Tuesday, September 30, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Corporations Are Not Going to Save Us From Climate Disruption





Corporations Are Not Going to Save Us From Climate Disruption

Monday, 29 September 2014 14:31


By Rachel SmolkerTruthout | News Analysis


This past week in New York saw some remarkable actions around climate change. The massive People's Climate March was perhaps the main media spectacle, but it was not the only, or necessarily the most important event. Another important one: the Climate Justice Summit, which featured the voices and testimonials of people all around the country and the globe who are on the frontlines, bearing the brunt of both ruthless extraction and destruction of their lands and livelihoods, and also experiencing most directly the impacts of climate change itself. Many were tearful as they described lives and lands laid to ruin by tar sands, fracking, coal, uranium mining and more. The brutal, relentless and rapacious greed of corporate profiteers in the fossil fuel industries, big agribusiness and forestry and financial sectors seems almost unfathomable.  [To continue reading, please go to http://truth-out.org/news/item/26501-corporations-are-not-going-to-save-us-from-climate-disruption ]




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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Climate-Smart Agriculture is Corporate Green-Washing, Warn NGOs





http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/09/climate-smart-agriculture-is-corporate-green-washing-warn-ngos/

Climate-Smart Agriculture is Corporate Green-Washing, Warn NGOs

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Critics say the agrochemical and biotechnology markets are dominated by a few mega companies that have a vested interest in maintaining monoculture farming systems which are carbon-intensive and depend on external inputs. Credit: Patrick Burnett/IPS

Critics say the agrochemical and biotechnology markets are dominated by a few mega companies that have a vested interest in maintaining monoculture farming systems which are carbon-intensive and depend on external inputs. Credit: Patrick Burnett/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 24 2014 (IPS) - On the sidelines of the U.N.'s heavily hyped Climate Summit, the newly-launched Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture announced plans to protect some 500 million farmers worldwide from climate change and "help achieve sustainable and equitable increases in agricultural productivity and incomes."

But the announcement by the Global Alliance, which includes more than 20 governments, 30 organisations and corporations, including Fortune 500 companies McDonald's and Kelloggs, was greeted with apprehension by a coalition of over 100 civil society organisations (CSOs).

"These companies will do all they can to maintain their market dominance and prevent genuine agroecology agriculture from gaining ground in countries." -- Meenakshi Raman of Third World Network

It is a backhanded gesture, warned the coalition, which "rejected" the announcement as "a deceptive and deeply contradictory initiative."

"The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture will not deliver the solutions that we so urgently need. Instead, climate-smart agriculture provides a dangerous platform for corporations to implement the very activities we oppose," the coalition said.

"By endorsing the activities of the planet's worst climate offenders in agribusiness and industrial agriculture, the Alliance will undermine the very objectives that it claims to aim for."

The 107 CSOs include ActionAid International, Friends of the Earth International, the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements, the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication, the Third World Network, the Bolivian Platform on Climate Change, Biofuel Watch and the National Network on Right to Food.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who gave his blessing to the Global Alliance, said: "I am glad to see action that will increase agricultural productivity, build resilience for farmers and reduce carbon emissions."

These efforts, he said, will improve food and nutrition security for billions of people.

With demand for food set to increase 60 per cent by 2050, agricultural practices are transforming to meet the challenge of food security for the world's 9.0 billion people while reducing emissions, he asserted.

But the coalition said: "Although some organisations have constructively engaged in good faith for several months with the Global Alliance to express serious concerns, these concerns have been ignored."

Instead, the Alliance "is clearly being structured to serve big business interests, not to address the climate crisis," the coalition said.

The coalition also pointed out that companies with activities resulting in dire social impacts on farmers and communities, such as those driving land grabbing or promoting genetically modified (GM) seeds, already claim they are climate-smart.


Yara (the world's largest fertiliser manufacturer), Syngenta (GM seeds), McDonald's, and Walmart are all at the climate-smart table, it added. "Climate-smart agriculture will serve as a new promotional space for the planet's worst social and environmental offenders in agriculture.


