Brazil authorizes operation of Belo Monte Dam

By  via Intercontinental Cry

Image: Mural in São Paulo, Brazil (Photo: Monica Kaneko/flickr). Some Rights Reserved

Altamira, Brazil. The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) on Tuesday authorized the Belo Monte Dam’s operating license, which allows the dam’s reservoirs to be filled. The authorization was granted despite clear noncompliance with conditions necessary to guarantee the life, health and integrity of affected communities; the same conditions that IBAMA called essential in its technical report of September 22. IBAMA’s decision makes no reference to conditions needed to protect affected indigenous peoples.

“We can’t believe it,” said Antonia Melo, leader of Movimiento Xingú Vivo para Siempre, who was displaced by the dam’s construction. “This is a crime. Granting the license for this monster was an irresponsible decision on the part of the government and IBAMA. The president of IBAMA was in Altamira on November 5 and received a large variety of complaints. Everyone – riverside residents, indigenous representatives, fishermen, and members of the movement – talked about the negative impacts we’re living with. And now they grant the license with more conditions, which will only continue to be violated.”

In an official letter to IBAMA on November 12, the president of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) concluded that conditions necessary for the protection of affected indigenous communities had clearly not been met. However, he gave free reign for the environmental authority to grant the operating license “if deemed appropriate.”

“The authorization clearly violates Brazil’s international human rights commitments, especially with respect to the indigenous communities of the Xingú River basin. Those affected populations are protected by precautionary measures granted in 2011 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which the Brazilian government continues to ignore,” said María José Veramendi, attorney with the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA).

The license allows for the filling of two of the dam’s reservoirs on the Xingú River, an Amazon tributary. It is valid for six years and is subject to compliance with certain conditions; progress will be monitored through semiannual reports. Such conditions should have been met before the dam’s license was even considered, let alone granted.

“Environmental licensing is a way to mitigate the effects, control damage and minimize the risks that the dam’s operation entails for the community and the environment. By disrespecting and making flexible the licensing procedures, the government is allowing economic interests to prevail and ignoring its duty to protect the public interest,” said Raphaela Lopes, attorney with Justiça Global.

AIDA, Justiça Global, and the Para Society of Defense of Human Rights have argued on both national and international levels that the conditions needed for Belo Monte to obtain permission to operate have not been met. The project must still guarantee affected and displaced populations access to essential services such as clean water, sanitation, health services and other basic human rights.

“The authorization of Belo Monte, a project involved in widespread corruption scandals, contradicts President Rousseff’s recent statement before the United Nations, in which she declared that Brazil would not tolerate corruption, and would instead aspire to be a country where leaders behave in strict accordance with their duties. We hope that the Brazilian government comes to its senses, and begins to align its actions with its words,” said Astrid Puentes Riaño, co-director of AIDA.

The green light for Belo Monte couldn’t have come at a worse moment. On November 5th, two dams impounding mine waste—owned by Samarco, a company jointly overseen by Vale and BHP Billiton—broke in the city of Mariana, Minas Gerais, causing one of the greatest environmental disasters in the country’s history. A slow-moving flood of mud and toxic chemicals wiped out a village, left 11 dead and 12 missing, and affected the water supply of the entire region, destroying flora and fauna for hundreds of miles around. The toxic flood has since reached the sea. The company’s operating licenses had expired two years ago.

Approval of Belo Monte’s operating license comes just six days before the start of the Paris climate talks, the most important meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in recent history. Once in operation, Belo Monte will emit greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and methane; as the world’s third-largest dam, it will become a significant contributor to climate change.

By authorizing Belo Monte, the government of Brazil is sending a terrible message to the world. Ignoring its international commitments to protect human rights and mitigate the effects of climate change, the government is instead providing an example of how energy should not be produced in the 21st Century.

Article first published at Republished by Intercontinental Cry  Magazine under a Creative Commons License; republished with permission of Intercontinental Cry.

Deep Green Resistance – Liberal vs Radical Part 1 of 3

by Lierre Keith / Deep Green Resistance

“We know that relying on argument we wandered for forty years politically in the wilderness. We know that arguments are not enough…and that political force is necessary.”

–Christabel Pankhurst

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

–Frederick Douglas


Video Transcript:

Two of my favorite people from history.  My dad gets upset because they don’t really teach science anymore in the public schools, and this is mostly because the Right Wing can’t bear the thought of evolution.  My mom gets sad because they don’t really teach history anymore and my sister fairly weeps because you don’t get art anymore in the school system.  But I say, “they just don’t teach revolution anymore in those public schools.”

So this talk is the basic political education that really, we all should have gotten, and really most of us didn’t.  And I start here with liberals and radicals because I think this is the main division.

