July was another busy month over at RAN's Facebook page!
Here's a look at the month's most popular pictures.
3. The Bronze Panther for Third Most Popular Picture goes to ...
Tell the Snack Food 20 to cut conflict palm oil, not rainforests: http://www.ran.org/snack_food_20
2. The Silver Panther for Second Most Popular Picture goes to ...
... the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminding us what Independence Day really means.
1. And the Gold Panther for Most Popular Picture goes to ...
... Thomas Edison! This picture definitely stirred up some controversy over his business practices, and his treatment of Nicola Tesla—but he was right about the potential of solar power.
In late June, a team of RAN staff travelled to Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada to participate in the Tar Sands Healing Walk, which is organized and hosted by members of the local First Nations Communities. Walking amidst the tar sands destruction was a humbling and powerful experience.
This blog post is one of a series, sharing our impressions and reflections.
Todd's previous post was "Industry's Dreams, Indigenous Nightmares: A Visit to the Alberta Tar Sands".
We left the tar sands boomtown of Fort McMurray via Highway 63, a notoriously dangerous road we were warned was trafficked by huge trucks hauling mining machinery and by oil workers cutting loose on their time off. Fortunately, we traveled the short distance to the Tar Sands Healing Walk camp without incident. We joined the healing walk encampment, a collection of tents and teepees along the beautiful Gregoire Lake, and were hosted by Keepers of the Athabasca, a network of Indigenous First Nations groups.
The natural beauty of Alberta is striking, and deceptive. At first glance, the land looks unspoiled, with thick stands of white-barked birch, a big sky, and the placid waters of Gregoire Lake. Tragically, the idyllic façade belies profound contamination: the air, waters, animals, and people of Alberta are poisoned. This reality was quickly hammered home in the Tars Sands Healing Walk camp. Drinking water for the gathering of several hundred had been pumped from a residence at nearby Fort Chipewyan, and the water reeked of methane gas. Apparently, some of the well-intentioned visitors in attendance helpfully pointed this out to the community hosts, prompting a sobering announcement from the stage: "People are complaining about the water smelling of methane. This is what people drink here. There is no other water." Later the same day, Annette Campre from Fort McKay First Nation told the crowd that she has been using bottled water to bathe her children for years. The Athabasca River flows north through the tar sands mines, carrying contaminants away from major population centers and toward Fort Chipewyan, a community of Chipewyan, Cree, and Metis First Nations people. One suspects that the intense water contamination visited on Fort Chipewyan would not be permitted if the river of pollutants flowed south from the tar sands into the Canadian cities of Edmonton and Calgary.
The consequences of tar sands mining contaminants are disproportionately borne by First Nations communities, like Fort Chipewyan, a tiny town with a hugely anomalous incidence of rare and aggressive cancers, like bile-duct cancer. At the Tar Sands Healing Walk encampment, we heard from Dr. John O’Connor, the fly-in doctor for Fort Chipewyan and early whistleblower on the abnormally high incidence of cancers in the region. Dr. O’Connor recounted efforts by industry and government to discredit his first-hand observances, which have been borne out in a recent study that found that 21.3% of surveyed First Nations persons displayed evidence of cancer. The study also reported "that cancer occurrence is significantly and positively associated with participant employment in the Oil Sands as well as the consumption of traditional foods and locally caught fish."
The cancer epidemic faced by First Nations communities in the Alberta Tar Sands region are appalling, but the damage inflicted by tar sands mining on Canada's original people goes deeper. The same recent study documented "elevated levels of the environmental contaminants arsenic, cadmium, mercury and selenium, as well as PAHs (some carcinogenic) in the foods traditionally harvested by the First Nations in the region." Translation: the game that Indigenous people rely on in Alberta is ridden with toxins. For First Nations people, this has much deeper implications than the simple right to uncontaminated food stocks. As I learned at the Tar Sands Healing Walk, many of the important ceremonial and spiritual practices of Alberta's First Nations rely on traditional relationships with game, including hunting and the consumption of this meat. Tar sands developments threaten local species like the caribou with extinction, and are poisoning fish and game stocks. For First Nations communities, the contamination and degradation of the land is an existential threat; if First Nations people are unable to pass on traditional knowledge and practice, their culture and spiritual practice is destroyed. As we learned at the Tars Sands Healing Walk, the continued development of the Albertan tar sands is a perpetuation of cultural genocide by settler culture.
So what is to be done about this? Tune in next week for a final post—“Resistance: what do we do about the tar sands?”
