lunes, octubre 20, 2008


He decidido dejar de bloguear por tiempo indefinido. Yo ni siquiera sé con certeza si alguien presta atención a este blog. He estado introduciendo items aquí por cuatro años y medio y me gustaría saber de los lectores, si los hay. Envíen comentarios y observaciones a


p.s. He notado que muchos de los lectores de este blog no saben que tengo otro blog, dedicado mayormente a asuntos de bioseguridad y biotecnología: En ese también he suspendido toda actividad hasta nuevo aviso.


viernes, octubre 17, 2008


I have decided to stop blogging for a while. I do not even know for sure if anybody pays attention to this blog. I have been zealously posting items here for 4 and a half years now and I would like to get some feedback. Is anybody even reading this? Please write comments and feedback to


p.s. I have noticed that many readers of this blog are unaware that I have one other blog, which is devoted mostly to biotechnology and biosafety issues. Its address is That one is on hold too.


Decanato de Asuntos Académicos
División de Educación Continua y Estudios Profesionales


Prof. Carmelo Ruiz

Lunes: 6:00 a 9:00 PM

27 de octubre al 8 de diciembre


Este curso, de naturaleza interdisciplinaria, familiariza al estudiante con las nuevas tendencias, discursos y debates ambientales que están apareciendo en la escena internacional y que comienzan a hacerse sentir en Puerto Rico. El foco central será sobre las problemáticas de la biodiversidad y el calentamiento global, y partiendo de éstas se pasará revista sobre una variedad de temas relacionados, como los biocombustibles, la biotecnología, la agricultura ecológica y la crisis energética.

Tendrá prominencia el rol de los nuevos movimientos alternativos que están redefiniendo el debate ambiental e introduciendo conceptos de avanzada como la huella de carbono, la soberanía alimentaría y la agroecología. El curso capacitará el estudiante para entender los nuevos escenarios de conflicto ambiental y las nuevas ideas y propuestas que abren el camino hacia un futuro ecológico.


21 horas


a.Representantes de organizaciones ambientalistas

b.Personas interesadas en la conservación del ambiente, en adelantar la agricultura puertorriqueña y encontrar opciones energéticas sustentables.

c.Estudiantes en materia de ambiente a nivel de bachillerato y graduado.

El periodo de matricula ya comenzó. La hoja de matricula está disponible a través de:


Tel: 787-764-0000 Exts. 85415 y 85400

Fax: 787-763-5699

Página de Internet:

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Agrofuels and the Myth of the Marginal Lands

Friday 19 September 2008

A briefing by The Gaia Foundation, Biofuelwatch, the African Biodiversity Network, Salva La Selva, Watch Indonesia and EcoNexus September 2008

MARGINAL, IDLE, DEGRADED, UNDER-UTILISED, SLEEPING, WASTELANDS AND ABANDONED CROPLANDS: all of these are different terms for what is being promoted as the "solution" to the impacts of growing crops for agrofuels. Partly in order to respond to accusations that agrofuels (also known as biofuels) compete with food production, some policy makers have proposed that agrofuel crops should be planted on land that is considered marginal or idle.

We are told that there are millions of hectares of such land around the world, especially in Africa, which are of no importance for biodiversity or carbon sequestration, and which play no role in food production or, presumably, in guaranteeing people’s livelihoods. Some propose that planting "marginal lands" with agrofuels could be extremely positive, providing income for local communities and supplying an alternative to fossil fuels to the market.

It has even been suggested that there should be incentives provided for using so-called marginal land, such as licences to emit more CO2. There is a widely held assumption that developing countries have vast tracts of wasteland, waiting for someone to put them to good use.

But a closer look at these "marginal" lands tells a different story. In most cases, lands defined as "marginal", "wasteland" or "idle" are vital for the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, pastoralists, women and indigenous peoples. What governments or corporations often call "marginal" lands are in fact lands that have been under communal or traditional customary use for generations, and are not privately owned, or under intensive agricultural production.

The lives of the peoples living on these lands are all too often ignored. Communities that use these biodiversity-rich lands for food, income, grazing and medicine do not appreciate the denial of their existence.


jueves, octubre 16, 2008

The Consortium News web site was the first internet site I ever accessed, back in January 1996. I had been closely following its creator Robert Parry's journalistic work since the late 1980's when he broke the Contra-drug story in Associated Press. In the early 1990's I enjoyed reading his book "Fooling America" and then in early 1996 I had him as a guest in my radio show "Don't Get Me Started", on WGDR FM, a community radio station in Vermont.


Why We Deserve Your Support!

By Robert Parry
October 15, 2008

We deserve your support because we have consistently stood up to those who engage in wrongdoing whether our work is popular or not. We challenged George W. Bush when his approval was around 90 percent; we didn’t wait for it to fall into the 20s.

Similarly, in early September when much of the national news media was entranced by the celebrity of Sarah Palin, we zeroed in on her abuse of power in Alaska and on her lies about her record. (For details, see our new archive, “The Sarah Palin Chronicles.”)

Indeed, since was founded 13 years ago, we have never operated with our finger to the wind. We always have followed the reporting where it leads, and we do our best to present what we discover in concise, easy-to-read stories.

And we need your support because the next several years will be crucial for the survival of the American Republic.

If John McCain wins on Nov. 4, he can be expected to name more right-wing Supreme Court justices who will set about redefining the Constitution to fulfill the Bush-Cheney vision of an all-powerful President who can override individual liberties.

If Barack Obama wins, he will surely confront a fierce counterattack from the powerful right-wing media/political apparatus, the same one that earned its spurs by harassing Bill Clinton throughout his eight years in office.

Either way, I believe our voice will be important in demanding that the truth be told and that fairness be part of the process.

So, please help as much as you can. Our fall fundraising goal is a modest $15,000, essentially a barebones target because we understand that everyone’s going through difficult times right now.

