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Anne Petermann

Don’t Mourn, Organize!

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director - Global Justice Ecology Project, November 9, 2016

Dear GJEP Friends and Family,

While surprised by the turn of the election last night, I was not shocked.  Horrified, but not shocked.

The pundits had all but declared Hillary the winner in the days leading up to the election, but a lot of people who have been crushed by the system over the years stood up to be counted. They fell for the hateful, booming rhetoric of a billionaire businessman and TV star with no political experience-because he promised to stand up for them. He promised “change.”

According to exit polls by CNN, however, more than half of people polled are worried about what will happen in the coming years under a Trump Presidency. Over a third are more than worried, they are scared. The atmosphere is thick with sadness, rage, disbelief, fear.

After the filth of this election campaign, many will want to circle the wagons. To wait for the worst to blow over.

But that is not an option. And the fact is, no matter who won the election, we were on a collective course toward the edge of a cliff. Under Obama-the supposed face of progressive “change”-there has been no real action to address climate change. Activists at Standing Rock are being brutalized by the police for trying to stop a pipeline and protect their sacred water and land. Unarmed black people are being killed by police. Drones are dropping bombs on children in far away lands.

The system is broken, no matter who is at the helm.

Donald Trump and the new Republican held Congress will be nasty. There is no question about that.

But the one possible positive outcome of this spectacular disaster is that there is no such thing as complacency any more. You either organize or you let Trump’s agenda of hate run rampant. There have been galvanizing moments in United States history when injustice was so potent, so undeniable that people came out in droves to be part of the force for change. I believe this can become one of those moments.

There is no political party that will do this for us. It is up to us. It is time to acknowledge that the system doesn’t work and start talking about what we do next. Time to mobilize. Time to take action for real systemic change.

That is our commitment here at Global Justice Ecology Project.  GJEP was founded to address the intertwined root causes of social injustice, economic domination and ecological destruction.  That is our mission. And we will keep organizing and building to strengthen the global movement toward the fundamental, transformational, bottom up change necessary to achieve a sane future on this planet.

I hope you will join us.

Onward!

GE Tree Company ArborGen Found Guilty of Defrauding Workers, Fined $53.5M

By Kip Doyle - Global Justice Ecology Project, January 7, 2015

New York (8 January 2015) – Biotech firm ArborGen, a leader in the research and development of genetically engineered trees (GE trees), has been fined $53.5 million in compensation and punitive damages after a court ruled that it acted to use “trickery and deceit” to “defraud” employees.

Just before the holidays a judge issued the 180 page ruling (linked below) on the case in favor of ten ArborGen workers, and against the company, as well as its timber company founders, International Paper, MeadWestvaco (now WestRock) and New Zealand-based Rubicon, plus several of their Board members.

“It is a shame that this story came out on 29 December, in the middle of a holiday week, and has gone almost completely unreported,” said Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project. “Only two articles have covered this important story in South Carolina papers.

“We have always argued that ArborGen is acting recklessly in their pursuit of the commercial development of unproven and potentially dangerous GE eucalyptus, pine and other trees. Now we find out that ArborGen has lied to and defrauded their own employees. How could anyone possibly believe anything they say about the ‘safety’ of these GE trees?” she concluded.

Confronting Climate Catastrophe: Direct Action is the Antidote for Despair

By Anne Petermann - Climate Connections, September 20, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Good evening everyone and thank you to Jill, Margaret and the other convergence organizers for the opportunity to speak to you tonight.

In four days time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conferences (or COPs as they are called) in Lima, Peru and Paris, France.

I was asked to put into context the reason for the march and actions this weekend–especially the problem of the corporate capture of the United Nations Climate Convention, which I have attended and organized around since 2004, when I attended my first UN Climate COP, in Buenos Aires, until 2011 when I was permanently banned from the UN Climate Conferences following a direct action occupation at the Climate COP in Durban, South Africa.

But I actually got involved with the UN Climate Conferences through the work I have dedicated myself to, which is stopping the dangerous genetic engineering of trees.

What happened was in 2003, the UN Climate Conference decided that GE trees could be used in carbon offset forestry plantations. Understanding that this was a potential social and ecological disaster, and being completely naïve about the UN process, we decided to go to the UN and explain to them why this was wrong, and to get them to reverse this bad decision.

But what we found out was that GE trees had been permitted in carbon offset forestry plantations because Norway had tried to get them banned. But Brazil and China were either already growing GE trees or planning to, so they blocked Norway’s proposal. As a result, GE trees were allowed simply because they could not be banned. The UN, we learned, does not reverse decisions, regardless of how ill-informed and destructive they are.

This is the dysfunction of the UN Climate Convention.

After the People’s Climate March, Then What?

By Rachel Smolker - Counterpunch, September 18, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

This coming week in New York City promises to be interesting.  The UN Climate Summit will be convened by Ban Ki Moon. At the Summit, President Obama and other heads of state will likely call for voluntary measures and vague aspirations at the beck and call of the corporations that currently have a stranglehold on the global economy. A week of climate related events will be brought to the city by “The Climate Group”, courtesy of Duke Energy, Goldman Sachs, Swiss Re and others whose motives we must surely question!

The Peoples Climate March, neatly permitted and funded, is scheduled for the day prior to the summit. Chris Hedges refers to the march as “symbolic”. Quincy Saul referred to it as a “farce”, with “no politics”. Anne Petermann points to the lack of demands and “big umbrella” approach, as a recipe for false solutions. All true, but it can also be argued that such big umbrella symbolic actions have some merit here in the US where deniers have sown such a vast ocean of ignorance and confusion.

