Sustainable WNC

The Gateway to Sustainability in Western North Carolina

Archive for March, 2008

Wall St. Journal: Consume Less! (GASP!)

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Hi folks,

Here’s a story I never thought I’d see on the front page of the Wall Street Journal!
Here’s my vote for a bumper sticker:

Consume Less. Live More.

For conservation and sustainability,
Paul

Paul Gallimore, Director
Long Branch Environmental Education Center
POB 369 Big Sandy Mush Creek
Leicester, NC 28748
E-mail: paul@LongBrancheec.org
Tel. 828/683-3662 Fax: 828/683-9211
Web Site: www.LongBrancheec.org
www.paul.sustainablewnc.org

“To restore the land one must live and work in a place.
To work in a place is to work with others.
People who work together in a place become a community, and a community, in time, grows a culture.
To work on behalf of the wild is to restore culture.”
– Gary Snyder

New Limits to Growth Revive Malthusian Fears - WSJ.com

The Wall Street Journal
March 24, 2008

PAGE ONE

New Limits to Growth
Revive Malthusian Fears

Spread of Prosperity
Brings Supply Woes;
Slaking China’s Thirst
By JUSTIN LAHART, PATRICK BARTA and ANDREW BATSON
March 24, 2008; Page A1

Now and then across the centuries, powerful voices have warned that human activity would overwhelm the earth’s resources. The Cassandras always proved wrong. Each time, there were new resources to discover, new technologies to propel growth.

ECON ONE ON ONE

[Brander] [Kahn]
James Brander, left, a professor of international business at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business and Matthew Kahn, right, a professor at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment, discuss limits-to-growth ideas in the context of today’s rapid run-up in raw material costs. Plus, share your own thoughts. 1
Could Resources Become a Limit to Global Growth? 2

Today the old fears are back.

Although a Malthusian catastrophe is not at hand, the resource constraints foreseen by the Club of Rome are more evident today than at any time since the 1972 publication of the think tank’s famous book, “The Limits of Growth.” Steady increases in the prices for oil, wheat, copper and other commodities — some of which have set record highs this month — are signs of a lasting shift in demand as yet unmatched by rising supply.

As the world grows more populous — the United Nations projects eight billion people by 2025, up from 6.6 billion today — it also is growing more prosperous. The average person is consuming more food, water, metal and power. Growing numbers of China’s 1.3 billion people and India’s 1.1 billion are stepping up to the middle class, adopting the high-protein diets, gasoline-fueled transport and electric gadgets that developed nations enjoy.

The result is that demand for resources has soared. If supplies don’t keep pace, prices are likely to climb further, economic growth in rich and poor nations alike could suffer, and some fear violent conflicts could ensue.

Some of the resources now in great demand have no substitutes. In the 18th century, England responded to dwindling timber supplies by shifting to abundant coal. But there can be no such replacement for arable land and fresh water.

WSJ’s Patrick Barta reports from India on how development threatens to overwhelm the Earth’s resources. (March 24)

The need to curb global warming limits the usefulness of some resources — coal, for one, which emits greenhouse gases that most scientists say contribute to climate change. Soaring food consumption stresses the existing stock of arable land and fresh water.

“We’re living in an era where the technologies that have empowered high living standards and 80-year life expectancies in the rich world are now for almost everybody,” says economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, which focuses on sustainable development with an emphasis on the world’s poor. “What this means is that not only do we have a very large amount of economic activity right now, but we have pent-up potential for vast increases [in economic activity] as well.” The world cannot sustain that level of growth, he contends, without new technologies.

Americans already are grappling with higher energy and food prices. Although crude prices have dropped in recent days, there’s a growing consensus among policy makers and industry executives that this isn’t just a temporary surge in prices. Some of these experts, but not all of them, foresee a long-term upward shift in prices for oil and other commodities.

Today’s dire predictions could prove just as misguided as yesteryear’s.

“Clearly we’ll have more and more problems, as more and more [people] are going to be richer and richer, using more and more stuff,” says Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician who argues that the global-warming problem is overblown. “But smartness will outweigh the extra resource use.”

Some constraints might disappear with greater global cooperation. Where some countries face scarcity, others have bountiful supplies of resources. New seed varieties and better irrigation techniques could open up arid regions to cultivation that today are only suitable as hardscrabble pasture; technological breakthroughs, like cheaper desalination or efficient ways to transmit electricity from unpopulated areas rich with sunlight or wind, could brighten the outlook.

[Malthus]

In the past, economic forces spurred solutions. Scarcity of resource led to higher prices, and higher prices eventually led to conservation and innovation. Whale oil was a popular source of lighting in the 19th century. Prices soared in the middle of the century, and people sought other ways to fuel lamps. In 1846, Abraham Gesner began developing kerosene, a cleaner-burning alternative. By the end of the century, whale oil cost less than it did in 1831.

A similar pattern could unfold again. But economic forces alone may not be able to fix the problems this time around. Societies as different as the U.S. and China face stiff political resistance to boosting water prices to encourage efficient use, particularly from farmers. When resources such as water are shared across borders, establishing a pricing framework can be thorny. And in many developing nations, food-subsidy programs make it less likely that rising prices will spur change.

This troubles some economists who used to be skeptical of the premise of “The Limits to Growth.” As a young economist 30 years ago, Joseph Stiglitz said flatly: “There is not a persuasive case to be made that we face a problem from the exhaustion of our resources in the short or medium run.”