"The proposed Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture seems to be yet another strategy by powerful players to prop up industrial agriculture, which undermines the basic human right to food. It is nothing new, nothing innovative, and not what we need," the coalition declared.


Meenakshi Raman, coordinator of the Climate Change Programme at the Malaysia-based Third World Network, told IPS the world seed, agrochemical and biotechnology markets are dominated by a few mega

companies.


She said these companies have a vested interest in maintaining monoculture farming systems which are carbon intensive and depend on external inputs. "These companies will do all they can to maintain their market dominance and prevent genuine agroecology agriculture from gaining ground in countries," she said.

It is vital that such oligopoly practices are disallowed and regulated, said Raman. "Hence the need for radical overhaul of the current unfair systems in place with real reform at the international level."


Meanwhile, the Washington-based Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), said the world's foremost agriculture experts have determined that preventing climate change from damaging food production and destabilising some of the world's most volatile regions will require reaching out to at least half a billion farmers, fishers, pastoralists, livestock keepers and foresters.


The goal is to help them learn farming techniques and obtain farming technologies that will allow them to adapt to more stressful production conditions and also reduce their own contributions to climate change, said CGIAR.


These researchers are already working with farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to refine new climate-oriented technologies and techniques via what are essentially outdoor laboratories for innovations called climate-smart villages.


The villages' approach to crafting climate change solutions is proving extremely popular with all involved, and now the Indian state of Maharashtra (population 112.3 million) plans to set up 1,000 climate smart villages, CGIAR said.


Asked for specifics, Bruce Campbell, director of the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), told IPS countries in the tropics will be particularly impacted, especially those that are already under-developed because such countries don't have the resources to adapt and respond to extreme weather conditions.


These include many countries in the Sahel region, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia, plus countries in Latin America.  Asked if these countries are succeeding in coping with the impending crisis, he said there are good cases of isolated successes, but in general they are not coping.


For example, one success is in Niger where five million trees have been planted, that help both adaptation and mitigation, but an enormous number of other activities are needed, he added. Raman told IPS there are many rules in the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) agriculture agreement that threaten small-scale agriculture and agroecology farming systems in the developing world.


She said developed countries are allowed to provide billions of dollars in subsidies to their agricultural producers whose products are then exported and dumped on developing countries, whose farming systems are then displaced or threatened with artificially cheap products. Many developing countries, she pointed out, were also forced to remove the protection they had or have for their domestic agriculture, either through the WTO, the World Bank policies under structural adjustment and free trade agreements.


"These policies do not allow developing country governments to protect small farmers and their domestic agriculture," she said.  Such rules and policies are unfair and unethical and should not be allowed as they undermine small farmers and agroecology systems, Raman declared.


Edited by Kitty Stapp

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com




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[biofuelwatch] La Via Campesina: UN-masking Climate Smart Agriculture





http://viacampesina.org/en/index.php/actions-and-events-mainmenu-26/1670-un-masking-climate-smart-agriculture


UN-masking Climate Smart Agriculture

Press Release

International Peasant Movement/Movimiento Campesino Internacional 

b_350_0_16777215_00___images_logo_2014.JPGHistory presents itself first as tragedy, and the second time as a farce.

As women, men, peasants, smallholder family farmers, migrant, rural workers, indigenous, and youth of La Via Campesina, we denounce climate smart agriculture which is presented to us as a solution to climate change and as a mechanism for sustainable development. For us, it is clear that underneath its pretense of addressing the persistent poverty in the countryside and climate change, there is nothing new. Rather, this is a continuation of a project first begun with the Green Revolution in the early 1940's and continued through the 70's and 80's by the World Bank's Poverty Reduction projects and the corporate interests involved. These projects, such as the so-called Green Revolution, decimated numerous peasant economies, particularly in the South, to the extent that many countries, like México for example, that were self-sufficient in food production, became dependent on the North to feed their population within a short couple of decades.

