Friday, November 30, 2007

DO VISIONSHARE AND ECOWORLD
SEE THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY?


Ed Ring at EcoWorld and I seem to have a major difference of view regarding GM's recent media blitz.

and please comment.

It seems to have gotten triggered by yesterday's post about LiveGreenGoYellow.com

Here is my response to Ed:

Hi Ed,

It looks like we are going to have a good discussion. I welcome the opportunity for us to learn from each other and I invite others to chime in. That's why I am going to cross-post this comment at my own blog, VISIONSHARE.

I want to thank you
Ed for the really fine post about terra preta. It was a gem and that's why I chose to make a lengthy and totally supportive comment. Perhaps, you can imagine my surprise at discovering, a few days later, that the terra preta post and my comments are by surrounded four large General Motors "LiveGreenGoYellow" advertisements?

I objected. Your follow-up response was "I'm more worried about tropical rainforest destruction than whether or not Americans subsidize their own midwestern farmers instead of sending the money to OPEC". This sounds nice but, sorry, it simply doesn't hold up.

The current subsidies of US corn ethanol have triggered massive deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. When US farmers, pulled by the new subsidies, shifted from planting soybeans to corn the economic slump that has limited soybean expansion in places like Matto Grosso, Brazil took off -- and so did the fires and deforestation which have now returned to record levels. I posted about it under the title, "US Ethanol Subsidies Help Fuel Range Wars and Fires in the Amazon" here.

The fact is that we are living in a globalized world where just about everything impacts everything else. We no longer can afford the old assumptions of separation. Nowadays we are all connected.

My specific concerns about the GM advertising campaign are:

1) it promotes one of the most inefficient and highly subsidized form of biofuel -- corn ethanol --
which competes with much more efficient forms such as sugarcane ethanol;

2) it places some of the largest and most fuel guzzling vehicles (Chevy Suburbans and GMC trucks) in the class of new green-ness;

3) it targets and promotes the "American dream" of big materialism and big agri-business in developing countries such as Brazil; see my in-depth report here.

4) the alliance of auto manufacturers and agri-business and oil companies has been a powerful lobby in the US Congress against sensible vehicle emissions standards and they are now green-washing through ad campaigns like this;

One might respond with, "what's wrong with incremental involvement from the BIG GUYS? Aren't they necessary in the task of changing the world?" Yes, of course they are. But the emphasis of this group is energy and not earth. They are not promoting earth-restoring technologies like terra preta and agri-char which includes a reciprocity of giving some back to the earth. At this point they are focused still on maximizing the flow of fuel in support of out-of-control energy consumption. The Chinese saying points out that crisis is a combination of danger and opportunity. For GM the danger is the end of cheap fossil fuels and the opportunity is biofuel. It's all an energy trip.

That's the bad news. And, YES, I'm saddened that EcoWorld is serving as a vehicle to advertise it. Perhaps you might reconsider it?

But there really is good news -- we can can save rainforests and save the world through the emerging carbon market and a few intelligent decisions as we revise the Kyoto Protocols. To protect the rainforests we must have carbon credits for avoided or reduced deforestion. To renew the earth and draw massive amounts CO2 down from the sky we need carbon credits for carbon sequestration in the soil.

And, yes, biofuels are part of the equation. My take on the issue is here.

All best,

lou



Thursday, November 29, 2007

livegreengoyellow.com

Click on the title above to see the latest GM ad campaign promoting E85 and its corn ethanol guzzling flexfuel vehicles.

There's a targeted Internet media blitz placing this ad on many eco websites like EcoWorld where it appears (can you believe it) FOUR times on the page of the terra preta post. Does this mean that EcoWorld isn't aware that corn ethanol is an incredibly inefficient and controversial approach based primarily on huge subsidies and protective tariffs?

(Yes, there's more)

The corn ethanol emphasis in the GM ad was obviously chosen for the US market. And so is the clever "live green go yellow" slogan.

But the colors are also a great pitch for Brazil. Green and yellow are the dominant Brazilian national colors. The 4-door GM model shown is pick-up style most favored across across Brazil.

Brazil - Green and Yellow

GM wants to compete with the likes of this non-flexfuel Mitsubishi pickup (a "candidate wagon" from the last election).

img_0366_edited

The overwhelming emphasis so far is agri-business as usual, but with cleaner and greener energy and fuel. Almost nothing is mentioned in the mainstream media about the new agrichar technologies which would also renew soils and grow more food. There's hope in the form of Ken Salazar's bill that was recently introduced in the US Senate.

We really need to spread the word about terra preta and biochar.

Here's a clever little start from GREENJACKS...

Monday, November 26, 2007

THE SECRET OF EL DORADO


(click play button to view)


Somehow, I lost the valid embed link for this video. That's
why I've never posted it. But today my friend Jose Murilo
found it for me, so here it is. If you've got the time and
a decent Internet connection, I assure you that it's worth
viewing every second of its 49 minutes.


NO>>>
LESSONS FROM THE ANCIENT FOREST:
Earth Wisdom and Political Activism



(click the play button to view)


This video is from 1991 when I was traveling the US
as an advocate for protecting the Ancient Forests. Sadly, it
is still relevant -- old trees are still being cut in the
world and in my favorite Oregon forest.



In the video, I am speaking in Minneapolis, Minnesota to a congress of beauty salon people organized by the AVEDA corporation. They were a very responsive audience and the salons subsequently offered material on the issue and helped build a forest protection network across the country. They really demonstrated that environmentalism is not just for the experts. Everyone needs to get involved. That's what makes a difference.

Today, the United States has less than 10% of its original forests left. Its economic development was based in part on deforestation. Indeed, that's been the pattern in the whole industrial world where "progress" has always destroyed forests. How fortunate is Brazil to have more than 80% of the Amazon forest still standing! But Brazilians will need help to avoid the destructive path that was taken everywhere else. The industrialized nations will have to offer financial support for avoiding deforestation and building a sustainable economy that serves both people and the forest.

Deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gases and global warming. Saving forests is no longer just about bears and owls. Now, it's about everyones' way of life.


Sunday, November 25, 2007


BIOFUELS ARE ONLY A
PART
OF THE SOLUTION.

WE ALSO NEED TO
PROTECT
FORESTS
AND RENEW SOIL.






The current craze for using trees and plants for energy misses the target. The fundamental question that we now face is not about energy. It is about how we USE energy. It's about feedback loops. There can be much much good — what we view as progress. And there can be problems — terrible ones. Global warming means there will be more food grown in Canada and its thawing permafrost also will release even more greenhouse gases. And as Brazilian agri-business revves up a biofuel boom, ranchers are driven toward claiming more primary forest.