You can make a secure, tax-deductible contribution by credit card at the Web site or by sending a check to:

Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
Suite 102-231
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201

(For readers wanting to use PayPal, you can address contributions to our account, which is named "")

With donations of $100, you can get an autographed gift copy of our latest book, Neck Deep, which describes the manipulations of Election 2000 and Election 2004. Or you can ask us to substitute an earlier book, Secrecy & Privilege, which tells the little-known history of "October Surprise" tactics used by Republicans in 1968, 1980 and 1992.

Thank you for your support.

Robert Parry, Editor

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He founded in 1995 as the Internet's first investigative magazine. He saw it as a way to combine modern technology and old-fashioned journalism to counter the increasing triviality of the mainstream U.S. news media.

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un seminario práctico de CAPACITACIÓN de 12 horas
con María Benedetti

Ven a compartir la exhuberancia de nuestra tradición de medicina verde.

Identificaremos docenas de plantas y estudiaremos sus propiedades físicas.
Confeccionaremos tisanas, paños y gargantillas, infusiones aromáticas,
aceites botánicos aptos para sobos y fricciones, horchata, jarabes de sábila, jugo verde, sabrosos condimentos medicinales, una tintura en alcohol, y algo más.
Nos alimentaremos de varios súper alimentos silvestres del país.
Aprenderemos vocabulario técnico utilizado universalmente para describir las propiedades de las plantas.
Reflexionaremos sobre cómo la tradición de medicina verde contribuye a la integridad ecológica de Puerto Rico y el bienestar físico, cultural y espiritual del pueblo.
(también sobre otros temas de interés para los participantes)

Donativo mínimo: $90 (según su presupuesto) incluye materiales.
Asistencia limitada a 16 personas.

María Benedetti es herbóloga empírica, investigadora etno-botánica y autora de
(Hasta los baños te curan! Plantas medicinales, remedios caseros y sanación espiritual en Puerto Rico,
Sembrando y Sanando en Puerto Rico: Tradiciones y visiones para un futuro verde
Bendiciones Botánicas para Boriquén: Un almanaque de ciencia y folclor
Libros Guías a las arboledas del Jardín Botánico y Cultural en Caguas
y docenas de artículos sobre este y otros temas eco-culturales.

Para matricularse, llamar a María Benedetti al 738-4391
próximas sesiones comienzan en octubre y en noviembre:
cuatro martes de 2-5 pm, cuatro domingos de 9-12 md

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miércoles, octubre 15, 2008

In three weeks, if Barack Obama is elected president of the United States the fact that he is African-American will change our country's opportunities in the world. But, the great irony, as Victor Navasky puts it is that Obama himself cannot say anything about that. Nor can he say anything about the speech on race that he delivered during the primary, lest he revive the Jeremiah Wright controversy. There are many subtexts to this never ending election and on the eve of the final debate we discuss the shifting political landscape with Victor Navasky, publisher emeritus of The Nation and the author of Mission Accomplished, Jill Nelson, the author of Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience, and Mark Green, the president of Air America and author of Losing Our Democracy.

Find out what they would ask the candidates, why Wall Street has become a metaphor for capitalism, and how Obama should address ACORN and TrooperGate.

And how have the politics of oil shaped the ’08 election? Oil money still speaks loudly and both candidates have received their fair share of campaign contributions from the powerful lobby. That said, McCain has been the recipient of significantly more oil money and the Republican Party has placed offshore drilling and oil extraction at the center of its platform. “Drill Baby, Drill,” is now part of the political lexicon. Here to unpack the role of the oil industry in American politics and U.S. foreign relations is Antonia Juhasz, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of The Tyranny of Oil.

Finally, Laura on Wall Street's big week and why it doesn't change the big picture. All that and more on GRITtv.

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TWN Environment & Development Series no. 7

Small Farms as a Planetary Ecological Asset: Five Key Reasons Why We Should Support the Revitalisation of Small Farms in the Global South

by Miguel A Altieri

Publisher: TWN (ISBN: 978-983-2729-56-3)

Year: 2008 No. of pages: 24


Humanity is quickly realising that the fossil fuel-based, capital-intensive, industrial-agricultural model is not working to meet the global food demands. Soaring oil prices are increasing production costs and food prices, and the problem is aggravated by other factors such as farmland being turned from food production to biofuels and climate change reducing crop yields.

This book argues that small, biodiverse, agroecologically managed farms in the global South are the only viable form of agriculture that will feed the world under the new ecological and economic scenario.

Five reasons are given for supporting the maintenance and revitalisation of small farms:

· Small farms are the key to the world's food security;

· Small farms are more productive and resource-conserving than large-scale monocultures;

· Small traditional and biodiverse farms represent models of sustainability;

· Small farms represent a sanctuary of GMO-free agrobiodiversity;

· Small farms cool the climate.


DR MIGUEL A ALTIERI is a Professor of Agroecology at the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.




a) Small farms are the key to the world’s food security

b) Small farms are more productive and resource-conserving than large-scale monocultures

c) Small traditional and biodiverse farms present models of sustainability

d) Small farms represent a sanctuary of GMO-free agrobiodiversity

e) Small farms cool the climate

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New Energy Economy Emerging in the United States

Lester R. Brown

As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about climate change cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new energy economy is emerging in the United States. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced by one powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy. The transition is moving at a pace and on a scale that we could not have imagined even a year ago.

Consider Texas. Long the leading oil-producing state, it is now also the leading generator of electricity from wind, having overtaken California two years ago. Texas now has nearly 6,000 megawatts of wind-generating capacity online and a staggering 39,000 megawatts in the construction and planning stages. When all this is completed, Texas will have 45,000 megawatts of wind-generating capacity (think 45 coal-fired power plants). This will more than satisfy the residential needs of the state’s 24 million people, enabling Texas to feed electricity to nearby states such as Louisiana and Mississippi.

After Texas and California, the other leaders among the 30 states with commercial-scale wind farms are Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, and Colorado. And other states are emerging as wind superpowers. Clipper Windpower and BP are teaming up to build the 5,050-megawatt Titan wind farm, the world’s largest, in eastern South Dakota. Already under development, Titan will generate five times as much electricity as the state’s 780,000 residents currently use. This project includes building a transmission line along an abandoned rail line across Iowa, feeding electricity into Illinois and the country’s industrial heartland.

Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz is developing a 2,000-megawatt wind farm in south central Wyoming. He already has secured the rights to build a 900-mile high-voltage transmission line to California. With this investment, the door will be opened to developing scores of huge wind farms in Wyoming, a wind-rich state with few people. Another transmission line under development will run north-south, linking eastern Wyoming’s wind resources with the fast-growing Colorado cities of Fort Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs. Wind-rich Kansas and Oklahoma are looking to build a transmission line to the U.S. Southeast to export their wealth of cheap wind energy.

California is developing a 4,500-megawatt wind farm complex in the Tehachapi Mountains northwest of Los Angeles. In the east, Maine—a wind energy newcomer—is planning to develop 3,000 megawatts of wind-generating capacity, far more than the state’s 1.3 million residents need. Further south, Delaware is planning an offshore wind farm of up to 600 megawatts, which could satisfy half of the state’s residential electricity needs. New York State, which has 700 megawatts of wind-generating capacity, plans to add another 8,000 megawatts, with most of the power being generated by winds coming off Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. And soon Oregon will nearly double its wind generating capacity with a 900-megawatt wind farm in the wind-rich Columbia River Gorge.

Wind appears destined to become the centerpiece of the new U.S. energy economy, eventually supplying several hundred thousand megawatts of electricity.

Solar power is also expanding at a breakneck pace. The nation’s wealth of solar energy is being harnessed by using both photovoltaic cells and solar thermal power plants to convert sunlight into electricity. For solar cell installations, California, with its Million Solar Roofs plan, is far and away the leader. New Jersey is also moving fast, followed by Nevada.

The largest U.S. solar cell installation today is a 14-megawatt array at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, but photovoltaic electricity at the commercial level is about to go big time. PG&E has entered into two solar cell power contracts with a combined capacity of 800 megawatts. Together, these plants will cover 12 square miles of desert with solar cells and will have a peak output comparable to that of a large coal-fired power plant. Solar power plants are appealing in hot climates because their highest output coincides with the peak demand for air conditioning.

Solar thermal plants that use mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a vessel containing a fluid—heating it to 750 degrees Fahrenheit to generate steam and produce power—have suddenly become an enormously attractive technology. The United States has the world’s only large solar thermal complex, a 350-megawatt project completed in 1991. But as of September 2008 there are 10 large solar thermal power plants under construction or in development in the United States, ranging in size from 180 megawatts to 550 megawatts. Eight of the plants will be built in California, one in Arizona, and one in Florida. Within the next three years, the United States will likely go from 420 megawatts of solar thermal generating capacity to close to 3,500 megawatts—an eightfold jump.

Along with wind and solar, geothermal energy is also developing at an explosive rate. As of 2008 the United States has nearly 3,000 megawatts of geothermal generating capacity, 2,500 of which are in California. Suddenly this too is changing. Some 96 geothermal power plants now under development in twelve western states are expected to double U.S. geothermal generating capacity. With California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah leading the way, the stage is set for the massive future development of geothermal energy. (See data).

The new energy economy will be powered largely by electricity from renewable sources. Electricity will light, heat, and cool buildings. As we shift to plug-in hybrid cars, light rail transit systems in cities, and high-speed electric intercity rail systems like those in Japan and Europe, our transport system will also be powered largely by electricity.

It is historically rare for so many interests to converge at one time and in one place as those now supporting the development of renewable energy resources in the United States. To begin with, shifting to renewables increases energy security simply because no one can cut off the supply of wind, solar, or geothermal energy. It also avoids the price volatility that has plagued oil and natural gas in recent decades. Once a wind farm or a solar thermal power plant is built, the price is stable since there is no fuel cost. Turning to renewables will also dramatically cut carbon emissions, moving us toward climate stability and thus avoiding the most dangerous effects of climate change.

The shift also will staunch the outflow of dollars for oil, keeping that capital at home to invest in the new energy economy, developing national renewable energy resources and creating jobs here. At a time of economic turmoil and rising joblessness, these new industries can generate thousands of new jobs each week. Not only are the wind, solar, and geothermal industries hiring new workers, they are also generating jobs in construction and in basic supply industries such as steel, aluminum, and silicon manufacturing. To build and operate the new energy economy will require huge numbers of electricians, plumbers, and roofers. It will also employ countless numbers of high-tech professionals such as wind meteorologists, geothermal geologists, and solar engineers.

To ensure that this shift to renewables continues at a rapid rate, national leadership is needed in one key area—building a strong national grid. Although private investors are investing in long-distance high-voltage transmission lines, these need to be incorporated into a carefully planned national grid, the electrical equivalent of President Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, in order to unleash the full potential of renewable energy wealth.

And, finally, this energy transition is being driven by an intense excitement from the realization that people are now tapping energy sources that can last as long as the earth itself. Oil wells go dry and coal seams run out, but for the first time since the industrial revolution we are investing in energy sources that can last forever. This new energy economy can be our legacy to the next generation.

Copyright © 2008 Earth Policy Institute

For more information on Earth Policy Institute’s plan to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020, see Chapters 11-13 in Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, available at for free downloading.

Also see “Time for Plan B: Cutting Carbon Emissions 80 Percent by 2020,” available in pdf at

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martes, octubre 14, 2008

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I was just listening to Amy Goodman's interview of Antonia Juhasz (October 7), who has just turned out an important new book. And I would love to get myself a copy of it.

Click here to browse inside.
The Tyranny of Oil: The World's Most Powerful Industry, and What We Must Do To Stop It

Finally, the inside story on Big Oil.

A "timely, blistering critique... white-hot... Explosive fuel for the raging debate on oil prices."
- Kirkus Reviews.

