News Releases

Ukraine Agreement: ‘Propaganda’ and Low Expectations?

BBC reports: “Russia, the U.S. and the European Union have said that all sides have agreed to steps to “de-escalate” the crisis in Ukraine. …

“Following the Geneva talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said there was agreement that all illegal military formations in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that everyone occupying buildings must be disarmed and leave them.”

MIKHAIL BEZNOSOV, [in Ukraine] mikhailb at u.arizona.edu, skype: mikhailb1966
Head of the governing board of the East-Ukrainian Society for International Studies, Beznosov is now an associate professor in sociology at Kharkiv National University. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Arizona, where he continues to be an adjunct professor. He said today, “The proposed plan is the only option to resolve the crisis in its current state. I am still skeptical though, that this is going to release the tensions in the short run. The problem is that Kiev authorities do not control all neo-Nazi or radical nationalist groups who refused to disarm when the government officials demanded disarming. It is also not clear how the disarming will be accepted now by the protesters in Eastern Ukraine, when they saw that this did not work previously with their main adversaries. The other problem is that many of those radical nationalist (neo-Nazi) fighters, who acted for several months in Kiev and now are being used to suppress the protest in the east and the south of Ukraine, were co-opted into the newly formed National Guard of Ukraine and other semi-legal armed ‘militias.’ I do not really see how these problems will be resolved at this point, but with the political will that the three major players put into pressuring the Kiev authorities, perhaps, it can be done eventually.”

Regarding the BBC report where “Mr. Kerry said the extent of the crisis had been highlighted in recent days by the ‘grotesque’ sending of notices to Jews in eastern Ukraine, demanding that they identify themselves as Jewish,” Beznosov said, “I think that this is the typical example when the information is not confirmed but used at such a serious forum. Now we can see the attempt to attach the ‘anti-Semitic’ label to anti-fascist protesters in eastern Ukraine, when in reality the anti-Semitism is a part of the ideology of such groups as ‘Right Sector’ or the political party ‘Svoboda,’ that represent the spectrum of political forces fighting against the protesters in the east and the south of Ukraine.”

JOHN QUIGLEY, quigley.2 at osu.edu
Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley dealt with the Crimea issue following the breakup of the USSR, at the request of the U.S. Department of State, which was working through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the issue. Today, he said, “It is a move in the right direction if Mr. Kerry is agreeing to forego new sanctions on Russia. Those sanctions would not have served a purpose in any event.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999) and Tackling America’s Toughest Questions (2009). He said today, “Ukraine did not commit itself to constitutional reform and it was very cleverly and deviously drafted language. So no agreement upon this issue. It says nothing about Ukraine staying out of NATO; and it is not a good sign that this was not a joint [media] conference by Lavrov and Kerry.

“Kerry’s allegations [about East Ukraine anti-Semitism] sound like propaganda to me given…all the anti-Semitic statements coming out of Kiev and the warning by the [Ukrainian Chabad Chief] Rabbi Reuven Azman of Kiev [for Jews to leave Ukraine].

“So it does not sound to me as if Kerry is proceeding in good faith here, which is a bad sign.

“Even if they have agreed upon what Lavrov said they agreed upon, how are they going to get the people on the ground on either side to comply?”

STEPHEN COHEN, sfc1 at nyu.edu
Cohen is professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University. His books include Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. He was interviewed on Democracy Now! this morning.

KC Shooting Suspect: A Long History of ‘Bigotry’

Reuters reports: “A man suspected of killing three people when he opened fire at two Kansas City-area Jewish centers on Sunday afternoon has been formally identified and is expected to face federal hate crimes charges as well as state charges, authorities said on Monday.”

LEONARD ZESKIND, DEVIN BURGHART, dburghart at irehr.org
Zeskind is the president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream. In a statement, he said, “Many of those on IREHR’s boards, including myself, have had past dealings with Frazier Glenn Miller and the effect of this alleged shooter’s racism, anti-Semitism and anti-gay bigotry. Whatever name Mr. Miller goes by today, we remember him from the heavily armed para-military organization he created in North Carolina. We remember the bravery of those from the now-defunct North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence organization who faced Miller down in the 1980s. And we praise the good common sense of the voters in southwest Missouri who did not vote for him when he ran for office in the recent past, and we condemn those who did vote for this raving bigot.”

