Saturday, April 21, 2012

Be happy don't worry

Life is worth more than gold.

(slogan adopted by indigenous people in Ecuador and Peru in protest over environmental destruction)

If any question why we died tell them, because our fathers lied.

(Rudyard Kipling)

Gulf Seafood Deformities

A short story about Latin America

It's unlikely that many Americans are aware of the unfolding changes that are occurring in Latin America, certainly beyond what Chavez of Venezuela says about the U.S. or the endless stories about the growing economic power of Brazil.

One of the less publicized changes—outside Latin America at least—is the spreading movement of indigenous people throughout the region to protect their communities from corrupt governments, global corporations and large state controlled enterprises such as found in China. These are the people whose ancestors inhabited the region long before the Spanish conquistadors arrived.

Mobilization efforts in particular have been directed at protecting water rights and mining exploitation but are now spreading beyond just the local or a few particular issues. Well organized movements at the present time can be found in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Guatemala.

Voices are being raised that are calling for the protection of the environment, basic civil rights, an end to mono-culture agriculture, forest destruction and the endless mineral concessions given to trans-national enterprises. See Why the International Day of Peasants' Struggle is Important and Peru sets up close scrutiny of Conga mine.

Passing through North America

The Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Nobel Prize winner in literature, once said, “Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but … life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

What do we Americans think we're obliged to do? Perhaps we really are too frightened at this point to let go of the status quo even as it crumbles around us. Maybe we are so bereft of new ideas at home that we better see what is happening in the rest of the world, even though many of us can't believe the rest of the world has anything to teach us, certainly not some peasants in Latin America.

What can those indigenous people possibly know about the 21st century and the environment, that is centered in a global market economy? For an interesting “thought piece” on us Americans and what we might consider, read the New Yorker article Evening the Odds. Then read the short article National Journalreports: Things are bad in Real America.

Monster in the closet

We ultimately, it seems to me, cannot escape going back to the subject of climate change, even while we're dealing with the dismal here and now. Yes, yes we know now that changing minds entails a lot more than just the facts, but we still need the facts to help change the minds—many of them.

For an excellent article on the subject go to How We Know Global Warmingis Real and Human Caused. When you reach the Skeptic sight scroll down to the article. It was written by Donald R. Prothero, an actual climate scientist. Of interest as well, read the comments at the end of the article.

The fundamental problems have not been resolved … The crisis has entered what may be a less volatile but more lethal phase.

(George Soros, in Financial Times 2012)

Additional Reading:

“Doubt is our product”:PR versus science (the corporate art of confusion)

A Stain That Won't Wash Away (BP and the Gulf)[must log in to read article]

Mandato Por El Agua, La VidaY La Dignidad De Los Pueblos (movement of indigenous people in Latin America)

Why nations fail (point of view)

Cultural Cognition and theChallenge of Science Communication (video presentation, University of Cambridge)

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