Saturday, February 22, 2014

What we aren't hearing about from Bolivia

"So now I can only ask for your prayers for our indigenous fellows in order to bring some hope to this people who have lost the few things they had, their crops, their land, their animals and their homes."

We all get the emails that come from foreign countries, asking us for something. They are scams, of course. But today, I received this email from Carmen who I met at the U.N. in early January while attending on session (OWG7) on developing the next round of sustainable development (see previous post). Today, she is asking for our prayers.

What struck me about Carmen was how passionate she was about dealing with climate change. She was a prominent voice at the session arguing that sustainable development could never be achieved without dealing with climate change.

Her story below is real (I delved into the international press), but not covered in the U.S. media. While we can't say that these current conditions are linked to climate change with any certainty, people in the global south do make this link, right or wrong, and typically believe that the problems have been caused by the industrialized nations.

I share Carmen's accounting (verbatim) to give you a sense of what we hear when we attend the international meetings.  Take a look at the images from Reuters.  This has been haunting me all day as I ask myself, what can I do besides send prayers?  

Dear women,

I’m writing to share a little of the grief that we have being suffering here in Bolivia in the last month. Bolivia has suffer the worst wet season in years and we have take into account that is not a NIÑO or NIÑA year, already 50.000 families have being affected, and around 30 casualties due to the rains, almost 80% indigenous people of lowlands in the Amazonian forest.

The causes are basically three: - Climate change - The dams in Brazil - Deforestation With the increase of co2 of 400ppm the increase of global average temperature of 0.8 C has cause an increase of only 4% of humidity that has being translated in almost three times more rain in the wet season, that has also impacted another countries of the world develop and developing.

That is why I urge to stop talking about a 2C limit event 1.5 will be catastrophic, we have estimated that by the time we reach and a increase of 1C we may have lost the ways of life of 50% of the indigenous people here in Bolivia, unless something is done, the tragedy that today we are facing may have impacted some communities even for ever, including a great number of species that we have already seen how they are migrating; a few weeks ago a wildcat was hunted in a city where this animal has not being seen before, and we have lots of other examples.

Although studies about the dams have being going on since the 90 and despite the opposition of grassroots movement in brazil, I remember talking about this with Norma already in 2007 and the effects of mega dams in the Amazonians as well as other parts of America, most of the calculations for them have being done with typical precipitation rates and did not took into account the possibility of increasing rains, now water is stuck in Bolivian territory, dams in brazil especially Jiarou and San Antonio have already over passed their limit of 75 m of water, and even the infrastructure itself can be impacted.

Bolivia has a deforestation rate of 300.000 ha a year’s 20 times more than the global average, that is why we have to abolish the slash and burned based agriculture which is a practice that came with colonization, people here used to live in harmony with the forest and the jungle but slash and burned based agriculture makes it easy to just burn the forest and open land to new crops in many cases monocrops. Also we have strongly recommended not to deforest the higher parts of the basin especially the area or TIPNIS where average precipitation reaches over 5000 mm this forest work as sponges for the extra water and keep the climatic system "healthy" but with the efforts to have the highway and new coca fields, people are already feeling the impacts.

Therefore the Bolivian tragedy cannot be blame only in climate change but in the fatal combination of causes al related the thirst for energy of the occidental way of life.

That is why my labor is focus right now with the bases, I have being organizing a solidarity campaign for the Mosetenes Indigenous people in their territory 6000 people have being affected by the floods, they have lost almost everything children cannot go to school, and they are living with water under their feet and two babies have pass away. I being advise not to ask any kind of international help in order not to have problems with the gob, at least for now. (Bolivia is not accepting international aid) the gob will only help people that will vote for them in the elections that is why they have not declare emergency yet.

So now I can only ask for your prayers for our indigenous fellows in order to bring some hope to this people who have lost the few things they had, their crops, their land, their animals and their homes. My commitment to fight climate change is stronger than ever and in that sense we will continue to help the people affected.

Please see some images in:

Facebook campaign:

If anyone needs more specific information please write me. Thank you and keep on with the global efforts.

Regards, Carmen Carmen Capriles Cel: +59178877955 La Paz - Bolivia