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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

His Holiness Meets the Austrian Chancellor, attends a Science Symposium and the European Rally for Tibet.

May 27th 2012     –     from   www.dalailama.com

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The 14th Dalai Lama mid-May 2012 Europe-trip took him to the UK (where he received The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities – in front of 2000 people at the St. Paul Cathedral in London and met in private with the Prime Minister and his Deputy), Slovenia, Belgium, and Austria (where he was received by two States – Koernten and Salzberg, and in private by the Federal Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor).

* * * *  This was added by Pincas Jawetz

———-

Vienna, Austria, 26 May 2012 – The sun shone and a small crowd of well-wishers smiled warmly as His Holiness arrived opposite St Stephen’s Cathedral to be met by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. They were almost immediately joined by the Austrian Chancellor, Werner Faymann and the three went into a meeting together.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHD

Standing at a balcony window nearby, Cardinal Schönborn took the opportunity to explain some of the restoration work that has been taking place at St Stephen’s, the most important religious building in Vienna, before the bells rang out calling him back to the cathedral. His Holiness and the Chancellor continued to discuss matters of mutual concern.

Next, His Holiness drove to the University of Vienna to attend a symposium on Buddhism and Science: Mind & Matter – New Models of Reality, where he was welcomed by the Rector of the University, Heinz Engl.

Describing it as a great honour for him to participate in the discussions, His Holiness noted that towards the end of the last century, scientists had begun to take a serious interest in the workings of our minds and emotions. He said he had been fascinated by how things work since he was a child and learned a great deal about how electricity functions from investigating the movie projector and generator that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama.

About 40 years ago he began to learn about cosmology, neuropsychology and quantum physics and for nearly 30 years has been conducting regular dialogues with scientists. The purpose of these dialogues is, firstly, to extend human knowledge, not only in the material field, but also the inner space of our minds, and, secondly, through exploring such phenomena as a calm mind, to promote human happiness.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama and fellow panelists during the symposium on Buddhism and science “Mind and Matter – New Models of Reality” at the University of Vienna, in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
With Mr Gert Scobel moderating, Prof Dr Anton Zeilinger, Prof Dr Klaus-Dieter Mathes, Dr Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch made their presentations, which explored aspects of quantum physics, Madhyamaka philosophy and psychoanalysis.

His Holiness hosted a lunch at his hotel for all the speakers that was also attended by Kalon Tripa, Dr Lobsang Sangay, social and human rights activist Bianca Jagger, former French Foreign Minister and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, Bernard Kouchner and other friends who were in Vienna to attend the European Rally for Tibet. In the afternoon session of the Science symposium, Prof Dr Michael von Brück and Prof Dr Wolf Singer gave informative presentations on how the mind understands the structure of reality and the search for neuronal correlates of consciousness.

As the symposium came to an end, His Holiness expressed his appreciation, “Over the 30 or 40 years that I have been acquainted with scientists, I have noticed how many of them are acutely aware of the limitations of their knowledge. It is a good quality to recognise that our scope for learning is vast. They display an open-mindedness that is really admirable.”

A memorandum of co-operation was signed between Prof Geshe Ngawang Samten, Director and Vice Chancellor of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, Varanasi, India and the Rector of Vienna University, Heinz Engl, providing for an exchange of students and scholars of the two institutions. Geshe Tenzin Dhargye, Director of the Tibet Center that has organized the various functions His Holiness has attended in Austria on this visit, offered his thanks to His Holiness and everyone who has participated.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting the crowd of over 10,000 at the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet at the Vienna Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
In the warm, late afternoon, His Holiness drove to Vienna’s Heldenplatz where 10,000 people had assembled for the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet. Addressing his dear brothers and sisters in the crowd, he told them how happy he was to be there and that he would like to first say a few words in Tibetan to the Tibetans present.

“Our culture is under threat of destruction, therefore I want to take this opportunity to speak my own language. Archaeological findings indicate that Tibetan history dates back 3-4000 years. We Tibetans must not forget our identity, for our blood, flesh and bones come from Tibet. Since the 7th century we have employed the Tibetan written language in which the most complete and thorough translations have been made of Buddhist knowledge from the original Sanskrit. This is a treasure for the world, not only for Tibetans. And when we talk about preserving Tibetan Buddhist culture, I don’t mean just paying respects before a Buddhist image, but putting the teachings into practice and trying to live as good human beings.”

He talked about the urgent need to protect the Tibetan environment, which because it is the source of many of the rivers that run through Asia is of value not only to Tibetans but millions of others too. He expressed the fear that once environmental damage has taken place it will take a great deal of time to recover. Distinguishing Buddhist religion, which is the business of Buddhist practitioners, from Buddhist culture, which, as a culture of peace, honesty and compassion, is worth preserving for the good of the world.

Meanwhile, millions of Chinese are already showing interest in Tibetan Buddhist culture. His Holiness stressed that the damage and destruction of Tibetan Buddhist culture that has taken place was not because Tibetans were not interested, but because of the difficult political circumstances in which they find themselves.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet at the Vienna Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

“Because of our Buddhist culture we are committed to the principle of non-violence. We are an example of a small community who have remained dedicated to pursuing our struggle through non-violent means, which is why your support is so extremely valuable and I want to tell you how much I appreciate it.

“Finally, I see how many of you are waving the Tibetan flag. Chinese hard-liners often refer to our flag as a symbol of splittist tendencies, but I want to tell you that when I was in China 1954-55, I met Chairman Mao Zedong and other leaders on several occasions. Once, Chairman Mao asked me, ‘Do you have a flag?’ I hesitantly answered, ‘Yes,’ and his reply was to say, ‘Good, it is important that you keep this flag and fly it next to the red flag of China. So I feel I received permission then to fly this flag from Chairman Mao himself.”

Tomorrow afternoon, following a meeting with the press to highlight inter-religious harmony and several private meetings during the morning, His Holiness will board a flight from Vienna to return to India.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 26th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Center of gravity in oil world shifts to Americas.

By , Published The Washington Post: May 25, 2012.

LOMA LA LATA, Argentina — In a desertlike stretch of scrub grass and red buttes, oil companies are punching holes in the ground in search of what might be one of the biggest recent discoveries in the Americas: enough gas and oil to make a country known for beef and the tango an important energy player.

The environment is challenging, with resources trapped deep in shale rock. But technological breakthroughs coupled with a feverish quest for the next major find are unlocking the door to oil and natural gas riches here and in several other countries in the Americas not traditionally known as energy producers

Graphic

A tectonic shift in oil supply

Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

A tectonic shift in oil supply

That is quickly changing the dynamics of energy geopolitics in a way that had been unforeseen just a few years ago.

From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005.

“There are new players and drivers in the world,” said Ruben Etcheverry, chief executive of Gas and Oil of Neuquen, a state-owned energy firm that is positioning itself to develop oil and gas fields here in Patagonia. “There is a new geopolitical shift, and those countries that never provided oil and gas can now do so. For the United States, there is a glimmer of the possibility of self-sufficiency.”

Oil produced in Persian Gulf countries — notably Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq — will remain vital to the world’s energy picture. But what was once a seemingly unalterable truth — that American oil production would steadily fall while the United States remained heavily reliant on Middle Eastern supplies — is being turned on its head.

Since 2006, exports to the United States have fallen from all but one major member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the net decline adding up to nearly 1.8 million barrels a day. Canada, Brazil and Colombia have increased exports to the United States by 700,000 barrels daily in that time and now provide nearly 3.4 million barrels a day.

Six Persian Gulf suppliers provide just 22 percent of all U.S. imports, the nonpartisan U.S. Energy Information Administration said this month. The United States’ neighbors in the Western Hemisphere, meanwhile, provide more than half — a figure that has held steady for years because, as production has fallen in the oil powers of Venezuela and Mexico, it has gone up elsewhere.

Production has risen strikingly fast in places such as the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and the “tight” rock formations of North Dakota and Texas — basins with resources so hard to refine or reach that they were not considered economically viable until recently. Oil is gushing in once-dangerous regions of Colombia and far off the coast of Brazil, under thick salt beds thousands of feet below the surface.

A host of new discoveries or rosy prospects for large deposits also has energy companies drilling in the Chukchi Sea inside the Arctic Circle, deep in the Amazon, along a potentially huge field off South America’s northeast shoulder, and in the roiling waters around the Falkland Islands.

“A range of big possibilities for oil are opening up,” said Juan Carlos Montiel, as he directed a team from the state-controlled company YPF to drill while a whipping wind brought an autumn chill to the potentially lucrative fields here outside Añelo. “With the exploration that is being carried out, I think we will really increase the production of gas and oil.”

Because oil is a widely traded commodity, analysts say the upsurge in production in the Americas does not mean the United States will be immune to price shocks. If Iran were to close off the Strait of Hormuz, stopping tanker traffic from Middle East suppliers, a price shock wave would be felt worldwide.

But the new dynamics for the United States — an increasingly intertwined energy relationship with Canada and more reliance on Brazil — mean U.S. energy supplies are more assured than before, even if oil from an important Persian Gulf supplier is temporarily halted.

The fracking ‘revolution’

Perhaps the biggest development in the worldwide realignment is how the United States went from importing 60 percent of its liquid fuels in 2005 to 45 percent last year. The economic downturn in the United States, improvements in automobile efficiency and an increasing reliance on biofuels all played a role.

But a major driver has been the use of hydraulic fracturing. By blasting water, chemicals and tiny artificial beads at high pressure into tight rock formations to make them porous, workers have increased oil production in North Dakota from a few thousand barrels a day a decade ago to nearly half a million barrels today.

Conservative estimates are that oil and natural gas produced through “fracking,” as the process is better known, could amount to 3 million barrels a day by 2020.

“We have a revolution here,” said Larry Goldstein, director of the Energy Policy Research Foundation in New York. “In 47 years in this business, I’ve never seen anything like this. This is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.”

All of this has happened as exports from Mexico and Venezuela have fallen in recent years, a trend analysts attribute to mismanagement and lack of investment at the state-owned oil industries in those countries. Even so, there is a possibility that new governments in Mexico and Venezuela — Mexico elects a new president July 1, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has cancer — could open the energy industry to the private investment and expertise needed to boost production, analysts say.

“There’s a lot of upside potential in Latin America that will boost the oil supply over the medium term,” said RoseAnne Franco, who analyzes exploration and production prospects in the region for the energy consultant Wood Mackenzie. “So it’s very positive.”

Political elements

Much of the exploration, though, will not be easy, cheap or, as in Argentina’s case, free of political pitfalls. Price controls on natural gas and import restrictions have made doing business in Argentina hard for energy companies. And last month, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s populist government stunned oil markets by expropriating YPF, the biggest energy company here, from Spain’s Repsol.

But the prize for energy companies is potentially huge. Repsol estimated this year that a cross section of the vast Dead Cow formation here in Neuquen province could hold nearly 23 billion barrels of gas and oil. That followed a U.S. Energy Information Administration report that said Argentina possibly has the third-largest shale gas resources after China and the United States.

“All the top-of-the-line companies are here,” said Guillermo Coco, energy minister of Neuquen province, including ExxonMobil, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell. Although only about 200 wells have been drilled, Coco said companies here talk of drilling 10,000 or more in the next 15 years.

Wells on the horizon

On a recent day here in a dusty spot called Loma La Lata, German Perez oversaw a team of 30 technicians from the Houston-based oil- services giant Schlumberger as they prepared to frack a well.

The operation was huge: Trucks lined up with revving generators. Giant containers brimmed with water. Hoses used for firing chemicals into wells littered the ground. Cranes hoisted huge bags of artificial sand into mixers. Then, 1,200-horsepower pumps blasted water, chemicals and sand nearly 9,000 feet into the earth. “This is a hard rock, so we create countless cracks and fissures, for the gas and oil to flow,” Perez said.

Staring at the stark landscape, broken up here and there by oil rigs, Perez said he thought many companies would one day arrive in search of oil and gas. “The projections are pretty good,” he said. “In our case, we have been here a year and a half and we have tripled the equipment we have. And we think we will double that in another year.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 12th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Laurence Tubiana is the founder and director of the Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) based in Paris and Brussels, professor at Sciences Po Paris, and has previously served as senior adviser on environment to the French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. She was responsible for conducting some international environmental negotiations for the French government. She was also a member of the Conseil d’Analyse Economique in the French Prime Minister’s office and when mentioning basics –  she says:

For more than three decades, GDP has been criticized as a poor indicator of social progress. As a pure accounting identity, GDP does not reflect changes in natural stocks. On the opposite, an upsurge in warfare expenses will add positively to the measure called GDP, while their impacts on well-being are more than controversial.

Second, the indicator is also blind to any changes beyond the mean.

GDP does not focus on distributional issues and growth can fail to reach majority of the population – this was the case in the USA from 1975 to 2000. As result, there is a widening gap between GDP increase and the perception of the increase in well-being among the population.

This realization is not new and is shared by a widening community of policy-makers and scholars.

Paradoxically, international organizations continue to use GDP as a measure for social progress in their reports.

It is necessary to move beyond this narrow conception of progress and International Organization and governments must commit to the use of another flagship indicator.

Use of GDP should be limited to comment on the evolution of the volume of exchanges in the economy.

The UN General Assembly should thus rather adopt an indicator – or a panel of indicators- to measure progress.

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Above I picked up from the Brazil sponsored Dialogues on the RIO+20 runway – the panel of  Sustainable development as an answer to the economic and financial crises where Prof. Laurence Tubiana is the principle leader.

