Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Inexcusable Indifference on Darfur, Greed & Ignorance in Bali, Nobelity in Oslo

Image: Frida Kahlo, Love Embrace of the Universe

Inexcusable Indifference on Darfur, Greed & Ignorance in Bali, Nobelity in Oslo

By Richard Power

In recent days, all of the great nations' official hand-wringing concerning the genocide in Darfur was revealed to be mostly disingenuous:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has thrown his personal prestige into an effort to prevent the failure of the joint UN and African Union peacekeeping mission to the Darfur region of Sudan.
Ban, 63, told reporters today that he has contacted ``every possible contributor'' of critically needed helicopters for the mission, including leaders of ``industrialized countries and major developing economies.'' Ban blamed a lack of ``political will'' for the failure of his pleas to produce a single helicopter so far. ...
Britain and other European governments have said their forces are too heavily deployed elsewhere for helicopters to be available for the Darfur mission.
Bill Varner, Ban Personally Tries to Salvage Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur, Bloomberg, 12-6-07

Meanwhile, at the planetary climate crisis conference in Bali, greed and ignorance threaten poison the proceedings, as evidenced by the shutting out of representatives from the world's indigenous peoples and attempts to push the lifting of tariffs on imports to developing countries while the great nations' continue to hold their own protectionism sacrosanct:

Indigenous peoples representing regions from around the world protested outside the climate negotiations today wearing symbolic gags that read UNFCCC, the acronym of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, symbolizing their systematic exclusion from the UN meeting. ... “There is no seat or name plate for indigenous peoples in the plenary, nor for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the highest level body in the United Nations that addresses indigenous peoples rights,” stated Hubertus Samangun, the Focal Point of the Indigenous Peoples delegation to the UNFCCC and the Focal Point for English Speaking Indigenous Peoples of the Global Forest Coalition. ... Indigenous peoples are here in Bali to denounce the false solutions to climate change proposed by the United Nations such as carbon trading, agrofuels and so-called “avoided deforestation” that devastate their lands and cause human rights violations. Global Forest Coalition, 12-7-07

Rich and poor differed on Sunday over how to open up trade in green goods, with Brazil fearing a major U.S.-EU proposal raised on the fringes of climate talks in Bali was a protectionist ruse. ... Pakistan and Brazil voiced reservations on Sunday over a move to cut tariffs on clean technologies, such as wind power and solar panels, meant to help reduce the cost of curbing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. They suspect the measure's real intention is to boost exports from rich nations. Brazil, a big producer of biofuels from sugar cane, has said the proposal did not include biofuels nor biofuels technologies. ...
"What are we here for? Are we here to make three things mutually supportive, development, trade and climate change, or are we here to discuss about protectionist ways to slow down the process?"
Gerard Wynn and Adhityani Arga, Nations bicker in Bali over "green" goods trade, Reuters, 12-9-07

But from Oslo, a great light shone forth, it radiated from the Nobel Lecture of 2007 Peace Prize winner, Al Gore; it was the light of what I term Nobelity.

Laurie David has provided a heart-witness report from the ceremony:

The chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee pulled no punches today at the opening ceremonies of the 2007 prize presentations in Oslo. Calling on the world to act, he expressed the committee's deep concern about the future. "The Norwegian Nobel committee rarely raises its voice. Our style is largely sober. But it is a long time since the committee was concerned with such fundamental questions as this year," he said. Rarely also does the largely Norwegian audience break into a standing ovation but it did today after Al Gore's powerful and emotional speech. ... It was an incredible speech. Read it yourself, gather your family and read it to them. Pass it around at your office. Take a beat, and then feel the urgency of what everyone In that room felt today. Laurie David, Dispatch from the Nobel Prize Ceremony, Huffington Post, 12-11-07

Here are a few excerpts with a link to the full text:

... Seven years ago tomorrow, I read my own political obituary in a judgment that seemed to me harsh and mistaken – if not premature. But that unwelcome verdict also brought a precious if painful gift: an opportunity to search for fresh new ways to serve my purpose.
Unexpectedly, that quest has brought me here. Even though I fear my words cannot match this moment, I pray what I am feeling in my heart will be communicated clearly enough that those who hear me will say, "We must act." ...
We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.
However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world's leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler's threat: "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent." ...
We must begin by making the common rescue of the global environment the central organizing principle of the world community.
Fifteen years ago, I made that case at the "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro. Ten years ago, I presented it in Kyoto. This week, I will urge the delegates in Bali to adopt a bold mandate for a treaty that establishes a universal global cap on emissions and uses the market in emissions trading to efficiently allocate resources to the most effective opportunities for speedy reductions.
This treaty should be ratified and brought into effect everywhere in the world by the beginning of 2010 – two years sooner than presently contemplated. The pace of our response must be accelerated to match the accelerating pace of the crisis itself.
Heads of state should meet early next year to review what was accomplished in Bali and take personal responsibility for addressing this crisis. It is not unreasonable to ask, given the gravity of our circumstances, that these heads of state meet every three months until the treaty is completed.
We also need a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store carbon dioxide.
And most important of all, we need to put a price on carbon – with a CO2 tax that is then rebated back to the people, progressively, according to the laws of each nation, in ways that shift the burden of taxation from employment to pollution. This is by far the most effective and simplest way to accelerate solutions to this crisis.
The world needs an alliance – especially of those nations that weigh heaviest in the scales where earth is in the balance. I salute Europe and Japan for the steps they've taken in recent years to meet the challenge, and the new government in Australia, which has made solving the climate crisis its first priority.
But the outcome will be decisively influenced by two nations that are now failing to do enough: the United States and China. ...
Both countries should stop using the other's behavior as an excuse for stalemate and instead develop an agenda for mutual survival in a shared global environment.
These are the last few years of decision, but they can be the first years of a bright and hopeful future if we do what we must. No one should believe a solution will be found without effort, without cost, without change. Let us acknowledge that if we wish toredeem squandered time and speak again with moral authority, then these are the hard truths:
The way ahead is difficult. The outer boundary of what we currently believe is feasible is still far short of what we actually must do. Moreover, between here and there, across the unknown, falls the shadow.
That is just another way of saying that we have to expand the boundaries of what is possible. In the words of the Spanish poet, Antonio Machado, "Pathwalker, there is no path. You must make the path as you walk."
Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, 12-10-7 (© THE NOBEL FOUNDATION 2007)

Here are five more stories that illuminate the painful truth that Darfur and Global Warming are both symptoms of a deeper, even more intractable crisis -- one of conscience and purpose:

The Harper government faced heated accusations ... of playing politics with the lives of Africans because it views the troubled continent as a Liberal preoccupation.
Leading the political charge was Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, the retired general who commanded the United Nations mission that failed to stop the genocide in Rwanda. ... The [Liberal Party] plan also calls on Canada to revitalize a stalled peace process that ended more than two decades of fighting between north and south Sudan.
That two-year process is in jeopardy of falling apart and reigniting a civil war that raged for 21 years.
"If that happens it doesn't really matter what goes on in Darfur. The whole region will be in an uproar," said Liberal MP Glen Pearson, who has made 30 trips to Sudan in the past nine years, adopting three children from the country.
Ottawa Citizen, 12-10-07

A rebel group in Sudan's western Darfur region says it has seized the Rahaw oil field in the neighbouring province of Kordofan. The Justice and Equality Movement, JEM, says it defeated 12-hundred government soldiers who were guarding the Chinese-owned oil field. ... JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim says the attack is part of a campaign to force Chinese oil firms to leave Sudan. The rebels say oil revenues help the Sudanese government finance the conflict in Darfur. Radio Netherlands, 12-11-07

Climate change could speed up the large-scale destruction of the Amazon rainforest and bring the “point of no return” much closer than previously thought, conservationists warned today.
Almost 60% of the region’s forests could be wiped out or severely damaged by 2030, as a result of climate change and deforestation ...
Destroying almost 60% of tropical rainforest by 2030 would do away with one of the key stabilisers of the global climate system, it warned.
Such damage could have a knock-on effect on rainfall in places such as central America and India, and would also destroy livelihoods for indigenous people and some 80% of habitats for animal species in the region.
Alison Benjamin, Guardian, 12-6-07

