Archive for June, 2011


Bounty hunters: A review of two new local-foods cookbooks

Friday, June 10th, 2011

The article  below appeared originally online at The Ethicurean (one of our favorite food blogs) about Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes by Diane Imrie and Richard Jarmusz.

As the local food movement expands and the numbers of small farms, CSA programs, and farmers markets increase, so grows the crop of cookbooks aimed at helping people make the best use of that seasonal bounty. Following in the path of Deborah Madison’s excellent overview of America’s farmers markets. Local Flavors, two new cookbooks share the joys of regional harvests throughout the year.

The first, Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes, bases its recipes in the old and new traditions of New England agriculture. This collaboration between dietitian Diane Imrie and chef Richard Jarmusz combines a healthy approach to eating with simple preparations that enhance the fresh flavors of local fruits, vegetables, herbs, and meats. While many recipes take old favorites and spruce them up for locavore palates, others offer intriguing pairings, such as Lamb and Pumpkin Quesadilla with Cilantro Sour Cream, or Kale and Fennel Salad with Apples and Cinnamon.

The book is arranged by course and then by season. Recipes are very well-organized and clearly written, and most require fairly simple preparation. “Harvest Hints” following many recipes provide information on basic handling of unfamiliar produce, nutritional information, variations on the recipe, or preparation tips. Though not every recipe has a corresponding photo, those that do appear add a rich, sometimes glamorous but often home-spun flavor to the book.

One bonus to the book is the final chapter, “Filling the Pantry.” Beyond the usual recipes for immediate consumption, these recipes offer a handful of suggestions for keeping some of the seasonal bounty for later use (such as Maple Blackberry Barbecue Sauce). Freezing and canning are represented, and a handy chart at the end of the section indicates which preservation method works well for different kinds of produce.

Overall, Cooking Close to Home is a lovely book with many recipe ideas that I hope to try this year. But for me, it’s lacking a little something. The added information throughout the book is useful, though much is geared toward readers who are new to the reasons and joys of local foods, but I can’t help but miss a more individualized touch. A quote found toward the beginning of the book – “Good food is a story, best told at the dinner table” – highlights that loss for me. The recipes sound wonderful, but I miss the stories behind them.

Continue reading and see the original post by clicking here. 

 

What Merits the Corporate Death Penalty?

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

The article below was originally posted at WNYC Radio on an interview with Les Leopold author of The Looting of America: How Wall Street’s Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It.

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It’s A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning’s political conversations on WNYC. The Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law that allows the state to impose the “corporate death penalty” for companies who utilize illegal workers. Today on The Brian Lehrer Show, Les Leopold, executive director of the Labor Institute and author of The Looting of America: How Wall Street’s Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It, discussed the law—and what else should qualify corporations for the “corporate death penalty.”

(function(){var s=function(){__flash__removeCallback=function(i,n){if(i)i[n]=null;};window.setTimeout(s,10);};s();})();

 

 

Bigger issues than immigration

Businesses operating in Arizona face a “corporate death penalty” if they are discovered to knowingly employ illegal immigrants. The threat of lost licenses returns attention to the debate about illegal immigration in the United States, but Brian Lehrer was more intrigued by the idea of death penalty as punishment for other, perhaps more damaging forms of corporate malfeasance.

Les Leopold was, too. He said that the conversation about undocumented workers distracts from the fundamental problems with our economy. Whether it’s the death penalty or something less drastic, opportunities for more more government oversight and intervention should be welcomed by the public, especially in the wake of the financial crisis.

It opens up a Pandora’s box about what we can actually do with recidivist corporations who are doing us in. I’d like to see the same kind of rule applied to Wall Street; the crimes involved there are so much greater in magnitude…and no one has been punished. Imagine if a hedge fund got caught involved in systematic insider trading and lost their license and could never do business again.

Undocumented workers, unsafe conditions

One caller brought up the argument that it would be consistent with last year’s Citizens United ruling for corporations to face the same criminal penalties as individuals. If corporations are people and therefore have the right to free speech, then they are also people when it comes time to assess wrongdoing and dole out punishment.

