“Hold Your Hoses!”

Kink in UK’s ‘Trojan Hose’ geoengineering experiment

Opponents of proposals to “geoengineer” the planet have two reasons to celebrate this week.

Firstly, ETC Group has learned that UK scientists, in the midst of controversy, are on the cusp of postponing an imminent test of an experimental hose (dubbed the “Trojan Hose” by opponents) designed to deliver sulphur dioxide to the stratosphere as a way to engineer a cooler planet. The test had been scheduled for October; on Monday, 60 groups from around the globe sent an open letter to the UK government and the research councils involved expressing their opposition to the experiment. No public announcement of the decision has been made and details must be clarified, but an undeniable lack of prior stakeholder engagement is the likely reason for the delay.

ETC Group calls on UK government to halt Geoengineering Experiment

Hose down!

In response to reports that British scientists are about to test the hardware needed to put sulphur particles in the stratosphere as a climate technofix, international technology watchdog ETC Group is calling on the UK government to halt the controversial test and respect UN processes underway to discuss these issues.

The Sins of Syn Bio. Article from Slate Magazine - Feb 2nd 2011

How synthetic biology will bring us cheaper plastics by ruining the poorest nations on Earth.

Here's a grim prediction to chew on. This biotech craze dubbed "synthetic biology"—where hipster geeks design quirky life-forms: That technology is going to wind up costing lives—likely a lot of them. I'm not suggesting a direct kill by rogue viruses. These will be economic deaths. The dead will not be noteworthy: farmers, pastoralists, and forest dwellers who live in poor nations that depend on plant commodities.

Syn bio is feted as the next big thing, but we should be clear-eyed about what makes syn bio such a big deal and about whom it will harm. Its advocates predict that synthetic bio will lead to the "New Bioeconomy," in which we harness biology to perform tasks now accomplished by manufacturing.

The New Bioeconomy seems innocently green. It involves yeast and bacteria being repurposed as bio-factories to churn out the plastics, chemicals, and fuels we are already addicted to. Since microbes feast on plant-stuff—whether algae, wood chips, or sugar—plants would replace petroleum as the key feedstock for industrial production. The sourcing of strategic raw materials, including medicines, rubber, and oils, will shift from the hands of farmers in the global South to fermentation vats controlled by the North.

The Big Downturn? Nanogeopolitics

Report on Nanotechology

The Big Downturn? Nanogeopolitics, ETC Group’s new 68-page report on global governance of nanoscale technologies, is an update of our 2005 Nanogeopolitics survey. In the intervening five years,  policymakers – some kicking and screaming – have begun to acknowledge that fast-tracking nanotech has come at a price and that some sort of regulation is needed to deal with at least some of the risks nanoscale technologies pose.

The New Biomassters

Synthetic Biology and The Next Assault on Biodiversity and Livelihoods

The New Biomassters - Synthetic Biology and the Next Assault on Biodiversity and Livelihoods is a critique of what OECD countries are calling 'the new bioeconomy.' Concerted attempts are already underway to shift industrial production feedstocks from fossil fuels to the 230 billion tones of 'biomass' (living stuff) that the Earth produces every year -not just for liquid fuels but also for production of power, chemicals, plastics and more.

Sold as an ecological switch from a ‘black carbon’ (ie fossil) economy to a ‘green carbon’ (plant-based) economy, this emerging bioeconomy is in fact a red-hot resource grab of the lands, livelihoods, knowledge and resources of peoples in the global South, where most of that biomass is located.

Enabling the next stage of this new grab is the adoption of synthetic biology techniques (extreme genetic engineering) by a wave of high-tech companies partnering with the world’s largest energy, chemical, forestry and agribusiness corporations.

Earth Grab: Public Forum in Montreal

Farm leaders on the impacts of the corporate biomass-grab.

Public Forum:

“The rush to grow ‘biomass’ for fuels and industry will be worth $1/2 trillion – but won’t feed people, or stop climate change.”

Earth Grab. Farm leaders on the impacts of the corporate biomass-grab.

Friday, November 26, 2010, 7:00pm - 9:30pm

Jean Lesage Auditorium, Room B-2285

Jean-Brillant Building, 3200 Jean-Brillant Street

University of Montreal

News release: Geoengineering Moratorium at UN Ministerial in Japan

Risky Climate Techno-fixes Blocked

In a landmark consensus decision, the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) closed its tenth biennial meeting with a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments. “Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” stated Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group.

Geopiracy: The Case Against Geoengineering

This report exposes the new climate 'Plan B' for what it is: a political strategy aimed at letting industrialized countries off the hook for their climate debt. From adjusting the global thermostat to changing the chemistry of our oceans, these technofixes are a threat to people and the planet. The report contains an overview of the history, the science, the interests behind their rapid development and the international governance issues at stake.

Issue:

Realpolitik, we are advised, recognizes that the multilateral system can’t produce an equitable or effective agreement that will mitigate climate chaos: Recognizing this, concerned governments and scientists have no reasonable choice but to investigate technological strategies that could reduce or delay climate change, at least until social forces make a practical agreement possible. Also according to Realpolitik, there is no more hope of achieving a multilateral consensus on re-jigging the thermostat than there is of adopting effective targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore, the issue is to create a narrative and construct a governance model that will allow a courageous, far-sighted, science- based “coalition of the willing” to justify their unilateral manipulation of the Earth’s systems. They call it geoengineering – we call it geopiracy.

A Short Note from Cochabamba

A Short Note from Cochabamba

Last week the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth drew to a raucous conclusion in the Cochabamba football stadium as more than 35,000 people from 140+ countries cheered the adoption of their own strategic plan to address climate change around the world. Bolivia's Cochabamba gathering was neither Social Forum nor an inter-governmental meeting but a marvelous mix of the two - bringing together official government delegations from 42 countries with social movements and civil society organizations from 100 more.

Reclaim Power day at the UN ... and NGOs get kicked out

Reclaim Power day at the UN ... and NGOs get kicked out

Today was "Reclaim Power" day, a collaborative adventure with activists from Climate Justice Now and Climate Justice Action that had been many months (years?) in the making.   There were demonstrators from the outside -- the thousands of activists who have no accreditation to get into the Bella Centre where the talks are being held, and those who had been working the process inside -- lobbying, analyzing, holding press conferences and such. The point was to hold a people's assembly on climate change when talks failed to deliver.   And they are failing to deliver big time.

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