Organizations stand in solidarity with Fundación Pachamama

Click Versión en español abajo / Version française ci-dessous)

Express your organization’s solidarity with Fundación Pachamama! This is a letter circulating for organizations / institutions/ federations, etc. to sign onto.

Please sign for your organization as soon as possible (we will publish once we have a critical mass of sign-ons) via the Google Form, found at: http://tinyurl.com/m89t835. Or you can send a message to pat@pachamama.org with the following information:  Organization name, Organization country, Contact name, Contact e-mail address. We will publish once we have a critical mass of sign-ons.

Separate from this request for organizations, individuals can sign the Avaaz petition.

We Stand in Solidarity with Fundación Pachamama in Ecuador

The below listed organizations, both Ecuadorian and international, would like to make the following statement to the broader public, our political representatives, and the media:

On the morning of December 4th, 2013, the Quito-based headquarters of the internationally recognized organization Fundación Pachamama were raided and closed down by police agents, who presented a resolution of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment dissolving the organization.

We agree with Fundación Pachamama’s position that this dissolution is an arbitrary act, looking to repress the organization’s legitimate right to dissent against the national government’s decision to hand over the territories of Amazonian indigenous peoples via concessions to oil companies, without respecting those peoples’ constitutional rights, in particular their right to free, prior, and informed consent, in agreement with international human rights law.

Fundación Pachamama’s position has always been based in the defense of human rights and the rights of nature, all of this carried out in actions within the rule of law. For the last sixteen years they have offered solidarity and assistance to the indigenous organizations that legitimately represent the ancestral peoples of the Amazon.

As a matter of principle and institutional nature, Fundación Pachamama rejects any violent actions coming from any sector. In our experience, the Foundation has never supported or much less participated in violent actions. Such violence cannot be imputed upon them for acts they did not commit.

Given their work in defense of rights, they have been publicly and viciously attacked by those who hold political power in Ecuador, accusations that have been broadly disseminated through state-run media. We view this as violent, in addition to hastily dissolving an organization, without any legal justification, without a due process that would guarantee legitimate defense.

Responding to this aggression, we express our support for the Fundación Pachamama while they:

1. Don’t renounce their right to defend rights; and

2. Challenge the government’s decision through all the legal means at their disposal.

We will continue supporting Fundación Pachamama while they guarantee that this aggression, to which they are victims, doesn’t distract attention and debate from the core issue which is the violation of Amazonian indigenous peoples’ collective rights and the rights of nature, by means of an oil tender carried out against the will of the legitimate property holders of the affected territories, through a ‘socialization process’, not a real consultation.

It’s time to reinstate Fundación Pachamama and end the repression against civil society and indigenous peoples in Ecuador.

(Organizational signatures, organized by country)

Versión en español

Expresar la solidaridad de su organización con la Fundación Pachamama! Esto es un pronunciamiento para adhesiones institucionales (de organizaciones, federaciones, etc). Favor entregar la información lo más pronto posible (publicaremos la carta cuando tengamos una masa crítica de adhesiones) a través del Google Form que hemos establecido en el siguiente link: http://tinyurl.com/m89t835. O se puede enviar un mensaje a pat@pachamama.org con la siguiente información: Nombre de Organización, País de Organización, Nombre de Contacto, Correo-e de Contacto.

Individuos pueden firmar la petición de Avaaz.

Nos Solidarizamos con la Fundación Pachamama en Ecuador

Las organizaciones Ecuatorianas e Internacionales abajo adheridas manifestamos lo siguiente a la opinión pública, nuestros representantes políticos, y los medios de comunicación:

En la mañana del miércoles 04 de diciembre de 2013, en las oficinas de la organización internacionalmente reconocida Fundación Pachamama en la ciudad de Quito, Ecuador se presentaron funcionarios de la Policía y procedieron a clausurar las instalaciones a la vez que se les dejaban una resolución del Ministerio de Ambiente por la que se disuelve la organización.

Coincidimos con la postura de Fundación Pachamama que dicha disolución es un acto arbitrario que busca reprimir su legítimo derecho a disentir de la decisión del Gobierno Nacional de entregar en concesión territorios de las nacionalidades indígenas amazónicas a empresas petroleras, sin respetar sus derechos constitucionales, especialmente a la consulta libre, previa e informada, de acuerdo a los estándares del Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos.