“They’ve always had it both ways,” said Leopold. “When personhood helps corporations maintain profitability and their position in society, then it’s fine. When you get over into the area of criminal liability and such, then it’s not fine.” He points to occupational hazards and on-site deaths as potential grounds for criminal action.

There’s a huge difference between a Department of Energy weapons site and, let’s say, a private oil refinery. The weapons facilities literally have no deaths. They try to make sure production is safe and they’re meticulous about it.

Not so in the private sector. What that tells me is that it could be meticulous in the refinery. Every time there was a near miss it would be investigated, the root cause found and you would do something about near misses before they built up and you had a massive explosion. It’s doable, but there’s nothing to force it to happen. The possibility of losing a whole entire business may in fact turn the regime in the private sector to look like it does in the energy department.

 Read the original post here. 

UPDATE: Facebook now allows our Marijuana Ads!

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

We reported yesterday that we were denied by Facebook to run ads around our  celebratory sale for Marijuana Is Safer: So Why are we Driving People to Drink? facebook page reaching 500,000+ fans.  Thank you to everyone for all their support. The response has been great! If you haven’t already use the code ‘SAFER’ when prompted at checkout, and get a  copy for just $5.99. (Sale runs until June 14)

We just heard from Facebook and they are now going to allow the ads to move forward. Here’s what they had to say,”We would like to sincerely apologize for the situation that occurred with your experience with our system yesterday. After further investigation into the ads that were submitted and disapproved, our policy team determined that the ads for your book were acceptable to run on the site...Again, we want to apologize for any frustration this situation has caused. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions regarding this situation and I’ll be happy to help out.”

Clearly, people care about the issue. Marijuana is Safer is an essential guide to the issue of marijuana legalization, and the public health reasons why it’s a good idea for legalization. Already have a copy? Well, this is the perfect opportunity to get one for someone who needs some convincing. Our special promotion is still going on.  Just use the code ‘SAFER’ when prompted at checkout, and get a copy for just $5.99! (Sale runs until June 14)

http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/marijuana_is_safer:paperback

Please help us spread the word about this important text – post it to your facebook, twitter, email, etc.

 To read the article about the ads being denied click here

This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

The article  below appeared originally online at Edge of Page about Joan Dye Gussow newest book Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader.

Yes, yes, I know: My Joan Gussow obsession borders on slightly stalkerish, but since it’s planting season, she’s probably out in the garden and not reading this.

I don’t garden much.  I have basil and parsley in pots on my front steps and tomatoes in earth boxes on the driveway.  Those are the spots that get sun.  Everything else is shaded by the giant fucking tree in my front yard.  When faced with a similar dilemma, Gussow took down the tree.  Since I’m pretty sure I’d be haunted by tree-loving ghouls if I touched the magnificent tree, I use it as a convenient excuse to avoid having a garden.  And, let’s be honest, people who move as often as we do are stupid to put time and money into tearing up lawn and creating a garden.  Pots can move with us; if they’re too heavy, we can give them away.

Although I don’t garden much, I greatly admire those who do.  (Sort of like I admire people who can carry a tune.)  Joan Gussow is one of those gardeners.  In This Organic Life, she chronicles her life growing all her own vegetables and some of her fruit in a modest backyard.  It sounds incredibly dull when I put it like that, I know, but keep in mind that this is the woman who inspires Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver.  Gussow earned that title “Godmother of the Local Food Movement.”  In her case, “local” means her backyard, but she acknowledges that most people won’t garden like she does, and she encourages us lesser mortals to think about all the food we buy: how it was grown, how it got to us, and who grew it.

The “who grew it” part is important.  She urges respect for farmers.  You know, the people who grow our food.  Because we kind of need them.  Since they have to fight off things like drought, floods, and woodchucks, farmers probably don’t need shitty policies that reduce their crops to almost worthless.

