My name is Mikaele Maiava. I’m writing from the Pacific Island archipelago of Tokelau to ask you to join with us in action as we take on the fossil fuel industry.
Last October, Tokelau turned off the last of its diesel generators. In their place, we switched on our solar plants, making Tokelau the first country in the world to become 100% renewably-powered.
I woke up before sunrise that day, excited about the history Tokelau was making. My whole village made its way to the site of over 100 solar panels — we could see the many hours of hard labor that had gone into this project. As we counted down to the switch, I could feel future generations smiling at us and thanking us. Our children’s future suddenly looked brighter because we had the vision (and perseverance) necessary to get off fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewable energy.
You might wonder why we bothered. Aren’t we doomed to lose our islands from sea-level rise? I don’t blame you for thinking that if you did. So often the global media victimises the Pacific Islands and portrays us as helplessly succumbing to climate change and rising seas. But the global media know nothing of who we really are, or how it feels to live on these paradise islands we call home. They don’t know that as Pacific Islanders, we are warriors, and that the land we live on is part of us.
We know that the longer the fossil fuel industry gets its way, the worse climate change will be, and the more sea-level rise will threaten our islands. But giving up on our home is not an option. We are not drowning.
That’s why on March 2nd, Pacific Islanders across 15 diverse nations will be mobilising at prominent locations to perform our unique war challenges, songs, and dances. We’ll be laying down a challenge to the fossil fuel industry. It is their coal and oil and gas vs. our future. They cannot both coexist. And it is our future that has to win.
In this moment, and in the years to come, we need you to walk beside us. Because we live far away from the mines and power plants that threaten our future, we need the world’s solidarity. Click here to stand with us during this weekend of Pacific Warrior climate action!
We want to show the world that people from countries and cultures everywhere are standing with us — the Pacific Warriors — in the fight against climate change.
The first day of the High Level 2010 UNGA was full of Climate Change. The Dominican Republic President, spoke of the many nature-disasters of 2010, the Peruvian President linked these disasters to terrorism, and the Turkish President thought that obsolete military equipment could be used to help in these latest disasters. The SIDS are most vulnerable and the UN Climate Chief hopes some succor may come from the Cancun meeting – ten weeks from now.
We add here that Climate Change, Loss of Biodiversity, and the slow-down in Poverty Reduction are inter-related – talking about one of them while ignoring the others is counter-productive. And what do you know – Climate Change imposed on others by our own excesses is it not, indeed, a novel way of terrorism?
Peruvian President Alan García told the General Assembly today that terrorism and climate change, as well as other global illnesses, require that the United Nations be the forum for world cooperation.
Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández called for the creation of a new global coalition under United Nations auspices of nations at risk of catastrophe to share experiences and knowledge. He told General Assembly, on the first day of its annual high-level segment,that this year alone – up to now – there have been 47 floods and landslides; 12 hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons; eight serious droughts followed by fires; seven earthquakes; and volcanic eruptions.
“Additionally, we have to include the numerous cold waves, floods, and storms that have occurred as well as the epidemics that took place as a result, particularly cholera in Africa and dengue in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Many natural disasters, he pointed out, are caused by climate change, underscoring the need to set guidelines to regulate carbon emissions and protect the planet’s biodiversity.
Calling for a new mechanism to stave off the worst effects of natural disasters at the Assembly debate today was Turkish President Abdullah Gül.
“This would also help maintain international peace and security by mitigating the threats stemming from weak governance, collapse of public order and domestic or inter-State conflicts over diminishing natural resources,” he noted.
Dedicating just a small fraction of nations’ defense expenditures to financing this new mechanism could more cost-effectively achieve results in maintaining global peace and stability, he said.
“Moreover,” the Turkish leader said, “If we could pool some of our defense equipment that lost its effective utilization in military terms but are still relevant disaster relief operations, we would swiftly build the said rapid reaction capability.
Climate change, natural disaster and the triple crises of food, finance and fuel jeopardize sustainable development gains made by small island developing States (SIDS), according to a new United Nations report.
In some instances, it points out, improved economic and governance capacity in SIDS has been offset by reduced resilience to external shocks.
“Although SIDS are confronted with increasing challenges, the growing international consensus surrounding the need to support SIDS offers an unprecedented opportunity to advance their sustainable development efforts,” the report says.
Its release comes ahead of a high-level General Assembly gathering to review progress towards sustainable development made in these nations. The two-day meeting kicks off tomorrow.
In the past nearly four decades, SIDS including Samoa, Grenada, Vanuatu and Maldives top the list of 180 countries recording the highest economic losses in relative terms due to natural disasters.
In Samoa, a 1983 tropical storm and forest fire, along with three tropical storms in the late 1980s, may have set its capital stock back more than 35 years.
Despite advances made towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight globally-agreed targets with a 2015 deadline, in areas such as health and gender equality, the eradication of poverty is still a major hurdle for small island nations.
In a side event at the UN, Dr. Christiana Figueres, the top UN climate change official, today stressed the urgent need for governments to move forward in their negotiations ahead of the Cancun, Mexico, meeting where the UN contends that she is expected to conclude agreements related to issues such as technology transfer, mitigation and adaptation, and funding.
“We are barely two months away from the UN climate change conference in Cancun, the place where Governments need to take the next firm step on humanity’s journey to meet the full-scale challenge of climate change,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Ahead of the next conference of parties to the Convention, to be held in November in Cancun, governments will hold a negotiating session in Tianjin, China, next week.
It is in Tianjin, said Ms. Figueres, that they will need to “cut down the number of options they have on the table, identify what is achievable in Cancun and muster the political compromises that will deliver those outcomes.”