La posición de la Fundación Pachamama siempre se ha fundamentado en el ejercicio de la defensa de los derechos humanos y de la naturaleza y se ha concretado en acciones enmarcadas en el estado de derecho. Desde hace dieciséis años ellos han ofrecido un apoyo solidario a las organizaciones indígenas que legítimamente representan a los pueblos ancestrales de la Amazonía.

Por principio y naturaleza institucional, la Fundación Pachamama rechaza las manifestaciones violentas que provengan de cualquier sector. En nuestra experiencia, desde la Fundación Pachamama nunca han apoyado ni participado en ningún acto violento. No se les puede imputar actos en los que no han participado.

Por su trabajo en defensa de los derechos han sido agredidos pública y violentamente mediante expresiones de quien detenta el poder político, difundidas ampliamente por los medios de comunicación bajo control del gobierno. Eso es violencia, además de disolver a una organización intempestivamente, sin causa legal alguna, sin un debido proceso que garantice la legítima defensa.

Frente a esta agresión, manifestamos nuestro respaldo a Fundación Pachamama mientras ellos:

1. No renuncian a su derecho a defender los derechos; y

2. Impugnarán la decisión por todos los medios legales a su alcance.

Apoyaremos a Fundación Pachamama mientras ellos trabajan para que la agresión de que son víctima, no desvíe la atención y el debate del tema de fondo que es la violación de los derechos colectivos de los pueblos indígenas amazónicos y de los derechos de la Naturaleza, por una ronda petrolera realizada contra la voluntad de los legítimos propietarios de los territorios afectados, a través de una “socialización”, no una consulta.

Es momento de reinstituir a Fundación Pachamama y acabar con la represión contra sociedad civil y pueblos indígenas en Ecuador.

(adhesiones institucionales, organizadas por país)

Version française

Manifestez la solidarité de votre organisation avec la Fondation Pachamama ! La lettre qui suit a été mise en circulation pour toutes les organisations/institutions/fédérations, etc. qui souhaiteraient la signer. S’il vous plait faites le aussi vite que possible (nous la publierons une fois que nous aurons atteint un nombre significatif de signataires) à l’aide du Google Form, que vous trouverez à l’adresse : http://tinyurl.com/m89t835. Vous pouvez aussi envoyer un message à pat@pachamama.org comprenant les informations suivantes : Nom de l’organisation, pays de l’Organisation, nom du Contact, adresse e-mail du Contact. Les individus peuvent signer la pétition Avaaz.

Nous sommes solidaires avec la Fondation Pachamama en Equateur.

Les organisations citées ci-dessous, équatoriennes et internationales, souhaitent délivrer le message suivant au public, à nos représentants politiques et aux médias :

Le 4 décembre 2013 au matin, le siège de l’organisation internationalement reconnue Fondation Pachamama a été victime d’une descente de la police qui a fermé les locaux, et utilisé un ordre de dissolution de l’organisation en provenance du ministère équatorien de l’environnement.

Nous soutenons la position de la Fondation Pachamama, qui déclare cette dissolution arbitraire, et dans l’optique de réprimer le droit légitime de l’organisation à être en désaccord avec les décisions du gouvernement, et en particulier celle de remettre à l’aide de concessions les terres des populations indigènes d’Amazonie à des entreprises pétrolières, sans respecter les droits constitutionnels de ces peuples, en particulier leur droit à un consentement libre, préalable et éclairé, en accord avec le droit international des droits de l’Homme.

La Fondation Pachamama a toujours fondé sa position sur la défense des droits humains et des droits de la nature, tout cela s’exprimant sous la forme d’actions respectant l’Etat de droit. Au cours des seize dernières années ils ont offert solidarité et assistance à des organisations indigènes dotées de la légitimité de représenter les populations ancestrales de l’Amazonie.

A la fois par question de principe et de par sa nature institutionnelle, la Fondation Pachamama rejette toute action violente. D’après notre expérience, la Fondation n’a jamais soutenu et encore moins participé à la moindre action violente. Une telle violence ne peut leur être imputé pour des actes qu’ils n’ont pas commis.

En raison de leur travail de défense des droits, ils ont été publiquement et injustement attaqués par ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir politique en Equateur, des accusations qui ont été largement diffusées à l’aide de médias détenus par l’Etat. Nous considérons qu’il s’agit de violence, à laquelle s’ajoute la dissolution à la hâte d’une organisation, sans aucune justification juridique, et en l’absence d’une procédure régulière qui aurait permis à l’organisation d’exercer la légitime défense.

