Scientists present alternative to Sarawak’s mega-dams

A new study from the University of California, Berkeley shows how Sarawak’s future lies with small-scale, local energy solutions rather than with risky and expensive large-scale hydropower. The scientists are presenting their findings tomorrow at the ASEAN Renewable Energy Week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

BERKELEY, California, April 23, 2014 –/WORLD-WIRE/– Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have come up with an alternative to Sarawak’s power gigantism with its Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) project. The Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund welcomes their conclusion – instead of building mega-dams, the government of Sarawak, Malaysia ought to focus on small-scale energy sources for increasing rural electrification and developing rural areas.

Extending rural energy access is key to poverty reduction in Sarawak. According to the new study entitled “Kampung Capacity,” small-scale energy solutions are more likely to translate into electricity access for the affected and nearby communities than large hydropower projects.

The Bakun Dam shows that mega-dams mainly bring power to urban areas and feed large industries, while villages in the rural areas – even those next to the Bakun dam – remain without access to electricity.

The study analyses different energy scenarios based on small-scale energy solutions for three villages in the Baram area and finds “the least-cost options for energy services to come from a mixture of locally managed small-scale hydroelectricity, biogas generators and accompanying batteries instead of a claim of service provision based on large-scale regional electrification.”

A whole range of tests demonstrated that, “different renewable energy service scenarios are consistently 20 percent, or less, than the cost of diesel energy scenarios, without the social, economic, and environmental disruptions that would come with a large-scale hydropower plan for the river basin.”

Consequently, significant savings could result from using local and sustainable sources compared with today’s dependence on diesel generators in most rural villages.

The Berkeley report is the answer to the problems set out by researchers at Oxford University whose analysis of past dams has revealed that large dams are associated with enormous risks: on average, the actual costs of large dams have been 96 per cent higher than the estimate, and the implementation schedule has overshot by 44 percent.

The Oxford scientists concluded that large dams were uneconomical and advised countries at a lower level of economic development to implement smaller projects.

With their study, UC Berkeley scientists Rebekah Shirley and Daniel Kammen of the university’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory have now specified a possible design for such an energy strategy based on small-scale local energy solutions for Sarawak. The result is a viable alternative to “SCORE’s large scale, extraction-based development regime.”

The two scientists have prepared the way for new paths of development in Sarawak. Researcher and co-author of the study, Shirley, is presenting her findings tomorrow at the ASEAN Renewable Energy Week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Bruno Manser Fund asks the government of Sarawak to develop an alternative energy and development plan for Sarawak based on the findings of both the Berkeley and the Oxford studies. The time is ripe to acknowledge the advantages of small-scale energy solutions over large-scale dams. Development should be focused around the people and not indebt the state for generations to come.

The Bruno Manser Fund is committed to protect the threatened tropical rainforests and the rights of the indigenous forest peoples. The association’s focus lies on Sarawak, the Malaysian state in Borneo. The Bruno Manser Fund was founded by Swiss rainforest advocate Bruno Manser, who has been missing since his last trip to Sarawak in May 2000.

Sources for this release:

Shirley, R. and Kammen, D., 2013, “Kampung Capacity: Local Solutions for Sustainable Rural Energy in the Baram River Basin, Sarawak, Malaysia”, University of California, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (REAL). https://rael.berkeley.edu/Kampung-Capacity

Ansar, A. et al., 2014, “Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower megaproject development”, in: Energy Policy, University of Oxford. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421513010926

BMF_BerkeleyReportCover

Please contact us for more information:
Bruno Manser Fund
Socinstrasse 37
4051 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74
www.bmf.ch

Asheville Green Drinks Celebrates its 500th Event, a remarkable achievement in community collaboration

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina, April 22, 2014 –/WORLD-WIRE/– Western North Carolina is home the world’s hardest working sustainability networking and education event and on the 23th of April, 2014 it will celebrate the 500th iteration of Asheville Green Drinks – quite a feat for a small town nestled in bosom of the Appalachian Mountains. The “Green Drinks” movement is an international grassroots event series mostly focused on after work networking for professionals and community members who have an interest in the science of sustainability.

It was originally created by Edwin Datschefski in 1989 at a British pub called the Slug and Lettuce in North London, England. Mr. Datschefski was sitting with his green design colleagues Yorick Benjamin and Paul Scott when he noticed an enviro-minded acquaintance at a nearby table. As it turned out, the friend was sitting with a few of his own eco-conscious mates, so they pulled some tables together and a movement was born, spawning events in over 650 cities around the world.

