Archive for ‘Mother Earth’


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.


The Molten Three

Human Wrongs Watch

By Uri Avnery*

29 August 2015

I MUST admit that Moshe “”Bogie” Ya’alon did not top the list of my favorite politicians. The former army Chief of Staff and present Minister of Defense looked to me like a mere lackey of Netanyahu and a one-dimensional militarist. Many people call him a “bock”, a non-complimentary German-Yiddish term for billy goat.

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

Yuval Steinitz, the present minister for I-don’t-know-what, was also not at the top of the list of politicians I admire. He, too, seemed to me one of the servants of Netanyahu, without a recognizable personality of his own.

Even the former army Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, was not one of my ultimate heroes.

When he was appointed, some malicious people claimed that he owed his advancement to his Oriental origin, since the Minister of Defense, at the time, was also of Oriental origin.

Ashkenazi’s father was from Bulgaria, his mother from Syria. The Minister of Defense at the time, Shaul Mofaz, was from Iran. Ashkenazi was in charge of one of the serial wars against Gaza. He was and remains popular.

Now I admire all three. More than that, I am deeply grateful to all three.

WHAT HAS brought about such a profound change?


More than 300,000 Make Perilous Mediterranean Crossing in 2015

Human Wrongs Watch

The United Nations refugee agency on 28 August 2015 said that the number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe has surpassed 300,000 this year, up from 219,000 during the whole of 2014.

A group of Afghans arrive on the island of Lesbos after travelling in an inflatable raft from Turkey to Greece. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants used the dangerous sea route across the Mediterranean in 2015. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell

“Some 2,500 refugees and migrants are estimated to have died or gone missing this year while attempting the crossing to Europe – compared to 3,500 who died or went missing in the Mediterranean in 2014” said Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at a press briefing

This number, which includes almost 200,000 people landing in Greece and 110,000 in Italy, represents a substantial increase from last year. “In the last few days,” Fleming continued, “more people have lost their lives in three separate incidents.”


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.


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

Human Wrongs Watch


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.


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:

(Another World Is Possible) |</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.


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.


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…”


Israel Restarts Construction of Controversial ‘Separation’ Wall Near Bethlehem

Human Wrongs Watch

In spite of an April court ruling against any activity of the kind, the works on constructing the wall in the Cremisan valley, located near Bethlehem, started on Monday [17 August]. The construction is a section of a wall Israel started building in 2002 citing security concerns.

To clear and dig the ground for a wire fence and a cement wall, olive trees have already been rooted out with bulldozers.


UN Calls for an Immediate Halt to Israeli Demolitions in Palestinian Territories

Human Wrongs Watch

Senior United Nations officials on 18 August 2015 called for an immediate freeze on demolitions in the West Bank, after dozens of structures were demolished yesterday by Israeli authorities in Palestinian Bedouin refugee communities, near East Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities demolished this residential structure in the Palestinian community of Al Jiftlik Abu Al Ajaj in Area C of the Occupied West Bank in April 2015. Photo: OCHA (file)

“A total of 22 structures were demolished in four communities, displacing 78 Palestinians, including 49 children, the vast majority of whom are Palestine refugees,” said a joint statement issued today by the Coordinator for Humanitarian and UN Development Activities for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Robert Piper, and the Director of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Operations in the West Bank, Felipe Sanchez.


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