Conflicts over the control of natural resources

Social conflicts, which include environmental conflicts, have many fronts. The rights of our people are threatened daily by the pressure of multinationals in their desire to exploit and commercialize natural resources, which in their countries of origin have already been devastated, are on the verge of exhaustion or are not sufficient to supply the demand.

Latin America, despite having suffered more than 500 years of exploitation, still has innumerable natural resources that, from the perspective of the economic system that subjugates the planet, are seen simply as “raw materials” or “market goods.”

Thus, a mountain is perceived as a deposit of metals, a forest is a warehouse of wood, a river as a source of water supply and drainage of effluents or a plain as an agrofuels factory.

The culture and ecosystem of the place to be exploited have no value. Its inhabitants can serve its interests or be banished.

This is how the world has been managed in recent centuries and these methods have been deepened to incredible limits in recent decades.

But as has happened throughout the history of humanity, when people feel abused, or feel that their survival is in danger, a logical reaction develops. What was once resigned acceptance began to turn into flashing reaction and then into social conflicts.

Today we see in the American continent the descendants of the native peoples, those of the African brothers taken as slaves and a large percentage of mestizos, zambos and other mixtures that have become new and majority ethnic groups, dying of hunger. Their forests have been cut down and the waterways in which they obtained their food have been poisoned, dried, or diverted. They were never consulted, they were never given anything in return, they never participated in the profits. They never existed for the machinery of progress.

Excessive economic ambition has turned the immense natural riches of America into a great curse that weighs on every living being that inhabits it. It has become a reason for poisoning rivers, for pulverizing mountains, for the disappearance of forests, plant and animal species, glaciers, towns, and cultures. It is the cause of floods and droughts, desertification, loss of biodiversity, pollution, malnutrition and death.

"Development" is vigorous, that is why it pushes and pushes no matter who, no matter where. It makes room, takes up more and more space and needs less and less from us, living beings. Every day there are more people on the planet, but there are fewer that "development" requires to continue expanding, occupying every corner of the globe.

Consumerism, the bad mother of many of our environmental problems

Consumption is a word that derives from the Latin: cosumere and whose meaning is to spend or destroy. Once something has been consumed, that is, spent or destroyed to satisfy our needs or desires, that “something” will become part of waste, garbage, and part of a satisfied need or, in the worst and unfortunately most common of cases, in an unnecessary wish fulfilled.

Many of the processes of environmental destruction on the planet share the same cause: excessive and irresponsible consumption.

In the consumer society in which we live, each and every one of us plays a double role. We are victims and victimizers.

Each of us receives, from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we close them at night, a constant bombardment from the advertising industry that encourages us to consume, that tries to generate new addictions, needs, desires. That practically forces us to acquire products and services, the vast majority of which are totally unnecessary for us.

The industrial-consumerist model has led the economies of the poorest countries to dedicate a large part of their human and natural resources to satisfying the excessive consumption of the most industrialized societies, and of the wealthiest strata of those regions, even leaving to satisfy the fundamental needs of their own populations.

There is a debt contracted by the industrialized countries with the rest, produced by the historical and present plundering of natural resources, by the environmental impacts resulting from industrial production and by the irresponsible use of environmental space.

Every year and for decades, excess emissions cause our countries invaluable economic and human losses associated with floods, proliferation of infectious-contagious diseases, droughts, desertification, loss of biodiversity and many other direct and indirect consequences.

The Consumer Society is clearly environmentally unsustainable. It can no longer even be supported by the inequality between north and south, which for many years served as a compensator for the pressure on natural resources exerted by the excessive consumption of the richest countries. This consumption implies a constant increase in the extraction and exploitation of natural resources, which are being depleted, and in the dumping of waste, which has filled the planet's absorption capacity for years.

From all this comes the concept of environmental liabilities, the damage to the ecosystem that a company produces, either in its normal activity or in the event of an accident. Of course, for the normal activities of a polluting company, the cost it must pay is not the same in a third world country as in an industrialized one, and even less so in the case of accidents.

