Arquivo da tag: ambientalismo

American environmentalism’s racist roots have shaped global thinking about conservation (The Conversation)

John James Audubon relied on African Americans and Native Americans to collect some specimens for his ‘Birds of America’ prints (shown: Florida cormorant), but never credited them. National Audubon Society

September 2, 2020 3.22pm EDT

Prakash Kashwan Co-Director, Research Program on Economic and Social Rights, Human Rights Institute, and Associate Professor, Department of Political Science., University of Connecticut

The United States is having a long-overdue national reckoning with racism. From criminal justice to pro sports to pop culture, Americans increasingly are recognizing how racist ideas have influenced virtually every sphere of life in this country.

This includes the environmental movement. Recently the Sierra Club – one of the oldest and largest U.S. conservation organizations – acknowledged racist views held by its founder, author and conservationist John Muir. In some of his writing, Muir described Native Americans and Black people as dirty, lazy and uncivilized. In an essay collection published in 1901 to promote national parks, he assured prospective tourists that “As to Indians, most of them are dead or civilized into useless innocence.”

Acknowledging this record, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune wrote in July 2020: “As defenders of Black life pull down Confederate monuments across the country, we must…reexamine our past and our substantial role in perpetuating white supremacy.”

This is a salutary gesture. However, I know from my research on conservation policy in places like India, Tanzania and Mexico that the problem isn’t just the Sierra Club.

American environmentalism’s racist roots have influenced global conservation practices. Most notably, they are embedded in longstanding prejudices against local communities and a focus on protecting pristine wildernesses. This dominant narrative pays little thought to indigenous and other poor people who rely on these lands – even when they are its most effective stewards.

Native Americans protest President Donald Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, July 3, 2020. Micah Garen/Getty Images

Racist legacies of nature conservation

Muir was not the first or last American conservationist to hold racist views. Decades before Muir set foot in California’s Sierra Nevada. John James Audubon published his “Birds of America” engravings between 1827 and 1838. Audubon was a skilled naturalist and illustrator – and a slaveholder.

Audubon’s research benefited from information and specimens collected by enslaved Black men and Indigenous people. Instead of recognizing their contributions, Audubon referred to them as “hands” traveling along with white men. The National Audubon Society has removed Audubon’s biography from its site, referring to Audubon’s involvement in the slave trade as “the challenging parts of his identity and actions.” The group also condemned “the role John James Audubon played in enslaving Black people and perpetuating white supremacist culture.”

Theodore Roosevelt, who is widely revered as the first environmental president, was an enthusiastic hunter who led the Smithsonian–Roosevelt African Expedition to Kenya in 1909-1910. During this “shooting trip,” Roosevelt and his party killed more than 11,000 animals, including elephants, hippopotamuses and white rhinos.

Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir at Yosemite National Park, California, 1903. Library of Congress

The predominant view is that Roosevelt’s love of hunting was good for nature because it fueled his passion for conservation. But this paradigm underpins what I see as a modern racist myth: the view that trophy hunting – wealthy hunters buying government licenses to shoot big game and keep whatever animal parts they choose – pays for wildlife conservation in Africa. In my assessment, there is little evidence to support such claims about trophy hunting, which reinforce exploitative models of conservation by removing local communities from lands set aside as hunting reserves.

Ecologist Aldo Leopold, who is viewed as the father of wildlife management and the U.S. wilderness system, was an early proponent of the argument that overpopulation is the root cause of environmental problems. This view implies that economically less-developed nations with large populations are the biggest threats to conservation.

Contemporary advocates of wildlife conservation, such as Britain’s Prince William, continue to rely on the trope that “Africa’s rapidly growing human population” threatens the continent’s wildlife. Famed primatologist Jane Goodall also blamed our current environmental challenges in part on overpopulation.

However, the argument that population growth alone is responsible for environmental damage is problematic. Many studies have concluded that conspicuous consumption and the energy-intensive lifestyles of wealthy people in advanced economies have a much larger impact on the environment than actions by poor people. For example, the richest 10% of the world’s population produces almost as much greenhouse gas emissions as the bottom 90% combined.

Local communities are often written out of popular narratives on nature conservation. Many documentaries, such as the 2020 film “Wild Karnataka,” narrated by David Attenborough, entirely ignore local Indigenous people, who have nurtured the natural heritages of the places where they live. Some of the most celebrated footage in wildlife documentaries made by filmmakers like Attenborough is not even shot in the wild. By relying on fictional visuals, they reproduce racialized structures that render local people invisible.

Fortress conservation

The wilderness movement founded by Anglo-American conservationists is institutionalized in the form of national parks. Writer and historian Wallace Stegner famously called national parks “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”

But many national parks and other lands set aside for wilderness conservation are also the ancestral homelands of Native peoples. These communities were forced off their lands during European colonization of North America.

Similar injustices continued to unfold even after independence in other parts of the world. When I analyzed a data set of 137 countries, I found that the largest areas of national parks were set aside in countries with high levels of economic inequality and poor or nonexistent democratic institutions. The poorest countries – including the Republic of the Congo, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia – had each set aside more than 30% of national territories exclusively for wildlife and biodiversity conservation.

This happens because corrupt government officials and commercial tourism and safari operators can benefit from it. So do hunters, researchers and documentary filmmakers from the Global North, even as local communities are forbidden from hunting bush meat for family consumption.

Critics call this strategy “fortress conservation.” According to some estimates, Indigenous and rural communities protect up to 80% of global biodiversity, but receive little benefit in return.

Better models

Correcting this legacy can happen only by radically transforming its exclusionary approach. Better and scientifically robust strategies recognize that low-intensity human interventions in nature practiced by Indigenous peoples can conserve landscapes more effectively than walling them off from use.

For example, I have studied forested regions of central India that are home to Indigenous Baiga communities. Baigas practice subsistence farming that involves few or no chemical fertilizers and controlled use of fire. This form of agriculture creates open grasslands that support endangered native herbivores like deer and antelopes. These grasslands are the main habitat for India’s world-renowned Kanha National Park and Tiger Reserve.

Ecologists have shown that natural landscapes interspersed with low-intensity subsistence agriculture can be most effective for biodiversity conservation. These multiple-use landscapes provide social, economic and cultural support for Indigenous and rural communities.

My research shows that when governments enact socially just nature conservation policies, such as community forestry in Mexico, they are better able to handle conflicts over use of these resources. Socially just nature conservation is possible under two main conditions: Indigenous and rural communities have concrete stakes in protecting those resources and can participate in policy decisions.

Nonetheless, conservation institutions and policies continue to exclude and discriminate against Indigenous and rural communities. In the long run, it is clear to me that conservation will succeed only if it can support the goal of a dignified life for all humans and nonhuman species.

Fogo amigo (Ciência Hoje)

Estudos mostram que a prática indígena de queimar grandes áreas de cerrado é benéfica para o bioma. Além de inofensivas, queimadas controladas protegem a vegetação e a fauna locais.

Por: Sofia Moutinho

Publicado em 05/06/2014 | Atualizado em 05/06/2014

Fogo amigo

Na ‘caçada de fogo’, tradição cultural dos xavantes, grupos de indígenas promovem queimadas controladas para acuar animais. (foto: James Welch)

Nos últimos sete anos, os índios xavantes da aldeia Pimentel Barbosa, no Mato Grosso, atearam fogo a cerca de 370 mil hectares de cerrado, o equivalente a 83% da reserva federal em que vivem. A maioria das queimadas é provocada intencionalmente para caçar animais que, acuados com as labaredas, se dispersam e caem nas mãos dos caçadores indígenas.

A informação sem contexto pode parecer chocante e antiecológica, mas pesquisadores garantem que a prática de queimar grandes áreas de cerrado – adotada por nativos há séculos – é benéfica para o bioma e seus moradores.

Os xavantes, bem como os caiapós, os crahôs e os canelas, usam o fogo para tratar a terra de plantio, para rituais e para promover a ‘caçada de fogo’. Nesse evento, realizado pelo menos uma vez por ano, indígenas liderados pelos mais velhos da tribo ateiam fogo a grandes áreas de forma controlada e estratégica. Formam um grande círculo de fogo, que pode se estender por centenas de hectares, e aguardam os animais em fuga. A caça é apresentada em cerimônias como casamentos e ritos de passagem para a vida adulta.

Veja como são feitas as caçadas de fogo

De acordo com estudos recentes, essa tradição cultural não só é inofensiva, como também promove a proteção da vegetação e, por consequência, da fauna. Análises conduzidas por pesquisadores da Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) sobre imagens de satélite da aldeia Pimentel Barbosa registradas nas últimas quatro décadas mostram que, apesar das queimadas constantes, a terra indígena mantém-se coberta de vegetação e mais bem conservada que a região ao redor, ocupada por fazendeiros. Enquanto a área desmatada na aldeia se manteve estável em 0,6% entre 1973 e 2010, o desmatamento em seu entorno aumentou de 1,5% para 26% durante igual período.

Coimbra Jr.: “A  estratégia xavante de manejar o ambiente para a própria sobrevivência é muito mais compatível com uma preservação de longa duração que as estratégias de tomada de áreas de cerrado por fazendeiros”

As imagens de satélite também revelam que, a partir de 2000, o desmatamento na terra indígena caiu 68%. O número se explica pelas incorporações de latifúndios devastados que passaram a ser dos índios a partir da década de 1980 e foram recuperados.

“Ao analisar os dados, observamos que dentro da terra indígena não existe devastação ambiental”, afirma um dos envolvidos no estudo, o biólogo e antropólogo Carlos Coimbra Jr. “As evidências apontam muito fortemente que a estratégia xavante de manejar o ambiente para a própria sobrevivência é muito mais compatível com uma preservação de longa duração que as estratégias de tomada de áreas de cerrado por fazendeiros. Fica claro que a caçada de fogo promove a preservação.”

Pesquisas dos últimos 20 anos demonstram que, de fato, o fogo pode ter um papel protetor da vegetação em paisagens campestres e de savana, como a maior parte do cerrado brasileiro. A bióloga Vânia Pivello, da Universidade de São Paulo (USP), que estuda a ação do fogo sobre a vegetação, explica que as plantas do cerrado convivem com as chamas, provocadas por raios e por humanos, há milênios.

Assim, o bioma se adaptou às queimadas. As árvores têm troncos grossos resistentes ao calor e muitos frutos têm invólucros que protegem as sementes de altas temperaturas.

Benéfico e necessário

“Em certas paisagens como as florestas tropicais – por exemplo, a Amazônia –, o fogo é extremamente prejudicial. Mas há vegetações, como a do cerrado, que precisam do fogo para cumprir seu ciclo biológico (promovendo a floração, a produção de frutos e a liberação das sementes) e, por consequência, manter os animais que se alimentam dessas plantas”, aponta. “O fogo não é só benéfico, como necessário para o cerrado.”

Por ficar muito seca na época da estiagem, a vegetação do cerrado queima com facilidade – não é à toa que a região é campeã de ocorrências de incêndios florestais do país, geralmente iniciados por raios ou queimadas ilegais que saem de controle. Por mais estranho que pareça, para evitar que esses incêndios se alastrem, o melhor aliado é o próprio fogo.

Experiências conduzidas por Pivello e colegas mostram que queimadas controladas previnem o avanço de incêndios ao consumir o excesso de matéria orgânica seca acumulada, um combustível poderoso que só espera por uma centelha para deflagrar calamidades. “O fogo pode ser um importante instrumento de manejo da vegetação”, diz a pesquisadora. “Áreas intencionalmente queimadas em padrão de mosaico funcionam como barreiras que impedem a expansão de incêndios.”

Você leu apenas o início da reportagem publicada na CH 314. Clique aqui para acessar uma edição resumida da revista e ler o texto completo.

Sofia Moutinho 
Ciência Hoje/ RJ

Projeto avalia impacto da ocupação humana em florestas tropicais (Fapesp)

Mais de 40 pesquisadores brasileiros e britânicos se unem em força-tarefa para estudar áreas alteradas pelo homem na Mata Atlântica e na Amazônia (foto: Wikipedia)

Por Karina Toledo

Agência FAPESP – Entender como a crescente ocupação da floresta tropical pelo homem poderá impactar a biodiversidade, os serviços ecossistêmicos e o clima local e global é o principal objetivo do Projeto Temático “ECOFOR: Biodiversidade e funcionamento de ecossistemas em áreas alteradas pelo homem nas Florestas Amazônica e Atlântica”, que reúne mais de 40 pesquisadores brasileiros e britânicos.

A pesquisa é realizada no âmbito do programa de pesquisa colaborativa “Human Modified Tropical Forests (Florestas Tropicais Modificadas pelo Homem)”, lançado em 2012 pela FAPESP e pelo Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), um dos Conselhos de Pesquisa do Reino Unido (RCUK, na sigla em inglês).

A equipe, formada por 16 pesquisadores sêniores, seis pós-doutorandos, 12 colaboradores e nove estudantes, esteve reunida pela primeira vez entre os dias 26 e 29 de março na cidade de São Luiz do Paraitinga, no Vale do Paraíba (SP).

“Nessa primeira reunião, definimos detalhadamente os protocolos de trabalho. A ideia é que todos os dados sejam gerados com a mesma metodologia, de forma que seja possível integrá-los em um modelo do impacto da fragmentação sobre a biodiversidade e os serviços ecossistêmicos. Foi o grande pontapé inicial do projeto”, contou Carlos Alfredo Joly, professor da Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) e coordenador do Programa de Pesquisas em Caracterização, Conservação, Restauração e Uso Sustentável da Biodiversidade (BIOTA-FAPESP).

De acordo com Joly, toda a coleta de dados será realizada no Brasil. A equipe brasileira estará concentrada principalmente em regiões de Mata Atlântica situadas na Serra do Mar e na Serra da Mantiqueira, enquanto a equipe britânica centrará seu foco na Floresta Amazônica. Já a análise e a interpretação dos dados serão feitas de forma compartilhada tanto no Brasil como no Reino Unido.

“A ideia é ampliar significativamente a participação de estudantes brasileiros na pesquisa, que abre um leque de opções para trabalhos de mestrado e doutorado com alta possibilidade de realização de estágios no Reino Unido”, avaliou.

Segundo Jos Barlow, pesquisador da Lancaster University (Reino Unido) e coordenador do projeto ao lado de Joly, alguns estudantes britânicos também planejam fazer pós-doutorado em instituições paulistas.

“Os alunos e pós-doutorandos do Reino Unido vão precisar passar bastante tempo no Brasil, onde será feita toda a coleta de dados. Ou então focar seu trabalho na análise de dados de sensoriamento remoto e sistemas de informações geográficas (SIG). E, claro, os resultados serão publicados em conjunto, com a liderança vinda de ambos os países”, disse.


O trabalho de investigação na Floresta Amazônica e na Mata Atlântica correrá em paralelo a outro projeto financiado pelo NERC desde 2009 em Bornéu, na Malásia. Nesse caso, o objetivo é estudar e comparar áreas de floresta primária (bem conservadas), áreas com exploração seletiva de madeira e regiões que sofreram profunda fragmentação.

“Dentro do possível, os dados gerados aqui no Brasil deverão ser comparáveis aos dados gerados na Malásia. Para assegurar essa integração foi estabelecido um comitê que reúne pesquisadores dos dois projetos”, contou Joly.

“Não seguiremos exatamente o mesmo desenho da pesquisa desenvolvida na Malásia, pois aqui temos situações diferentes. Mas os dois projetos visam estudar como as mudanças no uso da terra, que inclui extração de madeira, queimadas e fragmentação do habitat, alteram o funcionamento da floresta tropical, principalmente no que se refere à ciclagem de matéria orgânica e de nutrientes. Também queremos avaliar como essas alterações estão relacionadas com os processos biofísicos, a biodiversidade e o clima”, explicou Simone Aparecida Vieira, pesquisadora do Núcleo de Estudos e Pesquisas Ambientais (Nepam) da Unicamp.

De acordo com Vieira, a equipe brasileira adotou o Parque Estadual da Serra do Mar como uma espécie de “área controle” da pesquisa e os dados lá coletados pelo Projeto Temático Biota Gradiente Funcional serão comparados com as informações oriundas dos fragmentos e das florestas secundárias existentes na região que vai de São Luiz do Paraitinga até a cidade de Extrema, em Minas Gerais.

“Na Amazônia, temos um grande conjunto de áreas em estudo. Um dos focos é a região de Paragominas, que tem um histórico de extração madeireira. E inclui também Santarém, onde vem avançando a agricultura, principalmente a soja”, contou Vieira.

Os pesquisadores farão inventários florestais, coletando dados como quantidade de biomassa viva acima do solo, densidade da madeira, diâmetro e altura das árvores, quantidade de serapilheira (camada formada por matéria orgânica morta em diferentes estágios de decomposição) e diversidade de espécies vegetais e animais.

“Um dos objetivos é investigar o estoque de carbono nessas áreas e de que forma ele é alterado com os diferentes usos. Depois vamos relacionar esse dado com a mudança em relação à diversidade de espécies que ocorrem nessas áreas, trabalhando principalmente com um levantamento de espécies de árvores e de aves”, explicou Vieira.

A coleta de dados deve seguir pelos próximos quatro anos. Na avaliação de Vieira, está sendo criada uma estrutura que poderá ser mantida após o término do projeto, se houver novo financiamento. “O ideal é acompanhar os processos de mudança no longo prazo para entender de fato como essas áreas estão se comportando diante das pressões humanas e das mudanças climáticas”, disse.

Joly concorda. “O projeto vai estabelecer uma rede intensiva de monitoramento de áreas que vão desde florestas intactas até florestas altamente fragmentadas e alteradas pelo homem. Isso permitirá avaliar as correlações entre biodiversidade e funcionamento de ecossistemas, tanto na escala local como regional e global – quando estiverem integrados os dados da Mata Atlântica, da Floresta Amazônica e da Malásia”, disse.

Os resultados obtidos, acrescentou Joly, permitirão também o aperfeiçoamento de políticas públicas para promover o pagamento de serviços ambientais, como os de proteção a recursos hídricos e de estoques de carbono.

Entre as instituições envolvidas na pesquisa estão Lancaster University, University of Oxford, University of Leeds, Imperial College London, University of Edinburgh, Unicamp, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC), Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa), Universidade de Taubaté e a Fundação Florestal da Secretaria do Meio Ambiente do Estado de São Paulo.

Are We Bothered? (Monbiot)

May 16, 2014

The more we consume, the less we care about the living planet.

By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 9th May 2014

That didn’t take long. The public interest in the state of the natural world stimulated by the winter floods receded almost as quickly as the waters did. A YouGov poll showed that the number of respondents placing the environment among their top three issues of concern rose from 6% in mid-January to 23% in mid-February. By early April – though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had just published two massive and horrifying reports – the proportion had fallen back to 11%.

CarbonBrief has plotted the results on this graph:

public response to floods

Sustaining interest in this great but slow-burning crisis is a challenge no one seems to have mastered. Only when the crisis causes or exacerbates an acute disaster – such as the floods – is there a flicker of anxiety, but that quickly dies away.

Why is it so difficult to persuade people to care about our wonderful planet, the world that gave rise to us and upon which we wholly depend? And why do you encounter a barrage of hostility and denial whenever you attempt it (and not only from the professional liars who are paid by coal and oil and timber companies to sow confusion and channel hatred)?

The first thing to note, in trying to answer this question, is that the rich anglophone countries are anomalous. In this bar chart (copied from the website of the New York Times) you can see how atypical the attitudes of people in the US and the UK are. Because almost everything we read in this country is published in rich, English-speaking nations, we might get the false impression that the world doesn’t care very much.

bar chart from New York Times

This belief is likely to be reinforced by the cherished notion that we lead the world in knowledge, sophistication and compassion. The bar chart puts me in mind of the famous quote perhaps mistakenly attributed to Gandhi. When asked by a journalist during a visit to Britain, “What do you think of Western civilization?”, he’s reputed to have replied, “I think it would be a good idea.”

Our erroneous belief that we are more concerned about manmade climate change than the people of other nations informs the sentiment, often voiced by the press and politicians, that there’s no point in acting if the rest of the world won’t play its part. For example, last year the Chancellor, George Osborne, remarked:

“I don’t want us to be the only people out there in front of the rest of the world. I certainly think we shouldn’t be further ahead of our partners in Europe.”

But we’re not “the only people out there in front of the rest of the world.” In fact we’re not in front at all. As this map produced by Oxford University’s Smith School suggests, we are some way behind not only some other rich nations but also a number of countries much poorer than ours.

mapping climate change commitments

As for the US, Australia and Canada, they are ranked among the worst of all: comprehensively failing to limit their massive contribution to a global problem. We justify our foot-dragging with a mistaken premise. Our refusal to stop pumping so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is pure selfishness.

Both the map and the bar chart overlap to some degree with the fascinating results of the Greendex survey of consumer attitudes.

For years we’ve been told that people cannot afford to care about the natural world until they become rich; that only economic growth can save the biosphere, that civilisation marches towards enlightenment about our impacts on the living planet. The results suggest the opposite.

As you can see from the following graph, the people consulted in poorer countries feel, on average, much guiltier about their impacts on the natural world than people in rich countries, even though those impacts tend to be smaller. Of the nations surveyed, the people of Germany, the US, Australia and Britain feel the least consumer guilt; the people of India, China, Mexico and Brazil the most.

Greendex graph

The more we consume, the less we feel. And maybe that doesn’t just apply to guilt.

