Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times
Volume 11 No. 5

May, 2018
Goldman Prizes 2018

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Dear Reader,

The Goldman Prizes have been announced for 2018!  We rejoice in celebration of the wonderful good works of these people showing how often the biggest hearts are found in some of  the smallest places.

About the Prize 
 The Goldman Environmental Prize honors grassroots environmental heroes from the world's six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk.

Ordinary People. The Goldman Prize views "grassroots" leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.

The Prize Recipients
Goldman Prize recipients focus on protecting endangered ecosystems and species, combating destructive development projects, promoting sustainability, influencing environmental policies, and striving for environmental justice. Prize recipients are often women and men from isolated villages or inner cities who choose to take great personal risks to safeguard the environment.

What the Goldman Prize Provides
The Goldman Prize amplifies the voices of these grassroots leaders and provides them with: 
  • International recognition that enhances their credibility Worldwide
  •  Visibility for the issues they champion
  • Financial support to pursue their vision of a renewed and protected environment

Rachel Carson made environmental history with her book, Silent Spring,  which helped launch the work of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in the United States.  I encourage you to click the link to the brief slide show below the EDF article for a good summary of the achievements to preserve native species in North America.

Pope Francis and Thomas Berry have wisdom for us at the finish of the news stories this month.

Let me hear from you if you have ideas for improving the Carbon Rangers.

Br. Kevin

Edmund Rice International

Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona

Goldman Prize Africa: Secret Nuclear Deal Uncovered.
As grassroots activists, Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid built a broad coalition to stop the South African government’s massive secret nuclear deal with Russia. On April 26, 2017, the High Court ruled that the $76 billion nuclear power project was unconstitutional—a landmark legal victory that protected South Africa from an unprecedented expansion of the nuclear industry and production of radioactive waste.

The Hazards of a Nuclear Future.  Nuclear energy has been promoted as green energy, but the negative environmental impacts of the nuclear industry are substantial. For every pound of enriched uranium that goes into a nuclear reactor, more than 25,000 pounds of radioactive waste are produced in the mining and processing of uranium. Used reactor fuel remains extremely hot for hundreds of years and radioactive for thousands of years.

Nuclear Waste Disposal Challenge.  South Africa currently has one nuclear power station, Koeberg, operated by the state-owned electric utility, Eskom. Koeberg’s spent reactor fuel—high-level radioactive waste—is retained in storage ponds on site, and Eskom has not found a long-term solution for its disposal. Since the 1980s, nuclear waste from the reactor has been buried in the Namaqualand desert, home to the indigenous Nama people, who were not consulted about the location of the nuclear waste site.

All Liability for South Africa. In 2014, South Africa’s government made a secret deal with Russia to develop 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy by building eight to ten nuclear power stations throughout South Africa. The $76 billion deal was unprecedented in scope and cost, and assigned all liability for nuclear accidents to South Africa. The proposed site of the first new nuclear station was on the coast of Port Elizabeth, where warm water discharged by the nuclear station’s cooling system would have raised the temperature of the ocean, harming marine life and jeopardizing the livelihoods of small-scale fishermen in the area. The reactor’s location also put it at risk from seismic activity, with the potential to spark an accident like that at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.  Read More.

Goldman Prize South and Central America:  Challenge to the Pillage of Ancestral Lands.
A formidable leader of the Afro-Colombian community, 
Francia Márquez organized the women of La Toma and stopped illegal gold mining on their ancestral land. She exerted steady pressure on the Colombian government and spearheaded a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women to the nation’s capital, resulting in the removal of all illegal miners and equipment from her community.

The pillage of ancestral lands. Illegal gold mining is a growing problem in Colombia, where 80% of gold is mined unlawfully, with devastating impacts on the environment—including deforestation and contamination of water sources. Illegal gold miners are estimated to dump more than 30 tons of mercury into rivers and lakes in the Amazon region each year, poisoning fish and people as far as 250 miles downstream.

Afro-Colombian Artisanal Mining. La Toma sits in the Cauca Mountains of southwest Colombia, at the epicenter of the country’s illegal gold mining epidemic. The region is home to a quarter million Afro-Colombians, a population that originally was brought as slaves from Africa to work in Colombia’s colonial mines and haciendas. The Afro-Colombian community has practiced agriculture and artisanal mining for generations, using pickaxes and panning for gold nuggets in the Ovejas River. The Ovejas is the lifeblood of the community, providing water to drink and fish to eat year-round.