"A worthy successor to 'The Prize'... A riveting read with a bold blueprint for ending the madness."
- Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

"In a time of crisis, Juhasz bravely and expertly exposes the inner workings of an industry and a government riddled with secrets, lies, and deception. She offers the crucial hard evidence -- without which public awareness and reform are impossible. Read this book and refuse to be tyranny's accomplice."
- Daniel Ellsberg, author, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

"At last, a no-holds-barred book that traces the story of Big Oil from the rise of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company to the scandals and obscene profits of today. In the spirit of Ida Tarbell, the legendary muckraker who first exposed Rockefeller's monopolist schemes, Juhasz convincingly demonstrates how Standard Oil's descendants—Exxon, Mobil, and Chevron—have reassembled much of the power once wielded by their progenitor. As she shows, the world environment, the U.S. economy, and the lives of millions have suffered in consequence."
- Professor Michael T. Klare, author, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy.

The hardest-hitting exposé of the oil industry in decades answers today's most pressing energy questions:

• Why are oil and gasoline prices rising so quickly?
• Where will prices go in the future?
• Who’s really controlling those prices?
• How much oil is left?
• How far will Big Oil go to get it?
• And at what cost to the economy, environment, human rights, worker safety, public health, democracy, and America’s place in the world?

Juhasz investigates the true state of the U.S. oil industry—uncovering its virtually unparalleled global power, influence over our elected officials, its lack of regulatory oversight, the truth behind $150-a-barrel oil, $4.50-a-gallon gasoline, and the highest profit in corporate history. Exposing an industry that thrives on secrecy, Juhasz shows how Big Oil manages to hide its business dealings from policy makers, legislators, and most of all, consumers. She reveals exactly how Big Oil gets what it wants—through money, influence, and lies.

The Tyranny of Oil offers both a new take on problems and a new set of solutions as Juhasz puts forward an immediate call to action—a formula for reining in the industry, its governmental lobbying power, environmental destruction, and violence while reducing global dependence on oil. Her thought-provoking answers to the most pressing energy questions speak directly to readers concerned about oil and gas prices, global warming, wars for oil, and America’s place in the world. With the major players in the world’s most powerful industry charged with collusion, price-gouging, anti-competitive behavior, and unabashed greed, Juhasz calls boldly for the breakup of Big Oil.

Drawing on considerable historical research, Juhasz explores the parallels between today’s companies and Standard Oil, the most powerful corporation of the early 20th century, whose stranglehold on the economy and government was broken only by the vision and persistence of activists and like-minded politicians. We are in a similar position today, she argues, with the 2008 elections offering a unique opportunity for ordinary Americans to come together, reclaim their voices, and shore up our nation’s crumbling democratic foundation.

A tool for meaningful change that blends history, original investigative research and reporting, interviews with key industry insiders, and a unique focus on activism, The Tyranny of Oil is required reading for every concerned global citizen.

Pre-order now from your local bookstore or online.

Read more about The Tyranny of Oil

Attend a Tyranny of Oil book event in your area

Invite Antonia to speak in your community

Request an interview with Antonia

The Bu$h Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time

Updated with a new afterword, "What A Difference A Year Makes."

"A meticulous expose of corporate America's intentions in the Gulf." - The Organizer-India
"Excellent." - Amy Goodman
"A resounding call to action." - John Perkins
"Essential Reading." - Congressman John Conyers
"One of the crispest, most insightful books yet to expose the Bush regime." - The Georgia Straight, Canada
"Lucid, fact-filled and nonrhetorical." - The North Bay Bohemian
"Spine tingling." - The Ecologist Magazine
"Bravo for Juhasz!" - Greg Palast

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lunes, octubre 13, 2008

Because Oil Is Not Green

By Julio Godoy*

BARCELONA, Oct 10 08 (IPS/Terraviva) - Several environmental organisations have asked the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to stop accepting funding from Shell, the giant international oil company.

IUCN signed an agreement with Shell in October last year to support the private corporation's activity in protecting the environment. The agreement also brought the IUCN at least 1.2 million dollars, according to IUCN sources.

The IUCN is the world's oldest and largest global environmental coalition, of more than 1,000 government and civil society member organisations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries.

In a motion presented at the IUCN congress, member groups such as Friends of the Earth International, Pro Natura, the Argentine-based Latin American Centre for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA) and the Netherlands Society for Nature and Environment have called on the network "to terminate the agreement...with Shell."

The groups argue that "Shell's past, present and future operations have huge negative social and environmental impacts." In addition, they say, the Dutch oil company "has a highly controversial reputation in dealing with...communities (affected by oil exploitation)."

Despite recent efforts to 'greenwash' its corporate identity, environmentalists say Shell continues damaging activities such as flaring gas in Nigeria, especially in the Niger delta, despite promises to phase out the practice.

Gas flares release poisonous chemicals that harm the health and livelihood of communities in their vicinity. Some of the by-products are nitrogen dioxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds like benzene, toluene, xylene and hydrogen sulphide, as well as carcinogens like benzapyrene and dioxin.

These chemicals can aggravate asthma, and lead to chronic bronchitis. Benzene can cause leukaemia and other blood-related diseases, environmentalists say.

The IUCN secretariat has pointed to the cost of cancelling the contract with Shell. "The core funding would be lost," an internal IUCN paper says. If Shell were to take legal action for termination of the contract, "the financial consequences (for IUCN) are unforeseeable."

Dennis Hosack, IUCN programme officer for business and biodiversity, admits that Shell "has a large environmental footprint, and is operating in places very hard to manage, such as the Niger delta.

"We do not defend Shell," Hosack told IPS. "But IUCN believes that we can help it to reduce its environmental footprint, and so raise the environmental standards for the whole oil industry."

"If you black-label all major companies, you are not going to have any chances to inducing changes in their ecological behaviour," Anna Kalinowska, member of the Polish National Foundation for Environmental Protection, told IPS.

"Of course the IUCN risks losing its reputation because of its cooperation with Shell," she added. "But it is a risk worth taking."

The IUCN contract with Shell is symbolic of the larger debate on how civil society coalitions can dialogue with corporations, including receiving funding from them, without alienating their constituencies.

IUCN has a similar partnership with Holcim, the leading global supplier of cement and with Total, the French oil giant. The green coalition is now preparing a contract with Rio Tinto, one of the world's largest mining and exploration companies.