In any case, there is one rather clear advantage: many people, will be in NY.

Some will be content to call on “them” (congress, politicians, the UN, the Pope, Grandma…) to write a blank check for some unspecified “action on climate”.  They will play right into the hands of the corporate wolves in sheep’s clothing who peddle false solutions and have laid elaborate and deceiving plans for profiteering from the climate crisis.

But there are also many with a deep and abiding understanding of the depth and breadth of the climate, economic, ecological, social, political crisis we are facing and its’ common twisted roots. They will not just travel to NY, march in an orderly and permitted fashion, and then go quietly home afterwards feeling satisfied and personally redeemed.

They will be there, some long beforehand, doing the serious heavy lifting involved in building a real movement. They will be participating in the “Convergence for People, Planet and Peace Over Profit”, discussing strategy, sharing knowledge and forging plans for the future monumental task that is “System Change Not Climate Change”. They will link up to learn from and build solidarity with frontline communities and activists at The People’s Summit.  And they will stay on after the march to get on with the actual real and demanding work of building the “post-march world” which means moving mountains, confronting the criminal corporate behemoths, speaking truth to power, putting their hearts, souls and lives on the line to make and shape a just, peaceful, healthy and yes, even potentially beautiful, future.

What less can we aspire to?

Those who will take on this task are mothers and fathers who care for future generations. They are people who cannot simply accept the drowning of nations and starvation and violent obliteration of millions. They are people who cherish and understand the intricate grace of nature and mourn its brutally evident dying. They are those who can still hear the voices of their ancestors calling on them to live honorably as stewards on this earth.

They are people who understand that climate change is not just one among an army of “issues”, but rather it a “perfect storm” – a sum greater than all its parts, spawned by a convergence of abuses: from wars and genocides to drilling, pumping, burning and mining the place to ruins, from racism and sexism, to spewing toxic chemicals, mowing down ecosystems and poisoning the oceans.

It is not just an “inconvenience” to be resolved by plugging into some other currency of extraction (“sustainable, green and renewable” energy). It is the defining context of our lives and of this time in the history of life on earth.

To lessen the damages, push back the tides, and save what remains, including our own little skins, will require no small measure of change. No little tweakish reform here or there, a little money trickling down from the 1% over there, a green job for him and a solar panel for her will get us close to where we need to go. It will demand system change of a sort we can barely yet imagine.

Naomi Klein’s new book aptly titled “This Changes Everything: Climate vs Capitalism” is right on the money, starting with the straightforward statement that “the problem is not carbon, it is capitalism”.

And so, the first step following the march-of-mixed-blessings promises to be a bold one, aimed straight at the heart of the raging beast of capitalism: Wall Street.  On the morning of the 22nd, taking their cue from Occupy Wall Street, a flood of blue people will gather at Battery Park and then move on to the NY Stock Exchange, to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience, directly confronting the system that both causes and profits from the crisis at the expense of life.

Here’s to a fierce, invigorating and boldly targeted step for the climate justice movement.  Let’s bring on that beautiful future!

Rachel Smolker is a codirector of Biofuelwatch.

On Bill McKibben’s ‘call to arms’ for the New York Climate Summit

By Anne Petermann - Global Justice Ecology Project, July 17, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The September climate march was called for by Big Green NGOs 350.org and Avaaz, who have thrown copious quantities of cash at it. But many environmental and climate justice organizations and alliances based in the New York/New Jersey region and across the US have demanded a seat at the organizing table to ensure that the voices of front line and impacted communities are heard, despite their small budgets.

The demands of the march: there will be none. That’s right. The march will simply bring together an estimated 200,000 people to march through the streets of New York and then…  There will be no rally, no speakers, no strong political demands.  Just people showing up with the overarching message that the world’s leaders should take action on climate change.

Please.

What kind of climate action should be taken is a question that has long been debated by climate justice activists, organizations, social movements and Indigenous Peoples all over the world for decades.   “Climate action” can include things like geoengineering schemes–manmade manipulations of nature on such a massive scale that the impacts can’t possibly be known, but could definitely be catastrophic.  They can also include actions already taking place, such as the building of vast hydroelectric dams that flood vast expanses of land and displace thousands of Indigenous Peoples or land-based communities. Climate action can also include ongoing grabbing of land for the development of vast plantations of oil palm, GMO soy or non-native trees for so-called bioenergy.

So no, not all “climate action” is created equal.  A lack of clear justice-based and ecologically sound demands in this “historic” march will leave a vacuum.  And no vacuum remains empty for long.  It’s simple physics.  The media will not cover a march with no demands. They will find a message.  And likely, as so often happens, those with the connections and the money will win the messaging game.

Earth Minute: July 2, 2014

By Anne Petermann - Global Justice Ecology Project, July 7, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

On the weekly “Earth Minute” Anne Peterman, Executive Director of the Global Justice Ecology Project, discusses Portland Rising Tide’s recent direct action.

The Earth Minute is written and recorded by GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann in partnership with KPFK FM. 

Click here to listen: 

https://soundcloud.com/sojournertruthradio/sojournertruthradio-7-2-14-2

Earth Minute, June 24, 2014: Detroit’s Water Crisis

By Anne Petermann - Global Justice Ecology Project, June 24, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The shocking water crisis in Detroit: hundreds of thousands of people being denied access to water. 

The Earth Minute is written and recorded by GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann in partnership with KPFK FM. 

Click here to listen: 

https://soundcloud.com/sojournertruthradio/sojournertruthradio-6-24-14-2

The Fine Print I:

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