I think this is important because a lot of times in our friendships and our activist networks and even in our groups, and across broader movements, there are these tensions that can be really painful and profound and a lot of it really comes down to the difference between liberals and radicals.  I, in the end, don’t care which side of this you decide to land on.  You’ve got to figure out which world view actually describes the world as you know it (and that’s up to you really).  But it can really help to understand where these different perspectives are coming from because then when you have these conflicts suddenly you can think, “right, that’s liberal and I’m radical, and that’s why we’re never going to meet in the middle” because these are profound differences, politically.  Doesn’t mean we can’t work together; lots of coalitions need to happen.

I am not trying to demonize anybody but these are different positions that people can take across the spectrum.  I would say the main division between liberals and radicals is individualism.

Liberals believe that society is made up of individuals. That’s the basic social unit.  In fact individualism is so sacrosanct that in this view, to be identified as a member of a group is seen as an affront; that’s the insult.

Liberals-vs-RadicalsThis is totally different for radicals over on the other side of the chart.  Society is not made up of individual people, it’s made up of groups of people.  In Marx’s original version this was class, it was economic class.  This is the debt that all radicals owe Karl Marx.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Marxist or not, he figured this out.  It’s groups of people and some groups have power over other groups. That’s what society is made of.

In the radicals’ understanding being a member of a group is not an insult.  In fact it’s the first primary step you have to take coming to a radical consciousness and then ultimately having effective political action.  You have to identify as a member of that group.  You’ve got to make common cause with the people who share your condition. That’s how political change happens.  This is both an active and a critical embrace of that group identity.

We radicals get accused all the time of creating this kind of “victim identity,” but that’s not what’s going on.  We are more than what they’ve done to us, and we do have agency.  But we do have to recognize that there is power in the world and we’re on the receiving end.

The other big division is between the nature of social reality.  Liberalism is what’s called idealist.  Social reality, for them, is made up of attitudes, of ideas; it’s a mental event.  And therefore social change happens through education.  Through changing people’s minds.

Materialism, in contrast, over on the radical side: society is organized by concrete systems of power, not by thoughts and ideas.  Society is organized by material institutions.  And the solution to oppression is to take those systems apart brick by brick.

The liberals will say, “we have to educate, educate, educate,” and the radicals will say, “actually we have to stop them.”

Political movements need education.  This is an educational event, here we are.  And you need active proselytizing.  The oppressed need mechanisms to understand political oppression such as consciousness raising.  This is all really profoundly important.

But for radicals, education alone does not change social reality.  Because the world is not an internal state.  It’s not a mental state. The point of education is to build the movement that can take down those oppressive structures and bring about some kind of justice.

If you remove power from the equation oppression looks either natural or voluntary.  If you’re not going to see that people are formed by these social conditions how else are you going to explain subordination?  Either those people aren’t quite human, so they’re naturally different than us—that’s why they’re subordinate, or they’re somehow volunteering to be subordinate.  Those are the options that you’re left with.

For instance, race and gender are seen as biological.  These are supposed to be physically real.  Well they’re not, they’re politically real.

It’s brutal, vicious subordination that creates those things.  But it’s ideology, and it is the ideology of the powerful that says this is biological.  They make the claim that this is biological because how are you going to fight God or Nature or 4 million years of evolution?  Well you’re not.

There are physical differences between people who are from northern Europe and people who live at the equator, just like there are differences between males and females but those differences only matter because power needs them to.  It is power that creates the ideology and it’s a corrupt and brutal arrangement of power.

These are unjust systems that we are going to have to dismantle, and these are social categories we are going to have to destroy.

Just like naturalism operates in the service of power, so does volunteerism.  If you are not going to go the biological route, all you are left with is volunteerism as a concept.

This is the thing that liberals do not understand.  With power removed from the equation, if it looks voluntary you are going to erase the fact that it’s social subordination.

Florynce Kennedy said,

“There can be no really pervasive system of oppression without the consent of the oppressed.”  

Ninety percent of any oppression is consensual.  That’s what it does.  It does not mean it’s our fault, it does not mean we are responsible, it doesn’t mean it will somehow crumble if we withdraw our consent.  All it means is that the powerful—the capitalists, the white supremacists, the masculinists, whoever—they can’t stand over vast numbers of people 24/7 with guns.   Luckily, for them, depressingly for the rest of us, they don’t have to.

Watch more DGR videos on the Deep Green Resistance Youtube Channel

Renewed Defense of British Columbia’s Central Walbran Ancient Forest

Bobby Arbess aka Reuben Garbanzo / Friends of Carmanah/Walbran

Sixty years of logging have left only five percent of the primary low-elevation ancient temperate rainforests of Vancouver island remaining. These are some of the world’s most biologically productive forests, attaining higher levels of plant biomass than any ecosystem on earth. The logging industry liquidated the vast majority of these diverse native old-growth forest ecosystems, replacing them with even-aged monoculture tree plantations.

In 1991, 78 days of civil disobedience successfully halted 16 kilometres of scheduled road development through the last, expansive roadless ancient forest wilderness of the Walbran Valley on south Vancouver island. The Road Stops Here campaign combined prolonged tree-sits, road blockades, office occupations, street theatre, dramatic banner hangings, international support and massive public pressure to protect the land a few kilometres upstream from Canada’s iconic Pacific Rim National Park/West Coast Trail. This area is now known as ‘ground zero’ in British Columbia’s ancient forest movement, and a new battle is heating up.