To post further examples for the on-line deliberations pleas see:

Thu, May 3, 2012 at 11.56 am

In light of Ms. Tubiana’s questions raised to enrich the concept of sustainable development let me present some points of reflection:

  • From my understanding of the current debate on the growth paradigm shift questioning very much the “ecclesiastic” belief in GDP growth being the remedy for major economic ills of today and speaking more of “de-growth” (not to be misunderstood of “negative growth” though) which takes into consideration the world’s finite resource base and the fragile ecology we depend on.
  • In light of the current circumstances business as usual in the economic world may not be an option. Prosperity for few people based on ecological destruction combined with social injustice is no foundation for a society which – in line with UNDP’s SHD thinking – should provide “choices” and “opportunities” to people.
  • Economic recovery is definitely vital and protecting people’s jobs – and creating new ones – is absolutely essential. But we also stand in urgent need of lessening socio-economic disparities and its potential risk of instability and of increasing shared prosperity.
  • Prosperity – as defined by the Environmental Economist Tim Jackson for example – goes beyond material concerns and is defined as “quality of lives”, “well-being” and “participation”.
  • Under the assumption that “business as usual” continues with all the adverse implications on the environment and natural resources with a scenario that held up the majority of a population in poverty and denying access to basic freedoms, risks of humanitarian emergencies and conflict may increase.
  • History has shown that times of great stress, loss and instability lead societies to extreme and illiberal responses.
  • With above in mind there may be a need to reform/reinvent the economy, push for related transformational change and to shift to a new and sustaining economy based on new economic thinking and enacted by a new politics. In this connection sustaining people, communities and nature must become the core of economic activity.
  • In light of this, the concept of governance requires renewal and a new culture of citizenship (i.e. ecological citizenship) needs to be promoted.
  • In the context of Armenia possible entry points (in line with the argumentation above) could be the following (beyond the traditional support in the field of environment addressing Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Green Economy etc which need to be continued:

– Increased / “aggressive” support to reforms in the field of democratic governance;

– Related institutional/functional capacity building measures

– Support to local economies (addressing economic diversification, rural development, regional disparity)

  • In light of UNDP commissioned study on the “Socio-Economic Impact of Climate Change in Armenia (Yerevan 2009) adaptations measures were recommended in the particular context of Armenia (which may respond to some of  Laurence Tubiana’s questions) such as:\

–  Repair and expansion of poor infrastructure

– Integration of climate change adaptation in current plans for economic development (especially for energy production)

– Planning for low-carbon economy
Furthermore, 10 more specific and urgent adaptation measures were proposed:

– Improvement of water infrastructure

– Promotion of water and energy efficiencies in households, businesses, agriculture production

– Provision of agricultural extension services to help farmers adjust to climate change

– Mandate/encourage improved building designs/codes

–  Increase natural disaster preparedness, prevention, mitigation capacities (including early warning systems)

—————

Wed, May 2, 2012

In times of crisis, all the parameters that define ‘humanity’ are challenged and the extent to which positive outcomes may be manifested is a function of each individual’s stage of development and the collective consciousness of the Community of which they are part. It can be argued that both individually and collectively we ‘listen to’ and ‘engage’ with the world through multiple intelligences in the physical (PQ), emotional (EQ), mental (IQ) and spiritual (SQ) dimensions. At the heart of these intelligences is a shared consensus of Core Virtues,Values and Vision.

It is only through positive premeditated visioning that it is possible to develop this consciousness to build self-sustaining people, organisations and communities. We are approaching and some argue already in a time of crisis, where effective Response, Relief, Rebuild and Resilience strategies are required to deal with both natural and complex disasters. The same challenges are faced by those wishing to Terra-form countries from underdeveloped to developed status. This whole system approach integrates all the change vectors.

In order to deliver effective and sustainable change, it is necessary to fully understand the vectors involved. There are three primary inputs of Health, Education and Enterprise that are facilitated by Information, Resources, Psychology, Connectivity, Agriculture and Science & Engineering to deliver self-sustaining outcomes in Wealth, Citizenship and the Environment and consequent Harmonious Living. The three inputs of Health, Education and Enterprise must all be integrated to deliver the required outcomes, which are a bit like a three legged milking stool; you need all three legs for it to be stable.

Good Governance and Social Responsibility facilitate the ‘middle ground of balance’ between the rule based needs of ‘conformity’ and the outcome based needs of ‘flexibility’ based on inculcated Core Values and Delivered Outcomes. The top-down and bottom-up approaches need to be integrated in a twelve year strategic Change Plan to avoid social and economic morbidity.

The CMDC-SPOC approach has facilitated disadvantaged people, coming out of traumatic situations, including conflict, abuse, nature disaster, poverty etc. In Inner City areas, where trauma is often common, this provides an approach, whilst originally developed for 18-24 year old long-term unemployed youth that may have a powerful positive impact on those that have been ‘excluded’ from the Education system.

The UNESCO Task Force on Education for the 21st Century concluded that it takes place throughout life in many forms and is represented by four Pillars, which might be expressed in the form of the four intelligences:
? Learning to do (physical intelligence -PQ)
? Learning to live together (emotional intelligence -EQ)
? Learning to know (mental intelligence-IQ)
? Learning to be (spiritual intelligence –SQ)

CMDC-SPOC evidence suggests that Primary Education defines up to 80% of Life Outcomes and is the crucial period for investment to develop Self-sustaining People, Organisations and Communities and achieve Harmonious Living (South South News interview-youtu.be/qkgLgUaXFqE). We believe that it is only through Self-sustainability that the United Nations Millennium Goals may be achieved.

Dr Royston Flude
President
 www.cmdc-spoc.org
royston@cmdc-spoc.org

———-

Mon, April 30, 2012
As Rio+20 will highlight, critical action is required from all major actors in business, government and society to build the foundation for a sustainable global economy, society and biosphere. In the educational sector, in particular business schools have been at the focus of the debate. Business schools, management-related academic institutions, and universities have a unique role to train current and future generations of business leaders. However, as a global sector, management education must make considerable change to be at the forefront of innovation and progress for sustainable development.

At Rio+20, the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative will convene the 3rd Global Forum for Responsible Management Education (www.unprme.org/global-forum/index.php) on 14-15 June 2012 as the official platform for management-related Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Outcomes of the discussions at the 3rd Global Forum will hopefully also inform the RioDialogues.

———

Sun, April 22, 2012
Economic growth can only happen within a stable society, and societies can only thrive when they are linked to vibrant ecosystems. Before we became aware of the interconnectedness of global coexistence, nations only cared about their isolated “sustainability”. Ignorance was bliss. Today we know better. If we pretend to achieve economic growth by degrading our ecosystem, we are digging a deeper hole therefore significantly reducing the likelihood of ecosystems to become vibrant again.

In terms of sustainable development, all countries are developing, none is developed. All human actions have two likely impacts on the ecosystem: degradation or regeneration. If the global economy obtains 100% of its industrial inputs from nature, then ecological degradation implies reduced economic value for all.

To solve economic crises and eradicate poverty all leaders of the world -public and private, corporate and social, political and cultural- must become bio-literate. That is, to be able to understand and explain the cycle of life of the global ecosystem. Only through this understanding will they be able to positively influence their communities towards the transformation that will help human civilization shift from being ecologically degradating to ecologically regenerative.

(This comment will also be posted on my blog, TransformConflict.)

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I Post above few examples to show the importance of the platform unleashed by these RioDialogues. It becomes clear that much our system of administering National economies is based on concepts that show we believed in living in parallel bottles and must now realize that Globalization has broken those bottles and we stand in the midst of this broken glass and call for Mama Earth to save us – but she starts answering by telling us that all these years we disregarded her and we better start on a process of repairing our relations with her.

Please realize I write these thoughts in Vienna, actually on Mother’s Day – Saturday, May 12, 2012. First thing we must do is tell her we are ready to throw out the GDP yardstick that the economists class have sold us. We need another yardstick to measure our progress that thinks of growth as fulfillment of our interrelationships with Planet Earth and our recognition of our existence as Wardens of this Planet. A high Priest of this interrelationship must be a UN High Commissioner for Future Generations that we put up in his small office from which he can even review the activities of the UN Secretary General whose job is to make sure that we do not fight each-other as he was empowered to do by the UN Security Council.

The Informal -Informal meetings that are still busy trying to prepare the official intergovernmental outcome document for RIO+20, have brought to New York a large delegation from Bhutan with the purpose of teaching us that Happiness and Well Being are concepts that can help us cut to size our self-destructive drives for consumption that psychologists have long recognized as anal in nature.

Back in Vienna, in the last few days I had the opportunity to listen to great economists  starting to nibble at the edges of their profession when seeing the effects of the ongoing and evolving crises. They still think of “how does one quantify Happiness?” – this by not realizing that it comes from WELL-BEING rather then from anal gratification that is connected to acquiring more and more … The highlight of these discussions here in Vienna was when I heard that the culprit is in that Economics 101 book that was used by all global economists. So, let us see what we can do to change these books – and I liked to repeat what I said at the end of the 1970s – that it was only in its 8-th edition that the book recognized Energy as an input at equal footing to labor, raw materials,  and capital – it seems that SUSTAINABILITY must find its way in these books – NOW!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

We had the following Paul Krugman article sit in our draft pouch since February 19, 2012 and decided to unearth it and post it together with the results of the French having deposed today Mr. Sarkozy, and our argument that the results of today do as well set aside the Romney challenge to Mr. Obama – leading instead to the realization that the re-election of Mr. Obama depends on his speaking out more forcefully against the Romney challenge which is indeed little less then an attempt to push the US down the loosing Sarkozy hatch of the French example. The real comparison between the US and France is that G.W. Bush Presidency is the equivalent of the Sarkozy Presidency, and the Obama first term is just the image of a Presidency that was held back from full action on what was needed because of the terrible cards he inherited from Mr. Bush.
Hollande will have a freer hand in France when compared to what Mr. Obama got with two wars in Asia that he had somehow to try to extricate the country from. Mr. Hollande has a cake-walk in front of him when pulling out from Afghanistan, and his moves will help Mr. Obama in his own second term – that is if the US media will allow the US people to understand the French example.

Mr. Hollande said that his first foreign trip as President of France will be to Berlin – to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel  – and it is clear that the US first trip is less then two weeks from now. Mr. Hollande will be at Camp David for a meeting of the Group of 8 industrialized countries on May 18-19 and then continue to a NATO summit meeting in Chicago on May 20-21st.     Will his interaction with President Obama result in closer relations already in May, or will it have to wait for November?    Will he want to make a policy statement at the RIO+20 meetings in June? That was not mentioned yet anywhere, but we feel that France will aim at a more pro-active policy in this area as well – this as part of a new-growth approach.

From the immediate reactions on-line to the fact that Mr. Sarcozy conceded even before the full extent of the results was known, showing his healthy appreciation of the public’s will – we picked the following:

Mr. Hollande has called for euro zone bonds to finance infrastructure projects, for a financial transaction tax and for a loosening of regulations that would allow unused European Union structural funds to be spent on growth. Ms. Merkel can accept all these ideas, German officials have said, but she will not budge on loosening debt limits or allowing the European Central Bank to ease up on inflation or to loan directly to governments.

Domestically, Mr. Hollande has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and to increase the tax rate for those earning more than 1 million euros, or about $1.3 million, a year to 75 percent. He says that over the next five years, he will spend about $26 billion on programs and increase taxes by about $38 billion in order to balance the budget by 2017. Mr. Hollande has vowed to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers over five years and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for manual workers who started work as teenagers.

Voter turnout was about 81 percent of the 46 million registered voters, down from the 84 percent who participated in the last presidential election five years ago.

Many voters, casting their ballots under gray skies and intermittent rain, expressed a strong desire for change and a better economic future.

Nicole Hirsch, a 60-year-old retiree in the working-class 20th Arrondissement of Paris, said she was voting for Mr. Hollande in the hope that he would “bring the change that France needs.”

Pierre Marcus, a 59-year-old civil servant, said his vote for Mr. Hollande was motivated by the hope that a Socialist government would take steps to promote economic growth and soften the blow of the crisis on average citizens.

“Five years of Sarkozy dismantled social institutions,” Mr. Marcus said. “I think that Hollande will reverse French politics in terms of employment and social issues.”

Mr. Sarkozy, he said, had “ruled as a monarch” and “increased inequalities in the country.”

Mr. Marcus compared the last five years to the period during the reign of King Louis Philippe in the 19th century.

“The bourgeoisie got much richer, and the peasants and workers lived in extreme misery,” Mr. Marcus said.

Sebastien Modat, 38, who works in marketing, said “Hollande had the power to bring people together.”

“The right was compelled to take up its traditional topics, creating tension among people,” he said. But the main question, he added, “is how we are going to resume growth.”

He voted for Mr. Sarkozy five years ago, but on Sunday he cast a blank ballot, which are not counted. “I hope there will be a change in mentalities and more consensus,” he said.

Mathieu François, 48, an entrepreneur, said he had voted for a centrist candidate in the first round but for Mr. Hollande in the second. He said the trick would be to restart the economy without forgetting the poor and disadvantaged. “Sarkozy had favored the rich and austerity instead,” he said.

His vote for Mr. Hollande, he said, was “a bet that this can work, that in a period of crisis, a political change can be favorable.” France, after all, is neither Greece nor Spain. he said. “I have confidence in the fundamentals of my country.”

===========================================================

Pain Without Gain.

