Tagged ‘Amazon‘

WATCH: El Perro Del Hortelano [Dog in the Manger]

Produced by Magic Flute Films and Selva Rica


“The film you are about to see was written by Indigenous and international artists in Peru who volunteered their time and talents because they had a story to be told. With just $8,000 dollars, as well as generous donations of equipment, food, and lodging, they created the first ever cooperative film in the Amazon.

This film is based on real events that took place in 2009 near Manu National Park, Peru.

In Peru the phrase, ‘El perro del hortelano,’ commonly refers to Indigenous people & environmentalists as dogs who do not eat from the garden of natural resources and do not let others eat from it either.

Over the last decade, more than 70% of the Peruvian Amazon Rain forest has been sold to US and other foreign companies for oil, gas, and mining operations without the consultation of the hundreds of Indigenous communities residing there.”

Lisa Intee : “In this mockumentary genre of film, the main character, Brus, plays an indigenous artist (which he is in real life too) trying to deal with the invasion of oil companies, NGOs, and volunteers. Cue the head of the NGO literally going to bed with the main oil guy brought in to convince the community to accept oil exploitation, and a woman from the US doing some suspicious research, whilst volunteers do absurd presentations in English which the community cannot understand or play cards in the background unsure as to why they’re there and what they’re actually doing. Brus sums it up with: ‘Development, NGOs – another type of colonialism.'” [Release date: February 10, 2010]



Oil, Contact, and Conservation in the Amazon: Indigenous Huaorani, Chevron, and Yasuni

CUNY Queens College, Department of Political Science and Environmental Studies Program

January 10, 2013

by Judith Kimerling

Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy, Vol. 24, No. 1, 2013

Eye On Amazon Watch

Image courtesy of Eye on Amazon Watch


Texaco’s discovery of commercially valuable oil in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador ignited an oil rush that made the conquest of Amazonia a national policy imperative. Texaco (now Chevron), Ecuador, and missionaries from the Summer Institute of Linguistics carried out a campaign to “contact” and pacify Indigenous Huaorani (Waorani) who lived in areas slated for oil development. Chevron’s operations also caused massive environmental damage which led to the ongoing, and increasingly complex, litigation now known as “the Chevron Ecuador Litigation.” This Article begins with a brief review of events leading to the litigation and an analysis of petroleum policy, Amazon and indigenous lands rights policy, and environmental protection policy in Ecuador. A discussion of the litigation (in the United States, Ecuador and the Hague) follows. Recent developments in the litigation are shifting much of the focus of the legal and political contest from allegations about Chevron’s misconduct to allegations of misconduct by the lawyers and activists who manage the litigation in Ecuador, and have eclipsed the situation on the ground, where environmental conditions continue to deteriorate and peoples’ rights are still being violated. The Article then examines the situation of the Huaorani who are struggling to survive and protect what remains of their ancestral territory in Yasuni National Park and the Tagaeri-Taromenane Intangible Zone. It includes a discussion of the gap between promises in the law and the reality on the ground, and ways in which conservation bureaucracies and NGOs are also violating the rights the Huaorani and posing new threats to Huaorani territory and self-determination.

Download the paper: SSRN-id2332782

Update via TeleSUR, August 8, 2016: US Court Rules in Favor of Chevron in Ecuador Pollution Case

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part V (Final)

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part V (Final)

[To see the Table of Contents, click here. A glossary of terms and acronyms appearing in the text will be found here. Translation by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left]

On so-called “extractivism”

Since Marx, we know that what characterizes and differentiates societies is the way in which they organize the production, distribution and use of the material and symbolic resources they possess. In other words, the mode of production[1] is what defines the material content of the social life of the distinct human territorial collectivities (nations, peoples, communities), within which there can be differentiated the historically specific form in which each of their components develop, and the manner in which various existing modes of production interrelate within the same society.

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part IV

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part IV

[To see the Table of Contents, click here. A glossary of terms and acronyms appearing in the text will be found here. Translated by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left]

Three colonialist fallacies of opponents of the proposed TIPNIS roadway

The first fallacy is the argument that with the highway the coca leaf producers will invade the TIPNIS. There is at this point no type of coercive measure that prevents them entering the Park using the roads that already exist within it; however, they are not doing so. Moreover, the unions of coca producers were the very ones that in 1990 defined with the government a “red line” within the TIPNIS that they voluntarily agreed not to cross. Since then, any compañero who crosses that line, instead of counting on the support of his union and federation, is liable to be removed from where he is living by the law enforcement agencies, as has happened in recent months. Compliance with this demarcation is now the responsibility of the coca leaf producers themselves, and not the result of any public force or law that prevents them from approaching.

