Let’s treat people as well as we treat animals

This could be an indication of an outbreak of common sense,

There’s a bold new idea on the front edge of conservation: Let’s treat people as well as we treat animals.

Story here,

Creating Conservation Communities


Grain’s agrofuel report

Grain, an NGO that supports poor farmers in poor countries, has published a large report that is getting a lot of publicity.

The press release is here, the report, a special issue of the magazine Seedling, is here, further reading here.

We begin with an introductory article that, among other things, looks at the mind-boggling numbers that are being bandied around: the Indian government is talking of planting 14 million hectares of land with jatropha; the Inter-American Development Bank says that Brazil has 120 million hectares that could be cultivated with agrofuel crops; and an agrofuel lobby is speaking of 379 million hectares being available in 15 African countries. We are talking about expropriation on an unprecedented scale…

The UN World Food Program in Somalia

The World Food Program dumps food on the market in Somalia, with predictable results. From The Independent,

“Food aid sent to Somalia to combat one of the world’s largest malnutrition crises has been criticised by Somali elders for causing violence – and for being delivered at the start of the harvest season.

More than 33,500 tonnes of food aid has been delivered to Somalia by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) since the start of the year. But in Marere district in the lower Juba valley, farmers and elders said the food distribution had brought chaos and driven down the price of maize by 60 per cent.

“WFP shouldn’t have brought it now,” said Mohammed Abdullahi Gure, chairman of the elders committee in Marere, who said distribution of the food had caused serious security problems.[…]

It is not the first time that Marere’s elders have criticised the WFP. After a chaotic food distribution last year, which also took place during the harvest season, the elders wrote to WFP asking the UN organisation not to deliver food again.[…]

Musa Yusuf Ahmed, 44, was a policeman before the Somali government collapsed in 1991. Now, he tries to make a living from farming, growing maize, beans and watermelons. He normally sells a 50kg bag of maize for 100,000 Somali shillings (about £3.10), but Mr Ahmed said it had dropped to 40,000 (£1.25). “For we farmers it is a big problem,” he said. “The food will benefit the people with no money but it will hurt the farmers.”

Some recipients of the food aid have also claimed that the quality is so bad they have had to feed it to their animals…”

Dark Green Ideas

Here are some dark green ideas.

Human communities should be maintained in small population enclaves within linked wilderness ecosystems. No human community should be larger than 20,000 people and separated from other communities by wilderness areas. Communication systems can link the communities.[…]

We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion. […]

All consumption should be local. No food products need to be transported over hundreds of miles to market. All commercial fishing should be abolished. If local communities need to fish the fish should be caught individually by hand.[…]

Who should have children? Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans. Being a parent should be a career. Whereas some people are engineers, musicians, or lawyers, others with the desire and the skills can be fathers and mothers. Schools can be eliminated if the professional parent is also the educator of the child.

This approach to parenting is radical but it is preferable to a system where everyone is expected to have children in order to keep the population of consumers up to keep the wheels of production moving. An economic and political system dependent on continuous growth cannot survive the ecological law of finite resources.

There is, of course, a complexity of problems in adjusting to a new design that will simply allow us to survive the consequences of our past ecological folly.

Curing a body of cancer requires radical and invasive therapy, and therefore, curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach.

This vision belongs to Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (HT Tim Worstall).

Other quotes from Paul Watson,

If you don’t know an answer, a fact, a statistic, then … make it up on the spot(in Earthforce: An Earth Warrior’s Guide to Strategy).

The fact is that we live in an extremely violent culture, and we all justify violence if it’s for what we believe in” (at the Animal Rights 2002 convention).

There’s nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win. Then you write the history (at the Animal Rights 2002 convention).

“We’re not a protest organization, we’re a policing organization” (on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society).

Source of quotes here.

Fighting over carbon offsets

Many carbon offset schemes are bad, and there is a growing backlash against them (see this post on In Balance). Companies and NGOs with green goals are also competing for money and power. From BBC,

Carbon offsets ‘harm environment’

The current trend for “offsetting” carbon emissions by planting trees is doing more harm to the environment than good, MPs have been told.

The public is being “seriously misled” by companies peddling carbon offset schemes, campaigner Jutta Kill told the environmental audit committee.

The schemes did not reduce emissions and simply gave industry a “licence to pollute” elsewhere, she argued.

People should give money directly to climate charities instead, she said…

Jutta Kill is Climate Change Campaign Co-ordinator for the Forests and the European Union Resource Network (FERN), a charity.

World Parks at Risk

The October issue of National Geographic has a series of articles on The Future of Parks, including an interesting article by David Quammen. He writes,

“Serengeti National Park tells the world that the people of Tanzania, accepting some burden of inconvenience, find themselves privileged to embrace within their boundaries a vast grassland filled with lions – come and see.”

The truth of the matter is that many Tanzanians, especially the Masai who previously inhabited Serengeti, see parks as places where wild animals are favored over local people for the benefit of foreign tourists.

It is also true that parks and other protected areas work. We need them if we want to conserve biodiversity.

But there are huge opportunity costs associated with protected areas. The long term sustainability of protected areas in poor countries is threatened by inadequate compensations for these costs.

If more poor countries become more democratic, the problem will get worse. Parks are an elite concern. By appealing directly to governing elites, the international conservation community has been able to get the support it needs to maintain the parks. This system may not be viable in the long run in countries that are poor, democratic and where landlessness is a serious problem.

A hint of things to come can be seen in Kenya, where the government, worried about an upcoming election, a year ago downgraded the Amboseli National Park to a national reserve, and handed control over it back to the Masai through the local county council. 29 NGOs wrote an open letter to the president of Kenya complaining about this decision, and arguing that income from Amboseli should continue to be used to subsidize unprofitable parks, and not all be paid to the county council.

Since Amboseli generates substantial revenue from wildlife, it may survive as a protected area rich in wildlife. In the absence of additional payments for conservation or as compensation, other parks are more economically viable if turned into farms or ranches.

For some reason, there doesn’t seem to be any international organizations or NGOs that want to come up with the money so that people in poor countries can receive fair compensation for setting aside their land for the benefit of all of us.