The result of these projects, dictated by industrial capital's need for expansion, was the coopting of traditional agricultural producers and production and their insertion into the present industrial agriculture and food regime. A regime that is based on increased use of toxic chemicals, dependent on fossil fuel inputs and technology, increasing exploitation of agricultural and rural workers, with its resulting loss of biodiversity; a food system that is now under the control of corporations and large industrial farmers, the main beneficiaries of these projects. The result has been the loss of food security and sovereignty, transforming entire countries that were once net food exporters into net food importers. This is not so much that they cannot produce food, but because now, instead, they produce commodity crops used to produce industrialized foods, fuels, manufactured products for sale, and for speculation in the world financial markets.

Today, some of the same actors of these previous projects, such as the World Bank, are the forces behind the imposition of climate smart agriculture as a solution to climate change and to increase income of the rural poor using the same failed thesis that to increase incomes one must increase productivity. It is clear that the intention is to create a market for the Green Revolution as a solution to climate change, poverty and as a proposal for sustainable development in rural areas. We identify this as part of a larger process of "green" structural adjustment projects required by an economic system and the political elites in distress, because they have exhausted other places for enormous speculative financial investments and now see agriculture and agricultural land as the new frontier.

Climate smart agriculture begins with deception by not making a differentiation between the negative effects of industrialized agriculture and the real solutions offered by traditional sustainable peasant agriculture which has contributed to alleviating poverty, hunger and remediation of climate change. To the contrary, climate smart agriculture equates and equally blames all forms of agricultural production for the negative effects that in fact only industrialized agricultural and food production has caused, and fails to recognize and accept the differences between "agri-cultures" and agricultural production methods. The agricultural activity that has most contributed to greenhouse gas emissions has been industrial agriculture, not smallholder sustainable agriculture.

Climate smart agriculture will lead to further consolidation of land, pushing peasant and family farmers towards World Bank Projects, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other institutions, creating dependency on so-called new technologies through their complete packages that include prescriptions of "climate smart varieties", inputs, and credit, while ignoring traditional tried and true adaptive farming techniques and stewardship of seed varieties in practice by farmers.  Reliance on World Bank promoted methods of production and genetically modified seed varieties will only increase the vulnerability of peasants and small-scale producers, as those packages will not allow them to adapt to climate change, nor will they be able to improve their incomes, and will only result in pushing them further into debt and increased dependency. As the Green Revolution meant the imposition of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides as requirement to access loans and technical support, now it is the imposition of transgenic and biotechnology for the same requirements, and all under the name of productivity. 

The idea of increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable way, or what is now called "sustainable intensification", is false. Even more so, when one considers that raising yield per hectare through production intensification only increases the income for corporations, financial market speculators, and large landholding farmers. So called "sustainable intensification" is not really about increasing yield per acre, it is more about green-washing large scale industrialized production following the old adage "get big or get out". Increasingly, peasant and smallholder family farmers have to produce crops for the commodity market and not for local and regional food systems. They are producing for corporations who are manufacturing unhealthy processed food, fuel and supplies to make other products such as farmed –meat and pharmaceuticals. Peasants and small–scale family farmers will have no choice but to continue to accept the task of feeding the insatiable capitalist food production machine and its speculative activities in the financial markets. 

This intensification of production is also an effort to reduce the cost of labor, which means further degrading working conditions, and lower salaries for migrant workers.  Most peasants and small holders will be cast aside because there's no room for them in industrial agriculture except as landless peasants and one of millions of migrants that are seeking to try their luck as low wage laborers in the cities and countryside.

Ultimately, climate smart agriculture tries to cover-up and hide the need for genuine agriculture and land reform. It also hides, and lies about, the issue of scarcity of land and natural resources.  Land and natural resources are only scarce for peasant and small holding farmers. Poverty exists as a result of lack of access to land, land tenure and use, the unfair treatment and wages of workers and an unrelenting exploitation of their labor in order to meet the needs of capitalism, all of which is shaping the madness we are facing today.

