2013 - Volume 16 Number 3
To our North and East of Australia lie the Pacific Islands, a vast region that is at the forefront of human induced climate change.
Within this collection of archipelagos and atolls lie Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), whose people have seen the quality of their lives deteriorate from the impact of rising sea temperatures and tides. Human induced climate change is the cause, and is exacerbating existing human development issues that face the atolls.
That the world needs to reduce its emissions can no longer be in doubt if these island nations are to remain intact, both as a collection of land and as cultural groups, by the end of the century.
Australia, as the highest per capita greenhouse gas emitter in the world and their neighbour, can and must do more to lead the way in reducing emissions.
At our current rate, we are likely to see a rise in sea levels of 0.6 metres and 4 degrees in temperature by 2100. This is a fearful prospect for our low lying neighbours.
2013 - Volume 16 Number 2
It is little known the extent to which palm oil is a part of our everyday diet. In our supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience shops it is almost impossible to purchase products free from palm oil. It is used in ice cream, chocolate, biscuits, crackers, chips, margarine, fruit juice, batters, soap, toothpaste, laundry powders, detergents, cosmetics, pet food. It has also been touted as a biofuel – although palm oil-based diesel actually increases greenhouse emissions.
In Colombia human rights advocates have demonstrated that the murders and violence committed by the Colombian Armed Forces' under their 'paramiliatary strategy' whilst rationalised as 'depopulating' counter-insurgency work has the real aim of the taking of lands from peasant communities in fertile coastal plains in order to establish massive palm oil plantations to generate export dolllars for corrupt Colombian generals.
In Malaysia and Indonesia, where rainforests are being cleared, the impact on wildlife is catastrophic as the habitat of endangered species is being torn down, the livelihoods of indigenous communities destroyed, and seriously contributes to the warming of the planet. Palm-oil diesel was until recently hailed as a safe, renewable alternative to petroleum, but it has been found that the peat swamps in Indonesia and Malaysia – drained and burned to allow plantations of palm oil trees – released 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year into the atmosphere, or 8% of the world's fossil fuel emissions.
The unsustainable expansion of the palm oil industry may seem a remote problem, but its solution might be the shopping trolley. The consequences of its growth have not been grasped by the industry. Consumer pressure, industry leadership and political incentives are required to permanently place these tropical rainforests off limits.
2013 - Volume 16 Number 1
The US has over 1000 military bases around the world, including 82 in South Korea alone. China - against whom this expansion is directed - has no significant military bases outside its borders. Yet, most Australians and Americans are unaware of the United States increasing its military presence in Korea, Japan, and the rest of the Pacific – including Australia.
Nor are they aware of Jeju Island, 80 kms south-west of the Korean Peninsula. Many of the people of Jeju are attempting to non-violently resist the construction of a new naval base in the small fishing and farming village of Gangjeong. For Korea, the island is becoming ‘the spearhead of the country’s defense line,’ a reckless 500km from China. A naval base at Gangjeong will increase military tensions and will be an obstacle to peace in the East Asian region, so this resistance represents a larger drama being played out against the forces of empire.
U.S. foreign policy is undergoing a major ‘pivot’ to the Asia- Pacific region that already takes in Guam, Australia, Okinawa, and the Philippines. It has been called ‘America’s Pacific Century’.
Gangjeong, at the forefront of a U.S. strategy of increased militarisation, is designed, under the pretext of defense against North Korean expansion, to counterbalance China’s growing economic and military sphere of influence. This will put U.S. military might on China’s doorstep!
The failure to prevent the base construction could also impact the rest of the world as well, as China sees such projects as a threat to its national security. What is occurring on Jeju Island is becoming one of the most critical struggles to avoid a potentially devastating war in Asia.