Category: Environment

‘I Do Not Want Any Children to Develop Cancer Like Me’, a Fukushima Resident Says

Independent filmmaker Ian Thomas Ash has uploaded to YouTube a four-part interview with a young woman from Fukushima Prefecture who has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Now 20, the interviewee was 15 years old when, following theMarch 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex lost power and the ability to cool fuel in the reactors. The lack of cooling caused a series of hydrogen explosions that severely damaged four of the six reactors at the Daiichi complex.

As a result of the explosions and subsequent fires, nuclear contamination was spread over a large part of Japan’s northeast. The young woman interviewed in the documentary, who wishes to remain unidentified, is one of 166 Fukushima residents who were 18 or younger at the time of the nuclear disaster who have been diagnosed with or suspected of having thyroid cancer (as of February 2016).

While some attribute the rise in cases of thyroid cancer to more rigorous screening, Ash notes that 74.5% of young people aged 18-21 as of April 1, 2014 who were living in Fukushima at the time of the nuclear accident have not yet taken part in the official thyroid ultrasound examination.

Lack of Support Endangers Rangers and Global Wildlife

Battling a global poaching crisis, wildlife rangers believe they lack the necessary equipment, training and support from their governments to protect themselves and the world’s threatened wildlife from poachers, according to a new WWF study released today at the World Ranger Congress in Colorado, USA.

Ranger Perceptions: Africa surveyed 570 rangers across 12 African countries and found that 82 per cent had faced a life-threatening situation while on duty. But 59 per cent felt they were insufficiently equipped and 42 per cent felt they lacked sufficient training to do their jobs safely and effectively.

These results echo the findings of a similar survey of Asia’s rangers, the majority of whom had also risked their lives in the line of duty and felt equally ill-equipped to perform their critical frontline tasks. Preliminary results from a third survey suggest that rangers in Latin America face similar challenges.

Standing Up To Multinational Big-Ag: Nepal, Monsanto, & USAID

Throughout history, controlling India was the key to controlling Nepal. British control over the landlocked nation was an extension of its control over India itself. Today, imperialism is far from a distant memory. It did not go “extinct,” rather, it merely “evolved.” Today, imperialism looks like national and international “aid programs” which are used as fronts and vectors for corporate special interests.

USAID, the World Food Programme, and others, for instance, serve as fronts and vectors for corporations like Monsanto. In turn, Monsanto seeks a monopoly over world food production and the immense wealth and influence associated with such control. Just like the British East Indies Company did for centuries (1600’s-1800’s) the West is using a combination of corporations and foundations to project geopolitical power. And few other sectors engender such sought-after geopolitical power like control over a nation’s agriculture.

The story of corporate-financier interests attempting to conquer Nepal through this method is not new. In 2011, when “Maoist” rebels finally took control of the country and Western-style “democracy” foisted upon the Nepali people, Western corporations were already positioned to overrun the levers of power by controlling the nation’s infrastructure.

Monsanto Losing Ground: India Rethinks Rules Over Sale of GM Cotton Seeds

The Indian government has passed legislation capping royalties for new genetically-modified (GM) cotton varieties to be introduced by Monsanto, striking a blow at the company’s pricing structure in the heavily-populated country.
Earlier in March, in response to complaints that Monsanto’s Indian subsidiary Mahyaco Monsanto Biotech India Ltd (MMBL) was overcharging for a crop that produces its own pesticide, the agriculture ministry cut royalties paid by local seed firms by nearly 70 percent, substantially affecting MMBL’s revenue.

To ensure the welfare of farmers and eliminate the agrochemical giant’s monopoly in the market, the Indian government also fixed GM-cotton-seed maximum-sale price at 800 rupees for a 450-gram packet.

Yellowstone Park Euthanizes Bison Calf After Tourists Attempt to Rescue It

Visitors to America’s famous Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming attempted to ‘rescue’ a bison calf, causing its herd to abandon it; it was subsequently euthanized by park officials.

The Yellowstone National Park Service (NPS) released a statement Monday after a pair of tourists put a bison calf in an SUV. The NPS said they had to euthanize the animal because, after having interacted with humans, it was rejected by its herd.

Despite clearly-posted park regulations that require visitors to stay a minimum of 25 yards from all wildlife (and 100 yards from predators), a father and son decided to put an very young bison calf into their car over concerns that the animal was too cold.

World’s Smallest Porpoise Nears Extinction

Mexican authorities must immediately and indefinitely close all fisheries within the habitat of Mexico’s critically endangered vaquita porpoise – or we will lose the species forever.

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico, referring to data from the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), said on Friday that only around 60 vaquitas remained in the upper Gulf of California — the only place the species exists — as of December 2015. This is a nearly 40 per cent decline from the 97 vaquitas that remained in 2014.