Unlike most green drinks events Mr. Datschefski remarked that to his knowledge, “…Asheville seems to be the only city on earth hosting a weekly green drinks programme. No doubt that with the added feature of educational programming at each event, Asheville Green Drinks is one of the most unique hosts for the green drinks movement.”

Asheville’s event series was initiated by Joseph B. Malki, then a partner at eco event producers Seven-Star producers of Green Festivals and greeners of the 2009 Democratic National Convention and Live Earth!

Malki says “I heard about the Green Drinks movement from one of Austin’s eco-pioneers, Brandi Clark. It sounded like the perfect reason to leave the office on a Friday before 5pm for something ecologically related” chuckles Malki. “I went to my favorite spot in town at the time; Bobo Gallery and asked Brad & Elizabeth Reichart to host.
They were so enthusiastic and became the first of many bars to host our event. Luckily, Ms. Ulla Britt, Asheville environmental scientist, had initiated a similar event concept, Enviro Beer night (another national networking series) and was ready to relinquish management of the event. She invited all her mates to join Asheville Green Drinks. I then called up Ty Hallock from Top Floor Studio and pitched him a weekly green drinks event concept. He loved it and helped me start the website and co-managed the event for three years. Folks like Sage Linden and Jim Barton also helped coordinate this regular event.”

Malki had cut his teeth on ecologically minded events since his teens with punk rock benefits in Sacramento and later with the University of California at Davis where he volunteered and eventually helped produce the student and community led Whole Earth Festival. He later became the public relations liaison for the California State Fair. and went on to form Seven-Star with his family, sister Georgia Malki and brother-in-law Alan van de Kamp Grau.

Malki continues, “The way Asheville Green Drinks began reveals how much Asheville is rooted in a community of cooperation and collaboration. Since 2005, the Asheville community has embraced this weekly event and really made it their own.”

In 2010, Malki decided to widen the involvement in Asheville  Green Drinks coordination and programming by inviting the regions leading activist organizations to the table to collaborate around education. “Ty and I started to stress a little with just how busy we were with our respective lives. Top Floor Studios was gaining new international contracts and I had just recovered from a second surgery from a training accident at Ft. Bragg Army Officer Candidate School. The idea of sharing the load with our local non-profits made sense since we were relying on them for proramming content anyway.”

Malki reached out to Western North Carolina Alliance, Western North Carolina Green Building Council, Sierra Club of Western North Carolina (WENOCA), Just Economics WNC, United Nations Association of WNC and Transition Asheville and formed a steering committee dubbed Partners in Education.

“Asheville has a great track record of collaboration between non-profits and grassroots movements. It was really a no-brainer to join forces with complementary allies and help make Asheville Green Drinks more popular and stronger,” says Julie Mayfield executive director of Western North Carolina Alliance and the chair of Asheville Green Drinks’ steering committee. “We continue to have amazing free educational events every week and now all this work is shared by seven organizations, a few private individuals and the greater Asheville community who attend. This is the essence of collaboration and community building and we are thrilled at how many lives we have touched.”

In 2012 Lenoir-Rhyne University – Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville joined the Partners in Education steering committee. “Bridging conversations between the academic community and the community where we live is a critical step forward.” says Dr. Keith McDade, Assistant Professor of Sustainability Studies of Lenoir-Rhyne. “ We participate in the community in a variety of ways.  This learning from and sharing with the community is not only an important role for the University but is foundational for the possibility of sustainability.” McDade and the Lenoir-Rhyne graduate group readily embrace community events based on the educational principles.

“Events such as Green Drinks are catalysts for community building and individual empowerment. I have learned a great deal from attending Green Drinks, and I regularly see connections being made and people learning from each other in ways that build the intellectual and social capital of our community.  This is essential for sustainability in our region to advance” McDade concludes.

Asheville Green Drinks has hosted a wide variety of educational programming ranging from climate change to green building. A few weeks ago Tommy Cabe, Chief Forester of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee presented a new sustainable forestry plan that captivated the audience. Asheville Green Drinks is making a concerted effort to be more inclusive in approaching First Nations and people of color. It’s no stretch of the imagination however to realize that some of the most popular green drink events are about “do it yourself” green building, gardening and healthy cooking.

