According to IBON data, TNCs account for 50 percent of all oil, gas and coal extraction and refining. Only 10 TNCs account for about 41 percent of world production of oil and gas, and TNCs control 80 percent of land worldwide which is cultivated for cash crops. Only 20 TNCs account for about 90 percent of the sales of hazardous pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.
by INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
As one of the activities of the International Festival for Peoples’ Rights and Struggles (IFPRS) which ran from July 5 to 6 in the Philippines, environmental networks held a forum dubbed “the Current Challenges of Climate Change” in Quezon City. Organizers said that they wanted to raise awareness on the science and politics of climate change as well as present critiques on the various responses to climate change.
Guests from New Zealand, Cambodia, India, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan shared how their respective countries deal with climate change and its devastating effects.
Unquantifiable loss of culture, heritage
Dr. Timote Viaoeleti of Impact New Zealand shared that it was also urgent to address the issue of climate change because of its impact on the cultural life, heritage and history of peoples.
“This loss is not quantifiable, and what has been destroyed can never be restored,”he said. He explained that the massive floods that hit areas like Kirabati, Rarotonga, Somoa and Fiji destroyed more than the terrain and the livelihood of residents, but also the burial grounds and ancestral lands of the people. The other effects of climate change such as coral bleaching, soil erosion, decreased water supply, storm surges, ocean acidification also alter the face of New Zealand and with it comes the destruction of cultural history and the people’s emotional connection to the land.
Resource persons on the Forum on the Current Challenges of Climate Change said that the issue of injustice is at the root of the climate crisis. They said that for all their posturing, governments of advanced capitalist countries and their corporations have not only refused to fully honor their obligations to reduce emissions and support climate actions in the more impoverished countries, they have also exploited the climate crisis to enforce false solutions that create new profit opportunities, expand their control over natural resources and worsen global warming. (From left Vaioleti, Tek Vannara , Irina Gilfanova)(Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com)
“It’s not usual that the social, spiritual and epistemological issues are considered when discussing the effect of climate change; but in the case for instance of New Zealand, these issues cannot be neglected. Take the destruction of burial grounds or the flooding of ancestral lands — the emotional relationship of people with the land is all but erased, and memories are not enough to contain the grief over what was lost. People are forced to move and leave behind all that they have built and nurtured for centuries. There is a saying and a belief in Samoa: If my village is good, then I am good. If there is something wrong with my village, then there’s something wrong with me. The connection between the environment and the self is very present; there is the acknowledgment that environmental destruction destroys more than forests, oceans or livelihood: it eradicates the self,” he said.
Devastating impact on people’s livelihood
The presentation given by Tek Vannara from the group Culture and Environment Preservation Association (CEPA) in Cambodia,in the meantime, gave emphasis on the loss of livelihood in his country because of the climate change. According to him, Cambodians are being forced to find alternative means of livelihood because the industries of fishing and animal husbandry have been severely affected.
“Two main rivers in Cambodia, the Tonesap and the Mekong have alternately flooded or overflowed or loss massive quantities of their water because of droughts. Floods and droughts are among the major contributors to the poverty of Cambodians. Rice production decreased by as much as 70 percent from 1998 to 2002, and the following years have not been much better. The quality of water has also been affected. Our economy is tied to farming, raising animals and fishing, but the effects of climate change have been drastic and thousands have lost their livelihood,” Vannara said.
Uzbekistan has not been spared from the effects of climate change either.
Irina Gilfanova, head of the Youth Environmental Network of Uzbekistan said that the changes in her country have been alarming. She said that 90 percent of all accessible water sources in Uzbekistan are used for irrigation needs, but because of the droughts, farmers have found it almost impossible to cope.
“Even our lakes are shrinking. One of the biggest lakes in the world is the Aral Lake, but it has shrunk to 10 percent of it original size in recent years. There is constantly high temperature even in our mountainous areas, and there’s a decreasing number of frosty days and snow covers. There is almost no more difference between the hot periods during daytime and the colder weather at night time. There is also decreasing mountain snow-glacier resources,” she said.
Gilfanova shared that they can no longer predict or determine changes in the country’s precipitate levels. ?
“We are an agro-industrial country and deeply reliant on irrigation from natural water sources, but now there’s widespread drought. Connected to this is the worsening desertification of our soil. The survival of many plant varieties and animal species has been affected. As of now we don’t know if any have become extinct or drastically altered if they have been able to adapt to the climate change,” she said.
In the year 2000, Uzbekistan suffered the worst drought in 100 years. Gilfanova said that water levels dropped by an average of 20-40 percent in all rivers. A famine also occurred, affecting one million people of Uzbekistan’s 27 million population. According to Gilfanova, their government was unable to provide adequate relief for the people and was forced to seek the help of the international community.
Blame Climate Change on corporate greed and destruction
The speaker from Bangladesh, S. Jahangir Hasan Masum, said that most people do not really understand what climate change is,” but they can understand it when we mention floods, tornadoes, cyclones, droughts, erosion and earthquakes. These are all effects of climate change. But more important than knowing the effects of climate change is knowing what causes it, or who,” he said.
Masum said that it is crucial for people of the world to know that it is the leading governments in the world and their corporations and industries that are at fault when it comes to climate change. “They have done their best to destroy the environment by clearing thousands of hectares of forests. They have mined the earth to destruction, and poisoned the seas and the air. Because of their insatiable greed for profit, they have killed the planet. The ice covering the Himalayas is melting, and how else can you deny that there is something seriously wrong with the climate?” , he said.
According to Masum the island country of Maldives might disappear under ocean waters in 100 years. “The tsunamis are getting bigger and stronger all the time, and they are also an effect of climate change,” he said.
The Bangladeshi activist presented tabulations of countries most vulnerable to climate change, and he said that it was highly ironic that the countries who have the least CO2 emissions are the ones most seriously affected.