The Earth Organization is an international, independent, non-profit group which seeks to reverse the dwindling spiral of the plant and animal kingdoms and our environment through education and action.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Are Our Rich Mineral Resources a Curse?

"Are Our Rich Mineral Resources a Curse?"
Published in the Namib Times, 10 May 2013.
By Marcia Stanton

Most of our vast land and ocean has been leased out to mining companies. It’s concerning given that generally mining is not sustainable as it involves the removal of finite resources which do not reproduce within a reasonable period of time. Sustainability is supposed to be a pillar of Namibian society, with the concept even incorporated into our Constitution. 

Due to mining being an unsustainable industry highly reliant on unstable world markets, many mining projects fail and at some point all mines have to close. The result is an ecologically damaged area, a polluted environment, exhausted water resources, poor health, job and income losses, unnecessary infrastructure and the entire mining footprint to clean up.  With mineral agreements across our entire country, the cumulative impact is substantial.

Some might argue that the positive impacts outweigh the negative.  Often people argue that mines are a large source of employment, but according to the National Planning Commission, mining only accounts for 2% of jobs in Namibia. It is a benefit that mining supplies 8.8% of GDP and provides 54% of foreign exchange earnings, but the dependency on minerals may actually be a curse.

According to Oxford, Namibia is ranked 16th in the world in terms of mineral dependence and this dependency is only increasing.   High reliance on minerals is considered negative and it is associated with poor governance and lower levels of economic and institutional development. 

The earnings from the mineral sector may sound enticing, but the concentration of mineral rights remains mostly with the wealthy and is inaccessible to the local people, causing income inequality.  If the wealth generated from mining only remains with the few, does it really serve to benefit all of society? 

The World Bank has stated that high income inequality threatens economic status and development potential.   In 2011, the 40 richest mining billionaires earned a net worth of US$300 billion.  This is equivalent to about of 40% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP (excluding South Africa).  According to UNICEF, the wealthiest 61 million persons hold the same amount of money as the poorest 3.5 billion people in the world. 

Namibia has one of the most unequal distributions of income and wealth in the world according to UNICEF. This is due to mining dependency.  This poses a major problem as the quality of life of people in a country depends on how income is distributed.  

Business Insider has demonstrated that income inequality is the cause of the world’s most pressing social problems including the depletion of essential health care services, water and sanitation facilities, and primary and secondary education.  Social impacts include diminished child welfare, low life expectancy, and increased crime, teen pregnancy, mental illness and addictions.

The Economist has called income inequality “one of the biggest social, economic and political challenges of our time.”  If we are truly prepared to take on this challenge then we must question whether leasing our entire country out to mining companies is a good idea after all.

Friday, 17 May 2013

LL Namibia Phosphates Marine Phosphate Trial

LL Namibia Phosphates proposes to develop a world-scale marine phosphate mine and to process the phosphate as feedstock for phosphoric acid production.  The company is looking at conducting a trial in Luderitz (Namibia).  Although the advertisement states that no chemicals or additives will be used, the phosphate that will be used in this manufacturing process contains heavy metals such as Cadmium, Arsenic, Lead, Mercury, Chromium, Vanadium, Selenium and the two radioactive elements Uranium and Thorium.  These hazardous and radioactive wastes will need to be leached from the crushed ore, which will have a large long-term negative impact on the health of the people and the environment.   If you are concerned about these or other potential impacts, please become an Interested and Affected Party.  If you register as an Interested and Affected Party, your comments must be taken into consideration in terms of the Environmental Management Act of 2007 and the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations of 2012.  

In order to register as an Interested and Affected Party, please contact:
fax +26461306059.  

Thanks for your care and concern!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Nature’s Guide to Happiness

Published in the Namib Times, 3 May 2013.
By Marcia Stanton

This place makes you feel part of creation, a place that puts you in touch with your soul. It’s so vast it takes your breath away.  Because the land is so infinite and so untouched it delivers a sense of calm and peace.

This is what tourists visiting Namibia say according to personal interviews with the Namibia Tourism Board.  People come to Namibia to get away from the stress created in more developed countries.  Stress is a huge problem in the world and there are over 326 million internet sites available to help us deal with it. 

Although some people think that money can buy happiness, the truth is that affluence is the main cause of stress.   Many prosperous countries and people are facing increased stress because of the wealth they have.  People come to Namibia to get away from this stress and tourism is ranked as one of the four pillars in Namibia’s economy for this reason.

Our bodies were not designed to take the type of stress many now face with loud noise, crowding, or pollution.  If you put a bird in a cage with no access to the natural world, it will pluck all its feathers out.  Similarly, if you put humans in a place with little access to a clean environment, they will develop ailments like depression and/or addictions.  Whether we like it or not, our body recognises nature as being good for us and things contrary to nature as bad for us. 

