Hands off the Arctic

April 6, 2008 at 1:24 pm | Posted in Environment | Leave a comment
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Greenpeace is running a campaign trying to protect the poles, specially the North pole. I know I am not being original saying that politicians suck, but I feel like saying it. Apart of that, here you have the info about the campaign:

Global warming is melting the Arctic at an alarming pace. As a result, a host of countries are seeking to drill for the oil and gas once protected by ice. The more oil and gas we burn, the faster the Arctic melts and the closer our planet comes to catastrophic climate change.

It’s a sad irony. In attempting to secure “rights” to Arctic fisheries, new transport routes, oil, gas and mineral resources, countries gain a vested interest in the continued melting of the Arctic.

And as the political and military jockeying for control of the far north continues, the ice melts away. Researchers are now saying we could have ice-free summers in the Arctic by 2040.

World Park Arctic can be a reality. The precedent is already established. Thanks to public pressure, Antarctica already has the same kind of protection the Arctic needs.

Now let’s make some noise to make it happen.

And, if you want to support it, sign here!

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Survival International: Siberian tribes

March 28, 2008 at 12:11 am | Posted in Naming | 4 Comments
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I started a series of posts linking the information offered by Survival International. This week, I am continuing with Siberia tribes. When I was a child, I heard of Siberia because it was an inhospitable place where people was deported. Even that, its name attracted me. Last year I found an illustrated journal about it, and it surprised me. I think that despite its harshness it is a place worthy of discovering.

Siberian Tribes

Siberia’s 30 different tribal peoples range in number from under 200 (the Oroks) to 34,000 (the Nenet). They live in an area that covers 58% of Russia.

How do they live? Some of these peoples are nomadic reindeer herders, living in the tundra (arctic plain); others, who live in the forest tundra or taiga (coniferous forest), rely on a mixture of reindeer herding and hunting and gathering, and often live in settlements. Today 10% of Siberia’s tribal peoples live a nomadic or semi nomadic life, compared to 70% just 30 years ago. The languages the different tribes speak are from a range of linguistic families: some bear no similarity to any other language, and none bear any relation to Russian. Some larger indigenous peoples, the Sakha (formerly called Yakuts) and Komi, have their own republics within the Russian state.


What problems do they face?
Under the Soviet administration, the tribal peoples lost their land to state-run industries. With industrialisation, their region was taken over by outsiders, and the authorities made strong efforts to suppress indigenous languages, culture and ways of life. Today their biggest problems are the environmental degradation caused by the oil, gas and logging industries in the area, and the lack of clarity about land rights.

How does Survival help?
Survival supports Russian indigenous organisations such as the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), backing their demands that indigenous peoples are consulted about industrial projects and given the right of veto, and given compensation where their land has already been destroyed. We also support the call for Russia to ratify International Labour Organisation Convention 169 on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, and specifically for tribal land ownership rights to be recognised.

It is been quite surprising for me to find out how minority tribal rights and environment is binded. How in Siberia, Scandinavia or Labrador they are thrown out of its own lands because they are considered mere power sources.

Survival International: the Innu

March 16, 2008 at 11:50 pm | Posted in Canada | Leave a comment
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After deciding to take charge of this personal project, I soon realized that it would be unfair to do it without taking into account the whole situation of indigenous Arctic people. As I has sensed, I soon confirmed that they have to face heavy adversities to maintain this way of life, and I would consider it a lack of responsibility not to write about it.

As I learned from my last entry, there is a NGO, Survival International, who works supporting tribal people worldwide. They have an excellent website, packed with tones of information. I will tell you what they say about the Arctic people, and then it is up to you to continue learning from them.

Innu

The Innu are the indigenous people of most of the Labrador-Quebec peninsula, in eastern Canada. They were formerly referred to as the Montagnais-Naskapi Indians, and are unrelated to the Inuit (or ‘Eskimo’) who live further north.

How do they live? Their homeland, where they have lived for millennia, is a vast area of sub-arctic spruce and fir forest, lakes, rivers and rocky ‘barrens’. They call this land Nitassinan. Up until the second half of the 20th century, the Innu lived as nomadic hunters. For most of the year, the waterways of Nitassinan are frozen, and they would travel in small groups of two or three families on snowshoes, pulling toboggans. When the ice melted, they would travel by canoe to the coast or a large inland lake to fish, trade, and meet friends and relatives. They hunt animals including bear, beaver and porcupine, and also fish and gather berries – but most of all they rely on the herds of caribou which migrate through their land every spring and autumn. Until recently, the Innu got all that they needed – food, clothing, shelter, tools and weapons – from the caribou, which have a huge cultural significance. Today the Innu have been settled into villages; although many hunt, fish and gather, some have paid jobs as well, or depend on social security.

What problems do they face? During the 1950s and 1960s, the nomadic Innu were pressured into settling in fixed communities by the Canadian government and Catholic church. The transition was difficult and traumatic. Life in the communities is marked by extremely high levels of alcoholism, petrol-sniffing amongst children, violence, and record levels of suicides. Many of the Innu are still fighting to retain much of their traditional lifestyle, increasingly difficult as the government hands out their land in mining concessions, floods the heart of their territory for hydro power schemes, and builds roads which cut up the remainder. In April 1999, the UN Human Rights Committee described the situation of tribal peoples as ‘the most pressing issue facing Canadians’, and condemned Canada for ‘extinguishing’ aboriginal peoples’ rights.

How does Survival help? Survival is calling on the Canadian government to rethink its approach to negotiations with the Innu and other similar groups – currently they will only recognise Innu land rights if the Innu agree to surrender most of their land. Canada must recognise the Innu’s right to own their land, and live on it as they choose.

I know this is little help, but it is just the beginning. You will read more soon 🙂

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