Maggie Leslie, Executive Director of the Western North Carolina Green Building Council mentions, “Our community has a strong interest in learning how to execute sustainable initiatives and empower themselves with the right techniques. The WNCGBC presents a few times a year and we are packed every time. The recession forced people to take-on their own projects and learn how to save even more by going ‘green.’ Self sufficiency, energy conservation and solar power are high on people’s interests.”

With almost prescient foresight, since 2005 Asheville Green Drinks has presented several educational events on the dangers of Duke Power’s coal sludge ponds. On February 14th, 2014 a  leak, spewing tons of coal ash into the Dan River – a source of drinking water for Danville, Va., a town 20 miles upstream resulted because of Duke Power’s negligence.

“Asheville Green Drinks has always had a pulse on the ecological safety of our community”, says Sierra Club Political Chair, Ken Brame.  “Our job is to make sure that everyone is empowered with the state of our local environment by informing them of the risks and alternatives. I don’t know how many times the Sierra Club and our allies have warned Duke about the ecocidal potential of these sludge ponds. If they had attended our green drinks events – maybe they would have saved the Dan River. Even worse, Duke still has a pond on the South French Broad River. Its a disaster waiting to happen.”

While not all Asheville Green Drink events are doom and gloom, they do serve as a scientific method of democratic communication. Typically after the presenter, the public is invited to ask questions and engage with thoughtful dialogue.

Geri Littlejohn of Transition Asheville adds, “We are open to a wide variety of perspectives around these conversations. Conservatives, liberals, radicals and moderates have an opportunity to come together and listen to an expert’s point of view. Often times we end-up learning as much from the audiences interactions and counter-points as the speakers. Its a perfect circle of learning and community discovery.”

Part of that interaction relies on teaching young volunteers how to coordinate events, conduct media campaigns, use social media and websites.

Mark Hebbard of Just Economics states, “We have relied on wonderful volunteers over the years who have left with some significant skills. We have a 6000 person email list and a growing number of followers on Facebook and Twitter. Our volunteers gain practical skills to help them promote social justice and ecological wisdom as they move on in their careers.”

Malki has reflected on the meaning of this event and pondered its significance from his unusual point of view. “My parents were immigrants into the United States and I was born in Texas. I learned from my family the value and importance of democracy and cherishing our right to assemble and discuss the politics and science of our nation. Being a native Texan, I also have a penchant for boasting and thinking big. So, when I think what Asheville has achieved with this 500th milestone its really remarkable. Asheville is such a leading edge, bold and pioneering community and while we have a lot to boast about we do back it up with innovation and action. I think my parents would be proud of Asheville Green Drinks and the idea of a free education based event series. My father’s heritage is Suryoyo, the Christian ethnic minority of Greater Syria. During the Ottoman genocide against Christians, my ancestors were terribly persecuted for their religion and culture. They were not allowed any of the rights we Americans often take for granted. My fondest wish is for conservatives and liberals in America to really relish just how wonderful it is to be free and to exercise a modicum of civility when confronting each other with logical arguments. I feel that Asheville Green Drinks honors a respectful spirit of public expression, scientific discovery and living dialogue. For me its what makes our democracy a vibrant and even sacred experience.”

At 6pm EST April 23rd, 2014 Green Sage will be hosting the 500th Asheville Green Drinks event in the form of a party celebrating this community accomplishment located at 5 Broadway Asheville, NC (828) 252-4450.

Asheville Vice Mayor Marc Hunt will be presenting a Mayoral Proclamation for the day to be commemorated as Asheville Green Drink day.

Both Malki and Hallock and their associates have a lot to be proud of. Hallock who is studying at Stanford University but beaming in via Skype for the party says, “Its been nine years since we first started. Most people would have dismissed Joseph’s idea for a weekly event series out of hand. But we had great friends and a great community to lean on. The Asheville Green Drinks series is proof that Asheville has what it takes to not just accomplish green initiatives, but to see them through for the duration. To me its the living proof of what sustainability means in practice – a diverse community committed to lifelong learning.”

