In 2007, no one can deny that man-made climate change is taking place. However, the commitment to mitigate and help the vulnerable to adapt does not match the recognition of the disaster.
Mitigation requires material changes in production and consumption patterns. Globalisation has pushed production and consumption worldwide to higher carbon dioxide emissions. WTO rules of trade liberalization are in effect rules that force countries on a high emissions pathway. Similarly, World Bank lending for super highways and thermal power plant, industrial agriculture and corporate retail coerces countries to emit more greenhouse gases. And giant corporations such as Cargill and Walmart carry major responsibility in destroying local, sustainable economies and pushing society after society into dependence on an ecologically destructive global economy. Cargill is an important player in spreading soya cultivation in the Amazon, and palmoil plantations in the rainforest of Indonesia thus increasing emissions both by the burning of forests and destruction of the massive carbon sink in rainforests and peat lands. And Walmart's model of long distance centralized trade is a recipe for increasing the carbon dioxide burden in the atmosphere.
Another false solution to climate change is the promotion of biofuels based on corn and soya, palmoil and jatropha.
Biofuels, fuels from biomass, continue to be the most important energy source for the poor in the world. The ecological biodiverse farm is not just a source of food; it is a source of energy. Energy for cooking the food comes from the inedible biomass like cow dung cakes, stalks of millets and pulses, agro-forestry species on village wood lots. Managed sustainably, village commons have been a source of decentralized energy for centuries
Industrial biofuels are not the fuels of the poor; they are the foods of the poor, transformed into heat, electricity, and transport. Liquid biofuels, in particular ethanol and bio-diesel, are one of the fastest growing sectors of production, driven by the search of alternatives to fossil fuels both to avoid the catastrophe of peak oil and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. President Bush is trying to pass legislation to require the use of 35 billion gallons of biofuels by 2017. M. Alexander of the Sustainable Development Department of FAO has stated: "The gradual move away from oil has begun. Over the next 15 to 20 years we may see biofuels providing a full 25 per cent of the world's energy needs."
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For socal folks, Vendana Shiva will be speaking at UCI on April 30th - don't miss out! If you attend, please do share your thoughts.