Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

El Salvador and its fight to life


But for the grace of, what, luck? Place of birth and station in life. Just imagine being transplanted to El Salvador, and as a peasant or indigenous who depends on water, from streams and rivers, for drinking, cooking, washing and other basic needs of life. And El Salvador is a very poor country, of which the World Bank is aware, since it collects and disseminates data on the country, and provides loans and technical assistance. (more…)

the indigenous, living in the past


Those who have survived extirpation, in a few instance thrive. Otherwise for the majority of Native Americans, even of the US, it remains a struggle for survival – with the US government a not-insignificant contributor to that struggle. A recent example is the constructing of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). (more…)

Tourism – the joys and sorrows


A brief sketch. Imagine an idyllic island of some 30 thousand people. Beautiful and accessible, sandy beaches and calm, turqoise seas. Infrastructure and services, adequate to good. (more…)

Water, nature and protective voices


The loss of ancestral rights, lands and natural resources continues apace in places where the affected communities lack credible and effective representation. In Guatemala, as Honduras and other countries, the indigenous and campesinos refuse to be silenced, often at the cost of their lives. A recent example is the eleven day march of 15,000 to Guatemala City to protest the ruthless onslaught of corporations on their water resources. As TeleSUR reports,  March for Water: Thousands Protest Corporate Greed in Guatemala (more…)

Honduras, model of export-led growth?


Just a heavy dollop of irony.

The news is pleasant enough. In some local paper appears a photo or two of visiting corporate executives chatting with local officials. There is the confident good news: well-paying jobs and an improved standard of living for some community poor but rich in newly discovered natural resources, rapid economic development is around the corner. But in many cases bitter reality strikes, and hard.

Among the countries where such reality is very stark is Honduras, the most unequal country in Latin America and with a poverty rate of some 64%. A journalistic journey helps reinforce the saying, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed – coming to a community near you.” One lesson of caution to be heeded: they come to extract wealth, and the community pays the cost – as the community of Lago Agrio, Ecuador, has long learned as it still awaits resolution to a more than a decade old suit against Chevron.. (more…)

Whether weather or climate change


It’s just a matter of time – so to speak. One seasonal, periodic, short-term; the other, long term. The experts at Nasa explain in NASA – What’s the Difference Between Weather and Climate? An excerpt that should invite further reading,

The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time.


COP21 and Spaceship Earth


Droughts. Floods. Rising sea levels. El Niño, increasing in severity. Vulnerable populations, especially in low lying countries. And amid all the rapid advancement in knowledge and science? And who pays the cost for the failure of policy at the national and international levels on the part of the principal contributors, and not those of only just recently?

A look back. Of significance there was first the Industrial Revolution, and all that entailed. Later, much later, and with the ecological and environmental impact of pollution and unconstrained economic growth, there was Rachel Carson with her Silent Spring, first published in 1962. A few years later, there would come Joe Bain with Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth in 1966. (more…)

A book of verse, some fresh air, some water?


Essentials of life: air and water and nourishment (and social and physical activity). Given today’s precarious environment Omar Khayyam would certainly not disagree – once we keep as personal his other two recommendations.

It was ironic that on the day of the commencement of COP21 in Paris, 30Nov, China would have issued a smog, health hazard, alert for its capital, Beijing. While that and the ensuing ‘red’ alert occupy the headlines, The Guardian fills in some more disquieting details. As bad as it is, Beijing is not so bad, which says how bad it is. Where is the world’s most polluted city? The constant is the likelihood of severe health problems (and range of costs to individual, family and society) to those continually exposed to such hazards.  (more…)

The Mekong River: energy demand, economic development, environmental protection


On Monday, 30 November, the CoP21 talks started in Paris. The expectation is that at its conclusion there would be a legally binding action plan agreed. A quandary for many developing countries has been the trade-off with generating energy for economic development and minimising damage to the ecology and living standards in the process.

Many countries have used their rivers and other water resources to generate electricity or to build dams to provide potable water. Doing so has entailed many risks and costs, with attempts at minimisation: ecological damage, population displacement and, at times, severe unintended consequences. Vietnam is one of the countries dependent on the many benefits of the Mekong River. Laos and Cambodia are others.And to be considered in the decision to exploit the benefits of the river, is how decisions by one can affect the others. A range of challenges, and benefits, is examined in a recent article in the Guardian, Mekong: a river rising

With an artful combination of audio-visual devices, the  presentation seeks to, and succeeds in, simplifying to a great extent a complex issue.

Again, another highly informative, yet conversational, read from the Guardian.

Black gold, black hearts, and benighted populations


The gods of the environment and depleting resources must be at wit’s end. This time, an oil gush (‘spill’ is such a tidy, innocous word) in California, which brings back earlier memories of California and more recent one in the Gulf of Mexico. Would that those fishies, dolphins and fisher folk had the ducats, the guita to persuade their political representatives to preserve and protect their health, environment and livelihood.

The Guardian does the honour with the report, California oil spill despoils coastline in tar-blackened reprise of 1960s disaster. Three brief paragraphs sketch the context.

Mark Massara was eight years old in 1969, when a blowout at a Union Oil well off the California coast spilled more than three million gallons of crude along the beaches of Santa Barbara and devastated one of the northern hemisphere’s most prized ecosystems.

He remembers going to the beach with his family and throwing hay on the oil as it washed ashore – a frustratingly inadequate gesture that stayed with him as he later built a career as one of California’s top environmental lawyers.

Last week, Massara was back in Santa Barbara, surveying the damage of the latest of many spills along California’s staggeringly beautiful central coast and lamenting how little has changed in the past 46 years. An oil slick stretching for miles is once again choking fish and wildlife, and again local residents are flocking to foul-smelling, blackened beaches to do what little they can to help with the cleanup.

Clearly, a traumatic experience that inspires a career should not have deserved an encore?

Of course, we are reminded of the Lago Agrio of Ecuador and the Niger Delta of Nigeria, environmental, health and welfare disasters that remain, barely treated or resolved. The power (and impunity) of the multinational corporation?