In addition, climate smart agriculture, like the Reduction for Emission on Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), will expand the carbon market and its use for financial speculation. The possibility of big profits with investments in carbon credits generated from farmlands involved in climate smart agriculture projects will increase speculation in the carbon market, leading to further "carbon land grabs" by large-scale investors and producers, and the further displacement of peasant and smallholder farmers, just as REDD displaces indigenous people.

Under this climate smart agriculture framework, there is little hope of reducing and removing greenhouse gases, trying to solve food insecurity or any significant rural economic and social development. The problems of poverty, food insecurity and climate change are not market failures, but rather are structural flaws that will persist and worsen with its implementation. 

We need systemic change NOW!  

Today, just as in the past, we are ready to fight against the false solutions of the capitalist "green economy" and for real solutions to climate change and poverty, through our demands for climate and environmental justice.

We continue to propose and put into practice wherever we can agroecological production and the construction of people's food sovereignty. We consciously do this as another space to bring about the structural changes that we really need to deal with the issues of poverty, climate change and peoples' inability to feed themselves.

We call on all social movements gathered in New York to denounce climate smart agriculture as a false solution, oppose the launching of the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the UN Climate Summit in New York City, and to join us in the struggle for food sovereignty, and for a different model of agriculture and food production that will provide a just economic well being for small-scale farmers and their communities while producing enough healthy food to meet people's nutritional needs and guaranteed access to food for everyone. Any method of production and consumption, to be truly sustainable, must enrich and protect Mother Earth. (Download PDF)

NO TO CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE!

YES TO LAND REFORM AND AGROECOLOGY

FOR PEOPLE'S FOOD SOVEREIGNTY!

GLOBALIZE THE STRUGGLE GLOBALIZE HOPE!





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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Red Rock Biofuels, $70 million grant





Red Rock Biofuels has been awarded a $70 million grant to construct a biomass-to-liquids plant in Oregon, under phase 2 of the US Defense Production Act. Forestry and sawmill waste will be converted to transportation fuels.

Red Rock Biofuels wins $70 million grant for biomass project - Renewable Energy Focus

 





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Monday, September 22, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Clever Name, Losing Game? - How Climate Smart Agriculture is sowing confusion in the food movement





http://www.actionaid.org/publications/clever-name-losing-game-how-climate-smart-agriculture-sowing-confusion-food-movement

 

Clever Name, Losing Game? - How Climate Smart Agriculture is sowing confusion in the food movement


Climate Smart Agriculture' is gaining increasing attention among governments, NGOs, academics, corporations and international policy spaces. As proponents attempt to use the climate negotiations at the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change) and the UN Secretary-General's Climate Summit to obtain official endorsement of the concept, a range of stakeholders are starting to take note and ask questions. 

With the impacts of climate change being felt on food systems around the world, and the contribution of agriculture to global emissions also gaining attention, agriculture is one of the issues at the heart of climate change concerns. The concept of 'Climate Smart Agriculture' was developed by the FAO and the World Bank, claiming that 'triple wins' in agriculture could be achieved in mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation (supporting crops to grow in changing climate conditions), and increasing crop yields. But there is growing confusion and debate over what the term really means, what it can achieve, what is new about it, and whether it really can benefit food systems in the face of climate change.


Increasingly, civil society and farmer organisations are expressing concerns that the term can be used to green-wash agricultural practices that will harm future food production, such as industrial agriculture practices or soil carbon offsetting. Ultimately, there are no means to ensure that 'Climate Smart Agriculture' is either smart for the climate, or for agriculture.


ActionAid has been following these developments for a number of years, and was an early critical voice on the issue. This briefing has been developed to assist NGOs and policy makers to navigate the confusing language and false promises of Climate Smart Agriculture.


DOWNLOAD REPORT FROM WEBPAGE




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Sunday, September 21, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: Dismantle the power of transnational plantation corporations! There is no “smart monoculture"





21 September 2014:

10th Anniversary of the International Day of Struggle against Monoculture Tree Plantations

Dismantle the power of transnational plantation corporations!

