Sunday, January 14, 2007

Greed, not need, is causing global warming

Hardly a day passes with-out some new dire warning of the disastrous impact of man-made global warming. Climate change is on us as we witness huge ice shelves of the Arctic and Antarctica breaking up. Rare and wonderful species are threatened with extinction and low-lying coastlines around the world will soon be flooded and uninhabitable. Campaigns to save the environment are growing. In Subic Bay fisherfolk are trying to close illegal fish pens that are polluting the waters, damaging the corals and the beaches and disrupting the livelihood of hundreds. Speaking out for justice is more important than ever as fish and animals are threatened worldwide.

Polar Bears on the list of endangered species, hundreds of species are going extent and climate change and environmental damage is causing it. The scientific evidence that we humans are heating up the planet by the nonstop burning of fossil fuels is undeniable. Heavy industries pollute the environment with billowing smoke and belching gases that create a seal around the planet and prevents the escape of heat into space.

Earth now a greenhouse
We have turned the planet into a greenhouse, temperatures continue rising alternatively causing heat waves, forest fires, droughts, desertification, violent storms, rising sea levels, freezing winters blistering summers, flash floods and melting ice caps. We are facing a catastrophe.

Political will, a change in our lifestyle and a change in corporate behavior is necessary to reverse this process. Oil corporations that drill and spill must be held accountable, mining companies that dig and damage have to be challenged to change their wasteful ways. All of us have to adopt new habits and conserve energy and power.

We can reduce asthma and lung disease, toxic poisoning, food contamination and water pollution by caring more about people than profit. Global warming is driven more by greed than need.

Unnecessary power plants
This week Filipinos began campaigning against a proposed 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant to be built on the beautiful and scenic Redondo Peninsula on Subic Bay. Coal burning power plants are the most polluting and damaging of all. There is already a surplus of power generation in the Subic Bay area. There is a Enron power plant in Subic already. In 1996 a new power line from the national grid provided even more power. A congressional hearing found evidence of corruption. The line was unnecessary, over designed and overpriced. It was still erected, and a corrupt nobody got elected to high office. Industry helps elect it own. The proposed power coal plant is just more of the same, a trade of electrical power for political power.

Electricity and gas prices have greatly increased. That slows investment, causes poverty, and increases forest destruction. The poor use more charcoal for cooking now and more trees are lost. After 60 years of indiscriminate logging by the rich almost 70 percent of the Philippine forests, the lungs of the earth, are gone.

Toxic fumes from the burning charcoal in the shacks of the poor cause them extensive lung damage and asthma. By providing low cost smokeless charcoal made from waste coconut husks we are tying to provide an alternative and we plant 1,000 trees a year. Change is possible on a small and large scale if we act together for the common good.

Aeta leader assassinated
In Zambales a Philippine indigenous group of Aeta protested the start of an open pit mine and had it stopped. But its leader was later assassinated by a death squad.

In the Amazon rain forest 800 Achuar, an indigenous people, led by their chief Alfonso Hualinga Sandy and his wife, Ana, banded together and surrounded the Peruvian oil drilling complex of Pluspetrol in a peaceful protest a few months ago.

They demanded an end to 36 years of oil spills and environmental destruction. Waving their ceremonial spears they closed the roads, airport and river port and halted production for two weeks. Corporate earnings plunged, government revenue stopped and suddenly these forgotten throwaway people were in the headlines and getting total government attention. Soon most of their demands were met, it was an unexpected but resounding success.

So, peaceful protesters, take heart. People power can save the environment, speaking out does work, we just have to do more of it to save the planet and ourselves.

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