Perhaps that’s the point of our otherwise-pointless hyperconsumption: it smothers feeling. It might also be the effect of the constant bombardment of advertising and marketing. They seek to replace our attachments to people and place with attachments to objects: attachments which the next round of advertising then breaks in the hope of attaching us to a different set of objects.

The richer we are and the more we consume, the more self-centred and careless of the lives of others we appear to become. Even if you somehow put aside the direct, physical impacts of rising consumption, it’s hard to understand how anyone could imagine that economic growth is a formula for protecting the planet.

So what we seem to see here is the turning of a vicious circle. The more harm we do, the less concerned about it we become. And the more hyperconsumerism destroys relationships, communities and the physical fabric of the Earth, the more we try to fill the void in our lives by buying more stuff.

All this is accompanied in the rich anglophone nations with the extreme neoliberalism promoted by both press and politicians, and a great concentration of power in the hands of the financial and fossil fuel sectors, which lobby hard, in the public sphere and in private, to prevent change.

So the perennially low level of concern, which flickers upwards momentarily when disaster strikes, then slumps back into the customary stupor, is an almost inevitable result of a society that has become restructured around shopping, fashion, celebrity and an obsession with money. How we break the circle and wake people out of this dreamworld is the question that all those who love the living planet should address. There will be no easy answers.

Brasil tem metade das mortes de ativistas ambientais no mundo (O Globo)

JC e-mail 4936, de 17 de abril de 2014

Segundo levantamento divulgado pela organização Global Witness, de 908 assassinatos, 448 ocorreram no Brasil. Apenas 1% dos casos resultou em condenação; relatório denuncia a ‘cultura endêmica da impunidade’

O extrativista José Cláudio Ribeiro, a religiosa americana Dorothy Stang e o biólogo espanhol Gonzalo Alonso Hernández têm algo em comum. Os três ativistas foram assassinados no Brasil, palco de suas campanhas a favor da conservação do meio ambiente. Eles figuram numa relação divulgada ontem pela ONG Global Witness, que lista 908 ambientalistas executados, entre 2002 e 2013, em 35 países. Quase metade dos casos, 448 mortes, ocorreu em território brasileiro.

No relatório “Deadly Environment” (ou “Ambiente mortal”), a ONG acusa o país de não monitorar redes criminosas atuantes na Amazônia e em outros ecossistemas, subestimar os conflitos de terra e negligenciar assistência a famílias ameaçadas por proprietários de terra e madeireiros. O Brasil é o Estado mais perigoso para a defesa do direito à terra e ao meio ambiente, seguido por Honduras, com 109 assassinatos, e Filipinas (67).

O ano mais crítico foi 2012, quando ocorreram 147 mortes de ativistas em todo o mundo, três vezes mais do que dez anos antes. No dia 22 de junho, o mesmo em que a conferência climática da ONU Rio+20 foi encerrada, dois defensores dos direitos dos pescadores artesanais no Rio foram sequestrados. Almir Nogueira de Amorim e João Luiz Telles denunciavam grandes pescadores que usavam “currais” para lotear a Baía de Guanabara. Seus corpos foram encontrados nos dias seguintes, boiando na baía, em Niterói.

Condenação em apenas 1% dos casos
Em todo o mundo, apenas 10% dos casos chegam aos tribunais, sendo que somente 1% resulta em condenação. Para a Global Witness, o percentual é um símbolo da “cultura endêmica de impunidade” conduzida pelos governos. A falta de condenações contribui para o silêncio dos ativistas e da população prejudicada por atividades econômicas ilegais.

– Esses crimes não recebem a atenção necessária das autoridades. Se houvesse um monitoramento constante nos biomas mais ameaçados, seria possível levar muitos outros criminosos à Justiça – denuncia Oliver Courtney, coautor do relatório.

Courtney considera a situação brasileira “particularmente grave” devido ao crescimento dos episódios de violência na Amazônia. O documento lembra que, em 2013, o desmatamento na maior floresta tropical do planeta aumentou 23%. A maior incidência de desflorestamento (61%) ocorreu no Pará e no Mato Grosso do Sul, dois dos estados onde há mais atentados contra ativistas.

No interior do Mato Grosso do Sul, produtores de carne bovina, soja e cana de açúcar têm entrado em conflito com índios das comunidades guarani e kuranji. Segundo a Global Witness, metade dos assassinatos de ativistas ambientais em 2012 ocorreu na região. E, no país todo, foram mortos 250 defensores de origem indígena entre 2003 e 2010.

– O conflito por terra na Amazônia cresceu dramaticamente no ano passado – destaca. – O Brasil tem uma grande mobilização da sociedade civil, mas a população indígena continua exposta a atividades econômicas insustentáveis.

No Pará, o jornalista Pedro César Batista acumula uma lista de 18 amigos assassinados. Entre eles está seu irmão, o deputado João Batista, morto em 6 de dezembro de 1988 em frente ao prédio em que morava, em Belém. Três anos antes, seu pai, Nestor Batista, havia sobrevivido a um tiro de espingarda na cabeça. Por pressão da família, Pedro deixou o estado.

– O João era visto como um advogado dos sem-terra. Não acreditávamos que ele seria assassinado – recorda Pedro. – Mas descobrimos que havia uma lista com mais de 180 pessoas marcadas para morrer.

“Limpeza entre os bandidos”
Dois pistoleiros foram responsáveis pelo atentado contra João Batista. Libertado após cumprir apenas um sexto de sua pena, de 28 anos, Péricles Moreira foi executado com 14 tiros em uma emboscada. Roberto Cirino, o outro assassino, foi degolado antes de seu julgamento. Segundo Pedro, a “limpeza entre os bandidos” é uma forma comum de assegurar a impunidade dos mandantes dos crimes, como latifundiários, policiais e autoridades públicas.

Batista acredita que o número de assassinatos divulgado pela Global Witness está “totalmente subestimado”. De acordo com ele, as lideranças camponesas são mortas devido à sua resistência ao avanço da agropecuária:

– Para o plantio de uma cultura, desmata-se um quilombo inteiro.

Os madeireiros são os responsáveis pela derrubada da mata na Amazônia. Depois deles vêm a pecuária e a indústria da soja. O avanço dessas atividades econômicas sobre áreas protegidas esbarra no direito de populações indígenas e nos trabalhos defendidos por ativistas ambientais.

– A floresta é repleta de áreas de fronteira agrícola, e o governo não consegue acompanhar o ataque a essas regiões – lamenta André Guimarães, vice-presidente da Conservação Internacional. – Mas, embora a maioria das invasões ocorra na Amazônia, também precisamos prestar atenção no Cerrado. Metade desse bioma ainda está intacto, e ele pode atrair atividades econômicas no futuro.

A Global Witness reconhece que seu levantamento é parcial, dada a dificuldade para analisar os conflitos de terra em diversas regiões do mundo, especialmente em países africanos.

“Esses dados são muito provavelmente apenas a ponta do iceberg (…). O aumento de mortes é a face mais premente e mensurável de um conjunto de ameaças, entre as quais a intimidação, violência, estigmatização e criminalização.”

(Renato Grandelle /O Globo)

Brazil Is the World’s Most Dangerous Country to Be an Environmentalist (Bloomberg)


April 17, 2014

The Tijuca forest near Complexo do Alemao, a group of favelas on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on April 24, 2013

Photograph by Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg. The Tijuca forest near Complexo do Alemao, a group of favelas on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on April 24, 2013

Taking a stand to protect the environment in a developing country can be a matter of life and death. According to a new report by Global Witness, a London-based watchdog organization, at least 908 environmentalists were killed in action from 2002 to 2013.

The risks seem to be increasing. “Three times as many people were killed in 2012 than 10 years before,” the report notes. Those 147 deaths in 2012—the deadliest year for environmental activists to date—were “mostly assassinations of specific individuals or extrajudicial killings in the context of demonstration and protest actions.” The most significant sources of conflict were “opposition to land-grabbing and unfair land ownership, large-scale mining operations, deforestation, illegal logging, and hydroelectric projects.” Violence also arose during protests over water pollution, toxic waste disposal, and drainage of wetlands.

The most deadly country in which to be an environmentalist, in absolute numbers, was Brazil, according to a report. Over the course of a decade, at least 448 activists have been killed in Brazil. Many of them were involved in campaigns to defend local people’s land rights and to oppose illegal logging and mining activities.

Meanwhile, 109 environmental campaigners were killed in Honduras over the past 10 years, making it by far the deadliest country per capita. Sixty-seven were killed in the Philippines; 58 in Peru; and 52 in Columbia. “Competition for access to natural resources is intensifying,” the report notes. “At the same time, more and more ordinary people are finding themselves on the frontline of the battle to defend their environment.”

The number of journalists killed worldwide on assignment is also increasing. In 2013, 70 journalists were killed in the field, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The most deadly country in which to be a journalist was Syria, followed by Iraq and Egypt.

Global Warming Scare Tactics (New York Times)

 OAKLAND, Calif. — IF you were looking for ways to increase public skepticism about global warming, you could hardly do better than the forthcoming nine-part series on climate change and natural disasters, starting this Sunday on Showtime. A trailer for “Years of Living Dangerously” is terrifying, replete with images of melting glaciers, raging wildfires and rampaging floods. “I don’t think scary is the right word,” intones one voice. “Dangerous, definitely.”

Showtime’s producers undoubtedly have the best of intentions. There are serious long-term risks associated with rising greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from ocean acidification to sea-level rise to decreasing agricultural output.

But there is every reason to believe that efforts to raise public concern about climate change by linking it to natural disasters will backfire. More than a decade’s worth of research suggests that fear-based appeals about climate change inspire denial, fatalism and polarization.

For instance, Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” popularized the idea that today’s natural disasters are increasing in severity and frequency because of human-caused global warming. It also contributed to public backlash and division. Since 2006, the number of Americans telling Gallup that the media was exaggerating global warming grew to 42 percent today from about 34 percent. Meanwhile, the gap between Democrats and Republicans on whether global warming is caused by humans rose to 42 percent last year from 26 percent in 2006, according to the Pew Research Center.

Other factors contributed. Some conservatives and fossil-fuel interests questioned the link between carbon emissions and global warming. And beginning in 2007, as the country was falling into recession, public support for environmental protection declined.

Still, environmental groups have known since 2000 that efforts to link climate change to natural disasters could backfire, after researchers at the Frameworks Institute studied public attitudes for its report “How to Talk About Global Warming.” Messages focused on extreme weather events, they found, made many Americans more likely to view climate change as an act of God — something to be weathered, not prevented.

Some people, the report noted, “are likely to buy an SUV to help them through the erratic weather to come” for example, rather than support fuel-efficiency standards.

Since then, evidence that a fear-based approach backfires has grown stronger. A frequently cited 2009 study in the journal Science Communication summed up the scholarly consensus. “Although shocking, catastrophic, and large-scale representations of the impacts of climate change may well act as an initial hook for people’s attention and concern,” the researchers wrote, “they clearly do not motivate a sense of personal engagement with the issue and indeed may act to trigger barriers to engagement such as denial.” In a controlled laboratory experiment published in Psychological Science in 2010, researchers were able to use “dire messages” about global warming to increase skepticism about the problem.

Many climate advocates ignore these findings, arguing that they have an obligation to convey the alarming facts.

But claims linking the latest blizzard, drought or hurricane to global warming simply can’t be supported by the science. Our warming world is, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, increasing heat waves and intense precipitation in some places, and is likely to bring more extreme weather in the future. But the panel also said there is little evidence that this warming is increasing the loss of life or the economic costs of natural disasters. “Economic growth, including greater concentrations of people and wealth in periled areas and rising insurance penetration,” the climate panel noted, “is the most important driver of increasing losses.”

What works, say environmental pollsters and researchers, is focusing on popular solutions. Climate advocates often do this, arguing that solar and wind can reduce emissions while strengthening the economy. But when renewable energy technologies are offered as solutions to the exclusion of other low-carbon alternatives, they polarize rather than unite.

One recent study, published by Yale Law School’s Cultural Cognition Project, found that conservatives become less skeptical about global warming if they first read articles suggesting nuclear energy or geoengineering as solutions. Another study, in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2012, concluded that “communication should focus on how mitigation efforts can promote a better society” rather than “on the reality of climate change and averting its risks.”

Nonetheless, virtually every major national environmental organization continues to reject nuclear energy, even after four leading climate scientists wrote them an open letter last fall, imploring them to embrace the technology as a key climate solution. Together with catastrophic rhetoric, the rejection of technologies like nuclear and natural gas by environmental groups is most likely feeding the perception among many that climate change is being exaggerated. After all, if climate change is a planetary emergency, why take nuclear and natural gas off the table?

While the urgency that motivates exaggerated claims is understandable, turning down the rhetoric and embracing solutions like nuclear energy will better serve efforts to slow global warming.

Environmentalists Doing It Wrong, Again (Washington Post)

Want to see Tom get annoyed? Of course you do. Well then tune in and pull up a chair. The article that got to me was so exasperating because it’s 2014 and it’s the New York Times. It’s too late in the day and too beside-the-real-point for a publication such as the Times to do this, though I’m not saying such a thing is impossible at my own publication either. I can’t decide whether to link to it or not. I think I won’t.

I’ll place it squarely in the category of Concern Trolling, a great conceptual meme that identifies opinions that purport to be on your side and just trying to help, but function in the exact opposite way. I won’t get into motives here because I don’t know what they are and it doesn’t make any difference.

The piece says that ‘environmentalists’ are using bad ‘tactics’ in drawing comparisons between current weather catastrophes and climate change. Any linkage to a specific event can’t be specifically proven, but that’s not the stated concern of this piece. The ‘concern’ is that as a tactic it can ‘backfire’ and not win over conservatives to climate change action. Not win over conservatives! The article doesn’t place ALL the blame on faulty environmentalist tactics. It pauses to include what may be the most understated disclaimer in history: “Other factors contributed. Some conservatives and fossil-fuel interests questioned the link between carbon emissions and global warming.” Some! Really???

Now to the ‘backfire’ part of this. This is just maddening. If environmentalists aren’t careful, it says, sufficient support for an adequate policy response might go away. Go away! As though it was ever even close to being there in the first place. They cite Al Gore’s 2006 ‘Inconvenient Truth’ as contributing to backlash and division. Do they think no one has any memory whatsoever? Let me remind those who don’t. Before “Inconvenient Truth’ there was close to ZERO widespread public concern about climate change. This film was a watershed in opening people’s eyes to the pending climate calamity and getting people to take the issue seriously. The backlash was not about the particulars of the argument, the backlash was against how effective it was in bringing the nation closer to actually doing something about it. The article says a better ‘tactic’ is to emphasize ‘popular solutions.’ Only one problem with ‘popular solutions.’ They don’t come ANYWHERE CLOSE TO BEING ADEQUATE solutions.

And finally, please please just stop saying it is the responsibility of ‘environmentalists’ to come up with tactics to persuade the rest of us, who by implication are perfectly entitled to sit back and not take our responsibilities on this issue seriously unless and until ‘environmentalists’ come up with arguments that are appealing to us in every way. Gaaaaah!

Pipeline Fight Lifts Environmental Movement (New York Times)

By  – JAN. 24, 2014Protesters against the Keystone XL gathered in November across the street from where President Obama attended a fund-raising event in San Francisco. Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Environmentalists have spent the past two years fighting the Keystone XL pipeline: They have built a human chain around the White House, clogged the State Department’s public comment system with more than a million emails and letters, and gotten themselves arrested at protests across the country.

But as bad as they argue the 1,700-mile pipeline would be for the planet, Keystone XL has been a boon to the environmental movement. While it remains unclear whether President Obama will approve the project, both sides agree that the fight has changed American environmental politics.

“I think it would be naïve for any energy infrastructure company to think that this would be a flash in the pan,” said Alexander J. Pourbaix, president of energy and oil pipelines at TransCanada, the company that has been trying to get a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline since 2008.

Environmentalists want to stop the transport of 800,000 barrels a day of heavy crude from oil sands formations in Canada to Texas refineries, and an oil extraction process that emits more greenhouse gases than other forms of production. Proponents of the Keystone XL project say that the oil will come out of the ground with or without a new pipeline and that other methods of transport, like rail, cause more pollution. They point out that TransCanada began operations on Wednesday on a southern pipeline segment that connects to existing pipelines to provide a route from Alberta to the Gulf Coast.

The project has raised the profile of activists like Bill McKibben, a former writer for The New Yorker and founder of, an organization that focuses on climate change. Jeff Swensen for The New York Times

Although some critics say the environmental movement has made a strategic error by focusing so much energy on the pipeline, no one disputes that the issue has helped a new breed of environmental organizations build a mostly young army eager to donate money and time. The seven-year-old email list of, an organization that focuses on climate change, has more than doubled to 530,000 people since the group began fighting the pipeline in August 2011. In addition, about 76,000 people have signed a “pledge of resistance” sponsored by seven liberal advocacy groups in which they promise to risk arrest in civil disobedience if a State Department analysis, expected this year, points toward approval of the pipeline.

The Keystone XL project has also raised the profile of a diverse generation of environmental leaders, like the activist Bill McKibben, a former writer for The New Yorker and founder of, and the billionaire venture capitalist Thomas F. Steyer, who is estimated to have contributed at least $1 million to the movement and has starred in four 90-second ads opposing the pipeline. Not least, it has united national and local environmental groups that usually fight for attention and resources.

“Over the last 18 months, I think there was this recognition that stopping the pipeline is, in fact, important,” said Ross Hammond, a senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “But it has also brought a huge number of people into the movement.”

That movement, Mr. McKibben said in an interview, “looks the way we want the energy system to look: not a few big power plants, but a million solar panels all tied together.”

A sign was planted last March in a field in Nebraska. Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Politically, the draw of Keystone XL comes from its physical presence. It is far easier, environmental activists say, to rally people around something as vivid as a pipeline bisecting the United States than, say, around cap-and-trade legislation that would have forced industry to pay a price for its carbon emissions. The legislation failed in Congress in 2009.

“When we’re able to focus on distinct, concrete projects, we tend to win,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “And when we tend to focus on more obscure policies or places where we need action from Congress, we tend to stall, like every other thing tends to stall.”

The pipeline has been a particular hit with small donors, especially as environmental organizations turn more to protests, fund-raisers said. Last year, the Sierra Club raised $1 million in six weeks for a major rally in Washington. About $100,000 of that came from contributions of less than $1,000.

“This is not one of our usual long-term campaigns,” said Jackie Brown, the Sierra Club’s chief advancement officer. “This was an emerging upswelling of support.”

A portion of the Keystone XL pipeline under construction in North Dakota. TransCanada, via Reuters

Wealthier donors are also opening their wallets. Betsy Taylor, a longtime environmental fund-raiser, said her network of contributors was increasingly supporting the more aggressive campaigns run by groups like and Bold Nebraska, a shift away from the environmental research and policy organizations that have traditionally drawn such contributions.

Keystone XL — the XL stands for express line — would be a shortcut to the Gulf of Mexico as well as an extension of TransCanada’s existing Keystone pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Nebraska, with small branches to Illinois and Oklahoma. Keystone XL would be a far more direct route across the United States. Keystone consists of a three-foot-diameter pipe that is three feet underground. Keystone XL would also be three feet in diameter, but four feet underground.

Initially, opposition to Keystone XL consisted of scattered people and groups along the proposed route of the pipeline, including indigenous tribes in Alberta. The fight went national in June 2011 when James E. Hansen, a former NASA climate scientist, wrote an open letter calling the pipeline “game over for the climate” and urged people to write to Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state. (Because the project crosses an international boundary, it is subject to approval by the State Department.)

Mr. McKibben, the author of numerous books about climate, decided to use to campaign against the pipeline. That fall, he urged his members to commit civil disobedience in front of the White House.

Activists including Michael Brune, right, of the Sierra Club, and the civil rights leader Julian Bond, second from right, tied themselves to a White House gate to protest the Keystone XL. Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

“I remember when I heard the call for civil disobedience, I thought, ‘Yeah, right, you’ll get like 40 people to show up,’ ” said Mr. Hammond of Friends of the Earth. “And then, bam!” Over a two-week period, about 1,200 people were arrested at the White House.

Stephanie Kimball, 30, a Wisconsin dentist, said in a recent telephone interview that she had been “trying to figure out where to jump in” to the environmental cause when a talk by activists arrested in 2011 inspired her to volunteer as a local coordinator for She said she was also working to stop a pipeline by the Canadian corporation Enbridge.

To counter the campaign, TransCanada has had to run television and radio ads to promote the jobs that the pipeline could provide. Industry allies like the American Petroleum Institute have also been running ads.

If Mr. Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline, Mr. Brune of the Sierra Club said, it will be “the Vietnam of his presidency.” But, he added, environmentalists’ efforts will hardly have been for nothing.

“If you lose on this,” said Mike Casey, a consultant on a number of environmental efforts, including Mr. Steyer’s, “this infrastructure doesn’t go away. It remains deployable and passionate.”

A version of this article appears in print on January 25, 2014, on page A9 of the New York edition with the headline: Pipeline Fight Lifts Environmental Movement.

The India Problem (Slate)

Why is it thwarting every international climate agreement?

NOV. 27 2013 12:44 PM


Haze in Mumbai, 2009

India has stalled international greenhouse gas accords because climate change isn’t a winning election issue in the developing country. 