Today, the Nobel laureate is concerned that oil is underpriced relative to the cost of carbon emissions, and that key resources such as water are often provided free. “In the absence of market signals, there’s no way the market will solve these problems,” he says. “How do we make people who have gotten something for free start paying for it? That’s really hard. If our patterns of living, our patterns of consumption are imitated, as others are striving to do, the world probably is not viable.”

Dennis Meadows, one of the authors of “The Limits to Growth,” says the book was too optimistic in one respect. The authors assumed that if humans stopped harming the environment, it would recover slowly. Today, he says, some climate-change models suggest that once tipping points are passed, environmental catastrophe may be inevitable even “if you quit damaging the environment.”

[See more photos] 3
Patrick Barta
Resource constraints in fast-growing India are hitting farmers and city-dwellers alike.

One danger is that governments, rather than searching for global solutions to resource constraints, will concentrate on grabbing share.

China has been funding development in Africa, a move some U.S. officials see as a way for it to gain access to timber, oil and other resources. India, once a staunch supporter of the democracy movement in military-run Myanmar, has inked trade agreements with the natural-resource rich country. The U.S., European Union, Russia and China are all vying for the favor of natural-gas-abundant countries in politically unstable Central Asia.

Competition for resources can get ugly. A record drought in the Southeast intensified a dispute between Alabama, Georgia and Florida over water from a federal reservoir outside Atlanta. A long-running fight over rights to the Cauvery River between the Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu led to 25 deaths in 1991.

Economists Edward Miguel of the University of California at Berkeley and Shanker Satyanath and Ernest Sergenti of New York University have found that declines in rainfall are associated with civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. Sierra Leone, for example, which saw a sharp drop in rainfall in 1990, plunged into civil war in 1991.

A Car for Every Household

The rise of China and India already has changed the world economy in lasting ways, from the flows of global capital to the location of manufacturing. But they remain poor societies with growing appetites.

Nagpur in central India once was known as one of the greenest metropolises in the country. Over the past decade, Nagpur, now one of at least 40 Indian cities with more than a million people, has grown to roughly 2.5 million from 1.7 million. Local roads have turned into a mess of honking cars, motorbikes and wandering livestock under a thick soup of foul air.

[photo]
A local resident takes water from a partially dried-up pond on the outskirts of Yingtan, China. Water shortages have been blamed on global warming, pollution and rising consumption by farmers and cities.

“Sometimes if I see something I like, I just buy it,” says Sapan Gajbe, 32 years old, a dentist shopping for an air conditioner at Nagpur’s Big Bazaar mall. A month earlier, he bought his first car, a $9,000 Maruti Zen compact.

In 2005, China had 15 passenger cars for every 1,000 people, close to the 13 cars per 1,000 that Japan had in 1963. Today, Japan has 447 passenger cars per 1,000 residents, 57 million in all. If China ever reaches that point, it would have 572 million cars — 70 million shy of the number of cars in the entire world today.

China consumes 7.9 million barrels of oil a day. The U.S., with less than one quarter as many people, consumes 20.7 million barrels. “Demand will be going up, but it will be constrained by supply,” ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer James Mulva has told analysts. “I don’t think we are going to see the supply going over 100 million barrels a day, and the reason is: Where is all that going to come from?”

Says Harvard economist Jeffrey Frankel: “The idea that we might have to move on to other sources of energy — you don’t have to buy into the Club of Rome agenda for that.” The world can adjust to dwindling oil production by becoming more energy efficient and by moving to nuclear, wind and solar power, he says, although such transitions can be slow and costly.

Global Thirst

There are no substitutes for water, no easy alternatives to simple conservation. Despite advances, desalination remains costly and energy intensive. Throughout the world, water is often priced too low. Farmers, the biggest users, pay less than others, if they pay at all.

[photo]
An underground rail tunnel under construction in New Delhi, India. The nation is adding thousands of miles of rail lines and new roads, along with other infrastructure, using enormous quantities of materials such as steel, copper and aluminum.

In California, the subsidized rates for farmers have become a contentious political issue. Chinese farmers receive water at next to no cost, accounting for 65% of all water used in the country.

In Pondhe, an Indian village of about 1,000 on a barren plateau east of Mumbai, water wasn’t a problem until the 1970s, when farmers began using diesel-powered pumps to transport water farther and faster. Local wells used to overflow during the monsoon season, recalls Vasantrao Wagle, who has farmed in the area for four decades. Today, they top off about 10 feet below the surface, and drop even lower during the dry season. “Even when it rains a lot, we aren’t getting enough water,” he says.

Parched northern China has been drawing down groundwater supplies. In Beijing, water tables have dropped hundreds of feet. In nearby Hebei province, once large Baiyangdian Lake has shrunk, and survives mainly because the government has diverted water into it from the Yellow River.

Climate change is likely to intensify water woes. Shifting weather patterns will be felt “most strongly through changes in the distribution of water around the world and its seasonal and annual variability,” according to the British government report on global warming led by Nicholas Stern. Water shortages could be severe in parts Africa, the Middle East, southern Europe and Latin America, the report said.

Feeding the Hungry

China’s farmers need water because China needs food. Production of rice, wheat and corn topped out at 441.4 million tons in 1998 and hasn’t hit that level since. Sea water has leaked into depleted aquifers in the north, threatening to turn land barren. Illegal seizures of farmland by developers are widespread. The government last year declared that it would not permit arable land to drop below 120 million hectares (296 million acres), and said it would beef up enforcement of land-use rules.