That is why for some time now, transnational companies have begun to locate their plants in Southern countries, where in most cases they are not responsible for the environmental damage caused. In this way, industrialized countries acquire even more Ecological Debt towards others.

In terms of consumption, we should not try to compensate upwards, that is to say that the entire planet has the possibility of consuming at the levels that industrialized countries do, since that would lead us to accelerate environmental collapse, but it is necessary to compensate downwards. . First world countries must reduce their consumption levels if they are really interested in saving the planet from the looming environmental catastrophe.

For the first time we find ourselves facing an environmental problem with planetary characteristics. And the challenge is to act as a species, to understand that the decisions to solve it must be made at a global level. Individual and isolated efforts are no longer enough. We are all in the same sinking ship and each of us has the obligation to make our contribution to keep it afloat.

The social and environmental consequences of consumerism are visible to anyone who wants to see them. We have made the planet sick and the symptoms multiply daily.

Some cases of exploitation of Natural Resources

Monocultures

The socially and environmentally devastating history of monocultures is not recent in America at all. So much so, that it has been on the continent almost as long as its "discoverers."

Although undoubtedly the motive that led to the conquest of the American continent in the beginning was the abundance of gold and silver, on his second voyage Columbus took with him some sugar cane roots and planted them on an island in Central America.
Bad luck for the continent, the wealth and fertility of the land caused such a coveted element to sprout and multiply rapidly.

During the three centuries that followed, the crop expanded like an oil spill, quickly covering other islands and landing on the continent, taking over the Peruvian coast and northeastern Brazil.

The preparation of the land, planting, harvesting and transporting the cane, demanded a large amount of labor, which in the beginning was supplied by the conquered indigenous peoples. But soon the deaths due to the inhumane living conditions they were given made it necessary to bring slave labor from Africa.

The extensive production of sugar cane consumed entire forests with voracious fires, extinguishing all existing biological diversity in its wake. Lands that for many thousands of years had been fertile and rich in minerals, became worn and semi-desert soils as the "white gold" - which meanwhile produced fabulous profits for Holland, England, France and Portugal - extended its domains with its environmentally catastrophic march.

The high cost of this first experience with monocultures, even today - hundreds of years later - continues to be a macabre inheritance that each child receives at birth.

The report presented by FAO on forest resources, "World Forest Resources Assessment 2005" (FRA2005), presents a fairly complete picture of the state of natural resources around the globe.

From this work it is clear that Latin America and the Caribbean is the region with the highest concentration of forests in the world, but it is also the region that has suffered the most significant deforestation on the planet in the last decade, with a loss of 4,3 million hectares per year.

Only in South America is 65% of the annual loss of forests on the planet, and deforestation occurs above all in the Amazon region, where 3,1 million hectares are lost per year, that is, more than 40% of the deforestation in the world. world.

According to the FAO, South America has the greatest biodiversity on Earth, and deforestation not only harms it, but also affects its watersheds and the richness of its soils.

Deforestation in the world, especially to convert forests into agricultural land, continues at an alarming rate: about 13 million hectares a year. (3)

Today Latin America is being carpeted, a perfect green already covers more than 45 million hectares and grows at a rate of more than 800 per day. Beneath that carpet are buried forests, mountains, butterflies, birds, insects, peasants, small farmers, families, entire cultures. Every living being is being covered by that monochromatic tapestry called Soy, which has had a great extra boost since its international launch as a fuel plant.

There is a great debate about the balance of energy necessary to produce ethanol or biodiesel with bioenergy crops. The results of studies by David Pimentel and Tad Patzek maintain that the energy balance of all crops, with current processing methods, uses a greater amount of fossil energy to produce the energy equivalent in agrofuel.

Thus, for each unit of energy spent on fossil energy, the return is 0,778 corn methanol energy; 0,688 units in switchgrass ethanol; 0,636 units of wood ethanol and, in the worst case, 0,534 units of soy biodiesel.

