Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

Ecological Internet: Radical, Green, and Wired

6/25/2010 12:04:44 PM

Tags: Keith Goetzman, environment, logging, forests, international, activism, grass roots, technology, greenwashing, Ecological Internet, Mongabay

Glen BarryEcological Internet is the most radical green group you’ve never heard of, and for years it has been achieving “major successes … below the radar of big conservation groups and mainstream media,” writes Jeremy Hance on the rainforest conservation site Mongabay. The organization harnesses the power of the Internet to run online campaigns that have hindered or stopped unsustainable and/or illegal logging in the South Pacific, Madagascar, and Papua New Guinea, and it also provides IT services to other groups for “global grassroots advocacy.”

Ecological Internet leader Glen Barry and his group earn their “radical” tag in part because of their unsparing criticism of greenwashing in wood certification programs, especially the widely used Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label, and of the green groups who support FSC, such as Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network. Ecological Internet estimates that 60 percent of FSC-certified products come from primary forests, the most ancient and biological diverse type of rainforest. “The FSC, for its part, has not released data related to this issue,” writes Hance.

Barry tells Mongabay:

“[The] whole idea of certified forestry was completely usurped and the term made relatively meaningless, much like sustainable development has become, by the industrial logging as usual […] FSC logging is still the first-time logging of primary forests that are ancient ecosystems that contain the genetic and biodiversity materials that are very important for our and all species’ survival,” explains Barry, who has seen the process firsthand while working as the Papua New Guinea World Bank rainforest specialist for four years.

“I just reached a point personally where if I was going to work on this for any longer, I was going to work to end this desecration of 60-million-year-old rainforests for, in some cases, toilet paper and lawn furniture.”

Mainstream environmental groups like the World Wildlife Foundation, Greenpeace, and the Rainforest Action Network “embraced” the Forest Stewardship Council in the early 1990s, says Barry, “and then the sort of dirty secret that no one would ever talk about is that FSC is primary forest logging. We challenge Rainforest Action Network, we challenge Greenpeace, to sit down and have a debate on this.”

Barry says Ecological Internet takes a “deep ecology, or biocentric approach” and describes what drives the group:

“[Ecological Internet] is very, very concerned about the state of the planet. It is my analysis that we have passed the carrying capacity of the Earth, that in several matters we have crossed different ecosystem tipping points or are near doing so. And we really act with more urgency, and more ecological science, than I think the average campaign organization.”

Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention in this forum that Barry says he was the first blogger. Take it from him:

“I was the inventor of blogging. I was the first person to comment upon other web materials, link it, and then list it reverse chronologically. There is some debate over who the very first one was, but I maintain that I am. It’s still on the web, and has been there since 1995; it’s very clearly there. But if not the first one—there may have been someone musing about their personal lives—at least I was the first political blogger: the first instance of an individual citizen harnessing the power of the internet for political commentary, and being able to publish that just like any large corporation could.”

Sources: Mongabay, Ecological Internet

Image courtesy of Ecological Internet.



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Post a comment below.

 

Mike Pearson
7/25/2011 8:46:49 PM
Criticizing the ecological public "giants" is a real service. From talking with Glen Barry on Facebook, I think it makes a person cranky. In fact, he banned me, because I challenged him for a positive vision while he was stating quite directly that we are all doomed and there is no hope. This didn't happen with some of our doom-sayers. I exchanged a few friendly notes with Jay Hanson in April 1995, before he launched "die-off.org" Jay was always nice, always civil ... And yes, I agree we're in big, big trouble. But that's not a good reason for a fellow to be as nasty and dierogatory as Ecological Internet. Also in 1995, there was a thing called bio.net with discussions in human population biology and biological information theory. I was making political blogs that year, though I suspect few were reading them. I guess it's all about ego and publicity. Don't greenwash Ecological Internet, will you?

Tim Gieseke
6/28/2010 8:59:43 AM
Keeping the economy honest is a difficult task. As these ecological externalities are incorported into the current 'free lunch' economy, compromises will emerge. Transparency is essential for this dialogue and new economic model to emerge. I gave it my shot by writing EcoCommerce 101: the emergence of an invisible hand to sustain the bio-economy. Its addresses the agro-economy, but is appicable to all terrestrial ecosystems.



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