WHERE’S THE WATER?

On Beijing’s Outskirts, The Thirst Is Growing 4
Many Chinese towns, lacking irrigation systems,
rely on ad-hoc well digging, a practice that is in effect
reducing their ground water levels year by year.
[Well digger in China] 5
Loretta Chao
Well diggers in China are using massive equipment to reach deeper and deeper water supplies.

The farmland squeeze is forcing difficult choices. After disastrous floods in 1998, China started paying some farmers to abandon marginal farmland and plant trees. That “grain-to-green” program was intended to reverse the deforestation and erosion that exacerbated the floods. Last August, the government stopped expanding the program, citing the need for farmland and the cost.

A growing taste for meat and other higher-protein food in the developing world is boosting demand and prices for feed grains. “There are literally hundreds of millions of people…who are making the shift to protein, and competition for food world-wide is a new reality,” says William Doyle, chief executive officer of fertilizer-maker Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan.

It takes nearly 10 pounds of grain to produce one pound of pork — the staple meat in China — and more than double that to produce a pound of beef, according to Vaclav Smil, a University of Manitoba geographer who studies food, energy and environment trends. The number of calories in the Chinese diet from meat and other animal products has more than doubled since 1990, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. But China still lags Taiwan when it comes to per-capita pork consumption. Matching Taiwan would increase China’s annual pork consumption by 11 billion pounds — as much pork as Americans eat in six or seven months.

Searching for Solutions

The 1972 warnings by the Club of Rome — a nongovernmental think tank now based in Hamburg that brings together academics, business executives, civil servants and politicians to grapple with a wide range of global issues — struck a chord because they came as oil prices were rising sharply. Oil production in the continental U.S. had peaked, sparking fears that energy demand had outstripped supply. Over time, America became more energy efficient, overseas oil production rose and prices fell.

The dynamic today appears different. So far, the oil industry has failed to find major new sources of crude. Absent major finds, prices are likely to keep rising, unless consumers cut back. Taxes are one way to curb their appetites. In Western Europe and Japan, for example, where gas taxes are higher than in the U.S., per capita consumption is much lower.

New technology could help ease the resource crunch. Advances in agriculture, desalination and the clean production of electricity, among other things, would help.

But Mr. Stiglitz, the economist, contends that consumers eventually will have to change their behavior even more than then did after the 1970s oil shock. He says the world’s traditional definitions and measures of economic progress — based on producing and consuming ever more — may have to be rethought.

In years past, the U.S., Europe and Japan have proven adept at adjusting to resource constraints. But history is littered with examples of societies believed to have suffered Malthusian crises: the Mayans of Central America, the Anasazi of the U.S. Southwest, and the people of Easter Island.

Those societies, of course, lacked modern science and technology. Still, their inability to overcome resource challenges demonstrates the perils of blithely believing things will work out, says economist James Brander at the University of British Columbia, who has studied Easter Island.

“We need to look seriously at the numbers and say: Look, given what we’re consuming now, given what we know about economic incentives, given what we know about price signals, what is actually plausible?” says Mr. Brander.

Indeed, the true lesson of Thomas Malthus, an English economist who died in 1834, isn’t that the world is doomed, but that preservation of human life requires analysis and then tough action. Given the history of England, with its plagues and famines, Malthus had good cause to wonder if society was “condemned to a perpetual oscillation between happiness and misery.” That he was able to analyze that “perpetual oscillation” set him and his time apart from England’s past. And that capacity to understand and respond meant that the world was less Malthusian thereafter.

[Resource Squeeze]

Please Oppose this Assault on the Gwich’in People — TODAY!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Dear Relatives,

From the Indigenous Environmental Network [mailto:ienonlinenews@igc.org]

Please Oppose this Assault on the Gwich’in People - Click Here
As Gwich’in elders have simply put it: “Our land is forever, money is short term.”

Sample letter and more info below.
Thanks for everyone’s help.
For conservation and sustainability,
Paul

Paul Gallimore, Director
Long Branch Environmental Education Center
POB 369 Big Sandy Mush Creek
Leicester, NC 28748
E-mail: paul@LongBrancheec.org
Tel. 828/683-3662 Fax: 828/683-9211
Web Site: www.LongBrancheec.org
www.paul.sustainablewnc.org

“To restore the land one must live and work in a place.
To work in a place is to work with others.
People who work together in a place become a community, and a community, in time, grows a culture.
To work on behalf of the wild is to restore culture.”
– Gary Snyder

Sample letter:

Dear Gentlepersons:

Please do not let the proposed Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge (YFNWR) land exchange take place.
The primary beneficiaries of this proposed land trade are Doyon, Limited, an Alaska Native Regional Corporation who will acquire what are now refuge lands to contract with multi-national oil companies for oil and gas development, and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) who will acquire Native lands around Gwich’in villages through the trade from wellhead taxes once multi-national oil companies are invited to lease and contract and production of oil and gas development begins on what today are refuge lands within Gwich’in traditional ancestral territory. The FWS will also be able to purchase native lands in other wildlife refuges within the State with the proceeds, so this land trade is detrimental to other Native communities in the State of Alaska as well.
There really would be little or no genuine long-term benefits for the Gwich’in people within this deal, and the overall direct and cumulative impacts will be largely detrimental to lands that Gwich’in rely upon to meet subsistence needs. The Gwich’in people will be impoverished over time as their land base dwindles and they lose ownership and control within their ancestral territories, the resources they depend upon are irreparably damaged, their health and well being is compromised and overall they bear the brunt of all the negative consequences and suffer disproportionate harmful impacts from this proposal.
In traditional values, Gwich’in hold their lands in high respect, the land is there to provide for all time, the western value system of selling and buying land is a foreign concept that Native peoples in Alaska were forced into realizing when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) went into effect. As Gwich’in elders have simply put it: “Our land is forever, money is short term.”
Gwich’in concerns in regard to the proposed Yukon Flats Land Trade to facilitate oil and gas development within the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge and related oil and gas impacts: Some key concerns have been identified by Gwich’in people about the proposed Doyon/FWS Land Trade of the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge, some of which are: subsistence resources and rights (loss of habitat, hunting and fishing), water and air quality, roads and pipelines (access and competition for resources, loss of local control, introduction of alcohol and drugs) human and ecological health, socio- effects, land title, jobs, other issues.
The communities that are along the Yukon River ought to be afforded the opportunity to be heard on this matter as well. All 66 Yukon River communities must be given a priority of government to government consultation.
* Subsistence-Gwich’in communities that rely on the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge to provide for their primary subsistence needs are very concerned for their way of life. The subsistence species that provide for Gwich’in communities such as moose, sheep, waterfowl, and Yukon River salmon will be put in detriment from this land exchange.
* Hunting and Trapping - Gwich’in are concerned that the changes in land status and oil and gas development would affect hunting and trapping and traditional land use sites. Oil and gas development facilities and activities could prevent Gwich’in hunters from access to their hunting areas within the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge because hunting is banned or not safe near and within a certain proximity to the vicinity of oil and gas development projects. Besides that, who would want to hunt where there are pipelines, considering how much damage was done by one bullet hole in the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Many Gwich’in residents have trap lines within the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge as well, including within the area where Doyon would obtain lands that are currently refuge lands. Access to the traplines may also become an issue if oil and gas development is allowed in the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge. Finally, negative impacts from oil and gas exploration and development may alter animals’ health, distribution, populations, or habitats and harm both the availability and access to these subsistence resources that we have depended on for millennia.
* Water Quality - The potential effects of both acute (oil spills) and chronic pollution of the watershed with special attention to the downstream environments where toxic substances may be transported to, and accumulate over time. This watershed analysis should address the potential degradation of habitat values over the long term for lands proposed to be transferred to the Refuge as well as current Refuge lands and other lands downstream that will remain as native lands. The potential for pollution extending down the Yukon River beyond the Refuge boundary as a result of the proposed action should also be addressed. Furthermore, the transboundary impacts to Yukon River salmon in Canada and the subsistence livelihood of villages located downriver in Alaska needs to be addressed. Therefore the water quality impacts must be analyzed in the scoping for the EIS. Prime waterfowl and salmon habitat will likely be negatively impacted as toxic spills affect the water table. Impacts to and mitigation measures regarding water quality and quantity, including water uses and potential water pollution need to be evaluated and analyzed within each alternative.
* Air Quality - Potential effects to air quality is another concern for local people, especially air quality being compromised when toxics bioaccumalate within the Yukon Flats due to cold spells in the winter when air can be socked in by air inversions for weeks as the temperature dips to -40 below. International and National studies have shown that Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) are known to bio-accumulate in cold regions and return to the environment into the food chain. Local people of the region are aware of this and have deep concern for the effect of toxins within the food chain that will have impact to the quality of health of the animals within the region as well as the human population that relies upon them for subsistence. Heavy metals created from oil development are known POPS. On the North Slope the National Academy of Sciences report of 2003 stated that air quality impacts to human health has lead to higher cases of Asthma and upper respiratory illnesses in local communities such as Nuiqsut.
* Roads and Pipelines - Gaining access to potential oil and gas resources by roads and pipeline corridor will have several negative factors that cause severe impacts to Yukon Flats communities in various ways and these impacts must be analyzed as well: Loss of local control within traditional hunting and fishing areas, possible influx of non-natives who will compete with locals for the subsistence resources, the species that provide for communities will then decline due to competition, more quotas will be placed on local people, causing the subsistence way of life to decline. Alcohol and drugs may be transported from cities to Gwich’in communities from the roads.
* Human Health - Another consequence that deserves thorough evaluation in consideration of this land trade are the negative impacts related to human and ecological health in the face of oil and gas development. The health and well being of the people is directly related to the health and well being of the land. Health statistics that will follow any oil and gas development will be: higher rates of Cancer, Diabetes, Asthma, Upper Respiratory Illnesses and Obesity due to compromise and loss of subsistence resources. The social factors that cannot be mitigated and will have long term negative impact to local communities are high statistics of alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, alcohol or drug related fatalities, incarceration, domestic violence and other forms of abuse etc. There would be the need for endless meetings related to oil and gas development, and the introduction of greater sources of conflict among community members. Oil and Gas development within Indigenous territories usually leaves behind these sort of devastating social effects as has been cited by the National Academy of Sciences in Cumulative Environmental Effects of Oil and gas Development on Alaska’s North Slope “Effects on the Human Environment” study of 2003.
* Native Land Acquisition and Loss - This deal sets a bad precedent in acquisition of Native lands [allotments] including the discussion of ANCSA village corporation lands and allotments in Phase II which will ultimately lead to the diminishment of Native Lands within the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge and other refuges across the State. In Phase I, this deal primarily targets Doyon lands near their villages and this means a loss of Native lands closest to them and increased competition for subsistence resources in close proximity to those lands. The loss of Native lands will lead to eventual loss of control within subsistence use areas and ancestral homelands. This is highly unacceptable to Gwich’in people; especially Gwich’in council’s who even have council policy in place addressing sales of lands to non-natives. Gwich’in are the best stewards of the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge lands and native allotments which was the only title granted under the terms of ANCSA. Maintaining Native land title is the best option for maintenance of the purposes for the protection of wildlife and habitat within the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge.
*Jobs - The majority of jobs are usually taken by a primarily non-native workforce.
There is too much at stake with potential long term harm to the environment that sustains the Gwich’in subsistence lifestyle. The land will provide for generations to come if left intact. The costs to the Gwich’in people far outweigh the benefits in the long-term within the Yukon Flats Land Trade proposal. Thank you for your attention to these comments.
Sincerely, Paul Gallimore