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part III

[To see the Table of Contents, click here. A glossary of terms and acronyms appearing in the text will be found here.Translation by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left]

The historic demand for construction of a road to unite the Amazon valleys and plains

But first let us analyze the history of the demand for construction of this highway that would have to pass through the TIPNIS. Is it true that it is part of a sinister plan for “inter-oceanic corridors that would pillage the forests and suck us into the vortex of the Brazilian empire,” as the recipe of some NGOs would have it?[1]

The historical need for a road connecting the Andean zone with the Amazon region, through what used to be called the “Mountains of the Yuracarees,” now the Isiboro-Sécure park, dates back more than 300 years.

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part II

[To see the Table of Contents, click here. A glossary of terms and acronyms appearing in the text will be found here. Translation by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left]

December 12, 2012

Capitalist Subsumption of the Amazon Indigenous Economy

Finally, in addition to the vertical nature of this despotic power there is a territorial dependency of the regional power structure itself. The major part of the Bolivian Amazon lies in the department of Beni, and the major productive activities in the region today are ranching, timber extraction and chestnut harvesting.

WATCH: Indigenous Peoples Aggressively Targeted by Manipulative NGOs Advancing REDD Agenda

© SommerFilms 2010

In an exclusive interview (August, 2010) with documentary filmmaker Rebecca Sommer, Chief Aritana Yawalapiti explains how his people and his region are aggressively targeted and lied to by NGOs (ISA). This video demonstrates how disturbingly manipulative and deceptive NGOs can be when seeking compliance for their funders, in this particular instance for REDD+ projects.

The Following Anti-REDD declarations (compilation) and commentary below are by Kjell Kühne:

If you are against REDD, you are not alone. Around the world, a growing number of communities, organizations and movements as well as experts are not limiting themselves to asking critical questions about REDD any more, they have explicitly declared their opposition to the mechanism. A coalition of indigenous peoples’ organizations has called for a global moratorium on REDD projects. Bolivia has a mandate (from the Cochabamba People’s Summit) to not let REDD pass at the UNFCCC level.

Belém Letter, October 2009, Belém, Brazil.
Peoples Agreement, April 2010, Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Amigos de la Tierra Latin America and Caribbean Position on REDD, August 2010, Paraguay.
Declaración de Cancún, December 2010, Cancún, Mexico.
Declaración de Cancún de la Vía Campesina, December 2010, Cancún, México.
Declaration of Patihuitz, April 2011, Patihuitz, Mexico.

Brazilian environmental and social movements oppose REDD offsets, June 2011, Brasilia/Bonn.

Letter from the State of Acre, October 2011, Rio Branco, Brazil.Open Letter of Concern to the International Donor Community about the Diversion of Existing Forest Conservation and Development Funding to REDD+, October 2011.

Quem ganha e quem perde com o REDD e pagamento por serviços ambientais?, November 2011, Brazil

Indigenous Peoples Condemn Climate Talks Fiasco and Demand Moratoria on REDD+, December 2011, Durban, South Africa.

Pronunciamiento CAOI, March 2012.

No REDD+! in RIO +20: A Declaration to Decolonize the Earth and the Sky, June 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Here is a more complete list with an analysis of the elements and arguments of each of the declarations.

Some resources that explain some of the reasons why REDD is not a smart choice for people and the planet:

REDD Monitor, continuous, Chris Lang.

REDD Myths, December 2008, Friends of the Earth, English, Spanish.

Reaping Profits from Evictions, Land Grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of Biodiversity, November 2009, Indigenous Environmental Network, English, Spanish.

REDD Realities, December 2009, Global Forest Coalition.

REDD: The realities in black and white, November 2010, Friends of the Earth, English, Spanish.

NO REDD! A Reader, December 2010, English, Spanish.

Why REDD is dangerous, Kjell Kühne, January 2011.

