Where to after the Peoples’ March and Convergence?
by Stephen Bartlett, Agricultural Missions
September 24, 2014 New York
Following two days of the Peoples’ Climate Summit convened by the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), a series of excellent panels and workshops which concluded with a Peoples’ Tribunal just 100 meters across the street from the failed UN climate talks, following the dynamic convergence of organizations and individuals for the historic Peoples’ March of Sept 21, following the skillfully-staged civil disobedience of Flood Wall Street, that blocked Broadway near the NY Stock Exchange for most of Sept 22 and concluded with more than 100 arrests, following myriad conversations among the activists and grassroots climate justice leaders circulating in New York these past days, we have to ask ourselves: What Next?! Where to?
One of the panels at the Peoples’ Climate Summit touched on the subject of so-called “Climate-Smart Agriculture.” Expert panelists from Mali, Peru, Black Mesa, Arizona, and eastern Montana clarified for the hundreds of people gathered what this latest scheme by corporate interests consists of. In a nutshell, so-called “Climate-Smart Agriculture” is a new version of the so-called “Green Revolution,” a technological package brand of Big Ag that consists of “improved” seeds (read GMO and other proprietary seeds), wider access to chemical fertilizers, and a bigger role for the private research institutions that have distorted agronomy in the global south since the World Bank financed their development (CGIAR facilities). It is a technological approach, and an approach that compliments the market-based solutions of the so-called “Green Economy” being spun out like so much fake silk in the corporate controlled media. One of the participants in the audience said that so-called Climate-Smart Ag” was to seeds, soil what the REDD, REDD+ and REDD++ are to the forests and ecosystems of the world, a first step in their wholesale privatization. What we all know is that the REDD agenda is fraught with contradictions and falsehoods, on how carbon offsets are measured, on what constitutes a legitimate carbon offset, on who is going to be monitoring this, on what the market value of the offsets really are, etc…
Does a eucalyptus or African Palm monoculture really offset carbon, on land that in its natural form is a forest with 1,000 fold diversity and ecological complexity? Does paying a landlord named Miguel Facusse in Honduras carbon credits make sense when that same individual is a known narco trafficker and the chief of the largest “security” (read paramilitary) force in the country, responsible for the assassination of hundreds of campesinos desperate for a piece of land to support their families on?
The coordinator of OFRANEH (the National Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras) was in the house, and made a cogent and morally centered appeal for respect for the land rights of indigenous people as one of the essential planks in any strategy to slow climate chaos. OFRANEH has experience already in responding to climate displacement from storm surges on the northern coast of Honduras that have already displaced hundreds of Garifuna villagers, women farmers and men fishers and their children.
Roberto, the speaker from Black Mesa, Arizona, described the importance of the recovery of traditional food ways among the Navajo people, including the raising of sheep, and the growing of drought hardy varieties of corn and beans, within the spiritual understanding and practices of his people. Through such cultural rejuvenation, we can build the truly sustainable communities that will be able to adapt and mitigate climate change.
These are sign posts on the path we must take, I believe! This is where we must go! Cultural restoration and community autonomy at the local levels, accompanied by strategic and untiring stabs to sabotage and transform those harming Mother Earth. Messaging and advocacy to debunk and shame the latest false solutions being rolled out like so much corn syrup candy is on the to do list. Direct action, corporate campaigns, and mass civil disobedience have to be on the menu too at the food coop called Mother Earth! Will we go down sitting on our hands, or stand tall claiming “What Power? Our Power”
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