The Great Societal U-turn to Responsibility

The Great Societal U-turn to Responsibility

Randy Hayes’ SFSU Honorary Doctorate Speech May 24, 2018 — AT&T Park — San Francisco, California Nature Needs Half incoming chair, Randy Hayes, of the Rainforest Action Network, was honored by San Francisco State University as an honorary doctorate. The time for change has come, now it’s our duty to lean in to it and embrace the “Great Societal U-Turn.” A wise professor taught that when our careers are attached to a greater cause — a more meaningful life emerges for each of us, for you. So after my masters at this very University I set out to support the rights of Indigenous peoples by starting Rainforest Action Network. We took on big power and still do. Though clearly I had a few things wrong as that work got me arrested about 19 times fighting the likes of the World Bank and world trade organizations. But hey Graduates, know we are still working that cause… In fact I’ve just recently returned from the rainforest visiting tribes with bold plans to protect the headwaters of the mighty Amazon. This ongoing work helped earned me an Honorary Doctorate today. I thank the University for this Recognition. Canoeing up to the Jaguar Shaman’s village in Ecuador I thought of this day and all of us here. The tribal elders spoke. They know their forests house vast biodiversity of future foods and medicines. Rainforests drive massive hydrologic cycles helping to run this planet’s weather systems. They know if we lose the rainforests we could lose our mother ship. History and science tells us the planet’s natural systems are heavily damaged. Two hundred years...
Promise to Pachamama: Revisiting Bolivia’s Historic Law of the Rights of Mother Earth

Promise to Pachamama: Revisiting Bolivia’s Historic Law of the Rights of Mother Earth

Photo © Ken Treloar Written by Lee Brann When the passage of Bolivia’s Law of the Rights of Mother Earth was announced to the world in late 2010, international media described the new legislation in glowing terms — transformative, astonishing, unprecedented, a turning point. The law seemed to embody the revolutionary spirit of the social movements and mass gatherings that had ushered it into being. Bolivia’s Pacto de Unidad, the coalition of indigenous and campesino organizations that helped draft the legislation, represented a potent social force with an entirely new vision for Bolivia’s relationship to nature. The architects of the law were striving to upend a centuries-long period of environmental and social crisis in Bolivia, one in which nature’s welfare had been relentlessly undermined in favor of tin, silver, logging, and fossil fuels. To overturn this trend, bold legislative action was needed. Bolivia believed it had found a winning strategy in awarding nature itself the same legal rights as people. The 2006 election of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, provided a rare opening for legal overhaul. Social movements like the 3.5 million-strong CSUTCB did the rest. The new law is modeled around the indigenous Andean appreciation for the earth deity Pachamama, viewed as the center of all life and believed to be entitled to fundamental rights, much like human beings. By granting legal rights to nature, the legislation is indeed among the most innovative environmental statutes in global history. In fact, by including the force of legal status for nature alongside a series of measures for promoting nature’s wellbeing, the law strongly resembles the type of policy initiative needed...

“How to pay for saving biodiversity”

Originally published by Science Magazine By Edward B. Barbier, Joanne C. Burgess, and Thomas J. Dean The 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was one of the first international environmental agreements negotiated. In the same year, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for funding biodiversity conservation in developing countries was launched. Yet 25 years later, biological populations and diversity continue to decline both on land (1) and in the oceans (2). The main reasons are chronic underfunding of global biodiversity conservation; the lack of incentives for global cooperation; and the failure to control habitat conversion, resource overexploitation, species invasions, and other drivers of biodiversity loss. Dinerstein et al. recently called for a global deal, complementing the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, for conserving half of the terrestrial realm for biodiversity by 2050 (3). Here, we explore how such a deal might be implemented to overcome the funding problem in biodiversity protection. Continue reading the full...

“In Defense of Biodiversity: Why Protecting Species from Extinction Matters”

Originally published by Yale Environment 360 By Carl Safina A number of biologists have recently made the argument that extinction is part of evolution and that saving species need not be a conservation priority. But this revisionist thinking shows a lack of understanding of evolution and an ignorance of the natural world. A few years ago, I helped lead a ship-based expedition along south Alaska during which several scientists and noted artists documented and made art from the voluminous plastic trash that washes ashore even there. At Katmai National Park, we packed off several tons of trash from as distant as South Asia. But what made Katmai most memorable was: huge brown bears. Mothers and cubs were out on the flats digging clams. Others were snoozing on dunes. Others were patrolling. During a rest, several of us were sitting on an enormous drift-log, watching one mother who’d been clamming with three cubs. As the tide flooded the flat, we watched in disbelief as she brought her cubs up to where we were sitting — and stepped up on the log we were on. There was no aggression, no tension; she was relaxed. We gave her some room as she paused on the log, and then she took her cubs past us into a sedge meadow. Because she was so calm, I felt no fear. I felt the gift.   Continue reading the full...

Why is connectivity important in the rainforest?

Dr. Tom Lovejoy, considered to be the “godfather of biodiversity,” revels in the importance of a connected rainforest ecosystem in the Amazon and the role that his Camp 41 serves — embedding human aspiration in natural landscapes.     Video by Jayme Dittmar, Drone footage by James Brundige of Nature Needs Half Media, created for “Planet Forward in the...

“Extinction tsunami can be avoided”

Originally published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America By Thomas E. Lovejoy In many senses, the recent publication in PNAS by Ceballos et al. (1) on population losses and declines in vertebrates can be traced back to efforts early in the 20th century led by the American Committee for International Wildlife Protection to document the extinction phenomenon (2⇓–4). The focus at the time was very much on individual species, not on extinction rates, and certainly not on precursor population declines. It is interesting to reflect on one of the most famous extinctions caused by humans, namely, the Passenger Pigeon. The original populations were staggeringly large and so impressive that in the 1870s, the Passenger Pigeon was chosen to adorn one of the gateposts of the British Museum of Natural History in South Kensington to represent the Nearctic region. Its extinction would have seemed inconceivable, given the enormous populations and the unpredictability of nesting sites. With the advent of a predator aided by telegraph to advertise the otherwise unpredictable nesting sites and by rail to transport the harvest to markets, the populations declined and winked out one by one until all that remained was the single female Martha, which died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1916. Basically, there was no easy way to keep track, whereas today, in contrast, not only is there an army of birdwatchers but also, in the digital age, the ability to monitor population trends by, in this case, an electronic database, e-bird. Continue reading the full...
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