Key Arguments Against REDD act sheet, Global Justice Ecology Project, June 2011.

Why REDD+ is bad and will make the climate crisis worse, Kjell Kühne, Powerpoint presentation, November 2011.

No REDD Papers: Vol. 1, November 2011.

REDD Fairy Tales, Global Forest Coalition, November 2011.

Juggling with Carbon, Kjell Kühne, Video, December 2011.

A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests, January 2012, English, Spanish, Documentary.

REDD: la codicia por los árboles, February 2012, Spanish, Documentary.

REDDeldia, August 2012, Spanish, Website.

Three Indigenous Nations in Altamira area, Para, signed REDD contracts with Carbon Cowboy: Benedito Milleo Junior; A Representative from TopoGeo

March 28, 2012

By Rebecca Sommer

Iwas in the city of Altamira, the Amazon area in the state of Para, preparing to leave the next day. It was with a knot in my throat when I promised the young chief of one of the three indigenous nations in this area that had signed REDD contracts, not to reveal their identity.

For years I have tried to inform indigenous peoples about the lies and wrongs that one day soon they will be told in order to obtain their consent for REDD projects on their indigenous territory.

But it is indeed a very abstract issue, and unfortunately, my explanation had no effect on this particular young chief, and other young leaders that were standing in a circle around me, with their REDD contract signed, in their hand, in June 2011.

They were worried, thus the reason why they approached me with the contract. They trusted me enough to allow me to photograph it. (To view the original contract in Portuguese with the names that could identify the indigenous nation removed CLICK HERE)

The young leaders wanted to know what the contract actually said, as they admitted, it wasn’t exactly clear to them.

The first thing that I spotted was that the contract was signed by an individual and not by a company. Benedito Milleo Junior.

The chief showed me Benedito Milleo Junior’s business card.

[TopoGeo | Surveying and Geo-referenced GIS | Annotation Legal Reserve IBAMA and IAP | Accredited at INCRA under Code APO | Benedito Milleo Junior | Agronomist | Federal Judicial Expert | CREA 13.062/D-PR]

I asked the young leaders why they thought he had signed as an individual, while they had to sign with their positions, under their Indigenous Association.

They did not know why.

I ask them if they knew this (sinister) gentlemen, and asked about the location of his companies’ office.

“He lives in a rather shabby house in Altamira, with no sign or logo of his company. We wondered about that. But he promised to pay us a lot of the money in June 2012.” said the young chief.

Bolivia: NGOs wrong on Morales and Amazon

The recent kidnapping (then release) of the Foreign Minister by the marchers shows how dangers the situation has become and the fear of real inter-indigenous clashes becoming real grows. Now is the time for us to help Bolivia and its people, not jump behind imperialist campaigns to overthrow a government that has lead the way in regards to fighting climate change.

By Federico Fuentes

September 25, 2011

A mural in La Paz, Bolivia reads, “All of our action is a war cry against imperialism.” Photo: Angela Day

Statements, articles, letters and petitions have been circulating on the internet for the past month calling for an end to the “destruction of the Amazon”.

The target of these initiatives has not been transnational corporations or the powerful governments that back them, but the government of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales.

At the centre of the debate is the Bolivian government’s controversial proposal to build a highway through the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS).

TIPNIS, which covers more than 1 million hectares of forest, was granted indigenous territory status by the Morales government in 2009. About 12,000 people from three different indigenous groups live in 64 communities within TIPNIS.

On August 15, representatives from the TIPNIS Subcentral that unites these communities, as well as other indigenous groups, began a march to the capital city, La Paz to protest against the highway plan.

International petitions have been initiated declaring support for this march, and condemning the Morales government for undermining indigenous rights.

The people of TIPNIS have legitimate concerns about the highway’s impact. There is also no doubt the government has made errors in its handling of the issue.

Unfortunately, petitions such as the one initiated by international lobby group Avaaz and a September 21 letter to Morales signed by over 60 environmental groups mostly outside Bolivia misrepresent the facts and misdirect their fire.

They could inadvertently aid the opponents of the global struggle for climate justice.

Avaaz warns that the highway “could enable foreign companies to pillage the world’s most important forest”. But it fails to mention the destruction that is already happening in the area, in some cases with the complicity of local indigenous communities.

