Killings of environmental activists have risen by 20% in the last year, according to campaign group Global Witness.
Last year saw a spike in killings related to hydropower programs. Fourteen people died defending their land and rivers against dam projects.
Home to around 1,300 Palestinians, the village of Wadi Fukin sits in a fertile valley close to Bethlehem, right along the border with Israel. Driving along the only road that leads into town, I’m taken by the sheer size of the nearby Israeli settlement, Beitar Illit, built just to the East. White stone residential towers housing over 45,000 Israelis rise above on the hills as my car descends into the valley. The buildings slide down towards the village, ending in a towering wall built into the hillside that looms above groves of olive trees.
Eight years before the first Earth Day, in 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a scientific book decrying the abuse wreaked on nature by chemical companies careless use of pesticides, fueled the start of the environmental movement.
Fifty-two years later, we still struggle to find harmony between our obsession over progress and nature’s capacity to keep up with this unbridled hunger. The question is whether all this advancement is necessary, or if it is simply a psychosis, a disorder we’ve let run wild far too long and that should be reined in before we lose our grip with reality.
“If it materializes as planned, the Omo could be emptied in its entirety, which would mean that Lake Turkana might be destined to become Africa’s Aral Sea.”
The Turkana herdsmen, who live a semi-nomadic pastoralist lifestyle, struggle to cope with the harsh consequences of climate change in the arid northwestern tip of Kenya. Due to the reoccurring and prolonged drought grazing land in the region is diminishing leaving little to support the Turkana tribes.
The two countries also have specific disputes, notably over water, illicit narcotics trade, and refugees. Water flows to Iran are likely to be reduced when major hydropower dams are completed in Afghanistan, and water sharing is becoming a more acute source of friction between the two states.
“If you steal my water, I am going to be passionate about it”
It was exactly a year ago when Eleuterio García Rojas was killed in front of the city hall of the small Andean town of Celendin. He was an innocent bystander caught between the angry crowd protesting against a proposed open-cast gold mine and the government security forces. He was one of three killed during the protest. The following day Peru’s president would declare a state of emergency in the region’s three provinces.
More than 2,200 farmers in India committed suicide in the past four years, as water loss and drought drove them deeper into debt.
Over-allocation of the river’s waters 90 years ago combined with increasing populations and economic growth in the river basin have created circumstances in which conservation efforts — no matter how organized — could be too little to overcome the projected water deficit that the Colorado River Basin will face in the next 20 years.
We came here to the alpine wetlands of the Peruvian Andes to meet Maxima Acuna de Chaupe who has lived next to the lagoon, Laguna Azul, with her family for the past 25 years. Her property became part of the proposed Conga mine and ever since she has been in a fierce fight with the ‘new owners’ who would do just about anything to drive her off this land. As she was away visiting officials in the city of Cajamarca to discuss the latest developments over the disputed land her son Daniel greeted us in front of their tiny adobe home.
Neither Attorney General Gary King nor Governor Susana Martinez are backing down.
“Texas is trying to rustle New Mexico’s water and is using a lawsuit to extort an agreement that would only benefit Texas while destroying water resources for hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans,” said King in a statement released by the AG’s office Tuesday afternoon.
“We are reviewing the Texas lawsuit and will decide how best to protect the water that is so vital to New Mexican families and businesses,” said the Governor’s spokesperson Enrique Knell. “We won’t cede a single inch of New Mexico water to Texas.”