In fact, neither Pimentel, nor Patzek, nor their critics have included the costs of waste and waste treatment, or the environmental impacts of intensive bioenergy crops, such as soil loss and environmental pollution from the use of fertilizers or pesticides.

“Currently, Brazil is the largest soybean producer in South America, with a crop area of ​​20,58 million hectares. During the 2004/2005 harvest, 1,2 million hectares of Amazon rainforest were deforested as a main consequence of soybean expansion.

Environmental standards have also been woeful. The expansion of sugarcane crops in Brazil has destroyed, in recent decades, a large part of the Atlantic Forest, and today a 17% increase in sugarcane plantations is expected, which will mean 2 million more hectares of sugarcane, expansion that will be made at the expense of other ecosystems.

In Argentina, in the 2006/2007 cycle, a record harvest volume of 47,5 million tons was obtained, reaching 16 million cultivated hectares, which represents more than 50% of the agricultural area. In this last year, soybeans expanded by 450 thousand hectares and in the last 4 years 1 million hectares of forests have been deforested. It is estimated that an average of 821 hectares of forest are lost per day and most of these lands have been planted with soybeans.” (4)

To take the matter into account, 100 hectares are equivalent to 1 km2. In Latin America there are 45 million hectares of soybeans planted, which is equivalent to 450.000 km2. The entire area of ​​Spain is 500.000 km2. That is to say that in Latin America alone there is almost an entire Spain, covered by soybeans.

In Paraguay there is constant dispossession of land from its traditional occupants for the expansion of soy cultivation.

In Argentina, soy has displaced other crops on which the food sovereignty of that country depended, and there are a large number of “fumigated towns” that the only thing they receive from the soy production chain is the proliferation of lethal diseases.

In Chile, forestry crops have displaced traditional Mapuche populations, and African palm cultivation in Colombia operates with the support of illegal armed groups.

Soybeans have already caused the destruction of 21 million hectares in the Cerrado ecosystem, tropical forests and Atlantic Forest, Pantanal, Caatinga in Brazil, more than 14 million hectares of humid Pampa, Yunga and Chaco in Argentina; 1.750.000 hectares of Pantanal, Atlantic Forest and Chaco in Paraguay, and 600.000 hectares of tropical forests in Bolivia (5). Forest plantations in Chile have expanded at the expense of boreal forests. In Ecuador and Colombia, palm plantations have been established on tropical forests, both Amazonian and Chocó biogeographic, and in many cases on traditional indigenous territories.

The European Union, in its eagerness to comply with its obligations within the Kyoto Protocol, is committed to changing its energy systems based on fossil fuels for agrofuels; But since there is not enough land in Europe to produce the amount of agrofuels that are intended to be used, what is proposed is their importation.

Just to meet the energy needs of the United States and thus overcome dependence on diesel, it would be necessary to double the agricultural area, which would mean doubling the area planted with transgenic soybeans.

The United States Department of Energy estimates that the biomass potential in that country is 160 million tons per year, which means savings of one million barrels of oil per day. But the daily consumption of that country is 21 million barrels. So although the United States has a large area of ​​agricultural land, its energy consumption is so high that it will also need to import. Where are these agrofuels going to come from? Of course, from regions such as Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Latin America is the region of the world where the production of crops for the production of agrofuels has expanded the most.

In this context, Vía Campesina is the most important Network of peasant organizations. It is an international movement of peasants, small and medium producers, rural women, indigenous people, landless people, rural youth and agricultural workers.

The organizations that make up Via Campesina come from 56 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the American continent.

La Vía Campesina promotes a peasant model based on agriculture and sustainable production, with local resources, in harmony with local culture and traditions.

At the Latin American level, inspired by the need for communities to develop global strategies to confront the introduction of transgenic organisms, in January 1999, after the "Latin American Seminar on Transgenic Organisms and Biosafety" held in Quito, Ecuador, the network For a Latin America Free of Transgenics.

