Environment

Perhaps no other sector better exemplifies the challenge the Bolivian government faces in lifting the country out of the poverty and dependency afflicting South America’s poorest nation than its all-important mining industry. Mining minister and former miners’ union leader Jose Pimentel told Green Left Weekly: “Bolivia has been a mining country for more than 500 years, ever since the Spanish came and discovered the legendary wealth [of the silver mines] of Potosi.”
Under the new constitution approved in January 2009, the state now controls all minerals, metals, precious and semi-precious stones in the country. While respecting previously granted concessions to private companies, it has restricted new concessions to joint ventures with the state In 2007, the Bolivian government returned 100% control of the Huanuni tin mine to the state-owned Comibol. On May 3, the government nationalised the Glencore-owned antimony smelter, which has been out of operation for more than two years.
An angry Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told the May 12 7:30 Report that he was “passionate about acting on climate change”. Yes, we know. But if only he’d stop acting and start doing. The demise of the Rudd Labor government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is not the problem. It’s a good thing. The problem is that the government still has no serious climate change policy.
NSW Premier Kristina Keneally announced that the Labor government would block a proposed open-cut coalmine near Scone in the Upper Hunter Valley on May 14. The decision puts an end to the Bickham coal project, which would have mined coal for the next 25 years, threatening to contaminate the Pages River and other water sources for local farmland. The decision also permanently bans any open-cut coal mines at the Bickham site. Keneally said: “This mine is simply not compatible with the unique rural characteristics of this locality, including the horse-breeding industry.
A near-disaster involving toxic waste in the southern Perth suburb of Hamilton Hill has revealed that working class neighbourhoods are exposed to potential carcinogens local resident and Socialist Alliance candidate Sanna Andrew said. The Fremantle Steam Laundry in Hamilton Hill burst into flames in the early hours of May 13. Fire fighters ordered some nearby residents to evacuate because the factory had a stockpile of the dry cleaning chemical perchloroethylene (PCE).
The tremendous success of the April 19-22 World Peoples Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, has confirmed the well-deserved role of its initiator — Bolivian President Evo Morales — as one of the world’s leading environmental advocates. Since being elected the country’s first indigenous president in 2005, Morales has continuously denounced the threat posed by the climate crisis and environmental destruction. Morales has pointed the figure at the real cause of the problem: the consumerist and profit-driven capitalist system.
The number of cars using Brisbane’s first road tunnel, which opened on March 18, has remained far below the target projected by the Brisbane City Council. After an initial toll-free period, when 65,000 vehicles used the tunnel daily, the usage plunged to a daily average of only 21,178 vehicles after a discounted toll was introduced. The drop in patronage has forced the tunnel operators, River City Motorways, to extend the discounted toll period by another seven weeks in an attempt to boost vehicle numbers.
When setting a giant oil spill on fire is the least-worst option to limit environmental damage, you know you're in trouble. But that appeared to be the case as US authorities debated how to contain an spill caused by the failure in April of a deepwater oil rig — owned by the oil giant BP — about 80 kilometres off the US in the Gulf of Mexico. On May 2, the Times of London reported that Professor Ian MacDonald, an ocean specialist at Florida State University, said satellite data suggested the leak has already spread 9 million gallons of heavy crude oil.
It had to happen eventually. Kevin Rudd's popularity has gone into decline, and the Labor party now trail the Liberals in the latest polls. According to a May 3 Essential Research poll, Rudd's approval rating has fallen to 46%, down from 71% a year ago. The Liberals lead Labor by 51% to 49% on a “two party preferred” basis according to polling by Newspoll published in the May 4 Australian.
One of the most common cliches western politicians like to use to describe the climate crisis is: “We are all in this together”. But this seemingly harmless platitude all too often conceals a dangerous lie. Actually, on a global scale, we’re not all in this together. Of course, global warming will impact everywhere, but it won’t affect every place in the same way.

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