POINTS OF CONTACT:

MEDIA CONTACT:
Isabelle Rios
info@ashevillegreendrinks.com (828) 258-8737

Edwin Datschefski, Founder & International Coordinator for Asheville Green Drinks edwin@biothinking.com

Joseph B. Malki, CEO twingravity
joseph.malki@gmail.com (828) 216-5769

Julie Mayfield, Co-Director, Western North Carolina Alliance
julie@wnca.org (828) 258-8737

Dr. Keith McDade, Asst Professor of Sustainability Studies
keith.mcdade@lr.edu (828) 407-4276

Littlejohn, Transition Asheville
gerilittlejohn@gmail.com (828) 712-0277

Ken Brame, Sierra Club – Political Chair
kenbrame@sbcglobal.net (828) 423-8045

Mark Hebbard, Just Economics – Living Wage Certification Coordinator
markhebbard@justeconomicswnc.org (828) 505-7466

Jim Barton, WNCA United Nations Association of WNC
smithmillcreek@gmail.com (828) 367-7636

Ty Hallock, CEO Top Floor Studio
Ty.hallack@topfloorstudios.com (828) 225-8124

organizers

Asheville GreenDrinks organizers, Joseph Malki, center

Oxford University study says large dams are uneconomical

Just in time for this week’s ASEAN Renewable Energy Week, new scientific results have questioned the economic viability of large dams. Calculations by the Bruno Manser Fund show that the Malaysian Bakun Dam scores even worse than the average large dam.

OXFORD, UK, April 21, 2104 –/WORLD-WIRE/– Researchers at Oxford University have found that planners and policymakers systematically underestimate the costs and time required to implement large dam projects: the actual costs of large dams were 96 per cent higher than the estimate, on average, and implementation took 44 per cent longer than scheduled.

The new report thus explicitly states that large dams are not economical: “We find that even before accounting for negative impacts on human society and environment, the actual construction costs of large dams are too high to yield a positive return.”

The study is based on the most comprehensive economic analysis of large dams ever undertaken. “Large dams” refers to dams with a wall height in excess of 15 meters.

The study, which is based on a representative sample of 245 large hydropower dams built in 65 different countries between 1934 and 2007, concludes that cost and time overruns have not improved over time. The cost and time forecasts are still as wrong as they were 70 years ago.

The study cites two reasons for these immense cost and time overruns: firstly, both experts and laypersons are systematically “too optimistic about the time, costs, and benefits of a decision”. Secondly, project promoters deceive the decision-makers and the public with strategic misrepresentations.

The new study was released in late March, just in time for the ASEAN Renewable Energy Week 2014, which started yesterday. Southeast Asia’s Energy Ministers are meeting in Kuala Lumpur to discuss their government’s future energy policies. Malaysia is also presenting and promoting its dams.

A closer look at the most recently completed hydropower dam in Malaysia, the Bakun Dam, however, shows that this dam scores worse than the average large dam. The Bakun Dam was meant to cost RM2.5 billion. While the official expenditure figures have risen to RM7.4 billion, the two scientists, Sovacool and Bulan, put the total cost of the Bakun Dam at RM15.325 billion.

When construction work commenced in 1994, the dam was meant to be operational in 2003. It was actually completed in 2011, but even today, not all eight turbines are operational.

Calculations by the Bruno Manser Fund show that the time overrun at the Bakun Dam was almost 90 per cent and the cost overrun was even 200 to 500 per cent. As the Bakun Dam was financed by the federal government – mainly through the Employees Provident Fund and the Pensions Fund – Malaysia’s citizens are having to pay the price for the over-optimistic forecasts of the Bakun Dam promoters.

With the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), Sarawak is implementing a whole series of uneconomical large dams of this type. The projected costs of US$105 billion for SCORE are therefore likely to rise. The proposed Baram Dam is likely to cost more than RM5 billion rather than the budgeted RM3 billion. Sarawak is playing for high stakes, while the population bears the risks.

To minimize these risks associated with large dams, the Oxford study advises countries at a lower level of economic development to implement energy alternatives that have a shorter implementation span and a smaller budget than large dams.

The ASEAN Ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur ought to take these findings seriously. The time is ripe for turning the focus away from mega-projects that involve great financial risks and moving towards small-scale energy sources that incur lower environmental and social costs.

Bakun dam

The Malaysian Bakun Dam is one of Asia’s largest dams and had high cost and time overruns (Copyright: BMF)

 

infographic

Infographic with findings of the Oxford University (copyright: International Rivers)

Sources for this release:

Ansar, A. et al., 2014, “Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower megaproject development”, in: Energy Policy, University of Oxford. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421513010926

Benjamin K. Sovacool and L.C. Bulan, 2011, “Settling the SCORE”, Energy Governance Case Study No. 4.

Oxford Business Group 2011 “The Report: Sarawak 2011”.