—–Original Message—–
From: Indigenous Environmental Network [mailto:ienonlinenews@igc.org]
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 9:21 AM
To: paulg@main.nc.us
Subject: Urgent Message — Your Action Needed: Submit Comments Today on the Yukon Flats Land Exchange proposal by Doyon and FWS

URGENT!!! For Immediate Release, March 25, 2008
Submit Comments Today! on the Yukon Flats Land Exchange proposal by Doyon and FWS

Click Here to Submit Comments

TODAY, March 25th, is the final chance to submit comments on this important issue…Please click on the link below and submit your thoughts online (take you only a few minutes) on the Yukon Flats Land Exchange proposal by Doyon and FWS…The more comments from the public elevates the issue. We need Support Now.

Click the “Video” buttons to see and hear the voice of the People who will be impacted by this and other actions that will destroy their ways of life.

Submit on-line comments at: yukonflatseis.ensr.com/Yukon_Flats/Comments.aspx

Points to consider for your comments:

The primary beneficiaries of this proposed land trade are Doyon, Limited, an Alaska Native Regional Corporation who will acquire what are now refuge lands to contract with multi-national oil companies for oil and gas development, and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) who will acquire Native lands around Gwich’in villages through the trade from wellhead taxes once multi-national oil companies are invited to lease and contract and production of oil and gas development begins on what today are refuge lands within Gwich’in traditional ancestral territory. The FWS will also be able to purchase native lands in other wildlife refuges within the State with the proceeds, so this land trade is detrimental to other Native communities in the State of Alaska as well.

There really would be little or no genuine long-term benefits for the Gwich’in people within this deal, and the overall direct and cumulative impacts will be largely detrimental to lands that Gwich’in rely upon to meet subsistence needs. The Gwich’in people will be impoverished over time as their land base dwindles and they lose ownership and control within their ancestral territories, the resources they depend upon are irreparably damaged, their health and well being is compromised and overall they bear the brunt of all the negative consequences and suffer disproportionate harmful impacts from this proposal.

In traditional values, Gwich’in hold their lands in high respect, the land is there to provide for all time, the western value system of selling and buying land is a foreign concept that Native peoples in Alaska were forced into realizing when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) went into effect. As Gwich’in elders have simply put it: “Our land is forever, money is short term”

Gwich’in concerns in regard to the proposed Yukon Flats Land Trade to facilitate oil and gas development within the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge and related oil and gas impacts: Some key concerns have been identified by Gwich’in people about the proposed Doyon/FWS Land Trade of the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge, some of which are: subsistence resources and rights (loss of habitat, hunting and fishing), water and air quality, roads and pipelines (access and competition for resources, loss of local control, introduction of alcohol and drugs) human and ecological health, socio- effects, land title, jobs, other issues.

Impact On Gwich’in People

Please Oppose this Assault on the Gwich’in People - Click Here

YUKON RIVER- The communities that are along the Yukon River ought to be afforded the opportunity to be heard on this matter as well. All 66 Yukon River communities must be given a priority of government to government consultation.

* Subsistence-Gwich’in communities that rely on the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge to provide for their primary subsistence needs are very concerned for their way of life. The subsistence species that provide for Gwich’in communities such as moose, sheep, waterfowl, and Yukon River salmon will be put in detriment from this land exchange.

* Hunting and Trapping - Gwich’in are concerned that the changes in land status and oil and gas development would affect hunting and trapping and traditional land use sites. Oil and gas development facilities and activities could prevent Gwich’in hunters from access to their hunting areas within the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge because hunting is banned or not safe near and within a certain proximity to the vicinity of oil and gas development projects. Besides that, who would want to hunt where there are pipelines, considering how much damage was done by one bullet hole in the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Many Gwich’in residents have trap lines within the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge as well, including within the area where Doyon would obtain lands that are currently refuge lands. Access to the traplines may also become an issue if oil and gas development is allowed in the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge. Finally, negative impacts from oil and gas exploration and development may alter animals’ health, distribution, populations, or habitats and harm both the availability and access to these subsistence resources that we have depended on for millennia.

* Water Quality - The potential effects of both acute (oil spills) and chronic pollution of the watershed with special attention to the downstream environments where toxic substances may be transported to, and accumulate over time. This watershed analysis should address the potential degradation of habitat values over the long term for lands proposed to be transferred to the Refuge as well as current Refuge lands and other lands downstream that will remain as native lands. The potential for pollution extending down the Yukon River beyond the Refuge boundary as a result of the proposed action should also be addressed. Furthermore, the transboundary impacts to Yukon River salmon in Canada and the subsistence livelihood of villages located downriver in Alaska needs to be addressed. Therefore the water quality impacts must be analyzed in the scoping for the EIS. Prime waterfowl and salmon habitat will likely be negatively impacted as toxic spills affect the water table. Impacts to and mitigation measures regarding water quality and quantity, including water uses and potential water pollution need to be evaluated and analyzed within each alternative.

