30 April 2009

Tonight our topic is “Global Greening.” We talk with Kevin Danaher of Global Exchange, who proposes to turn overseas military bases into centers of green technology and education.

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Global News on Greening

From the April 27 issue of the Christian Science Monitor. Gregory Lamb asks, “Is a Bad Economy Good for the Environment?”

The phrase “It’s not easy being green” may never seem truer than during this economic slide. For the first time in 25 years of asking the question, the Gallup Poll recently found that a majority of Americans, 51 percent, say that economic growth should be given priority over environmental concerns. As recently as 2000, only 23 percent of Americans wanted the economy considered first, with 70 percent saying the environment should rank higher.

But a number of environmentalists and economists, while concerned about changing attitudes, say the picture is far from one of total gloom. For one thing, the downturn in worldwide industrial production has meant fewer greenhouse gases are being emitted, slowing their growth in the atmosphere and, in turn, the pace of global warming.

Read more at: http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2009/04/27/is-a-bad-economy-good-for-the-environment/

From the Voice of America comes this encouraging story dated April 27 by Zulima Palacio describing the seven winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize for their dedication to the environment. For example:

  • In Indonesia, Yuyun Ismawati initiated a campaign of waste management, helping to solve problems of employment, health and environment. “While the world addresses the critical problem of climate change, we must remember that millions of people still lack of access to sanitation and the fundamental right to a healthy environment,” Ismawati stated.
  • In Suriname, in the northeastern coast of South America, Wanze Eduards and Hugo Jabini successfully organized their communities to win a landmark court ruling granting local people the right to control resource exploitation in their territories. “Our territory in Suriname is the only place that the Saramaka [tribe] can call home. We are obligated to protect it so that future generations of Saramaka can live there in freedom and in our own land,” Jabini said
  • In Bangladesh, attorney Rizwana Hasan led a legal battle to increase government regulations as well as public awareness that decommissioned ships from around the world are sent to Bangladesh, often with toxic contaminants, where they are dismantled by unskilled, low paid workers. “We want the global community to know that our territory is not to be treated as a dumping site,” Hasan said.
  • Toxic chemicals, from obsolete stockpiles in the old Soviet bloc, are still sometimes used by poor farmers.  Russian scientist Olga Speranskaya organized activists throughout Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus to tackle the problem. “We are all at risk and babies get their first dose of toxic chemicals in the womb and the second when they start breast feeding,” she stated.
  • In the African nation of Gabon, Marc Ona Essangui has been arrested several times for his defense of the National Park system and its rainforest and rich biodiversity. From his non-governmental organization called “Brainforest” and his wheelchair, Essangui led the efforts to expose and block government agreements to develop large projects for a mine, a dam and railroads as well as a deep-water port facility.
  • West VirginiaN Maria Gunnoe, a medical technician by training, was recognized for fighting a hard battle against the coal industry, to promote cleaner energy solutions. “This recognition proves that the intimidation tactics of the coal industry no longer works.” she said.

    Read more at: http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-04-27-voa46.c

From the Transnational Institute comes this story by Medea Benjamin of a conference in Ecuador: A New Network Forms to Close U.S. Overseas Military Bases

In a new surge of energy for the global struggle against militarism, some 400 activists from 40 countries came together in Ecuador from March 5-9 to form a network to fight against foreign military bases. The conference began in Quito, then participants traveled in an 8-bus caravan across the country, culminating in a spirited protest at the city of Manta, site of a U.S. base.

While a few other countries such as England, Russia, China, Italy and France have bases outside their territory, the United States is responsible for 95% of foreign bases. According to U.S. government figures, the U.S. military maintains some 737 bases in 130 countries, although many estimate the true number to be over 1,000.

A network of local groups fighting the huge U.S. military complex is indeed an “asymmetrical struggle,” but communities have been trying for decades to close U.S. military bases on their soil. Their concerns range from the destruction of the environment, the confiscation of farmlands, the abuse of women, the repression of local struggles, the control of resources and a broader concern about military and economic domination.

Read more at http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=16454&menu=11e

Our Questions for Kevin Danaher:

Kevin Danaher is co-founder of Global Exchange in San Francisco, founder and Executive Co-Producer of the Green Festivals held in San Francisco, Washington, and other cities, and Executive Director of the Global Citizen Center, a green project in San Francisco.

· As if you don’t already have enough projects to handle, you have recently come up with a new project: From Empire to Global Healing: Turning US Military Bases into Eco-Development Centers. Please tell us about this project.

  • How would these Centers work? What would happen there? What would they look like? [Could you describe a hypothetical or actual military base and how it might be transformed?]
  • Can the US really afford to give up its foreign military bases? What about perceived threats to national security?
  • Who would pay for this? How would it be paid for?
  • You have written that these places could “Provide large enough space for permaculture “universities” to train the trainers who will then go out and instruct communities on green economy issues” and that “We have already developed green curriculum that can be used to train people in the key skill sets of the next economy: the green economy.” What is that curriculum?
  • You have said that your Empire to Global Healing project might “Unify diverse global social movements that are now separated by tactical issues.” How do you see that happening?
  • What kind of action would be required to launch this program? Could the Commander-in-Chief do it by fiat? Would congressional action be required?
  • What are your next steps in launching the program?
  • How could listeners become involved?

Kevin can be reached at Global Exchange in San Francisco www.globalexchange.org/


Locally, a group known as the Chico Beyond War Coalition has formed to focus on demilitarizing the budget. Over 58% of every discretionary U.S. tax dollar goes to support the military, and the true cost of war to the U.S. is over one trillion dollars annually. For information on the Beyond War Coalition, send an e-mail to ChicoBeyondWar@yahoo.com

Playlist for Ecotopia #30

Teach Your Children, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young

Nature’s Way, Spirit

Mother Earth, Neil Young

Peace Train, Cat Stevens

What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace,Love and Understanding, Elvis Costello

I Remember California, R.E. M