Author Archive

Indigenous Solidarity for Arctic Protection

by on Sep.14, 2012, under Civil Justice, Environment

ALASKA INTER-TRIBAL COUNCIL STATEMENT OF INDIGENOUS SOLIDARITY FOR ARCTIC PROTECTION

The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, North Aleutian Basin (Bristol Bay) and Cook Inlet are critical habitat for many subsistence resources including bowhead whale, beluga whale and other marine mammal species central to the health, well-being and cultural survival of our people.

Off Shore Industrial oil and gas activities present a grave threat to Alaska marine environment and Alaska Native Subsistence cultures who rely strongly on their ability to utilize our oceans, inland waters, and lands for subsistence in which the whales, marine mammals, birds and fish migrate to and from, through our oceans and lands.

Alaska Inter-Tribal Council supports the JOINT STATEMENT OF INDIGENOUS SOLIDARITY FOR ARCTIC PROTECTION where  the representatives of the Indigenous Peoples of the North, the participants of the international conference “Arctic Oil: Exploring the Impacts on Indigenous Communities”, held August 14-16, 2012, in Usinsk, Komi Republic, Russia, address to all Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic, governments of Arctic nations, governments of other nations of the world and international organizations.

In solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic we stand together in our call for a ban for the Arctic Off-Shore Drilling on the Shelf.  We do not accept the ecological risks and destructive impacts of oil spills, chemical spills in our seas and our lands.

There is significant global evidence of irresponsible practices of oil companies that provides us with evidence that oil spills in any marine environment is inevitable and there is no proven method to clean up oil in the freezing, icy arctic conditions.

 

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Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change

by on Sep.04, 2012, under Civil Justice, Environment

To: Dr. Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam
Mr. Maxime Verhagen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, The Netherlands
Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank
Mr. Jose Graziano da Silva, Director-General, Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Civil Society Statement of Concern on the 2nd Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change in Hanoi, Viet Nam, 3-7 September 2012:

We, the undersigned civil society organizations from around the world, are concerned that the objectives of this Conference reflect the same flawed approach as the first Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, held in the Hague in October 2010. The approach also regrettably continues to marginalize peasants and small-scale food producers, yet they are the ones whose livelihoods are most at risk and who most urgently need to be heard.

The central themes of the 2nd Global Conference, including “climate-smart agriculture,” “green growth” and the “landscape approach”, are heavily contested. Many civil society organizations believe these approaches have not been sufficiently considered from the perspective of peasants, small-scale producers and indigenous peoples, who are suffering the worst impacts of climate change. We remain concerned about the continued lack of transparency, participation and consultation with many governments, farmers and civil society in preparing for the Conference. We note that the “Roadmap” from the first Conference was neither endorsed by attending governments nor accepted as a binding outcome.

Address the impacts of the climate crisis on food production

The most important agenda for a conference on food security, agriculture and climate change should focus on the protection of agriculture from climate change. Climate change is already threatening the livelihoods and food security of the poor and vulnerable. The industrial model of agricultural production threatens the viability of ecosystems and contributes massively to climate change. Nothing less than a system change – towards ecological agriculture, based on principles that create healthy soils and cultivate biological diversity, and which prioritize farmers’ and traditional knowledge – is needed in the face of climate change. There is also a critical need to reverse the economic concentration of global markets – particularly for grains, livestock and food processing – that has led to unsustainable forms of industrial agriculture worldwide and the bulk of the emissions from the agriculture sector. Unfortunately, the program fails to address these necessary system changes. Instead, it appears to endorse a greater role for the private sector to invest in schemes that will commodify natural resources and disenfranchise local and indigenous communities.

A focus on adaptation

Resources must be urgently directed to adaptation, given the serious current threats posed by climate change to agriculture. Agroecology is the most important, reliable set of practices to protect yields in the face of climate change and should be supported significantly with public finance. The Conference should emphasize identified adaptation priorities of developing countries and the provision of steady and reliable public finance to developing countries that will have to cope with the worst consequences of climate change. In addition, adaptation financing should be in the form of grants, not loans.

Key policy developments should be to work with local food providers and help them to conserve, store and further develop their own varieties and breeds. It is clear that the best hedge against the increasing instability of local climates in the future is a diversity of varieties and breeds to address the threat of increasing floods, drought and storms. Industrial agriculture has reduced the number of farmers’ varieties and breeds drastically and thereby dangerously reduced the basis of food security for the future. This must end now; we need new policies centered on the real needs of peasants, small-scale producers and indigenous peoples.