There is no "smart monoculture": Support the People's Climate March!


Ten years ago, at a meeting of 250 members of communities affected by large-scale eucalyptus plantations in Brazil, September 21st was established as the National Day against Tree Monocultures. The aim was to increase the visibility of the many peoples and communities struggling against tree monocultures, as a way of breaking the circle of silence around the numerous violations faced by the communities whose territories were surrounded by these monocultures. The day was also created in order to disseminate as widely as possible the evidence emerging from the resistance struggles about the negative social and environmental impacts of these plantations. The impacts on the lives of women in the affected communities are particularly severe. Recognizing the importance of the decision taken by the Brazilian communities, the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) decided in 2006 to make this day an International Day of Action.

This year, September 21st is also a day of mass mobilizations for Climate Justice. Thousands of people will join the People's Climate March, while political leaders – and increasingly also corporate representatives – are meeting at the United Nations in New York City for the Climate Summit 2014, convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This summit represents yet another step towards the corporate takeover of the UN climate negotiations, and the privatization of land, water and air resources under the guise of a global climate pact.

The UN and other international agencies will launch the "Climate Smart Agriculture" initiated at the summit. This initiative is a new smokescreen being used to greenwash the worst practices of industrial agriculture: chemical fertilizers, industrial meat production, and genetically modified crops, such as tree plantations and other monocultures, which are being disguised as 'climate smart'. Proponents of this dangerous false solution include the World Bank; they are seeking to turn the carbon in farmers' fields into carbon credits, which would lead to land-grabbing and undermine real climate solutions.

The expansion of large-scale tree plantations of eucalyptus, pine, acacia, rubber and oil palm species, which may be defined as 'climate smart' if the proposal being discussed at the New York climate summit prospers, is furthering capital accumulation by large and often transnational corporations. Some of these corporations are Stora EnsoUPMArauco,APP/Sinar MasAPRILBridgestone/FirestoneWilmarOlam and Sime Darby. Production from these large-scale monoculture plantations is for industrial and export purposes, and the rate of expansion has been devastating. The area of these plantations worldwide has increased four-fold since 1980. In the global South, eucalyptus and oil palm monocultures have experienced remarkable growth. Were it not for the widespread resistance of small farmers, indigenous peoples and rural communities in many countries, this expansion would probably have been even greater.

Transnational corporations are primarily responsible for the problems caused by plantations: land-grabbing and the seizure of common 'resources'; destruction of biodiverse areas and their associated wildlife; the drying up and pesticide pollution of rivers, streams and springs; soil exhaustion and erosion; degrading working conditions; and the increasing financialization of nature, land and production. However, these corporations not only persist in denying and systematically concealing all these processes of social and environmental injustice; they even argue they are part of the 'solution' to the problems. Some of the market's false solutions, which are really solutions beneficial primarily for financial capitalism itself, increase the injustices associated with monoculture. Among these false solutions are initiatives that legitimize corporations' operations without requiring them to be accountable for the crimes and violations they commit. Examples of this kind of ruse are 'green' certificates issued by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) the 'forest dialogue', initiatives where civil society and corporations forge voluntary corporate commitments, and other so-called 'sustainable' initiatives, like phony commitments to 'zero deforestation'. Although such action may lead to short-term benefits for local communities in some places, they have mainly led to frustration and community division, by promising 'compensation' that does not fulfill people's key demands for guaranteeing their way of life, the return and respect for their territories, and an end to the environmental injustice caused by monocultures.

These initiatives are 'voluntary,' that is, they are not legally binding, and therefore lack a democratic institutional framework whose main goal is to protect the rights of the people affected. In this way, these initiatives, without aiming to change the destructive logic of capital, ultimately legitimize the expansion of a production model that we call neocolonial, because it destroys ways of life, is based on environmental racism and does not question any of its fundamental premises, such as the concentration of land and production in large-scale monocultures with poisonous pesticides and degrading working conditions. Moreover, "green" and "sustainable" initiatives and commitments do not hinder big companies from further expanding their plantations and encroaching on local people's territories.