A new report rates the climate-protection performance of 56 countries that account for 90 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. While Germany came in at second best, the US ranked second worst. ...
The index, compiled by Germanwatch, a nonprofit climate research institute based in Berlin and Bonn, evaluates and ranks the climate-protection performance of 56 industrialized nations that account for 90 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. On this year's list, Sweden retained the top spot, while Saudi Arabia was deemed the most irresponsible emitter among the world's major economies ...
Sweden First, US almost Last, Says Study, Der Spiegel

A new report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee concludes that the Bush administration has “engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming.” Highlights from the report:
– The White House censored climate change scientists. ...
– The White House extensively edited climate change reports. ...
– The White House muzzled environmental administration staffers.
Think Progress, 12-10-07

But while most of the planet's political leaders and corporate executives hide from the truth and their responsibility to act upon it urgently, a growing multitude know better, the pyramid is shaking at its foundations:

In January, George Clooney will make his second trip to Darfur in hopes of bringing back video footage of the land ravaged by famine, disease and warfare. ...
[Clooney]: I'm not a politician, so the reason I go is to (focus) attention there. So we're going to try to get deeper into Darfur; try to get some cameras in to the tougher camps and have conversations. That's basically all I can do. If you put famous people in front of very ugly sites, people will watch. ...
Q: What has been accomplished since you and your father (Nick) spoke about Darfur on the National Mall in April 2006?
[Clooney]: You want the truth? Absolutely nothing. People can march and pat each other on the back, and concerts will happen, and the simple truth is there's still the exact same issues going on.
William Keck, USA Today, 12-9-07

From costume parades in Manila to a cyclist’s protest in London, marches were held in more than 50 cities around the world to coincide with the two-week U.N. Climate Change Conference, which runs through Friday in Bali, Indonesia.
Hundreds of people rallied in the Philippines wearing miniature windmills atop hats, or framing their faces in cardboard cutouts of the sun. “We are trying to send a message that we are going to have to use renewable energy sometime, because the environment, we need to really preserve it,” high school student Samantha Gonzales said at the rally in the capital, Manila. “We have to act now.” ... At the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, ice sculpture artist Christian Funk carved a polar bear out of 15 tons of ice as a memorial to climate protection. ...
Raphael G. Satter, Associated Press, 12-9-07

There is still time for a miraculous awakening/uprising.

For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

If you want to help save Darfur, here are sites that will show you how:

Dream for Darfur

Mia Farrow [NOTE: I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.]

Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Genocide Intervention Network

Divest for Darfur.

Save Darfur!

If you want to help the human race fight the impact of global warming, here are resources:

Click here for access to great promotional tools available on The Eleventh Hour action page.

To sign the Live Earth Pledge, click here.

Want to wake people up to the US mainstream news media's complicity in misinforming the public on global warming and climate change? Click here for Media Matters' compilation of "Myths and Falsehoods about Global Warming".

Want to participate in the effort to mitigate the impact of global warming? Download "Ten Things You Can Do"

Want to join hundreds of thousands of people on the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, and become part of the movement to demand our leaders freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions now? Click here.

Center for American Progress Action Fund's Mic Check Radio has released a witty and compelling compilation on the Top 100 Effects of Global Warming, organized into sections like "Global Warming Wrecks All the Fun" (e.g., "Goodbye to Pinot Noir," "Goodbye to Baseball," "Goodbye to Salmon Dinners," "Goodbye to Ski Vacations," etc.), "Global Warming Kills the Animals" (e.g., "Death March of the Penguins," "Dying Grey Whales," "Farwell to Frogs," etc.) and yes, "Global Warming Threatens Our National Security" (e.g., "Famine," "Drought," "Large-Scale Migrations," "The World's Checkbook," etc.) I urge you to utilize Top 100 Effects of Global Warming in your dialogues with friends, family and colleagues.

And don't forget to tune into Eco-Talk Radio on the air waves and/or in cyberspace.

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