South America

Mark Garavan – Living in the anthropocene – a frame for new activism

November 4, 2015

We are living in a new time. A new world has emerged. Like many things that are new on such a scale it is at once frightening, disturbing, uncomfortable. We have emerged from the geological epoch of the Holocene into a new epoch designated as the Anthropocene.[1] This notion of the Anthropocene refers to a profound realisation that human aggregate activity is now the single most decisive force shaping the planet. We have become the most significant geological agent acting on the Earth. For better or worse we have broken through a certain limit and possess now the power to determine the biosphere of the planet. In the Anthropocene the old simplicities are gone. We are no longer human subjects acting upon an objective nature ‘outside’ us. Nature and human are now bound together. Free nature is over. Free humanity is over. They are relics of the Holocene. In our new age, Earth and Human are entangled irrevocably together. Welcome to the era of Earth-bound responsibility! The assumptions, the myths, the illusions of the Holocene no longer apply. Read

Brian K Sullivan – The Strongest El Nino in Decades Is Going to Mess With Everything

October 22, 2015

It has choked Singapore with smoke, triggered Pacific typhoons and left Vietnamese coffee growers staring nervously at dwindling reservoirs. In Africa, cocoa farmers are blaming it for bad harvests, and in the Americas, it has Argentines bracing for lower milk production and Californians believing that rain is finally, mercifully on the way. Its effects are just beginning in much of the world — for the most part, it hasn’t really reached North America — and yet it’s already shaping up potentially as one of the three strongest El Nino patterns since record-keeping began in 1950. It will dominate weather’s many twists and turns through the end of this year and well into next. And it’s causing gyrations in everything from the price of Colombian coffee to the fate of cold-water fish. Read

Andre Vltchek – The Anti-Imperalist News Networks in Latin America, Russia and China

July 30, 2015

It is a breathtaking, truly beautiful battle, and those of us who are at the front line of it, by making films, writing for or speaking on the airwaves of the anti-imperialist networks, are thoroughly determined to give our very best, and if necessary, even to risk our lives! Mighty new television networks based in South America, Russia, China and Iran are locked in what could only be described as an epic battle against the omnipresent Western propaganda and indoctrination networks. Some of us went very close to death, in the toughest slums of Africa, Asia and Latin America, or at the battlefields, at the corners of the world where almost no one really dares to go. We confronted the Empire. Some made that one extra step, crossed the invisible line, and fell; never came back. Others managed to return, just to be spat at by those who never left the couch, for not going “all the way”, for surviving, for somehow managing not to die. Why am I writing this? Read

Study: When Human Consumption Slows, Planet Earth Can Heal – Lauren McCauley

July 23, 2015

Despite the oft-repeated claim that the recent decline in U.S. carbon emissions was due to the so-called ‘fracking boom,’ new research published Tuesday shows that it was the dramatic fall in consumption during the Great Recession that deserves credit for this drop. As nations grapple with the best strategy for decreasing carbon emissions ahead of the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Paris, the report, published in the journal Nature Communications, underscores the need for communities to transition away from an economy based on endless growth and towards a more renewable energy system to stem the growing climate crisis. Between 2007 and 2013, the United States—second only to China for the title of world’s top polluter—saw carbon emissions fall roughly 11 percent. As the researchers with the University of Maryland and the University of California at Irvine note, “This decline has been widely attributed to a shift from the use of coal to natural gas in U.S. electricity production. However, the factors driving the decline have not been quantitatively evaluated.” The study analyzed six possible sources for the change in fossil fuel emissions: population growth, consumption volume, the types of goods consumed, the labor and materials used