In the past we used cheap and available fossil fuels for a binge of consuming that left the atmosphere polluted and the earth depleted. Now, as oil prices soar, we must ask, "are we going to focus on energy or earth, on fuel or fruitfulness?" The question is not really about having development or technology or profits or progress — or not — but whether a particular techno-economic approach gives us new and larger problems or new and larger solutions?

The basic problem with the biofuel approach is that it gives over-emphasis to supplying energy, albeit in more "sustainable" and "cleaner" forms. I don't believe that biofuel production from sugarcane and other crops is wrong as much as it can get way out of balance. There is a lot of political spin involved -- spin to hide or rationalize enormous (and wasteful) agricultural subsidies that continue to damage the earth. The critics of biofuels are already pointing to lost food production and more deforestation as immediate problems.

Some are now offering counter proposals of tree-planting to draw CO2 out of the air and to supply fuel. I'm a tree hugger with years of experience trying to save ancient forests. Let me say, unequivocally, the whole tree-planting commericial forestry schema is about monocultural "cropping" for short-term profits and not about restoring our out-of-whack ecological balance. As I write this, the labs are genetically manipulating trees for better ethanol production and fast growing ecalyptus plantations are being planted massively in Brazil for "green charcoal" to fire the steel mills.

Yes, tree-farming holds the promise of being more "carbon neutral" than coal and petrol but it's neither "carbon negative" in the atmosphere nor healing on the earth. It is a greener way to mitigate some of the really bad habits that have polluted the skies and depleted the earth in the past. But this mitigation -- this greening of fuel -- should not divert us from the more fundamental challenge of preserving what we have and repairing what we have done.

We can address this challenge. How? I believe that the answer lies now in Bali where the Kyoto protocols will soon be revised to include new definitions of carbon sequestration. This will trigger a multi-billion dollar exchange of carbon credits -- a system whereby those who cannot stop polluting can pay others to capture and store carbon.

First and foremost, there needs to be carbon credit given for reduced or avoided deforestation of EXISTING natural forests. We must protect what we have. Today, due to burning and deforestation, Brazil is the #4 greenhouse gas polluter in the world. The government is well-intentioned but there is NO reward or payment for efforts to protect forests that can offset soaring demand. Illegal logging is the predictable response to the market because all the economic incentives push for deforestation. Carbon credits can change this by channeling billions of bucks into rainforest presevation and by generating local economies invested in conservation. Forests are local, and so are the people who protect or destroy them. But the economic incentives for preservation are global!

Second, even more critical but far less understood, is the need to offer credits for carbon sequestration in the earth -- NOT as CO2 pumped into deep underground caverns but as agrichar amendments to the soil. YES, agrichar put into the soil increases its fertility, stores more nutrients (think less fertilizer), holds more water and filters what is released, pulls more CO2 out of the atmosphere and provides greater production of both fuel and food -- and the char can be made out of agricultural waste. How's that for a win/win/win/etc?

But there's a hitch -- the energy market is demanding charcoal as fuel not as a soil amendment. What will cause farmers to make the longer-term investment in soil restoration rather than reap immediate profits from selling agrichar as charcoal?

THE CARBON EXCHANGE CAN PRODUCE THE NEEDED ECONOMIC TIPPING POINT.

Bali is critical for creating a new tipping point that can lead us from disaster toward healing and abundance. Those who have no immediate choice about polluting ways -- airline companies for example -- can fund those who have a choice but incur lost opportunities for short-term profits if they do the right thing. It all has to do what is recognized as true carbon sequestration.

The first right thing is to reward reduced or avoided deforestation. The other right thing is to repair the soil so that it can sustainably provide an abundance for all. These are the ways we can leave the blame-game and help each other. We can jump-start a new no-fault relationship between ecology and economy — a healing one — by focusing attention on existing forests and on the soil.

It's all based on recent discoveries of an ancient Amazon Indian technique called terra preta de indio that was able to create a living soil -- up to 800% more productive than nearby nutrient-poor tropical soil. It was so successful that it is thought that prior to the Conquest there may have been millions of people living in great cities in the central Amazon without deforesting ALL the forests around them. There actually might have been an El Dorado of people living in harmony with nature. But its history is lost to us. It was devastated when the European explorers carried in diseases for which there was no immunity. The only hints that we have are buried in the soils.

A 2002 BBC documentary put the first media spotlight on terra preta and concluded with these words: "So there is a true irony to the story of the hunt for El Dorado. There was once a great civilisation in the Amazon, one the Europeans destroyed even as they discovered it, but the Amazonians may have left us a legacy far more precious than the gold the Conquistadors were seeking. That black earth, the terra preta, may mean a better future for us all."

Recently there has been research and development aimed at creating a modern version of terra preta called called Agrichar. But funding is nowhere near the amount of research monies going into genetic modification of trees and cellulostic ethanol production. We desperately need a crash program of R&D. Again, this will be likely if the carbon market provides the serious incentives for carbon sequestration in the soil.

Here are some links about what we should be thinking about "on the way to Bali".

The ABC 11 minute video about "Agrichar".

A lay person's introduction to terra preta.

Research confirms that char added to soil boosts crop productivity.

The BBC documentary, "The Secret of El Dorado"tells the story of rediscovering terra preta soils.

Ken Salazar has introduced a bill in the US Senate that would fund research on agrichar.

Friday, November 23, 2007


"GOD IS BRAZILIAN"
, Brazilian President
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Tuesday in response to his
government's announcement earlier this month that massive
new oil reserves had been discovered offshore.

And, the discovery of TERRA PRETA
may prove that She is Black.

Aparecida


This image is of the much-revered Black Madonna of Brazil, Nossa Senhora de Conceição Aparecida -- Our Lady of Conception Who Appeared.

The story is that a statue of the Virgin made around 1650 was somehow lost. Then, in 1717, some government people were traveling north to the gold mining region of Minas Gerais where the precious metal was called Ouro Preto due to a dark coating on the nuggets. Along the way fishermen cast their nets in a river hoping to catch fish for a big banquet. Instead of fish, they found the statue -- all darkened by years in the river bed. The travelers went on but the statue was kept in a little family shrine.

Soon the statue appeared to have healing and wish-granting powers -- at least for some faithful ones -- and a cult began to grow around it. As time passed, it had to be housed in larger and larger quarters and came to be venerated throughout Brazil. In 1929, the Virgin was proclaimed Queen of Brazil and its official Patron Saint. Today its Basilica, in the city of Aparecida near São Paulo, receives about 7 million visitors yearly and is the largest Marian shrine in the world.

