Monday, 21 June 2010

BP and Haliburton Chose Profit Over People and Nature

I am feeling a bit angry and radical this morning.

Reading the latest from the BBC 'BP was told of oil safety fault 'weeks before blast' I have been saddened but not at all shocked to find that profit was valued over people and nature in the lead up to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. Haliburton and BP have worked together to make a load of money and get out of there quick with the already impoverished and disaster ridden people, flora and fauna of the Gulf of Mexico left to pay the real costs.

Oil as a mechanism for human suffering and ecological collapse is not new. The people of many nations such as Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Afghanistan have been paying with their lives and natural resources for generations to feed the hungry industrialized nations oil needs. Poor communities around the world have been paying the price for industrialization and the wealth of the 'developed' nations. With the 1989 Exxon spill and this BP spill some of the high costs of industrialization are being felt at home.

Here is a poem for the lost communities of sea life that have suffered, perished and will continue to do so in the Gulf of Mexico and the oceans of the world as long as we allow companies like BP and Haliburton to choose profit over people and nature.

The World Below the Brine by Walt Whitman

The world below the brine, Forests at the bottom of the sea, the branches and leaves,
Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds, the thick tangle, openings, and pink turf,
Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white, and gold, the play of light through the water,
Dumb swimmers there among the rocks, coral, gluten, grass, rushes, and the aliment of the swimmers,
Sluggish existences grazing there suspended, or slowly crawling close to the bottom,
The sperm-whale at the surface blowing air and spray, or disporting with his flukes,
The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the hairy sea-leopard, and the sting-ray,
Passions there, wars, pursuits, tribes, sight in those ocean-depths, breathing that thick-breathing air, as so many do,
The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle air breathed by beings like us who walk this sphere,
The change onward from ours to that of beings who walk other spheres.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Agroforestry Projects in Temperate Regions

I have discovered the Association for Temperate Agroforestry (AFTA) this morning and am excited to see something going on in this field. There seems to be a dearth of information and knowledge about the links between forestry and agriculture. This is especially unfortunate as according to the FAO at least 90% of all deforestation is for agricultural expansion. Both small holders and large scale industrial agricultural producers are cutting and burning down the forests to grow more food and fuel.

I am particularly interested in the situation in the global north, and intend to spend the summer exploring relationships between people and nature, both forests and shrub/tundra lands of the Arctic. I am finding that even less information and dialogue is going on concerning this area of research and I am very excited to start digging into it.

I have also found that the Indigeneous People's Issues and Resources website has some good information and discussions about the deforestation and farming issues from the people's perspective.

With this link I was able to get a .pdf version of the Canadian Boreal Inititive, Boreal Songbird Initiative and David Suzuki Foundation publication Conservation Value of the North American Boreal Forest from an Ethnobotanical Perspective.

Gary Snyder's poem came to mind while writing this post:

Smokey the Bear Sutra
Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago,
the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite
Void gave a Discourse to all the assembled elements
and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings,
the flying beings, and the sitting beings -- even grasses,
to the number of thirteen billion, each one born from a
seed, assembled there: a Discourse concerning
Enlightenment on the planet Earth.

"In some future time, there will be a continent called America. It will have great centers of power called such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur, Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and channels such as Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Grand Canyon
The human race in that era will get into troubles all over its head, and practically wreck everything in spite of its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature."

"The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsings of volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth. My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that future American Era I shall enter a new form; to cure the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger: and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it."

And he showed himself in his true form of
  • A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and watchful.
  • Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;
  • His left paw in the Mudra of Comradely Display -- indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;
  • Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save but often destroys;
  • Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the West, symbolic of the forces that guard the Wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma and the True Path of man on earth: all true paths lead through mountains --
  • With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;
  • Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;
  • Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs; smashing the worms of capitalism and totalitarianism;
  • Indicating the Task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes; master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.
Wrathful but Calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or slander him,
Thus his great Mantra:
Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana
Sphataya hum traka ham nam
And he will protect those who love woods and rivers,
Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick
people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children:

And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television, or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR'S WAR SPELL:
And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out with his vajra-shovel.
  • Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.
  • Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.
  • Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.
  • Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.
  • Will always have ripe blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.

    thus have we heard.

    (may be reproduced free forever)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Wild Collection in Organic Agiculture

I am getting more and more inspired to look into the potentials and pitfalls in organic certified wild collection. Most of us are not aware that wild collection comprises such a large portion of the area of organic agriculture around the world. According to the latest statistics from IFOAM and FiBL wild collection and beekeeping makes up 31 of the 35 million hectares under organic certification. Most of this land is in developing countries.

I am now watching a presentation called 'The Sustainable Management of Biodiversity' from the IMO  FairWild and GTZ about wild collection in the Southern Caucasus and in central Asia. Large percentages of the wild collected products of Uzbekistan are being exported and these groups are working to help preserve biodiversity in these areas with the new FairWild standard. This is a global phenomenon and needs to be looked at seriously. If the 'Tragedy of the Commons' can be avoided the potential for wild collection to contribute to the local diet and the possibility for income generation through organic certification of sustainable harvests is very hopeful.

Check out Wild Collection International