A member of the IUCN secretariat who requested not to be named told IPS that "the trade-off is extremely dangerous for all environmental activists."

"It is very naïve to believe that environmental groups can really influence the corporate behaviour of enterprises as powerful as Shell," Christiane Ehringhaus, a German researcher with the Centre for International Forestry Research told IPS. "Most likely, we environmental activists would lose our soul in the process." (END/2008)


domingo, octubre 12, 2008

Open Letter to the President-Elect by Michael Pollan: Farmer in Chief

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration - the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact - so easy to overlook these past few years - that the health of a nation's food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.

Complicating matters is the fact that the price and abundance of food are not the only problems we face; if they were, you could simply follow Nixon's example, appoint a latter-day Earl Butz as your secretary of agriculture and instruct him or her to do whatever it takes to boost production. But there are reasons to think that the old approach won't work this time around; for one thing, it depends on cheap energy that we can no longer count on. For another, expanding production of industrial agriculture today would require you to sacrifice important values on which you did campaign. Which brings me to the deeper reason you will need not simply to address food prices but to make the reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change. Unlike food, these are issues you did campaign on - but as you try to address them you will quickly discover that the way we currently grow, process and eat food in America goes to the heart of all three problems and will have to change if we hope to solve them. Let me explain.

After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy - 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do - as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis - a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact.

In addition to the problems of climate change and America's oil addiction, you have spoken at length on the campaign trail of the health care crisis. Spending on health care has risen from 5 percent of national income in 1960 to 16 percent today, putting a significant drag on the economy. The goal of ensuring the health of all Americans depends on getting those costs under control. There are several reasons health care has gotten so expensive, but one of the biggest, and perhaps most tractable, is the cost to the system of preventable chronic diseases. Four of the top 10 killers in America today are chronic diseases linked to diet: heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. It is no coincidence that in the years national spending on health care went from 5 percent to 16 percent of national income, spending on food has fallen by a comparable amount - from 18 percent of household income to less than 10 percent. While the surfeit of cheap calories that the U.S. food system has produced since the late 1970s may have taken food prices off the political agenda, this has come at a steep cost to public health. You cannot expect to reform the health care system, much less expand coverage, without confronting the public-health catastrophe that is the modern American diet.

The impact of the American food system on the rest of the world will have implications for your foreign and trade policies as well. In the past several months more than 30 nations have experienced food riots, and so far one government has fallen. Should high grain prices persist and shortages develop, you can expect to see the pendulum shift decisively away from free trade, at least in food. Nations that opened their markets to the global flood of cheap grain (under pressure from previous administrations as well as the World Bank and the I.M.F.) lost so many farmers that they now find their ability to feed their own populations hinges on decisions made in Washington (like your predecessor's precipitous embrace of biofuels) and on Wall Street. They will now rush to rebuild their own agricultural sectors and then seek to protect them by erecting trade barriers. Expect to hear the phrases "food sovereignty" and "food security" on the lips of every foreign leader you meet. Not only the Doha round, but the whole cause of free trade in agriculture is probably dead, the casualty of a cheap food policy that a scant two years ago seemed like a boon for everyone. It is one of the larger paradoxes of our time that the very same food policies that have contributed to overnutrition in the first world are now contributing to undernutrition in the third. But it turns out that too much food can be nearly as big a problem as too little - a lesson we should keep in mind as we set about designing a new approach to food policy.

Rich or poor, countries struggling with soaring food prices are being forcibly reminded that food is a national-security issue. When a nation loses the ability to substantially feed itself, it is not only at the mercy of global commodity markets but of other governments as well. At issue is not only the availability of food, which may be held hostage by a hostile state, but its safety: as recent scandals in China demonstrate, we have little control over the safety of imported foods. The deliberate contamination of our food presents another national-security threat. At his valedictory press conference in 2004, Tommy Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, offered a chilling warning, saying, "I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do."

This, in brief, is the bad news: the food and agriculture policies you've inherited - designed to maximize production at all costs and relying on cheap energy to do so - are in shambles, and the need to address the problems they have caused is acute. The good news is that the twinned crises in food and energy are creating a political environment in which real reform of the food system may actually be possible for the first time in a generation. The American people are paying more attention to food today than they have in decades, worrying not only about its price but about its safety, its provenance and its healthfulness. There is a gathering sense among the public that the industrial-food system is broken. Markets for alternative kinds of food - organic, local, pasture-based, humane - are thriving as never before. All this suggests that a political constituency for change is building and not only on the left: lately, conservative voices have also been raised in support of reform. Writing of the movement back to local food economies, traditional foods (and family meals) and more sustainable farming, The American Conservative magazine editorialized last summer that "this is a conservative cause if ever there was one."

There are many moving parts to the new food agenda I'm urging you to adopt, but the core idea could not be simpler: we need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th-century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine. True, this is easier said than done - fossil fuel is deeply implicated in everything about the way we currently grow food and feed ourselves. To put the food system back on sunlight will require policies to change how things work at every link in the food chain: in the farm field, in the way food is processed and sold and even in the American kitchen and at the American dinner table. Yet the sun still shines down on our land every day, and photosynthesis can still work its wonders wherever it does. If any part of the modern economy can be freed from its dependence on oil and successfully resolarized, surely it is food.

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Seed aid, agribusiness and the food crisis


The world food crisis, rapidly defined by those in power as a problem of insufficient production, has become a trojan horse to get corporate seeds, fertilisers and, surreptitiously, market systems into poor countries. As past experience shows, what looks like “seed aid” in the short term can mask what is actually “agribusiness aid” in the long term. We look at what is going on.

Earlier this year, political and economic leaders, abetted by the corporate mass media, were quick to explain the current global food crisis as a “perfect storm” of several factors: weather problems, the diversion of crops into biofuels, oil price hikes and poor people becoming less poor and eating more animal produce. In short, they wanted us to believe that the food crisis was a problem of production. Many have shredded that argument and – while agreeing that production should be improved – have shown instead how current economic policies focused on global trade and deregulation are the real culprits. [1] Yet the supply-siders moved fast to promote their solution to the wrong problem: to boost production, mainly by getting higher-yielding seeds to farmers.

