BP Executive Pied as Europe’s Largest Biofuels Event Disrupted

BP Executive Pied as Europe’s Largest Biofuels Event Disrupted

From: http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/5205

Date: 17th October, 2007
Embargo: Immediate Release
CONTACT: 07880 937 511
Newark Showground, Newark, Nottinghamshire

This morning a group of 15 climate change activists from protest group Food Not Fuel entered the BioFuel Expo & Conference taking place at the Newark Showground and took over the keynote speech. Oliver Mace, CEO of BP Fuels, the lead sponsors of the event received a cream pie in the face. Another campaigner was D-locked to the podium and various alarms were placed around the place. The hall was emptied and talks were cancelled. There were no arrests.

They were protesting against planned expansion of biofuels citing its contribution to deforestation and the fact that it will continue to contribute to climate change. The activists complained that biofuels on a large scale is greenwash and companies such as BP are ignoring its negative impacts on the environment.

Protester Michelle Lynch said, “What they are promoting is a replacement to fossil fuels, but the reality is that they are little better. Large scale plantations are not the solution; reducing our consumption is the only realistic way forward.”

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Mass Arrests of Indigenous and Environmental Activists in Aotearoa (NZ)

A story of serious government repression in Aotearoa (aka New Zealand). The media there is reporting that organizers from the non-violent direct action campaign to stop coal mining at Happy Valley on Aotearoa’s southern island are among the arrestees.

17 activists arrested, denied bail. 300+ Police raid houses across the country
15 Oct 2007

Aotearoa Indymedia (New Zealand)

In a wave of massive state repression, 300+ Police, in many cases armed, raided houses around the country today making 17 arrests. Search warrants were carried out in Auckland, Whakatane, Ruatoki, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch. Police are also seeking up to 60 people for questioning. The arrestees are all activists in the Tino Rangatiratanga, peace and environmental movements.

Prominent Tino Rangatiratanga activist Tame Iti was among the first arrested at his home at 4am Monday morning. At 6am raids were carried out at A Space Inside anarchist social centre in Auckland [ Search Warrant ] and the 128 activist Community Centre in Wellington [ Video of police raid ]. In Tuhoe Country, the town of Ruatoki was blockaded by armed police for several hours, with no cars allowed in and many searched, including a school bus full of children.

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Rising Tide UK: 23 actions against the “Oil” Bank of Scotland and counting

From Edinburgh to Cornwall, blockades to invisible theatre, RBS has felt the sting today. As of 5PM on Monday, we’ve heard of 23 actions so far with more expected to still come in. Read on, check back soon, and let us know if you’ve done something in your area! And a huge well done to all involved!

Edinburgh RBS HQ: Campaigners from Edinburgh University People and Planet group held a demonstration outside the RBS national headquarters on St. Andrew’s Street, giving out information to customers, holding banners and placards, and waving oil covered hands. Photos and full report: http://scotland.indymedia.org/newswire/display/4654/index.php

Also in Edinburgh: The locks of the main entrances to at least six Edinburgh RBS branches were glued shut last night, and all of them had to have the locks replaced today.

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“We were surprised how intensively these regions were being affected”
by human presence, says K. Heinz Erb, an ecologist at Klagenfurt
University in Vienna. “Only one-third of the natural productivity is
left for all the other species.”

“Some scientists now wonder: At what point do the world’s ecosystems
begin to break down? Or, more frighteningly, has that process already

“If the whole world begins to look like Iowa cornfields, …. that
leaves a lot less for other things,” says Foley.

“Foley continues. ‘At what point does this get to be scary?’ ”

Science News
Week of Oct. 13, 2007;  Vol. 172, No. 15

Invasive, Indeed

One species-Homo sapiens-consumes nearly a quarter of Earth’s natural

Sid Perkins

Some people live lightly on the land: Bedouin clans roam the deserts
of the Middle East and North Africa; small groups of indigenous
people follow reindeer herds across frigid Arctic terrain; and tribes
of hunter-gatherers forage the plains of southern Africa and the
forests of Amazonia and Papua New Guinea.

Then there’s the other 6.6 billion of us.

When we farm, clear forests, and build cities, dams, and roads, we
dramatically alter the landscape. In some places, we increase the
land’s productivity-measured as the amount of plant life at the base
of the food chain-by adding immense amounts of water and fertilizer.
New research indicates that on the whole, however, human presence
significantly decreases Earth’s biological productivity. For
instance, many of today’s cities occupy large patches of what had
been some of the world’s most fertile land.

Of the biological productivity that remains, people are gathering an
ever-increasing share, sometimes by boosting their quality of life,
but often merely by dint of their burgeoning numbers. In some
regions, each spanning millions of square kilometers, human activity
consumes almost two-thirds of the biological productivity that would
otherwise be available.

