2013 - Volume 16 Number 4
Sanctions are not an alternative to war. They seem invisible, but their effects are highly visible. Deliberately crippling a nation’s economy is nothing less than war. With the imposition of sanctions ordinary Iranians are increasingly caught in the crosshairs.
Sanctions actually lead to increased repression and corruption as well as sow the seeds of further alienation between the people of Iran and the United States. Australia joined with the United States in imposing sanctions against Iran with the aim of preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons.
It is not true that sanctions are ‘targeted.’ The true nature of so-called ‘targeted’ sanctions in Iran was revealed before the escalation of sanctions. U.S. and European Union sanctions ‘seriously endangered the lives of tens of thousands of patients, particularly children, suffering from special diseases.’
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.
Palm Oil - the 'threat' in our shopping trolley
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.