From the first time I saw this great Black Madonna, the symbol appeared as an icon of the power of the earth. And, nowadays, there is a possible parallel with the story of 200 hundred years ago. As the Brazilian state oil firm Petrobras looks for and discovers another kind of Ouro Preto in the form of oil extracted from the ocean depths, Terra Preta soil from deep in Amazônia may be emerging as the healing force of the earth.

It would be Brazil's great good fortune to receive both.



Thursday, November 22, 2007

AND TODAY IS....


nothing190



Andrew Revkin has a great post over at DOT EARTH.
It's full of links to cool anti-affluenza links including the
trailer to the new documentary, "What Would Jesus Buy?"



And here's Jerry Mander's classic about buying green.



Be sure to check out Andrew's "oldie but goodie"
report from Bhutan where the tiny Kingdom is
switching from the standard growth measurement
of Gross National Product (GNP) to a new measure
of Gross National Happiness (GNH).

The King could have a pretty good idea.

So maybe on this one special day we might just
hang out with a loved one and ...

STOP

Sign on building in central São Paulo

BIRTH CONTROL ?

B&W Cats

In Brazil (click)

and

In United States (click)

NO>>>

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SAD NEWS:

Minke whale dies in Amazon forest.


Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:05pm GMT

BRASILIA (Reuters) - A 12-ton whale was found dead in the heart of the Amazon region, after swimming aimlessly along numerous tributaries, local media reported on Tuesday.


The minke whale measuring 5.5 meters (18 feet) was first seen last week on the Tapajos river, a tributary of the Amazon. It swam 1,000 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, was stranded on sandbanks several times, and freed once by biologists and volunteer rescue workers.

Environmentalists and volunteers had been hoping to transport the whale back to sea by ship but local residents spotted its carcass early on Tuesday and alerted authorities.

Images of the dead whale washed up on a river bank near the city of Santarem were shown by TV Liberal in Belem, the Amazon's largest city.

Experts said the whale probably became disoriented among the many river branches that form the broader Amazon.
TERRA PRETA STORY-TELLING LAUNCHED
ON BLACK AWARENESS DAY IN BRAZIL


São Paulo
Brazil
Black Awareness Day
20 November 2007

Hi Folks,

OK -- I'm still crazy after all these years -- and loving it. I'm well and thriving with the help of many wonderful friends. Brazil has to be the most cordial place in the world. It seems that this is the time and place for me to come out of retirement.

Here's a current pic:

IMG_0036-copy_edited

Here is what I used to look like:













I used to tell a story called
Lessons From the Ancient Forest: Earth Wisdom and Political Action (click to view).

Now, I've got the best story ever to tell. Terra preta de indio (Indian Black Earth) can save the world.

The story needs to go viral, spreading through the Internet. To do this we need storytellers and and song writers and networkers and a lot more conversation.

Maybe you can put it out to your email list(s).

Maybe get the kids (young and old) who are in the internet social networks to talk it up.

We can all do it just by spreading the news - by being a storyteller spreading a healing conversation around the globe.

We need to spread not just an awareness of a terra preta techinique but, even more importantly, we need to inspire folks with the knowledge that a lost Amazonian wisdom showed that large numbers of people could live in balance without destroying the earth.

PLEASE do what you can do.

hugs, lou

*******

I shared the story here.

Kelpie Wilson's easy-to-read and inspiring Terra Preta primer is here.

The BBC transcript of "TheSecret of El Dorado" is here .

The ABC video about the the modern version of terra preta called "Agrichar" is here.

GOOD NEWS ABOUT OUR LITTLE BIG BROTHER

Minke Miguel, the small baleen whale who traveled deep into the Amazon, has been located and examined. He is healthy and doing fine, suffering only from a few scratches and bruises. I wasn't sure how to describe a small whale ("little big brother") and I hazarded a gender guess a few days ago in naming him Minke Miguel (would I have to change it to Minke Maria?). And so, crazy guy that I am, I'll continue to speculate (in an incredibly anthropomorphic fashion) that he is on a quest to bring world attention to terra preta.

For the most current media update

Whale in good condition but still far from ocean in Brazil Amazon

The Associated Press
Monday, November 19, 2007


SAO PAULO, Brazil: A whale that swam some 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) up the Amazon may get a ship ride back to the ocean, environmentalists said Monday.

The 5.5-meter (18-foot) minke whale was stranded on sandbars at least twice since first spotted in the Tapajos River, a tributary of the Amazon, on Wednesday.

A group of biologists and veterinarians managed to examine the animal on Sunday along the river near Santarem in the rain forest.

The group was trying to contain the whale in a small area of river while it tries to arrange for a ship to carry it back to the sea, said Milton Marcondes, a veterinarian with the Brazilian Humpback Whale Institute, which is taking part in the efforts to save the whale.

"It is in good condition," he said. "We couldn't do a blood exam, so we don't know how it is doing internally, but we gave it antibiotics as a precaution."

Marcondes said the whale, a male, has a superficial injury and small bruises on its skin, but none of the wounds are serious.

Rescuers, including local residents, trapped the whale on Sunday, but had to let it go before a net was secured around the animal because it became agitated and was at risk of injuring itself.

"We can't forget this animal has been away from its natural habitat for a long time," Marcondes told The Associated Press by telephone from Santarem. "It is stressed and can easily get sick."

The whale has been in the river for at least 15 days, he said, adding that there have been cases of whales surviving more than two months away from the ocean. He said feeding is not a problem because whales can go about six months without food.

The whale was not likely to find its way back to the ocean by itself because the river has "too many tributaries that could confuse" the animal, Marcondes said.

The whale ran aground for the first time on Wednesday and was briefly grounded again a few kilometers (miles) away on Saturday.

The minke whale is the second smallest of the baleen whales after the pygmy right whale. The International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee estimates there are about 184,000 minke whales in the central and northeast Atlantic Ocean.

Read more about terra preta here and here and see the video here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Minke Miguel
the Baleia Brasileira Baleen
is spotted again near Santarem


Minke Whale
Minke Whale: unaccredited photo from web

SAO PAULO, Brazil - A 5 1/2-metre whale that entered the Amazon River and swam about 1,600 kilometres upstream has been trapped for a second time on a sandbar, Brazilian news media reported Sunday.

Local residents spotted the minke whale just a few kilometres from where it was freed on Friday near Santarem, a city in the Amazon rain forest, the Jornal do Brasil reported.

