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Sustainability's Dark Side: Crockpot 07.06.12

Guatemala Farm

Environmentalism has a very different meaning for indigenous farmers in Guatemala. Last year, hundreds of Maya Q’eqchi families were evicted from their farms in Guatemala’s Polochic Valley to make way for corn fields, says Treehugger’s Brian Merchant. But instead of hungry people, that corn is destined to feed the growing demand for ethanol and other biofuels, especially in Europe. Evictions like this one have increased dramatically since the EU announced a plan to get 10 percent of its transportation energy from biofuels, reports John Vidal of The Guardian. The farmers’ struggle to reclaim land continues, but the affair raises deeper questions about the direction we’re taking toward sustainability, says Vidal.  

 

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Islamophobia in the U.S. has ignited controversy recently, but its roots go deeper than you might think. Washington has a long history of suspicion toward Islam, especially political Islam, says Edward E. Curtis IV in Religion & Politics. That suspicion reached a new level in the 1960s, when COINTELPRO mobilized the FBI against groups like the Nation of Islam that sought to connect the civil rights struggle to a larger Muslim identity. The pervasive fear of Arab Islamism is much more recent, and demonstrates just how absent Muslims remain from the public arena. Recognizing this, says Curtis, means recognizing that Islam—even political Islam—is a lot less foreign to the U.S. than many people think.

Image by Jack Liefer, licensed under Creative Commons. Editor’s note: this image is of a Guatemalan farm, though not in the Polochic Valley. 

 

tony novelli
7/11/2012 5:32:18 PM

Control of language is the forefront in all warfare, and the usurping of environmental and sustainability related terminology is endemic. There is nothing sustainable about corn-based biofuels, and never was. They began as a highly subsidized gift to large agribusiness and still remain so. There are dozens of truly sustainable approaches to biofuels which all deserve support where they are appropriate. Allowing the marauders to control the language confuses this land and resource grab with actual environmentalism, dumbs down the issues, and allows splits to emerge in the opposition. Progressives still have not learned that if we are to turn the tides away from corporate-sponored plunder and pollution, we must get that refusing to be divided is a prerequisite to not being conquered further. As the late great Dana Meadows said, start with where we agree.


jay corrales
7/9/2012 5:13:00 PM

See: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC, not to be confused with Sustainable Forest Initiative SFI) Certification which takes into account indigenous rights and local stewardship of forest resources. It is a step in the right direction.