By 
Published in the New York Times on-line: February 19, 2012


Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Paul Krugman

Last week the European Commission confirmed what everyone suspected: the economies it surveys are shrinking, not growing. It’s not an official recession yet, but the only real question is how deep the downturn will be.

And this downturn is hitting nations that have never recovered from the last recession. For all America’s troubles, its gross domestic product has finally surpassed its pre-crisis peak; Europe’s has not. And some nations are suffering Great Depression-level pain: Greece and Ireland have had double-digit declines in output, Spain has 23 percent unemployment, Britain’s slump has now gone on longer than its slump in the 1930s.

Worse yet, European leaders — and quite a few influential players here — are still wedded to the economic doctrine responsible for this disaster.

For things didn’t have to be this bad. Greece would have been in deep trouble no matter what policy decisions were taken, and the same is true, to a lesser extent, of other nations around Europe’s periphery. But matters were made far worse than necessary by the way Europe’s leaders, and more broadly its policy elite, substituted moralizing for analysis, fantasies for the lessons of history.

Specifically, in early 2010 austerity economics — the insistence that governments should slash spending even in the face of high unemployment — became all the rage in European capitals. The doctrine asserted that the direct negative effects of spending cuts on employment would be offset by changes in “confidence,” that savage spending cuts would lead to a surge in consumer and business spending, while nations failing to make such cuts would see capital flight and soaring interest rates. If this sounds to you like something Herbert Hoover might have said, you’re right: It does and he did.

Now the results are in — and they’re exactly what three generations’ worth of economic analysis and all the lessons of history should have told you would happen. The confidence fairy has failed to show up: none of the countries slashing spending have seen the predicted private-sector surge. Instead, the depressing effects of fiscal austerity have been reinforced by falling private spending.

Furthermore, bond markets keep refusing to cooperate. Even austerity’s star pupils, countries that, like Portugal and Ireland, have done everything that was demanded of them, still face sky-high borrowing costs. Why? Because spending cuts have deeply depressed their economies, undermining their tax bases to such an extent that the ratio of debt to G.D.P., the standard indicator of fiscal progress, is getting worse rather than better.

Meanwhile, countries that didn’t jump on the austerity train — most notably, Japan and the United States — continue to have very low borrowing costs, defying the dire predictions of fiscal hawks.

Now, not everything has gone wrong. Late last year Spanish and Italian borrowing costs shot up, threatening a general financial meltdown. Those costs have now subsided, amid general sighs of relief. But this good news was actually a triumph of anti-austerity: Mario Draghi, the new president of the European Central Bank, brushed aside the inflation-worriers and engineered a large expansion of credit, which was just what the doctor ordered.

So what will it take to convince the Pain Caucus, the people on both sides of the Atlantic who insist that we can cut our way to prosperity, that they are wrong?

After all, the usual suspects were quick to pronounce the idea of fiscal stimulus dead for all time after President Obama’s efforts failed to produce a quick fall in unemployment — even though many economists warned in advance that the stimulus was too small. Yet as far as I can tell, austerity is still considered responsible and necessary despite its catastrophic failure in practice.

The point is that we could actually do a lot to help our economies simply by reversing the destructive austerity of the last two years. That’s true even in America, which has avoided full-fledged austerity at the federal level but has seen big spending and employment cuts at the state and local level. Remember all the fuss about whether there were enough “shovel ready” projects to make large-scale stimulus feasible? Well, never mind: all the federal government needs to do to give the economy a big boost is provide aid to lower-level governments, allowing these governments to rehire the hundreds of thousands of schoolteachers they have laid off and restart the building and maintenance projects they have canceled.

Look, I understand why influential people are reluctant to admit that policy ideas they thought reflected deep wisdom actually amounted to utter, destructive folly. But it’s time to put delusional beliefs about the virtues of austerity in a depressed economy behind us.


Related – Times Topic: European Debt Crisis

===========================================================

After weeks of energetic, and at times bellicose, campaigning, Mr. Sarkozy was gracious in defeat. “François Hollande is the president of the republic, he must be respected,” Mr. Sarkozy said after calling Mr. Hollande to congratulate him.          “I want to wish him good luck in the midst of these tests.”

OUR QUESTION IS  –  WILL ON NOVEMBER 6-th, 2012, MR. ROMNEY STATE GRACIOUSLY – MR. BARACK OBAMA IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, HE MUST BE RESPECTED.
WILL MR. ROMNEY CALL HIM UP AND WISH HIM GOOD LUCK IN THE MIDST OF ONGOING TESTS  THAT  ARE SPLITTING AMERICA?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Official UN position on the way the Outcome Document for RIO+20 was left hanging at the end of four weeks of Informal-Informal slow negotiations, and the decision to have one more pre-Rio week for which the Chairs will  re-adjusted chairs on the Titanic.

Brazil has not spoken on Friday night – but I was told Brazil insists on having a negotiated text to crown its RIO+20 event – but we believe in Brazil and watch how it is preparing an alternate way – the opening of a Civil Society route which we called earlier as nothing less then revolutionary regression to the UN Charter call for a UN  led by WE THE PEOPLE.
OK, we know that the UN established 9 Major Groups – of which only one is the Major Group of the NGOs – is not exactly an ideal picture of Civil Society because it is front-loaded by the International Chambers of Commerce – but at least it is not WE THE GOVERNMENTS  – Dictators and Usurpers, with a sprinkle of some better legislative run States.

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The UPDATE is based on the Earth Negotiations Bulletin that summarized the Second set of Informal-Informal negotiations and I pick from the material the part that deals with Institutional arrangements:

UNGA, ECOSOC, CSD, SDC PROPOSAL AND UNEP: On 24 April, delegates engaged in an initial exchange of views and made various proposals oninter alia, recognizing universality of the UN, what IFSD should do, the UNGA and ECOSOC. Further readings took place on 26 April and 3 May, and Co-Chair Kim started making compromise proposals on the text on 3 May, with two paragraphs ultimately agreed ad referendum.

During these discussions, the most contentious paragraphs on ECOSOC, CSD, SDC and UNEP were not taken up by delegates, since the G-77/China indicated that it was not yet ready to present its collective position. Therefore, an exchange of views of delegations on IFSD options was held on 27 April without the active participation of the G-77/China. Delegates presented key elements of their positions, including the EU and Kenya’s support for upgrading UNEP; a strong US preference for working with existing institutions; Kazakhstan and Norway’s preference for SDC {that is a new Sustainable Development Council on top of the existing Social and Economic Council – ECOSOC – that is not needed neither will it be funded. This alone is enough to point at the possibility that nothing serious is put forward even by those that purport to be positive about these meetings – we are specially un-enthused about Norway’s position – in particular as they are also behind the so called Stakeholders’ Forum – SustainabiliTank editor comment}; Japan’s proposal to reform the CSD; and Canada’s call for ECOSOC to play a more integrated role in sustainable development.

On 3 May, the G-77/China announced that it was ready to present its proposal, which included: the establishment of a high-level political forum with an intergovernmental character, building on existing relevant structures or bodies, including the CSD; and strengthening UNEP’s capacities {in effect – this position seems more plausible then Norway’s position and this brings us to the question if the Norwegian position is not rather a hidden position of an International Chambers of Commerce attempt to derail negotiations – SustainabiliTank editor comment}.

On Friday morning, 4 May, other delegations reacted to the G-77/China proposal. While reserving their positions, several welcomed it as a useful contribution with some valuable elements. The EU suggested that it was not sufficiently ambitious.

Later that day, the G-77/China withdrew its entire proposal after Kenya, for the African Group, announced in Working Group 2 that some elements of the African proposal had not been incorporated into the G-77/China position, especially with regard to strengthening and consolidating UNEP into a specialized agency based in Nairobi. The G-77/China, which until then had been speaking with one voice on this issue, was unable to continue to present a collective position. Peru, along with many other countries, requested reinstating the G-77/China proposal. However, a number of other members of the G-77/China, including Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa and Morocco, expressed support for Kenya’s proposal. A few countries provided initial reactions, including Switzerland and the EU, which noted commonalities between the original G-77/China proposal and proposals made by other countries, and said that these commonalities could represent building blocks for future work. At the end of the meeting, the entire text remained heavily bracketed.

Draft Outcome Document: The latest version of the draft outcome document includes numerous options, including: a system-wide strategy for sustainable development in the UN system, strengthening the role of ECOSOC; improving the CSD; transforming the CSD into an SDC; strengthening the capacity of UNEP; establishing UNEP as a UN specialized agency for the environment, with universal membership; and supporting the establishment of an Ombudsperson, or High Commissioner for Future Generations. The IFSD proposal presented by the G-77/China on 3 May has also been kept in the document with the attributions of the various countries that supported this proposal.

The problem with all of this is that in principle – no decisions were taken and no financial implications studied – as such one can say that no move from starting positions was discerned.  Will the added week be able to break the stubbornness  of ideologically motivated resisters?

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The UN says: Countries Seek New Path Towards Agreement for Rio+20.

New York, 4 May, 2012 —Representatives from governments negotiating the Rio+20 outcome document agreed to add another five days to their deliberations in order to bridge differences that have hampered progress to date.  The move came as the latest round of negotiations concluded with some progress made, but much work left outstanding.

The negotiated document, along with voluntary commitments by governments, businesses and civil society, will set the stage for the global community to recommit to sustainable development and agree to concrete actions needed.

The five added negotiating days are set for 29 May to 2 June.  The additional negotiations will take place in New York before moving to Rio de Janeiro on 13 June for the third and final preparatory meeting for the Conference.  Rio+20 – the UN Conference on Sustainable Development — will take place from 20 to 22 June.

Rio+20 Preparatory Committee co-chair Kim Sook, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea, said that there will be a change in working methods when the negotiations resume.  This will include working from a new streamlined text prepared by the co-chairs, as well as other changes in the negotiating procedures.

“Delegates have expressed disappointment and frustration at the lack of progress,” Ambassador Kim told participants at the concluding meeting of the latest round of talks.

Kim added that the “spirit of the negotiations must match our ambition,” pointing out that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called Rio+20 “a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”  Cautioning that this opportunity would not be available next year, he said negotiators “must send a clear message to our Heads of State and Government that we are on the right track” and that they should come to Rio.

Rio+20 Secretary-General Sha Zukang said that there was need to proceed with a sense of genuine urgency.

“The present negotiation approach has run its course,” he stated.

Mr. Sha said that the present document, even after it had been reduced by about 100 pages, still had too many pages and paragraphs and contained too much duplication and repetition. “Let us be frank,” he said. “Currently, the negotiating text is a far cry from the ‘focused political document’ called for by the General Assembly.”

Calling for greater political will and agreement on all sides, he said, “We can have an outcome document which builds upon earlier agreements — an outcome document which is action-oriented in spelling out the future we want.”

The objective, Mr. Sha said, should be to arrive in Rio with at least 90 per cent of the text ready and only the most difficult 10 per cent left to be negotiated there at the highest political levels.

Need to come together on key issues:

Countries still need to come together on key issues, including one of the themes for the Conference—the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.  Some developed countries have embraced the green economy as a new roadmap for sustainable development, while many developing countries are more cautious, asserting that each country should choose its own path to a sustainable future and that a green economy approach should not lead to green protectionism or  limit growth and poverty eradication. Other countries and stakeholders have voiced concerns about implementation and accountability, pointing out that some commitments made at previous global meetings, such as for official development assistance, have yet to be fully realized.

Nonetheless, countries appear willing to agree on a number of issues, including the overall need to recognize and act to meet pressing global and national challenges.  It has been widely acknowledged that action is  needed to provide for the needs of a growing global population that continues to consume and produce unsustainably, resulting in rising carbon emissions, degraded natural ecosystems and growing income inequality. The need to find a better measurement of progress than GDP has also been widely acknowledged.

Countries have also been examining the concept of new Sustainable Development Goals, a set of benchmarks to guide countries in achieving targeted outcomes within a specific time period, such as on access to sustainable energy and clean water for all. Countries have differing views on what should or should not be included in the goals, as well as the formal process for how and when the goals may be defined, finalized and agreed to. Some countries would like to see the goals approved in Rio, while others see Rio+20 as a starting point for deciding on the goals. Some have concerns that the goals could bind them to commitments they feel are unrealistic, such as on climate change, while others want to ensure that countries are held accountable to achieve whatever goals are set.

Rio+20 is expected to set the agenda for a more sustainable future for years to come. Governments, business and civil society organizations are expected to launch actions that will make a measurable difference, leading to greater prosperity, health and opportunities, and an environment that will continue to support growth for future generations. More than 120 Heads of State and Government have registered to attend; in addition, some 50,000 people, including business executives, mayors, NGOs, youth, indigenous people and many other groups, are expected to participate in both official and informal events in Rio de Janeiro during the Conference.

For more information on Rio+20, visit www.uncsd2012.org

To join the global conversation on Rio+20: The Future We Want, visit www.un.org/futurewewant

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

One of the two last side events on the last Friday of  the second Informal-Informal reading of the draft to Rio 2012 (RIO+20) was about the place of Mother Nature as seen by indigenous cultures that still respect the holiness of the Earth and by intellectuals that are ready to stop a minute and contemplate about the superiority of earth oriented cultures.

Moderated by Lisinka Ulatowska, Coordinator, Major Group Cluster on the Commons, this side event discussed a number of initiatives to create commons-based economies, and how these can be expanded and built upon.

Mario Ruales, Advisor to the Ecuadorian Minister of Coordination of Heritage, highlighted the adoption of a new constitution in 2008, which recognized the rights of Mother Earth. He emphasized the role of natural and indigenous peoples to respect and protect the ecosystem, saying that the constitution has a lot of processes that would allow this to be pursued. He noted Ecuador’s call for a new development architecture, saying that this has been proposed for Rio+20.