What seeds? Where from? With what impact on vulnerable communities and local biodiversity? It is hard to find reliable data, but there is a serious risk that this simplistic production-focused response to the food crisis, which avoids asking the really challenging policy questions, will result in a new wave of genetic erosion and livelihood insecurity by overriding communities’ local seed systems. The consequences for the survival of farming families around the world, and therefore for food production, could be extremely damaging.

The “perfect choir”

Large amounts of money have been pledged in the last few months to send seeds and fertilisers urgently to food-crisis-striken countries in the South. In May, the World Bank launched a US$1.2-billion emergency finance facility to provide funds for the “rapid provision of seeds and fertilisers to small farmers”. Addressing the Group of Eight (G8) summit of the world’s richest countries, held in Japan in early July, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, told these powerful people that one of the main priorities in fighting the global food crisis was “to give small farmers, especially in Africa, access to seeds, fertilisers and other basic inputs”. In the lead-up to that meeting, the European Commission’s President, José Manuel Barroso, proffered €1 billion to pay for “fertilisers and seeds to help poor farmers in developing countries”. Not to be outdone, US President George Bush announced US$1 billion in food crisis money and told the press that he would convince other world leaders that they should make moves to alleviate hunger by “increasing the shipments of food, fertilisers and seeds to countries in need”. Two weeks later, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, took the message to the UN General Assembly in New York: “We must act immediately to boost agricultural production this year. We do this by providing urgently needed seeds and fertilisers for the upcoming planting cycles, especially for the world’s 450 million small-scale farmers.” [2] Imagine! Billions of dollars suddenly disbursed to distribute seeds to the poorest farmers on the planet – a group whose needs have never before ranked high in these leaders’ concerns.

Earlier the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had launched its own “Initiative on Soaring Food Prices”, meant to “demonstrate that by increasing the supply of key agricultural inputs, such as seeds and fertilisers, small farmers will be able to rapidly increase their food production”. The FAO Initiative already covers 35 countries, to the tune of US$21 million, while another 54 countries are being similarly supported under its Technical Cooperation Programme at the cost of US$24 million. Apart from ensuring immediate seed and fertiliser supplies, the Initiative also aims to “encourage donors, financial institutions and national governments to support the provision of inputs on a much larger scale”. [3] It seems to be working, as organisations ranging from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Red Cross are falling over each other to set up programmes to get seeds and fertilisers to farmers in response to today’s food crisis (see table).

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sábado, octubre 11, 2008

Declaración internacional en contra de la ‘Mesa Redonda de Aceite de Palma Sostenible’ (RSPO)

En defensa de los Derechos Humanos, la Soberanía Alimentaria,
la Biodiversidad y la Justicia Climática

Irónicamente, el próximo 16 de octubre de 2008, Día Mundial de la Alimentación y de la Soberanía Alimentaria, dará comienzo en Cartagena (Colombia) una reunión para promocionar los monocultivos de palma aceitera, que justamente son la causa de múltiples violaciones del Derecho a la Alimentación y van en sentido contrario a la soberanía alimentaria en la medida que socavan el derecho de los pueblos a producir sus propios alimentos de acuerdo con las condiciones de sus territorios y su cultura alimentaria.

La Primera Reunión Latinoamericana de la ‘Mesa Redonda de Aceite de Palma Sostenible’ (RSPO, por sus siglas en inglés) es un encuentro de directivos de la Mesa Redonda y representantes de las empresas relacionadas con la agroindustria de la palma de aceite en América Latina que busca “adquirir la certificación correspondiente de la RSPO para poder llevar los aceites de palma, sus derivados y productos a los mercados internacionales principalmente”. Se trata de otro intento más de “lavado verde” de la agroindustria, vista toda la publicidad negativa que ha recibido en relación con la crisis alimentaria y en respuesta a la masiva contestación social y política en el mundo frente a los planes de expansión del actual modelo de producción de agrocombustibles.

Desde Colombia, las organizaciones sociales y ambientales denuncian que "la RSPO busca legitimar un negocio lesivo que vulnera los derechos de las comunidades locales (indígenas, afrodescendientes y campesinos). Al tiempo, provoca serios impactos sobre los territorios y el patrimonio natural por tratarse de una estrategia de mercado que busca viabilizar la comercialización de los productos derivados de la palma, generando mayores dividendos y no soluciones a los conflictos ocasionados. De hecho, ningún proceso de certificación puede garantizar tales soluciones.”

El aceite de palma es una materia prima estratégica en el sector de los agronegocios ya que es el aceite vegetal más comercializado y consumido en el mundo, como producto alimenticio, industrial y energético. Su producción para la exportación al mercado global (fundamentalmente UE, China, India, EEUU) se lleva a cabo en zonas tropicales, en un régimen de monocultivo a gran escala.

Las consecuencias negativas de los monocultivos de palma aceitera son una realidad no sólo en Colombia, sino también en Indonesia, Malasia, Papua Nueva Guinea, Camerún, Uganda, Costa de Marfil, Camboya y Tailandia, así como en Ecuador, Perú, Brasil, Guatemala, México, Nicaragua y Costa Rica. Detallamos aquí algunos impactos:

• Deforestación de bosques tropicales

Los monocultivos sustituyen bosques tropicales u otros ecosistemas, provocando una grave deforestación, que trae aparejada la pérdida de biodiversidad, inundaciones, el agravamiento de las sequías, la erosión de suelos, la consiguiente contaminación de los cursos de agua y la aparición de plagas por la ruptura del equilibrio ecológico y cambios en las cadenas alimentarias; además pone en peligro la conservación del agua, de los suelos, de la flora y de la fauna. La degradación de los bosques diminuye sus funciones en materia climática y su desaparición afecta a la humanidad en su conjunto.