Burghart is the vice president of IREHR and co-author of Guns & Gavels: Common Law Courts, Militias & White Supremacy. He said today, “The shooting in Overland Park is a tragic reminder that violent racism and anti-Semitism have yet to die, and will live long after Glenn Miller is gone. Those ideas, and the white nationalist groups that keep them alive, must be closely monitored by organizations like the IREHR and others. We must work together to actively oppose them and to build lasting barriers against bigotry. In doing so, we must always strive to promote a truly democratic, multi-racial, inter-faith society for the common good of all.”

Abuja Bombing Sign of Escalating ‘War’ in Nigeria

The Wall Street Journal reports: “A rush-hour bomb blast on Monday at a bus station on the outskirts of Abuja killed at least 71 people, an attack that is likely to raise fresh concerns about security in the Nigerian capital as it prepares to play host to a meeting of leading international investors, entrepreneurs and politicians.”

JAMES E. JENNINGS, jimjennings@earthlink.net,
Jennings is president of Conscience International and executive director of U.S. Academics for Peace. He said today, “With the April 14 blast in Abuja that killed 71 civilians, Nigeria’s war with Boko Haram terrorists is obviously heating up. It appears that, following President Goodluck Jonathan’s recent order for 5,000 troops to move into the area with large numbers of checkpoints, Boko Haram has shifted its attacks to the capital of Abuja.

“Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with the largest economy and two insurgency movements. Although the long-running insurgency in the northeast has been neglected by most Western media, three states there have become incredibly vicious killing fields.

“A Conscience International medical team was in Nigeria during an attack on March 25 that killed 70 unarmed villagers in Borno and Benue. That massacre followed an earlier attack on three villages in Kaduna March 14 that left 119 dead and 250 houses burned. After interviewing wounded victims of some of the attacks, our response is to increase medical aid and begin building houses for some of the thousands of displaced villagers.”

UN Climate Change Report Calls for Immediate Action

The Washington Post reported: “At a meeting in Berlin, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Sunday released a report that found that nations still have a chance to fulfill the goal but must aggressively turn away from relying largely on fossil fuels such as coal for energy and replace them with cleaner energy sources such as solar and wind power. To reach their target of 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) over preindustrial levels, nations must work together to lower emissions ‘by 40 to 70 percent’ of what they were in 2010, the report said.”

MICHAEL DORSEY, mkdorsey at professordorsey.com, @GreenHejira
Dorsey is the interim director of the energy and environment program at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and former director of Dartmouth’s Climate Justice Research Project. He said today, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report summarizes the best available science on current and expected impacts of climate change from increased concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases. The new IPCC report shows that work to limit climate change must begin now. The costs of avoiding disruptive climate changes are likely to be high and the already disadvantaged will continue to suffer the most. If governments take steps to reduce carbon pollution rapidly and immediately, the overall economic damage could be halved. The IPCC report confirms that climate change is happening and that no continent, country, or region is immune from this unfolding climate catastrophe.”

JANET REDMAN, (508) 340-0464, janet at ips-dc.org
Redman is director of the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies. She said today, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report find definitively that greenhouse gas emissions are rising, and our addiction to fossil fuels is to blame.

“Climate pollution has not only continued to increase, but has done so more rapidly in the last 10 years than was previously thought. It’s more critical than ever that we divest from the fossil fuel industry, and invest in 100% clean, renewable energy for all.”

OSCAR REYES, 34 644-139-190, oscar at ips-dc.org, @_oscar_reyes
Reyes is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He added, “The big picture here is that economic growth at all costs is already threatening people’s lives and livelihoods… Climate change is here, now, and real, with millions of people already feeling the impacts of a warming world.

“World leaders — especially those from developed countries with the most resources at their disposal — are gambling with our future every day as they continue to support dirty energy and refuse to take serious action on climate change.”

GM: Nader Points to Systematic Safety Regulation Failure

RALPH NADER, GARY RUSKIN, ruskin at corporatepolicy.org, @garyruskin
RENA STEINZOR, rstein at law.umaryland.edu

Noted public interest activist and corporate critic Nader recently wrote the piece, “Carnage is a Corporate Tradition” in USA Today.