The 16,000 hectare Carmanah/Walbran Provincial Park established in 1994 was a bittersweet victory for environmental activists who fought to save the valley’s ecologically outstanding ancient forests. The park boundaries were drawn up at a roundtable of stakeholders dominated by transnational forest companies owning timber licenses in the valley. The largest and oldest western redcedar trees in the world live at the confluence of three main branches of the watershed, at the heart of the wilderness now known as the Central Walbran Ancient Forest. The 485 hectares north of Walbran river, though designated a “special management zone”, was excluded from full park protection.

Twenty-five years of intense public scrutiny and regulatory provisions have limited “harvesting” to one cutblock in the Central Walbran Ancient Forest. The area is once again the focus of a direct action struggle to keep industrial destruction such as chainsaws, heli-logging and road building out of this wild rainforest of giant trees adjoining the park.

Ongoing road building on steep slopes of the unprotected land-base opens more and more old-growth remnants to clearcut logging. In reaction, there is a growing resurgence of public support, particularly in rural communities, for preserving the unfragmented wilderness of the Ancient Forest. Before a twelve-year government policy of shutting down local unionized mills in favour of raw log exports, the rural communities were based on thriving forestry towns. Now they watch the last massive trees pass their windows on the backs of the same log trucks which exported their livelihoods.

In June 2015, logging company Teal Jones submitted a plan for eight cutblocks in the area. With approval given for a heli-logging operation to high-grade cut a grove of 500-1200 year old trees, logging is now imminent in this pocket wilderness within the traditional Pacheedaht First Nations territory.

There is a slow-growing yet persistent expression of opposition to the logging within the indigenous community, to the chagrin of band council leaders. These leaders maintain a close relationship with the logging company and manage their own logging operations elsewhere in their territory, with plans to build and run a sawmill to generate jobs and revenues.

Many economic alternatives to continued old-growth logging are being proposed to address the high unemployment and poverty in the community:

  • ethnocultural forest tourism
  • harvesting of non-timber and other traditional forest products such as mushrooms, berries, and basketry materials
  • ecologically-managed second growth plantations
  • value-added production of finished wood products
  • maximizing employment per cubic metre of wood and minimizing impacts on the land, waterways and biological diversity who depend on healthy and old-growth forests for their continued survival

The remaining old-growth forests of the Walbran valley harbor the highest concentrations of the Marbled Murrelet, an endangered seabird, anywhere outside of Alaska. The forests also shelter other old-growth dependent birds including the Western Screech owl, Western Pygmy owl, and Northern Goshawk, all listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as vulnerable or threatened. Fifteen years of old-growth forest canopy research has revealed hundreds of species found nowhere else in the world, inhabiting suspended soil habitats of the forest canopy. These unique microhabitats are found as much as two hundred feet off the forest floor, and are not supported by second-growth forests.

Climate activists are now pointing out the critical ecological role these old forests play for the whole world in sequestering atmospheric carbon and buffering against runaway climate change.

The provincial government has ignored several requests to protect the area, including a petition card campaign of 6000 signatures presented in the legislature in September.

Activists built a witness camp in mid-September to host a continuous presence of observers watching for the start of logging in approved cutblock 4424. Others recently established a “checkpoint” action camp on a main road into the area. In autonomous actions of non-violent civil disobedience, they have erected sporadic road barricades denying access to logging and road-building crews. Company officials have requested that activists move their camp to allow for preparation of a large landing for loading logs onto trucks. So far the activists have not responded to this request and a confrontation in this area may be imminent.

The activists are calling for people to converge on Vancouver Island to observe, support, or participate in actions; make supporting donations through their website; contact BC residents and politicians; and spread the news of the threats and the resistance. They encourage members of the international community to join the Friends of Carmanah/Walbran Facebook group to stay in the loop of daily developments and to access action updates, relevant links and articles, road instructions, and carpool information.

The Friends of Carmanah/Walbran is a loose-knit community of people around the world sharing the passion, resources and collective action to protect this ancient forest, once and for all.

Buffalo Field Campaign: Update from the Field

By Stephany Seay / Buffalo Field Campaign

Winter is setting in.  Snow is accumulating, and with the snow comes migration. The deep snows of Yellowstone’s high plateau drive elk, buffalo, deer, moose, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep down to lower elevations.  Unfortunately for hundreds of wild buffalo, this migration can mean the end of their lives; not because food is hard to find — winter is extremely challenging, but they are well-equipped to use their huge heads to “crater” through snow to get to the life-giving grasses below — but because the lower-elevation grasslands they seek are located in Montana where they enter a deadly conflict zone put in place by livestock interests.

