The United Nations’ International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict takes place on November 6. The international community must face up to the reality that protecting the environment from conflict is vital to protect people, argues DOUG WEIR.
Throughout history, Islam has contributed innovative ideas that have helped advance world civilization. The al Hima initiative in Jordan is one such example. This ancient practice is currently being revived as a land management (natural resource management) strategy in pastoralist areas of the Middle East and North Africa and is being seen as a bulwark against climate change, desertification and drought. CURTIS ABRAHAM reports
Thousands of small farmers were forced from their lands and homes by paramilitaries in Colombia's Santa Maria mountains, writes Paula Álvarez. But now as a welcome peace allows their return from involuntary exile, they find a new enemy that has come to stay - huge plantations of oil palm that have obliterated the mixed, patchwork landscape of small fields, villages, and swathes of forest on steep-sided hills that they used to inhabit.
A crucial component of concrete, sand is vital to the global construction industry, writes Nick Meynen. China alone is importing a billion tonnes of sand a year, and its increasing scarcity is leading to large scale illegal mining and deadly conflicts. With ever more sand fetched from riverbeds, shorelines and sandbanks, roads and bridges are being undermined and beaches eroded. And the world's sand wars are only set to worsen.
The real nature of war and its impacts on people and environment can only be understood through its ecology, surgeon Gus Abu-Sitta tells Andre Vltchek: the causes of conflict, the dynamics that sustain it, the corporate and strategic interests bent on its perpetuation, the deliberate destruction of health provision, and the repeating cycles of infection, injury, poverty and human misery which have become a permanent reality for uncounted millions.
Over 90% of major armed conflicts between 1950-2000 occurred in countries containing biodiversity hotspots,writes Alex Reid, and more than 80% of these took place in the hotspot areas themselves. This poses a major challenge to the conservation community: to work in combat zones to strengthen environmental protection before, during and after conflicts. Or better still, to defuse incipient conflicts and resolve those under way, to reduce their toll on people, and nature.
Believers in the possibility of a better civilization, one rooted in increasing co-operation and harmony, find ourselves in a world where demagogues are empowered to bring about the polar opposite, writes Jeremy Leggett. A new despotism rooted in isolationist nationalism and conflict is gaining strength. The battle is not lost: but first we must understand the dangers.
Depleted uranium (DU) munitions may not be regulated but their severe long term health impacts mean they should be, writes Doug Weir. So why did 'Coalition' forces fire 5,265 armour-piercing DU rounds on IS fuel convoys in Syria? When non-DU munitions would have done the job just as well? Just because they knew they would never be held to account? All the more reason to act now!
The election of President Trump is driving the planet towards oblivion - according to the elite scientific body behind the Doomsday Clock, writes Chris Busby. But isn't Trump's commitment to reduce East-West antagonism and ally with Russia's President Putin against terrorism reducing the risk of nuclear war? So far, Trump is sticking to his promises. Let this one be no exception!
Hundreds of square kilometres of Iraq are eclipsed by dense clouds of toxic smoke from fires at oil facilities and a sulphur factory blown up by 'Islamic State' terrorists, writes Doug Weir. With the fires left to burn for months on end, entire towns are suffering a public health catastrophe. But the Iraqi government is slow to act, or even collect vital health and environmental data.
Last week the UN General Assembly's Disarmament and Security Committee voted for negotiations to begin next year on a new international treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, writes Rebecca Johnson, bypassing the stalled Non Proliferation Treaty. One immediate consequence is to make the UK's plans to replace its Trident nuclear missile system 'completely untenable'.
With the International Monsanto Tribunal beginning this week (14-16 October) in The Hague, MICK GRANT reports from Vietnam with this special investigation for The Ecologist five decades after the company's lethal herbicide Agent Orange first devastated the country - and discovers the agribusiness giant is sneaking its way back into Vietnam with modern herbicides and 'Roundup-Ready' GMO crops.
As we remember the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this month 71 years ago, we have largely forgotten the racist propaganda that made it possible, writes LINDA PENZ GUNTER. We have likewise sanitised history to exclude the voices of African Americans who loudly protested the use of nuclear weapons, connecting them to American colonialism abroad and racism at home.
Thanks to an increasingly aggressive US foreign policy pursued over decades, NATO nuclear missiles and armed forces are poised on Russia's border, writes Conn Hallinan - forcing it to abandon its 'no first use of nuclear weapons' pledge in view of the massively asymmetrical threat it faces. The world must step back from the brink of nuclear annihilation.
Africa is being opened up like a tin of sardines to a new wave of resource extraction, writes Colin Todhunter. Masked under the soubriquets of 'investment', 'growth' and 'free trade', a handful of vast global corporations are systematically plundering the continent's mineral wealth and leaving desolation in their wake, backed to the hilt by that ever-faithful servant of capital - the UK government.
The Chilcot report reveals that the UK has disclaimed any duty to decontaminate the toxic, radioactive ash left behind by its DU munitions, or even monitor the impacts on human health, writes Doug Weir. But Iraq and other countries are working towards a UN Resolution this October that would hold contaminating governments like the UK and the US legally accountable for DU pollution.
The political vacuum left by the Iraq war provided the space for radical extremism to take root in the Middle East and rampage across the region, writes Dr Robert Dover. That makes Tony Blair directly responsible for the refugee crisis that is destabilising Europe today, reflected in the UK's Brexit vote. And it fatally wounded the credibility of his 'third way' social democratic politics across the EU.
Israel is inflicting 'water starvation' on Palestinian communities, writes Ramzy Baroud, with residents of all-Jewish settlements in the West Bank each receiving thirty times more water than their Palestinian neighbours. Meanwhile resistance to the Occupation is routinely punished by water closures and the destruction of water infrastructure, contrary to international humanitarian law.
A future of green abundance for all is possible, writes Glen Barry. Instead we are mired in the destruction of the Earth's vital ecosystems, divided by obscene wealth and shameful poverty, and pitted against each other in genocidal wars over energy, resources and global dominance. To make that alternative a living reality, we must shed our fears and come together in common purpose.
The 'war on drugs' is presented as a necessary battle against social evils, writes Benjamin Ramm. But from the Andes to the Caribbean, prohibition has criminalised both religious and cultural expression. And it's a war that is strictly for the global poor: people in Colorado can grow pot - so why not Colombians?
Since 1948 Jordan has taken in millions of refugees from Palestine, Iraq and most recently Syria, writes Doug Weir. Politically and economically the country has proved astonishingly resilient - but the population increase has caused huge damage to its fragile environment. Ecological degradation, pollution and resource scarcity may cause political instability unless more is done to tackle the problems.