Brazil's Environmental Protection Agency had called off its search for the whale late Friday after losing track of the mammal in the Tapajos River. Calls to agency officials were not answered on Sunday.

The whale ran aground for the first time on Wednesday. The Globo television network broadcast images of dozens of people gathered along the river splashing water on the animal, whose back and dorsal fin were out of water and exposed to the hot Amazon sun.

The minke whale is the second smallest of the baleen whales after the pygmy right whale. The International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee estimates there are about 184,000 minke whales in the central and northeast Atlantic Ocean. source: The Canadian Press.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

“What we do in the next two to three
years will determine our future. This
is the defining moment.”


-- Rajendra Pachauri,
director of the UN's International Panel on Climate Change


The story that defines what we might do has been
emerging from Brazil.

It's a golden opportunity.


First, the story...

Once upon a time, way back in the sixteenth century, the Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Orellanawas the first European explorer to travel down length of the Amazon River. Starting in Peru and into the Rio Negro, a huge tributary, upriver from present-day Manaus, the exploration traversed the continent to the Atlantic Ocean. For Orellana and his unfortunate companions it was a terrible trip plagued with every kind of adversity which, in the end, left him as the sole survivor to return to the Court of the King of Spain to tell the story.

But what a story it was. We might even speculate that Orellana survived the ordeal in order to complete his mission of telling of having found Eldorado -- fantastic golden cities in the heart of the forest of the New World. Orellana reported something even more unbelievable than gold -- there was an advanced indigenous civilization with many high density human settlements. Huge Indian populations were living along the waterways of Amazônia and, according to Orellana, at one place there was a city of continuous side-by-side houses stretching for twenty miles. His tale was both fantasic and fabulous. I doubt that the Spanish Court could really embrace the thought of a civilization more advanced than their own but they sure could imagine the gold.

Gold lust inspired many later adventures across the New World but none could find the fabled Eldorado. It was nearly a century later that missionaries came to the region explored by Orellana, but they reported finding only small nomadic bands of hunter-gathers roaming the forest. The obvious conclusion was that Orellana had fabricated a great tale to mask his own failed expedition. And, much later, a whole generation of modern scientists confirmed the implausibility of an Eldorado in the forest by noting that the nutrient poor Amazon soils could not have supported a large-scale agriculture which is the prerequisite of civilization.

But this "well etablished view" that the Amazon basin could not have contained large human populations has started to crumble. First with new research in Bolivia and, more recently, in central Amazõnia, scientists are discovering tell-tale signs of ancient large-scale populations. The indians appear to have figured out how to transform the nutrient-poor yellowish soils into deep deposits of an extremely fertile dark earth called terra preta de indio. What are these tell-tale signs? Terra preta soils are loaded with pottery sherds and charcoal. The pieces of ceramic are in the contour of large pots and vessels that could have been used only by stationary populations. And the charcoal -- apparently char from cleared forest -- has been ground into small pieces indicating that these soils were "made" by the local residents.

The resulting soils are amazingly fertile -- sometimes producing nearly 800% more plant growth compared with nearby untreated soil -- and clearly capable of supporting a large-scale agriculture. Also anthropologists have found at least one small tribe with an hierarchical cultural structure suggesting a distant past of living among large sedentary populations and not always as nomadic hunter-gathers.

Recent efforts to map the areas of terra preta soils along the Tapajos River have unearthed esquisite 2000 year-old pottery. Carbon dating of soils in some other areas suggest that they may be 2500-4000 years old -- and still fully fertile which is extraordinary in the Amazon where heavy rainfall typically leaches the nutrients out of the soils rather quickly. Interestingly, the mapping efforts are revealing a close correspondence with the Eldorado areas talked about by Orellana.

So what happened to these lost civilizations? No one knows for certain. There's little hard evidence because there is no stone in the area and the wooden structures were quickly reclaimed by the tropical forest. But the best speculation is that the first European expeditions carried in diseases -- smallpox, measels, flu, even the common cold -- to a population that had so harmoniously co-evolved with its niche that it had no disease ... and no need for immunity. After a catastrophic die-off there were only a few survivors who had devolved back into hunter-gathers. The sole legacy of the civilization remained hidden in the soil.

Today, in some areas, terra preta is harvested and sold as potting soils. If a limited amount (about 20 cm deep) is retained and the area then left fallow it will grow back to full depth in about 20 years. Apparently -- get this! -- terra preta soils develop into organic communities that are capable of growing like a biotic culture as in sourdough bread or yogurt, truly a living earth.

Five years ago, England's BBC did a special TV documentary called The Secret of Eldorado that concluded with these words: "So there is a true irony to the story of the hunt for El Dorado. There was once a great civilisation in the Amazon, one the Europeans destroyed even as they discovered it, but the Amazonians may have left us a legacy far more precious than the gold the Conquistadors were seeking. That black earth, the terra preta, may mean a better future for us all."

A golden opportunity.

At the time of the 2002 BBC documentary, a better future was understood as gaining the ability to BOTH save the rainforest and feed more people. But, now, global warming has added an incredibibly important new dimension -- the need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and sequester it somewhere. This is exactly what terra preta does because 1) plants that grow faster, also remove CO2 from the atmosphere faster and 2) if the agricultural waste (unused portions of the plants) are made into charcoal, it can be used to renew the soil and sequester carbon.

The result of such a system would mean better soil, more food, cleaner fuel, less deforestation and, if Kyoto is revised to include payment for carbon negative sequestration in the soil, developing countries like Brazil and poor farmers everywhere will be paid to save the earth, while growing both food and fuel. This is why terra preta is being called the "new black gold".

Everyone, who thinks of Brazil, knows of its gifts of samba and soccer which are world renown. But Brazil is also the place where the gift of light emerges out of darkness. When gold was discovered in the state of Minas Gerais, it was given the name ouro preto (black gold) because the nuggets had a dark coating. Later, when a statue of the Virgin with dark skin was discovered in a river bed, it was named, Nossa Senhora Conceição de Aparecida (Our Lady of Conception who Appeared) because it appeared to have wish-granting and healing powers. And, for me, this image is one of the great symbols of the fertility and abundance of Mother Earth.

Nossa Senhora Conceição de Aparecida

This Black Madonna became the patroness of Brazil and the center of the largest healing shrine in the world. Perhaps She is also a powerful symbol for the possibility of healing the earth.