As the buffalo begin their winter migration, BFC volunteers begin their own, returning to camp from all points of the compass to stand with the buffalo. The early snowfall necessitates the opening of our Gardiner camp along the Park’s north boundary, which we will do this Saturday; it’s been quite a few years since we opened up Gardiner camp this early. Patrols are preparing for another difficult season of documenting all actions made against the buffalo, monitoring their migration, and sharing our stories and first-hand experiences in an effort to end this war against wild buffalo. Will you join us?

In the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone National Park, at least ten buffalo have already been killed by treaty hunters, and Montana’s state hunt will begin on Saturday, with other treaty hunts to follow. In addition to six months of combined state and treaty hunts, Yellowstone National Park, the Montana Department of Livestock, and even some tribal entities, are aiming to capture and kill hundreds more buffalo. Through hunting and slaughter, the Interagency Bison Management Plan agencies intend to kill nearly 1,000 Yellowstone buffalo. There are fewer than 5,000 left, and the Yellowstone population — the world’s most important — is made up of America’s last continuously wild herds. Ecologically extinct throughout their native range, and not yet federally protected, bison are endangered. In 2014 we filed a petition with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to protect wild bison under the Endangered Species Act, and sometime this fall the USFWS is expected to issue their finding.  If they issue a negative finding, rejecting ESA protection — and no thanks to politics, we expect they will — we are prepared to take the next step.

Come stand with the buffalo if you can, help keep us on the front lines, and continue to spread the word to save these sacred herds.

Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!

Displaced women of San Juan Copala hunger strike

Displaced from San Juan Copala, a Triqui indigenous community in the municipality of San Juan Juxtlahuaca, the women have begun a hunger strike. They are demanding from the government the fulfillment of the promises of return to their territory or their immediate relocation.

In 2007, the struggle for the autonomy of San Juan Copala was disrupted by the intervention of the Union of Social Welfare of the Triqui Region (UBISORT), operated by the PRI, by surrounding the community and finally the expulsion of around 700 people in 2009. Lorena Merino Martinez—representative of the displaced people whose husband (along with a 7 year old boy) was assassinated in the same year by the paramilitary group—explains:

“Among those who were expelled violently it is because the government doesn’t like autonomy, there are political parties that are in with the government. For that same reason the government sent resources to the political parties in order to put an end to the autonomy, in order to be able to take possession of the community because the government finds it more convenient to have political parties and that is why they put an end to the autonomy.”

The members of the community found themselves forced to leave their territory through violence. Their dwellings, according to Lorena, are now occupied occupied by paramilitary members, who are, in some cases, neighbors. Her husband’s murderer, who was freed in 2012, now lives in San Juan Copala. The territory, she says, contains important mineral resources. “For that reason they expelled us and now the government doesn’t see the conditions for us to return to our community.”

Under the demand for justice and the return to the community, the Oaxacan government signed in 2013 an accord for relocation, but it remained only on paper.

“September 13, 2013 we signed an agreement with the government of the State where they committed themselves to protecting the homes of the displaced and they also agreed to relocate us short term in Central Valleys in 90 days. More than two years have already passed. In Oaxaca there are private properties but the government doesn’t consider the price very high and for that reason they haven’t been relocated to this date.”


Since [Nov. 4], members of the Triqui community have been in the corridor of the government palace in the Oaxacan capital demanding the fulfillment of the agreement of 2013, but the response, one more time, was repression and removal:

“Today [Nov. 5] at 3:30 AM we got more than 200 riot police, and they removed us with force from the corridor of the palace, and dragged old women and young sleeping children, throwing us outside and sprayed gas in the faces of our children and aimed the pistols they carry. And they treat us as if we were delinquents. Three of our companions were threatened by the riot police, and a 12-year old boy was chased by the police.”

During the removal, those who objected had their belongings taken.

The situation of the displaced, it is mean, unjust and violent. Many find themselves refugees in the homes of sympathizers or live on the streets. Lorena Merino told us that they used to have coffee and banana farms and had no problems getting permission to sell their products and handicrafts. But the current conditions are difficult and painful. She is worried about the children of the community that today, because of the displacement, neither eat nor study decently.

“The truth is, living on the street is no decent place for our children, being hungry, cold and thirsty is difficult, and for that reason things have not progressed on the part of the state, and for that reason we have chosen, this day, to go on a hunger strike, right now we have been on this hunger strike for six hours, but not one government official has approached us in order to open dialogue regarding our relocation.”

Article originally published in Spanish at SubVersiones. Republished in English by Intercontinental Cry under a Creative Commons (BY-NC 4.0 México) license. Translation by Heidi Bruce.

Hidden Danger of the Keystone Pipeline Celebration

photo source
photo source

by Clay Cochran / Deep Green Resistance

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
-Robert Frost

President Obama announced Friday morning that he has denied TransCanada’s permit application to build the Keystone XL (KXL) oil pipeline in the U.S. Many in the mainstream environmental movement hailed this as a positive seismic shift in public policy and public perception, and a harbinger of the inevitable saving of our planet. Were it only that simple. Unfortunately, although the denial of the KXL build is in itself a good result, it carries with it some insidious dangers to the continuation of the fundamental work of saving this planet.

