Posts Tagged "environment"

People’s Climate March: Ubuntu: We Have a Duty to Persuade Our Leaders

Posted by on Sep 21, 2014

 “Never before in history have human beings been called on to act collectively in defence of the Earth.”

 “Who can stop climate change?

We can. You and you and you, and me.

And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so that began in the genesis of humanity, when

God commanded the earliest human inhabitants of the Garden of Eden,

“to till it and keep it”. To “keep” it;

not to abuse it, not to make as much money as possible from it, not to destroy it.”

— Desmond Tutu —

Extracts  from an article by Desmond Tutu writing in the Observer on the day of the biggest global call-to-action on Climate Change in history.

Marches and protests took place worldwide. Organisers in Manhatten said some 310,000 people joined the march, including Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.

“This is the planet where our subsequent generations will live,”
Mr Ban said: “There is no ‘Plan B’ because we do not have ‘Planet B’.”

The People’s March has been organised just ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York next week. Campaigners are demanding curbs on carbon emissions along with changes in law which would prevent a continuation of the unprecedented levels of damage currently being done to humans and the environment by unfettered psychopathic and antisocial corporate greed.
(Comment by RZ, not Desmond Tutu)

The complete article can be read here: Desmond Tutu: We fought apartheid. Now climate change is our global enemy

“As responsible citizens of the world – sisters and brothers of one family, the human family, God’s family – we have a duty to persuade our leaders to lead us in a new direction: to help us abandon our collective addiction to fossil fuels, starting this week in New York at the United Nations Climate Summit.”

“Just as we argued in the 1980s that those who conducted business with apartheid South Africa were aiding and abetting an immoral system, we can say that nobody should profit from the rising temperatures, seas and human suffering caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

We can boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil fuel companies; demand that their advertisements carry health warnings; organise car-free days and other platforms to build broader societal awareness; and ask our religious communities to speak out on the issue from their various pulpits. We can encourage energy companies to spend more of their resources on the development of sustainable energy products, and we can reward those companies that demonstrably do so by using their products to the exclusion of others.”

We can encourage more of our universities and municipalities, foundations, corporations, individuals and cultural institutions to cut their ties to the fossil fuel industry. To divest, and invest, instead, in renewable energy. To move their money out of the problem and into the solutions.

People’s Climate March Design Contest

Contest Finalists


We can urge our governments to invest in sustainable practices and stop subsidising fossil fuels; and to freeze further exploration for new fossil energy sources. The fossil reserves that have already been discovered exceed what can ever be safely used. Yet companies spend half a trillion dollars each year searching for more fuel. They should redirect this money toward developing clean energy solutions.

We can support our leaders to make the correct moral choices and to avoid undue industry influence that blocks the political will to act on climate change. Through the power of our collective action we can hold those who rake in the profits accountable for cleaning up their mess.”

The good news is that we don’t have to start from scratch. Young people across the world have identified climate change as the biggest challenge of our time, and already begun to do something about it.

Once again, it is a global movement led by students and faith groups, along with hospitals, cities, foundations, corporations and individuals. It is a moral movement to persuade fossil fuel companies away from a business model that threatens our very survival.

My prayer is that humankind takes its first tangible steps in New York this week – as a collective – to move beyond the fossil fuel era.

“There is a word we use in South Africa that describes human relationships: Ubuntu. It says: I am because you are. My successes and my failures are bound up in yours. We are made for each other, for interdependence. Together, we can change the world for the better.”


People’s Climate March Design Contest Winning Designs
The contest had two winning designs which  will form the basis of a creative NYC subway ad campaign that will highlight both the depth of the climate crisis facing us, and the hope that organized people power can push our governments to take bold action. The winners are:

 James Jean with “Winds of Change”, and Ellie and  Akira Ohiso with “The Next One won’t be Biblical”

Climate March Poster Design Contest Winner - Winds of Change
Climate March Poster Design Contest Winner - The Next One Won't Be Biblical



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Sting: Rediscovering the Muse as The Last Ship Sails

Posted by on Jun 28, 2014

 “Some of the largest vessels ever

constructed on the planet were built

right at the end of my street.”


Sting grew up in the shadow of the shipyard, with giant ships rising into the air at the end of his street. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne was at the heart of the British shipbuilding industry.