Leon Siu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hawaiian Kingdom, outlined his work for reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i, saying that should this occur, many of the traditional practices for land management, agriculture and conservation of natural resources will return. He lamented the marginalization of the indigenous peoples, saying that reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i would rectify this problem.

Rob Wheeler, Global Ecovillage Network, outlined that the commons-based approach is one where the land and its resources are cooperatively owned, managed and shared among those living on the commons. He noted that ecovillages, which are based on such a model, are among the most sustainable communities in existence. He noted that many lessons on sustainability can be learnt from ecovillages, underscoring their ability to minimize waste, promote clean, renewable energy and ensure the sustainable consumption of natural resources.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates addressed the different financing systems that could be used for implementing a commons-based model. They also discussed referencing the rights of nature in the Rio+20 outcome document.

Ecuador is a member of the ALBA group of Latin and Caribbean Nations like Bolivia. Both countries were left with strong lodes of indigenous people and the governments attempt to speak for them. The Kingdom of Hawaii does still exist even though Hawaii has become a US State and thus does not recognize a King. Nevertheless, You can still see a functioning royal House on the main Hawaii Island.

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As it happened, on the following day, Saturday May 5th, 2012, I had to be in Washington DC and made it also my business to go to visit the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian at 4th Street & Independence Avenue S,W. At the door I saw the announcement that the next weekend Saturday, May 12 – Sunday May 13, 2012, 10 am – 5:30 pm they will celebrate the BOLIVIAN SUMA QAMANA FESTIVAL – sponsored by the Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

“Discover Bolivia’s Magic, culture, Heritage, Joy of Living Well.”

The Museum doors are etched with sun symbols and open to the east to greet the rising sun as do many traditional Native houses. Native people honor the sun as a life-giver and calendar – instructing when to plant, harvest, conduct ceremonies. The American Indian is responding to Environmental Challenges and the Museum has established a special website for this – www.AmericanIndian.si.edu

At present the museum has two special exhibits. One is very appropriate to present American Indian culture as it evolved in the last 250 years – the interaction with horses and the way they viewed these large and friendly animals. The show is dedicated to “A SONG FOR THE HORSE NATION” and here this Nation are the horses themselves taken as if they were like humans.

The other show includes just one item and I stood there in state of shock. The title is HUICHOL ART ON WHEELS.” Its exhibition is planned from March 20 to May 6th 2012 – so let me say without any hesitation – good ridance before the Bolivian event next week.

Why am I quite angry at this exhibit covered with Huichol Art? Let me make sure that there should be no misunderstanding – it is not because of the Huichols. These are people from the West-Central Mexico who are known for their beadwork. Sometimes they take an object and cover it with colorful beads. The Huichol call themselves in their own language the Wixaritari people and I bought items from them years ago in a store they managed in Porto Vallarta, Jalisco.

The problem with this exhibition of one single item is that it is what they call – a VOCHOL – now that is a common Beetle Volkswagen that was completely covered in beads. Again – not that this car is bad looking – but why in this world in which the indigenous people do every possible effort to tell us that they understand the environment and suffer from climate change, and then bring into this interesting museum a common motor-vehicle that when operated uses gasoline?

WHY BEAD A BUG? asks the museum brochure and proceeds to answer:
The Vochol demonstrates the complex intersections of traditional and modern cultures. It serves as opportunity to bring attention to contemporary indigenous art while also highlighting Wixaritari culture and talent. The project is a collaboration between the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular, the Museo de Arte Popular, and the state governments of Nayarit and Jalisco, home to the Wixatari people. And let me add here that it must be also home of the assembly plants of Volkswagen Beetle in Mexico. Further – it must be friends of the US Oil industry and the US Auto Manufacturers that convinced that this big piece of art covering the auto-monster vehicle got into the American Indian Museum in order to soften our resistance to fossil fuels transportation – albeit by a reasonably small vehicle.

The Wixatari artist Francisco Bautista used 2,277,000 glass seed beads to cover this beetle, and he finished the work in 2010 according to the license plate attached to the car. Then, let me never forget what my friend Professor Jad Neeman from the Tel Aviv University told me when we went to see a particular exhibition of what looked to me as unused canvases – the main role of modern art is to make us angry so we are moved from our position of not caring. If that is what the exhibitors had in mind – so this was very great art, because it made me care very much – when I concluded that this did not belong into this particular museum.

In above context let me also write here what I found in the permanent exhibit on the 4-th floor – a stoty about another beetle:

This comes from the Cherokee Nation. They tell that “Long ago – all things existed above the sky, from horizon to horizon. The bird and animal people (you remember the horse people I mentioned earlier?) wondered about the water-covered world below and sent Water-Beetle to explore. He descended and returned with a small piece of mud that spread over the water.”

This obviously was another beetle – the one we like for itself.

Further, in a story from the Campo Indians North of San Diego. They ended up being the address where the San Diego garbage was sent for landfill that gave them the Golden Acorn Casino not far from the Mexico border. The local Amerindians did not agree but got it anyway.

The Environmentalists tell them that they show  who they are with appropriate ways of viewing their land as one of their greatest assets.

Their lands are being decimated under them, but the indigenous people make serious attempts to survive.

The IOWA say – Our Songs and Our Ceremonies Enable Us To Survive.

The Nahua state – Our Laws and way of thinking shall continue.

The Cherokees state simply – WE ARE STILL HERE!



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 13th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Artikelbild

President Evo Morales of Bolivia as guest of President  Heinz Fischer of Austria.

On an official visit in Vienna, Bolivian President Evo Morales  explained on March 12, 2012, that his Government was vigorously combating cocaine trafficking and had destroyed tons of the drug. He said his country needed more international assistance to combat the scourge, particularly with equipment and technology.

However, Bolivia had decided to “denounce” (withdraw from) the 1961 Single Convention on illicit drugs to “correct a historical error” concerning the indigenous uses of the coca leaf.

Bolivia will re-accede to the Convention if it included a “reservation” allowing the traditional consumption of coca leaf to continue, he said.

In this, the centenary of the signing of the International Opium Convention in 1912, the first legal instrument on drug control, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, said at the opening of the 55th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which is meeting in Vienna from 12 to 16 March, that it was important to recognize the gains made over that time but more needed to be done.  He said the international drugs conventions provided the best way to mitigate the negative effects of illicit drugs on individuals and communities, while ensuring that those in need can obtain life-saving medications.

Mr. Fedotov highlighted the regional initiatives being spearheaded by UNODC in the context of shared responsibility among drug-consuming and drug-producer nations to combat the security threats posed by illicit drug flows. UNODC has launched a Regional Programme for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries to help create a broad international coalition to combat opiate trafficking, opium poppy cultivation and production.  Networks such as the Triangular Initiative between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan and the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre are being strengthened.  The Office will soon launch a new Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, which will focus on the “Balkan Route” of heroin.

But the Executive Director of UNODC also said that “Let me be clear: there can be no reduction in drug supply, without a reduction in drug demand, more should be done to address demand,” he said.

Bolivia’s government contends that coca leaf in its natural form is not a narcotic and forms an age-old part of Andean culture. It wants to rejoin the convention but only if other UNODC member nations accept an amendment to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to remove language that obliges signatories to prohibit the chewing of coca leaves. If none are registered, it would automatically take effect.

Read more: www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Bolivia-pushes-for-acceptance-of-coca-leaf-chewing-3399933.php#ixzz1p3Ze8YG5

President Morales participated also as part of a Bolivian soccer team in an all-star game against an Austrian team.

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President Evo Morales made as well a prsentation at the Vienna University – “Bolivia y la lucha por su soberanía” – Bolivia and its fight for Sovereignty, then at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, in co-operation with the Austrian Foreign Ministry and the Institute for International Relations (OIIP), Mr. Evo Morales, introduced as the President of the Multi-National State (PLURINACIONAL) of Bolivia, spoke on:

LA BOLIVIA SOBERANA – EL ESTADO PLURINACIONAL Y SU POSICIONAMIENTO EN EL MUNDO.

Evo Morales, Presidente del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia

Introduced by Ambassador Hans Winkler, Director of the Academy and Moderated by Peter Stania, Director del International Institute for Peace

We wish we were there as we would have liked to ask Mr. Morales about the ALBA position on Rio+20. We hope to be able eventually to obtain the information and post it. As of now, the only article on climate change relating to President Morales position as main speaker for ALBA that I found in the Austrian press is from April 2010 and relates to the post-Copenhagen Cochabamba meeting:

 derstandard.at/1271374808848/Welt…

That year, at the Cancun meeting, Bolivia was the State that did not allow a decision as it blocked a unanimous acceptance of the resolution. So what are their intentions for Rio 2012? So far we did not find any hint that somebody raised this question with Mr. Morales.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

cumbre ALBA con Chavez

Hugo Chávez, anfitrión de la cumbre del Alba en Caracas.

Los presidentes de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez; de Cuba, Raúl Castro; de Bolivia, Evo Morales; de Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega; de Haití, Michel Martelly; el primer ministro de Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit; de San Vicente y las Granadinas, Ralph Gonsalves; el premier de Antigua y Barbuda, Winston Baldwin Spencer; y el canciller de Argentina, Héctor Timerman, acordaron celebrar dos reuniones al año, de carácter ordinario.

La Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas, creada hace 7 años por Cuba y Venezuela para fomentar la integración en la región bajo los principios de solidaridad, comercio justo, respeto estricto a la soberanía y complementariedad económica.

Los países que integran el ALBA son: Cuba, Venezuela, Dominica, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Antigua y Barbuda, y San Vicente y las Granadinas.

===================================================================================

América Latina: Cumbre del Alba entre la economía y Las Malvinas.

Infolatam/Efe

Caracas, 5 enero 2012

www.infolatam.com/2012/02/05/america-latina-cumbre-del-alba-entre-la-economia-y-las-malvinas/

Las claves

  • El Consejo Económico de la Alternativa propuso la creación de fondos de reservas del Banco del Alba, al tiempo que el presidente Chávez, aprobó la incorporación del 1% de las reservas internacionales de Venezuela (300 millones de dólares), a la entidad financiera del bloque
  • El presidente de Bolivia, Evo Morales, propuso este domingo la creación de un Consejo de Defensa de los países miembros de la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (Alba).
  • ALBA estudia sancionar a R.Unido y no asistir a Cumbre de las Américas si no asiste Cuba.

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Integración desnuda

“Y aquí estamos entrando en la segunda década del milenio, sin visión estratégica de la integración, perdidos entre siglas que a nadie dicen nada ALBA, Unasur o CELAC por solo nombrar algunas. Mientras tanto, los países del continente disfrutan de una relativa bonanza económica, producto del aislamiento y la exportación de materias primas que finalizará en cuanto se cierre el ciclo económico”. (Tal Cual. Venezuela)

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La Alianza Bolivariana  (Alba)  dedicó la jornada a las políticas económicas conjuntas y la posición de apoyo a Argentina, por el caso de las Islas Malvinas, y a Cuba, para presionar su presencia en la próxima Cumbre de las Américas, a la cual no ha sido invitada aún.  El Alba propuso la creación de fondos de reservas del Banco del Alba, al tiempo que el presidenteChávez, aprobó la incorporación del 1% de las reservas internacionales de Venezuela (300 millones de dólares), a la entidad financiera del bloque

Los gobernantes del ALBA acordaron en Caracas la creación de un “espacio económico” y de un fondo de reservas de su banco regional. También se comprometieron a redoblar su apoyo a Haití y a estudiar sanciones contra Londres por el conflicto por las Islas Malvinas que mantiene con Argentina.

Los presidentes de los países del ALBA debatirán esta jornada la entrada de nuevos miembros, con el fin de consolidar sus objetivos integracionistas. Haití, nación que desde 2007 participa en este mecanismo como observador, figura entre las solicitudes de ingreso pleno, interés que fue ratificado por su mandatario,Michel Martelly, para acceder a todos los beneficios que el bloque subregional ofrece.

El canciller de Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez, detalló que para los próximos 2 y 3 de marzo se celebrará una Cumbre extraordinaria del ALBA en Haití, a fin de revisar el trabajo planificado en esta cita.

Los jefes de Estado también analizaron la posible incorporación de Suriname y Santa Lucía. De igual manera, debatirán los documentos de trabajo que se desprendieron de las reuniones realizadas por partidos políticos y medios de comunicación de los países que integran la Alianza.

La Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas, creada hace 7 años por Cuba y Venezuela para fomentar la integración en la región bajo los principios de solidaridad, comercio justo, respeto estricto a la soberanía y complementariedad económica.

Los países que integran el ALBA son: Cuba, Venezuela, Dominica, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Antigua y Barbuda, y San Vicente y las Granadinas.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Beijing Comes To Lima: The Fifth China – Latin America Summit – Analysis.

Written by: 

December 23, 2011

By Peter Tase – www.eurasiareview.com/23122011-be…
also – an oil-oriented version of this please find at:  http://www.petroleumworld.com/lagniappe11122801.htm

On November 21, the Peruvian capital, hosted the fifth China – Latin America Summit, in which for two days were discussed a roster of urgent topics involved in order to achieve further development in terms of commerce and trade between China (PRC) and Latin America.

The Summit was attended by over a thousand business leaders and public officials from the PRC and from all of the Latin American countries.

Since the world financial crisis of 2008, Chinese corporations have devoted special attention to diversify their investment potential throughout South America in particular.