Internet Press Service, 1997, “Public Listing Puts Mammoth Dam Project to Test”, http://www.ipsnews.net/1997/06/malaysia-public-listing-puts-mammoth-dam-project-to-the-test/

Please contact us for more information:
Bruno Manser Fund
Socinstrasse 37
4051 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74
www.bmf.ch

Wilderness Committee Earth Day Celebrations, March and Festival

WILDERNESSCOMMITTEE_LOGOVANCOUVER, BC, Canada, April 18, 2014 –/WORLD-WIRE/– On Monday, April 21st, the 4th Annual Earth Day Celebration will take place in East Vancouver – complete with entertainment, family-friendly activities, music, special guests and much more!

Bring your whole family and walk in the parade with your own homemade sign. Then stick around for the festival at Grandview Park, listen to the speakers, dance to the music, visit the information booths, sign all the petitions and action cards.

This year, don’t miss special guest speaker David Suzuki!

Hosted by Youth for Climate Justice Now, with support from the Wilderness Committee, ForestEthics, Vancouver School Board, BC Teachers’ Federation and the Council of Canadians.

Find more information, including the schedule of speakers at www.earthdayvancouver.ca

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/383697285105110/

The Wilderness Committee is proud to have been picked by one of Vancouver Island’s most exciting eco-tourism businesses as its Earth Day partner this year!

On Saturday, April 19th, we’ll be out at AdrenaLINE Zipline Adventure Tours near Sooke celebrating Earth Day with our newest publications and campaign updates. Zipline guides have been briefed on our projects and will talk about forest conservation and other issues as guests fly through the canopy!

Experience an exhilarating ride up to 60km/hr as you soar through the forest on eight scenic ziplines, ranging from 150 feet to an unforgettable 1000 feet off the ground.

At the end of the day, AdrenaLINE will generously donate a portion of all proceeds to the Wilderness Committee, so book your zipline tour at www.adrenalinezip.com, or by calling (250) 642-1933!

The Wilderness Committee, founded in 1980, is a registered non-profit society with charitable status. With over 60,000 members, donors and volunteers, we are Canada’s largest membership-based, citizen-funded wilderness protection group. Our head office is in Vancouver, with field offices in Victoria, Winnipeg and Toronto.

We are united in our mission to protect Canada’s life-giving biological diversity through strategic research and grassroots public education. We believe that the right, the duty and the ability to act for the public good are integral to citizenship. We value wilderness, with all its natural biodiversity, as absolutely vital to the health of people, communities and the planet. We act with integrity and courage to mobilize citizens to take lawful, democratic action to defend Canada’s wilderness and wildlife.

It is the combined voices of our thousands of supporters, in partnership with our dedicated board, staff, and volunteers that has allowed the Wilderness Committee to campaign successfully to protect millions of hectares of Canadian wilderness in over 55 key wilderness areas.

Contact:

Wilderness Committee
46 East 6th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5T 1J4
phone: 604-683-8220
toll free: 1-800-661-9453
info@wildernesscommittee.org

Canadian Government Comes Out Against Northern Shipping Due to Oil Spill Risks

Omnitrax’s Churchill crude oil plan dead on the tracks

WILDERNESSCOMMITTEE_LOGOWINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 2, 2014 –/WORLD-WIRE/– Canada’s federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt came out bluntly against shipping oil through the north any time soon, in statements that will stop plans to ship oil by rail through Churchill dead on the tracks.

“I can tell you: one oil spill or accident in the Arctic is one visual you do not want to have in this world at all,” Minister Raitt said, when asked about shipping in the north during a Canadian American Business Council event on Tuesday in Washington D.C.

The Minister’s remarks will have profound impacts on the proposal from Omnitrax Inc., which involves shipping crude oil by rail to the port of Churchill, then by tanker through the Arctic waters of Hudson Bay.

“Minister Raitt’s comments are unequivocal,” said Eric Reder, Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee. “Shipping oil north of the 60th parallel is too risky. We cannot send crude through Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait.”

Omnitrax has stated it would begin shipping crude oil in the summer of 2014, against the wishes of Manitoba’s provincial government. The Manitoba government is currently investigating the establishment of new protected areas on the shores of Hudson Bay – as well as added marine protections for beluga whales – that would help put an end to oil shipping plans.

According to media reports, Minister Raitt said the complications with Arctic shipping for now will give policy-makers ample time to prepare all the safety protocols necessary to protect the pristine region from spills. Raitt also said she’s looking forward to the release of a report this fall with recommendations on shipping north of the 60th parallel.