Sting- The Last Ship

 The Dream

But instead of wanting to follow in the footsteps of generations of Tynesiders whose lives were inextricably linked with the docks and the shipbuilding industry, Sting had a different dream. It was one that grew exponentially with the discovery of a guitar in the attic at the age of 8 . “I was bequeathed a guitar and realised I had found a friend for life.”

 The dream would become his life and Gordon Sumner would become internationally known as the musician Sting, but first he had to turn his back on his roots and travel away. He had no desire to return to the traumatised society he witnessed during the closure of the ship building industry.

 “I believe there’s a symbiotic and intrinsic link between storytelling and community, between community and art, between community and science and technology , between community and economics.

It’s my belief that abstract economic theory that denies the needs of community or denies the contribution that community makes to economy is shortsighted, cruel and untenable”


 The muse Sting chose to follow as a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was one that would bring us such unforgettable songs as   “Roxanne”, “Fields of Gold”, “Message in a bottle”, “Every Breath You Take” and “Englishman in New York”.

 Sting’s astonishing success both as a member of “The Police” and during his solo career, together with his prolific song-writing ability made it particularly difficult for him to come to terms with a long period of “writer’s block” which  stretched into years of self-questioning.

 He eventually acknowledged a need to return to his roots in Newcastle, a decision which was to reunite him with his muse and he has spent the past few years working on a theatrical production called “The Last Ship” – inspired by the demise of the shipbuilding industry in the North East. 

Sting released the album “The Last Ship” in 2013 and the musical production launched its pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago last Wednesday with songwriters Paul Simon, James Taylor and Dennis DeYoung watching from the orchestra seats, according to the review by Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune.

Political Activism

A sense of the injustices caused by corrupted power led Sting along the path of political activism, participating in many of the focal moments in which creative artists have joined forces to raise international awareness of major issues: Band Aid, Live Aid, Feed the World”, Live8 etc.

 His long involvement with Amnesty International which  began with his appearance at the “Secret Policemen’s Other Ball” in 1981 has inspired some of the songs he has written.
“Before that I did not know about Amnesty, I did not know about its work, I did not know about torture in the world” .

 Sting’s song “They Dance Alone”  threw a spotlight on the plight of the mothers, wives and daughters of “The Disappeared” (political opponents killed by the Pinochet regime) in Chile. These women, under constant threat from Pinochet’s infamous death squads, were afraid to voice their opinions publicly but would pin photos of their missing loved ones to their clothing and dance in public places in unspoken outrage.

Dendropsophus Stingi and The Rainforest Foundation

Sting, his wife Trudi and Raoni Metuktire, a Kayapó Indian leader in Brazil, founded the “Rainforest Foundation” to help save the rainforests and protect the rights of the indigenous people living in them.  (In recognition of his “commitment and efforts to save the rain forest”, a species of Colombian tree frog, Dendropsophus stingi, was named after him.)

In addition to 16 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and several Oscar nominations. Sting has sold nearly 100 million records worldwide, was 62nd on Paste Magazine’s list of 100 Best Living Songwriters, 63rd on VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Rock” and 80th on A magazines “100 Greatest Musical Stars of the 20th Century”

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Your Name on the Arctic Sunrise

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014

 The Arctic Sunrise belongs to you.

It belongs to all of us.

Don’t let them destroy it.  


Help protect this important and unique environment and its inhabitants by supporting Greenpeace with a donation to help fund their work. After months without proper maintenance while in Russian custody, their ship the Arctic Sunrise requires a thorough overhaul and refitting  including the replacement of equipment removed by the Russian authorities. 

 The names of all donors will be permanently recorded on their ship,

The Arctic Sunrise so when she sails into the sunrise, we all sail with her. 

People who care about the planet believe that there should be a global sanctuary in the Arctic, which will help preserve its unique wildlife and habitat and allow the Arctic to continue to help stabilise the world’s climate.

More Information Available on

What’s this Campaign about?

What’s a Global Sancuary?

Why does the Melting of the Arctic Sea Ice Matter to Me?

More info on




Rosneft is a massive Russian company whose pipelines spill over 2,000,000 tons per year. Now it’s moving into Arctic waters, where it plans to build over 100 rigs.