En réponse à cette agression, nous exprimons notre soutien à la Fondation Pachamama alors qu’ils :

  1. Ne renoncent pas à leur droit de défendre les droits ; et
  2. Contestent la décision du gouvernement à l’aide de tous les moyens judiciaires dont ils disposent.

Nous continuerons de soutenir la Fondation Pachamama tout nous assurant que cette agression dont ils sont victimes ne détourne pas l’attention et le débat du problème central que représente la violation des droits collectifs des populations indigènes de l’Amazonie et les droits de la nature, au travers d’un appel d’offre pour le pétrole, mené contre la volonté des détenteurs légitimes de ces territoires affectés et malgré un « processus de socialisation » qui n’est en aucun cas une véritable consultation.

Nous soutenons la position de la Fondation Pachamama, qui déclare cette dissolution arbitraire, et dans l’optique de réprimer le droit légitime de l’organisation à être en désaccord avec les décisions du gouvernement, et en particulier celle de remettre à l’aide de concessions les terres des populations indigènes d’Amazonie à des entreprises pétrolières, sans respecter les droits constitutionnels de ces peuples, en particulier leur droit à un consentement libre, préalable et éclairé, en accord avec le droit international des droits de l’Homme.

La Fondation Pachamama a toujours fondé sa position sur la défense des droits humains et des droits de la nature, tout cela s’exprimant sous la forme d’actions respectant l’Etat de droit. Au cours des seize dernières années ils ont offert solidarité et assistance à des organisations indigènes dotées de la légitimité de représenter les populations ancestrales de l’Amazonie.

A la fois par question de principe et de par sa nature institutionnelle, la Fondation Pachamama rejette toute action violente. D’après notre expérience, la Fondation n’a jamais soutenu et encore moins participé à la moindre action violente. Une telle violence ne peut leur être imputé pour des actes qu’ils n’ont pas commis.

En raison de leur travail de défense des droits, ils ont été publiquement et injustement attaqués par ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir politique en Equateur, des accusations qui ont été largement diffusées à l’aide de médias détenus par l’Etat. Nous considérons qu’il s’agit de violence, à laquelle s’ajoute la dissolution à la hâte d’une organisation, sans aucune justification juridique, et en l’absence d’une procédure régulière qui aurait permis à l’organisation d’exercer la légitime défense.

En réponse à cette agression, nous exprimons notre soutien à la Fondation Pachamama alors qu’ils :

  1. Ne renoncent pas à leur droit de défendre les droits ; et
  2. Contestent la décision du gouvernement à l’aide de tous les moyens judiciaires dont ils disposent.

Nous continuerons de soutenir la Fondation Pachamama tout nous assurant que cette agression dont ils sont victimes ne détourne pas l’attention et le débat du problème central que représente la violation des droits collectifs des populations indigènes de l’Amazonie et les droits de la nature, au travers d’un appel d’offre pour le pétrole, mené contre la volonté des détenteurs légitimes de ces territoires affectés et malgré un « processus de socialisation » qui n’est en aucun cas une véritable consultation.

Il est grand temps de rétablir la Fondation Pachamama et de mettre un terme à la répression qui sévit en Equateur contre la société civile et les populations indigènes.

(Signature de l’Organisation, triées par pays)

Rights of Nature – Amazon Rainforest Wisdom Immersion

An Invitation to Journey With Us, January 2014

Amazon forestThe fundamental principles encapsulated by Rights of Nature ─ of Mother Earth ─ are deeply rooted in the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples. The Achuar and Kichwa peoples of the Upper Amazon of Ecuador maintain their ancient traditions living in harmony with their rainforest home.  It is no accident that in 2008 Ecuador became the first country in the world to recognize Rights of Nature in its Constitution.

We are extending a special invitation to Rights of Nature, Rights of Mother Earth advocates and individuals who are looking to understand the essence of the movement on a deeper, more personal level.  Join us on a rare opportunity to travel with global Rights of Nature leaders: Cormac Cullinan, South African environmental attorney and author of Wild Law, Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network and Robin Milam, Administrative Director for Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, on an intimate rainforest immersion journey.  We travel at the invitation of the indigenous peoples of the upper Amazon in partnership with The Pachamama Alliance. This unique journey is an opportunity to experience the Rights of Nature movement at its source while visiting with indigenous peoples in their ancestral rainforest homes.

Tiinkias eyes We will visit the iconic Kichwa community of Sarayaku and Achuar communities around the remote Kapawi Lodge. These communities have taken bold, internationally acclaimed stands to protect their rainforest home and preserve their ability to live in harmony with nature.  Throughout our journey, we will engage in a multi-faceted examination of our relationship with the natural world, the recognition of Rights of Nature, and what it means personally, as a society, and globally to restore our natural balance with Mother Earth, Pachamama and all life.