Nowadays, we have the rediscovery of an empowering dark earth brew called terra preta, along with speculation of an ancient and highly advanced Indian civilization. Perhaps terra preta will be Brazil's greatest gift yet to the world. Perhaps we can all spread the story about how there once was a time when large numbers of people lived in a bountiful harmony with the earth in a place called Eldorado and that, with love and care and attention, we can repeat the performance.

Here are links to more information:

Australian Broadcasting Company video (11 min) about the global terra preta movement.

GREAT BBC Documentary "The Secret of El Dorado" (49 min video)

Full transcript of BBC El Dorado documentary.

Easy to read primer on Terra Preta.

Expandable Google map of Terra Preta sites.

Pdfs of the best magazine articles.

Continuous updates of all relevant links.

How biofuels can become carbon-negative and save the planet.

US Senator introduces bio-char legislation.

Research confirms bio-char in soil increases yields.

Biopact on the IPCC bio-fuel recommendations.

UPDATE: This post has been linked in a roundup by Global Voices Online, and translated to Portuguese here.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

WHALE FOUND 1000 MILES INSIDE AMAZON

whale-amazon-reuters
Residents of Brazil's Amazon basin try to help a minke whale reach deeper water.
Photograph: Reuters


By Tom Phillips reporting in the Guardian.

Biologists and villagers in a remote corner of the Amazon rainforest were searching for a 12-tonne whale yesterday that had reportedly lost its way and become stranded 1,000 miles from the ocean.
The five-metre long (16ft) creature, which biologists said was probably a minke whale, became stranded on a beach on the Tapajos river, 39 miles from the city of Santarem. Environmental experts said the whale had probably become separated from its group in the Atlantic Ocean, off northern Brazil, after falling ill or being hit by a boat.

The whale appeared to have entered the Amazon near the city of Belem before reaching the Tapajos, a tributary of the Amazon. Efforts to rescue the animal began on Tuesday, after local fishermen contacted environmental officials in Santarem by radio. On Thursday biologists arrived at the scene by boat and isolated the sandbank.

Residents of Piquiatuba, an isolated settlement of about 70 families in the Amazon state of Para, also helped to try and free their unexpected visitor, splashing water onto its skin to protect it from the scorching sun. Images broadcast on Brazilian television showed dozens of fishermen and curious locals crowded together in the river around the whale's large grey fin.

On Thursday night after rescuers managed to free the whale it disappeared into the waters. Environmentalists used helicopters and boats to try and find the whale, without success.

"What we can definitely say is that it lost its way," Fabia Luna, a government biologist involved in the rescue, told Globo television. "It entered the river, which on its own is unusual. But then to have travelled around 1,500km is both strange and adverse."

"It is very atypical [to find] a whale in Amazonia," Katia Groch, a whale expert from the Instituto Baleia Jubarte (humpback whale institute), told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. "It may have lost its way, perhaps because of illness. We will only know when we can examine it."

Although the whale's presence was only confirmed this week, Daniel Cohenca, the regional head of Ibama, Brazil's environmental agency, said it may have been in the region for up to two months.

In recent weeks residents near the Tapajos river are said to have become alarmed at the presence of an unidentified animal. Some locals had ordered their children not to swim in the river after rumours spread that a "big cobra" had been spotted.

"There are people who just don't understand how this kind of animal survived in fresh water," said Cohenca.

Rescuers fear that, alone, the whale will have difficulty returning to the Atlantic.

"It is outside of its normal habitat, in a strange situation, under stress and far from the ocean," said Groch. "The probability of survival is low."

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Friday, November 16, 2007

IT'S NICE TO FEEL SMILED UPON

Have A Nice day

A friend (thanks Al) sent this unattributed photo to me and I just had to pass it on.
It put a smile on my face. Maybe it will do the same for you.

NO>>>

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

UN SECTRETARY GENERAL
VISITS AMAZON



Ban Ki-Moon - Amazon - AFP
UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon in Amazônia -- Photo Agence France-Presse

UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon just spent several days of fact-finding in Brazil. He visited an ethanol installation in Ribeirao Preto and then traveled on to the Amazon.

"Some fear that land currently used to grow food will instead be turned over to fuel," Ban said in a news release issued from New York. "Others worry that forests will be cut down to make way for biomass plantations. Still more worry about the effects on the environment and biodiversity." "Brazil is the quiet green giant. It leads the world in renewable energy," Ban said. UPI

Then he traveled with Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva into the Amazon basin near Belem, where he made a strong commitment to helping Brazil in its conservation efforts.

All this is preparation for the fact that the Kyoto treaty will soon be re-negotiated. What is at issue is whether or not carbon credits will be given to rainforest countries to compensate them for reducing deforestation. At present, Brazil receives no economic benefit from its recent massive conservation efforts. Changing the Kyoto formula is essential for making it possible for rainforest countries to choose a better balance between development and conservation.

The need to alter the Kyoto formula is discussed in a depth interview with Dr. Daniel Nepstad located at Mongabay

Under a widely supported international initiative, Brazil and other tropical forest countries may see compensation for measures to reduce deforestation that would otherwise occur. While Brazil has moved slowly on the concept, there is a real possibility that industrialized countries will support what has been termed the "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation" (RED) initiative.

Nepstad believes that if adopted, RED could trigger the largest flow of money into tropical forest conservation that the world has ever seen. Besides climate benefits, the plan would help maintain critical ecosystem services while safeguarding biological diversity.


This is clearly a big part of the solution.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

NO SHORT-TERM RELIEF AS PRESSURES FOR
MORE AMAZONIAN DEVELOPMENT PERSIST


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The lead story in today's São Paulo newspaper states, "Brazil will face another 4 years of shortage of gas." The recent discoveries of huge new oil and gas deposits off the coast of southern Brasil will take years to come on-line.

As Brazil's economy takes off and more and more people are lifted out of poverty the demand for more electric energy (especially in the industrial South) is also soaring. Demand is increasing faster than supply. New electrical energy depends on hydro-electric projects or gas-fired power plants. Natural gas comes primarily from Bolivia which nationalized the holdings of Brazil's Petrobras and has been bargaining for higher prices. So there's talk of more gas prospecting in the Brazilian Amazon and more pipelines, including the possibility of one stretching all the way from Venezuela to Argentina. Additionally several huge new hydro projects have been moving toward a fast track. Thus, electrical energy and natural gas are added to soybeans, biofuels, logging and ranching as pressures on Amazõnia.

Last June, Larry Rohter, writing in the International Herald Tribune saw it this way:

PORTO VELHO, Brazil: The eternal tension between Brazil's need for economic growth and the damage that can cause to the environment are nowhere more visible than here in this corner of the western Amazon.