It is understandable that many think Obama’s denial of the KXL is a huge victory for the environment. Sadly, that view is myopic, and typical of the wishful thinking hampering the environmental movement around the world. The denial of the KXL does not accomplish what we ultimately need: the shutting down of the entire industrial, fossil-fuel driven society murdering the planet.

Unfortunately, the history of the environmental movement has many incidences where small victories have caused a loss of focus on the big picture, or otherwise misdirected us into falsely believing the one-off accomplishment sufficient to save our planet. Make no mistake, we must be ever vigilant not to let the leaders of industrial civilization (i.e. the greedy, patriarchal, conscious-less ‘leaders of industry’ and their paid-for politicians and mainstream media) characterize the globally suicidal events that are unfolding. They will always use a deceptive framework supporting their relentless need for unsustainable expansion, and lead many into losing sight of the ecologically desperate times that we are facing.

Deep Green Resistance believes the only way our planet can be saved for all species is for the current patriarchal and industrial civilization to be immediately dismantled. We also believe there is grave danger in premature self-congratulation for small accomplishments that seemingly are a win for the environment, but in truth do nothing to alter the existing paradigm of corporate power or slow the inevitable march towards unsustainable expansion and the murder of the planet. Simply stated, the processes that have been put in motion ― runaway climate change, population overshoot due to industrial agriculture, species extinctions, and ‘resource’ extraction ― are far too developed to be stopped by any means that allows the industrial complex to remain in existence.

In the book Deep Green Resistance, co-author Lierre Keith writes

”The culture of the left needs a serious overhaul. At our best and bravest moments, we are the people who believe in a just world; who fight the power with all the courage and commitment that women and men can possess; who refuse to be bought or beaten into submission, and refuse equally to sell each other out. The history of struggles for justice is inspiring, ennobling even, and it should encourage us to redouble our efforts now when the entire world is at stake. Instead, our leadership is leading us astray.”

Our leadership continues to lead us astray. President Obama gives lip service to his concern for global climate change guiding this KXL denial decision, but the truth is hidden in his message. According to a Scientific American article, among his reasons for rejection were that

…the pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to the U.S. economy, nor would it increase U.S. energy security or help to lower gas prices, which have already declined dramatically over the last year.

With these criteria for making his decision, we’re clearly not ready to take a victory lap for the environmental awakening of the global leadership.

Also in the DGR book, the authors discuss Lester Brown’s Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, pointing out that “although Mr. Brown is to be [commended] for understanding that the problems our planet is facing are systemic and interrelated, [his plan] unfortunately falls prey to what many other ‘plans’ do; it leaves the overlapping accelerants of capitalism, industrialization, and civilization in place.”

With the KXL decision in the news, it is critical to keep in mind the myriad disastrous ‘projects’ which continue unabated. As the DGR authors warn, these other projects evidence the hard truth that, so far, the work of the environmental movement has indeed left capitalism, industrialization, and civilization firmly in place. That three-headed monster has no intention of voluntarily leaving us to salvage what is left of our biosphere, so we are left with no other alternative than to terminate it ourselves, and with extreme prejudice.

A recent article in the Financial Post states:

While TransCanada Corp. has been cooling its heels on its Keystone XL proposal for the past six years, the oil pipeline business has been booming in the United States. Crude oil pipeline mileage rose 9.1 per cent last year alone to reach 66,649 miles. […] Between 2009 and 2013, more than 8,000 miles of oil transmission pipelines have been built in the past five years in the U.S., […] compared to the 875 miles TransCanada wants to lay in the states of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska for its 830,000-bpd project. By last year, the U.S. had built 12,000 miles of pipe since 2010.

[AOPL spokesperson John Stoody said] “While people have been debating Keystone in the U.S. we have actually built the equivalent of 10 Keystones. And no one’s complained or said anything.”

A Climate Central article discusses the many alternative plans already developed to transport the tar sands of Canada:

As a way around those challenges, other pipelines are in the works. One pipeline is already operating and sending hundreds of thousands of barrels of tar sands bitumen to Texas every day.

Experts, such as Stephen Kelly, a former U.S. diplomat and a visiting professor of public policy and Canadian studies at Duke University, say that the long-term outlook for Canadian oil sands production is not closely linked to the fate of Keystone XL.

“Canada has ample financial incentive to find ways to get its oil to world markets, and it’s likely to find ways to build pipelines to its coast, despite opposition,” he said last year.

feh_003434_000001_Unistoten 2The Keystone XL decision and its accompanying self-congratulations should be a warning to us all not to lose sight of the big picture. The Keystone XL alternatives do face opposition in Canada from overlapping groups of climate activists, grassroots environmentalists concerned about local impacts, and First Nations peoples, with the Unis’tot’en Camp a prime example of a coalition for active on-the-ground resistance. We must remain vigilant in fighting pipelines and other infrastructure expansion projects wherever they’re proposed, and be skeptical of any misdirection from the fundamental work of ending the industrial-patriarchal complex.