* Air Quality - Potential effects to air quality is another concern for local people, especially air quality being compromised when toxics bioaccumalate within the Yukon Flats due to cold spells in the winter when air can be socked in by air inversions for weeks as the temperature dips to -40 below. International and National studies have shown that Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) are known to bio-accumulate in cold regions and return to the environment into the food chain. Local people of the region are aware of this and have deep concern for the effect of toxins within the food chain that will have impact to the quality of health of the animals within the region as well as the human population that relies upon them for subsistence. Heavy metals created from oil development are known POPS. On the North Slope the National Academy of Sciences report of 2003 stated that air quality impacts to human health has lead to higher cases of Asthma and upper respiratory illnesses in local communities such as Nuiqsut.

* Roads and Pipelines - Gaining access to potential oil and gas resources by roads and pipeline corridor will have several negative factors that cause severe impacts to Yukon Flats communities in various ways and these impacts must be analyzed as well: Loss of local control within traditional hunting and fishing areas, possible influx of non-natives who will compete with locals for the subsistence resources, the species that provide for communities will then decline due to competition, more quotas will be placed on local people, causing the subsistence way of life to decline. Alcohol and drugs may be transported from cities to Gwich’in communities from the roads.

* Human Health - Another consequence that deserves thorough evaluation in consideration of this land trade are the negative impacts related to human and ecological health in the face of oil and gas development. The health and well being of the people is directly related to the health and well being of the land. Health statistics that will follow any oil and gas development will be: higher rates of Cancer, Diabetes, Asthma, Upper Respiratory Illnesses and Obesity due to compromise and loss of subsistence resources. The social factors that cannot be mitigated and will have long term negative impact to local communities are high statistics of alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, alcohol or drug related fatalities, incarceration, domestic violence and other forms of abuse etc. There would be the need for endless meetings related to oil and gas development, and the introduction of greater sources of conflict among community members. Oil and Gas development within Indigenous territories usually leaves behind these sort of devastating social effects as has been cited by the National Academy of Sciences in Cumulative Environmental Effects of Oil and gas Development on Alaska’s North Slope “Effects on the Human Environment” study of 2003.

* Native Land Acquisition and Loss - This deal sets a bad precedent in acquisition of Native lands [allotments] including the discussion of ANCSA village corporation lands and allotments in Phase II which will ultimately lead to the diminishment of Native Lands within the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge and other refuges across the State. In Phase I, this deal primarily targets Doyon lands near their villages and this means a loss of Native lands closest to them and increased competition for subsistence resources in close proximity to those lands. The loss of Native lands will lead to eventual loss of control within subsistence use areas and ancestral homelands. This is highly unacceptable to Gwich’in people; especially Gwich’in council’s who even have council policy in place addressing sales of lands to non-natives. Gwich’in are the best stewards of the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge lands and native allotments which was the only title granted under the terms of ANCSA. Maintaining Native land title is the best option for maintenance of the purposes for the protection of wildlife and habitat within the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge.

* Jobs - Many promises of jobs being provided to Gwich’in are touted within the land trade discussions, but the reality in most cases of oil and gas development projects in Alaska is that Native people who may actually maintain long term jobs are a small minority while the majority of jobs are usually taken by a primarily non-native workforce.

There is too much at stake with potential long term harm to the environment that sustains the Gwich’in subsistence lifestyle. The land will provide for generations to come if left intact. The costs to the Gwich’in people far outweigh the benefits in the long-term within the Yukon Flats Land Trade proposal.

For More Information on Continuing Actions:
Faith Gemmill, REDOIL-IEN, 907-750-0188
redoil1@acsalaska.net www.ienearth.org/redoil

The Indigenous Environmental Network · PO Box 485 · Bemidji · MN · 56619
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Rebirth

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Dear Relatives,

How do we conquer death?
How do we embrace death?
By waking up!

Ah, the unconscious living,
Dissolving into
The conscious dead
Reemerging!

The Dying dance, le petit mort,
every ecstatic moment!
Beyond the edge of death –
The plunge
Into enstasy — silent solitary illumination
Beyond the gate
“Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.”
Translation:
“Gone, gone,
gone all the way over,
everyone gone to the other shore,
enlightenment,
svaha!”

“…the dead are not powerless.
Dead, did I say?
There is no death, only a change of worlds.”

— attributed (not without some controversy!) to Chief Sealth (Seattle), Suquamish and Duwamish in 1854, (1786-1866)

What is sustainable?
The Fertility of Mother Earth!
Plant your seeds of healing peace
And Love!

After “dying” in the fall and returning to the embrace of the Earth,
the hungry Mother Bear emerges from her den – reborn!
And with precious new life – Bear Cubs!

And we give thanks.

May All Beings Be Happy!

For conservation and sustainability,


Paul Gallimore, Director
Long Branch Environmental Education Center
POB 369 Big Sandy Mush Creek
Leicester, NC 28748
Tel. 828/683-3662 Fax: 828/683-9211
E-mail: paul@LongBranchEEC.org
Web Site: www.LongBranchEEC.org
www.paul.sustainablewnc.org

“To restore the land one must live and work in a place.
To work in a place is to work with others.
People who work together in a place become a community,
and a community, in time, grows a culture.
To work on behalf of the wild is to restore culture.”
– Gary Snyder

“Behold, my brothers and sisters, the spring has come.