According to Mr. Zhang Wei, the Vice President of the Chinese Council of International Trade Promotion (CCPIT), in 2010 China and Latin America, reached record levels of USD 183 billion in inter-regional trade and commerce. In the coming years, Chinese business hope to have a wider grasp and a more comprehensive investment expansion strategy in high production areas such as energy, infrastructure, mining and telecommunications. It is believed that with the help of this year’s end gathering, Chinese business activists will reach a record level of their investments thrust, with growth pointed at an upwards of USD 22.7 billion. It remains to be seen on what will be the logical consequences of Chinese Investment in Latin America, taking into consideration that Chinese companies tend to be not as environmentally responsible when it comes to South America’s fragile landscape and that its inadequate infrastructure requires special consideration and hyper-responsible practices.

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), China is one of the three largest investing countries in the Latin America region, immediately trailing the United States and the Netherlands.

On the first day of the Summit, Peruvian president Ollanta Humala, whose term began in November of 2010, emphasized that the development of his country and the rest of Latin America is at a stage of industrialization where much is happening: “We should not only export minerals, but also move forward towards building a region that leaves behind the path of industrial progress and become developed nations.”

The Peruvian leader added: “it is important to export not only minerals but place an emphasis on the exportation of software…human resources and inspire the young generation the desire to learn Chinese language and attract Chinese students to study Spanish and conduct research in Peru and Latin America”.

The Peruvian president quickly took notice that it is important for his country’s businesses to diversify their commercial products and to initiate a transition and a new conceptualizations of economic productivity that could be used as an example for the Latin America region, therefore future business ought to reduce the future exportation of raw materials and begin to trade products with added value which would be more likely to promptly alleviate poverty and stimulate the economy to achieve new and accentuated levels. On the same topic, the Peruvian Minister of Economy and Finance, Luis Miguel Castilla Rubio, noted in his speech that: “Peru is in a very important stage, very promising. Its Macroeconomic Stability, commercial openness and dynamic policies of social inclusion transform Peru into a very attractive country for investment and commerce.”

The fifth China – Latin America Summit took place at a time when Peru was one of the world’s most successful growing economies, it has experienced a seven percent growth of its GDP in 2011. The Peruvian population also experienced a steady growth and a considerable reduction of the poverty line that has steadily decreased from fifty percent below poverty line in 2004 into almost 30 percent in 2010. The conference was a decided success, with a thousand delegates in attendance. Preliminary data included that several thousand of one-on-one meetings were held, and over USD 100 million worth of deals were made, with more to come.

Previous Summits have taken place, beginning in Chile (2007), Harbin (2008), Bogota (2009) and Chengdu (2010), with this year’s Summit statement being: “comprehensive growth: new stage in China-Latin America relations”.

According to the Chinese ambassador resident in Peru, Mr. Zhao Wuyi, “Continental China has emerged in 2010 as the largest trading partner of Peru and of other South American countries.”

This year’s Summit was organized by the Council of International Trade Promotion of the People’s Republic of China (CCPIT), in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Tourism and the Commission of Promoting Peruvian Exports and Tourism (Promperú and ProInversión), in cooperation with the Foreign Trade Association of Peru (ComexPerú) and Lima Chamber of Commerce and the Peruvian Chamber of Commerce in China.

References for this article can be found here.

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Peter Tase is a Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 19th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Race for the White House: A Call for a Regionally-based Enlightened Foreign Policy toward Latin America.

November 18, 2011

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Fellow and Fulbright Scholar Robert Works.

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

 www.coha.org/the-race-for-the-whi…

COHA is based at the Americas Society on Park Avenue, New York City and provides information to business interests in the US – Latin America and Canada region.
As such there is no surprise that as an organization they favor Republicans over Democrats – but are critical of Republicans as well when they do not do enough to promote US  business interests in the region.

This article seems to favor Governor Romney from among the names tossed around in the 2012 race for the US Presidency.

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With a little under a year remaining until the next U.S. presidential election, a coherent and sustainable area policy toward Latin America remains absent from the campaign literature and both presidential parties’ electoral strategies. In fact, a true U.S.-Latin American foreign policy—one that involves succinct initiatives rather than populist rants or ideological outbursts—has yet to be developed in the 21st century. If one is left to assess the future of U.S.-Latin American foreign policy simply by relying on the last three years of the Obama administration, or the empty rhetoric from the entire Republican field, the future appears rather bleak. Nonetheless, one candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, has detailed a slightly weightier, yet basically ill-informed vision that promotes regional integration and the strengthening of economic ties. His plan is almost entirely dominated by commercial interests and remains in large part focused on securitization. Barely moving beyond a fallow bilateral approach harnessed during the post-World War II years, Romney’s Latin American policy does manage to squeeze out some relatively non-bombastic verbiage.

For his part, President Obama has yet to outline a detailed vision on Latin American issues for his reelection, but the short blurb on the White House policy page indicates a usefully backseat nature that Latin America has held for the current administration. In a few words, U.S. foreign policy toward the region is described by the Democrats as being committed to “a new era of partnership with countries throughout the hemisphere, working on key shared challenges of economic growth and equality, energy and climate futures, and regional and citizen security.” The Obama administration can point to the recent passage of the free trade agreements, negotiated during the Bush administration, to complement this short, rhetorical ‘vision,’ but other than that, the administration’s foreign policy toward Latin America has been frail, if not exiguous.

In defense of President Obama, the Bush Doctrine ignored Latin America as well, but far-right figures in the region were relatively successful in attracting U.S. resources as well as favorable treatment by constructing their foreign policies beneath the umbrella of a specious war on terrorism. While  Colombia (through Plan Colombia) and to a lesser degree Mexico (through the Merida Initiative) successively gained U.S. attention and resources, the newly achieved backing only sought to strengthen the overall security capacity of these anti-drug forces in return for supporting the U.S. global securitization policy. A definitive conclusion regarding the success of this policy has not yet been reached, but the need for a regional vision that would promote strong ties to the U.S. and create regional integration has always been in process.

Thus far, there has been only one plan worthy of a conceptualization being offered to the region that even considers such an approach to Latin American policymaking. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is generally considered intermittently to be Republican frontrunner, and who is running close with President Obama in national polls, has recently laid out a 43-page document detailing his vision for U.S. foreign policy. In a formidable feat for Republican regional policymakers, he actually presents (if nothing more) to address a vision for Latin America, promoting regional integration, over the current bilateral approach directed primarily toward Washington’s allies in the War on Terrorism.

Romney, advised by a committee professedly oriented toward Latin America and headed by a series of pro forma old hands with tired notions, as well as some academics and respectable diplomats, details the creation of a regional institution called the Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America (CEOLA), in order to promote “a vigorous public diplomacy and trade promotion effort in the region.” If this program’s goals remain the same, its specific details will remain vague and uninspiring; that said, the mere offer of such a new template contrasts sharply with the approaches currently being proposed by other candidates and the Obama administration, which has hardly done better in offering much and delivering little. In any case, Romney unsurprisingly presents a heavily business-tilted regional approach to integration that claims to promote a more democratic and economically responsive Latin America. His plan appears to follow the neo-liberal model based on institutionalism, which asserts that U.S. interests are better served through multilateralism and regionalism rather than through bilateralism.

If CEOLA seeks to achieve the creation of a new regional forum integrating South America with Central and North America, a bona fide U.S.-Latin American relationship could be developed in the process. The Romney formula provides a meager platform to discuss a wide array of issues from securitization to economic policy, as well as a methodology that could allow states to develop their own regional approaches for improving records on human rights, alleviating poverty, and other issues plaguing Latin America. The region, once consolidated and integrated, could also pursue a universal approach toward justice, utilizing transnational courts that adhere to cultural and legal traditions while also addressing the shortcomings of fledgling criminal justice systems that characterize the region. If it is unsuccessful however, such a system could add to the region’s woes brought on by endemic corruption.

Obviously, the ultimate success of Romney’s regional policy would rely on a variety of factors, including the level of activism on the part of the U.S. in the development of hemispheric initiatives. Washington must only be involved in the initial creation of big policy and have no greater power than carrying out a formal advisory role. CEOLA would symbolically represent a comprehensive, if not a bold approach for a new path forward in the 21st century, but not an interventionist one. At this point the Romney plan is sufficiently multifaceted to provide him with significant wiggle room, if this is what is really sought. This is not to argue that the post-9/11 policies of securitization are not in need of being replaced by a more developed, regional vision for Latin America. Only the development of a new institution would provide the possibility for new directions with specific goals that are widely accepted.

To his supporters, Romney is the only candidate that has offered a regional vision for Latin America, albeit one at risk of being more of pap and treacle than of sounder stuff. Ironically, it may be more suitable for regimes that are not likely to easily tolerate U.S. intervention of any sort, and have an increasing demand for Latin American sovereignty, to pick and choose their own policies.  President Obama should embrace such a move in order to establish a more integrated, equal, and just Western hemisphere.  Until a new plan that moves beyond securitization is realized, Latin America will remain in the backwaters of policymaking and under the canopy of an overreaching U.S. foreign policy.

In any case, the time for a renewed U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America is not only long overdue, but is also being demanded by the region here and now. Mitt Romney has at least presented a starting point for a 21st century foreign policy that will likely go nowhere.  As wobbly as it is, the other candidates, including the president, could do far more, but will at least have a modest road to build upon with this model.





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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE LINK IS:  http://www.innercitypress.com/sc6clim072011.html

 www.innercitypress.com/sc5clim072…  at www.innercitypress.com

new of Thursday July 21st – see – www.innercitypress.com/sc6clim072…

We note the push to bring Ecocide in ECOSOC, but for higher level of immediacy we wonder if AOSIS finally splits away from the Group of 77 who really could not care less about the submerging small States. Also, with the position South Africa is taking regarding the German effort we wonder if South Africa has not dealt the final death blow to COP 17 of the UNFCCC that will meet at the end of this year in Durban, South Africa.

Durban is infamous for that blow to Human Rights of ten years ago – in its pro-racism turn-out; this year that conference gets to be celebrated this September by the UN in New York  for its 10-th memorial. Durban seems now destined to become also the place where the UN will end Climate Change policy as well. We  wonder what our hero Nelson Mandela, whose birthday we celebrated this week, thinks about South Africa of today? He has spoken up in the past and we hope he will speak up again not just for humanity – but plainly to reset his beloved South Africa again.

Please note that we still stick to Copenhagen as last place of value in the UNFCCC chain. We had no button for COP 16 in Cancun and have yet found no reason for a button for the Durban event.

—-

The latest said:

After 6 pm on Wednesday, the German presidency of the Security Council read out a Statement on climate change, eight paragraphs long.

It goes out of its way to say that the General Assembly and ECOSOC have primacy.

It asks Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to slip climate information into the reports he already files with the Council. The Council does not remain “seized of the matter.”

An hour before the statement came out, Bolivia gave a speech saying that the Security Council is not the venue for climate change, since the biggest polluters have veto power.

Instead Bolivia proposed an “International Tribunal for Climate and Environmental Justice,” to hold polluters guilty for “ecocide.”

One Council wag dubbed it the “Ecocide in ECOSOC” speech.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

Near the building of the Austrian Parliament stands the bust of Karl Renner (1870 – 1950) who was the First Chancellor (Kanzler) of the Austrian First Republic that was established in 1918 after the end of WWI, and was as well the First Kanzler of the Second Austrian Republic – in the making – in 1945 after the end of WWII. In the crucial years 1931 – 1933 he was President of the Parliament.

Karl Renner was a Socialist, in 1896 he joined the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), representing the party in the Austro-Hungarian Reichsrat from 1907 till its dissolution in November 1918. As well, we find it interesting that in 1895, he was one of the founding members of the Naturfreunde (Friends of Nature) organisation and created their logo.

We mention these facts as the topic of this article is a very interesting meeting of last night at the Vienna Renner Institute which is considered intellectual home of the Austrian Socialist Party that was reinvigorated in Chancellor Bruno Kreisky’s days.

The speaker last night, Professor Richard D. Wolff (www.rdwolff.com) a Professor emeritus from the U. of Massachusetts at Amherst, comes from the New School in New York City (Now the New School University) which like the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (Now the Polytechnic University) both were created by Jewish refugees from NAZI Germany and Austria.

During WWII Renner distanced himself from politics. He thought that Nazism will be a temporary thing as the authoritarian Austro-Fascist governments of Dollfuß and Schuschnigg, but still believed seemingly in a German-Austrian Nation, albeit with Social content.

 In April 1945, just before the collapse of the Third Reich, the defeat of Germany and the end of the war, Renner set up a Provisional Government in Vienna with other politicians from the three revived parties Social Democratic Party (SPÖ), Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP, a conservative successor to the Christian Social Party) and the Communist Party (KPÖ). On April 27, by a declaration, this Provisional Government separated Austria from Germany and campaigned for the country to be acknowledged as an independent republic.

As a result of Renner’s actions Austria was to benefit greatly in the eyes of the Allies as she had fulfilled the stipulation of the Moscow Declaration of 1943, where the Foreign Secretaries of US, UK and USSR declared that the annexation (Anschluss) of Austria by Germany was null and void calling for the establishment of a free Austria after the victory over Nazi Germany provided that Austria could demonstrate that she had undertaken suitable actions of her own in that direction. Being suspicious of the fact that the Russians in Vienna were the first to accept Renner’s Cabinet, the Western Allies hesitated half a year with their recognition, but his Provisional Government was in the end recognised by all Four Powers on Oct. 20, 1945 and Renner was thus the first post-war Chancellor.
In late 1945, he was elected the first President of the Second Republic.

