Last year, Daryl Hannah was up in a tree with Joan Baez, trying to save an L.A. farm from being taken over by developers. This year, she’s got her feet on the ground in Ecuador, for yet another environmental struggle:
…Daryl Hannah traveled through the thick Ecuadorian jungle on Monday to see for herself why 30,000 villagers and indigenous people of the Amazon are suing the oil company Chevron.
The oil giant faces a trial in this town, located 110 miles to the east of Quito, for supposedly failing to clean up the spill of hundreds of millions of liters of toxic water.
The inhabitants of Lago Agrio, Ecuador, are asking that Chevron pay 6 billion dollars in damages.
Via / El Universal
Image via Washington Post – AP
The Chilean capital of Santiago is yet again under an emergency alert for the levels of smog reached in the city. The above photo from Spain’s 20 Minutos shows the city almost invisible and covered by smog on May 24th. Yesterday the city government declared another emergency alert which took 600,000 cars off the road in an effort to bring down the smog levels. According to 20 Minutos, reports of bronchial obstructions and pneumonia in children and the elderly went up 30 percent on Monday.
Via / 20 Minutos
Mexico City, a metropolis famous for its smog and crowds (among other wonderful things) isn’t the first place you’d think of when you hear the words “organic crops”. But that a new breed of farmers known as have set out to produce food free of contaminants and totally natural in the Mexican capital:
Conceived as a strategy to promote organic agriculture in rural areas within the Federal District, the Sello Verde (Green Stamp) — certification means that chemicals have been definitively eliminated throughout the production chain — has begun to pay off, with 84 organic products free of contaminants being grown, which have even been exported to the U.S. and Europe because of their high quality.
Vegetables, fruits, corn, honey and nopal (edible cactus) are only some of the items which, through the help of 23 farmer organizations have reached the level of quality demanded by certification.
Last Friday, ex-vice president-cum-documentarian Al Gore brought his “inconvenient truth” — that we are rapidly destroying the earth — to Santiago de Chile, where he spoke before a crowd of 1700 which included Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. It seems that the message could not have come at a better time, as Santiago mobilizes in the face of the highest smog levels since 1999:
On Saturday, the Particle Quality Index (ICAP) hit 409, well above the 300 that is required for the government to declare a pre-emergency. While levels had returned to normal by late Sunday, environmentalists are concerned that the capital’s new public transport system is not living up to its promises of safer, cleaner air for its residents.
Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands — the natural paradise that inspired some of Charles Darwin’s most important writings on his Theory of Evolution — are being destroyed by the massive influx of tourists to the protected area.
According to Spain’s 20 Minutos, UNESCO director Koichiro Matsuura says his team conducted an inspection of the islands last April and found them in grave danger due to the “excessively high” number of visitors to the island, and the contamination of the natural flora and fauna by non-native plants and animals.
Ana Albán, Ecuador’s environmental minister, says that the country will make this problem a “national priority”, and meanwhile UNESCO is studying the possibility of putting the islands on their list of at-risk natural heritage sites.
Via / 20 Minutos
While the U.S. may only now be talking about reducing its dependance on foreign oil, Brazil was thinking about it decades ago, and put in place a program designed to do just that. The genius idea was to pioneer a technology for vehicles which run on gasoline or on ethanol (alcohol) made from sugar cane. The BBC reports that Brazil is experiencing a revival in the use of these vehicles:
Ethanol-driven cars have been on sale there for 25 years, but they have been enjoying a revival since flex-fuel models first appeared in March 2003.
Just 48,200 flex-fuel cars were sold in Brazil in 2003, but the total had reached 1.2 million by the end of last year and had since topped two million, the Brazilian motor manufacturers’ association Anfavea said.
Brazil incents buyers with a lower purchase tax on flex-fuel cars, which helps reduce pollution. However, some say that by using sugar cane to power cars, we are wasting valuable food supplies. And that it stinks. A lot.
Via / BBC News
Image via MSNBC/AP
While the rest of the world is busy chingando the ecosystem, a report published by the World Wildlife Foundation claims that the only country in the world with “sustainable development” is Cuba:
WWF includes in its report a graph which shows two features: the human development index (established by the United Nations) and the so-called “ecological footprint” which shows the per person energy and resources comsued in each country.
Surprisingly, only Cuba has passed in both arenas, which is enough to be designated a country that “meets the minimum sensitivity criteria”.
The study’s authors credit the high level of literacy, long life expectancy and low consumption of energy for this success.
The authors also claim that Latin America is the region that leads in sustainable development, and that is due in part to the fact that, according to them:
“…people are happier there and maybe that’s because there is a better balance between development and the environment.”
That doesn’t sound very scientific to me. And I can’t say that people in general are “happier” in Latin America. They worry about different things and let other things go maybe, but that generalization is a little bit far-fetched, I think. Though there are those who think otherwise.
Via / 20 Minutos
Image via BBC.co.uk