There is some good news. Deep Green Resistance believes that the insanity of the industrial planet-killing machine can be stopped. We believe that a sustainable and just world can be achieved, and we can transition away from being a consumer society. The Deep Green Resistance strategy of Decisive Ecological Warfare (DEW) is a recognition of the scope of what is at stake (the planet); an honest evaluation of the potential for a mass movement (none); and an assessment that industrial civilization depends on highly vulnerable infrastructure.

DEW keeps front-and-center the understanding that there will be no comprehensively successful environmental actions if we allow the current industrial framework to remain in existence. The people in power who are driving 200 species to extinction each day have no qualms about leading humans to the same fate, and show no signs of voluntarily altering their behaviors. It is well past time to make them stop.

I urge you to take a look at the Deep Green Resistance website and to reflect on the future of this planet. The Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy is multifaceted and needs your help, with work to be done wherever your skill set and interests lead you. Get involved and save our home.

If you’d like to read more analysis like this, and news of grassroots resistance to environmental destruction, sign up at the upper left of this page to receive email notifications of new posts.

Dam breach of open pit iron ore mine catastrophic for Brazil

Elvira Nascimento
Elvira Nascimento

Cyntia Beltrão reports from Brazil on what may be the country’s worst environmental disaster ever, at the Samarco open pit project jointly owned by Vale and BHP Billiton:

Last Thursday, November 5th, two dams containing mine tailings and waste from iron ore mining burst, burying the small historic town of Bento Rodrigues, district of Mariana, Minas Gerais state. The village, founded by miners, used to gain its sustenance from family farming and from labor at cooperatives. For many years, the people successfully resisted efforts to expel them by the all-powerful mining company Vale (NYSE: VALE, formerly Vale do Rio Doce, after the same river now affected by the disaster). Now their land is covered in mud, with the full scale of the death toll and environmental impacts still unknown.

Officially there are almost thirty dead, including small children, with several still missing. The press and the government hide the true numbers. Independent journalists say that the number of victims is much larger.

photo source
photo source

The environmental damage is devastating. The mud formed by iron ore and silica slurry spread over 410 miles. It reached one of the largest Brazilian rivers, the Rio Doce (“Sweet River”), at the center of our fifth largest watershed. The Doce River already suffers from pollution, silting of margins, cattle grazing in the basin land, and several eucalyptus plantations that drain the land. This year Southeastern Brazil, a region with a normally mild climate, endured a devastating drought. Authorities imposed water rationing on several major cities. Meanwhile, miners contaminate ground water and exploit lands rich in springs. The Doce River, once great and powerful, is now almost dry, even in its estuary. The mud of mining waste further injures the life of the river.

We do not know if the mud is contaminated by mercury and arsenic. Samarco / Vale says it isn’t, but we know that its components, iron ore and silica, will form a cement in the already dying river. This “cement” will change the riverbed permanently, covering the natural bed and artificially leveling its structure. The mud is sterile, and nothing will grow where it was deposited. A fish kill is already occuring. We do not know the full extent of impacts on river life or for those who depend on the river’s waters.

Soon the dirty mud will reach the sea, where it will cause further damage, to the important Rio Doce estuary and to the ocean.

afterthedisaster3Some resources in Portuguese to learn more and get active:

The Castle Rock Prairie Dogs are Gone: Open Letter from an Exile

By Deep Green Resistance Colorado

What follows is an essay from a Deep Green Resistance member. Perhaps this Open Letter serves as an epitaph for the Castle Rock Prairie Dog community, as well as a call to act. We welcome all those who would stand up in defense of the living.

Open Letter From an Exile:

I wore this shirt, long-sleeved, multi-patterned, funky, well tailored hand-me-down for almost every day I worked on the prairie dog relocation at the “Promenade” site in Castle Rock Colorado.

The “Promenade” site was only that in the avaricious life-sucking minds of the capitalist pig developers. The “site” was really a scrap of prairie community, a last survivor already lacerated by monstrous earth movers, surrounded by apartments, highway, box stores, a mall, parking lots—anti-life.

The shirt faded faded under the intensity of the high-altitude sun. The shirt was embroidered with the words, “Knowledge Wisdom Truth” on the button facing.

I don’t know why.

My camp hat was also a constant part of my attire for those five arduous weeks. A grubby white canvas cloth wide brim decorated in black permanent marker with free-hand representations of dragonflies and guitars. The art was gifted on a happy Folks Festival afternoon by a daughter long sense grown.

Perhaps it was this shirt, and my camp hat – that made the sight of this human so familiar that – on the last day of my participation in the relocation, a sweet bird trusted my presence enough to land on my hat while it was on my head. I will never forget the sensation.

I think it is the greatest compliment I have ever or will ever receive. It will eternally break my heart for I have yet to live up to that trust.

Every step I took upon this scarred, tragically doomed prairie home, now extinct, was a step into the sacred. There are no words to describe her smell, her touch, her sounds, the beat of her heart, the soils the stones, the animals, the birds the bones, the plants in and out of flower. Paradise opened every day just by looking down up around. I am crying as I write this.