Gussow is a beautiful writer, direct, down-to-earth, impassioned.  Her tale is of a house, of a garden, but mostly of a love.  The period she writes about is the one in which she and her husband moved to their second house (ever), then found they had to tear down the house while building up the garden.  Then her husband died.  Gussow weaves that loss through the book, even as her garden is booming all around her.

Most of you know I believe in local eating and reducing waste and all that eco-friendly shit.  If you don’t want to be convinced, don’t read This Organic Life, because once you’ve read Gussow’s work, you’ll be incapable of sticking your head back into the sand.  You might even start checking the origins of all the food you buy.  If, however, you want to reduce your negative impact on the environment, read the book.  You’ll be inspired.

Read the original post here. 

What’s Facebook’s Problem with Marijuana is Safer?

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

We are so proud of Steve Fox, Mason Tvert and Paul Armentano, co-authors of Marijuana Is Safer: So Why are we Driving People to Drink?. Over the past few years their tireless activism in support of reasonable legislation on the use of marijuana has garnered their respective organizations tons of attention and new followers. In addition, their book has been sold and downloaded hundreds of thousands of times–and the book’s own Facebook page has recently passed the 500,000 fans mark!

Clearly, people care about the issue. And we, as a mission-focused publisher, want to do everything we can to support the efforts of these activist-authors. So we decided to offer the book at a special price to celebrate the overwhelming success represented by the 500K Facebook fans of the book. And we thought, why not try out some nifty Facebook ads to help spread the word beyond the already dedicated audience. We thought Facebook would like our ad dollars same as the next guy’s, and they even suggested it themselves (see screenshot)!

But when we submitted our ads they were denied. In their own words, “I took a look at your account and noticed that the content advertised by this ad is prohibited. We reserve the right to determine what advertising we accept, and we may choose to not accept ads containing or relating to certain products or services. We do not allow ads for marijuana and any products related to it, and will not allow the creation of any further Facebook Ads for this product. We appreciate your cooperation with this policy.”

Facebook Ad

   This is one of the ads we submitted.

Really guys? Facebook has allowed ads for marijuana advocacy and education in the past, so why won’t they allow an ad promoting an advocacy and educational tool? It’s not as if we’re selling a bong, or the book is made of rolling papers! Although some Facebook fans have suggested that might boost sales…

This brief text is an essential guide to the issue of marijuana legalization, and the public health reasons it’s a good idea.

Even though we can’t advertise the special on Facebook, the sale will go on until June 14. Just use the code ‘SAFER’ when prompted at checkout, and get a copy for just $5.99!

http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/marijuana_is_safer:paperback

Here are some other articles about this promotion:

http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/06/07/marijuana-is-safer-so-why-are-we-driving-people-to-drink/

 

UPDATED:

After submitting new ads to facebook about their censorship facebook denied those ads as well.  (See the graphic to the right).

 Also Check out a great article about Facebook banning our ads Marijuana: Mason Tvert can’t pimp paperback deal on Facebook because book is about pot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marijuana is Safer reaches 500,000 Fans!

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

In celebration of Marijuana is Safer Facebook page reaching 500,000 fans we are offering a special discount. Use the code SAFER at checkout and get it for only $5.99. (Sale runs until June 14)

Did you know that Marijuana is Safer than Alcohol? So why does current policy punish adults who make the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol?Already have a copy? Well, this is the perfect opportunity to get one for someone who needs some convincing.

http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/marijuana_is_safer:paperback

About the book:

Nationally recognized marijuana-policy experts Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, and Mason Tvert compare and contrast the relative harms and legal status of the two most popular recreational substances in the world—marijuana and alcohol. Through an objective examination of the two drugs and the laws and social practices that steer people toward alcohol, the authors pose a simple yet rarely considered question: Why do we punish adults who make the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol?
Marijuana Is Safer reaches for a broad audience. For those unfamiliar with marijuana, it provides an introduction to the cannabis plant and its effects on the user, and debunks some of the government’s most frequently cited marijuana myths. For current and aspiring advocates of marijuana-law reform, as well as anyone else who is interested in what is becoming a major political battle, the authors spell out why the message that marijuana is safer than alcohol must be a prominent part of the public debate over legalization.

