The city of Rio de Janeiro is home to 6 million people with approximately 1.5 million residents living in favelas. These residential communities, named after the favela trees native to the region, are commonly misunderstood by outsiders. Although 32% of favela residents belong to the lower-class, a 2013 study found that 85% of people residing in favelas like where they live. Some favelas have high crime rates, but many are high-functioning, self-governing communities.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was first inaugurated as prime minister of Turkey in 2003 and enjoyed wide popular support, contributing to successive elections as prime minister. Erdogan gathered 47% of the vote in 2007, and he came into office in 2011 with 49.95% of the popular vote. However, public dissent began to rise against the increasingly authoritarian and anti-secular Turkish government. The government passed education bills reinforcing Islamism in high schools and elementary schools in 2012, and the sale and consumption of alcohol was banned on college grounds in 2013.
Anti-fracking movements in Romania originated in February 2012 when Bulgarian activists, enthused from their recent victory over their government in anti-fracking legislation, contacted their Romanian counterparts. The Bulgarians informed the Romanians of the potential impending fracking in Romania and from this point on, the Romanian activists began using their Facebook group page to increase awareness of, and actively campaign against the dangers of fracking.
Phulbari is a region in the northwest region of Bangladesh. It is an important agricultural region that is also home to low quality coal deposit. Several companies have proposed to use the open pit technique for mining the coal, which would displace thousands of people, many of them indigenous people. The proposed mining projects would destroy farmland, homes, and divert water sources to be used in the mining process.
On August 23rd, 1966, the workers of the Wave Hill Station in Northern Territory, Australia, participated in a walk off led by Vincent Lingiari. The workers felt oppressed by the low wages, poor working and living conditions they received at the Wave Hill Station. The Indigenous people known to be part of the Gurindji Tribe were pastoral workers situated at Vesteys' Wave Hill station. The Vestey family was a rich British family that owned many acres of land and companies in Australia.
Uganda in East Africa has a large rainforest area, the Mabira Forest, that has been protected since 1932. In 2007 Ugandan President Yoweli Kaguta Museveni announced a plan to hand over one-third of the Mabira rainforest to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL). The plan was to turn the forest into land for growing sugarcane.
In April 2006, the United States and Peru signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which they planned to implement on 1 February 2009. The United States required that Peru make certain regulatory changes in law to allow access to the Amazon rainforest before implementing the FTA. In late 2006, President Alan García passed Law 840, known as the “Law of the Jungle,” which undermined the collective property rights of indigenous groups by giving land concessions to foreign investors.
The Karura forest is an urban 2500 acre forest in Nairobi.
The Kenyan government had a common practice of land grabbing or secretly
selling public lands to private companies and political allies. Wangari
Maathai, who later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, mobilized the
Green Belt Movement to action when developers began to clear sections of the
Karura forest to build luxury homes and offices for political allies of the
government in 1998.
In 1990, Earth First! activists began organizing a radical non-violent campaign called the “Redwood Summer” in response to Louisiana Pacific Lumber Mill’s decision to double the rate of logging. Earth First! hoped to expose the logging of old growth forests by Louisian Pacific and Maxxam, Inc., which had depleted 95% of Northern California’s forests. Earth First!, an organization of activists working against logging was led by Judi Bari and her colleagues. They began work in the spring, when they drove to various college campuses to raise awareness.
In Orakei, Auckland, New Zealand, there is a coastal piece of land that overlooks Waitemata Harbour called Takaparawhau in Māori and Bastion Point in English. Before the colonization of the land by the British Crown, it provided shelter, rich fishing and farming areas for the Ngāti Whātua people, a Māori iwi (tribe).
In February 2010, U.S.-based Newmont Mining Company proposed a joint venture with the Peruvian company Mina Buenaventura to build the Conga mine, a new gold mine, in the Cajamarca region of Peru. Newmont proposed investing $4.8 billion in the project, the largest investment in Peru’s history, and the mine would become the second largest gold mine in the world. Newmont hoped to begin production in either 2014 or 2015, upon getting permission from the Peruvian government. Newmont submitted an environmental impact study for the Conga mine, which the Peruvian government approved.
Just two weeks before the once-per-decade Communist Party congress to announce the party’s new leadership, farmers in the Zhenhai district of Zhejiang province expressed their concerns about pollution and the increasing number of internal organ diseases and cancer in the area by starting a campaign against the proposed expansion of the Zhenhai Refining & Chemical petrochemical plant. The plant was affiliated with Ningbo Sinopec, a branch of the state-owned Sinopec petroleum company.
