December 9, 2016
Hello inspiring changemakers,
This week we start with an overview of the mass coral bleaching driven by climate change and pollution. It looks bleak but there’s still hope. Then we jump right into happy news from the Standing Rock Reservation, where the final construction permit was denied and Dakota Access Pipeline was blocked. Read more about “turning poo into energy” and learn about urban food forests. Now there are some innovative workcamp ideas!
Cross your fingers for the SCI branches and delegates gathered this week in Germany for the annual assembly International Committee Meeting (ICM). Hopefully their discussions will help us get closer to the world of peace and sustainability that SCI has been striving towards for almost a century. And hey, power to the people!
Stayin' alive! Great Barrier Reef
Only in the recent years scientists began to understand that oceans absorb vast amounts of excess CO2 and heat trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. This of course has a great impact on the oceans themselves and on the marine life as waters are becoming warmer and more acidic.
One of the most dramatic consequences is the slow death of the world’s largest living structure - the coral reef. “And let’s be completely clear. This is no natural death. And there is no question about who is to blame”. Amazing, beautiful and colourful corals are being replaced with seaweed and decay. Coral bleaching (caused by the corals expelling the symbiotic algae and thus losing their vivid colour) is a global issue and some scientists are losing hope. “The year 2016 by some measures it’s the longest global bleaching event in history and, on the Great Barrier Reef, it’s definitely the worst.” “The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare” (The Guardian)
Reefs in the first place attract with their beauty, but they are much more than that. They are a part of a complex ecosystem, providing food and shelter for sea creatures, which are food for bigger sea creatures, which are caught for food by birds and also humans. About half a billion people live within 100 kilometers of a coral reef and benefit from the protection and natural resources it offers. But if you have seen the obituary for the Great Barrier Reef that went viral last summer, don’t just accept it. Some scientists are horrified by the popularity of this image, because announcing the Reef dead means there is nothing we can do about it anymore. But in reality quitting all fossil fuel projects and seriously limiting water pollution might just stop the destruction and allow corals to come back. "Great Barrier Reef Obituary Goes Viral, To The Horror Of Scientists" (The Huffington Post)
(Dakota) Access Denied
Have you heard the amazing news? The Dakota Access Pipeline will not be completed and indigenous lives, sacred sites and water sources will be protected. “A Victory at Standing Rock, For Now” (Democracy Now!) But the water protectors know they need to stay vigilant, as the future may bring a new wave of encouragement for the fossil fuel industry. Hopefully we won't have to hear about another protest against DAPL at Standing Rock Reservation. This is an article that again shows a broader picture of what happened there and what challenges people faced inside their camps even as they came together. “I didn’t come here to lose”: How a movement was born at Standing Rock” (Mother Jones)
As if just to prove the point of the water protectors, earlier this week, about 300 km away from the protest site another pipeline spilled oil contaminating a tributary of Little Missouri River. “Western North Dakota oil pipeline shut down after spill” (Duluth News Tribune)
Naturally, Energy Transfer Partners, the main company behind the pipeline construction, is fighting back. “In documents filed in a US district court in Washington DC on Monday, lawyers for ETP argued that the denial of permission by the US army corps of engineers represented a ‘transparent capitulation to political pressure’, which they implored the court to overrule and grant them permission to complete the pipeline.” “Dakota Access company takes its battle to finish oil pipeline to court” (The Guardian)
Give it a thought - food forests
A food forest mimics a typical woodland ecosystem with layers of trees, shrubs, vines and groundcovers but, in this case, almost everything is edible. You can think of it as a garden 2.0 and community version of food forests are already popping up. They bring people together, provide space to be with nature, serve as source of food and herbs for low income members of the community, save water and can even provide space for workshops and meetings. So, do you have a space for one in your neighborhood? “Public Food Forests on the Rise” (Yardfarmers)
Youth-led biogas projects in Cameroon
Bioenergy-Cameroon, a non-governmental organisation run by young people, installs equipment that converts waste from septic tanks and pit latrines into biogas, which can be used for cooking or heating and can power small generators to run household electrical appliances. The organisation says its efforts are spurring the use of clean energy in homes and secondary schools where grid electrical power is non-existent or unreliable and alternative sources of energy such as gas cylinders are expensive.
Biogas is produced by connecting a septic tank to a bio-digester which breaks down the organic matter, producing a natural gas known as bio-methane. Students in schools where the infrastructure is installed are trained in the biogas transformation process and are shown how to build, install and maintain the bio-digester and generators at the school.
Local, youth-led, climate-friendly, innovative and affordable technology! And it helps to preserve forests. Sounds like an idea for your next workcamp? “Girls turn poo to clean power in Cameroon biogas push” (Thomson Reuters Foundation)