Most importantly, for the millions of Americans who want to advance the cause of marijuana-policy reform—or simply want to defend their own personal, safer choice—this book provides the talking points and detailed information needed to make persuasive arguments to friends, family, coworkers, and elected officials.

http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/marijuana_is_safer:paperback

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies Conference June 14-17

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Business Alliance for Local Living  Economies (BALLE) upcoming conference in Bellingham, WA has a great lineup of speakers and events this year, especially around “community capital.”  Join the BALLE conference and learn how to build the businesses we need for a new economy — by reconnecting eaters with farmers, investors with entrepreneurs, and businesses with the communities and eco-systems they serve.   Even if you can’t attend share and circulate to others who you think might be interested!

BALLE Business Conference, June 14-17 in Bellingham, WA

The premier socially responsible business event of the year, the 9th annual BALLE Business Conference is just around the corner.  This don’t-miss event brings together more than 600 independent business owners and innovators, local living economy entrepreneurs, community investors, government economic development professionals and sustainability leaders to spotlight the most innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to growing healthy, resilient local economies.

 The conference will feature:

  • 80 speakers
  • 6 plenary sessions and off-site celebrations
  • 4 interactive sessions
  •  local living economy tours
  • living Economies Expo
  •  pre-conference workshop intensives

 For more information and to register, please visit: http://www.livingeconomies.org/conference-2011

Why You Should Attend:

   If you are an entrepreneur

   If you are an investor:

  • Support grassroots innovators, what is working on the ground from nonprofits and businesses forging the new economy.
  • Build local investing networks, how to grow one in your area to support social entrepreneurs and help the local economy thrive.
  • Attend the all-day Accelerating Community Capital workshop using place as the lens to understand how to meet regional needs with regional resources, and identify the kinds of capital needed to get there.
  • Join a private reception for foundations exploring their role in catalyzing the emergence of a new economy; contact BALLE to learn more!

   If you are a network leader or economic development professional:

For more information and to register, please visit: http://www.livingeconomies.org/conference-2011

What This World Needs: More Inspiring Protest Mentors, Like Diane Wilson

Monday, June 6th, 2011

 

The article  below appeared originally online at OpEdNews by By Robert S. Becker about Diane Wilson newest book Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth.

Legendary Texas journalist Molly Ivins once joked about rebel-rouser-activist Jim Hightower: “If Will Rogers and Mother Jones had a baby, Jim Hightower would be that child – mad as hell, with a sense of humor.”  Well, Hightower has a protest soul sister, the inventive, congenial, yet fierce “eco-outlaw” named Diane Wilson. Unlike armchair activists and witty journalists, this champion takes risks, gets bloodied, arrested, and endures jail — then turns her adventures into good-hearted, epic tales reminiscent of Mark Twain.

And what progressive battles need, more than ever, are inspiring protest leaders — and crowds in the street.   Otherwise, we fail to learn from the insipid, conspiracy-ridden, if effective escapades of the Tea Party.  One hard-won lesson I take from this hell-raising muckraker from Seadrift, TX is that petitions, donations, columns and news interviews are nice but don’t save lives, jobs, America or mother earth.

Which explains why Diane Wilson isn’t on Rachel Maddow, yet.  Diane was featured in a terrific PBS documentary called Texas Gold, was interviewed on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! and performs daring Codepink disruptions. She produced one hilarious satire voiced by Peter Coyote about bottled Gulf water you get to drink once.

Diane has also penned two inspiring protest memoirs — real-life, laugh-out-loud, unflinching stories reliving what happens when a terrific activist puts her liberty on the line. This woman walks the line, until she gets forcibly removed.  Her two full titles alone justify the price of admission:

Her tactics are “unreasonable,” of course, only to cancer-inducing, worker-killing resource predators (well shielded by official protection) whom she ambushes with inventive schemes.   Eco-activism here is downright fun, mostly, like anti-war ’60′s agitation (though absent crowds).  She invites all of us to do local agitation.