Illegal Mining Intrusion. In 2014, illegal miners began operating 14 backhoes on the banks of the Ovejas River near La Toma, wreaking havoc on the local environment. They cleared forests and dug deep open pits, destroying the natural flow of the river and killing fish. An estimated 2,000 such backhoes dotted the Cauca region.

Toxins in the River. Hordes of illegal miners, numbering in the thousands, descended upon the open pits in a rush for gold. Illegal miners used mercury and cyanide to extract the gold from dirt and rock. These toxic chemicals flowed directly into the Ovejas River, contaminating the community’s only source of fresh water. Mining camps transformed into small cities, much like the boom towns of the California Gold Rush. With populations of up to 5,000 people, these cities gave rise to prostitution, illegal drug use, and rampant violence as miners preyed upon and clashed with local residents.  Read More.

Goldman Prize Asia: Sustainable Energy for Vietnam. 
Khanh Nguy Thi used scientific research and engaged Vietnamese state agencies to advocate for sustainable long-term energy projections in Vietnam. Highlighting the cost and environmental impacts of coal power, she partnered with state officials to reduce coal dependency and move toward a greener energy future.

The proven dangers of coal.  As its economy booms, Vietnam’s electricity needs have been growing at roughly 12% per year for the past decade. Vietnam is one of four Asian nations that lead the world in new coal plant construction. After exploiting most of its hydropower potential, in 2011 the Vietnamese government turned to coal and nuclear to meet its future energy needs. A large portion of the coal burned in Vietnam is imported, increasing the country’s reliance on expensive imports. As the dirtiest form of electricity generation, coal is responsible for 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is a major source of air and water pollution.

Premature Deaths from Coal. In 2011, the Vietnamese government published its 2011-2020 Power Development Plan, which outlined the country’s future energy needs and called for 75,000 megawatts of coal-fired power by 2030. A 2015 Harvard University study concluded that about 20,000 citizens per year would die prematurely as a result of air pollution if all proposed coal plants were built in Vietnam.  Read More.

Goldman Prize Islands and Island Nations: Lead Paint Ban for Philippines
Manny Calonzo spearheaded an advocacy campaign that persuaded the Philippine government to enact a national ban on the production, use, and sale of lead paint. He then led the development of a third-party certification program to ensure that paint manufacturers meet this standard. As of 2017, 85% of the paint market in the Philippines has been certified as lead safe.

An environmental poison.The hazards of lead paint have been well-documented and regulated in developed nations for more than 40 years. But lead paint remains a major environmental health issue in developing countries—including the Philippines. Studies conducted in the early 2000s revealed startlingly high levels of lead in decorative paint in more than 30 developing countries—showing lead levels routinely above 600 parts per million (ppm), and often higher than 10,000 ppm. The US allows lead levels of no more than 90 ppm.

Alternatives Exist. Traditionally, lead is added to paint to help it dry smoother, faster, and be more opaque. High quality, cost-effective alternatives to lead ingredients exist and are used in developed countries. Unlike many environmental health issues, the science on lead poisoning is indisputable. Studies have shown that the presence of lead paint on home interiors and exteriors is strongly linked to lead levels in children’s blood. Over time, paint on surfaces will chip and deteriorate, which releases lead into the dust and soil around homes, schools, and other locations. Children playing in these environments get the soil or dust on their hands and ingest it through normal hand-to-mouth contact.

Lead as Neurotoxin.  Lead is a potent neurotoxin; even low levels of lead exposure can impair children’s cognitive function. Childhood lead poisoning can have lifelong health impacts, including learning disabilities, reduced IQ, anemia, and disorders in physical, visual, spatial, and language skills.  Read More.

Goldman Prize North America: Citizens Expose Flint Water Crisis
LeeAnne Walters led a citizens’ movement that tested the tap water in Flint, Michigan, and exposed the Flint water crisis. The results showed that one in six homes had lead levels in water that exceeded the EPA’s safety threshold. Walters’ persistence compelled the local, state, and federal governments to take action and ensure that residents of Flint have access to clean water.