Together with Exxon, Rosneft plans to drill in an area overlapping the Russian Arctic National park, a sanctuary for polar bears, walrus and narwhals.

The Arctic could be devastated.

 All for a few last drops of oil.

Environmental Activist

As an exemplary environmental activist, The Arctic Sunrise has taken part in  campaigns and protests across the world, from withing 450 miles of the North Pole, to Antarctica’s Ross Sea, and it has Navigated both the Congo and the Amazon rivers, raising awareness of issues threatening the areas. Among other things, it has campaigned to stop whaling, taken part in protests in support of sustainable fishing, taken action to stop North Sea trawlers fishing cod towards extinction and campaigned against the Star Wars weapons programme.

The Arctic Sunrise is classified as a “1A1” Icebreaker – the second highest ice strengthening notation at the time of her construction in 1975. She was originally used as a seismic survey vessel, named Polarbjørn (“polar bear”) and was later used by the French Government. Greenpeace purchased the ship in 1995, having resorted to forming a “shell company” called “Arctic Sunrise Ventures Ltd” through which it made the purchase as the previous Norwegian owners had refused to sell the ship to Greenpeace. 

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Gasland, the Fracking Truth

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013

It’s amazing that what took mother nature millions of years to buid can be destroyed in a few hours with heavy machinery” – Josh Fox

Gasland: The Movie

“The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us.

 When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown.”



Gasland-  Reviews  (at bottom of page

The Oil Industry has tried to discredit the film and the issues it raises via a disinformation campaign, including a video in direct response to the film .
Gasland replied to its accusations in detail on its website.

Green MP Caroline Lucas Arrested in Fracking Protest
Why would Green Party Member of Parliament be willing to face arrest in order to demonstrate against the process of fracking in the UK?

Caroline Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion said:

“Along with everyone else who took action today, I’m trying to stop a process which could cause enormous damage for decades to come. People today, myself included, took peaceful non-violent direct action only after exhausting every other means of protest available to us.

Despite the opposition to fracking being abundantly clear, the government has completely ignored the views of those they are supposed to represent. When the democratic deficit is so enormous, people are left with very little option but to take peaceful, non-violent direct action.”

The Department o Energy and Climate Change did not respond to requests for comment on the protests. 

When one reads documentation concerning the effects of Fracking and the Oil Industry on human health and the environment, it becomes very clear why this issue is one worth protesting about.  


“To date, no chemical in use has been thoroughly tested for its endocrine disrupting effects. Traditional toxicological testing protocols were not designed to test for endocrine disruption and to test at ambient or low exposure levels.”

The Endocrine Disruption Exchange is one of the few organisations that has studied the effects of  products and chemicals used in the Oil/Gas industry.

Its findings are very disturbing.

T he technology to recover natural gas depends on undisclosed types and amounts of toxic chemicals.

A list of 944 products containing 632 chemicals used during natural gas operations was compiled. Literature searches were conducted to determine potential health effects of the 353 chemicals identified by Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers.

  • More than 75% of the chemicals could affect the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs, and the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. 
  • Approximately 40-50% could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems, and the kidneys; 
  • 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 
  • 25% could cause cancer and mutations. 
  • These results indicate that many chemicals used during the fracturing and drilling stages of gas operations may have long-term health effects that are not immediately expressed. 
  • In addition, an example was provided of waste evaporation pit residuals that contained numerous chemicals on the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) lists of hazardous substances. 
  • The discussion highlights the difficulty of developing effective water quality monitoring programs. 
  • To protect public health we recommend full disclosure of the contents of all products, extensive air and water monitoring, coordinated environmental/human health studies, and regulation of fracturing under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act.  

Extracting, processing, and burning fossil fuels (natural gas, oil and coal) introduces huge volumes of harmful chemicals into our environment. These chemicals, and the tens of thousands of chemical products synthesized from them, are now present in every environment on earth, including the womb. Extremely low concentrations of many chemicals can damage the endocrine system of our bodies by interfering with the intricate, delicate network of natural chemical interactions critical to healthy development and normal function.

n 1991, an international group of experts stated, with confidence, that “Unless the environmental load of synthetic hormone disruptors is abated and controlled, large scale dysfunction at the population level is possible.” 