“On the whole, governments have been cognizant this year that there is an urgent need to move forward and they have been collaborating in moving beyond their national positions to begin to identify common ground so that they can reach several agreements in Cancun.”
“Let me be clear: there is no magic bullet, no one climate agreement that will solve everything right now,” she said.
“To expect that is naïve. It does not do justice to the crucial steps already achieved since the beginning of the Convention and it dangerously ignores the need to keep innovating.”
She noted four major trends shaping the future – energy supply and security; natural resource depletion; population growth; and climate change.
“An unchecked climate change is the flame that would make the other three burn most seriously,” said Ms. Figueres. “Governments can either stand together to turn these four threats into a new development paradigm that harnesses the full power of society, science and business, or they will fail divided.”
But let us not think that Dr. Figueres believes in the “Seal the Deal” mantra – she is on the record of having said earlier that she does not expect a Kyoto Protocol kind of agreement to emerge from Cancun – so the Tianjin meeting is very important in order to avoid renewed failure because of exaggerated expectations.
Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change Study:
80 UN Member States – The Group of Least Developed Countries and other vulnerable States including the 43 Small Island Independent States, expressed disgust with the non-outcome of Barcelona. They still want action in Copenhagen.
From Nanette Woonton, Kya Orana from the Pacific:
ISLAND STATES OUTRAGED AT ATTEMPTS TO UNDERMINE COPENHAGEN OUTCOME.
6 November, Barcelona – The 43-member Alliance of Small Island States
Brushing aside suggestions at this weeks climate talks in Barcelona that
Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the
It is widely accepted that only legally binding commitments are
AOSIS applauded UK Prime Minister Gordon Browns recent promise to attend
Small island nations, joined by the Group of Least Developed Countries
Dr Albert Binger
Maldives Join the Climate Neutral Network with a Pledge to Become World’s First Carbon Neutral Nation
This follows the announcement by Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed earlier this year to make the Indian Ocean island nation the world’s first carbon neutral country in just 10 years’ time, by 2019.
This ambitious objective will be achieved by fully switching to renewable sources of energy such as solar panels and wind turbines, investments in other new technologies, and sharing of best practices.
President Nasheed declared that “the Maldives will no longer be a net contributor to greenhouse gas emissions”.
“Climate change isn’t a vague and abstract danger but a real threat to our survival. But climate change not only threatens the Maldives, it threatens us all”, he added.
No part of the Maldives’ 1,200 tropical coral islets rises more than six feet (1.8 meters) above sea level, leaving the 400,000 inhabitants at great risk of rising sea levels and storm surges.
As part of coping with the effects of climate change, the Maldives Government focuses on coastal zone protection, land use management and protection of critical infrastructure.
The Maldives has become the seventh country to join the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), a UNEP initiative launched in February 2008 to promote global transition to low-carbon economies and societies which also includes cities, regions, companies and organizations.
The other six nations that have pledged to move towards climate neutrality and joined the CN Net are Costa Rica, Iceland, Monaco, New Zealand, Niue and Norway.
Welcoming the Republic of Maldives on board the CN Net, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner stated that: “Climate neutrality is not just a developed nations’ concern, nor is it their prerogative. Developing nations such as Maldives can indeed leapfrog by embracing the low-carbon development model, which will assist in greening their economies and weathering both climatic and economic storms.”
“When the most climate change vulnerable nations display leadership in addressing the cause of the problem which they had very little to contribute to, there is no excuse for others not to act. The global community of nations can and must express its commitment to protecting the planet and powering green growth by sealing an ambitious climate deal at this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen”, he concluded.
For more information, contact:
At the Government of the Republic of Maldives: Ahmed Saleem, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment, Tel: 3331695, Fax: 3331694, or e-mail: saleem at meew.gov.mv, internet: www.environment.gov.mv/
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254-20-762-3084, Mobile: +254-733-632755, or when traveling: +41-79-596-5737, or e-mail: nick.nuttall at unep.org
Or: Xenya Cherny Scanlon, Information Officer, Climate Neutral Network, on Tel: +254- 20-762-4387, Mobile: +254-721-847-563, or e-mail: xenya.scanlon at unep.org; internet: www.unep.org/climateneutral
Salaryman-turned-activist keeps island nation Tuvalu in the picture.
By NATSUKO FUKUE
Tanned and relaxed, 42-year-old Shuichi Endo has set himself a monumental task: Photograph 10,000 residents of the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu, nearly the entire population.
He started the project last year to draw attention to the impact global warming is having on the islanders. So far, he has taken pictures of 1,001 people on Nukulaelae and Niutao islands.
“Tuvaluans are happy every day. I don’t know if we are happy every day. It would be horrible if Tuvalu sinks into the sea because of carbon dioxide emitted from our unhappy economic life,” said Endo, who runs the nonprofit organization Tuvalu Overview, which offers lectures and exhibitions on Tuvalu and organizes eco-tours there.
His photographs capture people in their ordinary activities, surrounded by nature. He believes Japanese people could change their lifestyle if only they could take a lesson from the simple, happy life led by the islanders.
His photographs are being displayed until Dec. 11 at Shinozaki Bunka Plaza in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, near the west exit of Shinozaki Station on the Toei Shinjuku Line.
Tuvalu, consisting of four low-lying reef islands and five atolls that lie about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, could disappear if the ocean continues to rise due to global warming.
According to a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, the average sea level could go up as much as 59 cm in 2100 compared with 2000.
Endo said people in Tuvalu began to feel the environmental impact of rising sea levels about 10 years ago. There is more flooding at high tide, for example, which leaves groundwater and crops damaged by salt, he said.
Environment groups such as Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature warn global warming could have serious consequences, including frequent floods and storm surges, for low-lying Pacific islands, and the extreme weather could devastate the fishing and agriculture that dominates their economies.
