Impacts of Resource Extraction on First Nations Communities

Today Erin Konsmo of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network tells us about the effects of pollution on the reproductive health of First Nations communities. We’ve got a review of To the Last Drop, a film about the impact of the Athabasca tar sands on downstream communities. And to round things off we have excerpts of a talk by Lesbia Morales of the Campesino Committee of the Highlands on Mayan resistance to mining in Guatemala — mining which is done mainly by Canadian companies.

Download this week’s show.

People with placards stand in front of a large black sign reading, "Tar Sands are Toxic".

Residents of Fort Chipewyan and their supporters gather outside the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ investors conference in 2008 to protest the impacts of the tar sands industry.

Erin Konsmo
This week we’re excited to be kicking off a new segment on youth and environmental justice. I was fortunate enough to speak with Erin Konsmo of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works within the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice across the United States and Canada. Oftentimes pollution is thought of as impacting the land and the water but what about the impacts that pollution, industry, contaminants and environmental degradation have on nearby communities and individuals and their sexual and reproductive health? And why is this critical for environmentalists to learn more about? What is environmental violence and how are communities defining, responding to and resisting environmental violence? Here is my interview with Erin.

More on this story: Report on “The 2nd Declaration For Health, Life and Defense of Our Lands, Rights and Future Generations” (PDF)

To The Last Drop
In our latest Green Screen Movie Review, we take a look at “To The Last Drop”, a film that focuses on the impacts that the tar sands industry is having on the downstream community of Fort Chipewyan.

More on this story: Watch “To The Last Drop” on Aljazeera’s website, read the Indigenous Environmental Network’s report “Risking Ruin: Shell’s Dangerous Developments in the Tar Sands, Arctic and Nigeria” (PDF)

Lesbia Morales
On Friday, June 1, Lesbia Morales spoke to a crowded room in the Stanley Milner Library in downtown Edmonton. Morales had traveled from Guatemala to speak about Mayan resistance to mining in Guatemala, mining which is done mainly by Canadian companies. Morales is the president of the CCDA or Campesino Committee of the Highlands, and she described a recent march that took over 1,500 people from the Northeast of Guatemala to the capital city, to share their demands with the president and the press. Morales described the impacts of mining to campesino and Indigenous people in Guatemala and the numerous projects and initiatives that the Campesino Committee of the Highlands engages in.

More on this story: Listen to Lesbia Morales’ full talk

News Headlines

Rainbow Lake Oil Spill
An oil spill caused by a ruptured pipeline was discovered by employees of another energy company while they were flying over the site. An estimated 22 000 barrels of a mixture of oil and water have been spilled into northern Alberta’s muskeg. Some have estimated this to be the third largest oil spill in Canada’s history. The cause of the pipeline rupture is still unknown. The spill comes just less than a year after the Rainbow pipeline, owned by Plains All American Pipeline Ltd., spilled more that 28 000 barrels of oil in northern Alberta.

More on this story: Globe and Mail, Edmonton Sun, Huffington Post

Lush Cosmetics Anti-Oilsands Campaign
Lush announced this week plans to turn their 44 Canadian stores into polling stations to encourage customers to vote against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. Enbridge’s plans calls for bitumen extracted from the oilsands to be piped across Northern B.C. before being loaded on to supertankers for refining in California and Asia. Recognizing that the Harper government supports oilsands development, Lush is now prompting customers to join Indigenous and environmental groups in trying to stop the project. Storefronts show oil spill imagery and raises the question: “Your land. Your water. Your jobs. Your choice?”

More on this story: Toronto Star, Yahoo News

Climate Change Responsible for Collapse of Harappan Civilization
The reason for the decline and collapse of the Harappan civilization, one of the world’s earliest and least known cultures, has been discovered. The Harappans spanned what is now Pakistan and were at their height about 4000 years ago. It was an urban society with large cities, a distinctive style of writing and extensive trade that reached as far as Mesopotamia. Unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, however, the Harappans did not attempt to develop irrigation to support agriculture. Instead, they relied on the annual monsoons, which allowed the accumulation of large agricultural surpluses — which, in turn, allowed the creation of cities. The disappearance of this once great civilization has been a mystery, until now. Scientists have discovered that there was an eastward shift of annual monsoons around 3900 years ago, which citizens of the Harappan civilization followed. Their society collapsed, and people moved eastward, living instead in small farming communities, rather than large cities. Agricultural knowledge actually grew after this move, but the civilization’s culture and writing system were forgotten.

More on this story: LA Times, Huffington Post, Eurekalert.org

Science Prodigy Raymond Wang
Meet Raymond Wang, a fourteen year old from Vancouver. He’s a finalist at this year’s Google Science Fair. His eureka moment? Rain hitting his roof. Wang invented a piezo-electric rooftop panel that generates electricity from wind and rain. He hopes to combine it with a flexible solar panel to generate power no matter what the weather outside. The grand prize winner at the Google Science Fair wins $50,000 and a 10-day trip to the Galápagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions.

More on this story: Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Straight, Energy Harvesting Journal

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