On the other hand, the Morales government has promised to introduce a new law, in consultation with communities within TIPNIS, to add new protections for the national park.

The proposed law would set jail terms of between 10 to 20 years for illegal settlements, growing coca or logging in the national park.

Also, Avaaz claims that “huge economic interests” are motivating Morales’ support for the highway. But Avaaz omits the benefits that such a highway (whether it ultimately goes through TIPNIS or not) will bring Bolivia and its peoples.

For example, this 306 kilometre highway linking the departments of Beni and Cochabamba (with only a part of it going through TIPNIS) would expand access to health care and other basic services to isolated local communities that now travel for days to receive medical care.

The highway would also give local agricultural producers greater access to markets to sell their goods. At the moment, these must go via Santa Cruz to the east before being able to be transported westward.

Given Beni’s status as the largest meat producing department (state), this would break the hold that Santa Cruz-based slaughterhouses have on imposing meat prices.

The highway would also allow the state to assert sovereignty over remote areas, including some where illegal logging takes place.

It is facts such as these that have convinced more than 350 Bolivian organisations, including many of the social organisations that have led the country’s inspiring struggles against neoliberalism, to support the proposed highway.

Many indigenous organisations and communities (including within TIPNIS) support the highway. It is therefore false to describe this as a dispute between the government and indigenous people.

Nor is it a simple conflict between supporters of development and defenders of the environment.

All sides in the dispute want greater development and improved access to basic services. The issue at stake is how the second poorest country in the Americas, facing intense pressure from more powerful governments and corporate forces, can meet the needs of its people while protecting the environment.

Given this, surely it makes more sense for those who wish to defend Bolivia’s process of change to support steps towards dialogue, rather that deepening the divisions.

Legitimate criticism can be made of the government’s handling of the consultation process. But the Avaaz petition and the letter from environmental groups simply ignore the government’s repeated attempts to open discussions with the protesters.

Half the members of Morales’ ministerial cabinet, along with many more vice-ministers and heads of state institutions, have traveled to the march route to talk with protesters.

The petitioners don’t mention the Morales government’s public commitment to carry out a consultation process within the framework of the Bolivian constitution, popularly approved in 2009. Neither do they mention its offer to have the consultation process overseen by international observers selected by protesters themselves.

The government has also remained open to discussing the economic and environmental feasibility of any alternative route that could bypass TIPNIS. No such alternative has been presented yet.

As a result of these initiatives, a number of the TIPNIS communities that had joined the march, as well as representatives from the Assembly of the Guarani People, have since decided to return home. They will continue discussions with the government.

Sadly, the key opponents of the proposed consultation process are among the march leaders, which includes organisations based outside TIPNIS.

These organisations were also the main proponents of a further 15 demands being placed on the government the day the march began.

Many of these demands are legitimate. But it is alarming that some of the more dangerously backwards demands have been ignored or dismissed by international environment groups.

For example, the letter to Morales raises concerns regarding the Bolivian president’s statement that “oil drilling in Aguarague National Park ‘will not be negotiated'”.

Those gas fields represent 90% of Bolivia’s gas exports and are a vital source of funds that the Morales government has been using to tackle poverty and develop Bolivia’s economy.

The fact that the bulk of gas revenue is controlled by the Bolivian state rather than transnational corporation is the result of years of struggles by the Bolivian masses, who rightfully believe this resource should be used to develop their country.

The concerns of local communities should be, and have been, taken into consideration. But for Bolivia to cut off this source of revenue would have dire consequences for the people of one of the poorest nations in the Americas.

It would, without exaggeration, be economic suicide.

Initially, protesters also demanded a halt to gas extraction in Aguarague. They have retreated on this and are now focused on the question of plugging up unused oil wells due to the contamination this is could cause to local water supplies.

Similarly, neither of the Internet statements mentions the protesters’ support for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program.

REDD is a grossly anti-environmental United Nations program that aims to privatise forests by converting them into “carbon offsets” that allow rich, developed countries to continue polluting.

Some of the biggest proponents of this measure can be found among the NGOs promoting the march. Many of these have received direct funding from the US government, whose ambassador in Bolivia was expelled in September 2008 for supporting a right-wing coup attempt against the elected Morales government.

Rather than defend Bolivia’s sovereignty against US interference, the letter denounces the Bolivian government for exposing connections between the protesters and “obscure interests”.