Increasingly serious is the rise of "flex tree" monocultures, producing multiple-use trees and forest commodities that are perceived to be interchangeable (energy, wood, food, carbonsequestration, etc.). Their "flexible" nature is of major interest to financial capital, which is increasingly promoting, together with the monoculture tree plantations corporations, the speculation over the control of production and land uses. These companies continue to insist on commercial uses of transgenic trees, as well as other uses of wood for energy purposes, and on selling 'environmental services' such as carbon. These are all false solutions to the environmental and climate crisis confronting human societies today, and they ultimately exacerbate injustice, hunger and poverty. Monocultures and transgenic crops are not smart; they are one more tool of 'green' capitalism to grab peoples' lands, undermining those who are building real solutions to the social, environmental and climate crisis.

To confront the impact of the big corporations and the expansion of plantations, we must continue to push for the transformation of this model of production and to fight the neoliberal policies that favour big capital. An important step is for us to join forces in the framework of the "Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power", in order to build and strengthen instruments to put a stop to the architecture of impunity and legitimation that corporations enjoy today.The starting point of the Campaign is the struggle of communities resisting the invasion of their territories by transnational corporations, or their fight to expel transnational corporations from their territories. It affirms the right of peoples to freely determine their own way of life. Agrarian reform and the demarcation of indigenous peoples' territories and those of other traditional and small farmer populations all over the world are urgently needed actions to make headway in the struggle for food sovereignty, social and environmental justice, and people's power.

We cannot end this declaration without paying tribute to the women and men all over the world who carry out a daily struggle, in different ways, against monoculture tree plantations. They have already achieved important victories in the defense and recovery of their territories and the biodiversity they need for their physical and cultural survival. These women and men, in their arduous and long-suffering struggles for the cause of life and the future, stand in sharp contrast to the greed of the big corporations and investors that seek to appropriate ever more same lands to generate profits for their shareholders.


"Plantations are not forests!"

"There are no smart monocultures!"

 

September 21st, 2014

Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity
La Via Campesina
World March of Women
Friends of the Earth International
World Rainforest Movement (WRM)




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Thursday, September 18, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Cameroon: Tackle Business Climate Wholly to Attract Sustainable Investments





If fast-tracking private investment in Cameroon were only limited to the legal instruments, then the country could now beat its chest with the innovative and revolutionary law No. 2013/004 of 18 April 2013 that provides incentives for private investments in the Republic of Cameroon. Besides having already its respective texts of application and a seeming unison of all stakeholders to make it succeed, the law is already bearing fruits. The recent signing of license agreements between government and some 13 companies lends credence to this. But viable and sustainable investment, especially direct foreign investments, demands a combination of factors to improve the business climate.


Ruined and Devastated with false promises and loss of land …….. http://betockvoices.page.tl/The-Deceit-and-Cynicism-by-Herakles-Farms.htm





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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Biomass Incinerators Sue Feds for $22 Million [1 Attachment]





Biomass Incinerators Sue Feds for $22 Million

- by Maeusz Perkoswki, September 16, 2014, Capital Press








Two biomass facilities in California that use agricultural waste to generate electricity claim the federal government owes them about $22 million.

The plaintiffs — Ampersand Chowchilla Biomass and Merced Power — claim the U.S. Treasury Department is wrongly... READ MORE

--
Josh Schlossberg

Editor & Journalist, Energy Justice Now
Editor & Journalist, The Biomass Monitor
Steering Committee, Anti-Biomass Incineration Campaign, Energy Justice Network

Find Energy Justice Network on Facebook and Twitter

"Compromise is often necessary, but it ought not to originate with environmental leaders. Our role is to hold fast to what we believe is right, to fight for it, to find allies, and to adduce all possible arguments for our cause. If we cannot find enough vigor in us or our friends to win, then let someone else propose the compromise, which we must then work hard to coax our way. We thus become a nucleus around which activists can build and function." -- David Brower


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