Photo by Arko Datta/Reuters

Apowerful but unpredictable force is rising in the battle over the future of the climate. It’s the type of powerful force that’s felt when 1.2 billion people clamor for more electricity—many of them trying to light, heat, and refrigerate their ways out of poverty; others throwing rupees at excessive air conditioning and other newfound luxuries. And it’s the type of unpredictable force that’s felt when the government of those 1.2 billion is in election mode, clamoring for votes by brazenly blocking progress at international climate talks.

Hundreds of millions of Indians live in poverty, wielding a tiny per-person carbon footprint when compared with residents of the West and coming out on top of environmental sustainability surveys. But the country is home to so many people that steady economic growth is turning it into a climate-changing powerhouse. It has developed a gluttonous appetite for coal, one of the most climate-changing fuels and the source of nearly two-thirds of the country’s power. India recently overtook Russia to become the world’s third-biggest greenhouse gas polluter, behind China and the United States. (If you count the European Union as a single carbon-belching bloc, then India comes in fourth).

India has been obstructing progress on international climate talks, culminating during the two weeks of U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations that ended Saturday in Warsaw. The Warsaw talks were the latest annual get-together for nearly 200 countries trying to thrash out a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

India’s erraticism at international climate talks is frustrating the West. But it is also starting to anger some developing nations struggling to cope with violent weather, droughts, and floods blamed on climate change.

India’s stance during climate talks is that developed countries should be legally committed to addressing global warming by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, and that developing countries should do what they say they can do to help out.

But once-clear distinctions between developed and developing countries are blurring. A growing number of developing countries—including low-lying island states in the Pacific and some countries in Africa and Latin America with which India has long been allied—are eyeing the vast, growing, climate-changing pollution being pumped out by China and India. They are wondering why those two countries, and others in the “developing” camp, shouldn’t also be committed to reducing their emissions.

The Warsaw meetings ended with India and China thwarting efforts by the United States, Europe, and others to commit all countries to measures to address greenhouse gas pollution. Instead, countries agreed in Warsaw to announce their “intended contributions” to slow down global warming in 2015, in advance of final meetings planned in Paris to agree on the new climate treaty.

“Developing countries are a varied group at this stage, and there is a growing frustration about the inability to move forward from some of these countries,” said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who attended the Warsaw meetings. “Some of their anger is directed at the U.S. and Europe, but more and more of their anger is quietly being directed at friends in the developing world that they see as stalling progress.”

And no country has done more than India to stall progress on international climate negotiations during the past two months.

It began last month in Bangkok, when negotiators met to update the Montreal Protocol. Signed in the late 1980s, the protocol saved the ozone layer by ending the use of chlorofluorocarbons in refrigerants, household goods, and industrial products. The problem was, manufacturers often swapped out CFCs for a closely related group of chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons. HFCs don’t hurt the ozone layer, but it turns out that they are potent greenhouse gases. With climate change now the most important global environmental challenge, the United States and a long list of other countries have proposed amending the Montreal Protocol to phase out the use of HFCs.

All seemed to be going well with the plans for those amendments. India and the other members of the Group of 20 endorsed the proposal during September meetings in Russia. A couple of weeks later, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated the country’s support for the amendments during meetings with President Obama.

But when international representatives gathered for meetings in Bangkok to actually make the amendments, they were surprised and angered to find the negotiations blocked by India. The country’s environment officials told Indian media that they were worried about the costs associated with switching over to new coolants. What may have worried them even more was the fear of being accused of opening the door for foreign air conditioning and fridge companies to take over domestic markets.

If there’s one thing that no Indian government up for re-election in the current political climate would want, it’s to be seen giving an inch to America on trade.

Then came Warsaw. Extensive negotiations around agriculture had been scheduled for the first of the two weeks of meetings. Farming causes about a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, due in part to land clearing, energy use, and the methane that bubbles up from rice paddies and is belched out by cattle.

But that’s not what drew farming representatives to Warsaw. Farmers are the hardest hit by changes in the weather—which should help them secure a chunk of the hundreds of billions of dollars in climate aid that a new climate treaty is expected to deliver for poor countries. But India, which is home to farms that are struggling to cope with changing rainfall patterns, spearheaded a maneuver that blocked agricultural negotiations from moving forward. Its negotiators feared that negotiations over farmer adaptation efforts would lead to requests that those farmers also reduce their carbon footprints.

“India has been very clear that agriculture is the mainstay of our population, and we don’t want any mitigation targets there,” said Indrajit Bose, a climate change program manager at the influential Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, who attended the Warsaw meetings. “It’s a red line for India, and I think we agree with that.”

During the second week of Warsaw talks, India again blocked progress on HFC reductions, and it worked with China to water down the meeting’s most important agreement on the final day of talks.

Despite instances of Chinese obstructionism at Warsaw, China and the United States have been making headlines during the past week for their blossoming mutual commitment to tackling climate change. Now India appears to be supplanting China as the developing world’s chief climate agitator, even as it takes real steps to boost renewable energy production at home and meet voluntary goals to reduce the “emission intensity” of its economy. (Meanwhile, Japan, Australia, and Canada are taking America’s mantle as the developed world’s chief climate antagonists.)

The India problem isn’t limited to climate talks. Early this year India helped dilute an international agreement that had been crafted to reduce mercury pollution—a major problem with coal-fired power plants.

Before the country’s environment minister was replaced during a mid-2011 Cabinet reshuffle, India had been hailed as a constructive leader during international climate talks. Now it’s being accused of foot-dragging, obstructionism, and flip-flopping.

Recent Indian shenanigans on the global climate stage are partly a reflection of the fact that a federal election will be held in the spring. Such elections are held every five years, and frantic campaigning by long lists of parties occupies many of the months that precede them. In India, despite the country’s acute vulnerability to climate change, the climate is simply not an election issue. BBC polling suggests that 39 percent of Indians have never heard about “climate change.” Indian voters are calling for more affordable energy—not for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

And India, like other developing countries, has been angered by what appears to be reluctance by developed countries to lend a meaningful financial hand as the climate goes awry. A cruel irony of climate change is that the poor countries that did the least to warm the planet are often the hardest hit, vulnerable to rising tides, crop-wilting droughts, and powerful storms. During the talks in Warsaw, Western countries were suddenly balking at previously promised climate aid that would have been worth $100 billion a year by 2020. And developed countries have fobbed off developing countries’ appeals for additional compensation, so-called loss-and-damage payments, when climate change has harmed their people and economies.

It’s not just the electioneering in India that’s causing problems for global climate talks. Another problem seems to be how little press attention the country receives on foreign shores. “There’s not a lot of focus on India anywhere,” said Manish Ram, a renewable-energy analyst for Greenpeace India who attended the Warsaw meetings. “That’s one of the reasons India gets away with doing what it’s been doing.”

“O REDD+ está pedindo socorro”, alerta Conservação Internacional (CarbonoBrasil)


01/10/2013 – 11h51

por Fabiano Ávila, do CarbonoBrasil

florestanew 300x208 O REDD+ está pedindo socorro, alerta Conservação Internacional

ONG afirma que mecanismo está ameaçado pelo grande desequilíbrio entre oferta e demanda; enquanto mais de 22 milhões de créditos podem ser gerados anualmente, apenas 6,8 milhões teriam compradores. 

A demora para criar instrumentos que estimulem, ou obriguem, países e empresas a comprar créditos florestais de carbono e a falta de vontade política para incluir o REDD+ (clique aqui e saiba mais sobre o conceito de REDD+)  em mercados já estabelecidos, como o EU ETS, estão resultando no excesso de créditos no mercado voluntário, causando a queda dos preços e diminuindo o interesse para o desenvolvimento de projetos de conservação florestal.

Essa é a mensagem central que a Conservação Internacional (CI) tenta passar com o relatório “REDD+ Market: Sending Out an SOS” (algo como Mercado de REDD+: pedindo socorro).

De acordo com a ONG, apenas considerando a certificação Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), até 22 milhões de créditos podem ser gerados anualmente, porém, a demanda do mercado voluntário atualmente não passaria de 6,8 milhões. Desde 2010, a procura por esse tipo de crédito teria caído 65%.

Esse desequilíbrio entre oferta e demanda fez com que o preço médio dos créditos do REDD+ passasse de US$ 12 em 2011 para US$ 6 no ano passado.

A CI aponta que o REDD+ já ajudou a proteger mais de 14 milhões de hectares de florestas. Além disso, trouxe ganhos para mais de 70 mil pessoas em comunidades locais, evitou as emissões de quatro milhões de toneladas de CO2 equivalente desde 2009 e protegeu 139 espécies que estão ameaçadas de extinção.

situacaoredd 133x300 O REDD+ está pedindo socorro, alerta Conservação Internacional“A falta de recompensas financeiras para esses casos de sucesso envia um sinal forte e preocupante para todos os países desenvolvendo esforços para reduzir o desmatamento. Suas ações não têm recebido apoio, mas indiferença e incertezas. Esse sinal não gera a motivação necessária para promover as reformas políticas complexas que o REDD+ tanto precisa”, afirma o relatório.

Como podem apenas ser negociados no mercado voluntário, os créditos do REDD+ são muito dependentes de doadores e de ferramentas internacionais que ainda não possuem a abrangência para estimular novos projetos de forma sustentável.

O relatório cita a Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s do Banco Mundial (FCPF), o fundo de ação antecipada de REDD+ da Alemanha e o futuro Fundo Climático Verde como exemplos de mecanismos que têm buscado aumentar a demanda por créditos, mas que, no entanto, ainda são muito limitados em termos de disponibilização de financiamentos, de escopo geográfico e de velocidade de implementação.


Uma das soluções óbvias citadas pela CI passa por garantir um preço justo para os créditos de REDD+.

Isso poderia ser conseguido de diversas formas: maior interesse dos fundos climáticos pelo REDD+, expansão dos programas de compensação voluntária do setor privado e a criação de compromissos para países doadores.

“Essas ações ajudariam a catalisar novos investimentos assim como estabilizariam a situação dos atuais projetos para os próximos anos, reduzindo a vulnerabilidade das comunidades devido à queda dos preços do REDD+”, afirma o relatório.

Outro ponto que precisa receber atenção seria o reconhecimento dos benefícios múltiplos dos projetos de REDD+.

Segundo a CI, as iniciativas de conservação florestal melhoram a vida de povos nativos, protegem a biodiversidade e garantem os serviços ecossistêmicos.

Assim, programas governamentais que tenham objetivos semelhantes aos que são alcançados pelo REDD+ deveriam considerar o financiamento desse tipo de projeto. Dessa forma, o mecanismo seria encarado não apenas como uma ferramenta para “compensar emissões”, mas também como um modelo de desenvolvimento inteligente.

O relatório destaca que muitos projetos já começam a ser desenvolvidos pelos próprios povos nativos, como é o caso do Projeto de Carbono Florestal Suruí, da Terra Indígena Sete de Setembro do povo Paiter Suruí, localizado nos estados de Rondônia e Mato Grosso.

Inclusive, no mês passado, o projeto Suruí vendeu seus primeiros créditos de REDD+; foram 120 mil unidades compradas pela Natura.

A CI conclui que a importância de manter o REDD+ funcionando em um alto nível de qualidade não pode ser subestimada. Não apenas para lidar com o desmatamento e com as emissões de gases do efeito estufa, mas também para evitar os impactos negativos que projetos mal elaborados podem produzir.

“Para alcançar os resultados esperados, está claro que o REDD+ deve melhorar em escala, mas também em questões como legislação (…) Isso deve ser feito para evitar que estímulos perversos sejam criados”, explica o relatório.

A ONG está neste caso se referindo aos riscos muitas vezes associados ao REDD+, como a exploração dos povos nativos e os conflitos por terras.

“Estabelecer estruturas institucionais é necessário para implementar a gestão local que facilitará o desenvolvimento de mecanismos de REDD+ nacionais e internacionais”, conclui a CI.

* Publicado originalmente no site CarbonoBrasil.

O que é e como surgiu o REDD? (

Florestas tropicais representam hoje 15% da superfície terrestre (FAO, 2006 apud GCP, 2008) e contém cerca de 25% de todo o carbono contido na biosfera terrestre (BONAN, 2008 apud GCP, 2008). Além disso, 90% dos cerca de 1,2 bilhões de pessoas que vivem abaixo da linha da pobreza dependem dos recursos florestais para sobreviverem (GCP, 2008).

Segundo a FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), das Nações Unidas (2006), aproximadamente 13 milhões de hectares de florestas tropicais são desmatados todos os anos (uma área equivalente ao Peru).

Preservar florestas, além da redução nas emissões de gases do efeito estufa, tem o potencial de gerar co-benefícios substanciais, como impactos positivos sobre a biodiversidade e sobre a conservação de recursos hídricos.  A floresta em pé também auxilia na estabilização do regime de chuvas e, conseqüentemente, do clima (Angelsen, 2008).

O relatório do IPCC publicado em 2007 (IPCC, 2007) estimou as emissões por desmatamento nos anos 1990 como sendo de aproximadamente 20% do total, fazendo da “mudança no uso da terra” a segunda atividade que mais contribui para o aquecimento global (GCP, 2008).

Conceito e desenvolvimento

O conceito de REDD (Redução das Emissões por Desmatamento e Degradação florestal), basicamente, parte da idéia de incluir na contabilidade das emissões de gases de efeito estufa aquelas que são evitadas pela redução do desmatamento e a degradação florestal.  Nasceu de uma parceria entre pesquisadores brasileiros e americanos, que originou uma proposta conhecida como “Redução Compensada de Emissões” (Santilli et al, 2000), que foi apresentada durante a COP-9, em Milão, Itália (2003), por IPAM e parceiros. Segundo este conceito, os países em desenvolvimento detentores de florestas tropicais, que conseguissem promover reduções das suas emissões nacionais oriundas de desmatamento receberiam compensação financeira internacional correspondente às emissões evitadas. O conceito de redução compensada tornou-se a base da discussão de REDD nos anos seguintes.

Em seguida, durante a COP-11, em Montreal, Canadá (2005) a chamada “Coalition of Rainforest Nations” ou “Coalizão de Nações Tropicais”, liderados por  Papua Nova Guiné e Costa Rica, apresentou uma proposta similar que tem por objetivo discutir formas de incentivar economicamente a redução do desmatamento nos países em desenvolvimento, detentores de florestas tropicais (Pinto et al, 2009).

O argumento colocado é que os países tropicais são responsáveis por estabilizar o clima por meio de suas florestas e, assim, os custos para mantê-las em pé devem ser divididos por todos. Esta iniciativa fez com que, oficialmente, o assunto REDD fosse incluído na pauta de negociações internacionais.

Um ano depois, na COP-12, em Nairobi, Nigéria (2006), o governo brasileiro anunciou publicamente uma proposta para tratar da questão do desmatamento, também muito parecida com as anteriores, só que sem considerar o mecanismo de mercado de créditos de carbono e sim as doações voluntárias.

A COP-13, realizada em Bali, Indonésia, em 2007, culminou com a Decisão 1/ CP 13, conhecida como “Mapa do Caminho de Bali”, para discutir como inserir o tema REDD num mecanismo que será estruturado para iniciar em 2012, ano em que chega ao fim o primeiro período de compromisso do Protocolo de Quioto.

É imprescindível notar que este mecanismo foi inicialmente concebido para os países em desenvolvimento que detêm florestas tropicais, permitindo-os participar efetivamente dos esforços globais de redução de emissões de gases de efeito estufa.

Necessário também salientar que a discussão sobre o desmatamento evitado evoluiu de um mecanismo que tinha foco somente no desmatamento evitado (COP 11, 2005), para ser ampliado e incluir a degradação de florestas (COP 13, 2007),

e REDD+?

Hoje o conceito foi ampliado e é conhecido como REDD+, se refere à construção de um mecanismo, ou uma política, que deverá contemplar formas de prover incentivos positivos aos países em desenvolvimento que tomarem uma ou mais das seguintes ações para a mitigação das mudanças climáticas:

1. Redução das emissões derivadas de desmatamento e degradação das florestas;

2. Aumento das reservas florestais de carbono;

3. Gestão sustentável das florestas;

4. Conservação florestal. (Pinto et al, 2009).



ANGELSEN, Arild. (org.). Moving Ahead with REDD: Issues, Options and Implications. CIFOR. Poznan, Polônia. 2008.

GLOBAL CANOPY PROGRAM. The Little REDD Book: A guide to Governmental and non-governmental proposals for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. 2008. Disponível em: http://www.the

INTERNATIONAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC). Climate Change Synthesis Report. Summary for Policymakers. Switzerland. 2007.

PINTO, Erika; MOUTINHO, Paulo; RODRIGUES, Liana; OYO FRANÇA, Flavia Gabriela; MOREIRA, Paula Franco; DIETZSCH, Laura. Cartilha: Perguntas e Respostas Sobre Aquecimento Global. 4a edição. Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia. Belém. 2009.

SANTILLI, Márcio; MOUTINHO, Paulo; SCHWARTZMAN, Stephan; NEPSTAD, Daniel; CURRAN, Lisa; NOBRE, Carlos. Tropical deforestation and the Kyoto Protocol: an editorial essay. Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia. 2000.

Contribuição de conteúdo por Ricardo Rettmann (


Acesse publicação REDD no Brasil: um enfoque amazônico

O livro apresenta e discute as condições favoráveis do Brasil à implementação de um regime nacional de REDD+ e propõe dois modelos de estrutura institucional para a repartição de benefícios: um baseado na distribuição por estados e outra por cate-gorias fundiárias. REDD+ é aqui discutido como um elemento importante na transição do modelo de desenvolvimento da Amazônia para um de baixas emissões de carbono, com distribuição de renda e justiça social. A alteração mais importante desta 3a edição foi a utilização da metodologia de cálculo do desmatamento evitado proposta pelo Comitê Técnico do Fundo Amazônia, juntamente com parâmetros fixados pelo Decreto 7.390/2010, que regulamenta a Política Nacional sobre Mudança do Clima. Esta alteração nos cálculos não altera a mensagem central do livro, porém pode ser percebida em algumas figuras chaves que demonstram o valor total do desmatamento evitado no Brasil.

Faça download da publicação

Pesquisadores alertam sobre necessidade urgente de proteger os oceanos (Fapesp)

Artigo de brasileiro e uruguaio será publicado como editorial no periódico Marine Pollution Bulletin(Wikipedia)


Por José Tadeu Arantes

Agência FAPESP – Estima-se que 41% dos mares e oceanos do planeta se encontrem fortemente impactados pela ação humana, segundo estudos. Trata-se de um problema grave que não tem recebido a merecida atenção. Um exemplo está no ritmo de implementação da diretriz relativa à proteção marinha definida pela Convenção sobre Diversidade Biológica (CDB), da Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU).

Aprovada por 193 países mais a União Europeia durante a 10ª Conferência das Partes da CDB, realizada em Nagoya, Japão, em outubro de 2010, essa diretriz estabeleceu que, até 2020, pelo menos 10% das áreas costeiras e marinhas, especialmente aquelas importantes por sua biodiversidade, deveriam estar protegidas.

Decorrido quase um terço do prazo, porém, as chamadas Áreas de Proteção Marinha (APMs) não cobrem mais do que 1,17% da superfície dos mares e oceanos do planeta. Dos 151 países com linha de costa, apenas 12 excederam os 10%. E a maior potência do mundo, os Estados Unidos, dotada de extensos litorais tanto no Atlântico como no Pacífico, não aderiu ao protocolo.

As informações, que configuram um alerta urgente, estão no artigo Politics should walk with Science towards protection of the oceans (“A política deve caminhar com a ciência na proteção dos oceanos”), assinado pelo brasileiro Antonio Carlos Marques, professor associado do Instituto de Biociências da Universidade de São Paulo, e pelo uruguaio Alvar Carranza, pesquisador do Museu Nacional de História Natural, do Uruguai. Enviado ao Marine Pollution Bulletin, o texto, que será publicado como editorial da versão impressa do periódico, está disponível on-line em

O artigo também destaca que, com uma das mais extensas costas do mundo – de 9.200 quilômetros, se forem consideradas as saliências e reentrâncias –, o Brasil possui apenas 1,5% de seu litoral protegido por APMs. Além disso, 9% das áreas consideradas prioritárias para conservação já foram concedidas a companhias petroleiras para exploração. As costas altamente povoadas dos Estados de São Paulo e Rio de Janeiro concentram a maioria das reservas de petróleo do país.

Os dados publicados são derivados de dois projetos apoiados pela FAPESP e coordenados por Marques: um projeto de Auxílio à Pesquisa – Regular, que apoia a Rede Nacional de Pesquisa em Biodiversidade Marinha (Sisbiota Mar), e um Projeto Temático para pesquisar fatores que geram e regulam a evolução e diversidade marinhas.

“Como um expediente para cumprir a meta, alguns governos têm criado Áreas de Proteção Marinha gigantescas, mas em torno de ilhas ou arquipélagos praticamente desabitados, muito distantes do próprio país”, disse Marques à Agência FAPESP.

“A maior APM do mundo, situada no arquipélago de Chagos, tem mais de meio milhão de quilômetros quadrados. É uma área enorme, que cumpre, com sobra, a meta do Reino Unido”, disse. O arquipélago faz parte do Território Britânico do Oceano Índico.

“Porém a população dessa área se resume ao contingente rotativo de uma base britânica. A ninguém mais. Além disso, as características da área, situada no meio do Oceano Índico, em nada correspondem à biodiversidade do Reino Unido”, prosseguiu.