A water contamination crisis without boundaries.  The Flint River has served as a traditional dumping ground for local industry, starting with lumber mills in the 1830s, followed by paper mills, chemical processing plants, and automobile manufacturing. The city began drawing its drinking water from the Flint River in 1893. By 1955, the river was so polluted that Flint was compelled to switch its drinking water supply to a nearby reservoir. In 1967, the city began purchasing cleaner water from Detroit, which sources its water from Lake Huron.

State Government Sought Inexpensive Fix. In 2011, with the city of Flint facing a $25 million deficit, the state of Michigan took over Flint’s finances. The state found that it could save money by building its own pipeline to Lake Huron. However, the project would take at least two years to complete, and the state sought an inexpensive, temporary alternative. In April 2014, state and local officials began using the Flint River as the city’s primary source of water again.

Result- Water Quality Deteriorated. Almost immediately, Flint residents noticed an orange-brown tinge to their water. When city officials finally tested the water four months later, they found E. coli in the water supply. In July 2014, Flint resident LeeAnne Walters noticed a rash on both of her three-year-old twins. Local doctors diagnosed the rash as scabies. Walters and her daughter then began losing clumps of hair in the shower, and Walters’ eyelashes fell out. In December 2014, Walters’ 14-year-old son fell ill. Read More.

Goldman Prize Europe: Advocacy Against Destructive Fishing Practices
A tireless defender of the oceans and marine life, Claire Nouvian led a focused, data-driven advocacy campaign against the destructive fishing practice of deep-sea bottom trawling, successfully pressuring French supermarket giant and fleet owner Intermarché to change its fishing practices
Her coalition of advocates ultimately secured French support for a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling that led to an EU-wide ban.

A delicate balance of marine life.  In the 1980s, traditionally strong stocks of Atlantic cod and other white fish along the northeast Atlantic continental shelf began to collapse from overfishing. Fishermen ventured farther out to sea—and into deeper waters—in search of unexploited fishing grounds, yielding orange roughy, black scabbard fish, and roundnose grenadier. Most deep-sea fish grow slowly and reproduce late, making them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. By the early 2000s, these stocks were severely depleted in many cases.

Bottom Trawling Destroys Everything.  In Europe, the main deep-sea fleet was French and belonged to supermarket chain Intermarché. The fleet—like many others in Europe—used a method known as bottom trawling, in which boats tow a heavily-weighted net that is dragged back and forth over the seafloor. One of the most destructive forms of fishing, bottom trawling destroys everything in its path. Metal “doors” used to keep the nets open can weigh hundreds of pounds and the nets can be up to 40 feet high and 200 feet wide. During an average 10-day fishing trip, trawlers make up to five passes per day, covering 12 to 18 square miles of sea floor (the 10 French deep-sea bottom trawlers could destroy an area the size of Paris in two days). Countless fish, sharks, crustaceans, and invertebrates picked up as bycatch are thrown overboard and rarely survive. One observer likened the practice to “clear-cutting a forest to catch a few birds.”  Read More.  

Good News:

Banning DDT: An American Environmental Success Story

The fight to ban DDT is one of the most significant and inspiring chapters in the story of American environmentalism. It started with a young biologist who loved nature. Her name was Rachel Carson, (photo) and her tireless activism inspired millions and led directly to the birth of environmental law and the founding of Environmental Defense Fund. Follow the interactive slideshow below to read for yourself. Here is the Link.

Here is a photo of the original edition of Silent Spring, 1962

People are always asking, "what can I do?"

The Drawdown challenge is a terrific way to get connected and find out how you and your friends can engage:  Join the Thomas Berry Forum team and help us win points!
DRAWDOWN CHALLENGE: Link to Berry Forum Team

Laudato Si': On Care For Our Common Home   

"In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the word “creation” has a broader meaning than “nature”, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance. Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion. "(76)  Read More.
Message from Thomas Berry

Here we might observe that the basic mood of the future might well be one of confidence in the continuing revelation that takes place in and through the earth. If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture.” (Thomas Berry, “The New Story,” in The Dream of the Earth, 137).
Photo by Lou Niznik 10–6–1999
Copyright © 2018 Edmund Rice International, All rights reserved.

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