Positive Notes

Positive Notes

Rodeos Ridden Out of Town

Pasadena Councilmember Paul Little stated: “Causing pain, injury, and death to animals is not entertaining. We won’t profit from it and we won’t allow it on city property.” The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has criticized the ordinance by noting that there had been “only” 38 animal injuries at the 57 rodeos surveyed in 2000 – implying that animals were killed or crippled at two out of every three events. [Priscilla Gargalis, California Lobby for Animal Welfare (909) 244-8672]

Abdul Kareem’s Green Eden

Indian Environmentalist Abdul Kareem has spent the last 24 years of his life assembling a lush 30-acre woodland expanse that is now a haven for nature lovers and those in search of peace. Starting with a rocky five-acre patch of wasteland in Puliamkulam, Kareem dug a well and began to plough his savings from a job as an airlines ticketing agent into his dream project. The forest is now home to 1,500 medicinal plants, 2,000 varieties of trees, rare birds, animals and insects. Kareem refuses to sell even the leaf litter for money and has declined several lucrative offers to turn the reserve into a resort.

Park Saved from Oil Drillers

Well-organized local opposition, legal action by Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) and Pakistani environmental groups, and a letter-writing campaign by Global Response [www.globalresponse.org/gra] have persuaded Shell Oil to abandon its plans to explore for gas and oil in Pakistan’s Kirthar National Park. One of Pakistan’s largest protected areas, Kirthar comprises more than 3,087 square kilometers (1,206 square miles) of rugged mountain desert in the southern province of Sindh. The Kirthar is home to threatened species such as the Sindh ibex (a mountain goat), the Urial sheep, desert wolf, striped hyena, golden jackal, the Chinkara (a gazelle) and eight species of eagle. As part of its legal action, FOEI submitted a 380-page dossier describing the appalling environmental and human rights abuses associated with the oil industry in Nigeria.

Healthy Schools Act

Thanks to State Assembly member Kevin Shelley’s Healthy Schools Act (HSA), California school districts are now required to notify parents whenever there are plans to apply a pesticide in their children’s schools. The HSA promotes “Integrated Pest Management,” which harnesses natural insect predators to eat pests, as well as a range of less toxic chemical alternatives. In August, California Healthy Schools Coalition (which was partly responsible for the HSA) released a “Pesticide Action Kit” to help parents reduce the use of pesticides on school grounds. [California Public Interest Research Group, 3435 Wilshire Blvd., No. 385, Los Angeles, CA 90010, www.calhealthyschools.org]

For the Love of Elephants

Khun Sangduen Chailert, a Thai activist who is better known as “Khun Lek,” has been recognized as a “Hero for the Planet” by the National Geographic Society and Ford Motor Co. More than a decade ago, Khun Lek (“Little Madame”) founded the Elephant Nature Park [29 Charoenpratet Road, Soi 6, Chiang Mai, 5011, Thailand], where more than 40 pachyderms now roam in safety as they recover from injuries sustained during work as beasts of burden in the logging industry. Sick elephants are brought from all over Thailand to the sanctuary by volunteers. Along with veterinarian Prasit Moleechat, Lek established the Jumbo Express, a mobile clinic that can rush to the aid of a stricken elephant at any hour of the day or night.

A Village Beyond Hate

The village of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (the words mean “oasis of peace” in Hebrew and Arabic) is a co-operatively owned and governed village founded in 1979 by Jewish and Arab settlers. More than 40 families have built homes on land leased from a nearby monastery. The village’s kindergarten and primary school offer Israel’s only bilingual educational program. [Doar Na Shimshon, 99761 Israel, http://nswas.com; 121 Sixth Avenue, No. 507, New York, NY 10013, (212) 226-9246.]

First Green-energy College

Connecticut College has become the first US college to sign up for electricity produced entirely from renewable resources. Students were the main force behind the move, raising $1,500 through bake sales and a voluntary $25 fee (per student) to become members of the Connecticut Energy Cooperative. The Energy Co-op’s electricity is certified “Green-E” by the Center for Resource Solutions, which promises that it comes from 100 percent renewable sources – solar, wind, biomass or small-scale hydropower. As a side benefit, Connecticut College staff are eligible for discounted membership rates, free home energy analyses and low long-distance telephone rates. [www.resource-solutions.org]

Kalishnikovs Till Africa’s Soil

Last summer, Sierra Leone melted down around 450 weapons to make nearly 4,000 garden tools – hoes, sickles, cutlasses, shovels and axes. Some 10,000 weapons are being decommissioned in an attempt to disarm all independent fighters. The project, initiated by the aid organization, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit [GTZ, Dag-Hammarskjöld-Weg 1-5 65760 Eschborn, Germany, http://www.gtz.de], is run in partnership with the UN mission in Sierra Leone.

Planting Trees by Drinking Java

Coffee production uses a lot of energy – to transport the beans, heat the roasters and run company computers. When Northern California’s Thanksgiving Coffee asked the Maryland-based Trees for the Future to figure out how much CO2 their company produced, it came to 553 tons annually (plus an additional 1,000 tons if you count the energy used to brew the coffee). To offset this, Thanksgiving Coffee is paying Trees for the Future to plant around 69,000 trees in Ethiopia, the west African nation that grows some of the world’s best coffee. Thanksgiving Coffee will foot the bill of $90 per acre for the work. In addition to soaking up the CO2, the trees will also provide fruit, medicines, wildlife habitat, erosion control, shade and wood for local residents. They will make up for some of the 70 percent of Ethiopia’s forests that have been lost through clearing of land for wood fuel, livestock grazing and crops – including coffee.

Northcoast Environmental Center

For the past 30 years, the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) in Arcata, California [575 H Street, Arcata, CA 95521, www.necandeconews.to] has been in the forefront of every major regional anti-logging and environmental campaign. On July 24, a devastating fire devoured the center’s computers, research archives, a collection of 9,500 books, 800 periodicals and $16,400 in undeposited donations. You can help NEC rise from the ashes by sending donations to the “NEC Rebuild It Fund” c/o The Humboldt Area Foundation [PO Box 99, Bayside, CA 95524, (707) 442-2993].

You Make Our Work Possible

You Make Our Work Possible

We are standing at a pivotal moment in history, one in which education and advocacy around the climate emergency, public health, racial injustice, and economic inequity is imperative. At Earth Island Journal, we have doubled down on our commitment to uplifting stories that often go unheard, to centering the voices of frontline communities, and to always speak truth to power. We are nonprofit publication. We don’t have a paywall because our mission is to inform, educate and inspire action. Which is why we rely on readers like you for support. If you believe in the work we do, please consider making a tax-deductible year-end donation to our Green Journalism Fund.

Get the Journal in your inbox.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Subscribe Now

For $20 you can get four issues of the magazine, a 50 percent savings off the newsstand rate.