“We were surprised how intensively these regions were being affected”
by human presence, says K. Heinz Erb, an ecologist at Klagenfurt
University in Vienna. “Only one-third of the natural productivity is
left for all the other species.”

Overall, nearly one-quarter of Earth’s land-based biological
productivity ends up in people’s hands and bellies, Erb and his
colleagues estimate. Other research suggests that people appropriate
a comparable, but slightly smaller, share of the ocean’s
productivity-defined as the mass of photosynthetic organisms at the
base of the sea’s food chain.

A projected 25 percent increase in the world’s population by 2030 is
bound to strain ecosystems even further. Increasing agricultural
efficiency by irrigating and fertilizing the land can add to the
strain by boosting erosion and the nutrient runoff that creates toxic
algal blooms and large anoxic zones in oceans. Adding insult to
injury, proposals to transition from fossil fuels to renewable
biofuels would place yet more of Earth’s productivity in people’s

Some scientists now wonder: At what point do the world’s ecosystems
begin to break down? Or, more frighteningly, has that process already

Reaping, sowing

Before people invented agriculture, they roamed the landscape in
search of sustenance. When resources became too scarce to nourish the
group, it was time to move on. When people began to farm the land,
however, their habits changed considerably, to the detriment of many
ecosystems. Settlers built year-round shelters and often cleared
acreage for their crops.

“The rise of modern agriculture and forestry has been one of the most
transformative events in human history,” says Jonathan A. Foley, an
environmental scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Practices vary somewhat, but typically, people heavily farm the most
fertile land, use marginal lands for grazing domestic animals, and
plant single-species tree farms in areas where forests once stood.
Whatever the use, the production of forest or agricultural goods
comes at the expense of natural ecosystems, observes Foley.

Today, croplands and pastures are among the largest ecosystems on the
planet. People farm about 12 percent of the land outside of
Antarctica and Greenland and use about 23 percent for grazing, says
Foley. Together, land devoted to these uses equals the 35 percent of
Earth’s surface that natural forests occupy, he notes.

To estimate the effect that humans wreak on the world’s land-based
ecosystems, Erb and his colleagues used agricultural and forestry
statistics compiled for 161 nations that account for 97.4 percent of
Earth’s icefree land. Most of the remaining area is located on small,
uninhabited islands, Erb notes. In their computer model, the
researchers divided the planet’s land surface into grid squares no
larger than 10 kilometers per side.

The team estimates that if people weren’t around to alter the
landscape, the world’s natural vegetation would absorb enough carbon
dioxide from the atmosphere to lock away about 65.5 billion metric
tons of carbon each year. However, in 2000, the year for which the
data were compiled, Earth’s vegetation locked away only about 59.2
billion metric tons of carbon, or 9.6 percent less than it should
have, says Erb. Of that smaller carbon total, human activities
removed about 15.6 billion metric tons-a whopping 23.8 percent-from
the world’s ecosystems. A little more than half of the carbon that
people appropriated was harvested and used as food, forage, and wood,
Erb and his colleagues note in the July 31 Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences. Most of the rest was lost to
inefficiencies of agriculture, including the inability of crops to
store as much carbon as natural vegetation would have stored. A small
amount, about 7 percent of the carbon that people take out of the
system, went up in smoke produced primarily by slash-and-burn
agriculture, says Erb. All of this human-appropriated carbon became
unavailable to other species.

Human harvests don’t stop at the shoreline, either. The world’s most
productive fisheries typically lie in and near the shallow waters
that fringe the coasts of large islands and continents, says Daniel
Pauly, a fisheries biologist at the University of British Columbia in
Vancouver. Scientists have divided such coastal waters into 64 large
marine ecosystems. These areas can vary in character and inhabitants
as much as arctic tundra differs from an Amazonian rain forest.

About 95 percent of the world’s fish catch comes from large marine
ecosystems, says Pauly. For the past decade or so, that haul has
represented about 20 percent of the natural productivity of those
regions, as measured by the amount of carbon locked away by organisms
at the base of the ocean’s food chain.

Efficiency matters

While wilderness areas remain relatively unaffected by people, other
parts of the world are packed cheek by jowl with cities, farms, and
other human imprints.

Southern Asia, a 6.7-million-square-kilometer region that includes
India, is one of the most densely populated and heavily irrigated
regions on the planet, says Erb. There, human activity co-opts about
63 percent of the area’s natural productivity each year, he and his
colleagues estimate. In eastern and southeastern Europe, people
appropriate about 52 percent of the land’s productivity.