The main objective of its creators and the organizations that have subsequently joined it is to prevent the introduction of transgenic organisms in new areas of the region, supporting national processes, mainly those that include local communities.

Tree monocultures

The logging industry is growing by leaps and bounds in many South American countries. Companies that carry out forestry monocultures and pulp factories are being installed throughout the entire continent with truly devastating impacts on the ecosystems that surround them and on the planetary ecosystem with a significant contribution to global warming.

There are plenty of examples such as CELCO in Valdivia, Chile, where the effects produced by the constant discharge of effluents into the wetlands of the Cruces River can hardly be repaired, with not only environmental, but also economic and social damage.

Another case, probably a little less known due to language barriers and the disinterest or directed interest of the media, is the one that occurred in March 2005 in Minas Gerais, Brazil, where the rupture of a chemical products depot The "Industria Cataguazes" paper mill, installed on the banks of the Pomba River, caused the spill of millions of liters of caustic soda, chlorine, and other toxic products. This river in turn empties into the Paraíba do Sul River, the main river in the state of Rio de Janeiro, which as a consequence was also affected by pollution, causing more than half a million people to be left without water supply for several days, and that fishing in the two contaminated rivers be prohibited for 90 days. The spill affected approximately one million people.

In 1987, a forestry law was passed in Uruguay whose objective was to promote large-scale tree plantations. That country today has almost 1.000.000 hectares planted, the vast majority, with eucalyptus.

The "forestation fever" has reached the Uruguayan department of Tacuarembó, with more than 200.000 hectares acquired for forestation. It is estimated that there are about 12.000 people displaced from the countryside and in parallel, 17 rural schools have been closed. Where is recorded This change is most clearly seen in Rincón de Zamora, bordered by the Tacuarembó River, towards its mouth in the Negro River, where the most appropriate lands in the department for cattle raising were located and which, currently, is completely covered by the tree monocultures (6)

In the case of Argentina, eucalyptus plantations have been concentrated in the provinces of Corrientes and Entre Ríos, reaching the not inconsiderable figure of 2005 hectares between them in 220.000.

Another Argentine province provides scary numbers. Misiones is described as the “main forestry province of the country.” Originally, the province had 2.7 million hectares of tropical forest, but currently this area is estimated at 1.2 million. More than 350 thousand have been replaced by exotic pines and the same by fuel plants. Due to pesticides and pollution, in Misiones 5 out of every 1000 children are born with malformations.

There are constant marches in the City of Gualeguaychú, Entre Ríos, Argentina, expressing their rejection of the installation of two paper mills in the Uruguayan city of Fray Bentos, which have significant financing from the World Bank.

Monocultures, in addition to contaminating us, are dehydrating us. The height of the eucalyptus stem is equal to the length of its root. It grows very quickly because it has long roots capable of extracting large amounts of water from the soil and its water tables. Rural producers are already noticing serious problems with access to the water they need for their crops.

Megamining

Due to wars and the waste of goods perpetrated especially by the central countries during the 20th century, there was a rapid depletion of easily accessible metal ores. This led to a change in extraction systems. We went from intensive to extensive exploitation, from underground gallery mining to huge open-air holes.

Once the rock containing a high percentage of mineral was exhausted, larger volumes of rock with lower percentages of metal began to be processed. Explosions are now used to reduce entire mountains to rubble or dig huge holes in the ground.

Then, with mechanical shovels, trucks and conveyor belts—all of gigantic size—the debris is transported to places where it is ground into powder or into small stones of two or three centimeters, depending on the method adopted for its subsequent processing.

An open pit mine consumes and poisons up to 70 million liters of water every day to keep production going. This is the equivalent of the water used by a large city.

Mining is a short-term activity but with long-term effects. No one can (should) have any doubt that when it is carried out in forest areas it constitutes a factor in their predation. It is estimated that, together with oil exploration, it threatens 38% of the last remaining areas of primary forest in the world.

In Argentina, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Honduras and other countries, neighborhood assemblies, forums, roadblocks, marches and all types of social expressions are periodically reproduced in which active opposition from the communities towards mining.