They could not perceive that within only ten years, a pandemic of endocrine-driven disorders would begin to emerge and increase rapidly across the northern hemisphere. Today, less than two decades later, hardly a family has not been touched by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, autism, intelligence and behavioral problems, diabetes, obesity, childhood, pubertal and adult cancers, abnormal genitalia, infertility, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s Diseases.

TEDX’s findings confirm that each of these disorders could in part be the result of prenatal exposure to chemicals called endocrine disruptors. TEDX has also confirmed that the feed stocks for most endocrine disrupting chemicals are derived from the production of coal, oil, and natural gas. It is clear that endocrine disruption, like climate change, is a spin-off of society’s addiction to fossil fuels. Setting aside the effects of endocrine disruptors on infertility, and just considering their influence on intelligence and behavior alone, it is possible that hormone disruption could pose a more imminent threat to humankind than climate change



Fracking and Hazardous Waste

Many people and animals have fallen ill since fracking started in their area. The process of fracking pumps toxic chemicals at high pressure into the earth in order to cause minor earthquakes that loosen deposits of natural gas that have been trapped in the rock for millions of years. The process threatens to pollute  groundwater and an estimated 30% to 70% of poisoned water is estimated to resurface and continue to surface for the life of the well (20 – 30 years)

Why is this Allowed?

Many of the chemicals used in the process of fracking are considered hazardous waste. 

Why are these toxins being allowed to be pumped into the earth all over the USA when they are a real danger to drinking water supplies?

“In his second week in office, George W. Bush created the energy task force, officially known as the 
National Energy Policy Development Group, with Vice President Dick Cheney as chairman. In
its mission, NEPDG aimed to: “develop a national energy policy designed to help the private
sector. . . .”

Only when pressed by EPA chief Christie Todd Whitman did Cheney remove a recommendation to
exempt fracturing from the task force’s final report. Whereupon, the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill of
2003 included a provision to exempt fracturing from EPA drinking water regulation — but Congress
removed the provision from the final draft.

Whereupon, in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congressmen James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Joe
Barton of Texas inserted language to:

Amend the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996 to exempt
hydraulic fracturing related to oil and gas production . . . and, thus, exclude this practice from . . .
regulations related to the protection of underground sources of drinking water.”

– Steve Coffman (on Gasland’s official reply to the Gas Industry’s attempt to discredit the film.)


BBC Horizon Documentary on Fracking

The BBC Program: Horizon made a documentary examining the process of Fracking which questions whether there were indeed (as the Oil/Gas companies would have us believe) no risks involved to people living near the the Fracking wells.

Communities did appear to be experiencing high levels of illness. It seemed strange that so little was understood about the causes of the illnesses. One factor may have been that many people had received compensation and had signed gagging clauses which did not allow them to discuss their situation.

Plenty of people did seem willing to talk about  afflictions to themselves and animals in the area that appeared since fracking began. 
The reason for lack of clarity about the cause became apparent when the rights of industry to avoid transparency was raised. 

Money is More Important than the Health of USA Citizens.

Drilling companies in the USA are allowed to keep the chemicals used in their procedures a secret, even when they may be causing a health risk.  This makes it almost impossible for people to know what might have be causing the illnesses that have occurred since the fracking  began in their areas. 

Medical doctors have managed to get special permission to be request this information from the companies. 

Doctors Can’t Tell Their Patients

One doctor  has treated people with leisions to their faces that she thinks might be related to chemicals from fracking . The drilling companies only allow her access to the information  about chemicals they use, under the strictest of conditions. They insist the doctors sign a confidentiality statement which means they are unable to tell their patients what they have discovered are causing their illnesses.

If a doctor (that has been given the information about the chemicals) has now been able to diagnose the cause of the medical problem  decides they need to refer the patient to another medical specialist, they are not allowed to pass on the information to the other doctor or medical specialist.