More than one-quarter of this rugged frontier state, Rondônia, has been deforested, the highest rate in the Amazon. Over the years, ranchers, miners and loggers have routinely invaded nature reserves and Indian reservations.

Now a proposal to build an $11 billion hydroelectric project here on the Madeira River, which may have the world's most diverse fish stocks, has set off a new controversy.

How that dispute is resolved, advocates on both sides say, could determine nothing less than Brazil's vision of its future at a moment when it is simultaneously facing energy and environmental pressures and casting envious glances at faster-growing developing countries like India and China.

...

The energy generated by the dams is to be transported south more than 1,500 kilometers to Brazil's industrial heartland, with little or no immediate benefit for this state of 1.5 million people, whose own growing demand for energy is supposed to be met by a new gas pipeline to the north.


But it's not just Brazil casting envious glances at the economic growth of China and India. Many investors from the richer parts of the world are casting envious glances at Amazônia and places like Porto Velho, Rondonia. Sean Silcoff, reporting for Canada's Financial Post offered a view from the north entitled, "Bringing Malls To The Amazon: Caisse steps off the beaten path to walk on the frontier of pension fund investment":

Far down one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River lies the city of Porto Velho, population 400,000. It is a place that rates little notice from tourists, and little wonder: The city has been witness to much ugliness. It was the last stop on the notorious Madeira-Mamore "railway of death" that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of workers as it was carved through the jungle to serve the rubber trade -- just before prices collapsed 100 years ago. A gold rush turned bust. In the 1970s and 1980s, the jungle around Porto Velho was deforestated for crops. More recently, this frontier town has served as a conduit for Bolivian cocaine traffickers.

In short, it is one of the last places on Earth you would expect to run into a conservative foreign investor, particularly one that manages Canadian pension fund assets.

But plans are taking shape to radically overhaul the commercial heart of Porto Velho with the construction of its first shopping mall on a 22-acre downtown plot. Canada's largest institutional investor, the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, is the main financial backer of the 60-million reais ($34-million) project.

...

Like Brazil, Porto Velho's dodgy past sits at odds with the vast potential. If the economy continues to improve, tens of millions of Brazilians will be lifted out of poverty and join the middle class, bringing with them enormous new spending power. That will bring new-found prosperity everywhere, including a mid-sized centre like Porto Velho. But the city has two other bright spots. It is a major river port, serving nearby soybean and sugar cane farms -- which stand to play a larger role if demand for biofuels continues to rise. In addition, there is a proposal to dam the river, for a major hydroelectric plant nearby. The US$11-billion project is controversial -- the river is home to the world's most diverse fish stocks --but seen as a vital tool to bring economic prosperity to a country hungry for more. Things are looking up for Porto Velho, and Brazil. For a relatively small risk, the Caisse could make a nice return -- and a huge difference.


While it is clear that change is arriving very quickly, the future of Amazônia is not a done deal. Development will surely happen, lots of it. But we are becoming aware -- dramatically aware -- that it is an illusion to think of humans and nature as separate or that we can serve the needs of one without considering the other. The question before us is: will our development -- material, social, ecological and spiritual -- lead us toward a more harmonious relationship of humans and nature, toward an expanded and more evolved human nature? Or, will it be business as usual? Perhaps our present quest begins by asking the question, "How much is enough?"


Much is at stake, including our own survival.



Saturday, November 10, 2007

GOOD NEWS FOR THE AMAZON?

Brazil's Lula offers thumbs up to news of finding a monster oil field.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva gives two thumbs up to the announcement that the state oil company Petrobras has discovered a "monster" offshore oil field about 200 miles from Rio de Janeiro.

This may be very good news for the Amazon forest where there has been recent talk of new prospecting or building a pipeline from Venezuela to carry oil and gas to Brazil's fast developing and energy hungry south. Now industrial Brazil may be able to satisfy its needs (and have plenty left for export) from a nearby source.

And here is the rest of it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

AMAZÔNIA: WHAT WILL BE THE FUTURE?

1016co_nasa

The above photo from NASA shows the concentrations of carbon monoxide (grey areas) hovering over Amazônia during September 2007. Carbon monoxide indicates smoke, fire, greenhouse gas pollution and, of course, deforestation. Burning and cutting the tropical rainforests now contributes more than 20% of global greenhouse gas pollution.

It is now believed that the eastern half of the Amazon forest, located in Brazil, may be seriously at risk. "It's not out of the question to think that half of the basin will be either cleared or severely impoverished just 20 years from now," stated Dr. Daniel Nepstad, head of the Woods Hole Research Center's Amazon program. "The nightmare scenario is one where we have a 2005-like year that extended for a couple years, coupled with a high deforestation where we get huge areas of burning, which would produce smoke that would further reduce rainfall, worsening the cycle. A situation like this is very possible." Read more at Mongabay.

The future Amazon will be the result of choices made by Brazil and the rest of the world in coming years. John Terborgh, writing in the current NY Review of Books tells us how it looks from the highest levels in Brazil:

What is the attitude of the Brazilian government toward a possible climatic calamity in the Amazon? On being shown the predictions of some climate models, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reputedly posed two alternatives. If the rest of the world is so concerned about the future of the Amazon, then let the rich countries pay us not to cut it down. Otherwise, if the forest is going to succumb to drought and fire, then we ought to cut it down first so that we can benefit from the resources before they are lost to the ravages of nature.

Not everyone will be happy with these alternatives, but Lula's pronouncements may not be that far off the mark. The Amazon is being logged at a prodigious rate and with further improvements in transportation envisioned under the Avança Brasil program, logging, and with it the risk of fire, is bound to spread over much of the basin. Slowing or stopping the logging would require a political will that simply doesn't exist in a country obsessed with maximizing development.

Which of Lula's alternatives will the future bring, a green Amazon supported by an international community united against the specter of radical climate change, or a brown Amazon, parched by deforestation and scorched by fire? In my view, the prospects of the green alternative will be determined by the treaty that will succeed Kyoto. At Kyoto, it was decided not to include forests in a system by which carbon emissions are controlled through "cap-and-trade"—i.e., by allowing countries that cut back on emissions to receive tradable credits for doing so. Many now feel that the omission was a mistake because forests store such huge stocks of carbon. Yet how forests will be brought into a second-generation treaty is anyone's guess. Short of significant international intervention through financial incentives or other mechanisms, the business-as-usual scenario will certainly prevail.