Before starting the NPO, Endo was a typical salaryman, working long hours in a competitive environment.
After graduating from the architecture department of Osaka University of Arts, he landed a job at Taisei Corp., one of Japan’s most prominent general contractors.
He said he wanted to make environment-friendly buildings, as he had also studied environmental issues in school, but his colleagues told him there was no money in this.
He learned about Tuvalu a few years after joining Taisei.
In 1992, he read a newspaper article about the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, which described global warming and its influence on Tuvalu.
“I always loved nature, so I was sad to know such a beautiful country may disappear because of global warming,” he said.
Since then, he became deeply concerned about Tuvalu. In 1997, he quit his job because it conflicted with what he really wanted to do, which was to address environmental problems.
Hoping to help Tuvalu, which does not have a strong industry, raise revenues to protect its environment, Endo made a business proposal to the Tuvalu government in 1996, and he made his first trip there in 1998 to enter his bid.
Under the proposal, the Tuvalu government would charge companies, such as television stations, to use the country’s Internet domain name “.tv.”
During that first trip, he visited an uninhabited island with a Tuvaluan friend. While he had brought along two water bottles and a sandwich, his friend had only a hatchet.
“After my friend landed, he climbed up a palm tree and got us a coconut. Then he caught a fish from the sea, steamed it with palm leaves, washed the burned part off in the sea, and gave it to me. It was all simple and delicious.”
It was at that moment Endo realized he did not need a lot to enjoy life.
“I was working in a high-rise building in Shinjuku, wearing expensive suits. It was like a TV drama featuring trendy young people, and after the visit to Tuvalu I wondered what meaning there was to such a life.”
Though the Tuvalu government did not adopt his business proposal, Endo continued to care about the island nation.
He has traveled between Tuvalu and Japan numerous times, organizing events and activities to tell people in Japan about global warming and its impact on Tuvalu.
Although the situation for Tuvalu is grave, the people in Endo’s photographs are happy, with big smiles and shining eyes.
“They know how to enjoy life without depending on money,” he said.
Even time does not seem to matter for them.
From August to last month, Endo visited Niutao Island, 20 hours by boat from the main Funafuti Island. He said there is no set timetable for the vessels operating between the two islands, so he just had to wait until one showed up.
“I was lucky I could come back as scheduled,” he laughed. “When Tuvaluans on Niutao Island visit Funafuti, what matters to them is to arrive there, but not what time they arrive.”
It will take him a long time to photograph 10,000 islanders because he spends time with each one to get to know them first.
However, he said he will continue taking their pictures so he can show the Japanese people their simple and happy life coexisting with nature.
“I want more Japanese to realize that just living a life is already a beautiful thing,” he said.
The “Soleckshaw,” unveiled this month in New Delhi, is a motorised cycle rickshaw that can be pedalled normally or run on a 36-volt solar battery.” Solar rickshaws – The Ideal Clean Transportation For India. Hopefully This Will Catch On In Other Places Also.
India’s humble rickshaw goes solar.
Developed by the state-run Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), prototypes are receiving a baptism of fire by being road-tested in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area.
“The most important achievement will be improving the lot of rickshaw drivers,” said Pradip Kumar Sarmah, head of the non-profit Centre for Rural Development.
“It will dignify the job and reduce the labour of pedalling. From rickshaw pullers, they will become rickshaw drivers,” Sarmah said.
India has an estimated eight million cycle-rickshaws.
The makeover includes FM radios and powerpoints for charging mobile phones during rides.
Gone are the flimsy metal and wooden frames that give the regular Delhi rickshaws a tacky, sometimes dubious look.
The “soleckshaw,” which has a top speed of 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) per hour, has a sturdier frame and sprung, foam seats for up to three people.
The fully-charged solar battery will power the rickshaw for 50 to 70 kilometres (30 to 42 miles). Used batteries can be deposited at a centralised solar-powered charging station and replaced for a nominal fee.
If the tests go well, the “soleckshaw” will be a key transport link between sporting venues at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
“Rickshaws were always environment friendly. Now this gives a totally new image that would be more acceptable to the middle-classes,” said Anumita Roychoudhary of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.
“Rickshaws have to be seen as a part of the solution for modern traffic woes and pollution. They have never been the problem. The problem is the proliferation of automobiles using fossil fuels,” she said.
Initial public reaction to the “soleckshaw” has been generally favourable, and the rickshaw pullers have few doubts about its benefits.
“Pedalling the rickshaw was very difficult for me,” said Bappa Chatterjee, 25, who migrated to the capital from West Bengal and is one of the 500,000 pullers in Delhi.
“I used to suffer chest pains and shortage of breath going up inclines. This is so much easier.
“Earlier, when people hailed us it was like, ‘Hey you rickshaw puller!’ Police used to harass us, slapping fines even abusing us for what they called wrong parking. Now people look at me with respect,” Chatterjee said.
Mohammed Matin Ansari, another migrant from eastern Bihar state, said the new model offered parity with car, bus and scooter drivers.
“Now we are as good as them,” he said.
Indian authorities have big dreams for the “soleckshaw.”
India’s Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal who hailed the invention for its “zero carbon foot print” said it should be used beyond the confines of Delhi.
“Soleckshaws would be ideal for small families visiting the Taj Mahal,” he told AFP.
At present battery-operated buses ferry people to the iconic monument in Agra — but their limited numbers cannot cope with the heavy tourist rush.
CSIR director Sinha said he hoped an advanced version of the “soleckshaw” with a car-like body would become a viable alternative to the “small car” favoured by Indian middle class families.
“Greenhouse gas emissions are showing an increasing trend year on year and 60 percent of this comes from the global transport sector.
