If you walked along Lake Concepción on August 26, 2020, you would have seen dead animals and massive amounts of dead fish floating on top of the polluted lake (Gonzáles, 2020). Lake Concepción is located in Concepción, Bolivia in the Chiquitano/Monkoxi territories. The area around the lake is protected but local authorities say that settler Mennonites seeking to establish mechanized agricultural farms and cattle ranches come anyway (Gonzáles, 2020;Romo, 2020). In Latin American countries like Bolivia , deforestation is mostly attributed to transnational demand for beef and soy but commodities like timber, oil and minerals also pose threats to the livelihoods of indigenous peoples land and homes in Latin American regions (Carrington, 2021, Mckay & Colque, 2015). Current transnational interests for beef from Bolivia are coming from China and Russia where they’ve signed trade deals in 2020 (Carrington, 2021). Extractive industries (i.e. mechanized agriculture, logging, mining, and cattle ranches ) contribute to deforestation, climate change, and the dispossession of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples living in areas of the Amazon which spans across eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname) are experiencing conflict over their land and natural resources and it threatens their livelihoods. This conflict extends beyond the borders of indigenous peoples’ territories and to the larger global community. Establishment of monocrops for soy and cattle ranches for beef production in areas of the Bolivian Amazon, two main contributors to deforestation, stems from transnational demand for soy and beef. Deforestation exacerbates climate change through loss of trees which cycle water, produce oxygen, and store carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas (GHG) thatcontributes to climate change. Deforestation of the Amazon releases stored carbon and contributes to climate change in addition to environmental degradation (pollution, physical altering of land, ecosystems disrupted, etc), a byproduct of unsustainable practices of extractive industries.
We are all social human beings in some way and are connected to one another through the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we use to grow food and develop. Climate change impacts the availability of natural resources and is a consequence of our social relations. How we relate to each other and nature impacts how and where we live because we all rely on the same natural resources (air, water, land). In this sense, climate change presents itself as a collective challenge to humanity. Cumulative actions of humans have caused environmental degradation (i.e. polluted water, air and land; destroyed or diminished ecosystems, etc.) that contribute to and exacerbate climate change (Foster, Clark, & York, 2010; Angus, 2016). About 80% of the carbon dioxide emitted since 1751 comes from the world’s wealthiest countries which include the United States, China, and Russia compared to about 1% from the world’s poorest countries which include Bolivia (Angus, 2016). These human actions, mediated by extractive industries and policies, are also dispossessing indigenous peoples of land and natural resources and are negatively impacting their health and well-being in disproportionate ways. --- Read more by downloading the complete paper below.
Technology is only as good as we are. We can develop more fuel efficient cars or create a digital substitute for paper but these technologies are only as beneficial as we let them be. History has shown us that new efficiencies in a capitalist economy tend to increase consumption of materials such as oil and fuel efficient cars. I think we, the general population, look at technology and think it a “silver bullet” for solving environmental problems. When at the heart of the problem is our relationship with Earth. This essay will attempt to illustrate the ways in which technology can make environmental problems worse, how it might make it better, and the limits of technology with this respect.
Jevons Paradox can help us understand how technology can make environmental problems worse. Jevons Paradox is often thought of as an “extreme version of the rebound effect” (Foster et. al., p177). Simply stated, the “rebound effect” is where any efficiencies gained don’t necessarily lead to a decrease in consumption of equal extent and instead leads to an increase (Foster et. al.). Jevons Paradox is similar except that technological efficiencies are said to lead to an increase in consumption by more than a 100% (Foster et. al.). Efficiencies drive commodity cost down, thereby increasing affordability, demand and thus consumption. Another factor at play here are “profit-seeking behaviors” found in a capitalistic economy that drive both the desire to increase efficiencies and consumption. By increasing efficiency, a commodity becomes cheaper to produce which makes it more “affordable” to consumers and drives up consumption which help capitalist increase their “bottom line”. If the goal of technology is to help reduce over consumption of Earth's resources and help conserve them, we must exercise some restraint on our part as a society in order for it to effectively address the environmental issue. It is our social relation to the Earth that makes technological solutions effective or ineffective. To help illustrate Jevons Paradox and what I mean by “social relationship to the Earth” we look to the automobile.
Read more by downloading the PDF below .
English, Jonathan. “Why Is American Mass Transit So Bad? It’s a Long Story. - CityLab.”
City Lab. N.p., 2018. Web. 3 Feb. 2019.
Foster, John Bellamy., Brett. Clark, and Richard York. The Ecological Rift : Capitalism’s War on the Earth. Monthly Review Press, 2010. Print.
Impacts of Climate Change on Indigenous People and Solutions from an Indigenous Perspective
Climate change is one of the most important ecological and social crises that humanity is facing and indigenous people are on the frontlines of the issue. There are indigenous people all over the world and each with their own unique culture and characteristics but one thing that many share is their respect for the Earth and reliance on it for their livelihoods. What happens when the Earth they know no longer responds the same way it had “always”? How does climate change affect indigenous people? The Earth is influenced and shaped by climate and climate is influenced by Earth and all its inhabitants. This means that living organisms (humans, insects, bees, bears, cows, etc.) have some impact on climate and thus the Earth. Humans have significantly contributed to climate change due to their activities that manipulate Earth (agriculture, road development, mining, burning fossil fuels, etc.) in order to meet human needs and wants. Greenhouse gases (GHG) are released in significant quantities due to human activities and contribute to climate change.