Critical review of market-based approaches needed

The framing of the Conference agenda appears to endorse market-based approaches. Yet evidence from the last two years suggests that carbon markets and market-based approaches linked to them are not appropriate for peasants and small-scale producers. These approaches need open and critical review. Carbon markets have repeatedly failed to deliver real funds to projects on the ground. Moreover, carbon market mechanisms actually finance the emissions reduction commitments of developed countries through “offsetting” projects in developing countries. This not only increases the threat of climate change by allowing developed countries to continue rather than change their unsustainable production and consumption patterns, but also forces emissions reduction responsibilities onto peasants and small producers in developing countries. Developed country mitigation and “offsetting” priorities should not and cannot drive discussions on the nexus between climate change, food security and agriculture.

We note that the landscape approach, promoted by the World Bank, has a high profile in the agenda. We believe that the Bank’s role as both policy advisor and carbon broker for soil carbon and landuse credits makes it an inappropriate institution to guide governments on the pros and cons of landuse offsets. Using a market-based approach to convert large tracts of landscapes that include water, land, agriculture and forests into commodities is unethical when it comes to questions of food security. Land-grabbing in the developing world has become an ever greater concern since the first Conference, particularly as financial assets become unreliable and both State and private actors secure land for financial gain and food security. The impacts of “climate-smart agriculture” and the landscape approach should be examined in this new economic context where land and the food grown on it have become financial assets for financial speculators and institutional investors.

Implement rather than ignore IAASTD findings

The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), initiated by the World Bank and FAO, sponsored by UN agencies and approved by 58 governments, contains some of the most complete and authoritative sets of policy options to strengthen the productivity and resilience of the world’s food and agricultural systems, while prioritizing social equity and sustainability. We call on the Hanoi Conference to endorse the recommendations of the IAASTD, and for governments and international organizations, including the World Bank and FAO, to commit to the implementation of the IAASTD findings.

Conclusion

We are frustrated that the peasants, small-scale producers and indigenous peoples who provide 70 percent of the world’s food continue to be left out of the debate. The Hanoi Conference is an opportunity to support fair and effective solutions to the agriculture and climate crises. We call on the conference organizers to champion a global transition to ecological agriculture, focus on enabling peasants, small-scale producers and local and indigenous communities to adapt to climate change, ensure adequate public financing for agriculture, and avoid questionable technological fixes and market mechanisms.

We believe that peasants, small scale farmers, laborers, indigenous peoples, women and civil society organizations engaged on issues of food security, food sovereignty, the right to food, and the preservation and use of traditional knowledge are essential to this debate. They provide practical, just and affordable solutions to the problems of food security and climate change. They need to be heard. No process that ignores their voices can be considered legitimate.