The “Happy Planet Index” has exposed the issue of environmental stress and has alternatively ranked countries according to sustainability and happiness with the overall score determined by factors including wellbeing, life expectancy and the impact on the environment.  Many developed countries are worse off than less-developed countries in terms of happiness.  Costa Rica ranks as the happiest country along with nine countries from Latin America and the Caribbean in the top ten ranking. 

Namibia is ranked 96 of 151 countries with lower life-expectancy and income inequality being the main factors behind the poor ranking.  Even with these negative factors, Namibia is happier than the well-developed country of the United States which is ranked at 105.  Namibia also fares better than our neighbours South Africa (ranked 142) and Botswana (ranked the worst at 151). 

We have income inequality in common with our neighbours as a major factor leading to unhappiness.  According to a Mail and Guardian analysis, mining is the key driver behind income inequality and causes a greater division between rich and poor.  Namibia, South Africa and Botswana all have a rich supply of minerals and are the three most unequal countries in the world. 

So what is it that puts Namibia at an advantage over the United States, South Africa and Botswana in terms of happiness?  Our vast environment raises our ranking and without it we would be very unhappy indeed.  We damage the environment less and this is our saving grace.  We live in an arid Eden that delivers a sense of calm and peace.  Where would we be without it? 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Thank you for your support!!

This past weekend, this blog reached 40,000 total page views since we started it last year.  Thanks to each one of you for your support!!  

Friday, 10 May 2013

Fearless Summer - Fearless Winter

Join the Movement. Be Fearless. Speak the Truth. Join us for this Fearless Summer - Fearless Winter (see We Are Fearless Summer Website).

Our Director of the Earth Organization Namibia is a Native American Indian from NY and living in Namibia. She will be playing her Native American Flute on the street with a signboard to raise awareness on the world wide problem of extreme energy. This music is a prayer and a voice for all our relations whose cries go unheard around our planet every day. As part of the June Week of Action of Fearless Summer, she will play her Native American Flute on June 24th in Manhattan, NY and on June 29th in Swakopmund, Namibia. Let us unify across the seasons from all the directions- North, South, East and West. 

Exact locations are yet to be announced.

For more information, find these events on facebook by clicking the following links:
Fearless Summer (Manhattan, NY) 
Fearless Summer (Winter) (Swakopmund, Namibia) 

For more information, please go here:
We Are Fearless Summer Website
We Are Fearless Summer (Facebook)
The Earth Organization Namibia Website
The Earth Organization Namibia (Facebook)

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Worth of the Deep Blue

"The Worth of the Deep Blue"
Published in the Namib Times, 26 April 2013.
By Marcia Stanton

Although humans cannot live in the ocean, without it we would not be able to live on earth.  The ocean makes up 71% of the Earth’s surface and 80% of all life is contained there.  It regulates the climate and absorbs nearly one-third of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. It provides over half of the planet’s oxygen and regulates the earth’s weather which in turn provides us with fresh drinking water.

Much of our food is provided by the sea and fish is a very important source of food security, particularly for the poorest in society. The ocean is a lifeline when we get hit by drought and it contains the only food not dependent on freshwater. According to the UN, the ocean is the largest source of protein on earth and approximately 2.6 billion people rely on marine life as their primary protein source.

The ocean provides much of the medicine to help fight cancer, heart disease and viruses. It promotes psychological well being and provides opportunities for recreation.

Over 3 billion people on earth directly depend on marine life for their livelihoods. According to the UN, the market value of ocean and coastal resources and industries is estimated at US$3 trillion per year or 5% of global GDP.  In Namibia, the fishing industry alone provides direct employment of around 13,380 people and contributes $4.8 billion in foreign currency earnings and approximately 5% of Namibia’s total Gross Domestic Product.

In total, all the natural resources and services the ocean provides for free is worth about US$21 trillion annually.  Yet, even though it contributes so much to our well being, we know more about the moon and mars than we do our ocean.  Unfortunately humans are tinkering with the delicate balance of the ocean that we know very little about.  We have only explored 5% of it, yet 40% of the ocean is negatively affected by us.  Pollution,  mining, oil exploration and development, and overfishing are the main drivers to the demise of the sea.

One of the worst human impacts on the ocean is pollution.  The main cause of marine pollution is the use and production of the fertilizers nitrogen and phosphorous (phosphate).   Sewage, solid waste, vehicular and industrial emissions only compound the problem.  The result is that there are now 405 dead zones in our planet’s ocean caused by pollution.  These areas are so toxic that virtually no life except algae and bacteria exists there. 

Only 4% of these dead zones are showing any sign of recovery and most are only getting larger.  The largest dead zone in our ocean is 70,000 square kilometres.  Global warming will only lead to the increase in dead zones.  If we stay on the present course, it is predicted that more than a fifth of the world’s ocean may become a dead zone. 

Now more than ever, we need to proceed with caution on how we treat our ocean, not only for the wellbeing of marine life, but for our very survival which intricately depends on the health of the ocean.