Kyoto is about to be reformulated. The choice over the future of Amazônia is likely to come soon. There's been some foolish talk about who owns the Amazon forest. Without doubt, it is owned by Brazil and its neighbors. But the financial choice over its future is clearly owned by all of us.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

US Ethanol Subsidies Help Fuel Range Wars and Fires in the Amazon


On Monday (11-05-07) US National Public Radio ran a feature segment on "All Things Considered" about the record 2007 fire
season in the Amazon and the situation in Mato Grosso. The photo at the left shows a fire that was intentionally set on neighboring property in the struggle over land titles but spread and eventually burned 90% of John Carter's 22,000 acre ranch.
(photo credit: npr)
Click to hear John tell the story.

This year's fire season dominated the US news for many days as a "national disaster" was declared in southern California because Santa Ana winds whipped about 25 fires into a local frenzy. But compared to the Amazon it would seem no more than a few embers. Mongabay reported some astonishing fire statistics -- depending on which satellite data set is used, this season there were between 50,729 and 72,329 Amazon fires, close to or more than the all-time record.

Here is a NASA satellite view of the fires burning in the states of Mato Grosso, Para and Amazônas on September 29, 2007. The most intense burning is located in areas that had been opened by roads, and now the fires were spreading across agricultural lands and protected reserves as well. Road-building comes first, then a mix of development and protection but fire respects neither.

1016nasa

Unfortunately, these data seem to end speculation that the reductions of fire and deforestation seen in Brazil across the last 2-3 years were the results of aggressive new government initiatives of regulation, monitoring and enforcement. Instead, it appears that variations in the amount fire and deforestation are more closely correlated with fluctuations in global commodity prices, which now are recovering from a recent slump.

While many factors influence the rate of fire and deforestation, the main driving force seems to be the planting of soybeans. The Mongabay report offered the views of two leading scientists:


Dr. Philip M. Fearnside, one of the most widely cited experts on the Amazon, says that the rise of soy in the region has provided support for infrastructure projects which, in turn, have fueled forest destruction.

"Soybean farms cause some forest clearing directly. But they have a much greater impact on deforestation by consuming cleared land, savanna, and transitional forests, thereby pushing ranchers and slash-and-burn farmers ever deeper into the forest frontier," he explained after co-authoring a 2004 paper in Science on the impact of soy. "Soybean farming also provides a key economic and political impetus for new highways and infrastructure projects, which accelerate deforestation by other actors."

"What’s most striking is that fires in 2007 have increased dramatically in the main soy-production states in the Brazilian Amazon—Mato Grosso, Para, Maranhao, and Tocantins—but have dropped or remain stable in other Amazonian states," said Dr. William Laurance, a senior researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama and another noted Amazon scientist. "Clearly, soy farming is becoming a major driver of land-use change in the Amazon. The international consumers of Brazilian soy need to understand its key role in driving Amazon deforestation"
Rhett A. Butler, 2007 Amazon Fires Among the Worst Ever, October 22, 2007.

And what has caused soybean prices to recover in the global market? Many factors, but chief among them are the new US ethanol agricultural subsidies that have been been causing midwestern farmers to shift from beans to corn. The new "greening of fuel" in the US -- supposedly to fight global warming -- is a big force fueling the fires in the Amazon. It is now thought that, tropical deforestation accounts for more than 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, which is more than the amount contributed by the entire transportation sector.

It's a small world where everything is connected to everything. There simply is no people, nor place, nor process that does not bump up against everything else.




















Tuesday, November 06, 2007

SOY IN THE AMAZON

joseph-01-thumbnail
Photo by Pat Joseph

Pat Joseph, writing in the special South American edition of the Virginia Quarterly Review, has given us one of the most thorough, honest and challenging reports on the dynamics of deforestation in the Cerrado and Amazon that I have encountered. I'm going to draw heavily from it in this post. I really urge you to read it in full as there's no way a few excerpts can do it justice.

Pat's report is from Mato Grosso State which in recent years has been the scene of massive burning, deforestation and a center stage for global environmental concern.

He traveled the area with an "americano-brasilieiro" agricultural consultant who wrote him an email saying:

Dear Pat: I am a Brazil/Mato Grosso fanatic. I love the pioneer spirit, the wide-open spaces, and positive attitude among the dynamic farmers in the area. Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso, is the Garden of Eden in my opinion. My friends there are a pioneer success story. ... in the middle of “soybean ground zero” on the whole planet.

joseph-02-thumbnail
Photos and italicized text above and below from Virginia Quarterly Review

I know this success story. I was born in Chicago. Later, I lived for 14 years among the corn and soybean fields of central Illinois. Many of my friends were the children of the similarly enterprising pioneer families that had drained the wetlands and wiped out the native prairie. They were hard-working, ambitious, and no-nonsense Midwesterner farmers and also very friendly, generous and justifiably proud folks, mostly of German heritage. Just like in Mato Grosso, except for the fact that the average farm size in Illinois was about 600 acres, whereas here it can run 20,000 acres (and upwards) and the new success stories can put Horatio Alger to shame.

I didn't remain in Illinois, I found that I just wasn't a flatlander by nature. In 1982 I moved from the corn and bean fields to the forests and mountains of Oregon seeking the romance of wild places and wilderness solitude. I was part monk, part adventurer, part burned-out political activist and part hippie dropout. Oregon seemed like the perfect spot. I even found a place to live in the Illinois Valley, the river of which begins at a spring flowing from a mountain called Chicago Peak. But, as a midwesterner, I had no idea of the massive deforestation taking place in National Forests. When I saw it, I was shocked. My new home, where I had come to get away from it all, quickly thrust me back into politics as a tree-hugging hermit activist trying to save the remaining 10% of the US ancient forests.

Twenty-five years later, I am now in Brazil, as sort of a spiritual pilgrim following the Queen of the Forest by exploring the path of Santo Daime. And that leads me to places like Acre State where I am finding the spirit of America in Amazônia and facing the classic dilemma confronting a visitor from a rich and consuming society to a new world of economic development and rising expectations. One can not look at this most incredible forest on earth, witness the massive deforestation and not wonder, "whose forest is this anyway, does it not also belong to the world?"

That very same question confronted Pat Joseph in Mato Grosso (two states away from Acre but also in what is called the Amazon "arc of deforestation"). Here's his description of the historical context and the confrontation he faced on the ground:

Settlement of the Brazilian Amazon was sparked by the paranoia of the military government. The generals who ran the country for two decades worried that their unsettled borders and vast empty interior would tempt foreign encroachment on Brazilian soil. Occupar para não entregar. That was the slogan. One of many. “Occupy so as not to surrender.” Another was, “Land without men for men without land.” The generals built roads to encourage migration, then did little to manage how the process unfolded. ...