For most of his life, Renner alternated between the political commitment of a Social Democrat and the analytical distance of an academic scholar. Central to Renner’s academic work is the problem of the relationship between law and social transformations. With his Rechtsinstitute des Privatrechts und ihre soziale Funktion. Ein Beitrag zur Kritik des bürgerlichen Rechts (1904), he became one of the founders of the discipline of the sociology of law.

His and Otto Bauer‘s ideas about the legal protection of cultural minorities were taken up by the Jewish Bund, but fiercely denounced by Vladimir Lenin.  Joseph Stalin devoted a whole chapter to criticising Cultural National Autonomy in Marxism and the National Question.

Karl Renner died in 1950 and was buried in the Presidential Tomb at Zentralfriedhof in Vienna.

————-

Professor Richard D. Wolff is an American economist who studied the deeper meanings of Marxism. While at Yale he also was a founding member of the Green Party of New Haven, Connecticut, and its Mayoral Candidate in 1985.

He coauthored with Stephen Resnik – “Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical” 1987), “Knowledge and Class” (1987), “Class, Gender and Power in Modern Household” (2000), “New Directions in Marxian Political Economy” (2006). Now he studies the US, Europe, China, Latin America interrelationships.

In 1989, Wolff joined efforts with a group of colleagues, ex- and then current students to launch Rethinking Marxism, an academic journal that aims to create a platform for rethinking and developing Marxian concepts and theories within economics as well as other fields of social inquiry. He continues to serve as a member of both the editorial and the advisory boards of the journal.

His presentation at the Renner Institute last night was titled: CRISIS AND DECLINE IN THE US ECONOMY – THE GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS. We found his analysis fascinating but have doubts about his prognosis. In other words, we think his presentation was the most elucidating description we ever saw of America today and how it got there – but we doubt that his predictions for the future go beyond his expressed political beliefs.

Wolff continues to teach graduate seminars and undergraduate courses and direct dissertation research in economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and, most recently, in the graduate program in international affairs (GPIA) at The New School.

—————

Wolff drew his fist line on the boards behind him – it showed how wages in the US kept increasing from 1820 till 1970 – a continuous capitalist success story that extended for 150 years. But from 1970 on wages in the US are stagnating. The workers are no more part of America’s success story.

The explanation is that for those 150 years there was a shortage of man power in the US. Business and Industry needed more and more workers and thus offered better and better wages. The supply of workers came from overseas – mainly from Europe – obviously with the inclusion of the slave imports – also because of this thirst for labor forces. Some of the immigrants did not agree to stay in the big cities and continued rather to the vast expanse of the West where they were given free land o work. Wages had to get higher to induce them to stay on the job in the ports of entree. It was a continuous success story and markets were ready to accept the merchandise – in the US and overseas.

Today the unemployment & underemployment together have impacted one out of 6 workers in the US – practically every household has been touched by this loss of workers employment.

There are many overlapping explanations – i.e. the computer allowed for automation and decreased need for manpower, there are international reasons for shrinking markets after the end of the rebuilding period that followed the end of WWII, the new competitors for labor that come by the institution of so called illegal-labor because of illegal-immigrants that live in the society”s shadows …

But employers will not raise wages now also because of the fact that labor is cheaper elsewhere and they eventually will rather move their production lines to this elsewhere then fearing loss of income if stubbornness pushes them to continue production in the US.  

Further reasons in this stagnation come from the women’s liberation movement and the proliferation of credit cards. Women have left the home and more things have to be bought ready made – that is cheap things produced overseas – let’s say China. The household buys more things and does not make progress while the companies think now of how to move their whole production line overseas in order to make more profits.

A sister graphic to the one about wages is the graphic about productivity. This one at the 1970 point continues straight growth while the wage curve stops to grow. The result is that labor sees a rise in income for the owner with no parallel increase in benefits to the worker. The two lines lead to a third line   – the one about inequality – this line was quite steady till 1970 – even during the depression and war years – but in the 1970s starts turning upwards – less people in numbers own more of the wealth.
What does that mean to taxation?

Once it was 91% of the income of the rich (above $100,000) was taken away by taxation (the WWII days) – this got down to 50% in 1970 and now reached 35% and some want to decrease this further. It is those with employment that were left to carry the country on their backs while the rich pay hardly anything. It is the Walmart  company that is the partner of the China government that supplies the cheap goods to the American consumer. The money comes then back to the US treasury as loans from China and the American consumer pays in his taxes for the servicing of these loans. (Walmart has 8,500 stores in 15 countries, under 55 different names.)

So, we have now an impoverished America linked in a symbiotic relationship to China and what does that mean to the rest of the world? Can anyone see a way out for America in the present political climate that is against further taxation but does nothing about the 1.5 trillion yearly debt to China, Japan and some of the rich who still buy US bonds?

Those three graphs, and the explanations show a very bleak future that cannot be made lighter by saying that – oh! Yes! the US is still the biggest producer in the world with about 25% of the world total and a huge economy. But, what are the underpinnings of this economy, and what if a disgruntled populace  says enough? But they did not – they rather pulled away from politics. Fighting about a mere difference of 28 billion dollars between the proposals of the two parties in US Congress while the budget hole is actually 1.5 trillion, is plain ridiculous. Speaking to Austrians allows Prof. Wolff to mention the public health sector and its having been dismantled since the days of the Roosevelt Administration that introduced Social Security and Health Care concepts during the Depression days – as well as 11 million public jobs and Unemployment payments.

But here the political philosophy of Professor Wolff takes over his narrative.  He thinks that what has now happened in Wisconsin where unions and students bonded in a resistance movement to the dis-powering of labor  is a first swallow of rebellion that will bring back a call for socialism. He also saw in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley software specialists leaving their employers and creating independent entrepreneurial companies a new form of communism – albeit not like the Israeli Kibbutz that was based on ownership. This new Communism in his view, based on creativity is what Karl Marx had originally in mind. Professor Wolff, in his speech to the Renner Institute thinks that people will accept this thesis.
I doubt they do.

Further on, in the long Q&A period, with many questions from the audience, and good answers from the speaker. One set of questions brought out that the main problem Washington is seeing these days is not the Middle East, the Arab States, or Africa, but rather Latin America where the US is facing now an increasingly powerful Brazil and leaders like Evo Morales of Bolivia. Relying on Columbia will be no cover at a time when little States like Salvador or Cuba are not relevant anymore.

My own question about the effect of moving production lines to China, and thus exporting carbon pollution to China, what sort of limit he thinks this could put on China’s growth, remained completely unanswered. These kind of thoughts are a distraction from the studies that try to renew the past that is indeed gone forever. It is the lack of inclusion of such up-to-date observations that reduce this otherwise good presentation to an introductory to a  political ploy. Having said this, I still think that the depiction of a US that has fallen from its height’s is correct (the analysis), but the prognosis for the future should rather start from new industries initiated by those bright young people of Palo Alto – not because they want to live in a new form of communism, but rather because they know that it is a new world that is needed and culture change is the way to adjust new technologies to our real needs. This will be done by entrepreneurs that want a better and healthier life. Just that and no more. Many of the old blue collar jobs are gone for ever. Some white collar and technical jobs have moved to India.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 28th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 
No more SEAL THE DEAL – UNSG Ban Ki-moon sees the light and Yvo de Boer again sort of seconds him – NO CHANCE FOR A CLEAR MULTILATERAL UN CLIMATE DEAL IN THE NEAR TERM.

News about the UN of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was told to the Guardian by Mr. Robert Orr, UN assistant secretary general for strategic planning and a key adviser in Mr. Ban’s office. He was brought in some three years ago to work in this capacity in order to save Mr. Ban’s image when things seemed to go bad. Since then they got worse and the Ban Ki-moon & Yvo de Boer climate change UN efforts turned into a lot of show and no results. To be fair to them – the cards were staked against them and they were blind to this reality talking about blue skies when in reality there was clear disinterest in the subject by the main players – the US and China. Mr. de Boer was of no help when he accepted the Ban Ki-moon blue sky concept of Seal the Deal knowing well that there was no deal to seal in his shop in Bonn.

Orr means light in Hebrew – so allow me please to say that finally the UN top – having been reduced from its 38th floor in the main building to a merely third floor of its present North building location – has seen the light at this lower level.

Yes, there is no chance for the 2011 UNFCCC meeting in Durban to do what the Cancun meeting of 2010 was not able to do. The ray of light is now to move to 2012 – to the Rio+20 meeting of 20 years after the big Rio de Janeiro 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development – the locus where the UN Convention on Climate Change sailed off to its voyage that by 1997 took it to Kyoto and the stillborn birth of the now infamous Kyoto Protocol that came about with the blessing of US Vice President Al Gore in spite of the fact that 95 US Senators said that without China being an active participant in the called for activities of that Protocol, there will be no US ratification of the deal.

OK – in Copenhagen, 2009, President Obama and the Chinese started out on a joint voyage – but this was not enough to call for a Kyoto II thus a completely new approach will indeed be hammered out – most probably without the UN G-192 help. Rio+20 comes now to revive the spirits of the UN functionaries, but it could also play to the advantage of the founders of that old AGENDA 21 – the main tool that came out from the original UNCED meeting. Let us hope that Mr. Morris Strong will be called from his present Beijing home so that he can devise a revival on the path he started in 1972 with the Stockholm UN Conference on the Environment, that was followed 20 years later by the incorporation of the idea of Sustainable Development as a tool to save the environment. In 2012 the obvious issue is the Global Environment or what we are used to call the issue of man induced climate change.

Seemingly, to avoid disaster, and with 40 years of experience behind us, the eventuality seems like a concept of MUTUAL SUSTAINABILITY in the form of a compilation of agreements, bilateral and between groups of Nations, with the goal of tackling the global problem by involving businesses, NGOs, civil society and whatever factors that will be ready to register their participation in the global effort based on the understanding of the participants self interest.

We believe that the greatest achievement of Kyoto was to highlight the problem.

We believe that the greatest achievement of Copenhagen was to bring on board the leaders of the US, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa.

We believe that the greatest achievement of Cancun was to show that decisions do not have to be unanimous. This time Bolivia was left out of the consensus. Actually they were not the worst opponents. Others will have to be left out also – some because they think that they have an irreversible right to sell petroleum, others because they only suffer but do not pollute. In the end – it will be some number close to 30, rather then 192 of the UN membership, that will list their contributions at Rio+20 and the future will be in their hand.

Having said the above we will now serve up the two articles of the Guardian.

The first article is all right – the Robert Orr light on the fouled up issue of UN global climate negotiations.

The second article by Yvo de Boer shows that the man still does not really realize what went wrong when he followed the Ban Ki-moon orders on the road to Copenhagen.

————————————————————————ä

Ban Ki-moon ends hands-on involvement in climate change talks.
www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/27/ban-ki-moon-un-climate-change-talks

UN secretary general will redirect efforts to making more immediate gains in clean energy and sustainable development

 Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent guardian.co.uk, Thursday 27 January 2011.
Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general who made global warming his personal mission, is ending his hands-on involvement with international climate change negotiations, the Guardian has learned.

In a strategic shift, Ban will redirect his efforts from trying to encourage movement in the international climate change negotiations to a broader agenda of promoting clean energy and sustainable development, senior UN officials said.

The officials said the change in focus reflected Ban’s realisation, after his deep involvement with the failed Copenhagen summit in 2009, that world leaders are not prepared to come together in a sweeping agreement on global warming – at least not for the next few years.

“It is very evident that there will not be a single grand deal at any point in the near future,” said Robert Orr, UN assistant secretary general for strategic planning and a key adviser to Ban.

The view from UN headquarters will likely dismay developing countries who fought hard at Copenhagen and last year’s summit at Cancún for countries to renew their commitments to the Kyoto protocol in just that type of grand deal.

UN officials say Ban will no longer be deeply involved in the negotiations leading up to the next big UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, meeting at Durban in December 2011.

“He will continue to encourage leaders to aim for a higher level of ambition but there will need to be less day-to-day stuff,” said one UN official. “The negotiations are very important, but it is the big-picture issues that he needs to be more engaged with.”

Ban will focus on broader issues of sustainability, which will be in the spotlight at a summit in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, marking 20 years since the first Earth summit.

“Because the circumstances have changed, the nature of his engagement is changing,” Orr said. “The relative balance of his time is shifting towards getting it done on the ground out there.”

UN officials, and those who closely track climate change negotiations, insist that Ban has not lessened his commitment to finding a solution to climate change. Ban has called global warming “the greatest collective challenge we face as a human family”.

“His heart is still there, and he does want to make a breakthrough in his tenure, but this might provide a better platform in the near future,” said one UN official.

However, they say he now believes there are more immediate gains to be made in mobilising international finance to support a green economy in developing countries than in trying to persuade world leaders to
commit to deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Others inside the UN system as well as in world capitals have been circling towards a similar conclusion as Ban: that gains in clean energy technology and energy efficiency could do more in the near future to reduce emissions. They could then drive the overarching deal
that the UN still sees as necessary.

“The idea that the world will gather together and parcel out emissions cuts among the various nations is probably a non-starter at this point,” said Reid Detchon, vice-president for energy and climate at the United Nations Foundation, a Washington thinktank. “Whether it is in 2012 or 2013, the political consensus does not exist for a top-down approach.”

In operational terms, Ban’s climate change advisory team, which grew to about a dozen people ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, has shrunk to less than five people.