“In the age of global warming, the soleckshaw, with improvements, can be successfully developed as competition for all the petrol and diesel run small cars,” Sinha said.
WIP on our website means WORK (WRITING) IN PROGRESS – or simply unfinished article. When finished the WIP will be taken off but the article will stay in place without the UPDATED designation. Nevertheless, theses introductory lines will remain as a reminder that the article had a long birth.
The meeting, August 15, 2008 was chaired by the Ambassador For Palau. Present were also the Ambassadors from Nauru and from Fiji. Many other Missions were represented – some of these missions have representatives on the working committee. Involved are also some of the active NGOs.
At present the sponsors of a resolution to be brought before the UN General Assembly are 11 from among the 14 Pacific Small Island Developing States – Fiji, Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu; the Maldives and Seychelles from non-Pacific SIDS; Canada, the Philippines from among larger States. But these 15 States will pick up many more co-sponsors. Mentioned were Turkey, the EU, Austria and Iceland that have expressed their eagerness to join. There is no opposition we were told – but only some hesitation because it is seen as a new approach to the problem of the humanitarian impact of climate change that goes on already – this while in major UN institutions the debate has not led yet to action. The inhabitants of the small islands of the Pacific are the first to lose their habitat – and what we see is the eradication of UN Member States by this predictable catastrophe.
On our website we announced this encounter between the proponents of the resolution and the NGOs:
“THE THREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE TO INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY.” This is a UN resolution to be shared by the PACIFIC SIDS and the NGOs – Friday, August 15, 2008.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)We also pointed out the topically relevant event at the Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart Festival” when Lemi Ponifasio’s REQUIEM had its two evenings before a New York audience.The history of this special effort by the Pacific SIDS started on February 15, 2008, in a speech by Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau, before the UN General Assembly:http://www.palauun.org/news_archive.cfm?news_id=189
NEW YORK, NY, www.islandsfirst.org February 15, 2008 — Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations at the High Level Debate on Climate Change, H.E. Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau, citing the “life or death” nature of sea-level rise for the world’s island nations, urged the Security Council to utilize its powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to address this threat to member states by imposing mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards on all member states, and utilizing the power to sanction, if necessary, to encourage compliance with such standards.
The full text of Ambassador Beck’s remarks at the UN Climate Change debate is as follows:
“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, friends:
The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else. Salinization of fresh water and formerly productive lands continues apace. The reefs, the foundation of our food chain, experience periodic bleaching and death. Throughout the Pacific, sea level rise has not only generated plans for the relocation of populations, but such relocations are actually in progress. Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken. Larger countries can build dikes, and move to higher ground. This is not feasible for the small island states who must simply stand by and watch their cultures vanish.
Is the United Nations simply powerless to act in the face of this threat to the very existence of many of its member states? We suggest that it is not.
Last April, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom, the Security Council took up the issue of climate change. At that time, while there were some expressions of discomfort with the venue of the debate, a discomfort which we decidedly did not share, there was general agreement with the notion expressed by the President of the Security Council, UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”.
Islands are not the only countries whose existence is threatened. Ambassador Kaire Mbuende of Namibia characterized climate change as a ” a matter of life or death” for his country, observing that ” the developing countries in particular, have been subjected to what could be described as low-intensity biological or chemical warfare. Greenhouse gases are slowly destroying plants, animals and human beings.”
Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum at last years Security Council debate Ambassador Robert Aisi, of Papua New Guinea observed that climate change is no less a threat to small island states than the dangers of guns and bombs to larger countries. Pacific Island countries are likely to face massive dislocations of people, similar to flows sparked by conflict, and such circumstances will generate as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis.
Ambassador Aisi observed then, and we reiterate now, that it is the Security Council which is charged with protecting human rights and the integrity and security of States. The Security Council is empowered to make decisions on behalf of all States to take action on threats to international peace and security. While we applaud the efforts of the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General to shine a light on this awful problem, we take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?
Under Article 39 of the Charter, the Security Council “shall determine the existence of any threat to peaceâ€¦and shall make recommendationsâ€¦to maintain or restore international peace or security”. We call upon the Security Council to do this in the context of climate change.
Under Articles 40 and 41 of the Charter, it is the obligation of the Security Council to “prevent an aggravation of the situation” and to devise appropriate measures to be carried out by all States to do this. While we Small Island states do not have all the answers, we are not unmindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions by states are the cause of this threat to international security and the existence of our countries. We therefore suggest that the Security Council should consider the imposition of mandatory emission caps on all states and use its power to sanction in order to encourage compliance.
We further propose that under Article 11 of the Charter, the General Assembly is empowered to call to the attention of the Security Council “situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security” and, at the appropriate time, we will call upon this body to do so. In the event that the General Assembly chooses not to avail itself of this right, then we will call upon the countries whose very existence is threatened to utilize Article 34 of the Charter, which empowers each Member State to bring to the attention of the Security Council any issue which “might lead to international friction”.
Our Charter provides a way forward. Our Security Council has the wisdom and the tools to address this situation. And while we debate, the waters are rising.
The “Mostly Mozart” New York City Lincoln Center Summer Festival has become a New York City annual staple. For years it is also connected to the name of the theater director Peter Sellars who would bring in, or create, some special event as part of this festival. Years ago he did this sort of work in Purchase, Westchester County, New York, just outside the city where he staged new insights into Mozart Operas – but since moved these activities to the main location of the city. Jane Moss is the Artistic Director, and to her credit that she pulled in Peter Sellars who here, as in other locations in the world, including Vienna, Austria, has become an acknowledged ferment for creativity. These activities may have only remote connection to Mozart – but he somehow manages to find some link to the culture underneath Mozart’s art. But please, do not look for Mozart’s music in some of these events.