El Panel Intergubernamental sobre Bosques de las Naciones Unidas identificó como causas de la deforestación y la degradación de los bosques, las políticas gubernamentales de sustitución de bosques por plantaciones industriales de árboles –como la palma aceitera-, así como el avance de la frontera agrícola empujada por las plantaciones de monocultivos.

La expansión de la palma aceitera es la mayor causa de deforestación en Malasia e Indonesia. En ambos países, el nivel de deforestación ha aumentado dramáticamente en los últimos años, en paralelo a la expansión de la palma. En el caso de Malasia incrementó en un 86% entre 1990-2000 y entre 2000-2005, mientras las plantaciones de palma se extendieron hasta 4,2 millones de hectáreas. Indonesia, con la mayor superficie plantada con palma aceitera, tiene la cuota de destrucción de bosque tropical más alta del mundo.

• Más Cambio Climático

Actualmente la deforestación en el mundo es la segunda fuente de contribución a los niveles crecientes de dióxido de carbono en la atmósfera. La expansión de los monocultivos de palma aceitera se ha hecho en muchos países a costa de la degradación y quema de las turberas así como de la deforestación.

Diferentes estudios científicos alertan que la destrucción de las turberas supone al menos el 8% las emisiones mundiales de CO2 responsables del Cambio Climático. Se estima que por la degradación de turberas se emiten en el Sudeste asiático periódicamente entre 136 millones y 1,42 mil millones de toneladas de CO2, más las emisiones de la deforestación, la pérdida de carbono del suelo, el uso de fertilizantes nitrogenados, las emisiones de la maquinaria agrícola y la pérdida de sumideros de CO2. Las imágenes de satélite muestran los incendios forestales en Indonesia en las zonas de mayor almacenamiento de carbono en el suelo en ese país, producto de las prácticas de deforestación vinculadas a la producción de aceite de palma. El aceite de palma procedente de la deforestación se vende a empresas multinacionales como Unilever, Nestlé y Procter & Gamble, y a otras grandes marcas de la alimentación, cosmética y agrocombustibles.

Por otra parte, el aceite de palma está siendo utilizado para la producción industrial de agrocombustibles, en medio de la crisis del cambio climático provocada por la quema indiscriminada de combustibles fósiles. Sin embargo el Gobierno sueco, entre otras muchas instituciones, reconoció en un estudio de la Autoridad Nacional de Carreteras que “incrementar la cantidad de biocarburantes importando aceite de palma podría aumentar las emisiones de CO2 en vez de reducirlas”.


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Promoviendo la sustentabilidad para Puerto Rico

Orgullosos de las tradiciones autóctonas que aportan al bienestar ecológico, económico y social de Puerto Rico, los trabajadores-dueños de SembrArte, P.T. enfatizamos el rescate e integración de conocimientos tradicionales en los campos de:

• la agricultura sustentable
• la tradición popular de medicina botánica
• la construcción rústica
• las artesanías de la sustentabilidad

Estas tradiciones puertorriqueñas de sustento representan el fruto de milenios de convivencia y experimentación con la naturaleza... en nuestro archipiélago, en África, en Europa y en América tropical.

Según los parámetros establecidos por la ONU, estas tradiciones representan la base de la sustentabilidad para las naciones; "La habilidad que tiene un pueblo para vivir de los recursos producidos por su propia tierra es el fundamento de la sustentabilidad".

-Declaración 1992 de la FAO
(Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación)

Como tantos países alrededor del mundo, en tiempos recientes, poderosas corrientes económicas y sociales alejaron al pueblo puertorriqueño de su entorno natural y de la producción de alimentos, remedios medicinales y otros productos, desde jabones hasta juguetes. Sin embargo, hasta hace unos 60 años esta producción permitía que miles de familias y comunidades rurales vivieran de manera sustentable.

Hoy, SembrArte, P.T. promueve la sustentabilidad para Puerto Rico mediante:

  • siembras y vivencias agro-ecológicas
  • clases y talleres enfocados en los alimentos silvestres, los remedios caseros y otros temas afines
  • talleres prácticos de diversas tradiciones artesanales
  • publicaciones y otros productos educativos
  • consultorías profesionales

**SembrArte, P.T. es una corporación propiedad de trabajadores (P.T.). Este modelo corporativo está basado en la estructura y los ideales de justicia social plasmados en la muy exitosa Cooperativa Mondragón creada en el País Vasco en el 1956. En Puerto Rico, el nuevo movimiento de las P.T. representa una visión económica integrada al bienestar de nuestra sociedad.

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viernes, octubre 10, 2008

State Department Arms Control Board Declares Cold War on China

After planning the war against Iraq, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz now heads the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board that recommends a Cold War against China.

By Hans M. Kristensen

A report from an advisory board to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recommended that the United States beefs up its nuclear, conventional, and space-based posture in the Pacific to counter China.

The report, which was first described in the Washington Times, portrays China’s military modernization and intentions in highly dramatic terms that appear go beyond the assessments published so far by the Defense Department and the intelligence community.

Although the Secretary of State asked for recommendations to move US-Chinese relations away from competition and conflict toward greater transparency, mutual confidence and enhanced cooperation, the board instead has produced a report that appears to recommend policies that would increase and deepen military competition and in essence constitute a small Cold War with China.

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The frugal cornucopian

Sep 4th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Amory Lovins began making the case for resource efficiency decades ago, long before it became fashionable. Now things are going his way

Illustration by Andy Potts

IF ANYBODY should be on top of the world today, it is Amory Lovins. That is not just because the energy visionary makes his home on a mountain in Old Snowmass, Colorado. Rather, it is because today’s interrelated energy and climate difficulties have at last made the world see the importance of resource efficiency, energy innovation and holistic design—principles that he has been advocating for nearly four decades.

For much of that time, Mr Lovins, who heads the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), a natural-resources consultancy, has been a lonely voice in the wilderness. As far back as the early 1970s, he sounded his first alarm about the potential damage that climate change might bring, but he was ignored. In a paper in Foreign Affairs in 1976, at the height of the energy crises and neuroses of that decade, he argued that what the world needed most was not new energy supplies but more efficiency. He was ruthlessly attacked by the energy industry and the political establishment, and his proposal for an alternative “soft path” out of the energy crisis was dismissed. Energy and economic growth always grew in lockstep, went the conventional argument, and to think otherwise was dangerously naive.

