Blog 5: Solutions

The last blog… Climate change and the social inequality it brings about is a major issue in our world today. The solutions are out there and ideas are being conjured up, but it will for sure be a difficult process to accept and embrace. Many small scale projects are chipping away at the processes that are destroying our planet. This week I want to focus on one most of us are familiar with, the Leap Manifesto and possible solutions. The Leap Manifesto is a Canadian document that is calling to action radical restructuring of their economy as the use of fossil fuels comes to a close. Fossil fuels are a considerable greenhouse gas emitter and contribute to climate change in a noticeable amount. Extraction and processing of fossil fuels have disrupted the lives of many peoples while benefiting others in an unjust fashion. The release of the Leap Manifesto was during the time of a national election campaign and struck up a lot of discussion about its possibilities and future potentials.

With the Canadian election campaign focusing on the Leap Manifesto there is a large amount of media coverage on the issue and people’s ideas about it. The Canadian New Democratic Party (NDP) are the main supporters and are seriously debating and looking into the Leap Manifestos potential. An article in The Guardian stated, “If we act according to deep principles of justice, combatting climate change can simultaneously address many other problems: creating hundreds of thousands of good, clean jobs; implementing the land and treaty rights of Indigenous peoples; reducing racial and gender inequalities; welcoming far more refugees and migrants; and localizing agriculture so that people eat healthy” (NEWS) with regards to the acceptance of the manifesto and the NDP’s views. The manifesto was written by the people being impacted by climate change and recognize the social unjust that has come from it: labor unionists, migrant rights activists, feminists, indigenous leaders, environmentalists and many more isolated groups. A local Vancouver news article stated the implications with the Leap Manifesto in that it openly rejects pipelines which is an issue for the province of Alberta whose economy heavily relies on the use of pipelines. The article then points out the NDP’s defense for this struggle with the idea that, “A progressive reduction in our carbon footprint does not mean elimination of pipelines and fossil fuel production. It means we must develop them with lower emissions, water use and greater benefits for our population” (LOCAL NEWS). The attention the Leap Manifesto is getting on media sources and through political debates is important for spreading the awareness of solutions towards climate change and social inequality.

Naomi Klein is a social activist who also supports the Leap Manifesto and was one of the initiating signatories for the document release. Klein has done a lot of work with regards to climate change and social inequality including here book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. In this book Klein discusses how we need to deal with a “savagely unjust economic system” which has been the sole mover of climate change. She suggests we need, “game-changing [policy battles] that don’t merely aim to change laws but change patterns of thought” and, “a space for a full-throated debate about values—about what we owe to one another based on our shared humanity, and what it is that we collectively value more than economic growth and corporate profits” (BOOK). It’s the idea of respect for lives and our planet, the ideology of stewardship and unselfishness that will bring about a solution. The paper Global Inequality and Climate Change by Roberts concludes with the idea that, “issues of equity will have to be dealt with at the same time as the environment” and that, “equity and ecology must be dealt with together” (REPORT). These ideas are the frameworks for altering the minds of the people in control towards halting climate change and social inequality. The presence of the issue and distribution of these ideas to a large scale audience whether through news sources, presidential elections, books, or manifestos is a major step towards a solution by which we begin to understand the planet we share together and the respect for all lives with an unselfish view, neglecting capitalism.

 

Works Cited

Klein, Naomi. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

“Leap Manifesto Dominates National NDP Convention | News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver’s News. Vancouver’s Talk.” Leap Manifesto Dominates National NDP Convention | News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver’s News. Vancouver’s Talk. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Lukacs, Martin. “The Leap Manifesto Opens Horizon for Bold New Politics in Canada | Martin Lukacs.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 15 Apr. 2016. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Roberts, J. Timmons. “Global Inequality and Climate Change.” Society & Natural Resources 14.6 (2001): 501-09. Web.

 

Final Post – Climate Change

I mistakenly thought that my last post was my concluding one, so this post will be one looking forward towards one of the greatest challenges we will face as a global community: climate change.

Climate change is an issue that threatens human health, the stability of nations, the stability of ecosystems and much more (McMichael 2013). The majority of the scientific community and many major players on a global scale have acknowledged these risks (McMichael 2013, USAID 2016, Davenport 2016, The Local 2015).

USAID has gotten involved and already has instituted programs to help prepare for the problems that have yet to come (USAID 2016). Like other sources, USAID encourages climate mitigation (USAID 2016, McMichael 2013). USAID has also advocated for the preservation of biodiversity, reforestation and securing land tenure rights to help preserve peoples’ livelihoods (USAID 2016).