In any case – please remember that this REQUIEM was created by invitation of the 2006 Vienna Celebration of the 250th year Anniversary of Mozart’s Birth and the director for these events was Peter Sellars.
This Year, in the summer of 2008, July 29 – August 23, 2008 – “Mostly Mozart came up with two such events. Both, as the vast majority of the Festival’s events are imports:
(a) REQUIEM, an event created in Vienna, that was now seen in New York for two evenings only, Friday August 8th and Saturday August 9th, and a discussion between Peter Sellars and Lemi Ponifasio, the creator, choreographer, and designer of the event on the opening night’s afternoon.
(b) LA PASSION DE SIMONE, that was actually directed by Peter Sellars, and can be attended Wednesday August 13th, Friday August 15th, and Sunday August 17th, with two discussions open to the public on August 13th – a pre-concert discussion with Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, and August 15th – a post-concert discussion with all those involved in the production. This event is about the personal voyage of Simone Weil with text by the Paris-based Lebanese writer Armin Maalouf. We are happy to be able to note this show here as we hope to create some interest among our readers to go to see this show. We are sorry that we were not able to bring pre-event information in the case of REQUIEM.
Before moving on to REQUIEM I would like to mention that when I looked up on the internet the term “Simone Weil” I found to my astonishment, that the best material is in German, French or Spanish – nothing very enlightening in English. so I decided to post the short biography that on the english Wikipedia is posted in German -
“Simone Weil wuchs in einer groÃŸbÃ¼rgerlichen jÃ¼dischen Familie in Paris auf, ihr Bruder AndrÃ© wurde ein berÃ¼hmter Mathematiker. Am LycÃ©e war sie SchÃ¼lerin von Alain. Sie studierte an der Ã‰cole Normale SupÃ©rieure Philosophie und wurde danach (1931) Mittelschullehrerin in der franzÃ¶sischen Provinz.
In diesen Jahren – sie arbeitete eine Zeit lang als Fabrikarbeiterin bei Renault – und bis zu ihrem kurzen Einsatz im Spanischen BÃ¼rgerkrieg (wo sie auf der Seite der Anarcho-Syndikalisten in der “Kolonne Durruti” kÃ¤mpfte) war sie politisch aktiv. Ab 1936 traten fÃ¼r sie religiÃ¶se Fragen in den Vordergrund, wobei sie zuvor Atheistin war. Sie nÃ¤herte sich dem Katholizismus an und lieÃŸ sich mÃ¶glicherweise sogar kurz vor ihrem Tod taufen, nicht offiziell von einem Priester, aber – gÃ¼ltig – von einer Freundin. Von der Taufe im Londoner Krankenzimmer vor der Abreise nach Ashford berichtet zwar 1989 Georges Hourdin in seiner Biographie (Simone Weil) und teilt einen Briefwechsel mit Pater Perrin und Simone Deitz mit, in den Aufzeichnungen Simone Weils, die sie bis kurz vor ihrem Tod weitergefÃ¼hrt hat, findet sich allerdings kein Hinweis. Zeit ihres Lebens litt sie an schwersten, oft unertrÃ¤glichen Kopfschmerzen.
Wegen der deutschen Besetzung Frankreichs floh sie zunÃ¤chst nach Marseille, 1942 in die USA und anschlieÃŸend nach England, wo sie Mitglied des Befreiungskomitees Charles de Gaulles wurde. Sie starb an Magersucht, wobei nicht sicher war, ob sie durch die starken Kopfschmerzen magersÃ¼chtig wurde.”
First, let me introduce the background material that was handed out at the August 8th discussion:
To show what a large scope this REQUIEM has, as I understood it, I would like to mention that the positions taken by its author when explaining what we will be going to see in his answers to Peter Sellars – in above discussion, served me also in my reporting that day on the opening of the Olympics: www.sustainabilitank.info/category/china#6593 In that article I already tackled the essence of the discussion under:
The “Super 8 Friday” – 88888 – Resulted, According to Front Page New York Times The Following Day, In Super-Power News Characteristic to Our Times: In The Old World East Of The Atlantic Russia Moved Further Troops Into Georgia, While West Of The Atlantic Another Top US Politician Revealed That He Cheated On His Wife – In The World of The Future – China Gave A “Dazzling” Coming-Out Party.
I will add here that like in all art, the real creation in art is in the eye and mind of the viewer. What we see is merely the raw material that creates the vision, feelings , and understanding in our minds. As such – different people will say they saw, or interpreted what they saw, in very different ways. As such, even though Lemi Ponnifasio laid out before us various aspects of what we will watch in his ceremonial approach to life (mind you – he made it clear that the Pacific islanders are not actors and this is not a show) different people will still see in it different things.
In my previous comments in the “China” article I mentioned the standing poles that are there as the center-pieces of a house/home without walls – my friend saw in it at a later stage the symbol of smoke stacks that come with electricity-generation turbines that pollute the air, that creates the loss of the life on these islands, that is therefore the loss of the culture, and it becomes thus the Requiem to a Requiem where the second Requiem in this statement is actually the remembrance of the culture that is gone, so that the Mozartean Requiem is the resurgence of the memory of life.
I saw above in the discussion, but my friend added to it the smoke-stack symbolism that her “American” mind added to his “Samoan” interpretation. Both these things do not appear in other reviews I picked up from the press desk the following day – then again, this does not bother me at all – some of the viewers did still see this as art despite the fact that Lemi Ponifasio is imploring us to accept that this is a ceremonial of life and death – the death of not just individuals – but of whole cultures. Individuals in that culture do not die. They continue to be with us because those cultures transcend the physicality of death. Yes, in China the dead’ ashes may sit in an urn – right there on the mantle-piece, but the islanders have no mantle-piece and do not need the ashes as symbol that the passed-on did not pass away. He is just not seen by the naked eye but is felt – this how the people of Kiribas (Kiribati) feel their old islands even when they live now in New Zealand – the host country that agreed, in gallantry to accept in their midst the climate change/global warming refugees from the sinking islands of the Pacific.