But history has proved him right. Thanks to a combination of high prices and public policies aimed at encouraging efficiency and conservation, America’s energy use did decouple from economic output in the wake of the oil shocks of the 1970s. Crucially, this happened without impoverishing the country, proving his once-controversial thesis that growth and greenery can indeed go hand in hand. That experience, along with the recent global energy-price shock, has made it respectable for business and political leaders to talk about energy efficiency.

Mr Lovins should be pleased, but his satisfaction at having been proved right is tempered by lingering unease that there are echoes of the 1980s in today’s debate. The main problem with the approach to energy in the 1970s, he argues, was that the issue was defined as a supply shortage. “The question they asked was how to get more energy, at any price, instead of asking: ‘How should we use energy, why are we using it so wastefully, and what do people really use energy for?’” he says.

That question points to one of his main contributions to the energy debate. He insists that the goal of public policy should be to ensure adequate and affordable supplies not of energy per se but of “energy services”—as he loves to put it, the cold beer and hot showers made possible by energy. By redefining the problem that way, rather than merely subsidising more power plants or oil drilling, public policy can be made technology neutral, and consumer needs can be satisfied by demand-side measures if they prove cheaper than drilling or digging for new supply.

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jueves, octubre 09, 2008


By Amory B. Lovins, Imran Sheikh, and Alex Markevich

Nuclear power, we’re told, is a vibrant industry that’s dramatically reviving because it’s proven, necessary, competitive, reliable, safe, secure, widely used, increasingly popular, and carbon-free—a perfect replacement for carbon-spewing coal power. New nuclear plants thus sound vital for climate protection, energy security, and powering a growing economy.

There’s a catch, though: the private capitalmarket isn’t investing in new nuclear plants, and without financing, capitalist utilities aren’t buying. The few purchases, nearly all in Asia, are all made by central planners with a draw on the public purse. In the United States, even government subsidies approaching or exceeding new nuclear power’s total cost have failed to entice Wall Street.

This non-technical summary article compares the cost, climate protection potential, reliability, financial risk, market success, deployment speed, and energy contribution of new nuclear power with those of its low- or no-carbon competitors. It explains why soaring taxpayer subsidies aren’t attracting investors. Capitalists instead favor climate-protecting competitors with less cost, construction time, and financial risk. The nuclear industry claims it has no serious rivals, let alone those competitors—which, however, already outproduce nuclear power worldwide and are growing enormously faster.

Most remarkably, comparing all options’ ability to protect the earth’s climate and enhance energy security reveals why nuclear power could never deliver these promised benefits even if it could find free-market buyers—while its carbon-free rivals, which won $71 billion of private investment in 2007 alone, do offer highly effective climate and security solutions, sooner, with greater confidence.


So why do otherwise well-informed people still consider nuclear power a key element of a sound climate strategy? Not because that belief can withstand analytic scrutiny. Rather, it seems, because of a superficially attractive story, an immensely powerful and effective lobby, a new generation who forgot or never knew why nuclear power failed previously (almost nothing has changed), sympathetic leaders of nearly all main governments, deeply rooted habits and rules that favor giant power plants over distributed solutions and enlarged supply over efficient use, the market winners’ absence from many official databases (which often count only big plants owned by utilities), and lazy reporting by an unduly credulous press.

Isn’t it time we forgot about nuclear power? Informed capitalists have. Politicians and pundits should too. After more than half a century of devoted effort and a half-trillion dollars of public subsidies, nuclear power still can’t make its way in the market. If we accept that unequivocal verdict, we can at last get on with the best buys first: proven and ample ways to save more carbon per dollar, faster, more surely, more securely, and with wider consensus. As often before, the biggest key to a sound climate and security strategy is to take market economics seriously.

Mr. Lovins, a physicist, is cofounder, Chairman, and Chief Scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute, where Mr. Sheikh is a Research Analyst and Dr. Markevich is a Vice President. Mr. Lovins has consulted for scores of electric utilities, many of them nuclear operators. The authors are grateful to their colleague Dr. Joel Swisher PE for insightful comments and to many cited and uncited sources for research help. A technical paper preprinted for the September 2008 Ambio (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences) supports this summary with full details and documentation ( pid257.php#E08-01). RMI’s annual compilation of global micropower data from industrial and governmental sources has been updated through 2006, and in many cases through 2007, at www.rmi. org/sitepages/pid256.php#E05-04.


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The issues of renewable energy and energy independence have taken center stage in both media and political conversations lately, but the means of achieving various energy goals have proven to be rather controversial. Proposed options dominating news headlines include clean coal, nuclear energy, and offshore drilling. Is there an energy path that we can all agree upon?

The answer is yes, and this morning Rocky Mountain Institute and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins were featured in a New York Times blog in response to last night's Presidential Debate. Energy efficiency, a solution at the core of RMI's work, was discussed as a viable and economically profitable resolution to both energy and economy issues. New York Times writer Kate Galbraith points out that RMI and Amory Lovins have consistently advocated the benefits of a soft-path approach to energy, with efficiency at it's core. You can read the article here.

When it comes to nuclear power specifically, every dollar invested in new US nuclear electricity will save approximately 2-11 times less carbon, and will do so roughly 20-40 times slower, than investing in the same dollar in energy efficiency and "micropower" (cogeneration plus renewables minus big hydro dams). Buying new nuclear capacity instead of efficiency causes more carbon to be released than spending the same money on new coal plants!

These conclusions and the empirical evidence supporting them are summarized in "Forget Nuclear," and fully documented in "The Nuclear Illusion," available for download here, which is to be published in early 2009 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' journal Ambio.

Hopefully our vision will help put these widely publicized issues into perspective and move us all toward a better understanding that takes us beyond politically divisive issues to collective and viable solutions.


Rocky Mountain Institute

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