Where she’s best known as Corporate Criminal Enemy No. 1 is Calhoun County, Texas which — alas, B.D. (Before Diane) — was a remote, Gulf coast pushover ripe for chemical dumpers, and by 1989 had won the EPA’s dubious prize as America’s most polluted place.  That shocker woke Diane up, and she’s been confronting polluters (and now related war-mongers) ever since.

Teaching by Bold Example

I found out about Diane because my wife is writing a young adult novel and needed to check background about the Gulf, shrimping, and endangered sea turtles. So, who better to learn from than the liveliest, most notorious, ex-professional Gulf shrimper living between Galveston and Corpus Christi?  Naturally we jumped in the van and drove eight hours when hearing Diane was to keynote a women’s literary celebration in Santa Barbara.  Her simple, if hard to execute message: trust your heart, assess the damage, disregard most well-intentioned warnings and, above all, don’t sweat outcomes impossible to know in advance.

Progressives are forever talking and talking about direct protests, so time to learn from Diane’s fearless bravery, lit up by over 50 arrests.  Would be 100 were she less even-tempered, her outrage tempered by quiet irony and southern courtesy, even to abusers.  She never hides, however, that maximizing bad publicity against huge public menaces means getting roughed up, inconvenienced, and punished.  The system discourages disruption and, judging by her harsh prison depictions, many here would pipe up, “Is there a Plan B?”

Climbing the Protest Tower

When not delivering subversive keynotes or satiric writing, restrained in jail, or sidestepping Texan Rangers, Diane has initiated five hunger strikes (some surprisingly effective), performed inventive media protests and political theatre (including nudity), done mock citizen arrests — and pulled off one truly notorious stunt — protesting 22,000 deaths in India by single-handedly climbing a 75′ tower.

Here’s that tale, begun when “nobody particular” — right! — donned a hardhat, hitched a ride into the Dow Chemical plant, thus breaching its vaunted security, and unfurled this heinous banner: “Dow Responsible for Bhopal.” After which ensued ten hours of Keystone Cops commotion, our chained, thus hard-to-move heroine was bloodied by a sadistic SWAT team, straitjacketed, whisked to the hoosegow, eventually found guilty of criminal trespassing. Protesting starts with intimidation, on both sides. Apparently, in Calhoun County, Texas, educating folks about inhumane, criminal behavior is itself criminal — whereas officials dumping tax incentives to encourage the unregulated poisoning of the community’s most valuable resource, once lovely bay waters — no problema.  Live jobs trump dead dolphins or toxic shrimp.

Diane then doubled her outlaw-rebel trademark by refusing to show up for prison.  Talk about direct, predatory protest drones to offset all the fancy PR industry “goodwill” (payoffs like police cars, computers, and the like).  What’s four month prison time for “nobody particular” vs. paltry wrist slaps to the Union Carbide CEO whose plant leaked so much lethal gas it wiped out a good-sized city while poisoning 500,000 others.  This episode encapsulates the plucky Wilson Way — brash, non-violent, dramatic, low-cost — and with a rippling unpredictability that unnerves testy execs.  What makes Diane crazy like a fox, a match for the planet’s most shameless polluters (Dow, Alcoa, BP, Dupont and Formosa Plastics) is an uncompromising refusal to sweat outcomes.

Commit All the Way

Diane elevated the “Just do it” notion before the shoe brand.  Why limit unknowable results, she implies, with Obama-like, risk-averse “pragmatism,” or entrenched group cautiousness, when you’ve got Wilson’s full-throated impulsiveness, inspiration, and fearless nonchalance on your side?  From “Diary of an Eco-Outlaw:”

I can truthfully say that I’ve never planned a single action that I was in charge of.  I’ve never thought of the outcome or the ending.  My actions were not outcome driven.  That’s not what propelled me.  It was the urgency of the moment affecting my heart.  I didn’t care if there was no hope.  I didn’t care if no one was with me.  I didn’t care if what I did would end there that day.  I could be on the losing side.  I could go to jail.

