'Climate Change' Tag Archive

Sep 20 2009

Plundering the Amazon


Alcoa and Cargill have bypassed laws designed to prevent destruction of the world’s largest rain forest, Brazilian prosecutors say. The damage wrought by scores of companies is robbing the earth of its best shield against global warming.

By Michael Smith and Adriana Brasileiro
Bloomberg Markets, September 2009

For four decades, Edimar Bentes and his family have survived by farming tiny clearings in the jungle near their dirt-floor shack in the state of Para in the Brazilian Amazon. On this April afternoon, Bentes, 56, squats in the driving rain and dips a glass into what just four years ago was a crystal-clear stream that provided drinking and bathing water. He frowns as the glass fills with brown silt. A thin man with short-cropped dark hair and a tanned, deeply wrinkled forehead, Bentes gazes around his land. There are no signs of the deer, armadillos and pacas he used to hunt to feed his wife and 10 children. For Bentes and thousands of others in the Juruti region of Para whose livelihood depends on wildlife and plants, everything changed in 2006.

That’s when New York-based Alcoa Inc., the world’s second-largest primary aluminum producer, started to bulldoze a 56-kilometer (35-mile) swath of the rain forest across hundreds of families’ properties to build a railway. This cleared corridor, 100 meters (109 yards) wide, will lead to a mine that will chew up 10,500 hectares (25,900 acres) of virgin jungle over three decades. More than half of the mine will lie inside a forest that by Brazilian federal law is supposed to be preserved unharmed forever for local residents. By year’s end, Alcoa says, the railway will transport 7,000 tons a day of bauxite, the dark red ore that’s used to make aluminum, from the mine to a port on the Amazon River. Read More

Feb 09 2009

Iceland’s Ecological Crisis: Large Scale Renewable Energy and Wilderness Destruction


From New Renaissance Magazine

By Miriam Rose

The economic issues currently causing mass demonstrations in Iceland have a less publicised ecological cousin, and one which the IMF has recently identified as part of the economic collapse. In 1995 the Ministry of Industry and Landsvirkjun, the national power company, began to advertise Iceland’s huge hydropower and geothermal energy potential. In a brochure titled “Lowest energy prices!!” they offered the cheapest, most hard working and healthiest labour force in the world, the cleanest air and purest water – as well as the cheapest energy and “a minimum of environmental red tape” to some of the world’s most well known polluting industries and corporations (such as Rio Tinto and Alcoa). This campaigning has led to the development of an ‘Energy Master Plan’ aimed at damming almost all of the major glacial rivers in Iceland, and exploiting all of the geothermal energy, for the power intensive aluminium industry. The loans taken by the Icelandic state to build large scale energy projects, and the minimal payback they have received from the industry, has been a considerable contributing factor to the economic crisis, while at the same time creating a European ecological crisis that is little heard of.

The Largest Wilderness in Europe
I first visited Iceland in 2006 and spent a week with activists from the environmental campaign Saving Iceland, a network of individuals from around Europe and Iceland who decry the fragmentation of Europe’s largest wilderness in favour of heavy industry. From these informed and passionate folk I learned of the 690 MW Kárahnjúkar dam complex being built in the untouched Eastern Central Highlands to power one Alcoa aluminium smelter in a small fishing village called Reydarfjörður. The dams formed the largest hydro-power complex in Europe, and were set to drown 57 km2 of beautiful and virtually unstudied wilderness, the most fertile area in the surrounding highlands. Ultimately it would affect 3% of Iceland’s landmass with soil erosion and river silt deprivation. They also explained how materials in the glacial silt transported to the oceans bonds with atmospheric CO2, sinking carbon. The damming of Iceland’s glacial rivers not only decreases food supply for fish stocks in the North Atlantic, but also negatively impacts oceanic carbon absorption, a significant climatic effect. After taking part in demonstrations at the construction site of the Alcoa smelter (being built by famous Iraq war profiteers Bechtel), I went to see the area for myself. Read More

Oct 13 2008
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Global Warming Grips Greenland