These “obscure interests” include the League for the Defence of the Environment (LIDEMA), which was set up with US government funds. Its backers include the US government aid agency, USAID, and the German-based Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which frequently funds actions against governments opposed by the United States and European governments such as Cuba.

Secret US diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks and declassified US government files have conclusively shown that USAID directly targets indigenous communities in a bid to win them away from support for Morales and towards supporting US interests.

Behind these very real interests lies a campaign by rich nations and conservative environmental groups to promote policies that represent a new form of “green imperialism”.

After centuries of plundering the resources of other countries, wiping out indigenous populations, and creating a dire global environmental crisis, the governments of rich nations now use environmental concerns to promote policies that deny underdeveloped nations the right to control and manage their own resources.

If they have their ways, these groups will reduce indigenous people to mere “park rangers”, paid by rich countries to protect limited areas, while multinational corporations destroy the environment elsewhere.

Bolivia’s indigenous majority has chosen a very different road. They aim to create a new state in which they are no longer marginalised or treated as minority groups that require special protection.

In alliance with other oppressed sectors, they aim to run their country for the collective benefit of the majority.

The Bolivian masses have successfully wrested government power from the traditional elites, won control over gas and other resources, and adopted a new constitution.

Mistakes have been made, and are likely in future. But they are the mistakes of a people of a small, landlocked and underdeveloped country fighting constant imperialist assaults.

Key to the Bolivian peoples’ fight is the world-wide front for climate justice, in which Bolivia is playing a vital leadership role.

One example was the 35,000-strong Peoples Summit on Climate Change organised by the Morales government in Cochabamba in April 2010.

The summit’s final declaration named developed countries as “the main cause of climate change”. It insisted that those countries must “recognise and honor their climate debt”, redirecting funds from war to aiding poorer nations to develop their economies “to produce goods and services necessary to satisfy the fundamental needs of their population”.

To achieve this, the international climate justice movement must focus its efforts on forcing rich nations to accept their responsibilities.

The global movement must explicitly reject imperialist intervention in all its forms, including the “green imperialist” policies of US-funded NGOs.

Only through such a campaign can we support the efforts of poorer countries to chart a development path that respects the environment.

Unfortunately, Avaaz and the organisations that have signed the letter against Morales let the real culprits off the hook.

Their campaign should be rejected by all environmentalists and anti-imperialists fighting for a better a world.

[Federico Fuentes edits]


Avaaz is a member of The Climate Group.

The Climate Group is pushing REDD:

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund also acts as an incubator for in-house projects that later evolve into free-standing institutions – a case in point being ‘The Climate Group’, launched in London in 2004. The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, including big polluters such as energy giants BP and Duke Energy, as well as several partner organizations, one being that of the big NGO Avaaz. The Climate Group are advocates unproven carbon capture and storage technology (CCS), nuclear power and biomass as crucial technologies for a low-carbon economy. The Climate Group works closely with other business lobby groups, including the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), which works consistently to sabotage climate action. The Climate Group also works on other initiatives, one being that of the ‘Voluntary Carbon Standard’, a new global standard for voluntary offset projects. One marketing strategist company labeled the Climate Group’s campaign ‘Together’ as “the best inoculation against greenwash”. The Climate Group has operations in Australia, China, Europe, India, and North America. It was a partner to the ‘Copenhagen Climate Council’.


Bolivia: US worked to divide social movements, WikiLeaks shows

Sunday, September 18, 2011

By Federico Fuentes

WikiLeaks’ release of cables from the United States embassy in La Paz has shed light on its attempts to create divisions in the social and indigenous movements that make up the support base of the country’s first indigenous-led government.

The cables prove the embassy sought to use the US government aid agency, USAID, to promote US interests.

A March 6, 2006, cable titled “Dissent in Evo’s ranks” reports on a meeting only months after Morales’ inauguration as president in December 2005 with “a social sectors leader” from the altiplano (highlands) region in the west.

The social leader was said to have links with the radical federation of neighbourhood councils in El Alto (Fejuve), the coca growers union in Los Yungas and a peasant organisation in La Paz.

Many of these organisations, in particular Fejuve, spearheaded the wave of revolt that overthrew two pro-US neoliberal presidents in 2003 and 2005. It was also crucial to the election of Morales.