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Dear Relatives,

May our Awakening begin!

“Behold, my brothers and sisters, the spring has come.
The earth has received the embraces of the sun and we shall soon see the
results of that love!
Every seed is awakened and so has all animal life.
It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being and we
therefore yield to our neighbors, even our animal neighbors, the same right
as ourselves to inhabit this land.
My love of our native soil is wholly mystical.”

— Chief Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotaka), Hunkpapa Sioux (1831-1890),
Lakota Medicine Man and Chief was considered the last Sioux to surrender to
the U.S. Government.

“Let us put our minds together to see what kind of life we can make for our children.”
— Chief Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotaka),
Hunkpapa Sioux (1831-1890), Lakota Medicine Man and Chief was considered the last Sioux to surrender to the U.S. Government.

For conservation and sustainability,


Paul Gallimore, Director
Long Branch Environmental Education Center
POB 369 Big Sandy Mush Creek
Leicester, NC 28748
Tel. 828/683-3662 Fax: 828/683-9211
E-mail: paul@LongBranchEEC.org
Web Site: www.LongBranchEEC.org
www.paul.sustainablewnc.org

“To restore the land one must live and work in a place.
To work in a place is to work with others.
People who work together in a place become a community,
and a community, in time, grows a culture.
To work on behalf of the wild is to restore culture.”
– Gary Snyder

The Boy Who Lived With the Bears

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Dear Relatives,

This one is from the Oral Traditions of the Haudenosaunee, Iroquois, the People of the Longhouse, via Joseph Bruchac.
“And you will remember what it is to know the warmth of an animal’s heart.”

The Boy Who Lived With the Bears

——————————————————————————–
There was once a boy whose father and mother had died and he was left alone in the world. The only person he had to take care of him was his uncle, but his uncle was not a kind man. The uncle thought that the boy was too much trouble and fed him only scraps from the table and dressed him in tattered clothing and moccasins with soles that were worn away. When the boy slept at night, he had to sleep outside his uncle’s lodge far away from the fire. But the boy never complained because his parents had told him always to respect people older than himself.
One day the uncle decided to get rid of the boy. “Come with me,” he said. “We are going hunting.”

The boy was very happy. His uncle had never taken him hunting before. He followed him into the woods. First his uncle killed a rabbit. The boy picked it up to carry it for the uncle and was ready to turn back to the lodge, but his uncle shook his head. “We will go on. I am not done hunting.”

They went further and the uncle killed a fat grouse. The boy was very happy, for they would have so much to eat that surely his uncle would feed him well that night and he began to turn back, but the uncle shook his head again. “No,” he said, “we must go on.”

Finally, they came to a place very, very far in the forest where the boy had not been before. There was a great cliff and at its base a cave led into the rock. The opening to the cave was large enough only for a small person to go into. “There are animals hiding in there,” the uncle said. “You must crawl in and chase them out so that I can shoot them with my arrows.”

The cave was very dark and it looked cold inside, but the boy remembered what his parents had taught him. He crawled into the cave. There were leaves and stones, but there were no animals. He reached the very end of the cave and turned back, ashamed that he had not fulfilled his uncle’s expectations. And do you know what he saw? He saw his uncle rolling a great stone in front of the mouth of the cave. And then everything was dark.

The boy tried to move the stone, but it was no use. He was trapped! At first he was afraid, but then he remembered what his parents had told him. The orenda of those who are good at heart is very strong. If you do good and have faith, good things will come to you. This made the boy happy and he began to sing a song. The song was about himself, a boy who had no parents and needed friends. As he sang, his song grew louder, until he forgot he was trapped in a cave. But then he heard a scratching noise outside and stopped singing, thinking his uncle had come back to let him out of the cave.

However, as soon as he heard the first of many voices outside his cave, he knew that he was wrong. That high squeaking voice was not the voice of his uncle. “We should help this boy,” said the high squeaking voice.

“Yes,” said a very deep voice which sounded warm and loving. “He is all alone and needs help.

There is no doubt that we should help him.”

“One of us,” said another voice, “will have to adopt him.”

And then many other voices, voices of all kinds which seemed to speak in many languages agreed. The strange thing was that the boy could understand all these voices, strange as they were. Then the stone began to move and light streamed into the cave, blinding the boy who had been in the darkness for a long time. He crawled out, very stiff and cold, and looked around him. He was surrounded by many animals!

“Now that we have rescued you,” said a small voice from near his feet, “you must choose which of us will be your parents now.” He looked down and saw that the one who was speaking was a mole.

“Yes,” said a great moose standing in the trees. “You must choose one of us.”

“Thank you,” said the boy. You are all so kind. But how can I choose which one of you will be my parents?”

“I know,” said the mole. “Let us all tell him what we are like and what kind of lives we lead and he can decide.” There was general agreement on that, and so the animals began to come up to the boy one by one.

“I’ll begin,” said the mole. “I live under the earth and dig my tunnels through the Earth Mother. It is very dark and cozy in my tunnels and we have plenty of worms and grubs to eat.”

“That sounds very good,” said the boy, “but I am afraid that I am too big to go into your tunnels, friend Mole.”