Each of us has unique gifts that are indispensable to the success of humanity at this time of unprecedented challenge and opportunity. You’ll return from your Journey with greater awareness of these very gifts and how to use them to make a difference, having been freshly recalibrated to the rhythms of the natural world. Join us on what is surely to be a life altering journey.

Learn more about our itinerary and overall journey on Pachamama’s website at: http://www.pachamama.org/pachamama-journeys/2014-journey-dates/january-17-to-january-28-2014.

huazin at KapawiThe Pachamama Alliance and its sister organization, Fundación Pachamama supported the inclusion of Rights of Nature in Ecuador’s Constitution and are founding members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.

Journey Leader, Robin Milam first journeyed to the rainforest with Pachamama in 1997 and has been leading Pachamama Journeys for many years.  Participants have claimed “this is a journey of many lifetimes“.

Interested? Contact Robin at nature@therightsofnature.org or the Pachamama Journeys team and explore what this journey could be for you.

Stories from Around the World

We invite you to share your stories about Rights of Nature. Tell us examples of how rights of nature are being recognized in your community or around the world.

Please enter your story as a comment.  We reserve the right to edit stories out of respect for our broader earth community.

Peoples Climate March and Rights of Nature Event – New York September 21-23

People's Climate MarchThe largest climate march in history is planned in New York for September 21 as a lead up to the UN Climate Summit. IEN, Global Exchange, WECAN, Idle No More, Earth Law Center, AmazonWatch, and other Alliance members are organizing delegations, hosting call-to-action events on the People’s Climate Train and at the UN Church Center that week.

Rights of Nature and Systemic Change for Real Climate Solutions

September 23 2:15pm
UN Church Center
New York, NY

On September 23rd, Global Alliance and Women’s Earth and Climate Network will host a Rights of Nature and Systemic Change for Real Climate Solutions event at 2:15-3pm at UN Church Center.

After decades of environmental protection laws (which have achieved some notable successes), our modern legal systems have failed to prevent the increasingly grave threats of climate change, degradation of earth’s ecosystems, and the growing displacement of humans and other species. To achieve sustainability even at its most basic level, the time has come for society to restructure the fundamental framework of our governance and economics systems as they relate to the relationship of humans and our Earth. A growing Rights of Nature movement is committed to creating a system of jurisprudence that treats nature and Mother Earth as a rights bearing entity. Rooted in traditional indigenous wisdom, which respects the equal rights of nature and honors the interrelationship of all life, a new paradigm founded in the notion of living in harmony with nature is critical to climate discussions, sustainability goals, community’s having the right to self-determination, and a just transition to a clean energy economy as we face urgent ecological tipping points.

Panelists will provide an introduction to Rights of Nature/Rights of Mother Earth and examine :

  • Past and upcoming international Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunals;
  • Rights of Nature and the new economy
  • Rights of Nature as a key alternative to market-mechanism “solutions”; and
  • At a local level, what Rights of Nature can do to protect your community from fracking and other harms.

Contact Osprey Orielle Lake if you want to participate.

 

Yale Center offers Rights of Nature research projects

The Center for the Rights of Nature at Yale is opening this September with a research and advocacy program through the Yale Environmental Protection Clinic - a clinic that straddles the Yale Law School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The Clinic would like to receive several project proposals from the rights of nature network. As the Project Submission Instructions and the Yale EPC Proposal Template detail, the Clinic is able to provide roughly 300 hours of volunteer research and work in legal analysis or scientific research for each project. The deadline for submission is Friday, August 22nd, 2014. The most important thing for your application is that you describe concrete goals with which the clinic can assist. Project proposals must be written in English. Please contact us with any questions and also feel free to send along drafts of your proposal for comments and suggestions by one week before the deadline, Friday August 15th, 2014 at rightsofnatureatyale@gmail.com

 