Embora reconheça o valor de uma APM como essa, Marques argumenta que sua criação não é necessariamente efetiva em termos de preservação ambiental. Segundo ele, cumpre-se o aspecto quantitativo, mas não o qualitativo, ou seja, não oferece proteção efetiva ao litoral do país onde está a maior parte de sua população. E o que é mais grave, segundo Marques, é que o mesmo expediente foi adotado em todas as outras grandes APMs criadas recentemente.

“Verificamos, e divulgamos em nosso artigo, que a população média das 10 maiores APMs do mundo, computada em raios de 10 quilômetros em torno das mesmas, é de apenas 5.038 pessoas”, informou Marques. E essa média é puxada para cima por apenas duas APMs, a Reserva Marinha de Galápagos (Equador) e o Parque Nacional da Grande Barreira de Corais (Austrália), ambas com pouco mais de 25 mil habitantes. A população total das demais APMs não chega a 4 mil indivíduos, sendo nula em três delas.

“Para os governos, é uma medida muito cômoda criar áreas de proteção ambiental em regiões como essas, porque o desgaste socioeconômico de tal implementação é baixíssimo. Exceto por uma ou outra indústria pesqueira, ninguém vai reclamar muito. É uma situação muito diferente da que ocorreria se as APMs fossem criadas nos litorais dos respectivos países”, disse Marques.

O pesquisador ressalta que essas áreas remotas são úteis, como nas APMs de Galápagos e da Barreira de Corais, pela especialidade dos ecossistemas protegidos. Mas as APMs não seriam representativas da gama de ambientes dos países.

Fracassos e sucessos

“Nossa principal intenção ao escrever o artigo foi destacar que existe uma necessidade de proteção, que pode ser parcialmente atendida pela meta de 10%, mas essa proteção tem que respeitar os ambientes reais dos países. Não basta alcançar o número sem que haja uma correspondência entre quantidade e qualidade”, disse Marques.

O pesquisador conta que, ao enviar o artigo para o Marine Pollution Bulletin, um de seus objetivos foi estabelecer uma interlocução com o editor do periódico, Charles Sheppard, da University of Warwick, no Reino Unido. Sheppard é considerado uma das maiores autoridades em conservação marinha do mundo e foi um dos mentores da APM britânica do arquipélago de Chagos.

“A resposta do professor Sheppard foi a mais positiva que eu poderia esperar, tanto que ele decidiu publicar nosso artigo como editorial do Marine Pollution Bulletin.

De acordo com Marques, os dados básicos e as análises gerados pelos cientistas são vitais para o melhor uso dos recursos, ao estabelecer áreas de preservação.

“É necessário entender se a área é a ideal para ser protegida do ponto de vista evolutivo, genético, biogeográfico, ecológico etc. Há exemplos de sucesso em que isso foi observado e exemplos de fracassos em que foi ignorado. O melhor cenário possível é aquele em que cientistas, técnicos e políticos participam francamente do processo”, disse.

Conservation without supervision: Peruvian community group creates and patrols its own protected area (Mongabay)

By:Jenny R. Isaacs

April 30, 2013

“Rural dwellers are not passive respondents to external conservation agents but are active proponents and executers of their own conservation initiatives.”—Noga Shanee, Projects Director forNeotropical Primate Conservation (NPC), in an interview with

When we think of conservation areas, many of us think of iconic National Parks overseen by uniformed government employees or wilderness areas purchased and run from afar by big-donor organizations like The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF, or Conservation International. But what happens to ecosystems and wildlife in areas where there’s a total lack of government presence and no money coming in for its protection? This is the story of one rural Peruvian community that took conservation matters into their own hands, with a little help from a dedicated pair of primate researchers, in order to protect a high biodiversity cloud forest.

On the 22nd of November, 2012, the Peruvian Andes village of Líbano celebrated the launch of the Hocicón Reserve, formed under an innovative conservation model in accordance with federal law which allows for local administration of lands by community organizations (in this case the Rondas Campesinas). The new reserve protects an area of tropical Andean cloud forest in one of the most diverse biomes on earth, home to many endangered and unique species including the endemic Andean night monkey (Aotus miconax), the Endangered white-bellied spider monkey (Ateles belzebuth), jaguars, tapirs and many more. Hocicón, a 505.9 hectare protected area, is on the border of the Amazonas and San Martin regions—two of the most densely populated rural regions in Peru with some of the highest deforestation rates in the country. The rural population in these regions—Campesinos or ‘peasant farmers’—are predominantly of mixed indigenous and European origin and, like the native wildlife, are also endangered, by land insecurity and degraded natural resources.

Noga and Sam Shanee have helped provide technical assistance to the creation of the Hocicón reserve. Ronda leader, Marcos Díaz Delgado, was instrumental in the reserve's creation. Photo courtesy of NPC.
Noga and Sam Shanee have helped provide technical assistance to the creation of the Hocicón reserve. Ronda leader, Marcos Díaz Delgado, was instrumental in the reserve’s creation. Photo courtesy of NPC.

Noga Shanee and her husband Sam, of the organizationNeotropical Primate Conservation (NPC), work primarily in Peru to support the connection between communities and conservation. They live most of each year not far from the Hocicón reserve they helped to create. “We created NPC as a result of our experience as conservation practitioners and the need we felt to finding efficient solutions to the grave situation in which we found the yellow tailed woolly monkey and its habitat,” Noga told

The Shanees’ work in primate conservation brought them in close contact with local residents, where it became clear that protection of nature might best be achieved by supporting grassroots community efforts. In the last few years, they have administratively assisted in registering seven conservation areas with the local and national governments before helping to establish the Hocicón reserve under the Ronda Campesina group in Libano. Through NPC they offer Libano residents technical support (GPS equipment, GIS mapping, basic biological assessment and the writing of a basic report), advice on quantifying the ecological importance of the area, and help with legal matters.

Such assistance is necessary because according to governmental demands for conservation projects “local initiators have to execute plans of economic activities and reserve maintenance involving factors which many rural campesinos don’t have the capacity and/or resources to undertake,” writes Noga Shanee in a forthcoming article, which details their fieldwork and the many obstacles that prohibit local community groups from establishing official protected areas. “The main restrictions found to Campesino conservation initiatives was a lack of access to support from governmental and non-governmental institutions and a lack of access to economic resources for the extended bureaucratic processes of registering these protected areas.”

The Andean night monkey (Aotus miconax) is endemic to Peruvian forests which are being protected not by the government or big NGOs, but local communities. Photo by: Andrew Walmsley/NPC.
The Andean night monkey (Aotus miconax) is endemic to Peruvian forests which are being protected not by the government or big NGOs, but local communities. Photo by: Andrew Walmsley/NPC.

Noga Shanee says that the bigger problem is disconnect between the state’s expressed desire for conservation and the overly restrictive process of providing for it.

“The Peruvian state presents itself as an enthusiastic promoter of conservation and public participation in environmental issues, taking pride in legislation that allows private and community conservation,” she notes. “However, our experience shows us that the process of legally registering privately run conservation areas is extremely complicated, expensive and slow, requiring teams of specialists and cost on average $20,000 US dollars, just up to the initial registration of the area. After completing this arduous process, the government does not provide any support for the conservation initiators; on the contrary, they require additional reports and economic investments. Therefore, this process is inaccessible to most of the rural population creating inequality and losing opportunities for local participation and conservation efficiency…most local people are unable to create their own reserves and need the help of NGOs. The creation of these reserves including the elaboration of the proposal and waiting for registration takes from 1.5 to 5 years. During this time the land is not legally protected and other land uses are possible which in some cases has led to conflicts.”

One effect of this long, and expensive process is the exclusion of non-experts, small groups, and those lacking connections to government officials or influential NGOs in the process of establishing reserves.

“Although it is perceived locally that broad inter-institutional cooperation would be the best way towards effective regional conservation, cooperation is rare, mainly due to competitiveness related to economic pressures,” Shanee writes.

Launching community reserves from the ground up has proven to be a great way to overcome these bureaucratic obstacles while combating a myriad of threats to both animals and local people.

Ronderos voting to create Hocicón Reserve. Photo by: Noga Shanee.
Ronderos voting to create Hocicón Reserve. Photo by: Noga Shanee.

“The area suffers from high levels of deforestation fueled by immigration, road construction, extractive industries, hydroelectric dams, cattle ranching and lately a boom of palm oil plantations. The Ronda Campesina [community group, which launched the reserve,] has been protesting for many years against this development model (aggressively promoted by the government) which is so destructive to natural habitats and to rural societies,” Noga Shanee, told

Such threats are caused by a number of actors, according to Shanee, including the federal government, international corporations, and even the rural campesinos [farmers] themselves.

“Severe economic and social pressures are found to force campesinos into unsustainable practices,” writes Noga Shanee, in a recently submitted paper.

Clown tree frog (Dendropsophus sarayacuensis) in the region. Nestor Allgas Marchena/NPC.
Clown tree frog (Dendropsophus sarayacuensis) in the region. Nestor Allgas Marchena/NPC.

In her PhD Thesis on the subject written for Kent University in the UK, Noga Shanee summarized that “current conservation efforts are far from sufficient to offset the mounting threats they face,” adding “an amalgam of contradicting agendas, power struggles, superficial-spectacular solutions, and prejudices towards rural populations hinder the efficiency of conservation interventions” as “the immense pressures impacting human populations transforms directly into environmentally degrading processes.”

The Hocicón conservation model is not your typical conservation solution to these problems. In contrast to uniformed park officials greeting visitors or teams of well-paid foreign biologists in the field monitoring wildlife populations, these reserves are organic extensions of the community—policed and patrolled by the local residents themselves; such projects bring, according to Shanee, “a sense of pride and inclusion to the rural people who implement them.”

The Rondas enjoy distinctive legal rights within Peruvian society because of long-standing traditional land claims by indigenous peoples in combination with large areas of territory devoid of governmental or NGO supervision.

“The areas we are working and living in (departments of Amazonas and San Martin in Northern Peru) are almost completely abandoned by the government and would be in complete anarchy if it wasn’t for the Rondas…The Ronda Campesina (Peasant Patrol) is a network of autonomous, civil organizations, aimed at self-protection,” Shanee explains. “They practice vigilance and civil justice in the rural Peruvian countryside where state control is insufficient.”

The royal sunangel (Heliangelus regalis) is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Photo by: Sachar Alterman/NPC.
The royal sunangel (Heliangelus regalis) is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Photo by: Sachar Alterman/NPC.

Ronda bases can be organized by any population (community, town, or village). Nationally, the Ronda has more than half a million active members, in more than 5,000 bases, mainly, but not only, in Northern Peru and solves about 180,000 civil justice cases per year. Rondas also protest against external environmental hazards, such as polluting mining operations. According to Noga Shanee’s thesis, “by criticism and setting examples, the Rondas pressure both the government and NGOs to act more efficiently and morally towards conservation.”

Sam Shanee, also of NPC, says Ronda self-government is purely for protective purposes. “The ronda is basically a neighborhood watch group in most villages (I myself am a ‘rondero’ in the village where we live). All that this new approach entails in its most basic form is a group of villagers (or the entire village) getting together a deciding to protect an area of forest or other natural habitat near where they live… there has been no use of force for the creation of this first ARCA and the Ronda is not really a militia organization except when necessary, for example in the face of terrorism, drug cartels, illegal mining/logging etc.”

White-bellied spider monkey (Ateles belzebuth). Photo by: Shachar Alterman.
White-bellied spider monkey (Ateles belzebuth). Photo by: Shachar Alterman.

In the absence of top-down support or supervision, the Rondas offer their own path to conservation. The Ronda-run Conservation Areas, known as ARCAs, are quick, extremely low-cost, and are uniquely tailored to the Ronda social structure, allowing for participation of local people in conservation efforts, according to the Shanees.

Marcos Díaz Delgado, a national Ronda leader, told that “The [Ronda-run Conservation Areas (ARCAs)] are an alternative to the state’s legal conservation system which is extremely slow, expensive and fails to reach many remote, rural parts of our country. As a special jurisdiction we don’t only defend our safety and our human rights, but we also defend the natural world inside our territories. We invite the state authorities and all social organizations to join us for the collective defense of our natural resources.”

The ARCAs were designed to streamline the process of establishing protected areas: because of the Rondas special legal status, they only necessitate the minimal process (mapping and basic biological info), and cost almost nothing. Therefore “the Ronda Campesina’s conservation initiatives are an honest and efficient answer to habitat and species loss in Peru as well as to the deficiencies of mainstream, non participative conservation,” Noga Shanee says, adding that while this project is a collaboration between NPC and the Ronda, “we are hoping that they will become more and more self sufficient with time…our help is trying to organize, augment and formalize this initiative”. Orin Starn, Chair and Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, and author of the book Night Watch, the Politics of Protest in the Andes, told that, “the Rondas are the largest, most influential grassroots movement in Peru’s northern mountains. Environmentalism is a relatively new development to this area, and it’ll be very interesting to see the directions that this new collaboration between an old peasant movement and the new NGO-driven green activism may take.”

Noga Shanee (in pink) with community members. Photo courtesy of NPC.
Noga Shanee (in pink) with community members. Photo courtesy of NPC.

The Shanees’ work in the Amazon continues to illustrate the close biocultural connection between nature and community. Noga sees this connection as a positive force for change when strengthened. In her thesis she writes that destructive pressures on local communities and forests “also create positive consequences by creating new conservation opportunities.” By turning local environmental and social crisis into opportunity, new collaborations and conservation without supervision, born of necessity, can emerge, offering real hope for biocultural diversity.

“All over the world there are small groups of local farmers and indigenous people that organize themselves in order to protect their neighboring forests,” Noga Shanee says. “These initiatives are rarely heard about as these people often lack resources and expertise to promote their successes through academic or popular publications.” But she adds that she hopes the Hocicón model will become increasingly common in Peru and even spread abroad.

“This initiative can inspire other grassroots organizations to organize themselves to administer conservation, which could benefit many different species and habitats around the world. “

She believes that community-run conservation will prosper, saying, “we might be naïve and of course this project can fail, but our work in Peru has shown us that local communities put huge efforts in conserving their forests, usually with no help from mainstream conservationists and sometimes even despite them. We believe that they deserve the chance.”

Cloud forest in Northeastern Peru. Photo by: Andrew Walmsley/NPC.
Cloud forest in Northeastern Peru. Photo by: Andrew Walmsley/NPC.

Noga in front in purple with community leaders. Photo courtesy of NPC.
Noga in front in purple with community leaders. Photo courtesy of NPC.

White-fronted spider monkey (Ateles belzebuth). Photo by: Shachar Alterman.
White-fronted spider monkey (Ateles belzebuth). Photo by: Shachar Alterman.


Shanee N (2012) The Dynamics of Threats and Conservation Efforts for the Tropical Andes Hotspot in Amazonas and San Martin, Peru. PhD Thesis (Kent University, Canterbury). Supervised by Prof. Stuart R. Harrop.

Shanee, Noga, Sam Shanee, and Robert H. Horwich (2012 in revision). “Locally run conservation initiatives in northeastern Peru and their effectiveness as conservation methods,” shared by permission of the authors

Starn O (1999) Nightwatch: the politics of protest in the Andes (Duke Univ Pr, Los Angeles) p 329.

Chapin, M. (2004) A Challenge to Conservationists. World Watch, 17, 17-31

Sobrevila, Claudia. (2008) “The Role of Indigenous Peoples in Biodiversity Conservation; The Natural but Often Forgotten Partners” World Bank Report.


Mainstream green is still too white (Color Lines)

By Brentin Mock; Cross-posted from ColorLines

We missing anything here?Last year was the hottest on record for the continental United States, and it wasn’t an outlier. The last 12 years have been the warmest years since 1880, the year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began tracking this information. And climate scientists predict that the devastating blizzards, droughts, hurricanes, and wildfires we’ve been experiencing lately will worsen due to climate change.

In many ways these punishing weather events feel like Mother Nature seeking revenge for our failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the primary cause of global warming. Despite abundant evidence, the U.S. government has yet to pass a law that would force a reduction in these emissions.

During his first term, President Obama did make climate change a priority, both in his campaign and in office. The American Clean Energy and Security Act that Congress produced passed through the House in June 2009 by a narrow margin. Yet the bill never reached a vote in the Senate, and it died quietly.

Environmentalists have been flummoxed ever since. One prominent cause-of-death theory says that large mainstream (and predominantly white) environmental groups failed to mobilize grassroots support and ignored those who bear a disproportionate burden of climate change, namely poor people of color.

With Obama in for a second term and reaffirmed in his environmental commitments, climate legislation has another chance at life. Now, observers are wondering if mainstream environmentalists learned the right lessons from the first climate bill failure and how they’ll work with people of color this time around.

Anatomy of a conflict

To hear some environmental leaders tell it, their defeat wasn’t due to a lack of investment in black and brown people living in poor and working class communities, but to an over-investment in Obama. For example, Dan Lashof, climate and clean air director for Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), has blamed the president for having the audacity to push healthcare reform and he’s pointed the finger at green groups for being too patient with Obama.

Asked what environmental advocates who led the first climate bill effort could have done differently in 2009, Bill McKibben, founder of the online grassroots organizing campaign, says their game plan was too insular. “There was no chance last time because all the action was in the closed rooms, not in the streets,” he tells

Yet that “action” took place behind closed doors for a reason: Major mainstream green groups including the Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy teamed up with oil companies and some of the biggest polluters and emitters in the nation to form the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). This ad hoc alliance was the driving force behind the failed 2009 bill and there were no environmental justice, civil rights, or people-of-color groups at the USCAP table.

Obama can’t be blamed for the blind spots of major groups. As recent Washington Post and Politico articles have pointed out, their leadership and membership simply don’t reflect the race or socieconomic class of people most vulnerable to climate change’s wrath.

Sarah Hansen, former executive director of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, argued recently that the mainstream has been stingy with funding and resources and inept at engaging environmental justice communities. In a National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) study, “Cultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environmental and Climate Funders,” Hansen reported that philanthropies awarded most of their environmental dollars to large, predominantly white groups but received little return in terms of law and policy. Meanwhile, wrote Hansen, too few dollars have been invested in community- and environmental justice-based organizations.

According to the NCRP report, environmental organizations with $5 million-plus budgets made up only 2 percent of green groups in general but in 2009 received half of all grants in the field. The NCRP also found that 15 percent of all green dollars benefited marginalized populations between 2007 and 2009. Only 11 percent went to social justice causes.

In January, Harvard professor Theda Skocpol released a study of the first climate bill campaign’s failure and faulted green groups involved for choosing direct congressional lobbying over grassroots organizing. Some of the major organizations did spend money on field organizers, wrote Skocpol, but only to push public messaging like billboards and advertisements.

“The messaging campaigns would not make it their business to actually shape legislation — or even talk about details with ordinary citizens or grassroots groups,” Skocpol wrote in the report. The public “is seen as a kind of background chorus that, hopefully, will sing on key.”

Take one for the team?

That the environmental movement thought billboards and ads could replace educating and organizing actual people was their biggest flaw, a position shared by Hansen and Skocpol. In comparison, health reform advocates took a lobbying and grassroots approach while the climate-change bill made the rounds and got a law passed.

“If you want to gain the trust of the emerging non-white majority, it’s not just a messaging thing,” explains Ryan Young, legal counsel for the California-based Greenlining Institute, a policy research nonprofit focused on economic, environmental, and racial justice. “It’s a values thing. You must understand the values of these communities and craft policy around that.”

Why does this matter?

Consider how the website of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) recently featured an article on city bird sanctuaries from the group’s print magazine titled “Urban Renewal.”

Having people of color on staff might have helped NWF understand that for some, “urban renewal” signifies a historical legacy of black and Latino neighborhoods being effectively erased by development projects such as sports stadiums. Cultural snafus like this have led to white environmental groups being clowned in influential outlets including The Daily Show.

In an interview about the unintended message of “Urban Renewal,” Jim Lyon, NWF’s vice president for conservation policy, told that the group doesn’t “always get everything right” and that “he’d take it back to his staff.” (Ironically, one of the harshest critiques of urban renewal came from Jane Jacobs, a white conservationist.) On the topic of staff diversity, Lyon said the organization isn’t where they want it to be, but that they’ve made “good progress.” He would not release staff demographics, but said NWF achieves diversity through partnerships with other groups and programs like Eco-Schools USA, which he says “engages more than 1 million children of color” daily.

Beverly Wright, who heads the New Orleans-based Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, says racial oversights of traditionally white groups are the main reason black and Latino environmentalists have formed their own organizations. The culturally divided camps sometimes use the same words, but they’re often speaking different languages.

Take “cap-and-trade,” a scheme that would commodify greenhouse gas emissions for market-trading as a way to reduce those emissions. The first climate bill centered on cap-and-trade because most major environmental groups supported it. But cap-and-trade was anathema to environmental justice because it did nothing to curb local co-pollutants such as smog and soot, direct threats to communities of color. That’s not to mention that cap-and-trade was the brainchild of C. Boyden Gray, a conservative member of the Federalist Society and leader of FreedomWorks, today a major Tea Party funder.

Wright says major green groups tried to coax environmental justice organizations into supporting cap-and-trade by claiming it was for the “greater good.”

“But that meant white people get all the greater goods and we get the rest,” says Wright. “Until they want to have real discussions around racism, they won’t have our support. That’s what happened last time with the climate bill. It did not move, because they did not have diversity in their voices.”

“Diversity” doesn’t just mean hiring more people of color. As the 30-year-old Center for Health, Environment and Justice stated in March, the diversity conversation “really needs to be about resources and assistance to the front line communities rather than head counting.”

