Archive for ‘Latin America & Caribbean’

31/08/2015

Confessions of a Frustrated “Soil-hugger”

Human Wrongs Watch

By Professor David Powlson*

29 August 2015 (Greenpeace)* – As a soil scientist you would expect me to be enthusiastic about the benefits that soil gives to humanity and very happy that the United Nations designated 2015 as International Year of Soils.

Photo credit: Emile Loreaux/Greenpeace

Photo credit: Emile Loreaux/Greenpeace

During this year there have been numerous activities throughout the world to draw attention of a wider public to the value of soil. In the UK, the British Society of Soil Science has been active in organising events in schools – recognising the need to enthuse future generations.

The properties of natural soils under forest or grassland are especially impressive; by “natural” I mean soils largely unaltered by humans by processes such as ploughing.

In these soils the interactions between physical, chemical and biological processes are particularly amazing.

31/08/2015

Potato (and Other ‘Ancient’ Crops) to Be Deposited in Norway’s Arctic Seed Vault for Future Generations

Human Wrongs Watch

As a significant step towards preserving the world’s most important ancient crops for future generations, the head of the United Nations agriculture agency, together with scientists and delegations from Peru, Costa Rica and Norway, on 27 August 2015 witnessed a ceremony during which potato seeds were deposited to the “safety box” in Arctic seed vault.

View of the main entrance to the Global Seed Vault in Longyearbyen, the largest populated area on the territory of Svalbard, in the high Norwegian Arctic. UN Photo/Mark Garten

“In a few decades, our planet’s food systems will need to feed an additional 2 billion people,” said José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), adding that “producing more and more nutritious food will be made all the more challenging as a result of climate change.”

750 potato seeds, as well as other wild potato relatives, were deposited by representatives of indigenous Andean communities from Peru, scientists from Costa Rica, FAO and Norwegian officials at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle.

25/08/2015

A Human Rights Based Approach to Integrated Water Resources Management – Virtual Course

Human Wrongs Watch

25/08/2015

Open-access Database to Help Water-scarce Countries Get more Crop per Drop

Human Wrongs Watch

24 August 2015, Rome – A new open-access data portal to be developed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will use satellite imagery to help water-scarce countries in the Near East and North Africa better manage this precious resource.*

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Farmland along the banks of Rwanda’s Lake Sake. Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Currently all countries in North Africa and the Near East suffer from severe water scarcity, with significant consequences for irrigated agriculture, the region’s largest water user.

This situation is expected to further intensify as climate change leads to more frequent and longer droughts, with severe impacts on food production.

The aim of the new data portal is to collect and analyze satellite information that can be used to improve land and water productivity and boost the sustainability of agricultural systems. All information will be openly available for countries and users who need it.

24/08/2015

The Need for a New Economic System – PART IX: a New Society, a New Social Contract, a New Way Life

Human Wrongs Watch

By John Scales Avery*

24 August 2015

We need a new economic system, a new society, a new social contract, a new way of life. Here are the great tasks that history has given to our generation:

http://dailytheology.org/

(Another World Is Possible) | http://dailytheology.org</span

We must achieve a steady-state economic system

A steady-state economic system is necessary because neither population growth nor economic growth can continue indefinitely on a finite earth.

No one can maintain that exponential industrial growth is sustainable in the long run except by refusing to look more than a short distance into the future.

Of course, it is necessary to distinguish between industrial growth, and growth of culture and knowledge, which can and should continue to grow.

21/08/2015

The Need for a New Economic System – PART VIII: The Cooperative Movement

Human Wrongs Watch

By John Scales Avery*

Robert Owen and social reform

21 August 2015 — During the early phases of the Industrial Revolution in England, the workers suffered greatly. Enormous fortunes were made by mill and mine owners, while workers, including young children, were paid starvation wages for cruelly long working days. However, trade unions, child labor laws, and the gradual acceptance of birth control finally produced a more even distribution of the benefits of industrialization.

**Twin Pines, the international symbol for cooperatives | Author: Twinpines.gif: Gobonobo | public domain | Wikimedia Commons

**Twin Pines, the international symbol for cooperatives | Author: Twinpines.gif: Gobonobo | public domain | Wikimedia Commons

One of the most interesting pioneers of these social reforms was Robert Owen (1771-1858), who is generally considered to have been the father of the Cooperative Movement.

Although in his later years not all of his projects developed as he wished, his life started as an amazing success story. Owen’s life is not only fascinating in itself; it also illustrates some of the reforms that occurred between 1815 and 1850.

Robert Owen was born in Wales, the youngest son of a family of iron-mongers and saddle-makers.

He was a very intelligent boy, and did well at school, but at the age of 9, he was apprenticed to a draper, at first in Wales.

20/08/2015

Losing One’s Language

Human Wrongs Watch

By Dr Ravi P Bhatia*

20 August 2015 – TRANSCEND Media Service – The world has already lost hundreds of languages and the trend continues unabated. It is estimated that there are about 6500 spoken languages today of which approximately 5000 will become extinct by the end of the 21st century.

**Image:

**”The Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Oil on board, 1563. Humans have speculated about the origins of language throughout history. The Biblical myth of the Tower of Babel is one such account; other cultures have different stories of how language arose | public domain | Wikimedia Commons

These vulnerable languages are mainly spoken by the indigenous people living in several remote parts of the world in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Due to the economic and social challenges these people face, their languages are being lost.

19/08/2015

The Need for a New Economic System – PART VII: The Global Food Crisis

Human Wrongs Watch

By John Scales Avery*

20 August 2015

Optimum population in the long-term future

What is the optimum population of the world? It is certainly not the maximum number that can be squeezed onto the globe by eradicating every species of plant and animal that cannot be eaten. The optimum global population is one that can be supported in comfort, equality and dignity – and with respect for the environment.

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In 1848 (when there were just over one billion people in the world), John Stuart Mill described the optimal global population in the following words:

“The density of population necessary to enable mankind to obtain, in the greatest degree, all the advantages of cooperation and social intercourse, has, in the most populous countries, been attained. A population may be too crowded, although all be amply supplied with food and raiment…”

19/08/2015

#ShareHumanity Campaign Spotlights Humanitarian Crises around the Globe

Human Wrongs Watch

The United Nations relief arm launched a call for millions of people around the world to drastically change their social media feeds and share captivating tale of humanitarian heroism ahead of this year’s World Humanitarian Day.

World Humanitarian Day 19 August 2015

“We’re calling on the young and digitally-connected to help us push out these compelling stories and give a voice to the voiceless,” said Stephen O’Brien, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in a press release issued on 13 August 2015.

“Young people often ask me what they can do to help and I believe we have a shared responsibility to raise awareness and help to inspire humanity on these global issues.”

19/08/2015

World Humanitarian Day: ‘Each One of Us Can Make a Difference’

Human Wrongs Watch

On the eve of World Humanitarian Day, marked on 19 August, the United Nations drew attention to the 100 million people affected by natural disasters, conflict, hunger and disease, whose needs are far outstripping the capacity to help them, but he is also reminding the international community that “each one of us can make a difference” and “create a more humane world.”

A UNICEF worker speaks to a child seeking temporary shelter at a vacant field next to Nepal’s army headquarters in Kathmandu following Nepal’s massive earthquake. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2015-1007/Nybo

“On this Day we also celebrate our common humanity,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message on the Day, which is marked annually on 19 August.

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