Nauru's history is amazing
Nauru originally was this great lush tropical island dubbed ‘Pleasant Isle.’ Germans colonised it but Australia took if over after WWII. Turns out the island was full of this awesome fertiliser. Germans began mining it, then Australia and, nicely, Nauruans also got fabulously rich from it.

The problem was this: to get this resource, they were literally destroying their island from the inside out and making it unlivable. When Australia was still in charge the plan was to keep using up everything, make the island unlivable, and all Nauruans could just come live in Australia(!). But Nauruans took control of their island in 1968, they tried a few things to stay afloat, including (bad) investments and becoming the money-laundering capital of the frikking world. They’re still dirt poor so now they’ve become our dumping place for asylum seekers.

It’s a riches to rags story. Nauru went from a lush Paradise to a sparse hollowed-out husk. In 2011, Nauru’s president wrote this amazing NYT article saying what happened to Nauru is a metaphor for climate change. We’re all using up the Earth’s resources to the point where we’re making this place unlivable. But we’re too busy enjoying the short-term riches to see it.

(I got this from Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. More of my stuff on FB here)


Andá a cagar a otro lado cabrón, no me vengas con que descubriste la tierra en la cual yo ya vivo desde antes que tu llegues y te plantes.

Fundamentally, the task is to articulate not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis - embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy.
—  Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything
NWFP: Plant extractivism in Amazonia

From the FAO’s Non-Wood Forest Products newsletter:

Plant Extractivism in Amazonia: Where are we headed?

Alfredo Homma is an agricultural economist and researcher at Embrapa Amazonia Oriental, Belem, Para, Brazil

“There is a misconception that all non-wood forest products are sustainable. This is a big mistake because not all economic extraction ensures biological sustainability and not all biological sustainability ensures economic sustainability.”

Last year marked 25 years since the murder of the trade union leader Chico Mendes (1944-1988), a global icon associated with the creation of extractive reserves to preserve rainforests in the Amazon. Despite great progress in the region, there remains widespread perception at a policy level that plant extractivism is the development model for the Amazon. Extractivism has a limit due to the fixed supply determined by nature. Extractivism is appropriate when the market is small or large stocks exist in the wild. When the market starts to grow, the extractive sector is unable to support the growth in demand. Other variables also affect the stability of extractivism: increase in wage levels, emergence of economic alternatives, development of synthetic substitutes, etc.

It was because of the limitation of production to meet consumption that mankind began, ten thousand years ago, the process of domestication of plants, known as agriculture. Today, there are over three thousand cultivated plants and hundreds of animals in the world which have been domesticated. We simply could not be feeding over 7 billion people by simply collecting products from nature.

The English were the first to realize that the world could not depend on the rubber collected in the wild, sending, in 1876, 70 thousand rubber tree seeds from the Amazon to Southeast Asia. When they began to commercialize rubber from Southeast Asia, the Amazon entered into a downward economic, social and political spiral because investments were made only in the collection of extractive rubber. There was great excitement around the years of extractive exploitation, and the insistence on this model makes collectors, producers and consumers lose out on a great opportunity to generate income, employment and better quality and quantity of products at lower prices.

It is an illusion to think that we will be able to survive exclusively by collecting forest products. We must give attention to the areas that have been cleared in the Amazon (17%), close to75 million hectares (2012), almost 1.5 times the size of Spain or more than twice the size of Germany. To keep our forests intact, we must look at the areas already deforested and learn from experiences with the dozens of extractive plants that have supply problems (fruit, aromatic, medicinal, insecticides, wood, etc.). Governments should therefore lead the way to also develop policies that support the domestication of plants in Amazonia. If plant extractivism domestication technologies are made more readily available, for example, local people can explore domestication to vary their livelihood options.

There is a misconception that all non-wood forest products are sustainable. This is a big mistake because not all economic extraction ensures biological sustainability and not all biological sustainability ensures economic sustainability.

Plant extractivism was very important in the past, continues to be in the present, but we need to think ahead, to democratize the products of Amazonian biodiversity. Each forest product inherently requires distinct practices, rules and hence legislation, which also varies from country to country. The NTFP sector in particular cannot do without policies aimed at the sound and realistic cultivation of these species.

It is telling — and deeply troubling — that García Linera justifies the MAS government’s actions by invoking colonial plans. Yet perhaps more troubling is García Linera’s continued return to dualistic argumentation to silence opposition.

Devin Beaulieu and Nancy Postero critique Geopolítica de la Amazonía: Poder hacendal-patrimonial y acumulación capitalista (English: “Geopolitics of the Amazon, Landed Hereditary Power and Capitalist Accumulation, 2012”), the latest book by Alvaro García Linera, Bolivia’s vice-president and main public intellectual of revolutionary Bolivia. In his book, García Linera attacks lowland indigenous organisations who are defending their territory from the Bolivian state’s infrastructure projects and extractivist logic, falling not only into colonial paradigms of state and territory (a colonial geography if you will) but also into colonial imaginations of good indian/bad indian. Read the full review over at Upside Down World.  


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16 avril 2015, Aubervilliers, dette et extractivisme

Posted: 17 Apr 2015 08:14 AM PDT

Décidément, çà bouillonne d’idées ! Après l’excellent rendez-vous avec Y’en
a marre la semaine dernière, voici que le Grand Bouillon propose une
rencontre avec Nicolas Sersiron, président du Comité pour l'annulation de
la dette du Tiers Monde ( CADTM) - France et auteur du livre « Dette et
extractiv …

Mincir grce au rgime vgtarien ? - Destination Sant

Posted: 17 Apr 2015 07:43 AM PDT

Extractive Capitalism and the Divisions in the Latin American Progressive Camp

A Spanish-language translation of this analysis by James Petras has been making the rounds on social media recently despite being written (and translated) over a year ago. If you don’t want to read the whole thing I offer here a much shorter summary. It’s a worthy read because the extractive industry is a major driver of dispossession in the region and instead of protecting communities’ rights, these “progressive” or “left-wing” governments actually encourage the multinationals as much as you’d expect countries like Colombia or Honduras to do.

Keep reading