El Centro para los Derechos de la Naturaleza en Yale se abre este mes de septiembre con un programa de investigación y promoción a través de La Clínica de Protección Ambiental de Yale. La Clínica es parte de la Escuela de Derecho y la Escuela de Estudios Forestales y Ambientales. La Clínica gustaría recifbir algunas propuestas del red global para los derechos de la naturaleza. A medida que la documentación adjunta detalle, la clínica puede ofrecer alrededor de 300 horas de investigación voluntario en trabajo del análisis legal o de investigación científica. El plazo de presentación finaliza el Viernes, 22 de agosto 2014. Lo más importante para su aplicación es que usted describe los objetivos concretos con que la clínica puede ayudar. Las propuestas de proyectos deberán estar escritos en Inglés. Por favor, póngase en contacto con nosotros con cualquier pregunta y también no dude en enviar a lo largo de los borradores de su propuesta para comentarios y sugerencias por una semana antes de la fecha límite, el viernes 15 de agosto 2014 en rightsofnatureatyale@gmail.com

People’s Climate Train – CA to NY Sept 2014

From the Peoples Climate Train organizers:

The People’s Climate Train is pulling out on September 15 from Emeryville, CA and will arrive in New York City on September 18, 2014 to join the People’s Climate March September 20 & 21. Visit People’s Climate Train to SIGN UP NOW!

All Abooooaard ! !

This train is bound for the People’s Climate March, the largest demonstration ever to demand action on climate change. This mass march will coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit on September 20th & 21st, to which the leaders of 180 countries have been invited.Join the People's Climate Train to the The People’s Climate March and UN Climate SummitThe train will leave the SF Bay Area on Monday, September 15, picking up activists and concerned citizens in Sacramento, Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago and more, before arriving in NYC on Thursday the 18th. Along the way we’ll have teach-ins, trainings, mixers, and movement-building workshops.

Please contact vlove@biologicaldiversity.org with questions, ideas, and/or interest in participating in this legendary train ride to the biggest demonstration in the history of the climate movement. More info at People’s Climate Train.

If you want to ride from Emeryville, you can buy your tickets now! $201 in coach – $558 per person in shared sleeping car to Chicago.

Why:

The People’s Climate March is an invitation to change everything. The people will converge on New York City during the UN Climate Summit to demand that our world leaders ensure a safe, stable future for us all. We want to be there, and we want getting there to be as meaningful as the event itself.

What:

The People’s Climate Train is a once in a lifetime experience for participants to spend days together networking, sharing knowledge and skills, organizing and building towards a landmark moment in the climate movement.

This cross-country train will travel from the SF Bay Area to New York City, picking up activists and concerned citizens all along the way, using these precious days together for teach-ins and trainings, mixers and movement building. We will arrive at the People’s Climate March more connected, informed, organized, and ready for action.

Who:

This People’s Climate Train is being organized by Center for Biological Diversity in partnership with Buddhist Global Relief, Global Exchange, 350.org and many regional grassroots groups. The People’s Climate March is endorsed by hundreds of grassroots, faith, and environmental groups from across the country.

A big Thank you to Center for Biological Diversity and all the organizing partners!

Story of Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and the Ethics Tribunal

Just re-released!  The story of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and the Ethics Tribunal!

Learn about the origins of the Rights of Nature movement as Ecuador becomes the first country to include Rights of Nature in its Constitution and communities across the United States adopt Rights of Nature and assert their community rights.  Travel to Cochabamba, Bolivia for the creation and proclamation of the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth.  Experience the 2014 Global Rights of Nature Summit and the launch of the first Permanent Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal.

Thank you to Siegmund Thies and Norie Huddle for producing this video in both English and Spanish!

For more visit:  Video on Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and the Ethics Tribunal  http://therightsofnature.org/ga-ron-video/

I’m a Farm Wife

I’m a Farm Wife… and I hate GMOs.

gmo corn

I’m a Farm Wife. And I Hate GMOs.

Excerpts of a farm wife of a grain farmer debuncts the public myths about GMO’s and talks about why she hates GMOs and about the chemical companies at the center of the GMO thrust:

I’m a farm wife – of a grain farmer. A GMO grain farmer. There’s been a lot of heated debates about GMOs lately, as there should be, and it seems like I hear the same things repeated over and over in our agricultural community. If you’re against GMOs, you’re against farmers. If you’re against GMOs, you must be some yuppie woman from the city who drops her children off at their charter school, hits up her organic market, and goes back to her 7th floor flat to practice her internet activism against GMOs. If you are that mom, no offense, and the movement can certainly use you, provided that you really do your research and don’t quote things from NaturalNews without first making sure they are entirely unbiased and true.