Nader also joined Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, and Gary Ruskin, director at the Center for Corporate Policy, to call on the Congressional Judiciary Committees to enact legislation to create criminal liability for product safety failures. Their letter states: “Revealingly, nearly ten years before this recall, in November 2004, General Motors initiated an engineering inquiry to examine whether a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt ‘can be keyed off with knee while driving.’ In March, 2005 the Cobalt Project Engineering Manager closed this inquiry ‘with no action’ because the ‘lead-time for all solutions is too long,’ and the ‘tooling cost and piece price are too high’ and that ‘[n]one of the solutions seems to fully countermeasure the possibility of the key being turned (ignition turned off) during driving.’ The Project Engineering Manager’s ‘directive’ concludes that ‘none of the solutions represent an acceptable business case.’

“It is clear that this tragedy was mostly preventable if General Motors had properly warned NHTSA and the public at the outset of its documented suspicion of an engineering defect in its cars. …

“The General Motors ignition switch defect is the latest example of a grievous tradition in the history of multinational corporations: the failure to warn U.S. regulators of deadly product defects. This tradition includes, among many other tragedies, the Dalkon Shield, Ford Firestone tires, cigarettes, asbestos, Guidant heart defibrillators, Bayer’s Trasylol, Ford Pintos and Playtex Super-absorbent tampons, to name a few. In March, an FBI investigation revealed that Toyota misled the public about one cause of unintended acceleration in some of its cars, and tried to hide a second cause from NHTSA. …

“The failure to warn is a problem that potentially afflicts most manufacturers, not merely the auto industry. Only a systematic solution will fix this systematic problem. A good solution must be broad in scope. The best solution lies in establishing incentives to strongly predispose corporate officials to promptly disclose product dangers to regulators and the public.”

CLARENCE DITLOW, cmdiii at autosafety.org
Executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, Ditlow said today: “We dispute GM’s claims that its safe to drive the vehicle with just the key in the ignition since rough road conditions can also shut off the ignition.” See the group’s statement: “Consumer Advisory On Gm Ignition Switch Recalled Vehicles.” [PDF]

The group has also states: “NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] has sat on a defect petition since November 2013 on a deadly algorithm defect that can cause airbag non-deployment in Chevrolet Impalas with Advanced Airbag Systems approved for compliance with FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) 208 on June 12, 2000. …

Ditlow says: “The Center is deeply troubled that NHTSA once again may have missed an advanced airbag like it did with the Cobalt. The Center is even more troubled that once again NHTSA has kept whatever it is doing secret behind closed doors even though there is a specific legal requirement for NHTSA to make its activities public.

“From calendar year 2000, when GM could have introduced advanced airbag vehicles with the flawed algorithm, just through 2010, there were 143 frontal impact fatalities in model year 2000 to 2010 Chevrolet Impalas where the airbags failed to deploy with 98 of the fatalities being occupants who were lap/shoulder belted.”

Is U.S. Iran Policy “Viable”?

The Guardian reports: “Iran defended its nomination for ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday, after hawks in the U.S. Senate passed legislation to ban the official from entering the country over his alleged role in the 1979 hostage crisis.

“The dispute over Hamid Aboutalebi, Tehran’s pick as its envoy to the UN in New York, threatens to derail talks over Iran’s nuclear program, which are entering a critical phase in Vienna.

“Aboutalebi, a close political adviser to the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, has served as Iran’s ambassador to Belgium, Italy, Australia and the European Union. …

“Press secretary Jay Carney said: ‘We’ve informed the government of Iran that this potential selection is not viable.’ The language was the closest the administration has come to ruling out Aboutalebi being allowed into the country to fulfill a UN role.

“Legislation authored by Republican senator Ted Cruz easily passed the Senate on Monday, after it received the backing of Democratic hawks such as Chuck Schumer. Cruz, a standard-bearer of the right wing of the GOP, called Iran’s nomination a ‘deliberate and unambiguous insult to the United States.’”

