Watch These Documentaries to Better Understand SE Asia

The environmental movement is a global struggle against big corporations and corrupted governments, which means each struggle has commonalities while also being unique to its region. Over at Global Voices they compiled a list of documentaries that cover various environmental movements in south east Asia. Some of the content in the films will make you feel sad; however, it’s important to know what’s going on and that people around the world are sticking up for what’s right.

In “This Is Our Land”, Filipino filmmaker Noni Abao chronicles how local indigenous communities in Nueva Vizcaya, northern Philippines, are fighting against years of environmental degradation by calling for the closure of OceanaGold, one of the largest producers of gold and copper in the world. This documentary won the grand prize in the 2020 Gawad Cultural Center of the Philippines Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video and was the second-place winner in the 2020 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest. Since Abao finished filming, dozens of the activists who organized the road blockade have been arrested following clashes with police and company representatives.

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American Charities May Legally Have to Divest from Fossil Fuels

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Student groups have long called for their educational institutions to divest from the destructive fossil fuel industry (and ideally reinvest in renewables). This passionate demand from students has seen success at various schools around the world, and their fight in the USA may have gotten easier thanks to a change in law by the Biden administration. Large schools in the states tend to have a charitable arm to give out scholarships and collect donations from wealthy benefactors (who donate to dodge taxes, but that’s a separate issue). Charities in the states are obligated to serve the public interest, and investing in the destruction of the planet is not in the public interest according to the Biden administration. Let’s hope the divestment movement continues to grow!

Like other public charitable institutions, Harvard is legally bound to serve the public interest in exchange for privileges such as tax exemption. Harvard is also required to manage its endowment prudently, in order to further its mission of educating young people and creating a more just world.

Fossil fuel investments are incompatible with those obligations. Fossil fuels are not only the primary contributor to climate change; their extraction and refinement also emit toxic pollutants—often in Indigenous and low-income communities, where environmental racism is most acutely felt. For decades, fossil fuel companies have obscured the scientific reality of climate change and thwarted climate policy; in recent years they have also attacked climate scienceand funded research—including at Harvard—that tacitly furthers their agenda. Sea level rise caused by climate change even threatens Harvard’s campus.

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Keystone XL is Dead, For Reals This Time

Standing Rock #DAPL
Protesting works!

The absolutely foolish plan to make a massive pipeline to transport a heavily subsidized non-renewable energy source is dead. It is really dead. We’ve heard before that the project is over, only for it to come back to life. Obama and Trudeau both worked hard to ensure that future generations would have to suffer the ecological damage done by the project, yet in the end it was volunteer activists who won.

The pipeline was meant to open nearly a decade ago, and thanks to the efforts of so many groups it never will. The opposition to the project started small and now it’s a movement that is hoping to block other illogical gifts to the oil industry.

Keep protesting, never give up!

It’s easy to forget now how unlikely the Keystone fight really was. Indigenous activists and Midwest ranchers along the pipeline route kicked off the opposition. When it went national, 10 years ago this summer, with mass arrests outside the White House, pundits scoffed. More than 90 percent of Capitol Hill “insiders” polled by The National Journal said the company would get its permit.

But the more than 1,200 people who were arrested in that protest helped galvanize a nationwide — even worldwide — movement that placed President Barack Obama under unrelenting pressure. Within a few months he’d paused the approval process, and in 2015 he killed the pipeline, deciding that it didn’t meet his climate test.

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Urban Farming Helps Cities Tackle the Climate Crisis

fruit store

Growing your own food is fun and possible, even in a tiny space, so everyone should give it a try. Cities are finding ways to encourage more people to grow food locally for a variety of reasons, and they all revolve around dealing with climate change. Cities become more resilient to climate change thanks to the benefits from an increase in urban farming. Those benefits range from local cooling effects from growing plants to the more serious food supply issues felt around the world. There’s no better time than now to try your hand at starting a small food garden.

Apart from private backyard gardens, urban gardening includes larger community gardens, allotment areas and building rooftops that allow people who don’t have backyards to also grow food. Ryerson University in downtown Toronto operates a rooftop farm on its engineering building that has a little under a quarter acre of growing space.

In that little space in the middle of the crowded city, the farm grows about 4,500 kilograms of food every year that supplies the university community and local chefs.

Growing significant amounts of food within the city is not necessarily a new concept. Karen Landman, a professor at the University of Guelph who researches urban gardening, says agriculture used to be a part of North American cities before being gradually zoned out of urban areas after the First World War.

“It’s actually a very old practice,” she said. “There is a lot of land where it could be turned into food production. And if we really had to, we could produce a lot of food. There are other cities in the world where urban agriculture is the primary source of food for many people.”

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Alternative Solutions to Calling the Police

Respect for the police continues to erode due to questionable, immoral, and illegal police behaviour. Just this week in Ontario, police breaking the law ruined an entire case taking down a mob gambling operation. It’s also impossible to ignore the abhorrent police actions highlighted by BLM and similar organizations. So if the validity of the police is under question, what should we do?

Over at Vox they’ve collected a few solutions to problems that people may traditionally want to call the police for. It’s quite strange to call the police to help people in mental health crisis when the police are better equipped to take on armed bank robbers. It’s also strange that the police handle traffic violations while we also call them to investigate murder. It doesn’t have to be this way, we can do better and we know how.

People often decide to call the police because someone in their area appears to be intoxicated or in some kind of mental health crisis. One 2017 study of Camden, New Jersey, for example, found that 7 percent of calls were related to some mental or behavioral health need, according to the Center for American Progress (CAP).

But police are not trained to address mental health or substance use issues, and calling them can lead to a person in crisis being arrested and jailed, rather than getting the medical treatment they may need, as Amos Irwin and Betsy Pearl write at CAP. Several police killings in recent years — like the fatal shootings of Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York, last fall — happened when law enforcement officers encountered someone having a mental health crisis.

Instead of police, a growing number of cities have crisis response teams composed of social workers, counselors, and others trained to help people with mental health or substance problems. In Eugene, Oregon, for example, a program called Cahoots sends trained specialists to help people deal with crises involving mental health or substance use, and refers them to further services or treatment, as Roge Karma reported at Vox.

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