So to the meat of it – why would I hate GMOs? Well, I’m going to outline several reasons. Sure, part of what you hear from me will be what you’ve heard from other GMO activists. Safety concerns, concerns about evil corporations, etc. I do not disagree with those points that many activists make. And let me say here that many times, when I’ve heard folks insult “anti-GMO activists” and I chime in, I get the “Well yeah but you’re not one of the crazy activists, so you don’t count in [whatever insult I just made]” Aren’t I? I readily admit I am one of the most outspoken people you will find on the topic. I don’t hesitate to write legislators, sign petitions, or call Monsanto on their BS on their Facebook page. I AM one of those crazy activists. And that’s fine with me. You don’t change the world by behaving. But my reasons for hating GMOs go way beyond many of the normal things you usually hear from The Activists. I truly feel that these companies and these seeds are threatening to utterly DESTROY our industry.

Read the full article of her arguments Sweet Sustainability http://sweetsustainability.net/category/project-conventional-farmer/

Video Alianza Global por los Derechos de la Naturaleza

Video que narra la creacion de la Alianza Global por los Derechos de la Naturaleza y el Tribunal Etico por los Derechos de la Naturaleza.

Ecuador – from wonder to wasteland?

As the Correa Administration moves forward with devastating intentions to drill for more oil in one of the most biodiverse areas on our planet, the cry for earth justice increases and Ecuador faces increasing turmoil.

Ecuador – from wonder to wasteland?

by David Dene. Co-founder of Protect Ecuador

the beauty of Ecuador, Yasuni National park - from the upper Amazon to the Andean HighlandsEcuador is a small country containing a wealth of bio-diversity and is being threatened by a 21st century Neo-Liberal mind-set which is more interested in the accumulation of Capital than in the preservation of irreplaceable eco-systems.

The present Government’s push for the extraction of oil and mineral resources in some of the most bio-diverse areas on our planet Earth is causing growing tension in the country.

Oil Exploration and Extraction.
Yasuni National Park is an area of incredible bio-diversity which the Government has declared open to oil extraction. The people of Ecuador have presented more than 750,000 signatures demanding a referendum on this extraction. In just four days the Government declared 230,000 votes unacceptable, and refused to hold a referendum. There are loud calls declaring the process “fraudulent” and failure of the Democratic process (and here).

Read the full article at:

http://www.ecohustler.co.uk/2014/05/23/the-battle-for-ecuador/

Climate change: a challenge that goes beyond politics

Dear Friends
I want to send you a note to share on climate change with some reflections that emerge from the Bolivian experience. Hope you will spread this.
In solidarity
Elizabeth
Climate change: a challenge that goes beyond politics
Elizabeth Peredo Beltran*It has rained incessantly in the Bolivian Amazon and in the Valleys. The waters that have flooded our territory since January, are thought to be the result of the worst rains in 40 years. More than 60,000 families have been affected – meaning that at least 350,000 people have had to leave their homes. They have lost almost everything they own: their animals, their crops, their daily lives. UNICEF has reported that 60,000 Bolivian children have been affected. 900 schools have had to suspend activities for almost a month due to high risk. Over fifty people have died and some of their bodies have still not been recovered. And we cannot yet tell what the magnitude of the impact on health, food and the ability of communities to rebuild their lives will be as the flood waters recede and the extent of the destruction is slowly revealed. One small example of how poverty triggers the vulnerability of communities comes from the situation of the indigenous people in the TIPNIS communities-.

Though reports speak of huge losses of corn, rice, potatoes, soybeans, vegetables and livestock – with estimates of over 250,000 head of cattle missing –it remains to be seen in the next few months what the economic impact of floods will be for these peoples themselves, and what the impact will be at both regional and national levels.

In the face of the dramatic situation presented by this disaster both authorities and civilians across the whole country have mobilized to collect food, medicines and everything necessary to bring help to the affected communities. Above and beyond these good intentions to come together to provide aid for those affected by the floods in the Amazon region and in the Bolivian valleys, we were however far from being capable of confronting the dimension of such a disaster. Rainfalls are also far from being recognized as not an occasional event but rather as climate events that will repeat more frequently in the future.

Not far from this region, droughts are hitting hard: in both the Chiquitanía region and the Chaco regions of Santa Cruz and Tarija there have been losses of thousands of hectares of crops, which is resulting in a silent forced migration to the cities. Just some months back the Bolivian Defence Ministry reported 247,000 hectares of land affected by the lack of rain, by snow or by fire. Meanwhile the loss of our glaciers is a sorrow to which we are becoming accustomed.

Climate change is not just a scientific issue, nor is it just something which is of exclusive interest to UN negotiations, nor it is a warning for the future: it is already present in our times, in our territories, and it comes with violence. Climate change affects people’s lives and it is already claiming many victims.