 “for physicians in order to take care of your patients, there needs to be transparency and this completely breaks that down, so yes it’s very upsetting for us because we want people to get better, but if you can’t explain to someone what’s happening to them, how do you get them better… and then how do you find out if other members of their family may have been exposed .. or other people in the area may have been exposed because no one can talk about it. So it really goes against any type of modern medicine


 Reviews of Gasland

Robert Koehler of Variety referred to it as “one of the most effective and expressive environmental films of recent years… Gasland may become to the dangers of natural gas drilling what Silent Spring was to DDT.”[18]

Eric Kohn of IndieWire wrote, “Gasland is the paragon of first person activist filmmaking done right… By grounding a massive environmental issue in its personal ramifications, Fox turns Gasland into a remarkably urgent diary of national concerns.”[19]

Stewart Nusbaumer of the Huffington Post wrote “Gasland… just might take you from outrage right into the fire of action.”[20]

Gasland currently holds a 97% rating on the film site Rotten Tomatoes based on 37 reviews.[21] Mark Kermode of BBC Radio 5 Live gave it a generally positive review, criticizing its similarity to other recent oil documentaries, yet praising its “extraordinary visual kick”. He said “it is a very interesting story which is made better by the fact that the visuals of it are very poetic, very lyrical”, and felt that its themes and ideas were relevant and well presented.

The Denton Record Chronicle said “Fox decides that his own backyard in Pennsylvania isn’t his exclusive property… Set to his own banjo music and clever footage, Gasland is both sad and scary… if your soul isn’t moved by the documentary, yours is a heart of shale.”[22]

Bloomberg News critic Dave Shiflett wrote that Fox “may go down in history as the Paul Revere of fracking.”[23]

Chicago TimeOut gave Gasland four out of five stars.[24]

In Australia, film critic Julie Riggs called the documentary a “horror movie, and a wake-up call.”[25][26]

Fort Worth Business Press writer John-Laurent Tronche talks about the growing number of documentaries “that aim to shed a light on what they call a dirty, destructive practice: shale gas exploration. And although oil and gas supporters have labeled the motion pictures as radical propaganda, a local drilling activist said they’re part of a larger, critical look into an ever-growing industry.”[27]

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Shigeru Ban: Revolutionary Humanitarian Environmentally Friendly Architecture

Posted by on Aug 20, 2013

Shigeru Ban is an accomplished international architect  with an interest in humanitarianism and sustainability. He is best known for his innovative work with paper,  particularly recycled cardboard tubes which have been used in many countries to house disaster victims quickly and efficiently.

 Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1957 he studied architecture in the USA and was particularly inspired by  time spent studying under John Hejeduk, the most experimentally minded of the New York Five from whom he developed an interest in ‘architectonic poetics’ or the creation of three-dimensional poetry.

 An important theme in his work is “invisible structure” which incorporates the structural elements as integral parts of the design.

 As a Japanese architect he uses many traditional themes and methods such as shōji and the idea of a ‘universal floor’ to allow continuity between all rooms in a house. He was also one of the first Japanese architects to embrace a combination of Japanese and Western styles. 

Architects, as he says in this video, traditionally work for people with money and power but he wanted to build useful structures for everyday people.

Shigeru was working on ecological and environmentally friendly ways of  building long before environmental awareness became mainstream. His explorations in the use of different building materials  led to much work with paper and cardboard as the basic building material. His interest in paper stems from its sustainability as a low cost, low tech, recyclable and replaceable material.

 He was surprised to discover that paper was in fact far stronger than he had expected, as well as being easy to use and easy to fireproof. With these qualities in mind he developed ways to use it as a medium for creating buildings for people in disaster areas and has used it successfully in many countries and continents.

 In times of disaster, building materials are limited and prices for obtaining them rise. Developing a method for building with cardboard tubing has made it far easier to source materials.

 During the Rwanda crisis, the UN provided the refugees with aluminium tubing as frames for building shelters, to try and stop the deforestation that was occurring with people cutting down trees to build with.

 The refugees ended up selling the aluminium for money and then reverted to cutting down trees.
Paper tubing is cheap and more versatile than tents and the community can participate in constructing their own shelters.

 Shigeru often gets local students to participate in projects and help with the construction of buildings in disaster areas. For one of their buildings he chose to use beer crates as the foundation layer. The crates were donated by a Japanese beer company and Shigeru and the students thought of sending a complaint to the donor company, he says with a twinkle in his eye, when they discovered to their disappointment that the beer crates arrived empty, rather than with itinerant containers of beer intact.

 In the video he talks of the various types of buildings he has designed including many refugee shelters as well as some of the churches he has built to replace those destroyed in natural disasters.

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