Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Putting people over money in El Salvador

Dahr Jamail in Al-Jazeera.net: While debate about whether climate change is real or not continues in the US, the world's leading producer of CO2 emissions per capita, those already living with the effects, like Jose Domingo Cruz in El Salvador, don't have time to debate.

"Our storms are increasing in number and intensity," Cruz, a member of his community Civil Protection Committee that responds to community needs during natural disasters, told Al Jazeera while standing on a levy that ruptured during Tropical Storm Agatha last year. "All of us attribute this to climate change."

…Against the backdrop of these dire predictions, the people are, however, forming a movement that is learning to protect and sustain itself in the increasingly chaotic world of global climate change and its severe ramifications on people, the environment, and local economies.

In addition to climate change, El Salvador faces environmental issues that include deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution, and soil contaminated from decades of cotton and sugar cane production using toxic herbicides and fertilisers. El Salvador is the 2nd most deforested country in the Western Hemisphere, second only to Haiti. Only two per cent of primary forest that existed 50 years ago remains today.

In response to increasing natural disasters related to climate change - and as an effort to promote environmental protections and sustainable living - a group known as The Mangrove Association was birthed in 1999. Members of the group are primarily subsistence farmers and fisher-folk whose livelihoods depend on the viability of local ecosystems now threatened by climate change and unsustainable farming practises like those practised by the sugar cane industry.

…In what has become a major grassroots social movement that aims to increase diversified sustainable farming, organic foods, food security, and all of this via environmentally friendly methods, many people living in this area are actually seeing their lives improve, despite the challenges. Yet, the challenges are many, and are not going away….

Fair trade coffee growers in Tacuba in the Parque Nacional El Imposible, El Salvador, shot by Adam C. Baker, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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