We share this grief with millions of people across the planet who are suffering the same consequences. 6,200 dead, with more than 11 million people affected by super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines just a few months back. A million people without electricity after snowstorms caused by the late winter polar vortex in the U.S.A. Thousands of people affected in the UK in what was considered the worst flooding in 200 years. Thousands of hectares of forest burned annually in Australia by the alarming drought and heat. Thousands affected in Central America, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Paraguay and other countries. 25 million souls driven into uncertainty by water shortages, the result of droughts and heat waves in California. A deadly landslide with more than one hundred people missing in Washington State (USA), the result of heavy rains. Millions of humans and ecosystems at risk in various parts of the world… News that nobody wants to hear, but which we will inevitably be forced to confront in our own lifetimes, even though the news appears first as cold statistics in the press.

We need to connect the dots to realise that climate change is a phenomenon that challenges us to overcome short-term visions and the empty rhetoric of “Mother Earth”, devoid of concrete actions. Climate change is a consequence of the violent exploitation of nature, of endless economic growth systems based on fossil fuel consumption, understood as an irreplaceable condition for human “welfare”. This obsolete idea has been inculcated into our lives on a social, a psychological and on a cultural level.

What can we do to finally to take on board that the emissions from burning fossil fuels, of large scale cattle exploitation and of deforestation emissions -both in the North and in the South- are destroying our atmosphere? Where are the effective means of caring for the Common Goods kidnapped by corporations and the global addiction to unlimited growth? How long do we have to wait till the polluters begin to stop poisoning us and prevent worse consequences? When and how will there be compensation for the damage? (almost 71.5% of global emissions are from developed countries where only 17.3% of the world population reside). What can we do to avoid the likelihood that the so-called “development” of the global South will repeat that same destructive patterns (disguised by the promises of progress and of happiness)?

Unfortunately, and not only in Bolivia, this theme has become distorted. It became an issue of political and economic interest, rather than simply being recognised as a matter of life or death, a challenge for survival.

The Fifth IPCC (AR5) report has established in an unequivocal way that climate change is caused by human activity and that it is causing climate chaos everywhere. This report has warned that climate change presents enormous risks related to the access to water, food and livelihood. Some scientists and activists have been highly critical of this report for being – when all is said and done – conservative in nature, especially when it comes to expressing the urgency of the matter. They note that climate change is occurring faster than the IPCC scenarios had indicated, and that the Arctic ice-melt –and its consequent methane release (one of the greatest global threats) – has been underestimated due to pressure mounted by the rich nations and by the oil lobby. Other voices are questioning the possibility that the IPCC report has opened up opportunities for false solutions like “geo engineering” and unproven technologies, instead of insisting in a stronger way on the restriction of the use of fossil fuels.

Denialism around the world

In the context of this global emergency, surprisingly, a political/ideological current called “denialism” has emerged. Denialists claim that these phenomena do not correspond to the saturation of the atmosphere as a direct result of human action, rather they claim that it is simply due to the planet’s “natural cycles”. Denialists, as if we have need of such a service, have devoted their activism to denial of scientific reports. They have become a strong global current that accompanies the rhythms of economical development and investment, blaming environmentalists for creating unnecessary uncertainty. Their position is in essence linked with the corporate oil lobby, large corporations and private capital dedicated to the continued exploration for -and exploitation of- fossil fuels. Their political/industry alliances are indestructible.

Bill McKibben, activist founder of 350.org has claimed that if oil reserves recognised by the world stock markets were exploited, this would consume five times the remaining atmospheric carbon budget. A calamity! Meanwhile, denialism among U.S. republican representatives commands an impressive lobby so that the US doesn’t even contribute to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) nor the UN platform on Economic and Social issues (ECOSOC), even more: they promote the “persecution” of their country’s scientists who assert that anthropogenic climate change is a reality. James Hansen, one of the NASA scientists, is one of their favourite targets.

Denialism does have definite concrete political realities as describe above, but the term also describes an attitude in society, a broad social space of indifference to both global and climate change. This attitude holds significant way in civil society because people find it very difficult to change their lives in order to prevent global disaster. They prefer to close their eyes to the future. In the field of social psychology this is called “cognitive dissonance”. Clive Hamilton, Professor at the Australian Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, has concluded that denialism is an expression of the failure of humanity to confront this crisis of global dimensions.