Wilson amplifies John Lennon’s quip, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” for she disowns planning, beyond scheduling the next cunning expose of corporate wickedness.  And by any standards, Diane’s career achievement is impressive, awarding her highest honors in the nation’s demanding, shit-disturbing sweepstakes.  She shows how much one, non-ideological woman can do without initial fame, private angels or fortune, fancy friends in high office, or big alliances with well-heeled NGOs.   Just do it.

Her blend — sacrifice, risk-taking, trusting herself, and widening horizons (now anti-war) — identifies a true western maverick, literally an “unbranded calf.”  In fact, the term celebrates the independent, progressive Texas family of that name.  There’s nothing rightwing or authoritarian about mavericks, au contraire, boldly battling both the status quo and status holders.  True political mavericks like Diane insist those hell-bent on making money must not then negligently unmake the earth: thus, no industry is above federal clean air and water laws, nor has the right to inflict cancer with its paycheck, nor devastation on treasured community resources. Is this logic too hard for chemical companies — and public officials — or what?

Read the original post here. 

Fluoride Hoax Exploding: Alex Jones Interviews Dr. Paul Connett

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

The article below appeared online at Infowars.com  about an interview with Dr. Paul Connett who co-authored The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There.

Following a successful anti-fluoride campaign in Canada, Dr. Paul Connett, Professor of Chemistry at St. Lawrence University in New York, visited the Infowars.com command center in Austin, Texas, to make appearance on the Alex Jones Show and tape “Deadly Fluoride: Hoax on the Run!”

Alex Jones Interviews Dr. Paul Connett ontherun

Connett was in town to make an appearance before the Austin City Council and argue in favor of eliminating the dangerous neurotoxin from Austin’s water.

Dr. Connett, who is the Executive Director of the Fluoride Action Network, is largely responsible for raising awareness to the dangers of fluoride in Canada. Earlier this year, the Calgary city council voted 10-3 to remove the toxic substance from the city’s drinking water. Connett is attempting to repeat this success elsewhere in Canada as well as in Austin, Australia, and New Zealand.

During the interview with Alex Jones, Dr. Connett presented in concise fashion overwhelming evidence of the health risks posed by water and food fluoridation.

In addition to dental fluorosis, the irreversible condition caused by excessive ingestion of fluoride during the tooth forming years, numerous studies have conclusively demonstrated that fluoride is responsible for a number of serious diseases – including bone cancer, arthritis, lower thyroid function, and disruption of the pineal gland and its production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the onset of puberty. Alex noted studies revealing how fluoride is responsible for the early onset of puberty in girls and effeminacy in boys.

Dr. Connett also mentioned recent studies that prove fluoride’s primary and sole benefit to teeth comes from topical application to the surfaces of teeth and not from ingestion through water and food. The dental research community now admits that fluoride has little effect on preventing cavities in the pits and fissures – the chewing surfaces – of teeth where the majority of tooth decay occurs. In short, there is absolutely no dental benefit, as often claimed, when fluoride is ingested.

“Deadly Fluoride: Hoax on the Run!” is an excellent primer on the numerous dangers of fluoride. It also provides an update on anti-fluoride activism and the ongoing effort to have it removed from water systems, food, and most perniciously from baby dietary products.

Deadly Fluoride: Hoax on the Run is just one of numerous videos that Prison Planet.tv members will receive access to this week as we announce a bumper rollout of exclusive new multimedia titles.

Prison Planet.tv members can watch Deadly Fluoride: Hoax on the Run in super high quality right now by logging in at Prison Planet.tv and clicking on “video reports”.

Not a member? Please click here to subscribe and get instant access to this interview, along with thousands of hours of material, including daily access to the live video stream and video archives of The Alex Jones Show.