Tom Henry, Toledo Blade – ILULISSAT, GREENLAND — Beyond the howl of sled dogs echoing across this hilly coastal village is the thunderclap of ancient icebergs splitting apart, a deafening rumble you feel in your bones. There’s no mistaking its big, loud, and powerful boom, a sound that can work up to a crescendo like rolling thunder. Or be as sudden as a shotgun blast. Lifelong Greenland resident Karen Jessen Tannajik said people who live in Ilulissat — an Inuit word for icebergs — notice more about what’s been calved by the village’s nearby Sermeq Kujalleq glacier than sights and sounds. Read More

Sep 30 2008

Testing Metal


SmelterEconomist.com – When thinking globally requires unpleasant action locally.
LAST Thursday, at a conference on aluminium smelting in Germany, environmental activists tripped the fire alarms. Later, they set off a deafening rape alarm in the main auditorium, and suspended it out of reach of the indignant organisers using helium balloons. They also chucked in a few stink bombs, and scattered leaflets among the bewildered crowd.
Protesters from the same group have chained themselves to machinery, suspended banners from building façades and blockaded construction sites, to name just a few of the activities that have got them arrested, all in the name of “Saving Iceland”, as their organisation is called. Their grievance is simple: they do not think that power companies should be building dams and drilling wells for geothermal plants in pristine parts of Iceland, simply to provide power for aluminium smelters. Read More

Sep 23 2008

Copenhagen: Call to Climate Action


A call for action from Denmark.

We stand at a crossroads. The facts are clear. Global climate change, caused by human activities, is happening, threatening the lives and livelihoods of billions of people and the existence of millions of
species. Social movements, environmental groups, and scientists from all over the world are calling for urgent and radical action on climate change.
On the 30th of November, 2009 the governments of the world will come to Copenhagen for the fifteenth UN Climate Conference (COP-15). This will be the biggest summit on climate change ever to have taken place. Yet, previous meetings have produced nothing more than business as usual.
There are alternatives to the current course that is emphasizing false solutions such as market-based approaches and agrofuels. If we put humanity before profit and solidarity above competition we can live amazing lives without destroying our planet.

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Sep 17 2008

Wake Up, Freak Out, then Get a Grip



Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip from Leo Murray.

Jul 20 2008
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Wed July 23 – Samarendra Das and Andri Snær at Reykjavik Academia


On Wednesday July 23, 19.30 h. Saving Iceland will hold a conference with the Indian writer, scientist and aluminium expert Samarendra Das and ‘Dreamland’ author Andri Snær Magnusson, on the influence of the aluminium industry in the third world. Also, the concept of aluminium as a ‘green’ product will be examined. The evening is organised jointly with Futureland. It will take place at the Reykjavikurakademian house on Hringbraut 121. Read More

Jul 06 2008

Iceland Overheats


Icelandic Economy Suffers as Century Shareholders Make Record Profit
By Jaap Krater

As inflation rates in Iceland soared to 8.7% and the Icelandic krona lost a third of it’s value, US-based Century Aluminum started construction of a much disputed aluminium smelter at Helguvik, southwest of the capital Reykjavik. The Icelandic economy is suffering from overheating as billions are spent on construction of new power plants and heavy industry projects. The central bank raised the overnight interest rate to a whopping 15% to control further price increases as Icelanders see their money’s value disappearing like snow. It would seem that the last thing the tiny Icelandic economy needs is further capital injections.

But Icelandic investors are making record profits from the new projects. The value of shares sold to them by Century less than a year ago to finance the Helguvik smelter has increased by 33%, though the company has not made a profit in years. Read More

May 13 2008
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New Zealand Demands Alcan Pay for their Pollution


Rio Tinto Alcan’s smelter in New Zealand could soon shut down due to the corporations refusal to pay for their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Their Tiwai Point smelter produces up to 352,976 tonnes of aluminium per year and is New Zealand’s largest single user of electricity. It will be massively affected by the governments proposal to demand that those who contribute to global warming should pay the cost themselves, not foot the bill on the rest of the population. Rio Tinto say the rise in energy cost will make them leave New Zealand. Read More

Mar 11 2008

Saving Iceland Blocks Metal Conference in Brussels


Monday morning at 8:30 Saving Iceland disturbed the opening of the two-day conference Metals: Energy, Emissions and the Environment in Brussels. About twenty activists blocked the conference entrance of the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel with chain locks and aluminium garbage. With this action they protested against Alcoa, Rio Tinto-Alcan and Norsk Hydro, who are using this conference to promote aluminium as a ‘sustainable’ metal.

Watch the video on Youtube
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