On 29 June 2012, the Shifang government in China’s Sichuan province announced the construction of a molybdenum-copper alloy factory. High school students in the area who were concerned about the factory’s environmental impacts sent the government a petition calling for it to cancel the construction. Reports estimated that the factory would pollute a radius of 60 km, encompassing Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province.
Coal is the main commercial energy in India and the government launched an internal improvement program in the early 2000s to bring energy to the hundreds of millions of people in the country without technology and other modern conveniences. Andhra Pradesh was the most ambitious state in this endeavor, as it proposed for 7 major and 30 smaller coal-powered power stations.
Formed in 1995, the WTO serves as an organization that facilitates trade amongst 123 nations. The first major protest against the WTO occurred in 1999 in Seattle, Washington. United States citizens were protesting the WTO’s ministerial conference because they claimed that the WTO was breaking down nation states’ sovereignty. Specifically they were concerned with workers’ rights and the concept of the “race to the bottom”, in which countries companies compete to pay their employees the lowest wages, resulting in massive employee exploitation.
The problem of illegal mahogany logging was focused in the Brazilian state of Pará, especially in what is termed the “Middle Land”, a plot of Federal public land composed in large part of undisturbed rainforest. Known as “green gold”, mahogany is the most valuable natural resource in this region of the Brazilian Amazon. While there have always been legal avenues by which to utilize this resource, the Brazilian government estimated that as of 2001, 80% of all exported mahogany was being logged illegally.
After President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, concessions and rights were granted to numerous major forest companies in the Philippines. Certain islands saw more than 70% of their natural forests destroyed, including the Bukidnon province on Mindanao Island, which retained less than 20% of its natural forests by the 1980s. The environmental impact of major deforestation includes increased run-off and erosion, which can deplete local harvests and lead to greater flooding.
In 1970, Puerto Rico was a non-sovereign territory of the United States. Its residents were U.S. citizens but could not vote in presidential elections, nor did they have political representation in the U.S. Congress, although they could serve and be drafted in the U.S. armed forces. At the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S. Navy eliminated the principal town on the island of Culebra and evicted its residents so that a marine base could be built. In 1941, President Roosevelt claimed exclusive rights to the air space above Culebra as well as a three-mile wide radius around the island.
The Bishnoi faith is a religious offshoot of Hinduism founded on 29 principles, most of which promote environmental stewardship. Bishnois strictly forbid the harming of trees and animals. The religion was founded by Guru Maharaj Jambaji in 1485 AD in the Marwar (Jodhpur) desert region of western Rajasthan, India. Jambaji witnessed the incessant clear-cutting of trees during times of drought to feed animals, only to see them die eventually as the drought continued.
The Brent Spar, a 450-foot-long floating rig used as a loading buoy and storage tank for oil from the North Sea for fifteen years, was decommissioned in 1991. When Greenpeace learned of plans to dump the Brent Spar by sinking the structure in the North Atlantic, just west of Ireland and Scotland, and of the UK government’s approval, it jumped into action. More than 24 activists from 6 North Sea countries made plans to occupy the rig. Video and photo staff documented the occupation.
The Ogoni region is a highly oil-rich area in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, populated by approximately 500,000 members of the Ogoni People. Since the Shell Petroleum Development Company discovered oil in Ogoniland in 1958, the region has been plagued with serious environmental degradation resulting from the over 100 oil wells in the area.
Throughout the 90s, Bolivia came under increasing pressure from the World Bank to privatize public goods in order to fulfill loan conditionality. In September 1999, in response to this pressure, the Bolivian government auctioned off the municipal water system ‘SEMAPA’ of Cochabamba, a city of 800,000 residents. When the auction drew only one bidder, the government signed water resources over in a 40-year concession to Aguas del Tunari, a foreign-led consortium of private investors dominated by the Bechtel Corporation.
In 2002 the provincial government of Chubut granted a gold mining concession to Meridian Gold, a Canadian mining company based out of Reno, Nevada, for a large open-pit gold mine just 7 kilometers from Esquel, Argentina. The local population was strongly opposed to this, due to the environmental impact that the mine would have, and decided to protest the action.
Located inside the Arctic Circle in northern Norway, the Alta River runs through the reindeer herding grounds of the indigenous Saami people. In 1970, the Norwegian Water Resources and Electricity Board proposed a hydroelectric dam on the river. The proposed dam, which would have completely submerged the Saami village of Masi and interrupted reindeer migration routes, was only the latest affront in a long history of Norway’s marginalization of its indigenous peoples.