Signatories:
1. 11.11.11- Coalition of Flemish North-South Movement
2. Accion Ecologica, Ecuador
3. Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group)
4. Actions pour le Développement Durable, (ADeD), Benin
5. African Biodiversity Network
6. African Centre for Biosafety, South Africa
7. Agricultural Missions, Inc., USA
8. Aliansi Petani Indonesia (Indonesian Peasants’ Alliance)
9. Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM), Philippines
10. Amigos de la Tierra España/Friends of the Earth Spain
11. Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA)
12. Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC)
13. Asia-Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (APNFS)
14. Asociación ANDES, Peru
15. Association of Citizens’ Solidarity for Campaign Against Famine in Ethiopia (CS-CAFE)
16. Association of Communities of the Potato Park, Peru
17. Association of Voluntary Agencies in Rural Development (AVARD), India
18. Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), Bangladesh
19. Beyond Copenhagen Collective, India
20. Bharatiya Krishak Samaj, India
21. Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, India
22. Bina Desa, Indonesia
23. Biofuelwatch
24. Biowatch, South Africa
25. Both ENDS, Netherlands
26. California Communities Against Toxics, USA
27. Center for Community, Democracy and Ecology, USA
28. Center for Environmental Education and Development (CEED), Nigeria
29. Center for Food Safety, USA
30. Center for Rural Communities Research and Development (CCRD), Vietnam
31. Center for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD), Vietnam
32. Center of Concern, USA
33. China NGO Association (CANGO), China
34. CIP Americas Program
35. Coalicion Clima España
36. Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN)
37. COECOCEIBA/Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
38. Community Self-Reliance Centre (CSRC), Nepal
39. Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), Malaysia
40. Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice, USA
41. Development Fund, Norway
42. Earth in Brackets
43. Earth Peoples
44. Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF)
45. Ecological Society of the Philippines
46. Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
47. Ecology Ministry Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines
48. EcoNexus, UK
49. Ecoropa
50. Fairwatch, Italy
51. Farmworker Association of Florida, USA
52. FERN, Belgium
53. Focus on the Global South
54. Food & Water Europe
55. Food Security and Poverty Elimination Network (CIFPEN), Vietnam
56. Foundation on Future Farming, Germany
57. Friends of the Bees, UK
58. Friends of the Earth International
59. Friends of the Earth Mauritius
60. Friends of the Environment in Negros Oriental, Philippines
61. Fundación IPADE, Spain
62. Gaia Foundation
63. GRABE, Benin
64. Grassroots International, USA
65. Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, Philippines
66. GREEN Foundation, India
67. Groundswell International
68. Hope Restoration Center (HORECE), Cameroon
69. Inades-Formation (African Institute for Economic and Social Development)
70. Indigenous Environmental Network
71. Indonesia Organic Alliance (IOA)
72. In Loco, Portugal
73. Institut de Recherche et de Promotion des Alternatives en Développement (IRPAD)
74. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA
75. Institute for Policy Studies – Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, USA
76. Institute for Sustainable Development, Ethiopia
77. Intercontinental Network of Organic Farmers Organisations (INOFO)
78. Interface Development Interventions Inc. (IDIS), Philippines
79. Irish Seed Savers Association
80. JINUKUN, Benin
81. Just Forests, Ireland
82. Kenya Debt Relief Network – KENDREN
83. Konsorsium Pelestarian Hutan dan Alam Indonesia (KONPHALINDO)
84. Labour Resource Centre, India
85. Local to Global Advocates for Justice, USA
86. Management and Organizational Development for Empowerment (MODE), Philippines
87. MELCA, Ethiopia
88. MISEREOR, Germany
89. National Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition (NAAHM), Nigeria
90. National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE)/Friends of the Earth Uganda
91. Negros Organic Agriculture Movement (NOAM), Inc., Philippines
92. Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility, USA
93. NGO Federation of Nepal (NFN)
94. North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy (NCCC), USA
95. Oakland Institute, USA
96. Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM), Kenya
97. Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (PLANT)
98. Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PANAP)
99. Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
100. Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA)
101. Platform ABC (Platform Aarde Boer Consument), Netherlands
102. Plataforma Rural, Spain
103. Pro REGENWALD, Germany
104. Red de Coordinación en Bioviersidad (Coordinating Biodiversity Network), Costa Rica
105. REDES/Friends of the Earth Uruguay
106. ReSCOPE Programme, Malawi
107. Reseau Des Organisations Paysannes Et Des Producteurs Agricoles De L’afrique De L’ouest (ROPPA)
108. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)/Friends of the Earth Malaysia
109. SARILAYA, Philippines
110. SEED Trust, South Africa
111. Send a Cow, UK
112. Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE), Pakistan
113. South Asia Rural Reconstruction Association (SARRA), India
114. Southeast Asian Rural Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN), Philippines
115. Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE)
116. Sri Lanka Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement
117. Sustainable Development Institute (SDI)/Friends of the Earth Liberia
118. Third World Network (TWN)
119. Transnational Institute, Netherlands
120. WAEDAT, Jordan
121. War on Want
122. WhyHunger, USA

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The Future of Augmented Reality

by on Sep.04, 2012, under Business, Virtual

The popularity of mobile augmented reality (AR) has risen in recent years and this greater exposure and success is set to bring about a number of changes to how it is used. The concept has altered dramatically in terms of usage, as companies attempt to move away from a reliance on location based services and create niche offerings for their desired audience.

Previously the overlaying of data onto the real world was largely triggered with information on location, which made it extremely popular amongst travel companies, including Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor who used it within their apps.

Experts stated that the reason that they were able to successfully harness the power of mobile AR is the fact that we have the least knowledge when we are placed in completely new environments, which enabled the aforementioned companies to flourish by offering interactive data. For example, TripAdvisor’s AR mobile app enables users to take a photo of their surroundings, which is then used to make a number of suggestions for nearby attractions and restaurants in a map format.

However, as mentioned above, there has been a diversification within mobile AR and it is now largely used in other industries, with less dependency on location and this has created a bright future for augmented reality apps. The latest mobile AR report from Juniper Research, who have published 2 previous versions, predicts growth for mobile AR and has also determined the key opportunities within the market. The industry as a whole is expected to grow to a total revenue of $5.2 billion between now and 2017, as other areas begin to achieve similar success to location based augmented reality.

Total Mobile AR revenues

Social networking and games are predicted to grow rapidly over the next 5 years and this could lead to a far more engaging experience for users, whilst the increasing use of mobile AR within healthcare could also aid industry expansion. Developments in these areas are likely to increase exposure and awareness, which has been a key barrier to the widespread success of mobile AR and this should see more rapid growth.

One key issue must be addressed in order for mobile AR to become more successful and this is the quality and usability of apps, as a failure to meet user expectations is often the key reason that many companies AR strategies fail.

One of the principle  barriers to widespread usage has been an insufficient number of technologies that are compatible with mobile AR, however more powerful mobile phones and tablet devices are improving the consistency of augmented reality applications.

