Saturday, November 13, 2010

War with Earth - Vandana Shiva Speech Nov. 4th

Time to end war against the earth
Vandana Shiva
November 4, 2010

Dr Vandana Shiva is an Indian physicist, environmentalist and recipient
of the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize. This is an edited version of her speech
at the Sydney Opera House last night.

When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and
Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war
has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical
limits - limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and
economic concentration.

A handful of corporations and of powerful countries seeks to control the
earth's resources and transform the planet into a supermarket in which
everything is for sale. They want to sell our water, genes, cells,
organs, knowledge, cultures and future.

The continuing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and onwards are not only about
"blood for oil". As they unfold, we will see that they are about blood
for food, blood for genes and biodiversity and blood for water.

The war mentality underlying military-industrial agriculture is evident
from the names of Monsanto's herbicides - ''Round-Up'', ''Machete'',
''Lasso''. American Home Products, which has merged with Monsanto, gives
its herbicides similarly aggressive names, including ''Pentagon'' and ''Squadron''.This is the language of war. Sustainability is based on peace with the earth.

The war against the earth begins in the mind. Violent thoughts shape
violent actions. Violent categories construct violent tools. And nowhere
is this more vivid than in the metaphors and methods on which
industrial, agricultural and food production is based. Factories that
produced poisons and explosives to kill people during wars were
transformed into factories producing agri-chemicals after the wars.

The year 1984 woke me up to the fact that something was terribly wrong
with the way food was produced. With the violence in Punjab and the
disaster in Bhopal, agriculture looked like war. That is when I wrote
The Violence of the Green Revolution and why I started Navdanya as a
movement for an agriculture free of poisons and toxics.

Pesticides, which started as war chemicals, have failed to control
pests. Genetic engineering was supposed to provide an alternative to
toxic chemicals. Instead, it has led to increased use of pesticides and
herbicides and unleashed a war against farmers.

The high-cost feeds and high-cost chemicals are trapping farmers in debt
- and the debt trap is pushing farmers to suicide. According to official
data, more than 200,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide in India
since 1997.

Making peace with the earth was always an ethical and ecological
imperative. It has now become a survival imperative for our species.

Violence to the soil, to biodiversity, to water, to atmosphere, to farms
and farmers produces a warlike food system that is unable to feed
people. One billion people are hungry. Two billion suffer food-related
diseases - obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cancers.

There are three levels of violence involved in non-sustainable
development. The first is the violence against the earth, which is
expressed as the ecological crisis. The second is the violence against
people, which is expressed as poverty, destitution and displacement. The
third is the violence of war and conflict, as the powerful reach for the
resources that lie in other communities and countries for their
limitless appetites.

When every aspect of life is commercialised, living becomes more costly,
and people are poor, even if they earn more than a dollar a day. On the
other hand, people can be affluent in material terms, even without the
money economy, if they have access to land, their soils are fertile,
their rivers flow clean, their cultures are rich and carry traditions of
producing beautiful homes and clothing and delicious food, and there is
social cohesion, solidarity and spirit of community.

The elevation of the domain of the market, and money as man-made
capital, to the position of the highest organising principle for
societies and the only measure of our well-being has led to the
undermining of the processes that maintain and sustain life in nature
and society.

The richer we get, the poorer we become ecologically and culturally. The
growth of affluence, measured in money, is leading to a growth in
poverty at the material, cultural, ecological and spiritual levels.

The real currency of life is life itself and this view raises questions:
how do we look at ourselves in this world? What are humans for? And are
we merely a money-making and resource-guzzling machine? Or do we have a
higher purpose, a higher end?

I believe that ''earth democracy'' enables us to envision and create
living democracies based on the intrinsic worth of all species, all
peoples, all cultures - a just and equal sharing of this earth's vital
resources, and sharing the decisions about the use of the earth's

Earth democracy protects the ecological processes that maintain life and
the fundamental human rights that are the basis of the right to life,
including the right to water, food, health, education, jobs and

We have to make a choice. Will we obey the market laws of corporate
greed or Gaia's laws for maintenance of the earth's ecosystems and the
diversity of its beings?