“It’s not just always about the economy. I can’t believe I said that as a Conservative. But it’s not always about the economy. You’ve got to balance it out with what’s happening in terms of safety, and the environment too,” said Minister Raitt.

The Wilderness Committee has drawn attention to the lack of oil spill response equipment in Hudson Bay, and the difficulty of cleaning up an oil spill in icy, windy northern waters.

“The region is clearly not able to handle the shipment of any crude oil. Instead, the fragile and important northern ecology – including beluga and polar bear habitat – should be protected,” said Reder.

The Wilderness Committee continues to call on the federal government to permanently ban the shipment of crude oil through Churchill and Hudson Bay.

For more information, contact:

Eric Reder
Manitoba Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
204-997-8584 (cell)
eric@wildernesscommittee.org

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Remembering Exxon Valdez, 25 Years Later

Wildlife Rescuers from the Disaster Reflect on One of the Worst Oil Spills in American History; Quarter-Century Anniversary of Valdez is on Monday, March 24, 2014
 
WHAT:
 
Nearly 25 years ago, the Exxon Valdez tragedy changed the way America looked at oil spills and their effects on seabirds and marine mammals. Two International Bird Rescue response experts, Jay Holcomb and Curt Clumpner, are available to speak about their experiences a quarter-century ago as well as explain how oiled wildlife response has changed in the year since.
 
International Bird Rescue’s response team was critical in efforts to save as many oiled birds as possible during the catastrophe. Exxon Valdez was the first major spill where field stabilization and transport were utilized extensively: Four regional centers were established to handle oiled wildlife — the same number of centers we set up by International Bird Rescue and partner organizations during the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010.  
 
WHO:
 
Jay Holcomb, executive director of International Bird Rescue, worked on the front lines of oiled bird response during Exxon Valdez in 1989. His spill response experience spans four decades and dozens of spills, including the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill and the 2000 Treasure Spill in South Africa. Holcomb is a past recipient of the Oceana Ocean Heroes Award and the John Muir Association’s Conservationist of the Year Award.
 
Curt Clumpner, preparedness director of International Bird Rescue, served as a response team member during Exxon Valdez. Clumpner also assisted in wildlife response contingency plans during the Kulluk offshore rig incident in Alaska in 2013 and has responded to spills such as the 2011 Rena Spill in New Zealand and the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.
 
CONTACTS:
To schedule an interview, please contact Karen Benzel at 831-622-7588 or karenbenzelpr@comcast.net

VISUALS:
Archival photos from International Bird Rescue’s work during the spill are available in high-res format.

About International Bird Rescue:
International Bird Rescue (IBR) has been helping seabirds and other aquatic birds around the world since 1971. Our team of specialists operates two year- round aquatic bird rehabilitation centers in California, which care for more than 5,000 birds every year. IBR’s Oil Spill Response Team has led oiled wildlife rescue efforts in more than 200 oil spills in a dozen countries around the world.

Find out more at birdrescue.org.
 

65,000 demand that ABB withdraw from Sarawak

The Bruno Manser Fund has handed over a petition against ABB’s dealings in Sarawak, Malaysia – ABB refuses to provide any information on its business ties with the Taib regime

ZURICH, Switzerland, March 17, 2014 –/WORLD-WIRE/– 65,318 individuals demand that ABB withdraw from its business dealings in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. The Bruno Manser Fund handed over the petition at the ABB headquarters in Zürich Oerlikon last week. The petition was addressed to the CEO of the Swedish-Swiss company, Mr Ulrich Spiesshofer.

The Bruno Manser Fund delegation presented the petition on the occasion of a meeting with a number of ABB representatives. The signatories are demanding that ABB withdraw from its collaboration with Malaysian power supplier, Sarawak Energy.

ABB is furthermore asked to act to conserve the rainforest and to contribute to the improvement of the human rights situation of the indigenous peoples affected by the Murum Dam.

Research conducted by the Bruno Manser Fund revealed last year that ABB is involved in Sarawak’s dam scheme: ABB Malaysia has delivered the turbine governor and additional technical equipment for the controversial Murum Dam and labelled Sarawak Energy as one of their major customers.

