause! Petition: Protect Our Health from Toxic Pollutants Click the play button to sign this petition. Dear Administrator Jackson, Every year, power plants release more than 386,000 tons of toxic air pollutants into the air we breathe. These emissions — which aren’t subject to any federal limits to protect our health and safety — impose a heavy burden on Americans in the form of cancer, heart and lung disease, and thousands of premature deaths every year. The technology to reduce these costly emissions is available and affordable, and I strongly support the EPA’s Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which will make our air safer to breathe by requiring that power plants use these proven methods of pollution control to limit their harmful emissions. [Your comments will be inserted here.] In the coming months, I urge you to resist any efforts to weaken or delay your recent proposal to limit power plants’ emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic, dioxin, acid gases and other toxic pollutants. The power plant industry has already used its financial and political influence to avoid these important health protections for more than two decades. We cannot wait any longer.

Power plants pump more mercury into our air than all other big industrial polluters combined. Mercury pollution damages aquatic ecosystems and contaminates fish species that many Americans rely on for recreation and nourishment. Pregnant women and young children are most at risk: mercury exposure can lead to birth defects and learning disabilities and can also irreparably impact a young child’s ability to talk, think, read, write and learn. It is critically important that we protect these vulnerable members of our society from harm.

The Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will prevent up to 17,000 premature deaths every year and spare many more Americans the physical and financial costs associated with illnesses brought on by breathing dirty air. These benefits to our society should be non-negotiable, considering especially that they outweigh the costs to polluters by as much as 13-to-1.

Thank you for taking this long-overdue step to protect our right to breathe clean air.

Sincerely,
[Your name here]

4/18/2011 PV Pulse: Bolivia Set to Pass Historic 'Law of Mother Earth' Which Will Grant Nature Equal Rights to Humans

4/18/2011 Bolivia Set to Pass Historic ‘Law of Mother Earth’ Which Will Grant Nature Equal Rights to Humans Written by Keph Senett: With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth, which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans. The piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction. The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

In late 2005 Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales. Morales is an outspoken champion for environmental protection, petitioning for substantive change within his country and at the United Nations. Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest countries, has long had to contend with the consequences of destructive industrial practices and climate change, but despite the best efforts of Morales and members of his administration, their concerns have largely been ignored at the UN.

Jungle

Just last year, in 2010, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca expressed his distress “about the inadequacy of the greenhouse gas reduction commitments made by developed countries in the Copenhagen Accord.” His remarks were punctuated by the claim that some experts forecasted a temperature increase “as high as four degrees above pre-industrial levels.” “The situation is serious,” Choquehuanca asserted. “An increase of temperature of more than one degree above pre-industrial levels would result in the disappearance of our glaciers in the Andes, and the flooding of various islands and coastal zones.”

In 2009, directly following the resolution of the General Assembly to designate April 22 “International Mother Earth Day”, Morales addressed the press, stating “If we want to safeguard mankind, then we need to safeguard the planet. That is the next major task of the United Nations”. A change to Bolivia’s constitution in the same year resulted in an overhaul of the legal system – a shift from which this new law has sprung.

Ocean

The Law of Mother Earth has as its foundation several of the tenets of indigenous belief, including that human are equal to all other entities. “Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family,” Choquehuanca said. “We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values.” The legislation will give the government new legal powers to monitor and control industry in the country.

“Existing laws are not strong enough,” said Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5m-strong Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia (a group that helped draft the law). “It will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels.”

Desert

Bolivia will be establishing a Ministry of Mother Earth, but beyond that there are few details about how the legislation will be implemented. What is clear is that Bolivia will have to balance these environmental imperatives against industries – like mining – that contribute to the country’s GDP.

Bolivia’s successes or failures with implementation may well inform the policies of countries around the world. “It’s going to have huge resonance around the world,” said Canadian activist Maude Barlow. “It’s going to start first with these southern countries trying to protect their land and their people from exploitation, but I think it will be grabbed onto by communities in our countries, for example, fighting the tarsands in Alberta.”

Gacier

Ecuador has enshrined similar aims in its Constitution, and is among the countries that have already shown support for the Bolivian initiative. Other include Nicaragua, Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda.

National opposition to the law is not anticipated, as Morales’ party – the Movement Towards Socialism – holds a majority in both houses of parliament. On April 20, two days before this year’s “International Mother Earth Day”, Morales will table a draft treaty with the UN, kicking off the debate with the international community.

Read the entire document (in Spanish) here.

Mountains