However, the fight is very uneven. Mining multinationals have a lot of money to allocate to “selling and greening” their activity and vast accumulated experience from previous projects, which is why they do not hesitate to apply their well-designed pre-start marketing strategy to people and governments. productive activities.

The combo includes in most cases, after co-opting the local media, aggressive propaganda that misinforms about the use and benefits of its cutting-edge technology, wholesale employment opportunities, activation of the regional economy, such as also promises of economic contributions for education, health, public services and tourism, among others. If all this does not work, corruption, threats, the criminalization of the resistance and even the hiring of paramilitary groups are options that are often resorted to.

To complete the extraction and processing processes, mines also require enormous energy consumption. To give an example in numbers, the extraction of the Bajo de La Alumbrera mine, in the Province of Catamarca, is the largest individual consumer of energy in the Argentine Republic. It also consumes between 200.000 and 250.000 liters of diesel per day.

Cases of resistance to open pit mining are multiplying throughout the American continent; perhaps an interesting witness case is that of the city of Esquel, in Argentine Patagonia.

Esquel (Chubut) is a city in Argentine Patagonia where the national, provincial and municipal governments are advancing with a polluting gold mining project just 6 km from the city, supporting the transnational company Meridian Gold (currently purchased by Yamana Gold) against 81% of the people, who said NO TO THE MINE in the plebiscite of March 23, 2003. Through the Assembly of Self-convened Neighbors for NO TO THE MINE, the struggle and resistance of the residents of Esquel, against the installation of mining in their territory.

The dams

Dams have uprooted between 40 and 80 million people around the world. The expert Pedro Arrojo defines the drama of the displaced as a "hydrocaust." Even the World Bank, a major financier of hydropower, recognizes that the quality of life of most displaced people does not improve with their relocation. It is estimated that around four million people a year in the world must leave their lands because of dams.

In Latin America there are more than 1.000 large dams 15 meters high or more. Brazil is one of the countries with the largest number of dams in the world, with around 600 in operation.

Dams are one of the main direct and indirect causes of the loss of millions of hectares of forests, many of them abandoned under water and decomposing. That is why all dams emit greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming due to the decomposition and putrefaction of biomass.

The stagnant waters of the dams generate diseases such as schistosomiasis, which is produced by snails in stagnant or slow-moving waters, as happened in the Kariba, Aswan and Akosombo dams. Among other diseases that are associated with the construction of dams are: dysentery, diarrhea, malnutrition, unusual proliferation of mosquitoes, smallpox, skin rashes, vaginal infections, cancer, tuberculosis, syphilis, yellow fever, dengue and leishmaniasis.

Although there are many contrary opinions, among the possible impacts generated by the high-voltage power transmission lines associated with dams are physical malformations at birth; the increase in cancer and leukemia in children, brain tumors and problems in the nervous system.

Dams and water transfers are the main reason why 33% of the world's freshwater fish species are extinct, endangered or vulnerable. The percentage increases in countries whose rivers have been heavily dammed – it reaches almost 75% in Germany. Cold water releases from dams kill some fish species and all biodiversity that depends on natural flooding. They displace and kill animals from ecosystems; They eliminate wetlands, underground water sources, unique forests and the fertility of the land due to natural sediments that no longer arrive.

Those who defend hydroelectric dams argue that it is a clean source of energy. This is a lie. Dams are one of the main direct and indirect causes of the loss of millions of hectares of forests, many of them abandoned under water and decomposing. Hence, all dams emit greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, since the decomposition and putrefaction of biomass emits large volumes of carbon dioxide and methane, the two most important greenhouse gases. On the other hand, the river is also dragging more organic sediments to the reservoir, increasing the putrefactive biomass.