REBECCA GRIFFIN, rgriffin at peaceactionwest.org,
Griffin is the political director of Peace Action West. She has written a series of pieces critical of congressional moves on Iran including “Congress is Making it Easier to Go to War with Iran.”

JAMES E. JENNINGS, jimjennings at earthlink.net,
Jennings is president of Conscience International and executive director of U.S. Academics for Peace. He organized a delegation of U.S. academics who visited Iran earlier this year for talks with political, academic and religious leaders.

He said today: “For the U.S. Senate to veto Iran’s choice of UN ambassador is an exercise in hubris and a violation of the spirit of the UN Charter. … Obama should use his executive prerogative and order the State Department to issue the visa anyway. …

“Which outcome does the United States want — negotiations with Iran or a continuation of the 35-year diplomatic impasse? And who is driving U.S. foreign policy going forward — the White House and State Department or Ted Cruz and the hardliners in Congress?”

Jennings said at the conclusion of their visit to Iran: “This is a moment of rare opportunity for both the U.S. and Iran. It would help greatly if both nations can manage to reject the hardliners, avoid paranoia, reduce tensions, and concentrate on future economic development. Iran’s political leadership is moderate and ready to reach an agreement. They are capable and enlightened. The proposals Iran has made to the P5+1 negotiators are eminently reasonable. Even so, everyone admits that time is limited, and that progress on an overall agreement is critical.”

Wall Street’s “Predatory Equity” Rental Scheme


LAURA GOTTESDIENER, lauragottesdiener at gmail.com, @Gottesdiener
Gottesdiener is the author of A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home. She just wrote the piece “When Predatory Equity Hit the Big Apple: How Private Equity Came to New York’s Rental Market — and What That Tells Us About the Future“, in which she writes, “Over the last few years, giant private equity firms have bet big on the housing market, buying up more than 200,000 cheap homes across the country. Their plan is to rent the houses back to families — sometimes the very same people who were displaced during the foreclosure crisis — while waiting for the home values to rise. But it wouldn’t be Wall Street not to have a short-term trick up its sleeve, so the private equity firms are partnering with big banks to bundle the mortgages on these rental homes into a new financial product known as ‘rental-backed securities.’ …

“Around 2005, private equity firms began amassing real estate mini-empires across [New York City], chasing outlandish projections of future profit. And when these deals started to fall apart, it was tenants, public pension funds, or the city that took the hit, while the private equity owners sometimes succeeded in walking away from the financial wreckage with cash in hand. …

“In that city, hundreds of thousands of apartment units were still designated as “rent regulated,” meaning that landlords were prohibited from dramatically raising the rent. The only significant way around that constraint for a landlord was to wait for a long-time tenant to move out. Then the rent could be raised to whatever the market would bear.

“To private equity firms, this dynamic seemed to offer a profit opportunity. All they had to do was buy up rent-regulated buildings and replace the current tenants with higher paying ones. …

“For tenants, these private equity purchases were essentially a lose-lose situation. For the deal to succeed, tenants had to be forced out. If, on the other hand, the deal failed and tenants got to stay, landlords immediately disinvested from the buildings, making the living conditions worse than ever. …

“Looking back, nothing may be more striking than the fact that when these predatory equity purchases blow up, the private equity firms themselves rarely seemed to lose all that much. In the collapse of the Stuyvesant Town deal, for example, BlackRock lost only $112 million. In other cases, the firms appear to have made money even though the deals failed.”

Is the Gender Gap Keeping Millions of Women in Poverty?

The Los Angeles Times reports that Tuesday is “Equal Pay Day” — “the day on the year’s calendar that marks the approximate extra time the average American woman would need to earn as much as the average man did in the prior year. According to the federal government, women make an average of 77 cents for every dollar that men earn.”

HEIDI HARTMANN, ARIANE HEGEWISCH, via Jennifer Clark, clark at iwpr.org, @IWPResearch
Hartmann is president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which just released the report “The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2013 and by Race and Ethnicity.” Hegewisch is study director for the group.

Among the group’s findings: “Twelve of the 20 most common occupations for women, compared with eight of the 20 most common occupations for men, have median weekly earnings that will leave a household of four at or near poverty. (The annual poverty threshold for a household of four in 2013 translated into weekly income of $453.) Forty percent of Hispanic women work in service and other occupations with poverty wages, as well as 32 percent of black women and 14 percent of white women.