“We can still save the vaquita, but this is our last chance,” said Omar Vidal, CEO of WWF-Mexico. “The Mexican government must ban all fishing within the vaquita’s habitat now and until the species shows signs of recovery. Anything else is just wishful thinking.”

The Lobby Firm That Works Both Sides of The Room

In Brussels, hundreds of lobby consultants make a (rather generous) living by running lobby campaigns on behalf of anyone who pays them. The borders between communication and PR strategies, law expertise and traditional lobbying are blurred. Demonstrating the problematic symbiosis between corporate interests and the EU institutions in Brussels, the same lobbying consultancies often get hired by both, bringing serious risks of conflicts of interest. A case in point: Germany-based lobby consultancy Genius and its work for the Glyphosate Task Force.

The European Commission – as shown again recently in The Guardian – seems hell bent on granting glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s toxic herbicide Roundup, re-approval for another ten years. This is despite the fact that the World Health Organisation’s cancer institute IARC declared the substance as “probably causing cancer to humans”, and that EU pesticides rules say such substances should be banned.

No Rhinos Poached in Nepal for Past Two Years

Nepal (WWF) – While Africa struggles to stem record-breaking rhino poaching, Nepal today marked two years since its last rhino was poached on May 2nd 2014 – as well as its 4th year of zero poaching of rhinos since 2011.

“This exceptional success is based on a combination of high-level political will, and the active involvement of the park authorities, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, conservation partners and local communities,” said Krishna P. Acharya, Chief-Planning Division and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation.

This is the first time that Nepal has achieved two consecutive years of zero poaching, which has helped to increase its population of greater one-horned rhinos to 645, the highest recorded number in the country so far.

Against the Evidence, Colombia Resumes Use of Glyphosate in Coca Eradication

Experiencing a rise in coca cultivation, the Colombian government has resumed the use of a potentially carcinogenic herbicide in its efforts to tackle the source of the cocaine trade, despite serious questions about the method’s efficacy.

Use of the herbicide glyphosate in coca eradication efforts was halted last year following publication of an International Agency for Research on Cancer report pointing to its potentially carcinogenic effects. Colombia had been utilizing glyphosate in aggressive aerial fumigation campaigns against coca — the raw ingredient for cocaine — since 1994.

However, a recent uptick in coca cultivation levels — and consequentially the amount of cocaine produced in the country — have apparently prompted the government to begin using glyphosate once more. The difference this time, though, is that it will be used solely in manual eradication, as confirmed by Defense Minister Luis Villegas who noted that authorities will spray on the ground in such a way so that it does not contaminate surrounding areas.

How Japanese Officials Can Atone for Fukushima

The meltdowns and release of radiation from the Fukushima Daaichi nuclear power plant has been an ongoing crisis for five years. Nuclear engineer Koide Hiroaki has been one of the most trenchant critics of how the Japanese government and power company TEPCO (mis)handled the disaster. In a wide-ranging interview at Counterpunch, he offered a way for officials, who have gone unpunished, to atone.

Right now the people of Fukushima have been abandoned in the areas of the highest levels of radiation. And abandoned people have to find a way to live. Farmers produce agricultural goods, dairy farmers produce dairy products, and ranchers produce meat; these people must do so in order to live. They are not the ones to be blamed at all.

As the Japanese state is absolutely unreliable in this matter, these people have no choice but to go on producing food in that place, all the while suffering further exposure. So I don’t think we can throw out the food they produce there under those conditions. Inevitably someone has to consume that food.

EU Commission Plays Brussels Roulette on Glyphosate

The EU Commission is clearly determined to approve a “probable human carcinogen, glyphosate, despite overwhelming evidence of its toxicity. They are clearly content to side with Monsanto and the agribusiness chemical weed-killer lobby and with Washington above the health and safety concerns of EU citizens. A legal mind might call this criminal negligence. The issue is the upcoming renewal of the license to use the probable carcinogen, glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s widely-used weed-killer, Roundup®. The intensity of the lies and attempted deception by EU faceless bureaucrats on the controversial glyphosate issue is indicative why more EU citizens are demanding an “opt-out” entirely from the European Union.

What lies beneath West Antarctica?

Three recent publications by early career researchers at three different institutions across the country provide the first look into the biogeochemistry, geophysics and geology of Subglacial Lake Whillans, which lies 800 meters (2,600 feet) beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The findings stem from the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

One woman’s victory against a mining giant in Peru

Máxima Acuña, a farmer from Peru’s northern highlands, recently won the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize for her resistance against the mining consortium Yanacocha in Cajamarca, Peru.

At the prize acceptance ceremony in San Francisco on 18 April, in lieu of a speech Máxima sang her story: ‘Because I defend my lakes, they want to take my life.’

Yanacocha is the largest gold mine in Latin America and fourth largest in the world, operating since 1993. The mine is now owned by the US Newmont Mining Corporation, a Peruvian mining company, and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.