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Unsustainable

by on Aug.20, 2012, under Civil Justice, Energy, Environment, Politics

A rather incredible and accurate musical portrayal of current global reality and our unsustainable way of life.
Unsustainable, by Muse.

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Arctic Summer Storm & Sea Ice

by on Aug.16, 2012, under Environment

Arctic sea ice extent during the first two weeks of August continued to track below 2007 record low daily ice extents. As of August 13, ice extent was already among the four lowest summer minimum extents in the satellite record, with about five weeks still remaining in the melt season. Sea ice extent dropped rapidly between August 4 and August 8. While this drop coincided with an intense storm over the central Arctic Ocean, it is unclear if the storm prompted the rapid ice loss. Overall, weather patterns in the Arctic Ocean through the summer of 2012 have been a mixed bag, with no consistent pattern.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for August 13, 2012 was 4.90 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles), 450,000 square kilometers (173,745 square miles) below the same day in 2007. The orange line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Arctic sea ice extent on August 13 was 4.90 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles). This is 2.81 million square kilometers (1.08 million square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average extent for the date, and is 450,000 square kilometers (173,745 square miles) below the previous record low for the date, which occurred in 2007. Low extent for the Arctic as a whole is driven by extensive open water on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, the Beaufort Sea, and—due to rapid ice loss over the past two weeks—the East Siberian Sea. Ice is near its normal (1979 to 2000) extent only off the northeastern Greenland coast. Ice near the coast in eastern Siberia continues to block sections of the Northern Sea Route. The western entrance to the Northwest Passage via McClure Strait remains blocked.

Conditions in context

Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of August 13, 2012, along with daily ice extent data for the previous five years. 2012 is shown in blue, 2011 in orange, 2010 in pink, 2009 in navy, 2008 in purple, and 2007 in green. The gray area around the average line shows the two standard deviation range of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The average pace of ice loss since late June has been rapid at just over 100,000 square kilometers (38,000 square miles) per day. However, this pace nearly doubled for a few days in early August during a major Arctic cyclonic storm, discussed below. Unlike the summer of 2007 when a persistent pattern of high pressure was present over the central Arctic Ocean and a pattern of low pressure was over the northern Eurasian coast, the summer of 2012 has been characterized by variable conditions. Air tempertures at the 925 hPa level (about 3000 feet above the ocean surface) of 1 to 3 degrees Celsius (1.8 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981 to 2012 average have been the rule from central Greenland, northern Canada, and Alaska northward into the central Arctic Ocean. Cooler than average conditions (1 to 2 degrees Celsius or 1.8 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) were observed in a small region of eastern Siberia extending into the East Siberian Sea, helping explain the persistence of low concentration ice in this region through early August.

The Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012

Figure 3. This subsection of the surface weather analysis from the Canadian Meteorological Centre for August 6, 2012 (at 0600 Greenwich Mean Time) shows a very strong cyclone over the central Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. The isobars (lines of equal pressure) are very tightly packed around the low pressure system, indicating strong winds. Greenland is on the right side of the figure while Canada is at the bottom.

Credit: Canadian Meteorological Centre
High-resolution image

A low pressure system entered the Arctic Ocean from the eastern Siberian coast on August 4 and then strengthened rapidly over the central Arctic Ocean. On August 6 the central pressure of the cyclone reached 964 hPa, an extremely low value for this region. It persisted over the central Arctic Ocean over the next several days, and slowly dissipated. The storm initially brought warm and very windy conditions to the Chukchi and East Siberian seas (August 5), but low temperatures prevailed later.

Figure 4. These maps of sea ice concentration from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS) passive microwave sensor highlight the very rapid loss of ice in the western Arctic (northwest of Alaska) during the strong Arctic storm. Magenta and purple colors indicate ice concentration near 100%; yellow, green, and pale blue indicate 60% to 20% ice concentration.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center courtesy IUP Bremen
High-resolution image

Low pressure systems over the Arctic Ocean tend to cause the ice to diverge or spread out and cover a larger area. These storms often bring cool conditions and even snowfall. In contrast, high pressure systems over the Arctic cause the sea ice to converge. Summers dominated by low pressure systems over the central Arctic Ocean tend to end up with greater ice extent than summers dominated by high pressure systems.

However, the effects of an individual strong storm, like that observed in early August, can be complex. While much of the region influenced by the August cyclone experienced a sudden drop in temperature, areas influenced by winds from the south experienced a rise in temperature. Coincident with the storm, a large area of low concentration ice in the East Siberian Sea (concentrations typically below 50%) rapidly melted out. On three consecutive days (August 7, 8, and 9), sea ice extent dropped by nearly 200,000 square kilometers (77,220 square miles). This could be due to mechanical break up of the ice and increased melting by strong winds and wave action during the storm. However, it may be simply a coincidence of timing, given that the low concentration ice in the region was already poised to rapidly melt out.

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