How right are those at the UN who look at the climate change/global warming induced destruction, starting first with the Pacific islands and extending then to the low-lands of countries like Bangladesh, and continuing to cities like New Orleans and Miami Beach, as threats to World Security and Peace. Global Warming refugees will not be accepted easily like in this case where New Zealand stepped in to help.
New Zealand is Aotearoa – the Europeans that came to live in new Zealand found there the Maori who are Pacific Islanders and made a pact with them to live in peace. The New Zealanders of European descent, who since became the large majority in the two main islands of New Zealand, do not mind now to see this immigration of Maori-alike people and the enhancement of this aspect of the islands culture. After all – this is an enrichment that eventually will benefit all – even those that will still try to cling to the memories of the “old country.” People like Ponifasio understand that there is a need to compromise, after all, he takes his ceremonial before paying audiences that regard it as theatre. He will try to educate them by explaining that there is a quantum-jump difference here. But he will compromise nevertheless so his 24 members of his MAU get a way of making a living – even though they will also enhance visions of people ready to see beyond what their eyes trick them to see.
www.SustainabiliTank.info saw in the various slow actions on the stage, birds, fishes, people that have a loss of habitat. Starting with the chest self-pounding of the Maori heroes, we move to see the moaning climate-victims. We watch to the end how the mats on the floor are neatly folded away as the floor of the ground is going under-water. The reality of space is still there – the two pillars that define the space do not tumble down – but simply are renegotiated and the people leave.
This was a fascinating 90 minutes I spent watching that stage and old memories came back to my mind. These were memories of the end of the sixties and seventies when the new off-off Broadway was born. I saw there the staging of Robert Wilson on the life and times of personalities – the likes of Stalin or Sigmund Freud at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The very slow dragging action leading to tremendous impacts left behind. I remembered Richard Schechner’s lectures at NYU, and his involvement with the La Mama theater – his talks about Shamanism as the birth of theater. I saw later some of what he was talking about in places like New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, South Africa. I felt like seeing now some of these real things – right here in New York – and low and behold – it was about effects of global warming – I hope I was able to convey some of it in this posting.
One comment about Richard Schechner that I must add here – this because I learned this fact only after posting the China Olympics piece: “In March 2005, the Richard Schechner Center for Performance Studies was inaugurated as part of the Shanghai Theatre Academy, where Schechner is an Honorary Professor. With The Performance Group, Schechner directed many productions including “Dionysus in 69″ based on Euripides’ The Bacchae (1968 production)”
The second half of this relates obviously to the “Bacchae” which was the first piece of the Lincoln Center Summer festival 2008 that we posted on www.SustainabiliTank.info. I hope that someone from our theatre-art intelligentsia could do a comparison between that 1968 production and the 2008 production. Then it was about the shamanic aspect in the Bacchae celebration – now we end up seeing a late women-liberation and self-destruction aspect. To put it nicely – Schechner had then his feet more solidly on the ground and the years since did not serve us well.
The “Super 8 Friday” – 88888 – Resulted, According to Front Page New York Times The Following Day, In Super-Power News Characteristic to Our Times: In The Old World East Of The Atlantic Russia Moved Further Troops Into Georgia, While West Of The Atlantic Another Top US Politician Revealed That He Cheated On His Wife – In The World of The Future – China Gave A “Dazzling” Coming-Out Party.
Coincidentally, I started to read yesterday morning a new book by Dmitry Orlov titled – “Reinventing Collapse.” The book was released by New Society Publishers www.newsociety.com and was sent to me by Perseus Distribution of Jackson Tennessee.
Dmitry Orlov was born and grew up in Leningrad, and came first to the US in 1985 and after 10 years started going back and forth so he says – hehasbecome a witness to the changes in Russia.
Orlow is an engineer who worked in high-energy Physics and in Internet Security. He came under our cross-hairs when it turned out that he is also a leading Peak Oil theorist. But this is not why I am mentioning him today. The reason is much deeper then that.
Dmitry Orlov writes that when he came back to the US in 1996, after a longer stay in Russia where he just got married, but also said that at the time he started to understand the reasons why the Soviet Union collapsed – and horror – he started to see that the US had already at that time all the symptoms of the same disease that did in the Soviet Union. He writes that he came back with his wife to make for themselves a new life in the US, but he also started to write about his insights that made him see that the second shoe will drop eventually – that is the US after the Soviet Union – two very different States – but nevertheless two States with similar destinies because they suffer from very similar malaise.
His description of the ingredients of a super-power collapse are as follows: (a) A severe and chronic shortfall in the production of crude oil; (b) A severe and worsening trade deficit, (c) A runaway military budget and (d) Ballooning foreign debt. When such a soup starts boiling, then “the heat and agitation” are provided by (e) a fear of a humiliating military defeat, and (f) wide spread fear of a looming catastrophe.
He looks then at all of those ingredients that existed in the Soviet collapse – that was an internal collapse – an implosion I would say. He laughs at the thought that it was caused by outside influences, stemming from the actions of the US, except for the fact that the Soviets fell for the arms race of the “star-wars” competition that caused them further exhaustion. On the other hand, he sees all these ingredients in the present state of the US, and he watched these aspects grow during the last decade.