We saved most of the Castle Rock Prairie Dogs that survived the holocaust, the fumigation. Some would not leave. No matter how we tried to trap them, to flush them out, they would not be captured. They died on the land of their ancestors when the earth-movers came and obliterated billions of living beings and their infinity of wondrously woven relationships, spun through timeless time and loving trust.

All dead. In the void created the psychopaths are constructing a mall, more and more insatiable life sucking monstrosities following atrocities.

The prairie dogs we relocated are no longer prairie dogs. They inhabit a mountain meadow, in peace. Perhaps they are becoming meadow dogs, weaving new relationships in a new land. They are refugees of the War on Earth.

I was paid for the work that I did and the source of that money was the developer.

It was a band of beautiful women who did the relocation work, who sacrificed so much, loved completely and are wounded deeply.

Some of us could not stop gathering. I was one who compulsively collected stones and bones and feathers, wood and, in the beginning, flowers and herbs to press and burn. They seemed to be calling to me. I was trying to find the answer to a mystery.

Surely somewhere, in such abundance there must be the key to continuing her existence? Surely the beauty and story of any bit of this land could awaken even the most callous heart and save the community?

I know better; psychopaths have no heart. For the most part, humans are already deluded and dead, slaves to machines, servants to destruction. Who are you? How dare you!

Now all I have is a pile of stones and bones, feathers and wood, flowers dried flat and a certainty that this love, this immersion in Prairie gave me. I can wake up and be a whole human.

I am now in exile from Life in Alabama. On the way I stopped to pray at the Witchaphi Wall. I left a blood red stone from that Prairie Home in that sacred place. I offered prayer for the salvation of Prairie Life and a prayer for human redemption in service of Earth.

The song, “A Feather’s Not a Bird” came to Rosanne Cash as she sat with the Witchaphi Wall.

The Chorus:

“A feather’s not a bird,
The rain is not the sea,
A stone is not a mountain
But a river runs through me”

There are also these lines in her song:

“There’s never any highway when you’re looking for the past.
The land becomes a memory and it happens way to fast.”

I am in exile, from communities of Life, but not for long. We are rapidly approaching no return, there will be no communities of Life to return to. We will go extinct with them.

There is no point in running away. There is nowhere to run to that has not been marked for destruction.

Nothing left to do,
But defend the land, and let the river run though me.

And You?

Jennifer Murnan

Derrick Jensen: Forget Shorter Showers

Why personal change does not equal political change

by Derrick Jensen / Deep Green Resistance

Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption — changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much — and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Water Pouring into a Bucket

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption — residential, by private car, and so on — is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one — if we avidly participate in the industrial economy — we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world — none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem — and this is another big one — is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned — Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States — who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems.

Originally published in Orion.

Toward Strategic Feminist Action

Artwork by Summer-Rain Bentham, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

PART ONE: First steps for an effective fight-back

In the face of a worldwide crisis of male violence against women, radical feminists are preparing for a grassroots resurgence. This is the first in a series looking at effective strategies to take back women’s space and challenge male violence.

By Tara Prema / Deep Green Resistance

Western patriarchy arrived on the Pacific Coast of North America less than two hundred years ago. In some places, it hasn’t completely eradicated traditional cultures. These notes come from unceded indigenous land on the frontlines of the white male supremacist invasion.

Here, as elsewhere, our enemies publicly intimidate women activists with impunity. We face death threats, violence, stalking, and censorship from both the right and the left. This war of words is part of the escalating global war on women.

Brutality is everywhere we look. In Canada, men have murdered or “disappeared” over twelve hundred indigenous women in the past decade. Currently, the rate of male-on-female homicide is rising sharply – in some communities, it has doubled in a few years. Rape, assault, and sex trafficking have reached an all-time high and they are still growing. The victims are women and girls of all ages, races, nationalities, and social classes; however, males inflict much greater violence on indigenous women and women of color.

At the same time, women-centered spaces are disappearing and our feminist networks are divided by infighting. Male supremacists of all stripes aim their rage at targets of opportunity. The backlash is here and it’s worse than expected.

It’s time for emergency measures. That means strategic decisions about which battles to fight, against whom, and on whose turf. When the goal is to stop men from killing women, we must teach and learn how to fight back to protect ourselves and each other. In order to do that, we must join together for mutual aid and avoid becoming casualties ourselves.

Most of us are traumatized. Part of healing involves getting to the point of responding to threats effectively and learning to deal with fear, anger, and helplessness in a healthy way – by taking back our power.

Strategic Action: an introduction

iceland womens strike

Our position is one of asymmetric struggle against entrenched systems of patriarchal violence and domination that go back thousands of years in the West. Our strategy is like a guerrilla resistance movement against an occupying force that seems unbeatable – at least at first.