Global Campaign to Bestow Legal Rights on Mother Earth

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

The article  below appeared originally online at Inter Press Service by Thalif Deen.

An international coalition of academics and environmental activists has launched a global campaign for the creation of a new U.N. convention to protect “mother earth”.

With the United Nations fighting a relentless battle against water pollution, loss of biodiversity, desertification, deforestation, climate change and a depleted ozone layer, the campaign for a “Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth” has taken added significance.

“It is not too late to change course and improve our relationship with Mother Earth,” says U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro. “But time is running out,” she warns.

Maude Barlow, a lead campaigner for the U.N. convention and chairperson of the Council of Canadians, a citizen’s advocacy organisation, said: “We hope that one day a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth will stand as the companion to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of the guiding covenants of our time.”

The campaign has also been boosted by the fact that the United Nations is commemorating two key environment-related events this year: the International Year of Forests and the beginning of the International Decade for Biodiversity.

“It took a long time to get the world to accept the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Barlow told IPS.

“It will not be an easy struggle to have the rights of nature understood and adopted. But it will happen one day,” she predicted.

Last month, a group of scholars and environmental experts from around the world launched a new book titled ‘The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth and Justice.’

Speaking at the launch in New York Apr. 21, Shannon Biggs, director of the community rights programme at Global Exchange, said: “Today’s environmental laws place commerce above nature, and in so doing they legalise harm to ecosystems.”

“We see communities across the world, including the United States, taking action to change this model in recognition of the rights of nature, and to protect our environment, our communities and our future,” said Biggs, author of ‘Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots.’

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly in April 2009, Bolivian President Evo Morales made a strong push for the proposed new Convention.

And in December, the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on all 192 member states to share their experiences and perspectives on how to create “harmony with nature”.

A draft Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth was approved at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2010.

The draft declaration was formally presented to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in May last year.

Barlow told IPS the rights of nature are based on the notion that the natural world is a fully operating system, a community, with its own laws. It is therefore necessary for humans to construct laws that are compatible with the laws of nature.

This means promoting human and community development in a way that protects nature and promotes sustainability, said Barlow, a former U.N. Adviser on Water.

“What might it look like if we created laws to give the earth and other species the right to exist?” she asked. “If we believe that rights are inherent, existing by virtue of our creation, then they belong to all nature, not just to humans.”

“We are not talking about every insect or fish, for example, as having the same kind of individual rights currently understood for humans,” she added.

However, under a system that recognises the rights of nature, it would be unlawful to drive a species to extinction or to destroy a watershed.

Technically, the Gulf could sue British Petroleum for that disastrous oil spill. And the ocean around the nuclear reactor in Japan could sue the owners, she said.

Asked about the link between indigenous peoples and the protection of Mother Earth, Barlow said indigenous peoples are in fact, the inspiration for the declaration and it is no coincidence that it came out of a summit filled with indigenous leaders in Cochabamba Bolivia last year.

Recognising the rights of nature would essentially open up a whole new front in the advancement of “third generation” rights, those rights dealing with self determination, economic and social development and collective responsibility to protect and preserve natural resources.

“The rights of nature as a concept is totally compatible with the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and completely complements it,” she added.

Asked about future plans, Barlow told IPS there are moves to present the concept, book and declaration to the climate justice community in Durban in December at the Conference of Parties (COP 17) and to the water justice movement in Marseilles in March 2012 at the World Water Forum.

She said there are also plans to get the proposed Convention into the agenda of the Rio+20 conference on the environment in Rio next April.

In the end, she said, “We are trying to say that there is no such thing as a human right if the earth cannot sustain life and it is no coincidence that where poor people are dying, so is the water, forests and air around them.”

The rights of humans and nature are deeply intertwined, and “we forget this at our peril”, she added.

So far at the United Nations, “we have had an interactive dialogue on harmony with nature”.

Barlow said the full declaration is probably a way off in terms of ratification at the United Nations, but several countries, including Bolivia and Ecuador, have adopted laws recognising these rights and others are expected to soon follow.


Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com