What’s next?

So in the new round of climate bill talks, will large environmental groups meaningfully engage community-based environmental justice groups?

The prognosis is mixed. Look at MomentUs, a mammoth collaborative started in January to ramp up support for new climate legislation. While MomentUs claims to be a game-changer, the strategy behind it seems very similar to that of USCAP’s — the one that failed to deliver a climate-change law the first time around. On its website, MomentUs describes its board of directors as “cultural, environmental, business, and marketing leaders who offer the diversity of viewpoints and keen insight vital to advancing MomentUs’s mission.” At press time, all of the directors are white. So is the staff, except for one office administrator.

Looking at MomentUs partners, it appears that the same traditionally white environmental organizations who teamed up for USCAP are now working with corporations including ALEC funder Duke Energy, predatory subprime mortgage king Wells Fargo, perennial labor union target Sodexho, and Disney. At press time there are no environmental justice or civil rights groups involved.

On the other side of the spectrum, The Sierra Club — one of the nation’s largest and whitest green groups — has had an expansive role in environmental justice and advocacy, particularly in the Gulf Coast. In January it joined the NAACP and labor unions in launching the Democracy Initiative, which will tackle voting rights, environmental justice, and other civil rights concerns.

To be sure, it’s way too early to make a conclusion about MomentUs or the Democracy Initiative, but the latter appears to be a step in the right direction in terms of highlighting the intersection between poor environmental outcomes and racism.

McKibben, the founder, has helped cultivate a multicultural fight against the Keystone XL pipeline project, but he admits that the overall environmental movement has “tons of work to do” on racial equity and inclusion.

“The sooner [mainstream environmentalists] absorb the message and are led by members of the environmental justice movement, the better,” he says.

In that case, the question is a matter of timing and power, of who decides when and which environmental justice activists get to lead.

Stay tuned.

Brentin Mock is a New Orleans-based journalist who serves as ColorLines’s reporting fellow on voting rights.     

Latour: “No estaba escrito que la ecología fuera un partido” (El País)


“No estaba escrito que la ecología fuera un partido”

Sociólogo, antropólogo, filósofo y director científico del Instituto de Estudios Políticos de París.

Bruno Latour tiene una mirada ácida y provocadora de la sociedad y el medio ambiente.

MIGUEL MORA 25 MAR 2013 – 11:52 CET19

Bruno Latour. / MANUEL BRAUN

¿Ha servido para algo el activismo ecológico? ¿Han forjado los verdes una política común? ¿Escuchan los políticos a los científicos cuando alertan sobre el cambio climático? ¿Puede la Tierra soportar más agresiones? El sociólogo, antropólogo y filósofo francés Bruno Latour(Beaune, 1947) lleva más de 20 años reflexionando sobre estos asuntos, y su pronóstico es desolador. A su juicio, la llegada de los ecologistas a la política ha sido un fracaso porque los verdes han renunciado al debate inteligente, los políticos se limitan a aplicar viejas recetas sin darse cuenta de que la revolución se ha producido ya y fue “una catástrofe”: ocurrió en 1947, cuando la población mundial superó el número que garantizaba el acceso a los recursos. Según Latour, es urgente poner en marcha una nueva forma de hacer ecología política, basada en una constitución que comprometa a gobernantes, científicos y ciudadanos a garantizar el futuro de la Tierra. Esta idea es una de las propuestas de su libro Políticas de la naturaleza. Por una democracia de las ciencias, publicado en Francia en 1999 y que ahora edita en español RBA.

Latour, aire de sabio despistado, recibe a El País Semanal en su caótico y enorme despacho del Instituto de Estudios Políticos de París, del que es director científico y director adjunto desde 2007.

PREGUNTA: Este libro se publicó en Francia hace ya 14 años. ¿Sigue suscribiendo lo que escribió?

RESPUESTA: Casi todo, sí. Pero las cosas no han mejorado. He seguido trabajando en lo mismo, pero con otro tono. Hoy debo de ser el único que se ocupa de estas cuestiones, de una filosofía política que exige una verdadera política ecologista. Lo que no ha funcionado es que pensé que iba a ser un libro fundador para los ecologistas. ¡Y ha sido un fracaso total! Los ecologistas han desaparecido.

P: En Francia al menos hay verdes en el Gobierno.

R: Sí, pero tienen una visión muy estrecha de la ecología, no reflexionan ni sobre la economía ni sobre la sociedad. La ecología está limitada a las cuestiones de la naturaleza, cuando en realidad no tiene nada que ver con eso. Hay que elegir entre naturaleza y política. Desgraciadamente, se ha intentado hacer una política ecologista que no ha producido nada bueno porque se ha basado en la lucha tradicional, que tenía como objetivo torpedear la política o, mejor, someterla; en cierto modo, los verdes actúan como un tribunal que trata de definir una especie de soberanía.

P: ¿De superioridad moral o natural?

R: Sí, pero sobre todo de estupidez. Evidentemente, el tomar la naturaleza como un fin no ha hecho más que debilitar la posición de los ecologistas, que nunca han sido capaces de hacer política; en fin, auténtica política en el sentido de la tradición socialista, en la que se hubieran debido inspirar. No han hecho el trabajo que el socialismo primero, el marxismo después y luego la socialdemocracia hicieron. No ha habido, para nada, un trabajo de invención intelectual, de exploración; han preferido “el escaparate”. Puede que no hubiera otra solución, pues no estaba escrito que la ecología se fuera a convertir en un partido.

“Hay una ecología profunda con un gran papel en EE UU y alemania”

P: ¿Entonces el ecologismo es hoy una especie de ac­­tivismo sin conexión científica?

R: Ha habido movimientos interesantes gracias a una casuística muy concreta, importante en lo que concierne a los animales, las plantas, los dientes de los elefantes, el agua, los ríos, etcétera. Han mostrado además gran energía en las cuestiones locales, pero sin afrontar las cuestiones de la política, de la vida en común. Por eso el ecologismo sigue siendo marginal, justo en un momento en que las cuestiones ecológicas se han convertido en un asunto de todos. Y se da una paradoja: la ecología se ocupa de temas minúsculos relacionados con la naturaleza y la sociedad mientras que la cuestión de la Tierra, la presencia de la Tierra en la política, se hace cada vez más apremiante. Esa urgencia, que ya era acuciante hace 10 o 15 años, lo es mucho más ahora.

P: ¿Quizá ha faltado formar una Internacional Verde?

R: No se ha hecho porque los ecologistas pensaban que la Tierra iba a unificar todos estos movimientos. Han surgido un montón de redes, basadas en casos concretos, como Greenpeace. Hay asociaciones, pero nada a nivel político. La internacional sigue siendo la geopolítica clásica de los Estados nación. No ha habido reflexión sobre la nueva situación. Existe una ecología profunda, deep ecology, en Francia prácticamente inexistente, que ha tenido un papel importante en Alemania, en los países escandinavos y en Norteamérica. Pero está muy poco politizada.

P: Estamos ante un fracaso político y ante una mayor conciencia de los científicos. ¿Y los ciudadanos?

R: Paradójicamente, esa dolorosa pelea sobre el clima nos ha permitido progresar. En cierto modo, la querella ha tenido un papel importante en una “comprensión renovada” por parte del público de la realidad científica. El problema es que intentamos insertar las cuestiones ecológicas en el viejo modelo “ciencia y política”. Desde este punto de vista, incluso los científicos más avanzados siguen intentando poner estas cuestiones dentro del marco de esa situación superada que intento criticar. Este es el tema del libro, y en ese sentido sigue de actualidad.

P: En Francia hay una identificación entre ecologismo y territorio. José Bové, por ejemplo, es un proteccionista a ultranza. Es rara esta evolución de la ecología hacia el nacionalismo, ¿no?

R: Sí, pero al mismo tiempo es útil e interesante replantearse lo que es el territorio, el terruño, por usar la palabra francesa. Los ecologistas siempre se han mostrado indecisos sobre el carácter progresista o reaccionario de su apego a la tierra, porque la expresión en francés puede significar cosas muy distintas. Pero es importante, porque es una de las dimensiones de la cuestión ecológica, tanto de la progresista como de la arcaica. Ese era uno de los objetivos fundamentales del libro, saber si hemos sido realmente modernos alguna vez. Hay aspectos regresivos en el apego al terruño, y a la vez hay otros muy importantes sobre la definición de los límites, de los entornos en los cuales vivimos, que son decisivos para el porvenir. Una vez más, los verdes han omitido trabajar esa cuestión. Pero el problema de la orientación, de la diferencia entre el apego reaccionario o progresista a la tierra, es fundamental. Si vemos movimientos como Slow Food, nos preguntamos si están adelantados o retrasados, porque tienen aspectos regresivos. Pero si se piensa en el tema de los circuitos de distribución, ¿por qué las lasañas inglesas tendrían que estar hechas con caballo rumano y transitar por 25 intermediarios? No es una tontería: si tomamos caballo francés, rumano o turco, las cuestiones de pertenencia y de límites se convierten en cuestiones progresistas.

El antropólogo iconoclasta

Bruno Latour nació en la Borgoña, donde surgen los vinos más caros del planeta. Su padre era viticultor. De ahí sus pecualiares análisis sobre el terruño y la tradición. Cursó Antropología y Sociología. Su formación es tan variopinta como los centros donde ha impartido clase, desde la Escuela de Minas de París hasta la London School of Economics y la cátedra de Historia de Harvard.

Escritor incansable, es autor de una treintena de libros de ensayo, todos los últimos editados por Harvard, por los que circulan la tierra, la sociedad, la guerra, la energía, la ciencia, la tecnología, la modernidad y los medios de comunicación.

Su último proyecto está conectado con el llamado medialab, un espacio donde desarrollar conexiones entre las tecnologías digitales, la sociología y los estudios científicos.

P: Su libro llama a superar los esquemas de izquierda y derecha. Pero no parece que eso haya cambiado mucho.

R: El debate afronta un gran problema. Hay una inversión de las relaciones entre el marco geográfico y la política: el marco ha cambiado mucho más que la política. Las grandes negociaciones internacionales manifiestan esa inercia de la organización económica, legal y política, mientras que el marco, lo que antes llamábamos la Tierra, la geografía, cambia a velocidad asombrosa. Esa mutación es difícil de comprender por la gente acostumbrada a la historia de antes, en la cual había humanos que se peleaban, como en el siglo XX: hombres haciéndose la guerra dentro de un marco geográfico estable desde la última glaciación. Es una razón demasiado filosófica. Así que preferimos pensar que tenemos tiempo, que todo está en su sitio, que la economía es así, que el derecho internacional es así, etcétera. Pero incluso los términos para señalar las aceleraciones rápidas han cambiado, volcándose hacia la naturaleza y los glaciares. El tiempo que vivimos es el del antropoceno, y las cosas ya no son como antes. Lo que ha cambiado desde que escribí el libro es que en aquel momento no teníamos la noción del antropoceno. Fue una invención muy útil de Crutzen, un climatólogo, pero no existía entonces, me habría ayudado mucho.

P: ¿Y qué fue de su propuesta de aprobar una constitución ecológica?

R: Intenté construir una asociación de parlamentarios y lanzar una constitución para que las cuestiones de la energía empezaran a ser tratadas de otro modo. Intentaba abrir un debate, que naturalmente no ha tenido lugar. El debate sobre la Constitución empezó bien, se consideró una gran invención de la democracia europea. El problema es que ya no se trata de la cuestión de la representación de los humanos, sino que ese debate atañe a los innumerables seres que viven en la Tierra. Me parecía necesario en aquel momento, y ahora más incluso, hacer un debate constitucional. ¿Cómo sería un Parlamento dedicado a la política ecológica? Tendrá que crearse, pero no reflexionamos lo suficiente sobre las cuestiones de fondo.

P: ¿Las grandes conferencias medioambientales resuelven algo?

R: El problema es que la geopolítica organizada en torno a una nación, con sus propios intereses y nivel de agregación, está mal adaptada a las cuestiones ecológicas, que son transnacionales. Todo el mundo sabe eso, los avances no pueden plasmarse ya a base de mapas, no jugamos en territorios clásicos. Así, desde Copenhague 2009 hay una desafección por las grandes cumbres, no solo porque no se consigue decidir nada, sino también porque nos damos cuenta de que el nivel de decisión y agregación política no es el correcto. De hecho, las ciudades, las regiones, las naciones, las provincias, toman a menudo más iniciativas que los Estados.

P: Francia es uno de los países más nuclearizados del mundo. Los ecologistas braman. ¿Le parece bien?

R: Los ecologistas se han obstinado en la cuestión nuclear, pero nadie ha venido a explicarnos por qué lo nuclear es antiecológico, mientras mucha gente seria considera que el átomo es una de las soluciones, a largo plazo no, pero a corto plazo sí. De nuevo estamos ante la ausencia total de reflexión política por parte de los ecologistas, que militan contra lo nuclear sin explicar por qué. Por consiguiente, no hemos avanzado un centímetro. De hecho, en este momento hay un gran debate público sobre la transición energética, y los verdes siguen siendo incapaces de comprender nada, incluso de discutir, porque han moralizado la cuestión nuclear. Cuando se hace ética, no hay que hacer política, hay que hacer religión.

P: ¿Está realmente en cuestión la supervivencia de la especie?

R: La especie humana se las apañará. Nadie piensa que vaya a desaparecer, ¿pero la civilización? No se sabe lo que es una Tierra a seis u ocho grados, no lo hemos conocido. Hay que remontarse centenares de millones de años. El problema no se abordaba con la misma urgencia cuando escribí el libro en 1999, se hablaba aún de las generaciones futuras. Ahora hablamos de nuestros hijos. No hay una sola empresa que haga un cálculo más allá de 2050, es el horizonte más corto que ha habido nunca. La mutación de la historia es increíblemente rápida. Ahora se trata de acontecimientos naturales, mucho más rápidos que los humanos. Es inimaginable para la gente formada en el siglo XX, una novedad total.

P: ¿Es la globalización? ¿O más que eso?

R: Tiene relación con la globalización, pero no por la extensión de las conexiones entre los humanos. Se trata de la llegada de un mundo desagradable que impide la globalización real: es un conflicto entre globos. Nos hemos globalizado, y eso resulta tranquilizador porque todo está conectado y hace de la Tierra un planeta pequeño. Pero que un gran pueblo sea aplastado al chocar con otra cosa tranquiliza menos.

La especie humana se las apañará. nadie piensa que va a desaparecer”

P: ¿Y el malestar que sentimos, la indignación, tiene que ver con ese miedo?

R: Ese catastrofismo siempre ha existido; siempre ha habido momentos de apocalipsis, de literatura de la catástrofe; pero al mismo tiempo existe un sentimiento nuevo: no se trata del apocalipsis de los humanos, sino del final de recursos, en un sentido, creo, literal.

P: ¿Nos hemos zampado el planeta?

R: La gente que analiza el antropoceno dibuja esquemas de este tipo (muestra un famoso gráfico de población y recursos). Esto se llama “la gran aceleración”, ocurrió en 1947. La revolución ya ha tenido lugar, y es una de las causas de esa nueva ansiedad. La gente sigue hablando de la revolución, desesperándose porque no llega, pero ya está aquí. Es un acontecimiento pasado y de consecuencias catastróficas. Eso también nubla la mente de progresistas y reaccionarios. ¿Qué significa vivir en una época en la cual la revolución ha ocurrido ya y cuyos resultados son catastróficos?

P: ¿No querrá decir que la austeridad es la solución?

R: Ya existe el concepto del decrecimiento feliz, no sé si la tienen en España… ¡Sí! Ustedes están muy adelantados sobre decrecimiento.

P: Estamos en plena vanguardia, pero del infeliz.

R: Es uno de los grandes temas del momento, la crisis económica es decrecimiento no deseado, desigualmente repartido; y hay algo más: austeridad no es necesariamente la palabra, sino ascetismo. Sería la visión religiosa, o espiritual, de la austeridad. Eso se mezcla con las nuevas visiones geológicas de los límites que debemos imponernos…

P: ¿Habla del regreso al campo o de reconstruir el planeta?

R: No me refiero a volver al campo, sino a otra Tierra.

P: ¿La tecnología es la única brújula?

R: La tecnología se encuentra en esa misma situación. Existe una solución muy importante de la geoingeniería, que considera que la situación es reversible, que se pueden recrear artificialmente unas condiciones favorables tras haberlas destruido sin saberlo. Así ha surgido un inmenso movimiento de geoingeniería en todas partes. Ya que es la energía de la Tierra, podemos mandar naves espaciales, modificar la acidez de las aguas del mar, etcétera. Hacer algo que contrarreste lo que se hizo mal. Si hemos podido modificar la Tierra, podemos modificarla en el otro sentido, lo que es un argumento peligroso, porque la podemos destrozar por segunda vez.

P: ¿No se regenerará sola?

R: Sí, ¡pero sin humanos! Se regenerará sola mientras no haya humanos. Puede deshacerse de nosotros, es una de las hipótesis, volviéndose invivible, pero eso no sería muy positivo. La era de los límites puede llegar hasta la extinción.

P: ¿Acabaremos fatal?

R: La historia no está repleta de ejemplos favorables. No se sabe. No hay nada en la naturaleza humana que favorezca la reflexión, por lo cual la solución solo puede ser mala.

P: Algunos temen que acabaremos devorados por los chinos.

R: Los chinos tienen más problemas que nosotros y corren el peligro de comerse a sí mismos por el suelo, el agua y el aire. No nos amenazan, desaparecerán antes que nosotros.

P: Žižek dice que nuestros problemas provienen de la mediocridad intelectual de Alemania y Francia, que esa es la razón principal de la decadencia actual. ¿Qué piensa?

R: Es una estupidez. Ocurren muchas más cosas intelectualmente en Europa que en América, infinitamente más. Por ejemplo, en arte, en filosofía, en ciencias, en urbanismo. Es insensato decir cosas así, pero es que Žižek es un viejo cretino, una especie de cosa de extrema izquierda, fruto del agotamiento de la extrema izquierda, de su decadencia final, de la cual es el síntoma. Por otra parte, es un chico muy majo. La extrema izquierda se ha equivocado tanto sobre el mundo que al final todos estos viejos de extrema izquierda no tienen otra cosa que hacer salvo vomitar sobre el mundo, como hace Alain Badiou en Francia.

P: ¿Prefiere a Marine Le Pen?

R: No soy político, no puedo responder a esta pregunta, no me interesa.

P: ¿No le gusta hablar de política?

R: Sí hablo de política, he escrito un libro sobre política, ¡que yo sepa!,Las políticas de la naturaleza.

P: ¿No le interesa la política de todos los días?

R: La de todos los días sí, pero no la de los partidos, son agitaciones superficiales, sobre todo en Francia, donde ya no hay verdaderamente política.

P: Critica a la extrema izquierda, ¿y nada a la extrema derecha?

R: Se agita, intenta agarrarse a un clavo ardiendo, pero no tiene mucha importancia. No es ahí donde las cosas están en juego.

P: ¿Cree que es residual?

R: No, no es residual, puede desarrollarse y provocar daños, tanto como la extrema izquierda; el no pensar siempre provoca daños, pero no es eso lo que va a solucionar los problemas de la Tierra, la economía, las ciudades, el transporte y la tecnología.

P: ¿Qué escenario prevé para 2050? ¿Qué Tierra, qué humanidad?

R: Ese no es mi trabajo, mi trabajo consiste en prepararnos para las guerras. Las guerras ecológicas van a ser muy importantes y tenemos que preparar nuestros ejércitos de un modo intelectual y humano. Ese es mi trabajo.

P: ¿Habrá guerras violentas por el clima?

R: La definición misma de guerra va a cambiar, estamos en una situación en la cual no podemos ganar contra la Tierra, es una guerra asimétrica: si ganamos, perdemos, y si perdemos, ganamos. Así pues, esta situación crea obligaciones a multitud de gente y antes que nada a los intelectuales.

P: ¿La batalla principal es esa?

R: Si no tenemos mundo, no podemos hacer gran cosa, ni siquiera la revolución. Cuando se lee a Marx, uno se queda impresionado por lo que dice sobre los humanos. En esta época, la cuestión de la ciencia y del margen geográfico, más la presencia de miles de millones de personas, conforma un escenario crucial. Antes teníamos otros problemas, pero este no.

P: ¿Así que se trata de ser o no ser?

R: En cada informe científico, las previsiones son peores, el plan más pesimista siempre aparece. Hay que tener en cuenta eso. Son previsiones extremas, pero de momento son las únicas válidas. No se trata de una guerra mundial, sino de una acumulación de guerras mundiales. Es parecido al invierno nuclear de la guerra fría, una situación de cataclismo, pero con algunas ventajas: es más radical, pero más lento, tenemos mucha capacidad de invención, 9.000 millones de personas y muchas mentes inteligentes. Pero también es un reto. Por tanto, es una cuestión de alta política y no de naturaleza. La política viene primero.

P: ¿Tiene la sensación de estar solo?

R: Lo que era complicado en este libro era crear el vínculo entre ciencia y política, y no puedo decir que haya convencido a mucha gente. Si además se hace el vínculo entre la religión y las artes, es más difícil. Gente como Sloterdijk sería muy capaz de comprenderlo. Sin embargo, muchos intelectuales siguen en el siglo XX, como Žižek. Permanecen en un contexto, en un ideal revolucionario, de decepción. Están decepcionados con los humanos.

P: ¿Cree que los humanos se dejarán ayudar?