Success in asymmetric conflicts lies in making sure we are prepared for effective, sustainable action that moves toward the goals we’ve chosen. Campaigns that lead nowhere drain our energy and expose us to our enemies. Successful symbolic actions are excellent for boosting morale and recruiting but they are not ends in themselves. The outcome of each action doesn’t have to be large, but the goal should be.

The most useful analysis of effective strategies in asymmetric conflicts comes from the book Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet. DGR divides effective actions into three categories:

  • shaping actions bring about the conditions where resistance is possible
  • sustaining actions allow resistance to begin and continue
  • decisive actions are capable of bringing down patriarchal institutions.

Creating Conditions and Capacity

Like any other human endeavor, whether building a house or planting a field, sustained grassroots action requires certain pre-conditions. For this movement, we must develop the capacity to reach out, organize, and defend ourselves and each other. There are dozens of ways that women around the world are creating the conditions to successfully challenge male domination and hold space for our sisters. For example:

  • Women-only groups, gatherings, and discussions about liberation
  • Naming the problem and naming the agent (male violence) in our speech and writing
  • Anti-violence campaigns as part of healing and trauma recovery (and vice versa)
  • Creating affinity groups and mutual aid networks
  • Hosting women’s self-defense trainings
  • Speaking out in public against male violence when it’s safe to do so
  • Speaking privately with our sisters when it’s not

Strategic feminist actions are campaigns with achievable outcomes that lead toward a larger goal.

Networks of resistance are essential for our survival. Many of our networks are secret out of necessity. In the past year, we’ve seen radical women take back space by organizing our own conferences, like Radfem Riseup and Radfems Respond. Others are pushing back against censorship by mobilizing en masse, as fans of Meghan Murphy did when her publisher was threatened with boycotts.

wss 2

When the goal is empowering a generation of women to fight male violence and rape, a crucial tactic is developing those skills — for example, by training women to teach others self-defense and protective strategies as the Warrior Sisters do. We might also consider public demonstrations that women are ready and able to physically fight men and win.

Creating a loud, visible culture of resistance is a longer-term goal that can lead to larger group mobilizations and decisive victories, like local uprisings to expel violent males from our communities. (It wouldn’t be the first time – see the Gulabi gang in India.)

The first task of a strategic activist is to find others who share the same values, in order to sustain our morale and bring ideas to action. When there’s no group nearby, we can travel to the nearest get-together, find or create radical feminist spaces online, and start our own groups.

  • Most groups start with just a few people. Talk to strong female friends and acquaintances to find those who share the same goals and values.
  • Launch a petition – either online or on paper. It can be a demand letter (“Fund women’s shelters!”) or a general call for support (“Yes I support organizing against male violence in my community”). The email addresses you collect become your outreach list.
  • Start or join an online discussion forum or a private Facebook group for radical feminists in your region. Reach out, ask for advice, find out what other women are doing or would like to do.
  • Call a meeting. The ones who show up are the organizing committee for future events and gatherings. (Make sure to set a time and place for the next meeting.)
  • Host an event: a film screening, a book discussion, a street demo, or a radical feminist speaker from out of town. Keep that signup sheet handy.
  • Prepare and discuss a basis of unity. Set out goals, guidelines, and responsibilities early on. Make sure there’s agreement on the group’s direction, how to screen new members, and how to end relationships with those who disrupt the group or don’t share its goals.

Often it’s not safe to organize. But we do it anyway – outside of the public eye, anonymously, or under a nom de guerre. Every woman who is publicly feminist has to deal with more than her share of hate. That’s why it’s so important to get together and watch each others’ backs. The goal of our enemies is to isolate and terrorize women in order to neutralize us. Don’t let them win.

ws training ubc

  • Take safety precautions, like keeping home and work addresses private.
  • Follow security culture guidelines.
  • Let other organizers know about any threats immediately.
  • Post security people at public events.
  • Accompany activists who are targeted.
  • Inspect incoming packages, email messages, friend requests, and other invitations before opening or responding.
  • Block hostile individuals on social media so they can’t see personal details, friends, and family.
  • Use security measures (like data backups and two-step verification) on computers, websites, and email.
  • Have an emergency plan and a bugout bag for leaving home in a hurry.
  • Report credible threats to your group’s security coordinator. Police are often indifferent or abusive, but it may be useful to report the threat in case the target is forced to defend herself.
  • Keep event locations secret until hours before, or disclose them only to registered participants.

Male violence has taken the lives of thousands of women while terrorizing millions more. We have choices: We can keep our heads down and hope the violence passes us by. We can spend time and energy on ineffective or counter-productive tactics. Or we can connect our networks and grow a coalition with the power to confront the killers and win.

Remember: Solidarity between women has survived repression for more than a millennium in some parts of the world. Male supremacists have done their worst and we are still here fighting back. Our reality and our wisdom will outlive the dominant culture’s delusions.

Parts Two and Three of this series will look at strategies for sustaining and decisive actions

We hope other radical feminists find this introduction useful, and we welcome your feedback as we draft the next chapters in this series.

Strategic activism