Orlov looks at Chernobyl as the backdrop of catastrophe that sent off the Soviet Union, and sees the need of oil in order to grow food in the US – at the tune of ten calories of fossil fuels to produce one calorie of food – this, and runaway foreign foreign debt, leading to the decrease in credibility of US monetary instruments – killer hurricanes and global climate upheaval – become the US fear of catastrophe. The eventual reason for the drop of the second shoe.
I only mention here these morning thoughts – I will be getting back to this book later and write a book review. Now I intend to touch on another incomplete activity I found myself involved in yesterday.
This was a “Pre-Concert Discussion” of the “Mostly Mozart” Lincoln Center Festival presentation of “REQUIEM.” Yesterday was the US premiere, but I will be seeing the show only tonight. All what I did was to sit in at the discussion between the Festival’s Director Peter Sellars, and Lemi Ponifasio, a Samoan living in Auckland, New Zealand, who is the Director/Choreographer/Designer of this Requiem.
Again, this writing of mine is a half backed attempt, and not yet a finished review of the show. This will come later. But now what I want to say here is that all such words as “Director,” “Choreographer,” “Designer,” “Show,”"Review,” were actually knocked out of my head last evening, because I realized that we really are totally incapable of understanding the mind of those that do not think like us. Interesting, Peter Sellars, remarked in a even larger context – “in our age – the commentator on the Op-Ed page presumes to understand everything – we will see that it is not as simple as that.”
My mention of Orlov’s look at history showed me how trite it is to think that the US led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that the US is safe because it thinks of itself as a democracy. Now, Lemi, and the movement of MAU in Samoa, and his troupe, that adopted the MAU name for their collective, are really no actors at all, according to how they see themselves. In effect they will be involved in CEREMONIES that come to them naturally – something that is not just a CELEBRATION – and this requiem is not a memorial for the dead – this because they are not dead at all – they are here with them – so it is as if there were a communal living with these unseen members of the community present. We will look in a future review at this as a “Requiem to Requiem” where the idea of a Requiem, in the second time it is mentioned in this comment, becomes sort of a synonim to culture, life, an island, an environment. Then the first mention of Requiem in the remark is the more accepted meaning. MAU is the name of the Samoan independence movement that took on the Germans, French, Dutch, and British. The meaning is Vision or Revolution. The activities of the MAU troupe serve “to energize dialogue and revive local oriented histories, arts, thought, languages, and narratives that have been silenced or excluded.”
In those Pacific Islands a house is not a home where you close in your belongings like in a storage – their concept is that this is a space for life and all are invited. There is always a standing pole in their culture – this pole gives you sort of a vertical feel of space and you and all your ancestors reside there. We will see that eventually this home without walls becomes the whole island and its sufferings.
To be true to our www.SustainabiliTank.info website, I will add that Lemi and Peter also touched on the problems of global warming that threaten the demise of cultures like Kiribas (Kiribati). So, will we someday have to try our own hand at this kind of Requiem when remembering the independent indigenous cultures of these Small Islands Independent States of today – the SIDS of the Pacific?
This is the extent of how far I am ready to go here.
Now, with the above two snippets, in my head, let me say that I sat down before my TV set to watch the NBC, Channel 4, reporting from Beijing, that was handled by NBC as if it was just an excuse to sell us ExxonMobil trying to sell us that they take on “the largest energy challenges of the World.” I was amazed when after that an NBC journalist actually added “while you watched the advertisements China advanced several hundred years in its history.” I hope they will not fire him for this remark.
GE spoke of biogas technology and that was fine, but Chevy Silver was trying to impress us with their miserable 20 mpg technology. Oh! Yes – we also saw John McCain bashing Obama in the campaign well paid advertisement – and we thought that at least this night we can forget about the US Presidential non-debate.
This Chinese Coming-Out event was all about HARMONY. We watched the Tai-Chi performers and were told of Harmony between Man & Nature as the only chance for Sustainable Development for China and the rest of the World for next generation – and we said AMEN. When this is resolved there will be prosperity and environmentalism.
You do not have to be naive and embrace China’s government, or take for granted the smiles on the faces of all the participating dancers and musicians. It was too uniform and large to be taken at face value – but there was enough there to say that it was an honest attempt to say – look – we suffered in our history from what others did to us – but we are a sleeping giant that is now showing – yes – we can and we will.
China showed us that they are much closer to the MAU mentality now then they are to their previous MAO mentality. Yes, the legions of dancers and musicians were militarily trained. Their performance perfect, thus in some way threatening, but the content of their show was so we appreciate what they have given to the world – ink and paper for those believing in the needs of the press, and the compass for those in search of direction. Navigation is the means of communication with the great world, and they had their own naval chiefs of the caliber of a Christopher Columbus.
These performers did not hate us – they CELEBRATED their return to the world stage, and this was their CEREMONY. After this show, China and us will never be the same. Just think of the fact that they reminded us that there were days China had the highest GNP in the world. We saw some of their ghosts, and we saw some of our ghosts. We saw Confucius, and yes, we remembered how it was members of the Atlantic community that committed them to opium enslavement. It was not said – but I knew it was somewhere there in that huge mat, center stage, on the floor of the stadium.
Money is no problem, they bought the best architectural minds to work with their own best, and created the greatest venue for a global event. Pity that parts of the show were missed by us because of the commercialism of US TV world.
We saw how some foreign leaders, like Putin, that did not smile, President Bush looked at his watch, we wondered why President Peres of Israel, who is secular, had to make the gesture of going on foot back to his hotel because of the Sabbath, but then these were not China’s problems that day.
OK, now, I finished the Friday events. On Saturday morning I rushed to pickup the papers.
The opening of the Olympics was really not the main set of news. That debatable honor went to Russia’s attack inside Georgia, and to the John Edwards attack on the US political system by having endangered the Democratic Party’s chances for meaningful change in Washington.