“Gross emissions from reservoirs can represent between 4% and 28% of the global warming potential of greenhouse gas emissions.” (7)

Much of the resistance to the construction of large dams in Latin America has been united in Redlar, the Latin American Network against Dams, and for Rivers, their Communities and Water. Forming the largest initiative of organizations that care about the well-being of their communities and the sovereignty over their waters.
The Network is made up of more than 250 social, indigenous, environmental, human rights, women's organizations, networks, fronts, and movements from 18 Latin American countries, involving more than one million people. It was established in São Paulo, Brazil, on the occasion of several Latin American organizations meeting at the Regional Consultation convened by the World Commission on Dams on August 12 and 13, 1999 in the city of São Paulo, Brazil.

The Redlar resistance movements continue to plan endless creative strategies in the fight against dams. Mobilizations continue to be a fundamental tool in the fight against dams. Sit-ins, rallies, marches, seizures of roads, embassies, government offices, blockades, hunger strikes, among others recorded in recent years, take place periodically.

On July 26, 2008, in the city of Santa Cruz de Lorica, Colombia, the IV Latin American Meeting of the Latin American Network against Dams, and for Rivers, their Communities and Water took place. At the meeting, representatives of indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, peasants and other social sectors from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Italy and the United States, They met in Santa Cruz de Lorica, Colombia, to analyze the regional situation, exchange experiences of resistance against dams and propose strategies for the defense of territories, water, culture and life.

Water

One of the great problems facing humanity is without a doubt, the accelerated degradation of drinking water reserves. Water is seen as the biggest geopolitical conflict of the 20st century, since it is estimated that in less than 50 years, demand will be more than XNUMX% higher than supply.

There are already more than 1.100 billion people on the planet who do not have facilities to supply drinking water and 2.600 billion do not have sanitation systems.

Latin America, a great beneficiary of nature in terms of natural resources in general, is also a great beneficiary of water. It has the largest reserves of drinking water left in the world. However, it shows one of the highest global consumption rates per inhabitant, essentially due to agricultural-forestry and mining use.

They will come for the water, many of the environmentalists in Latin America are heard saying in alarm. And perhaps, someone who is not into the subject could imagine enormous ships, perhaps carrying gigantic bags full of Latin American fresh water, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, to supply the thirst of the European Union.

But the water will not go in bags, but for many years it has been plundered by using it in an unsustainable way for monocultures of soy, corn, sunflower, wheat; or the monocultures of pine and eucalyptus trees with which they replace native forests. And the water that is not taken with soy, wood or tree pulp is contaminated with agrochemicals and extractive industries, such as open-pit mining and other equally polluting industries.

Thousands of companies drink water from Latin American rivers and aquifers for free and then vomit tons of highly polluting products into them. Millions of tons of herbicide poisons are dumped on the soybean fields and on the lands that have been deforested to plant the pines and eucalyptus trees that the pasture eaters eat, poisons that contaminate the groundwater and the rivers where the water we drink comes from.

It is estimated that fast-growing eucalyptus trees, such as those planted in Uruguay, absorb an average of four liters of water per day, while there are an estimated 1.000 trees per planted hectare. From these data it is deduced that 800.000 forested hectares consume 3.200 million liters of water per day in the country. (8)

More and more people know, although not everyone understands its importance, the serious problems that we face and will face due to the scarcity of drinking water. Many of us learned like a little verse that fresh water is less than 3% of the total water on the planet and that, in reality, only 0,5% is accessible for our use.

On the planet, the volume of drinking water available per inhabitant is currently 50% of what it was 50 years ago. More than a third of the world's population, especially in Latin America, Africa and Asia, do not have drinking water, 31 countries already suffer from water shortages.

However, water could still be enough to satisfy the needs of the entire world population. What is truly incredible for beings who consider themselves rational is that instead of taking care of distributing it in such a way that no one has access difficulties, we are dedicating ourselves to diverting, contaminating and depleting that limited amount of drinking water at a dizzying speed.

Even more worrying is in whose hands this resource is remaining. For many Latin American governments, everything is for sale, even the most basic natural resources, such as air and water. These are being, to an increasing extent, controlled by a handful of large multinationals that are shaping national and international laws according to the dictates of their interests.