Another form of “denialism”, – although they don’t much like it mentioned – is that which comes from governments and from other circles of power and decision-making who disregard the urgent need for action despite the information is available to them. Through their decisions they deny the urgent need to change the current model of development, the energy grid, and the management of the response to the crisis of global climate change. The alarming information provided by science is available to governments first hand.

Just remember the Philippine climate change negotiator to the UNFCCC who moved a global audience during the climate talks in Poland 2013, demanding “an end to this madness”, after super-typhoon Haiyan devastated part of his country. Though negotiators responded to his words with minutes of silence and expressions of solidarity, negotiations continued as if nothing had happened. Business continued “as usual”, and the production and consumption of fossil fuels throughout the world continued “as usual”. Convention agreements fall paradoxically by the wayside; the dictates of the capitalist system are at once stronger and more binding than the multilateral agreements. Negotiators seem to speak in unison: “We can vouch for what we have accomplished in the negotiations, but not for the policies in our own countries”. The big decisions – those linked to the economic system, to the energy matrices, and to capitalist production, that permanent engine of depredation – are kept in place by regional governments at the territorial and local levels.

Bolivia and the challenge of climate change

The recent floods in Bolivia have brought us one step closer to these big questions. To a greater or lesser extent, our understanding is framed by the controversies that are taking place across the globe. We observe the impacts of the climate crisis: polarisation, crisis, demands, the taking up of positions and proposals that go beyond the scope of the climate negotiations.

In Bolivia this has also brought about controversy. This is mediated by national and regional political tensions. Thus the people from the Amazon villages wonder: “What do we do now? What will sustain our families? Are we less important than cattle?” The tensions unleashed by the floods demonstrate how far we are from responses on the scale that is required. Distancing oneself from that which the government says, from local government demands, from Brazilian silence (motivated by the possible causal effects of recently constructed mega-dams), from the political declarations… what really matters is the construction of a society which is resilient to these global changes, and, therefore, a society able to build a new world based on solidarity and empathy.

There are some lessons that I venture to pinpoint from the dramas that we have lived through in the recent floods in our country:

- We do not need heroes, nor do we need the usual political battles. Rather, we require a long-term view that takes into account climate change and other global changes, seeing the incorporation of cross-cutting measures as critical at every level of public administration and of public life. Nurturing Nature and the Human Rights of the population, especially the poorest people, should be high priorities.

- While negotiations on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) are now the only multilateral scenario for global commitments (though they are near to collapse due to their own inefficiency), today local priorities are more important than ever. This is where we can see whether or not we are making progress in stopping this catastrophe and changing the world to care for and regenerate life fabrics that are still alive.

- Resilience must be considered in a multi-dimensional way, from what it means to meet the challenge of sustainable energy and to restore harmony, to the development of technical skills in agriculture, water management, human settlements, etc. Resilience also means ensuring a healthy social tissue, strengthening solidarity, respect and mutual recognition.

- Resilience means also developing a more complex viewpoint that redefines “development” for these times of global changes. To face properly climate change, states must take seriously the fossil fuels use menace. They have to think how to stop and change “fossilized” economies and societies.

- The care and restoration of Nature should become an obsession for all –particularly for governments – learning from the capability of the people (amply expressed in those days of rain) to give solidarity. Learning from Mother Earth itself and from its diversity, from the local knowledge of each people and town from the positive progress of mankind.

We need to neutralize “denialism” as a collective attitude; it is not an unalterable condition. It is simply because people are unable to change their depredatory habits, because the channels for proactive and restorative activity are blocked by the systems of political power, by energy systems and by the markets that surround us.

There is a growing global consciousness which is looking for ways to activate itself; It is trying to pave the ways to do so and to enable people to build resilient communities not just using technologies and systems, but also in more intimate fabrics – solidarity, love, compassion –which strengthen the possibilities for healthy interactions, and feed the desire to heal Nature, nourishing empathy and sentiments for others.

Climate change is challenging humanity. It demands a huge effort from all of us to restore and heal the planet. This requires discipline, rebelliousness and creativity in order to confront a truly global emergency with substantial implications for life and civilization. It is an emergency that by whatever political calculation – from wherever it comes – is simply… unacceptable.

La Paz, Bolivia

April, 2014

Elizabeth Peredo Beltrán is a Bolivian Social Psychologist, researcher and author. She lives in La Paz, Bolivia and is one of the promoters of the Blue October Campaign for water as a Common.
Translation and edition in English: Thanks to Tony Phillips and Monica Stopplemann

http://octubreazulbolivia.blogspot.com/2014/05/climate-change-challenge-that-goes.html