The report also found: “Male-dominated occupations tend to pay more than female-dominated occupations at similar skill levels, particularly in jobs that require higher educational levels. For example, among high-skilled workers, males in ‘software developers, applications and systems software’ occupations, a male-dominated field, earn $1,737 per week on average (compared with $1,370 for women), while female workers in the ‘registered nurses’ occupation, a female-dominated field, earn $1,086 (compared with $1,236 for men). Thus, tackling occupational segregation is an important part of eliminating the gender wage gap.”

Hegewisch said today: “Once again, sales occupations, which have great disparities in commissions, are the ones with the highest wage gap. This is not about choice, but about inequality in access to the jobs with the highest earnings, and lack of transparency in who gets paid what.”

Hartmann added: “As the country wrestles with policies that ensure better wages and improved economic security for workers, it is important to consider remaining barriers to entry to higher-paid occupations, the overrepresentation of women in low-paid occupations, and how we value different types of work.”

Is the Cuba Twitter Story Part of Broader Pattern?

AP reported on Friday “U.S. Secretly Created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to Stir Unrest,” which stated: “Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through ‘non-controversial content’: news messages on soccer, music and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize ‘smart mobs’ …

“The Obama administration on Thursday said the program was not covert and that it served an important purpose by helping information flow more freely to Cubans. Parts of the program ‘were done discreetly,’ Rajiv Shah, USAID’s top official, said on MSNBC, in order to protect the people involved.”

In an update to the story over the weekend, Reuters reported: “Cuba said on Sunday the United States continues to use social media to ‘subvert’ the island’s government and that the revelation this week of a U.S.-created, Twitter-like service for Cuba was just one of several examples.”

KIM SCIPES, kscipes at pnc.edu
Associate professor of sociology at Purdue University North Central in Indiana, Scipes is author of AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage? He said today: “The AP’s report about the U.S. government using Twitter accounts to inspire political dissent is just another example of the on-going U.S. war against Cuba.

“The statement by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah is simply absurd; his denial of it not being covert defies belief for any one more developed than an amoeba. The AP’s documents clearly establish it was another covert U.S. attack on Cuba.

“As my research on developments in Venezuela have shown, the U.S. government has been found acting against governments with which it disagrees. Where it previously supported dictators in the countries U.S. leaders wished to control — Mobuto in Zaire, Somoza in Nicaragua, and Marcos in the Philippines, for example — since the mid-1980s, they have shifted their efforts to support civil society groups in countries they wish to control, trying to support groups who advance policies and actions with which the U.S. agrees, no matter how bad they are for the local population.

“Thus, prior to the 2002 coup in Venezuela, the U.S. was supporting a peasant organization that opposes land reform; an educational organization that has suggested no education reform; and organizing seeking to incite a military rebellion; a civic association that was working to mobilize middle class neighborhoods to ‘defend themselves’ from the poor; a civil justice group that opposes grassroots community organization because they support the Chavez government, etc. Altogether, Venezuelan and American groups operating in Venezuela received $4,039,331 from U.S. government organizations between 1992-2001.

“Further, reporting on the National Endowment for Democracy alone — a U.S. government initiated and funded organization that claims to be ‘independent’ but is not — showed that the NED provided $1,338,331 to organizations and projects in Venezuela in 2012 alone: they provided $120,125 for projects for ‘accountability’; $470,870 for ‘civic education’; $96,400 for ‘democratic ideas and values’; $105,000 for ‘freedom of information’; $92,265 for ‘human rights’; $216,063 for ‘political processes’; $24,962 for ‘rule of law’; $45,000 for ‘strengthening political institutions’; and $153,646 for the Center for International Private Enterprise.

“In short, despite any rhetoric to the contrary, the U.S. continually engages in attacks on and operations within any country it deems acting against its interests, no matter how democratically supported and politically engaged that government is with its own population.