I really have little to say about Edward’s male infidelity – that should have been left to be solved between him and his wife, but we know that this is not US reality. Such events can sink the US, as it happened in the Bill Clinton days. Clinton’s Presidency was decreased in potency, to the detriment of the American Nation, by some self appointed ethical judges who, as we know by now, some of them had much worse transgressions in their closets. What the US does not have is that vertical space the man from Samoa was talking about. There is no ceremonial thinking in our system – only raw hunt after the culprit who may have sinned much less then we did. And when the US is in decline, while China is on the rise – now we have things to think about – not so? And don’t forget – China holds the strings to the US treasury and Orlov made his unforgivable observations.
As for the second news of the day – Putin moving on Georgia – that is tough for the Georgians but again, Putin is back in the oil-saddle and is flush with money too. In effect, we believe that he came to Beijing not as a teacher, but now he comes to Beijing as a student. He has learned from the Chinese that if you put your economy in better shape, outsiders and your own people as well, will criticize you less on human rights and other transgressions. He did not smile on TV, and he knows what his intent is now.
So, what does Dmitry Orlov think of the opening of the Olympics and the near certainty that China will take over the Super-power manttle after the drop of what he described as the second shoe?
Then, to remind us that change may not be as smooth as some may hope for, two American Olympic tourists were just stabbed while visiting the Drum Tower in the center of Beijing – reasons yet unknown.
The Case of Easter Island Tells Us That Exhausting Your Resources Will Cause the Complete Destruction of the Environment and Inhabitants; Is Going Green the Answer? Yes – But Governments Will Have To Step In – Says “The Real Truth” Website.
THE ENVIRONMENT & HUMANITY’S FUTURE: Lessons From Easter Island.
The collapse of this small Polynesian island stands as a stark reminder to those exploiting the earth’s natural resources.
The cold faces of stone stare silently over the barren landscape. Standing at attention, each stoic face resemble the one beside it. On a tiny Polynesian island in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, these sentinels are the onl immediately recognizable sign of life
Without firsthand descriptions of historic events, scientists have relied on pollen samples, archeological digs and geological tests to understand what happened to the ecosystem. Hailed as one of the most haunting cases of environmental collapse ever seen, Easter Island is an isolated eco-survival study of mankind’s “worst case scenario”—a testament to environmental destruction on a grand scale.
Early Easter Island:
Off the coast of Chile, Easter Island was once a lushly forested subtropical paradise. This tiny triangular island nation supported a prosperous and complex society of up to 30,000 people. Separated from the rest of the world by roughly 1,300 miles of Pacific Ocean, the early Polynesian inhabitants made a daring migration from the neighboring Pitcairn Islands and the mainland of South America.
A Lack of Vision:
An August 1995 article in Discover magazine suggested that the environmental collapse of Easter Island happened “not with a bang but with a whimper.” After several generations, islanders slowly consumed most available resources.
A massive migration was impossible due to the great distance from the nearest landmass. The isolated island was unable to draw needed resources from other continents; it was forced to continue on its own. Populations, now too large for the island to support, soon began to die out. Easter Island descended into civil war as chiefs-turned-warlords vied for leftover resources.
The Environment & Humanity’s Future:
Resource priorities were completely misplaced. Instead of planning for the future, tribal chiefs squabbled over who could erect the largest Moai. In their lust for power, chiefs sought to maintain their god-like status with great feats of architecture and dazzling sacrificial pyres.
Many today see Easter Island as a metaphor of the modern world. With haunting and obvious parallels, our earth is a tiny island floating in the vastness of space. Globalization, trade and communication have united various “tribes” on our “island.” With “tribes” of nations bound together in a global network, humanity is responsible for planning, controlling and using its valuable—and limited—resources.
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Severe drought, global food shortages, strip-mining, the destruction of rainforests—these are a few of the issue raised by the green movement.
Some issues rely on science, others on ethics and morals. However, while many of the above points may be valid, will “going green” solve the world’s problems?
It seems that everywhere you turn, the green movement asks, “Are you doing your part?”
The WWF conclusion provides a fitting description of the green movement: “The message of these two indices is clear and urgent: we have been exceeding the Earth’s ability to support our lifestyles for the past 20 years, and we need to stop. We must balance our consumption with the natural world’s capacity to regenerate and absorb our wastes. If we do not, we risk irreversible damage.”
Most of the green movement’s progress has been made at an individual level. People are switching from cars to buses, trains or bicycles as their major means of transportation. Some fit the roofs of their homes with solar panels, or buy organic foods, or do something as simple as flushing the toilet less often. They help increase awareness by volunteering for vocal green organizations or supporting environmentally friendly politicians.
Drop in the Bucket:
While “going green” makes sense on paper, and seems plausible on the individual level, there is a problem. The global economy is based upon growth. Growth means consumption. Lack of growth is seen as moving into a recession.
Instead of thinking solely for profit, here and now, they would have to think how their actions will affect the environment in 30 to 50 years. Cities would have to “retro-fit” buildings to make them “green.” Solar and wind power would have to be widely implemented.
Also, the world’s governments would have to begin working together to identify the problems and quickly implement effective solutions. Instead of worrying that a rival nation is growing more powerful, political leaders would have to think of the environment.
The sheer amount of money to make the global economy eco-friendly would be astronomical. Who is willing to pay the price?
“Going green” is a large investment now, with payoffs in the future.
The global mindset of what you can get here and now would have to be changed. People would have to think of future generations, while taking responsible actions today.
Yes, “going green” has worked on minute scales. But governments, mindsets and ethics need to be drastically altered to accommodate this sort of thinking. Applying worldwide sustainability requires a complete change of mind.
To begin “living within the means” of the earth, there must be a catalyst for change.