But is this enough? Some remain skeptical (The Local 2015). In December of 2015, nations from all over the world met in Paris to negotiate some kind of climate agreement to reduce the future potential increase in temperature (The Local 2015, Davenport 2016). Although the climate talks in Paris were widely celebrated, there was still a lot left to be resolved (The Local 2015, Davenport 2016). The U.S. wanted to agreement to be completely voluntary so that the agreement didn’t have to be passed through Congress (The Local 2015). China was concerned about raising the quality of life for its developing nation while still meeting its carbon emissions reductions goals (The Local 2015). The negotiator present form India emphasized that whatever changes were proposed, they should be affordable so that all countries can meet their emissions reductions goals (The Local 2015).

It’s clear that creating an agreement was incredibly challenging (The Local 2015). Many feared a repeated of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Talks that did not have any clear, established and agreed upon path forward (The Local 2015). The way all of these conflicts were solved was by offering countries the opportunity to update their emissions goals every five years (The Local 2015). Many countries fear that reducing or discouraging the use of fossil fuels will harm their economies (The Local 2015, Davenport 2016).

Many assume that reducing carbon emissions will reduce economic growth (Davenport 2016, The Local 2015). This assumption is logical since the U.S. began utilizing fossil fuels at the same time that it started to become a global player (Davenport 2016). However, in the last several years, more than twenty countries have shown that their rate of carbon pollution and rate of economic growth no longer directly correlate (Davenport 2016).

In the United States between 2000 and 2014, carbon dioxide emissions decreased 16% (Davenport 2016). Economic growth increased 9% (Davenport 2016).

Only 21 countries have achieved the same as the U.S. and almost 175 countries haven’t (Davenport 2016). GDP and carbon emissions still positively correlate on a global scale (Davenport 2016).

So what do we do about that? The Paris Climate talks are hoping for no more than a 2C increase in temperature (The Local 2015). Despite this, USAID and other organizations are encouraging preparation and mitigation (USAID 2016, McMichael 2013).

USAID has helped nearly a million people worldwide better manage natural resources in a more sustainable way (USAID 2016). They have also encouraged multiple countries in Africa to strengthen the way they protect land tenure so people have have security in their ability to access natural resources (USAID 2016). More specifically climate change related, USAID has a group of 20 countries working on a project to increase economic growth without increasing emissions (USAID 2016).

It’s clear that no one has come up with the answer to global climate change (McMichael 2013, USAID 2016, Davenport 2016, The Local 2015). However, many organizations are working to do something (McMichael 2013, USAID 2016, Davenport 2016, The Local 2015). Climate change will be a very challenging problem that poses a threat to not just our environment, but the very food on our plates and the stability of our nations (McMichael 2013, USAID 2016, Davenport 2016, The Local 2015). Climate change is one of the future issues we will have to face in International Development and we will have to do so collaboratively, as a compassionate global community (McMichael 2013, USAID 2016, Davenport 2016, The Local 2015).

 


Work Cited

McMichael, Anthony J. “Globalization, climate change, and human health.” New England Journal of Medicine 368.14 (2013): 1335-1343.

USAID. “Environment and Global Climate Change.” USAID. U.S. Agency for International Development, 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <https://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/environment-and-global-climate-change>. 

Davenport, Coral. “Can Economies Rise as Emissions Fall? The Evidence Says Yes.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Apr. 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/upshot/promising-signs-that-economies-can-rise-as-carbon-emissions-decline.html>.

The Local. “After Paris Climate Accord – Now What?” The Local. The Local, 13 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <http://www.thelocal.fr/20151213/after-paris-climate-accord-now-what>

The Future of Sustainability in Southeast Asia

In previous blog posts I have focused on issues ailing the Southeast Asian region in the past and present. This concluding post will deviate from its predecessors, instead focusing on the future of this vibrant, yet rapidly changing area.

The hurdles and challenges facing the people, governments, NGOs, and international agencies in Southeast Asia are countless. Nearly every aspect of development in this region needs reform in order to veer onto a sustainable path. While I have spent extensive time detailing environmental problems such as dams in the Mekong, fishery collapses, and deforestation, these large scale events are largely unfelt by the average global citizen. Take for example the havoc being wreaked on coral reefs in the region. In the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, coral is beginning to bleach and die in response to rising sea temperatures and changing climatic conditions. One local source details, “If the temperature rises to 30.5 [degree Celsius] in the Gulf of Thailand and 28 [degree Celsius] in the Andaman Sea, bleaching is likely to happen,” (Wipatayotin). While the need is clearly urgent, the average person is not directly or immediately felt by the loss of coral reefs and its ecosystem service. How far will it take then to have these environmental disasters felt by and trigger response from the average person?