“Come and live with me,” said the beaver. “I live in a fine lodge in the midst of a pond. We beavers eat the best bark from the sweetest trees and we dive under the water and sleep in our lodge in the winter time.”

“Your life is very interesting too,” said the boy, “but I cannot eat bark, and I know that I would freeze in the cold waters of your pond.”

“How about me?” said the wolf. “I run through the woods and fields and I catch all the small animals I want to eat. I live in a warm den and you would do well to come with me.”

“You too are very kind,” said the boy, “but all of the animals have been so kind to me I would not feel right eating them.”

“You could be my child,” said the deer. “Run with us through the forest and eat the twigs of the trees and the grass of the fields.”

“No, friend deer,” the boy said, “You are beautiful and good, but you are so fast that I would be left far behind you.”

Then an old bear-woman walked over to the boy. She looked at him a long time before she talked and when she spoke her voice was like a growling song.

“You can come with us and be a bear,” she said. “We bears move slowly and speak with harsh voices, but our hearts are warm. We eat the berries and the roots which grow in the forest and our fur would keep you warm in the long season cold.”

“Yes,” said the boy, “I would like to be a bear. I will come with you and you will be my family.” So the boy who had no family went to live with the bears. The mother bear had two other children and they became brothers to the boy. They would roll and play together and soon the boy was almost as strong as a bear.

“Be careful, though,” the old bear-woman cautioned him. “Your brothers’ claws are sharp and wherever they scratch you, you will grow hair just like them.” They lived together a long time in the forest and the old bear-woman taugh the boy many things.

One day they were all in the forest seeking berries when the bear-woman motioned them to silence.

“Listen,” she said. “There is a hunter.” They listened and, sure enough, they heard the sounds of a man walking. The old bear-woman smiled. “We have nothing to fear from him,” she said. “He is the heavy- stepper and the twigs and the leaves of the forest speak of him wherever he goes.”

Another time as they walked along, the old bear- woman again motioned them to silence. “Listen,” she said. “Another hunter.” They listened and soon they heard the sound of singing . The old bear- woman smiled. “That one too is not dangerous. He is the flapping-mouth, the one who talks as he hunts and does not remember that everything in the forest has ears. We bears can hear singing even if it is only thought, and not spoken.”

So they lived on happily until one day when the old bear-woman motioned them to silence, a frightened look in her eyes. “Listen,” she said, “the one who hunts on two-legs and four-legs. This one is very dangerous to us, and we must hope he does not find us, for the four-legs who hunts with him can follow our tracks wherever we go and the man himself does not give up until he has caught whatever it is that he is hunting for.”

Just then they heard the sound of a dog barking “Run for your lives,” cried the old bear-woman “The four-legs has caught our scent.”

And so they ran, the boy and the three bears. They ran across streams and up hills, but still the sound of the dog followed them. They ran through swamps and thickets, but the hunters were still close behind. They crossed ravines and forced their way through patches of thorns, but could not escape the sounds of pursuit. Finally, their hearts ready to burst from exhaustion, the old bear-woman and the boy and the two bear-brothers came to a great hollow log. “It is our last hope,” said the old bear-woman. “Go inside.”

They crawled into the log and waited, panting and afraid. For a time, there was no sound and then the noise of the dog sniffing at the end of their log came to their cars. The old bear-woman growled and the dog did not dare to come in after them. Then, once again, things were quiet and the boy began to hope that his family would be safe, but his hopes were quickly shattered when he smelled smoke. The resourceful hunter had piled branches at the end of the log and was going to smoke them out!

“Wait,” cried the boy in a loud voice. “Do not harm my friends.”

“Who is speaking?” shouted a familiar voice from outside the log. “Is there a human being inside there?” There came the sound of branches being kicked away from the mouth of the log and then the smoke stopped. The boy crawled out and looked into the face of the hunter–it was his uncle!!

“My nephew!” cried the uncle with tears in his eyes. “Is it truly you? I came back to the cave where I left you, realizing that I had been a cruel and foolish man . . . but you were gone and there were only the tracks of many animals. I thought they had killed you.

And it was true. Before the uncle had reached home, he had realized that he had been a wicked person. He had turned back, resolved to treat the son of his own sister well from then on. His grief had truly been great when he had found him gone.

“It is me,” said the boy. “I have been cared for by the bears. They are like my family now, Uncle. Please do not harm them.”

The uncle tied his hunting dog to a tree as he nodded his agreement. “Bring out your friends. I will always be the friend of bears from now on if what you say is true.”

Uncertain and still somewhat afraid, the old bear- woman and her two sons came out of the log. They talked to the boy with words which sounded to the uncle like nothing more than animals growling and told him that he must now become a human being again.

“We will always be your friends,” said the old bear-woman and she shuffled into the forest after her two sons. “And you will remember what it is to know the warmth of an animal’s heart.”

And so the boy returned to live a long and happy life with his uncle. a friend to the bears and all the animals for as long as he lived.

www.indians.org/welker/lived.htm

For conservation and sustainability,


Paul Gallimore, Director
Long Branch Environmental Education Center
POB 369 Big Sandy Mush Creek
Leicester, NC 28748
Tel. 828/683-3662 Fax: 828/683-9211
E-mail: paul@LongBranchEEC.org
Web Site: www.LongBranchEEC.org
www.paul.sustainablewnc.org

“To restore the land one must live and work in a place.
To work in a place is to work with others.
People who work together in a place become a community,
and a community, in time, grows a culture.
To work on behalf of the wild is to restore culture.”
– Gary Snyder