Even today, an undercurrent of paranoia runs through Brazilian society when it comes to the Amazon, their sense of threatened sovereignty stoked in part by the ill-considered comments of well-meaning politicians such as Al Gore, who once insisted that, “Contrary to what Brazilians think, the Amazon is not their property. It belongs to all of us.” One need only imagine how Americans would feel if foreign leaders made similar pronouncements about, say, Alaska. Not long before I arrived in Brazil, David Miliband, the British environment secretary, was touting a proposal—one enthusiastically supported by Tony Blair—to set up an international trust that would effectively buy a vast portion of the Amazon and manage it as a preserve. The Brazilian response to the idea was swift and unequivocal. President da Silva issued a resounding demurral. “The Amazon,” he said flatly, “is not for sale.”

On a long bus ride across the Cerrado, I sat next to a schoolteacher on vacation and a pastor who was returning to his flock. ... While reclined in his seat, the young pastor ... turned his head toward me and said, “Tell me, why do Americans worry so much about our forest when they cut theirs down in the name of progress?”

In one form or another, I’d had the question put to me many times in Brazil. ... the pastor had a point. What difference did it make that our frontier had closed a century ago? All that meant was that our ancestors did the dirty work for us. And dirty work it was. In conquering the continent, North American settlers had exercised every kind of depravity. We dammed and straightened and diverted our rivers and riprapped their banks. We overgrazed our prairies and drained our wetlands. We cut down our old-growth forests and introduced alien species that grew like weeds in their stead. We hunted down and poisoned predators because they ate our livestock and “our” game. We killed off most of the bison and decimated the salmon. Even now, we’re draining our aquifers, blowing the tops off mountains to get at the coal seams, sinking wells in the gas fields of the West as fast as we can. And how did it all look from Brazil? The United States exploited its resources with a vengeance, and it was rich, the most powerful country in the world. To Brazilians, our high-minded concerns about the rainforest were the rankest sort of hypocrisy—or worse, a conspiracy to keep Brazil from developing into a major economic force in the hemisphere.

Near the end of my trip, Kory and I spent a morning in Sinop being lectured to by the president of the rural syndicate (a coalition of local farmers and loggers). Antonio Galvan is an irascible man with steely eyes, the build of a wrestling coach, and a voice like a broken horn. He was clearly annoyed by the presence in his office of two meddlesome gringos, and, after one question, set off on a tirade that lasted the better part of an hour. His rant was peppered with the words absurd and ridiculous, each point punctuated by a forearm pounding the desk. If you don’t want me to farm, then pay me, Galvan cried. Bam. No one else in the world produces and preserves at the same time! We leave 80 percent of the Amazon untouched! We leave the forest along the rivers standing! Bam. Who else does this? Don’t tell me about how many football fields of Amazon are disappearing every minute. It’s absurd! Bam. Ridiculous!


If you think that Pat Joseph might be exaggerating the tensions facing an outside reporter or (worst) an environmentalist in Mato Grosso, just watch this video from Greenpeace:



What can I say about this? Yes, I (and many friends) have "been there, done that." We sat in front of the bulldozers, climbed the trees, faced the angry locals, made it all the way to the national and international media, and guess what? The big trees are still being cut in Oregon. I came to Brazil in hopes of finding a better way, one that might go beyond the first step of raising awareness (thank God for Greenpeace), to find a path along which true preservation and local sustainability might be achieved. So here in Brazil, I am doing something that I wasn't very good at back in Oregon -- I am listening to the local people.

I read the words of the local leader Antonio Galvan:

If you don’t want me to farm, then pay me.

We leave 80 percent of the Amazon untouched!

No one else in the world produces and preserves at the same time!


I believe that he is asking the right questions:

Who will pay the developing world to avoid the the easy but mistaken path that was followed by the developed world?

Brazilian law requires that 80% of the forest be preserved. But so what, when much of the present logging is done illegally? What will give local people an incentive to follow the rules and protect the forest?

It's true that no one protects and produces at the same time -- at least that's the way it has been. But there is a new world of global warming that demands that we do both and a dream of restoration and renewal that promises that we can.

These, indeed, are the three questions that must be answered. I will be discussing them in coming posts. Stay tuned, and please read Pat's full story Soy in the Amazon.

Monday, November 05, 2007

PAKISTAN UPDATE


In light of the state of emergency declared in Pakistan on November 3, 2007, Global Voices Online has set up a Special Coverage Page where they will be aggregating their own coverage of the events plus regular updates from selected English-language blogs and other relevant information.
SOUTH AMERICA IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

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The Virginia Quartery Review has produced a GREAT special edition on South America. Editor Daniel Alarcón says, "After eighteen months of work, we are extraordinarily proud of this project and delighted finally to be able to share it with you. We hope that you will be as challenged and enthralled in reading this issue as we were in editing it."

"Enthralled" may be too weak a word. You really should check it out. I found the article "Soy in the Amazon" by Pat Roberts to be an absolute "must read."








WORDS WITHOUT BORDERS

What a great title! Nope, I didn't create it. It's the name of a web site that provides quality english translations of contemporary literature from around the world.

My experience of living here in Brazil has taught me how incredibly uninformed I have been, as an Americano, about the world views and events happening from beyond US borders.
That's one reason that I got involved in assisting
Jose Murilo with his weekly roundup of what the bloggers are talking about in Brazil and the Portuguese-speaking world and, in the process, I got informed about the incredible coverage of citizen journalism being provided by Global Voices Online.

For example, Neha Viswanathan was able to get out a single post before martial law was declared in Pakistan, giving lots of links to breaking news. If you want regular ground-zero updates on the situation in Pakistan, Awab Alvi's blog, being run by Ange, currently can be found here.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Santo Daime Information in English

cruz-bjf

There's new web site from Europe providing lots of information about Santo Daime in English -- lots of music and photos too. It's REALLY well done. Big thanks to the creators.

Check it out.
Dot Earth

I've been following Andrew Revkin's new blog at the NY Times.

revkin.125vert

It's quite wonderful.

Somehow, I feel a special connection with him -- perhaps because of his 1990 book The Burning Season which told the story of Chico Mendes and the struggle against the destruction of the Amazon forest in Xapuri, Acre State. This is quite close to my spiritual heart home with the family of Luiz Mendes at Vila Fortaleza in neighboring Caipixaba.

At Andrew's blog there are also a great set of earth links.

Check it out.