By Anonymous (not verified) on April 15, 2010

An upcoming grassroots summit on climate change in Bolivia could mark a pivotal event in the fight against global warming.

Bolivian President Evo Morales was a leading voice of dissent at the global climate talks in Copenhagen last year. He accused wealthier countries of shutting out poor nations from negotiations and of offering only token, nonbinding reforms. Poor countries and small island nations deemed the accord a death sentence.

As Morales left the Danish capital, he promised to organize a bolder and more democratic initiative to address the climate crisis.

“We have an obligation to save [all of] humanity and not just half of humanity,” said Morales. He warned that if we don’t do more to curb global warming, “many islands will disappear and Africa will suffer a holocaust.”

In response, Bolivia is hosting the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth from April 19-22 in the city of Cochabamba. Around 15,000 people from across the globe are expected to attend, including some heads of state and delegations from about 100 governments, along with representatives from scientific bodies, nongovernmental organizations and indigenous groups.

“Unlike Copenhagen, there will be no secret discussions behind closed doors,” said Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations. Solon hopes that flexing some global grassroots muscle in Cochabamba will help generate alternative, actionable proposals and political momentum for the next round of climate talks slated for November in Mexico.

Working groups destined for Cochabamba have already begun discussions on a series of topics.

One of the bolder ideas is the creation of a global climate justice tribunal that could serve as an enforcement mechanism. And conference participants are already working on a “Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights” meant to parallel the U.N.’s landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

The grassroots summit will also pay special attention to the links between climate change and increased scarcity of fresh water. Bolivia is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s tropical glaciers. In recent years, these glaciers have lost 40 percent of their mass, leading to growing strains on local water supplies.

On April 10, the White House retaliated against Bolivia — the poorest country in South America — by suspending millions of dollars in climate aid, the Bolivian government said.

It’s shameful that the smallest, poorest and least powerful of the world are the ones leading the fight for a sustainable global future.

If the tide begins to turn, we’ll have them to thank. And if it doesn’t, the globe will be swamped — thanks to us.

Teo Ballve is a freelance journalist and editor specializing in Latin American affairs. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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