Pope Francis: Unbridled Capitalism Is ‘Dung of the Devil’ – Jon Queally

July 20, 2015

In a far-reaching speech in Bolivia on Thursday, Pope Francis offered his apologies to, and begged forgiveness from, the native people of the Americas as he acknowledged the brutal treatment they received throughout the so-called “conquest of America.” In a speech that also touched on the need to rapidly move away from the destructive model ofunbridled capitalism—which he described as the “dung of the devil”—Francis went much further than any of his predecessors in accounting for the crimes of the Church while it pursued and perpetuated colonialism and oppression across Latin America and beyond over the last five centuries. “I wish to be quite clear,” said Francis. “I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.” He added, “There was sin and an abundant amount of it.” In response, it was reported, the large crowd offered rousing applause. The speech was delivered to a regional gathering of Indigenous people and social justice activists attending the Second World Meeting of the Popular Movements and followed remarks from Bolivian President Evo Morales—the nation’s first-ever Indigenous person to hold the office. Read

Something’s Missing From Pope Francis’ ‘Radical’ Vision of Equality: Women By Roisin Davis

July 9, 2015

Pope Francis this week embarked on a seven-day “homecoming” tour of Latin America on his unstoppable quest to defend the planet and the poor.The continent—the most unequal region in the world, and the Argentine pontiff’s home turf—will likely provide fertile ground for more of his legendary sermons on poverty and inequality. After addressing a crowd of a million in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on Monday, Francis is scheduled to attend a meeting of grass-roots political activists and visit one of the continent’s largest prisons, in Bolivia, as well as a slum and a children’s hospital in Paraguay. While he advocates for South America’s impoverished and disenfranchised, its prisoners, its indigenous peoples and its children, one group is unlikely to feature in Francis’ apparently radical agenda: its women. Despite his efforts to champion his constituency—the world’s poor, of which the vast majority are women—the pope tends to overlook the feminized nature of poverty and inequality. Like the rest of the world, including the Vatican, Latin America is built on gender inequality. Important progress has been made in the region over recent decades, and the percentage of its overall population living in poverty had decreased significantly. But the feminization of poverty (an increase in

BRICS trample US in South America – Pepe Escobar

May 29, 2015

It started in April with a rash of deals between Argentina and Russia during President Cristina Kirchner’s visit to Moscow. And it continues with a $53 billion investment bang as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Brazil during the first stop of yet another South American commercial offensive – complete with a sweet metaphor: Li riding on a made in China subway train that will ply a new metro line in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2016 Olympics. Where is the US in all this? Nowhere; little by little, yet inexorably, BRICS members China – and in a smaller measure, Russia – have been no less than restructuring commerce and infrastructure all across Latin America. Countless Chinese commercial missions have been plying these shores non-stop, much as the US did between World War I and II. In a key meeting in January with Latin American business leaders, President Xi Jinping promised to channel $250 billion for infrastructure projects in the next 10 years. Top infrastructure projects in Latin America are all being financed by Chinese capital – except the Mariel port in Cuba, whose financing comes from Brazil’s BNDES and whose operation will be managed by Singaporean port operator PSA

University of Oxford finds trees inhale less carbon when they are drought – impacted

March 6, 2015

For the first time, an international research team has provided direct evidence of the rate at which individual trees in the Amazonian basin ‘inhale’ carbon from the atmosphere during a severe drought. The researchers measured the growth and photosynthesis rates of trees at 13 rainforest plots across Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, comparing plots that were affected by the strong drought of 2010 with unaffected plots. They found that while growth rates of the trees in drought-affected plots were unchanged, the rate of photosynthesis – by which trees convert carbon into energy to fuel their activities – slowed down by around 10 percent over six months. Their paper, published in the journal, Nature, concludes that trees may be channelling their more limited energy reserves into growth rather than maintaining their own health. Computer simulations of the biosphere have predicted such responses to drought, but these are the first direct observations of this effect across tropical forests. The three-year international study is the first detailed, large-scale examination of the complete carbon cycle, looking at both the growth and metabolism of forest plots at different sites across the Amazon basin. Each of the plots is one hectare and contains around 400-500 trees. The rainforest
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