The role of the state has been profoundly altered in recent decades. Multinationals are managing to transform Nation-States and adapt them to their interests, relative to investments and global competitiveness.
Most governments and government institutions, including the United Nations, are at worst responsive to these corporate forces, and at best unable to confront them. The citizen finds that he has to fight and defend his interests alone.

The World Bank "recommends" to developing countries privatization through concessions to foreign companies of existing reserves, in order to take over this resource that will soon be as valuable as gold or oil.

There is a series of activities whose furious development in the countries of the so-called third world is seriously modifying issues such as biological diversity, geographical distribution, culture and even the climate of our regions.

The impact caused by the installation of any of these industries is so strong that each case, when trying to analyze it, seems to be emblematic and yet it is one of the many that are occurring in our territories.

All these activities have something in common. In addition to causing the devastation of the ecosystem in which they are installed, causing deforestation, pollution, habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, social alterations, they need to use and then contaminate, millions of liters of water every day for their operation.

They are using and contaminating water and not little by little with all these industries that they install in third world regions. And they are taking it with every shipment of cellulose pulp, gold, soybeans or any of their products.

We should become fully aware of everything we are losing. Water is the most precious commodity we have, without a doubt. No water, no life.

Conclusions

The cases cited are only some samples, perhaps the most exemplary, but there are many more that can be added to the matrix of the plundering of Natural Resources that the Third World is suffering.

The Human Being is being a victim of his own stupidity, his selfishness and his obsession with power and money.

Climate change, the hole in the ozone layer, the depletion and pollution of natural resources, the accumulation of waste and the degradation of land, water and air are consequences of a much larger, more fundamental problem, which is the way of life that is being imposed on us.

Those who have made decisions at a global level, especially in recent decades, have chosen to put all the knowledge acquired by humanity at the service of economic growth, comfort, and the reduction of physical and mental effort. They have decided to move forward without measuring consequences, without objecting to the social and environmental costs of that “progress.”

With current technologies, the decision about whether or not to trigger an environmental collapse has become purely political. With much less budget than that invested in weapons, a quick solution could be given to the Climate Change that threatens us and whose effects can reach unsuspected limits.

The volumes of production and consumption of goods have been growing at astronomical speeds and, as had to happen, at some point we exceed the planet's capacity to absorb our waste, eat our garbage, breathe our CO2, our methane, our CFCs and from drinking our effluents, our spills, and the vomit from our industries.

The only option we have is to try, together, to stop waste, reduce high levels of consumption, consume responsibly and thus stop the avalanche that is coming upon us, and that otherwise will cover us all, whether we are where we are.

But while consuming responsibly individually is very important, that alone is not enough. We must also act in an environmentally responsible way as a society. And that change will be much more difficult to carry out than the individual one. Abandoning the culture of consumerism as a society would mean a paradigm shift, where values ​​such as solidarity, respect for diversity and love for life replace selfishness, individualism and greed.

We must transform ourselves into a society that thinks and decides as a species and no longer individually. In a society that abandons the current economic model, directed by the owners of capital and power, and builds an environmentally sustainable and socially just model.

We must transform ourselves into a society that has no reason to celebrate “world environment day” to remember that it exists, but rather develops in community with it. www.ecoportal.net

Ricardo Natalichio - Economist, environmentalist, environmental journalist and writer. Director of the social ecology portal Ecoportal.net and the publication Ambiente y Sociedad.