R: Primero hay que ayudar a la Tierra. En el antropoceno ya no se puede hacer la distinción entre los humanos y la Tierra.

P: ¿Y sus estudiantes están listos para la lucha?

R: En mi escuela soy el único en dar clases sobre cuestiones donde no entra la política en el sentido clásico. Hay un curso o dos sobre cuestiones ecológicas. Es culpa mía, no he trabajado lo suficiente como para cambiar las cosas. Llevamos mucho retraso.

Appeals court rules U.S. whaling foes are ‘pirates’ (USA Today)

Michael Winter, USA TODAY- 7:35p.m. EST February 27, 2013

Sea Shepherd activists have collided with Japanese ships in campaign to halt whale hunts.

A federal appeals court has declared the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to be modern-day pirates and ordered the anti-whaling activists to stop confronting Japanese ships in the waters off Antarctica.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and rebuked a lower-court judge in Seattle, who had sided with Washington state-based Sea Shepherd and dismissed a lawsuit filed by Japanese whalers seeking to halt the protests. An international treaty allows governments to kill whales for research.

In its ruling late Monday, the appeals court also ordered U.S. District Judge Richard Jones removed from the case, saying “numerous, serious and obvious errors identified in our opinion raise doubts as to whether he will be perceived as impartial.”

Sea Shepherd ships, sailing from Australia, often block or harass whaling vessels from the Institute of Cetacean Research, sometimes resulting in collisions. During the past week, two of the group’s vessels were damaged while trying to prevent Japanese whaling vessels from refueling.

In the appellate court’s ruling, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote that the activists were threatening the lives of whalers, calling their tactics “the very embodiment of piracy.”

Here’s how he began the 18-page opinion:

You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch. When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.

Kozinski wrote that Jones was “off base” when he concluded that the protesters’ tactics were nonviolent because they did not target people, just ships and equipment.

Jones also ruled that the hunters were violating an Australian court ban and therefore could not pursue their lawsuit in the United States. The appeals court rejected that argument, saying the whalers’ lawsuit could proceed in U.S. courts under international maritime law.

An attorney representing Sea Shepherd told the Associated Press he would ask an 11-judge panel of the appeals court to review the three-judge opinion.

A Sea Shepherd official told KIRO Radio on Tuesday that because the U.S. branch had separated from its Australian counterparts, the ruling had no bearing.

“What Sea Shepherd Australia is doing with Australian flagged vessels and Dutch flagged vessels down in the Australian Antarctic territory is outside of any sort of control of the courts in the United States,” said Scott West, director of investigations for Sea Shepherd. “We have yet to hurt anybody, we have yet to plunder any gold or do anything that would fit within the definition” of piracy law.

Sea Shepherd Australia released video that it said showed a Japanese whalerramming two of its ships last week. Tuesday, the ICR countered with video that it claims shows Sea Shepherd “sabotage” by ramming a whaling vessel.

Sea Shephred’s efforts have been featured on Animal Planet’s Whale Wars.

Ao menos 70% das espécies da Terra são desconhecidas (Fapesp)

Dando início ao Ciclo de Conferências 2013 do BIOTA-FAPESP Educação, Thomas Lewinsohn (Unicamp) falou sobre o tempo e o custo estimado para descrever todas as espécies do planeta (foto:Léo Ramos)


Por Karina Toledo

Agência FAPESP – Embora o conhecimento sobre a biodiversidade do planeta ainda esteja muito fragmentado, estima-se que já tenham sido descritos aproximadamente 1,75 milhão de espécies diferentes de seres vivos – incluindo microrganismos, plantas e animais. O número pode impressionar os mais desavisados, mas representa, nas hipóteses mais otimistas, apenas 30% das formas de vida existentes na Terra.

“Estima-se que existam outros 12 milhões de espécies ainda por serem descobertas”, disse Thomas Lewinsohn, professor do Departamento de Biologia Animal da Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), durante a apresentação que deu início ao Ciclo de Conferências 2013 organizado pelo programa BIOTA-FAPESP com o intuito de contribuir para o aperfeiçoamento do ensino de ciência.

Mas como avaliar o tamanho do desconhecimento sobre a biodiversidade? “Para isso, fazemos extrapolações, tomando como base os grupos de organismos mais bem estudados para avaliar os menos estudados. Regiões ou países em que a biota é bem conhecida para avaliar onde é menos conhecida. Por regra de três chegamos a essas estimativas”, explicou.

Técnicas mais recentes, segundo Lewinsohn, usam fórmulas estatísticas sofisticadas e se baseiam nas taxas de descobertas e de descrição de novas espécies. Os valores são ajustados de acordo com a força de trabalho existente, ou seja, o número de taxonomistas em atividade.

“No entanto, o mais importante a dizer é: não há consenso. As estimativas podem chegar a mais de 100 milhões de espécies desconhecidas. Não sabemos nem a ordem de grandeza e isso é espantoso”, disse.

Lewinsohn avalia que, para descrever todas as espécies que se estima haver no Brasil, seriam necessários cerca de 2 mil anos. “Para descrever todas as espécies do mundo o número seria parecido. Mas não temos esse tempo”, disse.

Algumas técnicas recentes de taxonomia molecular, como código de barras de DNA, podem ajudar a acelerar o trabalho, pois permitem identificar organismos por meio da análise de seu material genético. Por esse método, cadeias diferentes de DNA diferenciam as espécies, enquanto na taxonomia clássica a classificação é baseada na morfologia dos seres vivos, o que é bem mais trabalhoso.

“Dá para fazer? Sim, mas qual é o custo?”, questionou Lewinsohn. Um artigo publicado recentemente na revista Science apontou que seriam necessários de US$ 500 milhões a US$ 1 bilhão por ano, durante 50 anos, para descrever a maioria das espécies do planeta.

Novamente, o número pode assustar os desavisados, mas, de acordo com Lewinsohn, o montante corresponde ao que se gasta no mundo com armamento em apenas cinco dias. “Somente em 2011 foram gastos US$ 1,7 trilhão com a compra de armas. É preciso colocar as coisas em perspectiva”, defendeu.

Definindo prioridades

Muitas dessas espécies desconhecidas, porém, podem desaparecer do planeta antes mesmo que o homem tenha tempo e dinheiro suficiente para estudá-las. Segundo dados apresentados por Jean Paul Metzger, professor do Instituto de Biociências da Universidade de São Paulo (USP), mais de 50% da superfície terrestre já foi transformada pelo homem.

Essa alteração na paisagem tem muitas consequências e Metzger abordou duas delas na segunda apresentação do dia: a perda de habitat e a fragmentação.

“São conceitos diferentes, que muitas vezes se confundem. Fragmentação é a subdivisão de um habitat e pode não ocorrer quando o processo de degradação ocorre nas bordas da mata. Já a construção de uma estrada, por exemplo, cria fragmentos isolados dentro do habitat”, explicou.

Para Metzger, a fragmentação é a principal ameaça à biodiversidade, pois altera o equilíbrio entre os processos naturais de extinção de espécies e de colonização. Quanto menor e mais isolado é o fragmento, maior é a taxa de extinção e menor é a de colonização.

“Cada espécie tem uma quantidade mínima de habitat que precisa para sobreviver e se reproduzir. Não conhecemos bem esses limiares de extinção”, alertou.

Metzger acredita que esse limiar pode variar de acordo com a configuração da paisagem, ou seja, quanto mais fragmentado estiver o habitat, maior o risco de extinção de espécies. Como exemplo, ele citou as áreas remanescentes de Mata Atlântica do Estado de São Paulo, onde 95% dos fragmentos têm menos de 100 hectares.

“Estima-se que ao perder 90% do habitat, deveríamos perder 50% das espécies endêmicas. Na Mata Atlântica, há cerca de 16% de floresta remanescente. O esperado seria uma extinção em massa, mas nosso registro tem poucos casos. Ou nossa teoria está errada, ou não estamos detectando as extinções, pois as espécies nem sequer eram conhecidas”, afirmou Metzger.

Há, no entanto, um fator complicador: o período de latência entre a mudança na estrutura paisagem e mudança na estrutura da comunidade. Enquanto as espécies com ciclo curto de vida podem desaparecer rapidamente, aquelas com ciclo de vida longo podem responder à perda de habitat em escala centenária.

“Cria-se um débito de extinção e, mesmo que a alteração na paisagem seja interrompida, algumas espécies ficam fadadas a desaparecer com o tempo”, disse Metzger.

Mas a boa notícia é que as paisagens também se regeneram naturalmente e além do débito de extinção existe o crédito de recuperação. O período de latência representa, portanto, uma oportunidade de conservação.

“Hoje, temos evidências de que não adianta restaurar em qualquer lugar. É preciso definir áreas prioritárias para restauração que otimizem a conectividade e facilitem o fluxo biológico entre os fragmentos”, defendeu Metzger.

Colhendo frutos

Ao longo dos 13 anos de existência do BIOTA-FAPESP, a definição de áreas prioritárias de conservação e de recuperação no Estado de São Paulo foi uma das principais preocupações dos pesquisadores.

Os resultados desses estudos foram usados pela Secretaria Estadual do Meio Ambiente para embasar políticas públicas, como lembrou o coordenador do programa e professor do Instituto de Biologia da Unicamp, Carlos Alfredo Joly, na terceira e última apresentação do dia.

“Atualmente, pelo menos 20 instrumentos legais, entre leis, decretos e resoluções, citam nominalmente os resultados do BIOTA-FAPESP”, disse Joly.

Entre 1999 e 2009, disse o coordenador, houve um investimento anual de R$ 8 milhões no programa. Isso ajudou a financiar 94 projetos de pesquisa e resultou em mais de 700 artigos publicados em 181 periódicos, entre eles Nature e Science.

A equipe do programa também publicou 16 livros e dois atlas, descreveu mais de 2 mil novas espécies, produziu e armazenou informações sobre 12 mil espécies, disponibilizou e conectou digitalmente 35 coleções biológicas paulistas.

“Desde que foi renovado o apoio da FAPESP ao programa, em 2009, a questão da educação se tornou prioridade em nosso plano estratégico. O objetivo deste ciclo de conferências é justamente ampliar a comunicação com públicos além do meio científico, especialmente professores e estudantes”, disse Joly.

A segunda etapa do ciclo de palestras está marcada para 21 de março e terá como tema o “Bioma Pampa”. No dia 18 de abril, será a vez do “Bioma Pantanal”. Em 16 de maio, o tema será “Bioma Cerrado”. Em 20 de junho, será abordado o “Bioma Caatinga”.

Em 22 de agosto, será o “Bioma Mata Atlântica”. Em 19 de setembro, é a vez do “Bioma Amazônia”. Em 24 de outubro, o tema será “Ambientes Marinhos e Costeiros”. Finalizando o ciclo, em 21 de novembro, o tema será “Biodiversidade em Ambientes Antrópicos – Urbanos e Rurais”.

Programação do ciclo:

Why Are Environmentalists Taking Anti-Science Positions? (Yale e360)

22 OCT 2012

On issues ranging from genetically modified crops to nuclear power, environmentalists are increasingly refusing to listen to scientific arguments that challenge standard green positions. This approach risks weakening the environmental movement and empowering climate contrarians.

By Fred Pearce

From Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to James Hansen’s modern-day tales of climate apocalypse, environmentalists have long looked to good science and good scientists and embraced their findings. Often we have had to run hard to keep up with the crescendo of warnings coming out of academia about the perils facing the world. A generation ago, biologist Paul Ehrlich’sThe Population Bomb and systems analysts Dennis and Donella Meadows’The Limits to Growth shocked us with their stark visions of where the world was headed. No wide-eyed greenie had predicted the opening of an ozone hole before the pipe-smoking boffins of the British Antarctic Survey spotted it when looking skyward back in 1985. On issues ranging from ocean acidification and tipping points in the Arctic to the dangers of nanotechnology, the scientists have always gotten there first — and the environmentalists have followed.

And yet, recently, the environment movement seems to have been turning up on the wrong side of the scientific argument. We have been making claims that simply do not stand up. We are accused of being anti-science — and not without reason. A few, even close friends, have begun to compare this casual contempt for science with the tactics of climate contrarians.

That should hurt.

Three current issues suggest that the risks of myopic adherence to ideology over rational debate are real: genetically modified (GM) crops, nuclear power, and shale gas development. The conventional green position is that we should be opposed to all three. Yet the voices of those with genuine environmental credentials, but who take a different view, are being drowned out by sometimes abusive and irrational argument.

In each instance, the issue is not so much which side environmentalists should be on, but rather the mind-set behind those positions and the tactics adopted to make the case. The wider political danger is that by taking anti-scientific positions, environmentalists end up helping the anti-environmental sirens of the new right.

The issue is not which side environmentalists should be on, but rather the mind-set behind their positions.

Most major environmental groups — from Friends of the Earth to Greenpeace to the Sierra Club — want a ban or moratorium on GM crops, especially for food. They fear the toxicity of these “Frankenfoods,” are concerned the introduced genes will pollute wild strains of the crops, and worry that GM seeds are a weapon in the takeover of the world’s food supply by agribusiness.

For myself, I am deeply concerned about the power of business over the world’s seeds and food supply. But GM crops are an insignificant part of that control, which is based on money and control of trading networks. Clearly there are issues about gene pollution, though research suggesting there is a problem is still very thin. Let’s do the research, rather than trash the test fields, which has been the default response of groups such as Greenpeace, particularly in my home country of Britain.

As for the Frankenfoods argument, the evidence is just not there. As the British former campaigner against GMs, Mark Lynas, points out: “Hundreds of millions of people have eaten GM-originated food without a single substantiated case of any harm done whatsoever.”

The most recent claim, published in September in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, that GM corn can produced tumors in rats, has been attacked as flawed in execution and conclusion by a wide range of experts with no axe to grind. In any event, the controversial study was primarily about the potential impact of Roundup, a herbicide widely used with GM corn, and not the GM technology itself.

Nonetheless, the reaction of some in the environment community to the reasoned critical responses of scientists to the paper has been to claim a global conspiracy among researchers to hide the terrible truth. One scientist was dismissed on the Web site GM Watch for being “a longtime member of the European Food Safety Authority, i.e. the very body that approved the GM corn in question.” That’s like dismissing the findings of a climate scientist because he sits on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — the “very body” that warned us about climate change. See what I mean about aping the worst and most hysterical tactics of the climate contrarians?

Stewart Brand wrote in his 2009 book Whole Earth Discipline: “I dare say the environmental movement has done more harm with its opposition to genetic engineering than any other thing we’ve been wrong about.” He will see nods of ascent from members of a nascent “green genes” movement — among them environmentalist scientists, such as Pamela Ronald of the University of California at Davis — who say GM crops can advance the cause of sustainable agriculture by improving resilience to changing climate and reducing applications of agrochemicals.

Yet such people are routinely condemned as apologists for an industrial conspiracy to poison the world. Thus, Greenpeace in East Asia claims that children eating nutrient-fortified GM “golden rice” are being used as “guinea pigs.” And its UK Web site’s introduction to its global campaigns says, “The introduction of genetically modified food and crops has been a disaster, posing a serious threat to biodiversity and our own health.” Where, ask their critics, is the evidence for such claims?

The problem is the same in the energy debate. Many environmentalists who argue, as I do, that climate change is probably the big overarching issue facing humanity in the 21st century, nonetheless often refuse to recognize that nuclear power could have a role in saving us from the worst.

For environmentalists to fan the flames of fear of nuclear power seems reckless and anti-scientific.

Nuclear power is the only large-scale source of low-carbon electricity that is fully developed and ready for major expansion.

Yes, we need to expand renewables as fast as we can. Yes, we need to reduce further the already small risks of nuclear accidents and of leakage of fissile material into weapons manufacturing. But as George Monbiot, Britain’s most prominent environment columnist, puts it: “To abandon our primary current source of low carbon energy during a climate change emergency is madness.”

Monbiot attacks the gratuitous misrepresentation of the risks of radiation from nuclear plants. It is widely suggested, on the basis of a thoroughly discredited piece of Russian head-counting, that up to a million people were killed by the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. In fact, it is far from clear that many people at all — beyond the 28 workers who received fatal doses while trying to douse the flames at the stricken reactor — actually died from Chernobyl radiation. Certainly, the death toll was nothing remotely on the scale claimed.

“We have a moral duty,” Monbiot says, “not to spread unnecessary and unfounded fears. If we persuade people that they or their children are likely to suffer from horrible and dangerous health problems, and if these fears are baseless, we cause great distress and anxiety, needlessly damaging the quality of people’s lives.”

Many people have a visceral fear of nuclear power and its invisible radiation. But for environmentalists to fan the flames — especially when it gets in the way of fighting a far more real threat, from climate change — seems reckless, anti-scientific and deeply damaging to the world’s climate future.

One sure result of Germany deciding to abandon nuclear power in the wake of last year’s Fukushima nuclear accident (calamitous, but any death toll will be tiny compared to that from the tsunami that caused it) will be rising carbon emissions from a revived coal industry. By one estimate, the end of nuclear power in Germany will result in an extra 300 million tons of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere between now and 2020 — more than the annual emissions of Italy and Spain combined.

Last, let’s look at the latest source of green angst: shale gas and the drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, used to extract it. There are probably good reasons for not developing shale gas in many places. Its extraction can pollute water and cause minor earth tremors, for instance. But at root this is an argument about carbon — a genuinely double-edged issue that needs debating. For there is a good environmental case to be made that shale gas, like nuclear energy, can be part of the solution to climate change. That case should be heard and not shouted down.

Opponents of shale gas rightly say it is a carbon-based fossil fuel. But it is a much less dangerous fossil fuel than coal. Carbon emissions from burning natural gas are roughly half those from burning coal. A switch from coal to shale gas is the main reason why, in 2011, U.S. CO2 emissions fell by almost 2 percent.

Many environmentalists are imbued with a sense of their own exceptionalism and original virtue.

We cannot ignore that. With coal’s share of the world’s energy supply rising from 25 to 30 percent in the past half decade, a good argument can be made that a dash to exploit cheap shale gas and undercut this surge in coal would do more to cut carbon emissions than almost anything else. The noted environmental economist Dieter Helm of the University of Oxford argues just this in a new book, The Carbon Crunch, out this month.

But this is an unpopular argument. Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, was pilloried by activists for making the case that gas could be a “bridge fuel” to a low-carbon future. And when he stepped down, his successor condemned him for taking cash from the gas industry to fund the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. Pope was probably wrong to take donations of that type, though some environment groups do such things all the time. But his real crime to those in the green movement seems to have been to side with the gas lobby at all.

Many environmentalists are imbued with a sense of their own exceptionalism and original virtue. But we have been dangerously wrong before. When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged.

And more recently, remember the confusion over biofuels? They were a new green energy source we could all support. I remember, when the biofuels craze began about 2005, I reported on a few voices urging caution. They warned that the huge land take of crops like corn and sugar cane for biofuels might threaten food supplies; that the crops would add to the destruction of rainforests; and that the carbon gains were often small to non-existent. But Friends of the Earth and others trashed them as traitors to the cause of green energy.
Well, today most greens are against most biofuels. Not least Friends of the Earth, which calls them a “big green con.” In fact, we may have swung too far in the other direction, undermining research into second-generation biofuels that could be both land- and carbon-efficient.

We don’t have to be slaves to science. There is plenty of room for raising questions about ethics and priorities that challenge the world view of the average lab grunt. And we should blow the whistle on bad science. But to indulge in hysterical attacks on any new technology that does not excite our prejudices, or to accuse genuine researchers of being part of a global conspiracy, is dishonest and self-defeating.

We environmentalists should learn to be more humble about our policy prescriptions, more willing to hear competing arguments, and less keen to engage in hectoring and bullying.

Natural Step: the Science of Sustainability (Yes Magazine)

Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert had an epiphany about the conditions required to sustain life – this epiphany catalyzed a consensus among Sweden’s top sceintists about the scientific foundations for sustainablity

by Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert

posted Aug 30, 1998

What do cells need to sustain life? How can human systems of production be a sustainable part of consensus among Sweden’s top scientists about the scientific foundations for sustainability

Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, a Swedish cancer doctor and medical researcher, founded The Natural Step to inject some science into the environmental debate – and provide a solid foundation for action. He spoke to YES! executive editor Sarah van Gelder during his recent trip to the US.

SARAHHow did you go from being a doctor to taking on this large question of sustainability? 

KARL: My career centered on my work as a medical doctor heading a cancer ward in a university hospital, the largest one outside of Stockholm. I was concerned with the environment as a private human being, but I didn’t know what I could do except to pay my dues to Greenpeace and other NGOs.

My epiphany came one day when I was studying cells from cancer patients. It hit me that cells are the unifying unit of all living things. The difference between our cells and the cells of plants are so minor that it’s almost embarrassing; the makeup is almost identical all the way down to the molecular level.

You can’t argue with them or negotiate with them. You can’t ask them to do anything they can’t do. And their complexity is just mind blowing!

Since politicians and business people also are constituted of cells, I had a feeling that a broad understanding of these cells might help us reach a consensus on the basic requirements for the continuation of life.

Most people are not aware that it took living cells about 3.5 billion years to transform the virgin soup of the atmosphere – which was a toxic, chaotic mixture of sulfurous compounds, methane, carbon dioxide, and other substances – into the conditions that could support complex life.

In just the last decades humans have reversed this trend. First we found concentrated energy like fossil fuels and nuclear power. As a result, we can create such a high throughput of resources that natural processes no longer have the time to process the waste and build new resources.