Image: Chipewyan drummers lead the Tar Sands Healing walk. The Chipewyan culture is directly threatened by tar sands mining.
On May 20, thousands of us united in a Global Day of Action to tell PepsiCo to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil. PepsiCo responded by announcing a Forestry Stewardship Policy and Palm Oil Commitment, but neither of these new promises are strong enough to guarantee that Pepsi’s use of palm oil is not driving rainforest destruction, species extinction and human and labor rights abuses.
PepsiCo is the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world - the company uses enough palm oil every single year to fill Pepsi cans that would stretch around the Earth 4 times - but it has fallen out of step with its peers and still has no truly responsible palm oil purchasing policy.
Instead of cutting Conflict Palm Oil from its products, PepsiCo continues to push its darkly ironic #LiveForNow campaign. PepsiCo is telling people not to worry about climate change, the fate of the last wild orangutans and children that are forced to work in slave-like conditions on oil palm plantations and just #LiveForNow!
It’s our job to tell PepsiCo that #LiveForNow isn’t good enough. This summer we’re turning up the heat.
PepsiCo is pushing its #LiveForNow propaganda out through it’s “Real Big Summer” marketing campaign which includes Pepsi sponsored concerts and events across the US. We need YOU to crash Pepsi-sponsored events and deliver the message that #LiveForNow shouldn’t mean rainforest destruction, climate change and human rights abuses.
Because of you PepsiCo has made some progress. With your help we’ve convinced the snack food giant to go beyond just sourcing Roundtable on Sustainable Palm certified palm oil. However, PepsiCo’s policies lack a commitment to trace its palm oil back to the plantations where the oil palm fruit was grown and to verify that its suppliers operations are free of forced and child labor, conflicts with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and clearance of rainforests and peatlands. It also lacks a time bound action plan, so it’s hard for its consumers to know what steps it will take to clean up its palm oil supply chain.
This isn’t good enough. PepsiCo must adopt a policy that is inline with what forests, the people that rely on them and our planet need and demand that its suppliers, like Cargill, do the same.
With your help we’ll convince the global snack food giant to take the steps that will guarantee that its products - like Quaker Oats and Frito-Lay Chips - will be free of Conflict Palm Oil for good.
Help us turn up the heat on PepsiCo this summer. Sign up to let us know you’re in.
Crucially, environmental changes immediately outside reserves seemed nearly as important as those inside in determining their ecological fate, with changes inside reserves strongly mirroring those occurring around them.Meaning that, even with the best of intentions, the conservation of discreet pieces of park land cannot maintain healthy and vibrant habitat for wildlife if the ecosystem right outside the boundaries of the park is being devastated. [caption id="attachment_19779" align="alignleft" width="262" caption="Tripa Swamp: A Threatened Pocket of Biodiversity Amidst the Greater Leuser Ecosystem. Click for larger image."][/caption] This finding sheds light on the fate of Tripa—an area of 61,803 hectares on the west coast of the province of Aceh that represents one of only six remaining populations of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan. Tripa is part of the Leuser Ecosystem, in the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, which covers more than 2.6 million hectares of prime tropical rain forest and is the last place on earth where the Sumatran sub-species of elephants, rhinoceros, tigers and orangutans coexist. What we’ve witnessed in the past six months is the near wholesale extinction of Sumatran orangutans due to the fires intentionally set by palm oil companies both inside and outside Tripa, threatening endangered orangutans throughout the region. Given the amount of endangered species struggling for survival inside Leuser National Park, our task is not only to protect this pocket of biodiversity that may not be able to survive long term, but to protect natural forests throughout Indonesia that are being razed to the ground to feed the growing appetite of international markets for cheap palm oil and pulp and paper. Whether it’s orangutans or rhinos who are eking out survival inside protected areas that are themselves under threat by encroaching deforestation, the habitat that these creatures depend on has been relentlessly chipped away by palm oil producers and pulp and paper companies. The urgency of the situation on the ground in Indonesia is even more pressing today than our August 2011 analysis that protected areas alone are not enough to combat the sixth mass extinction.
Dear Minister @martynatalegawa the world is watching how Indonesia enforces the law in Tripa! http://ow.ly/a0kaL #savetripa• The Indonesian President has received thousands of emails, let's keep his attention focused!
Dear president @soesilobambang we want to see JUSTICE in Tripa. This is our demand http://ow.ly/a0kaL #savetripa• The Minister of Forestry is responsible for deciding what forests get to live and what forests get cut down.