Meanwhile, he is in the course of expanding his advisory team on sustainable development to about a dozen people ahead of the Rio meeting.

“The things that are moving faster are the investments in renewable energy, the kind of actual investments and changes on the ground that will make a difference,” said Tariq Banuri, director of the division of sustainable development at the UN’s department of economic and
social affairs. “There should be enough forums to accelerate and support those – some may have to wait for climate negotiations and some may not.”

Ban still believes an international agreement on climate change is essential, Orr said. “The sails haven’t been trimmed. We are still going in the same direction, but we will have to tack back and forth between the multilateral negotiating process and national realities on the ground.”

The strategic shift by the UN secretary general in some ways mirrors thinking in Washington, where environmentalists are looking at how to many progress on climate change without votes in Congress or the
regulatory help of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

In the case of the UN, however, Ban’s decision is not a product of failure. The climate negotiations at Cancún produced modest progress on some of the essential pre-conditions to a global deal, such as climate finance and forest preservation.

The first public indication of a shift in direction was delivered in a speech to the UN general assembly on 14 January, in which Ban ranked sustainable development as the lead item on his agenda for 2011, ahead of climate change, human rights, security and humanitarian aid for
Haiti.

But UN officials and others who closely follow climate diplomacy say the UN chief had been considering how best to move forward on climate change at least since the failure of the Copenhagen summit.

Ban has said repeatedly he sees climate change as the challenge of the generation. He staked his reputation as secretary general on gathering world leaders at Copenhagen, arguing that environment ministers and
bureaucrats could not hope to command the authority to sign on to agreements that would essentially require the rewiring of their entire economy.

The hands-on approach worked in 2007 when Ban stepped in to prevent a collapse of the Bali summit over George Bush’s refusal to agree to emissions cuts.

But the elevated hopes for reaching a final deal at Copenhagen resulted instead in acrimony and a tentative last-minute understanding among the big polluters that was not fully endorsed by the 190 countries in the UN negotiating process.

The Cancún meeting, overseen by Christiana Figueres, managed to get the talks back on track, and some see Ban’s disengagement as a sign of confidence in the negotiation process.

“The phase the negotiations are going into now is one more of rule-making, rather than heads-of-state engagement,” said Jennifer Morgan, who directs the climate and energy programme at the World Resources Institute in Washington. “It is just in a different phase
than it was before, and the fact that Cancún was the moderate success that it was allows it to carry on the process in the way that it normally does with ministers and officials.”

———————————-

Yvo de Boer on Ban’s green growth agenda.
    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 27 January 2011.

www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2011/jan/27/green-growth-ban-ki-moon
The Cancún climate change conference in December brought the UN negotiating process back from the precipice. It managed to formalise rich country targets tabled a year earlier in Copenhagen, captured major developing country commitments to action and promises
significant financial resources for poor nations. But perhaps most significantly Cancún delivered a roadmap for national action that revolves around national plans, intensified reporting requirements and the potential for future market-based approaches.

In doing this, Cancún also heralded two significant shifts. First a shift away from a top-down approach where targets are set internationally, towards a far more bottom-up approach that leaves countries free to formulate their own plans, but within a framework that revolves around international monitoring, reporting and verification. Secondly Cancún moved climate action away from a
standalone issue and embedded it in the concept of sustainable growth plans.

From here on the focus needs to be on implementation and convincingly making the green growth case at the national level. No mean feat, given that the concept of green growth enjoys near universal lip-service, while there is little real evidence that it can be made to work in practice.

Advancing the climate negotiations has been a top priority for UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon since the beginning of his tenure and he can rightly claim credit for what has been achieved. Now he must shift the UN’s focus to take climate into the mainstream debate on
sustainable development.

The 2012 celebration of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development represents a unique lens to bring this new focus. In all probability it will focus on two major themes: green growth and (related) reform of the United Nations system. By strategically
broadening his focus from climate to sustainable growth, Ban has the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. He can bring the Cancún action agenda into the heart of the green growth debate, while at the same time showing that the UN system can help deliver on an agenda that is of direct economic, social and environmental relevance to
member countries.

This is sorely needed for two reasons. First because the fight to combat climate change can only be won successfully if the economics of this can be argued and demonstrated convincingly. Secondly because the UN system does need to adjust to the emerging challenges the world is facing. The UN currently has no platform where governments can discuss energy issues. Environment, industry and development policy are
fragmented over different institutions. The UN’s relationship with its financial arm, the World Bank, also needs significant strength.

A shift in focus now can bring the UN new relevance and an opportunity to force some urgently needed change.

 Yvo De Boer is a senior adviser at KPMG, and formerly executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

President Evo Morales of Bolivia announced on October 21, 2010, that Bolivia will not need foreign investors’ help to exploit its vast Uyuni Salar lithium reserves, scheduled for 2014 development, reports Reuters. The country does not currently mine lithium.

In a display of warming bilateral relations, Peru extended a 1992 deal giving Bolivia access to a section of the Peruvian coastline, allowing the landlocked country to build a Pacific port. The deal will “open the door for Bolivians to have an international port, to use the oceans for global trade,” said Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Bolivian President Evo Morales arrived in Tehran on October 25 for a three-day visit seeking to develop bilateral ties with Iran. Infolatam reports that the Bolivian embassy in Tehran sees the visit’s main goals to be securing a $200 million loan to Bolivia, reports infolatam.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Overcoming rural poverty depends on a healthy environment, where local people can find sustainable solutions to their challenges. The Equator Initiative was launched in 2002 by UNDP’s Jim McNeil in order to help the search for sustainability by safeguarding biodiversity resources.

Every two years, the Equator Initiative partnership awards prizes to the 25 outstanding community efforts each of which receives $5,000 with five selected for special recognition and an additional $15,000 each. The recipients come from three groups:

AFRICA, ASIA-PACIFIC, and LATIN AMERICA – CARIBBEAN regions.

The announcement was “After an extensive process of evaluation, the Equator Initiative’s Technical Advisory Committee has selected an exceptional subset of 25 winning initiatives, from a total pool of nearly 300 nominations from 66 different countries.”

Africa:

Asia & the Pacific:

Latin America & the Caribbean:

Obviously, we have no problem with the choices, nor with the fact that the large countries of Kenya, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, and Mexico got two prizes each, nor that the two Mega-States got next to nothing – China nothing and India one – but we do wonder how it is that the Independent Pacific Island States, and the Independent Caribbean Island States, coincidentally both groups, got absolutely nothing. Does this mean that the rebelious SIDS and AOSIS, as groups, are in UN disfavor? They happen to be in the Tropics and quite a few are biodiversity very rich!

———-

The judges were:
Her Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan
Robert Edward “ted” Turner III, The father of it all and benefactor of The UN Foundation
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Third World Tebtebba Foundation
M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of the MSSRF Resarch Foundation
Steven J.McCormick, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Dr. Gro Brubdtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and mother of it all
Professor Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate.
————–
The two specially honored NGO individuals:
Philippe Cousteau, third generation to the famous family,
Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General of IUCN.
————-
The three specially honored communities:
Mavis Hatlane for Makuleke Community of Pafuri Camp, South Africa,
Maria Alejandra Velasco for Consejo Regional Tsimane’ Mosetene of Pilon Lajas, Bolivia,
Diep Thi My Hanh for Bambu Village of Phu An, Viet Nam.
====================================
To increase our “puzzlement” – here the announcement how the UN General Assembly intends to treat this year the Small Island States in their deliberations – this was the only time we found a notion for their special problems:
Saturday, 25 September:
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Round table 2 — Enhancing international support for small island developing States.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Amazon Civilizations

Archaeologists say centuries-old civilizations in the Amazon were much larger and more advanced than previously thought.

Scientists find evidence discrediting theory Amazon was virtually unlivable.

Gallery
Archaeologists say the heart of the Amazon was home to an advanced, even spectacular civilization that managed the forest and enriched infertile soils to feed thousands.

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 5, 2010.

SAN MARTIN DE SAMIRIA, PERU – To the untrained eye, all evidence here in the heart of the Amazon signals virgin forest, untouched by man for time immemorial – from the ubiquitous fruit palms to the cry of howler monkeys, from the air thick with mosquitoes to the unruly tangle of jungle vines.

Archaeologists, many of them Americans, say the opposite is true: This patch of forest, and many others across the Amazon, was instead home to an advanced, even spectacular civilization that managed the forest and enriched infertile soil to feed thousands.

 

 

The findings are discrediting a once-bedrock theory of archaeology that long held that the Amazon, unlike much of the Americas, was a historical black hole, its environment too hostile and its earth too poor to have ever sustained big, sedentary societies. Only small and primitive hunter-gatherer tribes, the assumption went, could ever have eked out a living in an unforgiving environment.

But scientists now believe that instead of stone-age tribes, like the groups that occasionally emerge from the forest today, the Indians who inhabited the Amazon centuries ago numbered as many as 20 million, far more people than live here today.

“There is a gigantic footprint in the forest,” said Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo, 49, a Colombian-born professor at the University of Florida who is working this swath in northeast Peru.

Stooping over a man-made Indian mound on a recent day, he picked up shards of ceramics and dark, nutrient-rich earth made fertile hundreds of years ago by human hands. “All you can see is an artifact of the past,” he said. “It’s a product of human actions,” he said.

The evidence is not just here outside tiny San Martin de Samiria, an indigenous hamlet hours by speed boat from the jungle city of Iquitos. It is found across Amazonia.

Outside Manaus, Brazil, Eduardo Neves, a renowned Brazilian archaeologist, and American scientists have found huge swaths of “terra preta,” so-called Indian dark earth, land made fertile by mixing charcoal, human waste and other organic matter with soil. In 15 years of work they have also found vast orchards of semi-domesticated fruit trees, though they appear like forest untrammeled by man.

Along the Xingu, an Amazon tributary in Brazil, Michael Heckenberger of the University of Florida has found moats, causeways, canals, the networks of a stratified civilization that, he says, existed as early as A.D. 800. In Bolivia, American, German and Finnish archaeologists have been studying how pre-Columbian Indians moved tons of soil and diverted rivers, major projects of a society that existed long before the birth of Christ.

Many of these ongoing excavations follow the work of Anna C. Roosevelt. In the 1980s on Marajo Island, at the mouth of the Amazon, she turned up house foundations, elaborate pottery and evidence of an agriculture so advanced she believes the society there possibly had well over 100,000 inhabitants.

Her initial conclusions, published in 1991, helped redirect scientific thinking about Amazonia, with younger archaeologists who followed buttressing and building upon her findings.

“I think we’re humanizing the history of the Amazon,” said Neves, 44, a professor at the University of Sao Paulo. “We’re not looking at the Amazon anymore as a black box. We’re seeing that these people were just like anywhere else in the world. We’re giving them a sense of history.”

The number of scientists who disagree has diminished, but influential critics remain, none more so than Betty J. Meggers, director of Latin American archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution. She said the new theories are based more on wishful thinking than science.

“I’m sorry to say that archaeologists like to produce sensational refutation of previous theories,” said Meggers, whose 1971 book, “Amazonia: Man and Culture in a Counterfeit Paradise,” holds that the region is unfit for large-scale habitation. “You know, this is how you get your promotions.”

There is also concern among some that the new theories could pose a danger to the Amazon. If the forest were not as unspoiled as previously thought, they wonder, then wouldn’t that serve as a green light to developers today?

“Just because the indigenous had complex societies that managed the forest can’t justify the large-scale transformations in the Amazon today,” said Zach Hurwitz, a geographer who consults International Rivers, a Berkeley, Calif.-based environmental group that has raised concerns about dam building projects and mineral exploration.

A study of contrasts:

In some ways, the theory that the Amazon may have been a wellspring of civilization should come as no surprise in the 21st century. In a long perilous journey along Ecuador’s Napo River in 1541, Spanish friar Gaspar de Carvajal, a chronicler of the European conquest, wrote of “cities that gleamed white,” canoes that carried dozens of Indian warriors, “fine highways” and “very fruitful land.”

But until recently, scientists and explorers had all but rejected his work as fantastical, the diaries of a man who would write anything to justify to investors back in Spain that the hunt for El Dorado would bear fruit.

In sharp contrast, explorers in the 20th century noted that the Amazon held no pyramids or stone aqueducts, like those of Mexico. And the people they encountered belonged to small bands – Amazonian Indians who appeared to be little more than human relics forgotten by time.

Roosevelt, a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, said that was because the civilizations encountered by Europeans quickly disintegrated, victims of disease.

But until their demise, she said, their cultures were anything but primitive. “They have magnitude, they have complexity,” she said. “They are amazing.”

A feel for the land

Archaeology in the Amazon is not easy. Few rock formations meant that any buildings had to rely on wood. Left untended – or abandoned – they would soon be quickly swallowed by the jungle.

So those scientists who go today rely on new technologies to unearth the past, from satellite imagery to ground-penetrating radar and remote sensors to find ceramics.

Oyuela-Caycedo, the University of Florida archaeologist, and Nigel Smith, a geographer and palm tree expert, have yet to use these tools here, a short boat ride from this town, San Martin de Samiria. Instead they have been trying to get a feel for the land beneath their feet.

On a recent morning, using a soil coring device, Oyuela-Caycedo extracted a heavy, black dirt in a spot he calls Salvavidas, or Lifesaver. It was terra preta, black, nutrient-rich, as good for agriculture as the soil in Iowa.

“It is the best soil that you can find in the Amazon,” said Oyuela-Caycedo, who wore netting over his face to protect him from mosquitoes. “You don’t find it in natural form.”