Dispersed junk is increasing in the system as we lose soils, forests, and species. So we have reversed evolution. The Earth is running back towards the chaotic state it came from at a tremendous speed.

On an intuitive level, everyone knows that the natural environment is also the habitat for our economy, and if it goes down the drain, so does the economy.

Despite that, the green movement attacks business, and business reacts defensively. So much of the debate focuses on the details – so much is like monkeys chattering among the leaves of the tree while the trunk and roots die.

I thought we could go beyond that stalemate if we could begin to build a consensus based on much more solid, comprehensive thinking.

SARAHWhat did you do with this insight? What was your plan for getting beyond the stalemate in the environmental debate? 

KARL: I had a daydream that I could write a consensus statement with other scientists about the conditions that are essential to life. Instead of asking them what environmental issues they disagreed on, I could ask them where there was agreement and use that as a basis for a consensus that would serve as a platform for sounder decision-making in society.

In August 1988, when I wrote the first effort to frame a consensus, I believed that my colleagues would agree wholeheartedly with what I had written, it was so well thought through. Actually, it took 21 iterations to reach a consensus among this group of 50 ecologists, chemists, physicists, and medical doctors.

I was able to raise funds to mail this consensus statement as a booklet with an audio cassette to all 4.3 million households in Sweden. This statement describes how badly we are performing with respect to the natural systems around us and how dangerous the situation is. It makes the point that debating about policy is not bad in itself – but it is bad when the debate is based on misunderstandings and poor knowledge. It doesn’t matter if you are on the left or the right – the consensus platform takes us beyond arguments about what is and is not true. That was the start of The Natural Step.

SARAHKarl, could you explain briefly the Natural Step system conditions? 

KARL: The four system conditions describe the principles that make a society sustainable. The first two system conditions have to do with avoiding concentrations of pollutants from synthetic substances and from substances mined or pumped from the Earth’s crust to ensure that they aren’t systematically increasing in nature.

The third condition says we must avoid overharvesting and displacing natural systems.

Finally, system condition number four says we must be efficient when it comes to satisfying human needs by maximizing the benefit from the resources used.

Today, society is well outside the framework set by these conditions, and as a result, we are running towards increasing economic problems as we run out of fresh and non-polluted resources.

SARAHSo if we follow these conditions we can avoid the reverse evolution you mentioned earlier – we can quit dispersing persistent substances into the biosphere and make it possible for nature to continue to provide us with the basic resources we need to live – soil, air, a stable climate, water, and so on. In other words, these conditions will help us judge whether our actions are sustainable. Is this an approach that businesses and government officials find compelling?

KARL: I think most people in business understand that we are running into a funnel of declining resources globally.

We will soon be 10 billion people on Earth – at the same time as we are running out of forests, crop land, and fisheries. We need more and more resource input for the same crop or timber yield. At the same time, pollution is increasing systematically and we have induced climate change. All that together creates a resource funnel.

By decreasing your dependence on activities that violate the system conditions, you move towards the opening of the resource funnel. You can do this through step by step reducing your dependence on:

• heavy metals and fossil fuels that dissipate into the environment (condition #1)

• persistent unnatural compounds like bromine-organic antiflammables or persistent pesticides (condition #2)

• wood and food from ecologically maltreated land and materials that require long-distance transportation (condition #3)

• wasting resources (system #4).

Any organization that directs its investments towards the opening of the funnel through complying with these system conditions will do better in business than their ignorant competitors. This is due to inevitable changes at the wall of the funnel in the form of increased costs for resources, waste management, insurance, loans, international business agreements, taxes, and public fear. In addition, there is the question of competition from those who direct their investments more skillfully towards the opening of the funnel – thus avoiding those costs – and sooner or later getting rewarded by their customers.

Once we have understood the funnel, the rest is a matter of timing. And time is now running out. Many corporations have already run into the wall of the funnel as a result of violating the system conditions. And today many companies are getting relatively stronger in comparison with others as a result of previous investments in line with the system conditions. Of course there are a large number of companies who still benefit in the short term from violating the principles of the common good, but in the long run, they have no future.

So if you ask business people, “Do you think that this could possibly influence tomorrow’s market?” they get embarrassed, because they all understand it will. The issue is to foresee the nature of that influence, because if you do, you will prosper from it

SARAHI want to ask you about the fourth condition because it seems as though that’s the one that has been most controversial. Perhaps that is because it is based on human systems more than natural systems.

KARL: The fourth principle is about the internal resource flows in a society, but it is still a logical first-order principle that follows as a conclusion from the first three. The reason people regard the fourth principle as a separate value is the word “fairness,” which is part of the fourth principle.

Most people understand that the first three principles set a frame for societal behavior. If matter from the Earth’s crust is no longer going to systematically increase in concentration, nor man-made compounds, and if we are going to live from the interest of what nature gives us – not use up nature’s capital – the first-order conclusion is that we must be much more efficient about how we meet our needs.

Fairness is an efficiency parameter if we look at the whole global civilization. It is not an efficient way of meeting human needs if one billion people starve while another billion have excess. It would be more efficient to distribute resources so that at least vital needs were met everywhere. Otherwise, for example, if kids are starving somewhere, dad goes out to slash and burn the rain forest to feed them – and so would I if my kids were dying. And this kind of destruction is everyone’s problem, because we live in the same

SARAHI realize you reached consensus among the scientists and the foundations for sustainability, but has your approach been controversial in the larger society?

KARL: No. The business community found it refreshing to be involved in a dialogue that did not involve someone pointing fingers at them and telling them what they should do.

This dialogue was the opposite of that; it involved a group of scientists describing the situation with regards to the environment and then asking for advice about how to remove the obstacles to sustainability. The business community, municipalities, and farmers actually enjoyed being part of it.

SARAHWhy do companies choose to adopt The Natural Step? Is it that they understand the science and want to contribute to a more sustainable world? Or do they see TNS primarily as a winning business strategy? 

KARL: It is a mixture of both, and it is hard to evaluate which is most important. My feeling is that top people in business have a tough image that they display in board rooms. Privately, after the board meeting, they would much rather do well by doing good, than doing well by contributing to the destruction of our habitat. Because of the rational economic and strategic thinking of the system conditions, they can endorse TNS principles without losing face in front of their tough peers. But as time goes on, the “soft” values become more and more important.

SARAHIn the research I’ve done on Green Plans in the Netherlands, I found that Dutch businesses were concerned that they would be less competitive if they were holding to higher environmental standards than businesses from other countries. How have you dealt with the issue of competitiveness in The Natural Step?

KARL: If you look at the countries where business is very successful, it is not the countries where the standards are low – it is the countries where they have set high goals for what they want to achieve. In the long run, you get competitiveness from increasing standards.

SARAHCan you give me some examples of some things in Sweden that have been done differently out of this understanding?

KARL: The Natural Step introduces a shared mental model that is intellectually strict, but still simple to understand. These are the rules of sustainability; you can plug them into decision-making about any product.

The first thing that happens is that this stimulates creativity, because people enter a much smarter dialogue if they have a shared framework for their goals. We have written books of case studies about how people together found smart and flexible solutions to problems that seemed impossible to solve, including new products, logistics, suppliers, energy sources, and fuels.

A strict shared mental model can really get people working together.

SARAHYou mentioned that this approach requires thinking beyond the short term, and yet especially in the United States, so many CEOs are rewarded based on this quarter’s profits, not on how well they are positioning the company for the next five or ten years. How can companies in that kind of an environment take on this kind of a challenge? 

KARL: If you are audited at quarterly intervals and you can be sued for failing to earn the last buck possible, it is more difficult. But you can still develop a future scenario for your company in which it meets principles that make it ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable – because it is not economically sustainable to rely on behaviors that have no future.

Once you’ve developed that scenario, you look back from this imagined future and ask yourself how those sustainability principles might have been met and what you might do today to get there.

The strategy for business is to select as the first steps toward sustainability those that fulfill two criteria: they must be flexible to build on in the future, and they must provide a return on investments relatively soon; like, for instance, an attractive car that can run on renewable energy as well as gasoline.

SARAHWhat do you see as the trends for the coming years, in terms of a switch to more sustainable practices? 

KARL: A deepening intellectual understanding is a good starting point for change of values. Today, it is considered “rational” to think about economic growth only, whereas a focus on the true underlying reason for people living together in societies is considered non-rational. The TNS approach demonstrates that their present paradigm is, in fact, irrational and that we need new economic tools.

My belief is that free will of individuals and firms will not be sufficient to make sustainable practices widespread – legislation is a crucial part of the walls of the funnel, particularly if we want to make the transition in time.

But this is a dynamic process. The more examples we get of businesses entering the transition out of free will, the easier it will be for proactive politicians. In a democracy, there must be a “market” for proactive decisions in politics, and that market can be created by proactive businesses in dialogue with proactive customers. For example, in Sweden, some of these proactive business leaders are lobbying for green taxes. In that triangle of dialogue: business-market-politicians, a new culture may evolve, with an endorsement of the values we share but have forgotten how to pay attention to.

So, the flow goes: intellectual understanding, some practice and experience, deeper understanding with some change in attitude, preparedness for even more radical change, some more experience, even deeper understanding, and, eventually, an endorsement of the value systems that are inherent in the human constitution.

SARAHWhat worries you the most about the future? You mentioned when you were in Seattle that you anticipate some very difficult times for the world in the years ahead – perhaps even a collapse. Could you
explain what you meant and what you think might cause such a collapse? 

KARL: What worries me the most is the systematic social battering of people all around the world, leading to more and more desperate people who don’t feel any partnership with society because of alienation, poverty, dissolving cultural structures, more and more “molecular” violence (unorganized and self-destructive violence that pops up everywhere without any meaning at all).

The response of the establishment is too superficial, with more and more imprisonment and money spent on defense against those feared, leading to a vicious cycle.

If this goes on long enough, a constructive and new sustainable paradigm in the heads of governments and business leaders will not necessarily help us in time. We will have more and more people who are so hungry to meet their vital human needs that it will be hard to reach them.

SARAHWhat keeps you energized in the face of these enormous challenges? What are your sources of hope? 

KARL: My vision is that we develop a mainstream understanding that nobody wins from destroying our habitat, and that people will see that you do better in business if you work as though society will become sustainable and as though different cultures will survive, because cultural diversity is also essential.

To maintain hope, we cannot only focus on the dark things that are going on. Once in a while if you get a “bird’s eye” perspective, you see all sorts of good examples, and they comfort you. You see more and more people who understand and who are making concrete contributions to the transition to this new understanding.


As rotas das suçuaranas (Fapesp)

Felinos conseguem se movimentar em zonas de ocupação humana, mas encontram obstáculos nas estradas

MARIA GUIMARÃES | Edição 199 – Setembro de 2012

A onça-parda (Puma concolor), um dos maiores predadores das Américas, ainda é pouco conhecida pela ciência brasileira. © EDUARDO CESAR (FOTO FEITA NA FUNDAÇÃO ZOOLÓGICO DE SÃO PAULO)

Análises genéticas estão revelando um pouco da história e da ecologia da suçuarana, ou onça-parda (Puma concolor), um dos maiores felinos do Brasil, atrás apenas da onça-pintada. Esses discretos animais são altamente adaptáveis e vivem mesmo em zonas com pouca floresta. Mas enfrentam problemas com a caça e nas estradas, conforme vem mostrando o trabalho paralelo de duas pesquisadoras que nunca se encontraram pessoalmente: Camila Castilho, atualmente na Universidade de São Paulo (USP), e Renata Miotto, agora na Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (Esalq), também da USP, em Piracicaba.

As duas estudaram aspectos genéticos de populações locais de suçuaranas, chegando em grande parte a resultados semelhantes, conforme mostram o artigo de Renata naConservation Genetics em 2011, e de Camila publicado este ano na Genetics and Molecular Biology. O primeiro aspecto importante é que há pouca diferenciação genética nas áreas estudadas, sinal de uma população não fragmentada. Isso indica que esses animais conseguem percorrer grandes distâncias e manter o fluxo de material genético, apesar de não haver continuidade de floresta. É bem diferente do que acontece com a onça-pintada, que se aventura pouco fora das áreas de mata e acaba ficando isolada em fragmentos e gerando populações diferenciadas, conforme já mostraram outros estudos.

Na prática, a onça-parda forma populações contínuas ao longo de áreas extensas. No caso de Camila, que desenvolveu o trabalho durante o doutorado pela Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), a área englobava boa parte de Santa Catarina, uma parte do sul do Paraná e algumas amostras no extremo norte do Rio Grande do Sul, um total de mais de 140 mil quilômetros quadrados (km2). O estudo de Renata, à época doutoranda na Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar), era mais circunscrito, mas nada diminuto: cerca de 1.700 km2 do interior paulista que incluem 15 municípios, entre eles Ribeirão Preto, Rio Claro e São Carlos.

O outro achado semelhante entre os dois estudos mostra que recentemente, em algum ponto do último século, houve uma drástica redução nos números das suçuaranas, que os geneticistas de populações chamam de gargalo populacional. Ao passar por um desses gargalos, a população perde parte da sua diversidade genética, o que em certos casos pode gerar problemas. “A perda de genes é aleatória e é possível que nada importante se vá”, explica Camila, “mas é maior a probabilidade de acontecer um azar”. Um azar seria o animal não poder contar com algum gene essencial para enfrentar a alterações no ambiente. Uma coisa é certa quando se detecta um gargalo: aconteceu algum desequilíbrio na população, seja uma redução importante em tamanho ou, mais raramente, uma alteração drástica na proporção entre machos e fêmeas.


É aí que começam as diferenças entre os dois estudos. O interior de São Paulo, onde Renata trabalha, está recoberto de cana-de-açúcar. “A maior parte foi plantada nos anos 1960 e 1970, em razão do Proálcool [Programa Nacional do Álcool]”, diz a pesquisadora. “Os dados genéticos indicam que o gargalo pode ter acontecido nessa época.” Nesse caso, muitas suçuaranas teriam morrido nesse período de intenso desmatamento, e depois aos poucos a população teria voltado a aumentar, à medida que suas presas se adaptaram a viver nos canaviais. “A dieta das onças na região consiste principalmente em tatus, cervos, capivaras e outros roedores”, conta. São animais que aparentemente vêm se adaptando bem à agricultura, alguns deles consumidores de cana-de-açúcar. Com alimento abundante, as suçuaranas podem facilmente viver na região, sem representar problemas para os donos das plantações.

O grande problema que esses animais enfrentam hoje são as estradas movimentadas, praticamente intransponíveis para pedestres – sejam eles humanos ou felinos –, que cortam o estado. Isso pode bloquear as rotas das suçuaranas e, com o tempo, reduzir a variabilidade genética.

Além de limitar o trânsito das suçuaranas, atropelamentos são uma causa importante de mortalidade. “Os machos jovens, que se dispersam para longe da área onde nasceram, são as principais vítimas”, diz Renata. Entre os 23 animais atropelados de sua amostragem, 16 são machos. A suçuarana Anhanguera, apelidada em 2009 com o nome da estrada em que foi atropelada, no interior paulista, era justamente um macho jovem. “Essa mortalidade diferencial pode alterar a razão sexual, o que pode ser detectado como um gargalo.” Isso acontece porque são eles os emissários do material genético, já que se mudam para uma zona distante onde afinal se estabelecem e acasalam.

As fêmeas permanecem mais próximas ao local onde nasceram, conforme Renata mostrou em cinco anos de monitoramento na Estação Ecológica de Jataí, no município de Luis Antônio, perto de Ribeirão Preto. Ao longo desse período ela percorreu trilhas e coletou fezes frescas, de onde extraiu material genético. Os dados, publicados este ano na Biotropica, mostram que todas as onças residentes são fêmeas.



Na Região Sul, Camila deparou com uma relação mais conflituosa entre os seres humanos e o leão-baio, como o felino é conhecido em terras catarinenses. Ali se criam vários tipos de gado – vacas, cabras, ovelhas – de forma extensiva, com os animais sempre soltos no pasto. Além das pacas, cutias e veados, os animais domésticos acabam virando boas refeições para as suçuaranas, que em seguida precisam enfrentar o fazendeiro armado. “Embora a caça seja ilegal, sabemos que acontece muito nessa região”, conta Camila, que aos poucos venceu as resistências e conseguiu que os donos das fazendas lhe cedessem amostras dos leões-baios caçados, para extração de material genético. A zona de estudo da pesquisadora se concentrou no sul de Santa Catarina, onde as fazendas se estendem por campos de altitude com resquícios de floresta – os capões – em meio ao pasto. É nesses capões, e nas matas ao longo de rios, que as suçuaranas se refugiam e onde por vezes encontram uma cabra ou bezerro também em busca de abrigo.

Assim como em São Paulo, os dados de Camila mostram que o gargalo populacional aconteceu no último século, coincidindo com a ampla derrubada da floresta de araucárias que caracterizava a região. Atualmente, a caça parece ser responsável pela maior parte da mortalidade por ali, e não a falta de hábitat. “Conectividade não parece ser um problema”, comenta Camila. Por meio de modelos ecológicos que analisam a paisagem ela sugere, em artigo de 2011 na Mammalian Biology, que não há impedimento para que esses animais se locomovam por toda a sua área de estudo, que abrange boa parte da Região Sul. Um dado genético que corrobora essa ideia é o baixo parentesco entre os indivíduos que conseguiu analisar. “Apenas 6,6% dos indivíduos que analisamos eram aparentados”, conta. Para ela, é preciso conscientizar os fazendeiros da importância ecológica dos grandes predadores e buscar soluções, como a construção de currais onde o gado possa passar a noite.

Mesmo nunca tendo conversado, as duas pesquisadoras continuam a seguir caminhos paralelos. Ambas, atualmente no pós-doutorado, deixaram a genética de lado para se concentrar na análise da paisagem. “São abordagens complementares”, explica Camila. Diante das informações fornecidas pela distribuição da variação genética, surgiram novas perguntas que as levaram a buscar entender o ambiente por onde as onças-pardas circulam em busca de detectar os problemas que elas enfrentam e propor soluções para manter populações viáveis desse grande felino encontrado em quase toda a América, exceto em boa parte da Argentina e na metade leste da América do Norte.

Agora ambas trabalham em São Paulo: Renata está construindo um banco de dados sobre a cobertura vegetal e a ocupação da mesma região que examinou até o momento, incluindo um mapeamento detalhado da malha viária e do fluxo de veículos, que em conjunto com os dados genéticos formarão um modelo de dispersão. Ao mesmo tempo compila dados de atropelamentos e, com ajuda da Polícia Florestal, aumenta sua coleção de amostras genéticas. “A partir desses modelos, quero avaliar as rotas preferenciais no deslocamento das onças para definir o que se pode fazer em termos de manejo da paisagem”, explica. Camila concentra seu projeto no mosaico das serras da Bocaina e da Mantiqueira, no nordeste paulista, que inclui a região de São José dos Campos. Nessa região, avaliará o hábitat disponível e as possibilidades de locomoção das suçuaranas. “Vou criar valores de permeabilidade para detectar as áreas prioritárias em termos de conservação.”

Em conjunto, os dois projetos podem contribuir para reduzir o desequilíbrio que existe entre a América do Norte e a do Sul no que diz respeito ao conhecimento a respeito desse imponente predador. Talvez também cheguem a propostas de práticas pecuárias que melhorem a convivência entre fazendeiros e predadores, e a passarelas ou túneis para travessia de suçuaranas.

Artigos científicos
CASTILHO, C. S. et alGenetic structure and conservation of Mountain Lions in the South-Brazilian Atlantic Rain ForestGenetics and Molecular Biology. v. 35 (1), p. 65-73. 2012.
CASTILHO, C. S. et alLandscape genetics of mountain lions (Puma concolor) in southern BrazilMammalian Biology. v. 76 (4), p. 476-83. 2011.
MIOTTO, R. A. et alMonitoring a puma (Puma concolor) population in a fragmented landscape in Southeast BrazilBiotropica. v. 44 (1), p. 98-104. 2012.
MIOTTO, R. A. et alGenetic diversity and population structure of pumas (Puma concolor) in southeastern Brazil: implications for conservation in a human-dominated landscapeConservation Genecits. v. 12 (6), p. 1.447-55. 2011.

How “sustainability” became “sustained growth” (The Guardian)

The Rio Declaration rips up the basic principles of environmental action.


By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website

June 22, 2012. In 1992 world leaders signed up to something called “sustainability”. Few of them were clear about what it meant; I suspect that many of them had no idea. Perhaps as a result, it did not take long for this concept to mutate into something subtly different: “sustainable development”. Then it made a short jump to another term: “sustainable growth”. And now, in the 2012 Earth Summit text that world leaders are about to adopt, it has subtly mutated once more: into “sustained growth”.

This term crops up 16 times in the document, where it is used interchangeably with sustainability and sustainable development. But if sustainability means anything, it is surely the opposite of sustained growth. Sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of unsustainability.

As Robert Skidelsky, who comes at this issue from a different angle, observes in the Guardian today:

“Aristotle knew of insatiability only as a personal vice; he had no inkling of the collective, politically orchestrated insatiability that we call economic growth. The civilization of “always more” would have struck him as moral and political madness. And, beyond a certain point, it is also economic madness. This is not just or mainly because we will soon enough run up against the natural limits to growth. It is because we cannot go on for much longer economising on labour faster than we can find new uses for it.”