“The U.S. government prattles on endlessly about its love for democracy around the world, but we see again and again — under both Democratic and Republican administrations — that it continues to seek to undermine governments with which it disagrees and which it believes it can bully. Ironically, it continually seeks to undermine governments seeking to improve the lives of their people, while supporting repressive regimes such as those in Egypt, Honduras, Saudi Arabia and the Ukraine.

“This behavior is despicable — and so very hypocritical.”

Can Mangroves Protect Against Global Warming Vulnerability to Disaster?

On Monday, the CBC reported: “Global warming is driving humanity toward a whole new level of many risks, a United Nations scientific panel reports, warning that the wild climate ride has only just begun.

“‘Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman Rajendra Pachauri said in a Monday news conference.

“Twenty-first century disasters such as killer heat waves in Europe, wildfires in the United States, droughts in Australia and deadly flooding in Mozambique, Thailand and Pakistan highlight how vulnerable humanity is to extreme weather, says a massive new report from a Nobel Prize-winning group of scientists released early Monday. The dangers are going to worsen as the climate changes even more, the report’s authors said.”

CNN reported Thursday: “Strict building codes and the preparedness of millions of Chileans who live along an arc of volcanoes and fault lines likely kept the death toll — only six by Wednesday afternoon — low after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake rumbled offshore and prompted a tsunami, observers said.”

ALFREDO QUARTO, mangroveap at olympus.net, @MangroveProject
Quarto is executive director of the Mangrove Action Project. He said today: “Mangroves typify the important role that coastal wetlands play in protecting coastlines from erosion and natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, one of the main reasons the hurricane turned so deadly and destructive was the earlier loss of natural coastal wetlands because of reduced sedimentation resulting from the dike system which was itself set up to prevent seasonal flooding. The tragic irony was the fact that these same dikes caused the deadly flooding which took so many lives when they broke, inundating the city and nearby towns. The earlier loss of miles of once protective salt marsh lands and mangroves was a serious loss for the people of New Orleans that few have paid attention to.

“Though there are no mangroves in Chile, the issue that comes to mind when this earthquake and tsunami disaster happened there on April 1 is the rising threats from natural disasters we all face because of the increase in global warming, the rising sea levels and the continuing rise in human settlements and infrastructure along our more vulnerable coastlines. The region in Chile where the tsunami hit is more arid, with hills rising behind the coast. The Atacama region just south of the quake center is an extensive desert. I think people in Chile are somewhat conditioned by frequent quakes to seek higher grounds during major quake events.

“Our coasts are more vulnerable now to these natural disasters, whether they be from hurricanes, tsunamis or wave surges because of the loss of natural coastal barriers, such as mangroves, sea grasses, corals, salt marshes or other coastal wetlands. Even sand dunes play an important part in acting as natural barriers against the occasional, but devastating ravages of Nature.

“Mangroves are especially important today in reducing the adverse effects from climate change, because they sequester more carbon dioxide and store more carbon than any other plant species. They can store carbon in their peat soils for millennia if left undisturbed. Mangroves also are the last line of defense against the present rising sea levels that pose immense threats to coastal cities, towns, and villages. Mangroves actually accrue sediments, thus building up the shoreline, which itself is a vital defense against rising sea levels.

“Though the work of Mangrove Action Project focuses on the importance of mangroves, MAP’s work does directly involve what is called Disaster Risk Reduction. In fact, increasing evidence of the importance of reducing the levels of climate change bring the mangroves and related coastal wetlands into clear view as vital to conserve and restore. But this effort to conserve and restore the mangroves and other coastal wetlands must also highlight the need to rethink our management plans for all of our planet’s coastal zones, perhaps better planning for creating buffer zones between the human settlements near the coasts and the protection of the natural bio-shields that might mitigate damages from natural disasters. Conserving and restoring our coastal wetlands will not stop climate change, but will help lessen the adverse impacts that we now expect. We still need to reduce our CO2 emissions and commit ourselves duly to this urgent, life-saving need. Sailing on a sinking boat is bad enough, but continuing to widen the rupture in the hull of humanity’s ‘vessel’ rather than repair the existing damage is appalling.”

See the recent piece “The World Must Invest in Mangroves” in The Ecologist by Mark Spalding, senior marine scientist at the Nature Conservancy.

Next Page »