Monday, September 27, 2010

Friends of the Earth Middle East doing great, need more support from Greens

Friends of the Earth Middle East, a civil society advocacy organization jointly established by environmentalists from Palestine, Jordan and Israel, has been officially announced as the 2010 winner of the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue Award.

FOEME deserves to be better known. They work across communities to  improve the water environment of Israel/Palestine. This has huge potential, because the Land needs better water management, and a massive programme of rainwater harvesting and storage, composting toilets, and reafforestation could (a) divert energy from conflict and (b) expand the carrying capacity of the land, so that it could accommodate the expanding population of both Israelis and Palestinians.

I have tried many times in the past to get the International email list of the Green Party to take an interest in this, but they remain stuck in a sterile, antagonistic debate between supporters of Israel and supporters of the Palestinians. This is a huge pity, and a symptom of the lapse of greens away from an ecological focus to a left-right dialectic.

Our MEPs and the Green Group of the European Parliament should be backing FoEME, and pressing for an EU initiative. The EU could supply guttering and cisterns for the rainwater harvesting. I will write to my MEPs in the South West, and to the Green Party MEPs. When I have sent off the submission to Ian Duncan Smith's consultation on 21st Century Welfare.


weggis said...

It is not just about water though is it.

It is also about encouraging co-operation and building trust.

DocRichard said...

Absolutely! You follow me like a leopard, and your understanding knows no bounds. Unlike some.

GE said...

Not only that, it's about contraception and the will to use it!

The irony is that they are constantly squabbling over the one Middle East that they do have, but their populations are exploding so fast that they'll be demanding 3 or 4.

Demographic warfare. On each other and on the earth.

What a cursed and Unholy Land it is.

DocRichard said...

Absolutely! By harvesting and managing water, we can increase the carrying capacity of the Land to support the present population, but as is the case over the whole world, ever-increasing population is a logical impossibility.

It is ironic that mathematics, the most solid source of certainty, is perfectly clear on the subject of increasing possibility, but "morality", religion and custom everywhere override the mathematics of exponential growth.

I choose to believe that humanity has the capacity to think rationally, and it is up to us who can think in that way to continue to do so, even in the miasma of irrationality that prevails.



GE said...

Hopefully rationality will start tipping the balance eventually. I just wish Greens would start talking more often and enthusiastically about the crucial importance of providing contraception and voluntary sterilisation as a beneficial choice for everyone. Speaking as someone whose husband had a vasectomy several years ago and is happy to tell everyone that it was the best decision he ever made. What sickened us was that we had to pay for it ourselves whereas if we'd wanted to breed, but were having trouble, the NHS would, in too many cases, have paid out. The taxpayer should no way be paying to create more overpopulation.

NY Times article about Gazan population explosion.

"The population explosion in the Palestinian-governed Gaza Strip appears to be unrivaled in the world. Its population of 1.1 million -- half under 15 -- is expected to double by 2014 ..."

"Gaza's extremely high fertility rate of seven children per woman is comparable to Somalia's or Uganda's. But unlike those countries, almost all the babies survive and adults live a relatively long life, fueling a boom that is now forcing difficult choices on Palestinians and their leaders."

"[F]or the young Palestinian government, with its conservative, male-dominated Islamic society, family planning is culturally sensitive and politically complex. Large families are not only traditional but a point of nationalist pride."

"...Officially, Palestinian leaders have long advocated population growth as a way to outnumber the Israelis on the land the two groups share."

DocRichard said...

I blogged about population here:

GE said...

I wasn't meaning you Richard, but Greens in general. Too many seem to have some kind of fear of facing up to the population problem.

Anyhow, did you come across this yet? V. good video on the website:

"Filmmaker Dave Gardner's Upcoming Film, Growthbusters: Hooked On Growth, is Relying on a Team of Highly-Motivated Volunteers Around the World to Help Produce the Film.

A few recent films, such as Age of Stupid, have been “crowd-funded,” in which the general public pitches in to finance films they want to see made. “Crowd-distribution” of independent films has also come into vogue. Robert Greenwald’s Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, was seen by 500,000 people in one week by way of 7,000 house parties and community screenings.

Filmmaker Dave Gardner is adding “crowd-produced” to the lexicon. His upcoming documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth, is relying on a team of highly-motivated volunteers to actually produce the film and offset much of the film’s $500,000 budget. So far, footage has been contributed by filmmakers in Ethiopia, India, the U.S. and Great Britain. The film’s voluntary co-producer, Donnie Maclurcan, resides in Sydney, Australia. Edmonton, Canada’s Alexandra Billings serves as the film’s voluntary project manager. Everywhere Gardner shoots, volunteers serve as members of the film crew.

…Why such an unorthodox method of producing a film? “As a non-profit project, we’ve so far not attracted large foundation grants,” Gardner explains.

“GrowthBusters questions one of our most basic beliefs: that growth brings prosperity and well-being. It takes a real visionary to write a check for this project.”

In the absence of substantial institutional funding, the producers are turning to volunteers and like-minded film professionals to cut the cash budget by more than half. Gardner and Maclurcan are harnessing the power of fans who believe the world needs to see this film.

“There is a growing movement of people who are restless with ‘business as usual’ and intrigued by the possibilities of a post-growth world,” notes Maclurcan.

... Produced by Citizen-Powered Media, the film examines the sustainability of modern society’s worship of unending economic, population, urban and consumption growth."

DocRichard said...

I agree. We had a motion referred back from Conference, and it was completely stalled by some who simply would not accept that population was a problem.
The Green Party does have a population policy that is OK, but muted.

It's ironic: the mathematics is as solid as it possibly could be, but emotions - the right to reproduce as much as you want - overrides reason.

I hope "Hooked on Growth" does well.

GE said...

Oh, and just to be even-handed on the exploding populations of the Unholy Land:

Settlements growing faster than they can be built

"Ramat Shlomo is one of the settlements with the quickest population growth in the recent years. From 2003 to date, the population of the exclusively ultra-Orthodox neighborhood has grown almost 48 percent, more than any other settlement in East Jerusalem, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. Currently, between 18,000 and 20,000 people live in the 2,000-unit neighborhood."

"…Haredi families living in Ramat Shlomo have an average of eight children per household, according to the Jerusalem Statistical Yearbook. The neighborhood’s rapid growth has pushed the demand for space and, in-turn, the price of the units. Now there are simply not enough apartments for younger couples who want to live in the observant Jewish neighborhood, close to their families and rabbis, and within the Haredi community."

"You might call it the hidden Jewish demographic crisis: the population explosion among the Jewish state’s Haredi or ultra-Orthodox Jews, and the implications of that growth for Israel’s long-term survival."

"Haredi men are almost entirely exempted from military service, in deference to their religious convictions. Under a rule enacted at the time of Israel’s founding, draft-age men are excused from serving if they are engaged in full-time Torah study at a recognized academy through age 40. The rule has the dual effect of removing yeshiva students from both the military and the work force. The more Haredim, experience shows, the fewer potential soldiers, and the fewer taxpayers."

"When the exemption was first approved in 1948, it involved barely 400 men. Four decades later, in 1992, the Torah-study exemption was granted to 5% of that year’s conscription-age cohort of 18-year-olds. This year, 2007, the proportion reached 11%. In 2019, the exempted yeshiva students are projected to top 23% of the cohort ..."