This research paper begins by introducing the concept of climate change and some factors that contribute to it. I then discuss some ways that climate change impacts the health and well-being of indigenous people. Before concluding, I briefly discuss potential solutions to combat climate change from an indigenous perspective and the importance of collaborating with indigenous communities. Indigenous people have a wealth of traditional ecological knowledge that is unique to them and aids them in their efforts to adapt to changing weather patterns and the associated consequences of climate change.
Keep reading by downloading the paper below:
Indigenous women living in the Guarayos and Chiquitano Territories of Bolivia grow and
harvest cusi, a fruit that grows on tall palm trees. Some of the women in the territories have
joined together to form women’s cooperatives where they work together to harvest and process
cusi. Forming a cooperative allows for shared benefits while reducing workload on individuals
since multiple people are working towards one goal. The non-timber forest products (NTFP) that
are made from cusi, also known as babassu, include: oil, soap, shampoo, creams and many
others. Harvesting and selling the products that come from cusi is a source of income for the
women and helps empower them socially and economically. Their business also helps to
conserve the forest since harvesting and growing cusi is done without cutting trees down and is
another way to prove “productive use” of land, a requirement to maintain land tenure in Bolivia.
An important part of Guarayos cultural identity, the cusi palm is linked to ancestral practices as
Mrs Arminda Uranungar President of ASORECU mentions, “ The cusi is a raw material that
nature gives us and we do not have to buy it, with the sale of cusi oil our grandmothers have
raised our mothers and they to us, we also want it to continue being a source of income for our
current families” (Martinez).
This project is focused on helping to connect women’s cooperatives in Bolivia to
potential buyers.The goal is to empower indigenous women, provide them with fair market price
for their products and labor, and help mitigate deforestation by supporting them and their
business. I am working with several students from Students for Indigenous Rights and
Environmental Justice (SIREJ) and CIPCA. SIREJ is a student organization formed by
several students that went on a service learning study abroad program in Bolivia in the summer
of 2019. They had visited and worked on projects in the Guarayos and Chiquitano/Monkoxi Territories and had wished to continue working with the indigenous communities remotely. All SIREJ members are volunteers and donate time and resources to complete projects prioritized by indigenous communities. Centro de Investigacion y Promocion del Campesinado (CIPCA) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that helps the women’s cooperatives with training, selling, and acquiring needed support to operate their business.
This post is derived from the report below. The report was prepared in December of 2019.
If you'd like to read more you can download the report below. The report discusses cusi and the women that make it. It also provides contact info for those wanting to learn more about buying the cusi and copaibo oil.
“How many is that so far?” I asked, as a long double-bed truck with the logo “VOLVO” hauling giant logs of valuable tropical wood and kicking up reddish brown dirt drove past our white passenger van. I was in Bolivia participating in a service-learning study abroad program that I applied for through my school called “Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice in Bolivia”. The program accepted only ten students and three of us, including myself were asked to do a photo and video session with two students from Urubichá’s School of Music and Art. The pictures and videos that we took during the session were to be used later to help create awareness of deforestation and the consequences of it. We were guided to an area of the Amazon forest near Urubichá by our tour guide, driver, and an instructor at the music school. It was a bright, hot, humid and sunny day. We had been driving for a while on an unpaved dirt road that led into the forest when we stopped on the side of the road. Deforestation is higher in areas where roads like these are built. Two of our guides went up ahead on foot to arrange with the drivers of the trucks to drive slowly towards the students while they stood in the middle of the road walking slowly towards the logger’s trucks playing their violins. They would both then stop at a safe distance from each other at which point the students would stretch their arms out, holding their violins and bow out in protest towards the loggers. To protest deforestation. The drivers agreed to the arrangement and I took pictures using my professor’s professional still camera while someone else held the Go-pro to film them playing and walking towards the logging trucks. That day, we counted about 17 double-bed trucks stacked with tropical wood in a two hour time period. For the community in Urubichà, deforestation and its consequences is an immediate reality and changing the lived experiences of the indigenous peoples.
University of Oregon Professor Dr. Derrick Hindery has been working with indigenous communities in Bolivia for many years. During one of his visits to Bolivia he was shown a plot of land by a former leader of COPNAG in Guarayos territory that had been clear cut and contaminated by chemical pesticides:
“The former leader of COPNAG took me and [another UO professor] to see and film/photograph a plot of land in Guarayos TCO deforested by “outsider” campesinos that they denounced, in which forest was clear cut and apparently chemical pesticides were used. The leader complained that sometimes Guarayos community members sold access to guarayos territory even though “TCO’s” by law are collective, indivisible and cannot be sold .”
There are social and economic forces shaping this conflict. The need to make a living and survive and a drive to meet market demands with opaque ends. I hope to highlight some of the ways this conflict manifests itself and plant some “seeds” as to how to move forward. Another goal of this paper is to share some of the ways that indigenous peoples have mobilized themselves and asserted their agency in claiming their land and naming for themselves their rights.
Rose Poton (she/her) is a compassionate and creative Conflict and Dispute Resolution professional that enjoys working on issues involving the health and well-being of all people and environments while applying a community-centered and environmental justice lens.