Notes

(1) Five centuries of prohibition of rainbows in the American sky.
(2) ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/a0773s/a0773s05.pdf ,
(3) Extension of forest resources, FAO Report, Chapter 2 ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/a0400s/a0400s03.pdf
(4) The expansion of soybeans in Latin America. Javiera Rulli.
(5) (Dross, 2004)
(6) The indiscriminate planting of transgenic trees "Afforestation fever in Uruguay” Sylvia Ubal. Ecoportal.
(7) Impact and Consequences of Dams, Gustavo Castro Soto (Dross, 2004).
(8) They warn about "pollution and depletion" of water in Uruguay. Ricardo Carrere. Real World Radio. http://www.radiomundoreal.fm/rmr/?q=es/node/25572

Bibliography:

1.- Editorials of the Magazine Ambiente y Sociedad from 2006 to July 2008 written by Ricardo Natalichio. www.ecoportal.net

2.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics- Water - http://agua.ecoportal.net/

3.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics- Biodiversity - http://biodiversidad.ecoportal.net/

4.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics- Energies - http://energias.ecoportal.net/

5.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics- Mining - http://mineria.ecoportal.net/

6.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics- Garbage Waste - http://residuos.ecoportal.net/

7.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics - Climate Change - http://clima.ecoportal.net/

8.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special topics- Economy -http://economia.ecoportal.net/

9.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics- Globalization - http://globalizacion.ecoportal.net/

10.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics - Indigenous Peoples - http://indigenas.ecoportal.net/

11.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics - Transgenics - http://transgenicos.ecoportal.net/

12.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics- Soils http://suelos.ecoportal.net/

13.- Ecoportal.Net- Various Articles. Special Topics - Human Rights http://derechos.ecoportal.net/

14.- World Forest Movement (WRM) - The WRM distributes a monthly electronic newsletter in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, which constitutes a tool for the dissemination of information on local struggles and global processes that can affect forests. and to the local residents - www.wrm.org.uy/inicio.html

15.- Latin American Network against Dams and for Rivers, Communities and Water (REDLAR), www.redlar.org

16.- Via Campesina - La Vía Campesina is an international movement that coordinates peasant organizations of medium and small farmers, agricultural workers, women and indigenous communities from Asia, Africa, America and Europe. www.viacampesina.org

17.- Other Worlds, AC, Analysis of the Mexican, Guatemalan, Mesoamerican, Latin American and international process of fighting against dams www.otrosmundoschiapas.org

18.- GRAIN - www.grain.org

19.- Acción Ecológica, Ecuador - Actions and documents on biopiracy, GMOs, oil, forests, FTAA, mining and all the activities of this organization. www.accionecologica.org

20.- ETC Group - The Group's Site on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (before RAFI). In English, with some documents in Spanishwww.etcgroup.org

21.- RAP-AL - Action Network on Pesticides and their Alternatives for Latin America - www.rap-al.org/

22.- Semillas Magazine - Excellent Colombian magazine with a complete look at the problems of genetic resources www.semillas.org.co/

23.- CIEPAC, Mexico - Center for Economic Research and Community Action Policies - www.ciepac.org

24.- Guayubira Group - The "Guayubira" group, Environmental Group on Forests and Forestry, was created in May 1997, to bring together people and organizations concerned about the conservation of indigenous forests and the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of the current model of forestry development promoted by the government - www.guayubira.org.uy

25.- Rural Reflection Group - GRR - http://www.grr.org.ar/

26.- No to the Mine - Mining in Argentina
Self-convened Neighborhood Assemblies for NO TO THE MINE. We Esquelenses are fighting with dignity, scientific knowledge, with love for life, for nature and against the enormous theft from the country that the mining laws promote. http://www.noalamina.org/

27.- Guayubira Group
Environmental Group on Forests and Forestry was created in May 1997 to bring together people and organizations concerned about the conservation of indigenous forests and the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of the current forestry development model promoted by the government. http://www.guayubira.org.uy/

28.- CENSAT Living water
Water and energy in biodiversity of ecological markets, mining and oil, as public services, financial institutions, commerce and environmentalism http://www.censat.org/
29.- OLCA - Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts
The OBSERVATORY advises communities in conflict to enhance their management capacities in favor of their environmental rights.
http://www.olca.cl/oca/index.htm

30.- Mapuexpress - Mapuche Information
News-Communications-Publications-Interviews-Books-Links of the Mapuche people, from Mapuche territory
http://www.mapuexpress.net/