At the other extreme, in Australia, central Asia, and Latin America,
the percentage of productivity that ends up in human hands ranges
between 11 and 16 percent. Increasing the use of fertilizers and
irrigation could boost those percentages and help meet the needs of a
growing world population. However, long-term irrigation sometimes
renders the soil too salty for crops, and fertilizer, if used
unsparingly, runs off into rivers and streams and ends up in the
ocean, where it overfertilizes algae and thus creates huge zones
devoid of other life. “There’s no free biomass,” Erb cautions.

In the stampede to replace fossil fuels, some scientists have
proposed the large-scale cultivation of crops that can be transformed
into supposedly eco-friendly biofuels. That, too, might be
ecologically unwise.

“If the whole world begins to look like Iowa cornfields, we’ll have
to take an even larger share of global biological production into
human hands, and that leaves a lot less for other things,” says
Foley. “And those other things won’t be just pretty butterflies and
tigers and charismatic animals, they’ll be things that matter to us,
like the things that clean our water, preserve our soils, clean our
atmosphere, and pollinate our crops.”

“At what point does human activity begin to compromise a lot of our
environmental systems?” Foley continues. “At what point does this get
to be scary?”

If you have a comment on this article that you would like considered
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Foley, J.A., et al. 2007. Our share of the planetary pie. Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences 104(July 31):12585-12586. Extract
available at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/extract/104/31/12585.

Haberl, H., K.H. Erb, et al. 2007. Quantifying and mapping the human
appropriation of net primary production in earth’s terrestrial
ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(July
31):12942-12947. Available at

Further Readings:

Harder, B. 2003. Catch zero. Science News 164(July 26):59-61.
Available at http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20030726/bob10.asp.

Perkins, S. 2004. Paved paradise? Science News 166(Sept. 4):152-153.
Available at http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20040904/bob8.asp>

Raloff, J. 2000. Sprawling over croplands. Science News 157(March
4):155. Available to subscribers at


K. Heinz Erb
Institute of Social Ecology
Klagenfurt University
Schottenfeldgasse 29
1070, Vienna

Jonathan A. Foley
Center for Sustainablility and the Global Environment
University of Wisconsin, Madison
1710 University Avenue, Room 202A
Madison, WI 53726

Daniel Pauly
Fisheries Centre
Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory (AERL), Room 333
2202 Main Mall
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4

Copyright (c) 2007 Science Service. All rights reserved.


“As sea levels rise as many as 6000 people have been relocated and
two islands in the Sunderbans already submerged due to climate change.

” ‘I lost everything. That part is the tiger reserve. But the river
comes in- it destroyed my house it also destroyed our crops as the
water is so saline. Earlier it did not flood so often but now it
seems it is flooding ever so often,’ says a resident of the area,
Suryakant Moundal.”

Sunderbans in danger, locals turn climate refugees
Bahar Dutt

Sunderbans (West Bengal): Is global warming for real? As the world
debates climate change and global warming join us on a special
journey as we transverse through the Sunderbans Delta and find out
how wildlife and people are coping with quite literally living on the

Hard to access and a difficult terrain to live in, Sunderbans is home
to over 54 species of mangroves – the only flora that can survive in
these saline waters.

This is a world heritage site and now it’s a climate change hotspot.
There’s a crisis brewing here which may seem local but its causes are

As sea levels rise as many as 6000 people have been relocated and two
islands in the Sunderbans already submerged due to climate change.

“I lost everything. That part is the tiger reserve. But the river
comes in- it destroyed my house it also destroyed our crops as the
water is so saline. Earlier it did not flood so often but now it
seems it is flooding ever so often,” says a resident of the area,
Suryakant Moundal.

Moundal is a distressed man. He does not know about climate change.
What he does know is that the frequency with which he has to move has
gone up and that the river now destroys his home with greater

“We are from santhal tribe. We have lost everything. Where do we go?
There is no land on the island it is already taken,” says another

Any island you visit on the Sunderbans tells the same story. People
have their own coping strategies. Some have put these bamboo
structures to prevent the mud from falling, others have just got used
to moving home more often. So what has made this world heritage site
more vulnerable to climate change?

“Sunderbans is a delta, the river always used to flood but now if you
look many islands are disappearing fast, in fact two of the islands
are already submerged. If you look at these satellite images you will
see the difference,” WWF Senior Coordinator Dr Prakash Rao.

The waters that bring life are also the waters that take it away.
Scientists estimate with rising sea levels there will be cascading

While 60 per cent of Mangrove species will be destroyed, the habitat
of the endangered species like the Royal Bengal tiger will be wiped

Once saline water moves in to the islands, crops will be destroyed.