While environmental degradation is not felt significantly now, it is incorrect to say that it is having no impact. In fact, nearly one in four deaths are due to environmental factors like air, water, and soil pollution, with the “most environmentally-linked deaths [happening] in Southeast Asia, which accounted for 3.8 million such deaths in 2012,” (“Deaths in SE Asia”). Southeast Asia, whether it is the cause of degradation or not, is facing the brunt of the consequences. To the average Western consumer sitting at their computer, life continues uninterrupted, but to the individuals living in these regions, the changes they are encountering are only the beginning. Ultimately, a combined effort of NGOs, national governments, international agencies, and local stakeholders are needed to prevent the situation from getting worse. However, if the West fails to realize, assist, and pay for the harm its people and society is having on regions like Southeast Asia through avoidance of climate change accountability, then it is painstakingly up to national governments in Southeast Asia to save their own people. Eventually, Western officials who refuse to acknowledge delivering assistance will be forced to deal with similar problems in a few decades, however by then the damage will be impossible to mitigate.

Governments in Southeast Asia have typically been slow and unresponsive to ideas of sustainability and green technology as a source of energy. Natural gas, coal, and oil dominate the market, leaving renewables like solar and wind for small-scale village electrification. In fact, “The region will need more resources for itself as it develops further.

Graph detailing the amount by which each sector accounts for in Southeast Asia’s energy consumption.

There will be fewer surpluses for export. This is already the case for oil,” (Symon 241). In another instance the paper states, “With urbanization and growing incomes, motor vehicle ownership has risen rapidly. In Manila… the number of cars has doubled every seven years,” (Symon 243). Clearly, as the region grows economically and in terms of population, energy resources are going to be needed in greater demand. With a system in set for more coal, natural gas, and oil imports and production, there is little room or incentive for renewables. This is the time when governments and organizations like ASEAN need to push for sustainable initiatives and energy. If these governments are not capable of establishing a precedent for sustainable energy and independence now, then once resources become strained and populations and economies grow, there will be no room for switching to green technology.

Map detailing which regions are vulnerable to climate change, with a greater numerical value equating to more vulnerability.

While the outlook for energy independence in this region looks bleak, sustainable ideas and programs are appearing throughout Southeast Asia. As aforementioned in previous posts, tourism has the potential to place power in indigenous people while developing local economies. However, tourism also has the potential to be environmentally destructive, with the industry accounting for 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions through pollution and waste (“UNEP”). When used effectively, countries and local people can make huge economic gains, as described “in the Galapagos Islands and Palau, [where] visitors pay an entry tax to protected areas,” generating over $1.3 billion in Palau annually since 2009 (“UNEP”). The future success of ecotourism is one that requires collaboration with local people, organizations, and governments in order to ensure that the actions committed are in fact sustainable and supporting indigenous groups and conservation.

The future of sustainability in Southeast Asia is one that remains contingent on a variety of political stakeholders, two of those being the current global powerhouses China and the United States. With increasing Chinese influence, the United States has begun to intervene and divest leadership in these nations in order to remain sovereign. The idea of whether this is an American ploy to dominate the region is another debate, but one thing is clear, Southeast Asians are going to feel an increasing pressure from outside forces. As one article describes, “Southeast Asian nations are reluctant to choose sides, wary about being wed as pawns in a geopolitical struggle between superpowers,” (Nakamura). The theory has historical basis, with Korea and Vietnam serving as reminders of geopolitical struggles. The only solution is for global independence to be established, whether that be regional security through the ASEAN or security on a national basis, free from global powers. While establishing security, Southeast Asian nations would be in a position to launch and create sustainable agendas such as energy independence and environmental programs. Doing so would enable freedom from the oil and energy market while decreasing the need for reliance and influence from superpowers like China and the United States.

While Southeast Asian nations play an interconnected role in the global world as both exporters and importers of goods, the nation’s composing this region are at a crucial fork. An opportunity exists for these nations to become independent, free of influence from larger political entities, generating policies and development projects based on their specific economic, social, and environmental needs. Therefore, the future sustainability of this region is not bleak, but one filled with optimism that local groups, national governments, and international organizations can collaborate to promote independent, sustainable livelihoods, addressing the key issues facing the largest environmental crises of the 21st century.