Dear Ministry of Forestry @zul_hasan you have to make sure JUSTICE is served in Tripa http://ow.ly/a0kaL #savetripa"• The Minister of Agriculture should be investigating palm oil companies operating illegally all over Indonesia.
Dear Minister @suswono palm oil company PT Kalista Alam is breaking the law in Tripa http://ow.ly/a0kaL #savetripa"• The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has to make sure justice is served in court on April 3rd (more on that below).
Dear @KEMENKUMHAM the world demands JUSTICE to be served in Tripa http://ow.ly/a0kaL #savetripa "• Originally the area of Forest that PT Kallista Alam is destroying was part of a multi-billion dollar forest protection deal between Norway and Indonesia. The people of Norway must be outraged that their money is going up in smoke!
Dear @Kronprinsparet Norwegian taxpayer money is going up in smoke because of corrupt Indonesian officials http://ow.ly/a0oQ7 #savetripa• World Bank funds are used both for protection and destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem, the wider area in which Tripa lies. We're asking them to investigate.
@WorldBank money is used to fund the destruction of protected #orangutan habitat in Indonesia http://ow.ly/a0oMo #savetripa• The United Nations' Great Ape Survival Partnership (GRASP) lists Tripa as a priority site for orangutan protection. We're asking UNEP GRASP, UNEP and UNESCO to investigate.
Dear @graspunep Tripa is a priority site for the protection of Orangutans http://ow.ly/a0oMo #savetripa Dear @UNEP Tripa is a priority site for the protection of Orangutans http://ow.ly/a0oMo #savetripa Dear @UNESCO Tripa is a priority site for the protection of Orangutans http://ow.ly/a0oMo #savetripaBurning protected forests and peatlands is against multiple Indonesian laws, and we will continue to watch this investigation very closely. In less than 48 hours, the court of Aceh will be announcing the judge's verdict in the case against the major culprits in burning forests in Tripa, the PT Kallista Alam oil palm company and former governor Irwandi Yusuf. Allowing palm oil permits within the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest is against the law, as it is an integral part of the Leuser Ecosystem, home to rhinos, elephants, clouded leopards, tigers and of course, orangutans. Tripa is protected by the National Spatial Plan established by government regulation 26/2008 under the National Spatial Planning Law number 26/2007. "This is really a test case," said Chik Rini, a World Wildlife Fund campaigner, noting that while it's not uncommon for timber, pulp, paper and palm oil companies to raze trees in protected areas, few developments have occurred in Tripa, an area that seems so obviously off limits. "If they get away with it here, well, then no forests are safe." Find Reports, Photos, Film, Media and more on our website: EndoftheIcons.wordpress.com. The Independent wrote one of the most complete and accurate media stories to come out so far: Up in smoke: ecological catastrophe in the Sumatran swamps. ~~ Happy tweeting everyone! Please share this widely! – ~~ Never underestimate the power of your friends! ~~
http://www.youtube.com/embed/ICBxZ4zg8y8In 2007 Governor Yusuf of Aceh signed a province-wide moratorium on forest logging, another law to provide protection to the Tripa rainforest. Yusuf eventually was named the “green governor” for this action he took to protect the forest. But despite these legal protections and his “green” reputation, Governor Yusuf issued a permit in August 2011 to PT Kallista Alam to allow 1,605 hectares of deep peat in the Tripa forest to be converted into a palm oil plantation. None of the forest communities were consulted for this permit, denying them their rights to control their traditional lands and forcing them to face air and water pollution and loss of their forest livelihoods. In November of 2011 a coalition of NGO’s filed a legal case against the Governor and PT Kallista Alam for the illegal expansion into Tripa forest. Once this case was filed and palm oil companies learned community groups were trying to stop their expansion, they rushed to burn and clear more forest, resulting in the massive fires ablaze today. [caption id="attachment_18531" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo by Carlos Quiles/March 11, 2012"][/caption] Since the case was filed there have been numerous hearings and the world is awaiting the court decision to be released next week. If the judges rule in favor of the Governor and PT Kallista Alam — allowing the permit to remain — the future of this global biodiversity hotspot will be at great risk. The international community cannot just stand by watching this beautiful forest ecosystem get destroyed. We need your URGENT help. Please take action by telling President Yudhoyono of Indonesia to order palm oil companies to cease the burning of the Tripa forest immediately and save Sumatran orangutans. For more information about Tripa and this global tragedy, please see End of the Icons. Images by Carlos Quiles.