People's need for food and water can be met only if nature's capacity to
provide food and water is protected. Dead soils and dead rivers cannot
give food and water.

Defending the rights of Mother Earth is therefore the most important
human rights and social justice struggle. It is the broadest peace
movement of our times.

-Vandana Shiva

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Attention Elders

You've lived a long time. I respect that. However, in my lifetime, a mere 25 years, I have bore witness to two massive oil spills, the creation of two plastic garbage islands sprawling over several kilometers of ocean, the extinction of several species due to loss of habitat and the endangerment of thousands more due to that same loss of habitat. We've seen the incredible rise in cancer rates, in poverty, in obesity, in hunger, and incredible loss in traditionally used lands, in the ability of humans being capable enough to feed themselves without a grocery store around. I have witnessed daily the loss of green spaces and especially forests due to clear cutting instead of selective harvesting.

The car-obsessed, building OUT and not UP mentality has paved over far more than is necessary and contributes to global warming. Your generation had their chance. You had your chance to stop clear cutting but they didn't. You had your chance to stop the plasticization and styrafoamation and the corporations global takeover. You had the chance to stop corporations from producing goods meant to last less than five years. To stop these companies from building them in countries where they've manipulated laws to the point where they can get away with MASS MURDER. (ie: Union Carbide in Bhopal)

Not enough in your generation cared to put a stop to any of these things that my generation will have to deal with. Eventually my generation will have to learn. How to not be dependent on exploiting overseas labor markets. How to clean up the damage done to our oceans, coral reefs, wetlands, grasslands, forests, and fields. How to feed ourselves using the neglected and toxin-soaked farmland left. We will need to figure out sustainable ways of transport when gasoline costs more than we can afford or when the wells finally run dry.

We will eventually tackle the mountains you call landfills and we will remove the toxins from them that leach into our groundwater. And we will have to find a better way to co-exist on this planet if we wish to exist at all.

Previous generation - we thank you for these gifts you've left us with, life being the most important of them. But to accept these gifts means also accepting the responsibility of cleaning and fixing and maintaining these gifts to pass on to the next generation.

I'll be the first to admit that your generation has left this planet in a far worse state than when you were handed her by your parents generation.

Profits over people, wealth over health, convenience over environment - these have been your mantras. Mantras that you whisper with every dollar you spend.

But it's time. It's time to hand over the reigns. Beginning with the end of suburban sprawl, we will right the wrongs and see this planet return to its magnificent glory. We will learn what it means to be sustainable not because we want to but because we have to and need to. Because we finally see that it's the only way.

Your generation fought battles against evil forces, true. But afterward, you turned your back on everything and everyone but those closest to you.

To make a mess and not clean it up is a sign of great slovenliness. But to clean up the mess of another for the sake of life on this planet will make my generation a generation of heroes.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Build-A-Better: Solar Dehydrator

This is Fix Shit Up!'s first contest to see who can fix shit up the best. After witnessing several incarnations of solar dehydrators at Golden Ears Farm as well as reading and listening to others attempts, it's time to open this up to the interweb-netterspace public.

The goal: To create an electricity-free food dehydrator. It doesn't have to necessarily run on solar, but the sun does just happen to produce lots of free heat. Why not take advantage of it? Why, instead do we pay for our dehydrating instead of using what's already around and FREE!

The winner of Fix Shit Up's Build-A-Better: Solar Dehydrator Challenge will receive a t-shirt.

We'll be posting up entries and deciding which model has the most dehydration potential.
We're looking for maximum fruit space, easy cleanability, insect/small animal proofing, and dehydration power. If you build it, they will shrivel up and taste good during the winter!

Tell all your friends and BUILD-A-BETTER: SOLAR DEHYDRATOR!

Contest doesn't end until we come up with designs for a dehydrator that can actually do all those things listed above as good as or better than an electric "excaliber" model.

Plans can also be for a "community-size" dehydrator.

Good luck!