References:

“Environment to Blame for 3.8 Million Deaths in SE Asia since 2012, WHO Finds.” Malay Mail Online. Malay Mail Online, 15 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Nakamura, David. “Obama Welcomes 10 Southeast Asian Leaders to California Summit.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Symon, Andrew. “Fuelling Southeast Asia´s Growth: The Energy Challenge.” ASEAN Economic Bulletin 21.2 (2004): 239-48. JSTOR. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

“Harnessing the Power of One Billion Tourists for a Sustainable Future.” United Nations Environment Programme. United Nations Environment Programme, 5 Nov. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Wipatayotin, Apinya. “Andaman Coral Reef Sites May Close.” Bangkok Post. Bangkok Post, 10 Apr. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Blog 4: Indigenous People

Indigenous people are impacted by climate change to the point where in recent years many uprisings and rallies have occurred in attempts for change. These people are often overlooked due to their small population numbers and the land that is desired for which they live on and have rights to. One could insinuate that indigenous people are impacted heavily based on their dependence on the land around them, they live off the land and rely on its production for a livelihood. The fact that indigenous people’s rights for their land has become an issue in the last few decades shows that the land is changing and climate change is impacting our planet and its people who rely on it.

The book Climate Change and Indigenous People by Abate and Kronk discuss how and why climate change disproportionately burdens indigenous people. They first open up by sharing that a history of colonization and oppression is a major reason for lack of respect and increased vulnerability that indigenous peoples have, and that, “many indigenous communities also share unique legal and spiritual connections to their environment” (Abate and Kronk), which together results in depreciation for their environment impacting their traditional sustainable lives and rights. Environmental changes including: severe drought, higher temperatures, deforestation, vegetation loss, ice melt, and species loss; have all impacted indigenous people’s lives because they rely on the land for their livelihood. It is becoming more difficult for indigenous people to continue their traditional farming practice, carry a steady food supply, rely on the same diet, and many more losses in daily activities which are conglomerating to the point where indigenous people are being pushed to their limits unrightfully so.

Last December the UNFCCC came up with The Paris Agreement, which had a heavy focus on indigenous people’s rights when considering environmental projects and climate change. This all stemmed from indigenous people’s involvement in activities to fight for change, so the awareness was brought to the attention of the higher ups making the calls on this agreement. It was stated that, “Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, (and) the rights of indigenous peoples” (United Nations). In the agreement it was also discussed that non-party stakeholders need to take into consideration indigenous people’s knowledge, technologies, practices and efforts when considering responding to climate change. This agreement is the right step into helping the indigenous people deserve and regain the rights that are theirs. Raising the awareness on a large scale like this will make it easier for indigenous people to remain indigenous and one with their land.

Awareness of these issues has been raised and action is settling in to hopefully begin taking place soon. In Indonesia specifically there is a pressure for the government to boost protection for indigenous people’s rights after 40 cases of violation had been identified and brought to their attention. The Dayak Benuaq indigenous people of Indonesia have been struggling since the 1970s to claim rights for their forests as they face the pressure of logging and mining operations which has inevitably, “Violated the Dayak Benuaq people’s rights to a healthy and safe environment, property ownership, cultural activities, education, traditional knowledge and a life free of fear” (Jakarta). These development issues have raised skepticism over the Presidents promise to protect indigenous peoples rights and has resulted in the urge to set up a task force to deal with indigenous issues.

In Latin America there has been illegal mining for gold which has resulted in abuse of human rights and destruction of the environment impacting its indigenous people. Many illegal miners are exploiting members of indigenous tribes and using them as slave style workers. This illegal gold rush in Latin America has led to major deforestation and produces 30 tons of waste mercury every year that is being released into the waterways poisoning fish and causing damage to humans. “Global Initiative, a network of prominent law enforcement, governance and development professionals” says corporations, “must adhere to the UN guiding principles on business and human rights and do a better job of mapping out supply chains and ensuring that gold is sourced responsibly and ethically” (The Guardian). These issues of indigenous people being impacted by environment degradation are happening all over our planet and awareness and government involvement is finally beginning to surface. These are the first steps necessary towards helping the indigenous people of regions around the world become recognized and being respected for what is theirs and their rights.

 

Works Cited

Abate, Randall, and Elizabeth Ann. Kronk. “Commonality among Unique Indigenous Communities: An Introduction to Climate Change and Its Impacts on Indigenous Peoples.” Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples: The Search for Legal Remedies. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2013. N. pag. Print.

Jones, Sam. “Illegal Gold Mining Drives Human Rights Abuses in Latin America, Claims Study.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 07 Apr. 2016. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

“Pressure Grows on Indonesia to Tackle Indigenous Rights Abuses.” Jakarta. N.p., 28 Mar. 2016. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

United Nations. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Adoption of the Paris Agreement. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.