Several of the more outrageous deletions proposed by the United States – such as any mention of rights or equity or of common but differentiated responsibilities – have been rebuffed. In other respects the Obama government’s purge has succeeded, striking out such concepts as “unsustainable consumption and production patterns” and the proposed decoupling of economic growth from the use of natural resources.

At least the states due to sign this document haven’t ripped up the declarations from the last Earth Summit, 20 years ago. But in terms of progress since then, that’s as far as it goes. Reaffirming the Rio 1992 commitments is perhaps the most radical principle in the entire declaration.

As a result, the draft document, which seems set to become the final document, takes us precisely nowhere. 190 governments have spent 20 years bracing themselves to “acknowledge”, “recognise” and express “deep concern” about the world’s environmental crises, but not to do anything about them.

This paragraph from the declaration sums up the problem for me:

“We recognize that the planet Earth and its ecosystems are our home and that Mother Earth is a common expression in a number of countries and regions and we note that some countries recognize the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development. We are convinced that in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environment needs of present and future generations, it is necessary to promote harmony with nature.”

It sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It could be illustrated with rainbows and psychedelic unicorns and stuck on the door of your toilet. But without any proposed means of implementation, it might just as well be deployed for a different function in the same room.

The declaration is remarkable for its absence of figures, dates and targets. It is as stuffed with meaningless platitudes as an advertisement for payday loans, but without the necessary menace. There is nothing to work with here, no programme, no sense of urgency or call for concrete action beyond the inadequate measures already agreed in previous flaccid declarations. Its tone and contents would be better suited to a retirement homily than a response to a complex of escalating global crises.

The draft and probably final declaration is 283 paragraphs of fluff. It suggests that the 190 governments due to approve it have, in effect, given up on multilateralism, given up on the world and given up on us. So what do we do now? That is the topic I intend to address in my column next week.




SOBRE RIO+20 Y LA MADRE TIERRA” 13 -22 Junio 2012

Nosotros, los Pueblos Indígenas de la Madre Tierra reunidos en la sede de Kari-Oca I Sacred Kari-Oka Púku en Rio de Janeiro para participar en la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre Desarrollo Sostenible Rio+20, agradecemos a los Pueblos Indígenas de Brasil por darnos la bienvenida a sus territorios. Reafirmamos nuestra responsabilidad para hablar para la protección y del bienestar de la Madre Tierra, la naturaleza y las futuras generaciones de nuestros Pueblos Indígenas y toda la humanidad y la vida. Reconocemos el significado de esta segunda convocatoria de los Pueblos Indígenas del mundo y reafirmamos la reunión histórica de 1992 de Kari-Oca I, donde los Pueblos Indígenas emitieron la Declaración de Kari-Oca y la Carta de la Tierra de los Pueblos Indígenas. La conferencia de Kari-Oca y la movilización de los Pueblos Indígenas durante la Cumbre de la Tierra, marcó un gran avance del movimiento internacional para los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas y el papel importante que desempeñamos en la conservación y el desarrollo sostenible. Reafirmamos también la Declaración de Manaos sobre la convocatoria de Kari-Oca 2 como el encuentro internacional de los Pueblos Indígenas en Río+20.

La institucionalización del colonialismo

Consideramos que los objetivos de la Cumbre de las Naciones Unidas sobre Desarrollo Sostenible (UNCSD) Río+20, la “Economía Verde” y su premisa de que el mundo sólo puede “salvar” a la naturaleza por mercantilizar sus capacidades de dar vida y sostener la vida como una continuación del colonialismo que los Pueblos Indígenas y nuestra Madre Tierra han resistido durante 520 años. La “Economía Verde” se promete erradicar la pobreza, pero en realidad sólo va a favorecer y responder a las empresas multinacionales y el capitalismo. Se trata de una continuación de una economía global basada en los combustibles fósiles, la destrucción del medio ambiente mediante la explotación de la naturaleza a través de las industrias extractivas, tales como la minería, la explotación y producción petrolera, la agricultura intensiva de mono-cultivos y otras inversiones capitalistas. Todos estos esfuerzos están dirigidos hacia las ganancias y la acumulación de capital por unos pocos.

Desde Rio 1992, nosotros como Pueblos Indígenas vemos que el colonialismo se ha convertido en la base de la globalización del comercio y la hegemónica economía capitalista mundial. Se han intensificado la explotación y el saqueo de los ecosistemas y biodiversidad del mundo, así como la violación los derechos inherentes de los pueblos indígenas. Nuestro derecho a la libre determinación, a nuestra propia gobernanza y a nuestro desarrollo libremente determinado, nuestros derechos inherentes a nuestras tierras, territorios y recursos están cada vez más atacados por una colaboración de gobiernos y empresas transnacionales. Activistas y líderes indígenas que defienden sus territorios siguen sufriendo represión, militarización, incluyendo asesinatos, encarcelamientos, hostigamiento y calificación como “terroristas”. La violación de nuestros derechos colectivos enfrenta la misma impunidad. La reubicación forzosa o asimilación amenaza nuestras futuras generaciones, culturas, idiomas, espiritualidad y relación con la Madre Tierra, económica y políticamente.

Nosotros, pueblos indígenas de todas las regiones del mundo, hemos defendido a Nuestra Madre Tierra de las agresiones del desarrollo no sustentable y la sobreexplotación de nuestros recursos por minería, maderería, megarepresas hidroeléctricas, exploración y extracción petrolera. Nuestros bosques sufren por la producción de agrocombustibles, biomasa, plantaciones y otras imposiciones como las falsas soluciones al cambio climático y el desarrollo no sustentable y dañino.

La Economía Verde es nada menos que capitalismo de la naturaleza; un esfuerzo perverso de las grandes empresas, las industrias extractivas y los gobiernos para convertir en dinero toda la Creación mediante la privatización, mercantilización y venta de lo Sagrado y todas las formas de vida, así como el cielo, incluyendo el aire que respiramos, el agua que bebemos y todos los genes, plantas, semillas criollas, árboles, animales, peces, diversidad biológica y cultural, ecosistemas y conocimientos tradicionales que hacen posible y disfrutable la vida sobre la tierra.

Violaciónes graves de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas a la soberanía alimentaria continúan sin cesar lo que da lugar a la “inseguridad” alimentaria. Nuestra propia producción de alimentos, las plantas que nos reunimos, los animales que cazamos, nuestros campos y las cosechas, el agua que bebemos y el agua a nuestros campos, los peces que pescamos de nuestros ríos y arroyos, está disminuyendo a un ritmo alarmante. Proyectos de desarrollo no sostenibles, tales como mono-culturales plantaciones de soja químicamente intensiva, las industrias extractivas como la minería y otros proyectos destructivos del medioambiente y las inversiones con fines de lucro están destruyendo nuestra biodiversidad, envenenando nuestra agua, nuestros ríos, arroyos, y la tierra y su capacidad para mantener la vida. Esto se agrava aún más por el cambio climático y las represas hidroeléctricas y otras formas de producción de energía que afectan a todo el ecosistema y su capacidad para proveer la vida. La soberanía alimentaria es una expresión fundamental de nuestro derecho colectivo a la libre determinación y desarrollo sustentable. La soberanía alimentaria y el derecho a la alimentación deben ser reconocido y respetados: alimentación no debe ser mercancía que se utiliza, comercializada o especula con fines de lucro. Nutre nuestras identidades, nuestras culturas e idiomas, y nuestra capacidad para sobrevivir como pueblos indígenas.

La Madre Tierra es la fuente de la vida que se requiere proteger, no como un recurso para ser explotado y mercantilizado como “capital natural”. Tenemos nuestro lugar y nuestras responsabilidades dentro del orden sagrado de la Creación. Sentimos la alegría sustentadora cuando las cosas ocurren en armonía con la Tierra y con toda la vida que crea y sostiene. Sentimos el dolor de la falta de armonía cuando somos testigos de la deshonra del orden natural de la Creación y la colonización económica y continua y la degradación de la Madre Tierra y toda la vida en ella. Hasta que los derechos de los pueblos indígenas sean observados, velados y respetados, el desarrollo sustentable y la erradicación de la pobreza no se lograrán.

La Solución

La relación inseparable entre los seres humanos y la Tierra, inherente para los pueblos indígenas debe ser respetada por el bien de las generaciones futuras y toda la humanidad. Instamos a toda la humanidad a unirse con nosotros para transformar las estructuras sociales, las instituciones y relaciones de poder que son la base de nuestra pobreza, opresión y explotación. La globalización imperialista explota todo lo que sostiene la vida y daña la tierra. Necesitamos reorientar totalmente la producción y el consumo en base de las necesidades humanas en lugar de la acumulación desenfrenada de ganancia de para unos pocos. La sociedad debe tomar control colectivo de los recursos productivos para satisfacer las necesidades de desarrollo social sostenible y evitar la sobreproducción, el sobreconsumo y la sobreexplotación de las personas y la naturaleza que son inevitables bajo prevaleciente sistema capitalista monopólico. Debemos enfocar sobre comunidades sostenibles con base en conocimientos indígena sy no desarrollo capitalista.

Exigimos que las Naciones Unidas, los gobiernos y las empresas abandonen las falsas soluciones al cambio climático, tales como las grandes represas hidroeléctricas, los organismos genéticamente modificados, incluyendo los árboles transgénicos, las plantaciones, los agrocombustibles, el “carbón limpio”, la energía nuclear, el gas natural, el fracturamiento hidráulico, la nanotecnología, la biología sintética, la bioenergía, la biomasa, el biochar, la geo-ingeniería, los mercados de carbono, el Mecanismo de Desarrollo Limpio y REDD+ que ponen en peligro el futuro y la vida tal como la conocemos. En lugar de ayudar a reducir el calentamiento global, ellos envenenan y destruyen el medio ambiente y dejan que la crisis climática aumente exponencialmente, lo que puede dejar el planeta prácticamente inhabitable. No podemos permitir que las falsas soluciones destruyan el equilibrio de la Tierra, asesinen a las estaciones, desencadenen el caos del mal tiempo, privaticen la vida y amenacen la supervivencia de la humanidad. La Economía Verde es un crimen de lesa humanidad y contra la Tierra.

Para lograr el desarrollo sostenible los Estados deben reconocer los sistemas tradicionales de manejo de recursos de los pueblos indígenas que han existido por milenios, sosteniéndonos aún durante el colonialismo. Es fundamental asegurar la participación activa de los pueblos indígenas en los procesos de toma de decisiones que les afectan y su derecho al consentimiento libre, previo e informado. Los Estados también deben proporcionar apoyo a los pueblos indígenas que sea apropiada a su sustentabilidad y prioridades libremente determinadas, sin restricciones y directrices limitantes.

Seguiremos luchando contra la construcción de represas hidroeléctricas y todas las formas de producción de energía que afectan a nuestras aguas, nuestros peces, nuestra biodiversidad y los ecosistemas que contribuyen a nuestra soberanía alimentaria. Trabajaremos para preservar nuestros territorios contra el veneno de las plantaciones de monocultivos, de las industrias extractivas y otros proyectos destructivos del medioambiente, y continuar nuestras formas de vida, preservando nuestras culturas e identidades. Trabajaremos para preservar nuestras plantas y las semillas tradicionales, y mantener el equilibrio entre nuestras necesidades y las necesidades de nuestra Madre Tierra y su capacidad de sostener la vida. Demostraremos al mundo que se puede y se debe hacer. En todos estos asuntos recopilaremos y organizaremos la solidaridad de todos los pueblos indígenas de todas partes del mundo, y todas las demás fuentes de solidaridad con los no indígenas de buena voluntad a unirse a nuestra lucha por la soberanía alimentaria y la seguridad alimentaria. Rechazamos la privatización y el control corporativo de los recursos, tales como nuestras semillas tradicionales y de los alimentos. Por último, exigimos a los estados a defender nuestros derechos al control de nuestros sistemas de gestión tradicionales y ofreciendo un apoyo concreto, tales como las tecnologías apropiadas para que podamos desarrollar nuestra soberanía alimentaria.

Rechazamos las promesas falsas del desarrollo sostenible y soluciones al cambio climático que solamente sirven al orden económico dominante. Rechazamos REDD, REDD+ y otras soluciones basadas en el mercado que tienen como enfoque nuestros bosques, para seguir violando nuestros derechos inherentes a la libre determinación y el derecho a nuestras tierras, territorios, aguas y recursos, y el derecho de la Tierra a crear y sostener la vida. No existe tal cosa como “minería sostenible”. No hay tal cosa como “petróleo ético”.

Rechazamos la aplicación de derechos de propiedad intelectual sobre los recursos genéticos y el conocimiento tradicional de los pueblos indígenas que resulta en la enajenación y mercantilización de lo Sagrado esencial para nuestras vidas y culturas. Rechazamos las formas industriales de la producción alimentaria que promueve el uso de agrotóxicos, semillas y organismos transgénicos. Por lo tanto, afirmamos nuestro derecho a poseer, controlar, proteger y heredar las semillas criollas, plantas medicinales y los conocimientos tradicionales provenientes de nuestras tierras y territorios para el beneficio de nuestras futuras generaciones.

Nuestro Compromiso con el Futuro que Queremos

Debido a la falta de implementación verdadera del desarrollo sostenible el mundo está en múltiples crisis ecológicas, económicas y climáticas; incluyendo la pérdida de biodiversidad, desertificación, el derretimiento de los glaciares, escases de alimentos, agua y energía, una recesión económica mundial que se agudiza, la inestabilidad social y la crisis de valores. En ese sentido, reconocemos que queda mucho que hacer para que los acuerdos internacionales respondan adecuadamente a los derechos y necesidades de los pueblos indígenas. Las contribuciones actuales y potenciales de nuestros pueblos deben ser reconocidas como un desarrollo sostenible y verdadero para nuestras comunidades que permita que cada uno de nosotros alcancemos el Buen Vivir.

Como pueblos, reafirmamos nuestro derecho a la libre determinación y a poseer, controlar y manejar nuestras tierras y territorios tradicionales, aguas y otros recursos. Nuestras tierras y territorios son la parte medular de nuestra existencia -somos la Tierra y la Tierra es nosotros-; tenemos una relación espiritual y material con nuestras tierras y territorios y están intrínsecamente ligados a nuestra supervivencia y a la preservación y desarrollo de nuestros sistemas de conocimientos y culturas, la conservación y uso sostenible de la biodiversidad y el manejo de ecosistemas.

Ejerceremos el derecho a determinar y establecer nuestras prioridades y estrategias de autodesarrollo y para el uso de nuestras tierras, territorios y otros recursos. Exigimos que el consentimiento libre, previo e informado sea el principio de aprobación o rechazo de cualquier plan, proyecto o actividad que afecte nuestras tierras, territorios y otros recursos. Sin el derecho al consentimiento libre, previo e informado el modelo colonialista del dominio de la Tierra y sus recursos seguirá con la misma impunidad.

Seguiremos uniéndonos como pueblos indígenas y construyendo una solidaridad y alianza fuertes entre nosotros mismos, comunidades locales y verdaderos promotores no-indígenas de nuestros temas. Esta solidaridad avanzará la campaña mundial para los derechos de los pueblos indígenas a su tierra, vida y recursos y el logro de nuestra libre determinación y liberación.

Seguiremos retando y resistiendo los modelos colonialistas y capitalistas que promueven la dominación de la naturaleza, el crecimiento económico desenfrenado, la extracción de recursos sin límite para ganancias, el consumo y la producción insostenibles y las mercancías no reglamentadas y los mercados financieros. Los seres humanos son una parte integral del mundo natural y todos los derechos humanos, incluyendo los derechos de los pueblos indígenas que deben ser respetados y velados por el desarrollo.

Invitamos a toda la sociedad civil a proteger y promover nuestros derechos y cosmovisiones y respetar la ley de la naturaleza, nuestras espiritualidades y culturas y nuestros valores de reciprocidad, armonía con la naturaleza, la solidaridad y la colectividad. El cuidar y el compartir, entre otros valores, son cruciales para crear un mundo más justo, equitativo y sostenible. En este contexto, hacemos un llamado por la inclusión de la cultura como el cuarto pilar del desarrollo sostenible.

El reconocimiento jurídico y la protección de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas a la tierra, territorios, recursos y los conocimientos tradicionales deberían ser un requisito para el desarrollo y planificación de todos y cada uno de los tipos de adaptación y mitigación del cambio climático, conservación ambiental (incluyendo la creación de “áreas protegidas”), el uso sostenible de la biodiversidad y medidas a combatir desertificación. En todos los casos, tienen que haber consentimiento libre, previo e informado.

Continuamos dando seguimiento a los compromisos asumidos en la Cumbre de la Tierra tal como se refleja en esta declaración política. Hacemos un llamado a la ONU a comenzar su implementación, y asegurar la participación plena, formal y efectiva de los pueblos indígenas en todos los procesos y actividades de la Conferencia de Rio+20 y más allá, de acuerdo con la DNUDPI y el principio del consentimiento libre, previo e informado (CLPI). Seguimos habitando y manteniendo los últimos ecosistemas sostenibles y las más altas concentraciones de biodiversidad en el mundo. Podemos contribuir de una manera significativa al desarrollo sostenible pero creemos que el marco holístico de ecosistemas para el desarrollo se debe promover. Eso incluye la integración del enfoque de derechos humanos, el enfoque de ecosistemas y enfoques culturalmente sensibles y basados en conocimientos.

Caminamos al futuro en las huelles de nuestros antepasados.

Aprobado por aclamación, Aldea de Kari-Oca, en el sagrado Kari-Oca Púku.

Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 18 de junio de 2012

Metade dos ativistas ambientais assassinados na última década são brasileiros, diz estudo (BBC)

Júlia Dias Carneiro

Da BBC Brasil no Rio de Janeiro

Atualizado em  20 de junho, 2012 – 19:47 (Brasília) 22:47 GMT
Nísio Gomes (Foto:Survival International)Líder de acampamento indígena Guarani-Kaiowá, Nísio Gomes está desaparecido desde novembro de 2011

Um estudo da ONG Global Witness concluiu que 711 ativistas foram assassinados no mundo todo ao longo da última década por protegerem a terra e a floresta – e mais da metade são brasileiros.

De acordo com a pesquisa, divulgada durante a Rio+20, 365 brasileiros foram mortos entre 2002 e 2011 ao defenderem direitos humanos e o meio ambiente.

Depois do Brasil, os dois países com mais mortes no período também estão na América do Sul: o Peru, com 123 mortos, e a Colômbia, com 70.

Para o pesquisador britânico Billy Kyte, o alto número de mortes no Brasil se deve a uma conjunção de fatores que fazem a concorrência pela terra e pelos recursos naturais se intensificar e geram maior pressão – e tensão – no campo.

Ele enumera a desigualdade na posse de terra no país, com a concentração de propriedades nas mãos de latifundiários; o grande número de comunidades que tira o seu sustento da terra; e a atuação de setores cuja produção consiste também em explorar a terra, como oagropecuário, de mineração e madeireiro.

Mas Kyte acredita também que os números sejam mais altos no caso brasileiro porque o monitoramento é melhor, graças ao relatório anual produzido pela Comissão Pastoral da Terra sobre conflitos de terra no país.

Wutty Chut (Foto: Global Witness)Wutty Chut, diretor de organização de vigilância ambiental do Camboja, foi baleado e morto em abril

Sobretudo em países da África e da Ásia, a ONG teve dificuldades em levantar números de mortos, já que os relatos são esparsos.

“Provavelmente há muitos outros casos que permaneceram ocultos. E o estudo nem leva em consideração as milhares de pessoas sendo intimidadas ou ameaçadas”, diz. “Há uma grave falta de informações sobre essas mortes a um nível global, e ninguém está monitorando.”

Uma morte por semana

Segundo Kyte, a pesquisa busca preencher uma lacuna, oferecendo um panorama internacional dos perigos no campo.

Intitulado “Uma crise oculta? Aumento das mortes decorrentes do acirramento do conflito pelo acesso a terra e as florestas”, o estudo indica que há, em média, mais de um assassinato por semana em contextos relacionados à proteção ambiental.

O número de mortes vêm aumentando, tendo dobrado nos últimos três anos em relação ao restante do período.

De acordo com Kyte, o objetivo é expor na Conferência da ONU para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável que a proteção ao meio ambiente e aos direitos humanos está se tornando um campo de batalhas por recursos, e traz cada vez mais risco para as pessoas.

Túmulo de Frederic Moloma Tuka (Foto: Global Witness)Túmulo de Frederic Moloma Tuka, da República Democrática do Congo, morto em confronto com a polícia

“Pedimos que os governos investiguem esses assassinatos, façam a justiça e tragam compensações às famílias que estão defendendo seus direitos à terra e à floresta”, diz Kyte.

Os casos investigados pelo estudo são de pessoas mortas em ataques ou confrontos decorrentes de protestos, investigações ou denúncias contra atividades de mineração, exploração madeireira, agropecuária, plantações de árvores, barragens hidrelétricas, desenvolvimento urbano e caça ilegal.

Sete desses casos estão sendo apresentados a partir desta quarta-feira na Rio+20, em uma exposição fotográfica com imagens de sete ativistas e sua história de vida e de morte.

O brasileiro Nísio Gomes faz parte da exposição. Líder de um acampamento indígena Guarani-Kaiowá no Mato Grosso do Sul, ele foi levado por 40 homens armados em novembro de 2011 e seu corpo nunca foi encontrado.

A terra estava em vias de ser oficialmente reconhecida como território da comunidade, mas estava sendo usada por agricultores e fazendeiros locais.