The state-owned company, Sarawak Energy, has repeatedly handed out contracts to companies linked to the family of the former Chief Minister and current Governor of Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The Taib family has amassed stakes in over 400 companies worldwide and accumulated wealth in excess of US$20 billion during Taib’s 33 years as Chief Minister and is currently under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

At the meeting between ABB and the Bruno Manser Fund, the company downplayed its business ties with dam developer, Sarawak Energy. ABB refused to provide any information on the company’s business dealings in Sarawak. Questions concerning the extent of their business in Sarawak and also relating to the human rights situation and corruption were left unanswered.

The Murum Dam is the first of a series of mega-dams in the rainforest of Sarawak. It is flooding 250km2 of rainforest and forcefully displacing 1500 indigenous people. The proposed 12 dams would affect over 2,300km2 and an estimated population of between 30,000 and 50,000 people.

The Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) is committed to protect the threatened tropical rainforests and the rights of the indigenous forest peoples. The association’s focus lies on Sarawak, the Malaysian state in Borneo. The Bruno Manser Fund was founded by Swiss rainforest advocate Bruno Manser, who has been missing since his last trip to Sarawak in May 2000.
 
Please contact us for more information:
Bruno Manser Fund
Socinstrasse 37
4051 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74
www.bmf.ch

petition

The Bruno Manser Fund at the ABB headquarters before handing over the petition

 

petition

The Bruno Manser Fund is sending a clear message: ABB get out of Sarawak!

Everyone Welcome to Attend Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Festival for World Peace and Environmental Protection

KTL_LogoHONOLULU, Hawaii, March 14, 2014 –/WORLD-WIRE/– Registration is now open for the North American Kagyu Monlam Hawaii, a Tibetan Buddhist prayer festival. Through the recitation of prayers and by gathering people with shared intentions, the Monlam aspires to create world peace, liberate sentient beings from suffering and maintain the health of the environment.

The North American Kagyu Monlam Hawaii 2014 is hosted by Kagyu Thegchen Ling, a Honolulu center of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, also known as the “practice lineage” for its emphasis on meditation.

The Kagyu Monlam was established by the 7th Karmapa, Chodrak Gyatso (1454-1506). In the Tibetan region, he was a mediator who prevented several armed conflicts.

Thereafter, Monlam prayer festivals were held annually in Tibet.

In 1983, the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo was brought to Bodhgaya, India, the place of Buddha’s enlightenment, by Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, the founder of Kagyu Thegchen Ling.

The Kagyu Monlam Chenmo is now attended by thousands of students and ordained monks and nuns from across the planet.

In contemporary times, with people and nations bound closer together by technology, global economies, politics, and a deteriorating environment that has no borders, the Monlam prayer festival has become even more important.

In the last few years, regional Monlams have been held in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia. Monlam Hawaii is the fifth to be held in North America.

In recent years at the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, has emphasized caring for the environment.

“We hold the Kagyu Monlam for the benefit of the entire world. We will not give up on the earth! May there be peace on earth! May the earth be sustained for many thousands of years! These are the prayers we make at the Kagyu Monlam,” says the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

The North American Kagyu Monlam Hawaii will be held May 9 to 11, 2014 in the Pikake Room at the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu.

Daily Activities: Each day will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude around 5:30 p.m. Each morning, participants may take Mahayana Sojong Vows, refraining from actions such as stealing, lying, consuming intoxicants, etc, until the next morning. The day will then continue with recitation of prayers from the Monlam Prayer Book, Dharma teachings and meditation.

Registration: $100 for three days, which includes the Monlam Prayer book, or $35 per day. For those registering for one or two days, the Monlam Prayer book may be purchased for $30.

To register and for more information about sponsorship, travel and the daily schedule, please visit the North American Kagyu Monlam Hawaii website: http://www.kagyumonlamhawaii.org/

Contact:
Karen Honma
Sangyedolma95@yahoo.com

Sarawak Geoportal discloses rainforest damage brought about by Petronas gas pipeline in Malaysian Borneo

 
The Bruno Manser Fund’s newly released Sarawak Geoportal shows a new 500 km Petronas pipeline’s trail of destruction between the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak
 
BASEL, Switzerland, March 3, 2014 –/WORLD-WIRE/– With their new Sarawak Geoportal, the Swiss NGO, Bruno Manser Fund, brings transparency to a controversial gas pipeline project by Petronas, Malaysia’s national oil and gas company. Satellite imagery and geographical maps are showing the exact location of the gas pipeline connecting the Sabah Oil and Gas Terminal in Kimanis with Petronas’ Liquified Natural Gas Complex in Bintulu, Sarawak.
 
The Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas has been repeatedly criticized for secrecy surrounding the project and for its failure to disclose the exact line of the 500km long Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline (SSGP).

Over the last years, Sarawak’s energy policy gave rise for concern. Local communities erected several blockades against the construction of the 500km long gas pipeline. In particular the extraction of timber within the native customary land for the construction of the pipeline was criticised by a number of affected indigenous communities and was the reason why Penan communities asked Petronas to fulfil their demands for compensation.

Planned hydropower projects are online too

No less controversial than the gas pipeline are the plans of the Sarawak state Government to build 12 huge hydropower dams. The dams would flood more than 2,300km2 of tropical rainforest and would directly or indirectly effect an estimated population of 30,000 to 50,000 people.

Despite strong protests, the Sarawak state government refuses to give up its plans. In early February, former Chief Minister Taib Mahmud said that two major new dams are going to be simultaneously constructed on the Baleh and Baram dam river.  
 
The new Geoportal of the Bruno Manser Fund provides insight into Sarawak’s mega dam plans and the villages that would be affected by the implementation of the dams. The Geoportal is available not only in English but in Bahasa Malaysia too. This makes it easily accessible for everyone in Sarawak.
 
The Sarawak Geoportal in Malay/Bahasa Malaysia: http://www.bmfmaps.ch/MY/composer/#maps/1002
 
The Sarawak Geoportal in English: http://www.bmfmaps.ch/EN/composer/#maps/1001
 
To see the Petronas pipeline, click “Hydropower Dams and Energy” in the menu on the left and tick the box “Gas Pipeline Sabah-Sarawak”.

pipeline

Construction work of Petronas’ gas pipeline

 

map

Petronas Pipeline’s Trail on Sarawak Geoportal

The Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) is committed to protect the threatened tropical rainforests and the rights of the indigenous forest peoples. The association’s focus lies on Sarawak, the Malaysian state in Borneo. The Bruno Manser Fund was founded by Swiss rainforest advocate Bruno Manser, who has been missing since his last trip to Sarawak in May 2000.
 
Please contact us for more information:
Bruno Manser Fund
Socinstrasse 37
4051 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74
www.bmf.ch
 

Rogue state Malaysia: kleptocrat Taib Mahmud appointed as Governor of Sarawak

Malaysian King appoints Ex-Sarawak Chief Minister as Governor amidst protests and an ongoing corruption investigation
 
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, February 28, 2014 –/WORLD-WIRE/– George Orwell could not have invented it better: After 33 years in power as Chief Minister of Sarawak, Malaysia’s most controversial and presumably richest politician, Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”), has today been appointed by the Malaysian King as the new Governor of Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state in Borneo.

The new office will grant Taib (77) immunity from criminal prosecution and will allow him to continue pulling the strings from behind the scenes while his septuagenarian relative, Adenan Satem, will replace him as Chief Minister.
 
“It is an utter disgrace for Malaysia and the International Community that Taib Mahmud, a world-class criminal, has been allowed to become Governor”, the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund stated on Friday. “Taib’s rise to Governor is likely to encourage kleptocrats around the globe to continue plundering their countries’ natural resources. Taib’s appointment is also an alarming sign for the weakness of civil society and democratic institutions in Malaysia.”
 
On Thursday, a Malaysian court dismissed an ex-parte bid to stop Taib from becoming Governor for his involvement in unconstitutional commercial activities. The judge said that the court had no jurisdiction to interfere with the King’s prerogative to appoint the new Governor.

On Friday, a group of citizens protested in Sarawak’s state capital, Kuching, against Taib’s appointment as Governor.
 
“Honesty in serving the people has always been my leadership principle”, a cynical Taib said to Bernama, Malaysia’s national news agency. Taib failed to explain why resource-rich Sarawak, after 33 years under his leadership, has remained one of Malaysia’s poorest states.
 
Research by the Bruno Manser Fund has shown that Taib’s closest family members’ hold stakes in over 400 companies in 25 countries around the globe. The Bruno Manser Fund estimates the Taib family’s assets at USD 20 billion.
 
Taib Mahmud has been under investigation by Malaysia’s Anti Corruption Commission since 2011 over allegations of corruption and the suspected embezzlement of state funds. Taib’s appointment as Governor has only become possible owing to the endorsement of his succession plan by Prime Minister Najib Razak.
 
Please contact us for more information:
Bruno Manser Fund
Socinstrasse 37
4051 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74
www.bmf.ch