Three feet deep here, and stretching nearly 100 acres, this terra preta could have fed at least 5,000 people. The forests here were also carefully managed in other ways, Oyuela-Caycedo believes, with the Indians planting semi-domesticated trees that bore all manner of fruit, such as macambo, sapote and jungle avocados.

Bits of colorful ceramics – matching that found elsewhere in the Amazon – seem to show that those who lived here were the Omaguas, the same people Gaspar de Carvajal encountered nearly 500 years before.

There is no doubt, Oyuela-Caycedo said, that the Omaguas faced hardship: insects, poisonous snakes, poor soil. But their environment had vast potential, he said, and the Omaguas exploited it before their civilization was brought to heel by disease.

“The only thing they had to do was to change and transform the landscape,” Oyuela-Caycedo said. “And that is what they did.”

 www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Eli Kintisch is reporter for Science Magazine and author of Hack the Planet” released by Wiley April 19, 2010.

Bill McKibben, author of “EARTH: MAKING A LIFE ON A TOUGH NEW PLANET” and co-founder of 350.org, an organization that our readers know that we hold in very high esteem,  wrote about “HACK THE PLANET:”

“Anyone who considers themselves scientifically literate had better get versed in the new discipline of geo-engineering — or planethacking, as Eli Kintisch calls it in his nuanced and useful new account. This discussion is not going to go away anytime soon!”

Once the stuff of science fiction, geoengineering has come into the mainstream, with top scientists, the National Academy of Science and Congress investigating this radical concept.

please look at www.hacktheplanetbook.com

and if you need a contact – the book’s publicity is with Erin Beam of  ebeam at wiley.com

———————–

I got a few minutes late to the library’s lower level and so a nice size roomful of very mixed crowd – from the young shoeless intellectual in the front row to the spectacled white hair retiree in the back row. They all listened very intent and at the end asked good questions.

As my usual way, I went directly to the table loaded with the books for sale, took one and stood next to the wall – leafing from cover to cover. That is how I learned that the book starts with old-time friend Academician Yuriy Izrael from Moscow with whom I shared before the Rio Summit of 1992 two weeks in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil, where local Professor Jose Oswaldo Carioca was preparing for a Brazilian submission to the upcoming UN Conference on Environment and Development. Since then I visited with Academician Izrael a couple of times in Moscow – the last time in Moscow during the September 29 – October 3, 2003 World Climate Change Conference where he was the head of the local organizing scientific committee and co-chair of the Conference, with Mr. A. N. Illarionov (Andrey Nikolayevich), the Adviser of then Russia President Vladimir Putin. Bert Bolin of Sweden, a pioneering climatologist and the first chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was the foreign co-chair of the event.

That was a very important meeting, with participants from over 100 countries, because it dealt with the crucial question – Will Russia Ratify the Kyoto Protocol? At the time Putin was relying on Yu. Izrael and Andrey Nikolayevich, and the world still thought that the KP is imperative for a Multilateral approach to Climate Change. With the US clearly out – Russia became all important in order to reach the magic number of ratifications so the KP gets into effect. Eventually it became Putins decision to say – DA – YES – while his two advisers still said NO!
That was real drama.

Somehow I still have my stash of papers from that meeting and I was looking now at hints at geoengineering in Russia’s position. But I did find a list of 10 questions Illarionov did put before the conference in his presentation that had the title: “Antropogenic Factors in Global Warming: Some Questions.” It was Bert Bolin, chair emeritus of IPCC, who gave the two answers with the last one answering to “How much will it cost.” This is fascinating history from the days we thought we had a plan – but the Russians seemingly were already convinced then that we really had no plan.

Strangely, when I looked up Google I found there on first page for Illarionov –

Answers to the questions raised by A.N. Illarionov during his talk

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
Answers to Questions by A. Illarionov (Adviser of the President of Russian Federation). Moscow – World Climate Change Conference 2003
www.sysecol.ethz.ch/Articles_Reports/Illarionov_QandA_WCCC_2003.pdf

further: As a senior advisor to Russian President Putin, Illarionov was outspoken against Russia’s ratification of Kyoto. Despite Illarionov’s vocal opposition, Putin ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2004. In October 2006, Illarionov was appointed senior researcher of the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity of the US libertarian think tank Cato Institute in Washington, DC.

————

The above was just an aside and I will get back to it after doing full justice by reading “Hack the Planet” as I am convinced that some form of geoengineering will eventually become part of humanity’s effort to put a lid – cap in BP’s language – in order to control the runaway increase of concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Yuriy Izrael was talking of placing sulfur compounds in the upper atmosphere – others may have various sun deflectors in mind,
I for one may think that the Peter Glazer idea of concentrating sun light in outer space and beaming it back to earth might be a way to provide clean solar energy for our needs. I have no trust in the Carbon Capture and Sequestration concept – this because I do not think that we know how to do it and I mistrust those that promote the idea as it feels rather like an attempt to keep us away from research in positive directions that can wean us from our dependence on oil and coal. Further, it is clear that just companies like Haliburton and large oil companies will be the only ones to be able to implement these programs if there is ever some success with these ideas. This is also a geoengineering concept. Changing fish population in a pond is a case of forced change of nature and we have many examples that led to negative results because of unintended consequences.

Anyway – this is a large topic that serves our attention, so after talking to the great family of presenter Eli Kintisch – he was there with both his parents and kid brother – all knowledgeable in the subject – and to one of the people that asked questions, I continued to Piermont.

There it was all fun, but my connection to the book presentation is clear to me. It will eventually take a revolution to break down the Bastille walls of the anti-progress interests when dealing with climate change.

I saw in Piermont a friend from the UN, bought two interesting T-shirts and went home.

I still visited a great cooperative gallery – The Piermont Flywheel Gallery – that was about half works of Howard Berelson – a colorist with many scenes from East Africa.

He has a great painting from the Serengeti Plain in Tanzania – “Death in the Garden of Eden.” Was that bull failed also because of the high heat? Are the colors of the Hudson River Odyssey – another painting – so that we are reminded of the turning of our area into another hot Africa?

————————————

and if someone is interested in contacting Academician Izrael:

Yuri IZRAEL
Institute of Global Climate and Ecology
Glebovskaya str., 20B
107258 Moscow
RUSSIA
Tel: +(7 095) 1692430
Fax: +(7 095) 1600831
E-mail:  Yu.Izrael at g23.relcom.ru

and as an appetizer see the following:

The journal Russian Meteorology and Hydrology recently published a new kind of geoengineering study whose lead author is the journal’s editor, the prominent Russian scientist Yuri A. Izrael.

Izrael and his team of scientists mounted aerosol generators on a helicopter and a car chassis, and proceeded to blast out particles at ground level and at heights of up to 200 meters. Then they attempted to measure just how much sunlight reaching Earth was reduced due to the aerosol plume.

This small-scale intervention was effective, the Russian scientists say. And in an accompanying article on geoengineering alternatives, Izrael and colleagues note that “Already in the near future, the technological possibilities of a full scale use of [aerosol-based geoengineering] will be studied.”

——————

Above leads to brain storming:

Billionaire airline tycoon Richard Branson baldly told the press last year, ‘If we could come up with a geoengineering answer to this problem, then Copenhagen wouldn’t be necesary. We could carry on flying our planes and driving our cars.’


And what do you know – there is already a clear reaction to the geoengineering ideas:

But on the eve of this year’s UN-designated International Mother Earth Day, over 60 national and international organizations launched Hands Off Mother Earth (H.O.M.E.). The global campaign, now supported by the Ecologist, includes a website  handsoffmotherearth.org) where signatories upload photos of themselves with their hands up in a ‘stop’ gesture.

The campaign insists that a halt be placed on geoengineering experiments and that the ‘rights’ of Planet Earth be respected. ‘Not just human beings have rights, but the planet has rights,’ asserts Evo Morales, Bolivian president and host of the recently concluded Cochabamba Climate Change Conference in Bolivia. The first right, he says, is ‘the right for no ecosystem to be eliminated’. The second, ‘for Mother Earth to live without contamination’. The final statement by the 35,000 people attending Cochabamba called out geoengineering as a false solution to the climate problem.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

If the world continued to send 40 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere each year, it would be a disaster.

Bolivian Ambassador Pablo Solon, his countries climate change negotiator, told June 16th those ready to hear at UN Headquarters, that the final text produced by the Chair of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on cooperative action held this June in Bonn – has set the process back by erasing suggestions of as many as 40 countries that complained at the end of that meeting.

About Bolivia, the Ambassador pointed out that the April 20-22, 2010 Cochabamba People’s Agreement consensus-based document with substantive proposals – a product of 35,000 participants from 140 countries – was left out from the Chair’s paper and as such that paper was rejected by 30 to 40 countries at the closing plenary in Bonn.

The Ambassador added that the next step was another working text which was due by mid-July. “We have given the Chair of the working delegation a third chance,” he said.

His parting remarks were that climate change is coming and in 20 years there will be nothing left to negotiate.”

——————

Asked about results from Mr. Ban Ki-moon meeting President Evo Morales of Bolivia, the UN Associate Spokesman for the UNSG. Mr. Farhan Haq, knew to say:
“The Secretary-General is doing what he can with the results that were agreed to, and theses were results that were agreed to by member states, and he is doing what he can to strengthen this, to make sure that the various concerns that have been brought on board – which he is been listening to assiduously ebe since the Copenhagen conference – that those can be dealt with as we go onto the road towards Mexico.” Such words, if they were true water would make the desert bloom!


But seemingly, the incoming Executive-Secretary of the UNFCCC, that is the UN Secretary-General’s top Climate person, Ms. Christiana Figueres, said that – SHE DOES NOT EXPECT THERE TO BE AN AGREEMENT, FINAL AGREEMENT, ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN HER LIFETIME, – she said this to the press. But the Associate Spokesperson for the UNSG refused to take ownership of that statement when asked by a journalist. if not the UN – one or two journalists are waking up to the issue.

Further, the UN material from DPI did not even spell her name correctly. We wonder if what the world will be dished out from the UN will be additional portions of smiley-face – SEAL THE DEAL!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

At UN, Bolivia’s Morales Hits Obama “Blackmail” and Lack of Change, “Sign Kyoto”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 8 — “Maybe the color of the skin of the U.S. President has changed,” Bolivian President Evo Morales told the Press on Friday, “but nothing else has changed.” Video here, from Minute 47:45.

Inner City Press asked Morales about reports in the Latin American press that the U.S. had “blackmailed” Bolivia and Ecuador by cutting off aid for not signing the Copenhagen Accord on climate change. Video here, from Minute 26:24.

Morales confirmed that “Ecuador lost $2 million, and Bolivia lost $3 million,” but said these were more than made up for by money from Venezuela and Brazil. “They took away the Millennium Account,” he said. “We don’t have any trade preferences any more. But we’re better off than before.”

Last month Morales convened an alternative Copenhagen meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Morales contrasts the non-binding Copenhagen Accord with the previous binding Kyoto protocol. On Friday he said the U.S. is “making a mistake” by cutting aid, that they could cooperate if the U.S. just “signed the Kyoto Protocol.”


Evo Morales at UN, change he can believe in not shown

To Cochabamba, the UN sent its Under Secretary General for Latin America, Alicia Barcena, to attend. She was reportedly booed as she read a statement from Ban Ki-moon, then offered “if you don’t want us here, then we will withdraw … we also represent peoples.”

Inner City Press asked Morales if, as requested in connection with the Cochabamba “cumbre,” he had raised the issue of the U.S. blackmail to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and if so what Ban had said. Morales did not answer this part of the question.

Since Ban is focused on obtaining a second term, which could be blocked by the U.S., France, UK, Russia or China, it is unlikely he would issue any criticism of the U.S., even about cutting off aid to countries like Bolivia and Ecuador. Millennium Development Goals, indeed.

One issue that was raised in the Morales group’s meeting with Ban was the upcoming naming of a new head of the UNFCCC, to lead the UN climate change talks into Cancun. Last week Inner City Press reported, based on tips from well placed Ambassadors, that the UN’s short list of four consists of the candidates from Costa Rica, India, South Africa and Hungary. The last is an inside candidate who already works for Ban Ki-moon, Janos Pasztor, who has recused himself from much of his work while seeking the UNFCCC post. We’ll see.

Footnote: given Evo Morales’ direct attack on Barack Obama, in a televised and well attended UN press conference, one might have expected the US Mission to the UN to have issued some response.  But so far, there’s been no statement from the US.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from the UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE

7 May, 2010 =========================================================================

CLIMATE CHANGE TOPS UN CHIEF’S TALKS WITH BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed climate change today with Evo Morales Ayma, the President of Bolivia, which recently hosted a major civil society conference on the issue.

Before a private meeting with the Bolivian leader, Mr. Ban met with Mr. Morales and representatives from civil society organizations that participated in the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held from 19 to 22 April in the city of Cochabamba.

In a message sent to the conference, the Secretary-General had called on all governments, businesses and citizens of the world to give the Earth the respect and care it deserves, and emphasized that the wise management of the Earth’s resources must be an integral part of efforts to reduce poverty and hunger and improve health and human well-being.

Mr. Ban told Mr. Morales that he was pleased that the conclusions of the Cochabamba conference had been submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the one universal forum where all nations and peoples come together to resolve climate issues.

He added that the voices of civil society and indigenous peoples must be heard, according to information provided by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

In addition, he welcomed all initiatives that can contribute to a comprehensive, equitable and effective global response to climate change, which the Secretary-General has described as the “defining challenge of our era.”

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