Despite viewing these sectors as “traditionally confrontational organisations”, then-ambassador David Greenlee believed that: “Regardless of [US] policy direction in Bolivia, working more closely with these social sector representatives” who were expressing dissent towards Morales “seems to be most beneficial to [US government] interests”.

Another cable from February 25, 2008 reports on a meeting then-US ambassador Philip Goldberg held with “indigenous leaders (particularly leaders of the eastern lowlands)”.

Most of Bolivia’s two largest indigenous peoples, the Aymaras and Quechuas, live in the highlands and central regions.

The east is home to the remaining 34 indigenous peoples. It is also home to the gas transnationals and large agribusiness.

The east was the focal point of right-wing movements that tried to overthrow Morales.

In the cable, great attention is paid to the “growing tensions” between Aymaras and Quechuas on one hand and the lowlands-based indigenous groups “who feel neglected by a self-proclaimed-Aymara, cocalero president”.

An October 17, 2007, cable titled “Indigenous cohesion cracking in Bolivia” reported that
a leader from the National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qollasuyu (CONAMAQ), which groups together 16 rural indigenous organisations in the altiplano, told embassy officials the Morales government was simply using indigenous peoples for to promote its “goal of socialism [which] does not coincide with ‘true indigenous’ goals”.

The US embassy’s heightened interest in all things “indigenous” following decades of supporting governments that repressed and excluded them is explained in a February 6, 2007, cable.

In it, Goldberg said that “only a leftist government that includes indigenous interests … would have a chance to govern divisive Bolivia”.

Since “a right-wing government would likely lead to greater conflict”, the ability to reach out to indigenous leaders inclined to support US interests was necessary.

For this reason, Goldberg concluded his February 25, 2008, cable by stating that meetings with “indigenous leaders outside of the dominant Aymara and Quechua communities will provide useful information and demonstrate that the United States is interested in views of all indigenous peoples”.

An important tool used for reaching out to indigenous communities is USAID.

A January 28, 2008 cable said USAID social programs aimed at the “poorest and marginalized groups” would prove hard for the government to attack. The cable ends by saying USAID programs should “also seek to counteract anti-USG [US government] rhetoric…”

This was facilitated via funding to independent radio journalists to report on “the benefits of USG assistance to rural communities” and various workshops held in indigenous communities.

A June 15, 2009, cable revealed US concerns at its ability to achieve its aims by working directly with the government.

It noted “anti-US attitudes in key leadership positions” and “nationalistic bristling over being treated with ‘dignity’”.

The cable cited Bolivian government opposition to the US agricultural attache having veto powers over proposed programs.

Government officials’ recent talk of expelling USAID for their subversive activities may pose a more immediate threat to US imperialism realising its goals in Bolivia.

The Changing Face of Environmentalism

Beyond Gang Green


On May 3, 1969, after hours of bitter debate, the Sierra Club fired David Brower. The organization’s first paid staffer, Brower had transformed the Club from an exclusive, politically timid, white male hiking outfit of 2,000 members. But the old guard didn’t like the direction that Brower, its executive director, was taking the staid organization: toward political confrontation, grassroots organizing and attacks on industrial pollution, nuclear power and the Pentagon.

This kind of green aggressiveness in the face of entrenched power alienated funders, politicians and, eventually, the Internal Revenue Service, which, after Brower’s successful international campaign to halt the construction of two mega-dams in the Grand Canyon, moved to strip the group of its tax-deductible status. The IRS action proved to be the final straw and Brower was booted out.

Dave Brower was 56 when he was sacked by the Sierra Club. He could have retired to his home in the Berkeley Hills to write books, hike in the Sierras with his wife Anne (if anything, an even more uncompromising environmentalist), and travel the world doing what he loved most: running wild rivers.

But it turned out that Brower’s ouster from the Club was more of a beginning than an ending. In fact, many greens point to that frought moment as the start of what became known as the New Conservation Movement. Brower wasted no time. He went on to have a hand in forming Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters, Earth Island Institute, and the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment and many other groups big and small. Brower was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.

When militant Earth First! Movment sprang up from the rubble of the Reagan era, many mainstream environmental leaders were quick to denounce them and their tactics of tree-sits and road blockades. Not Brower. “I thank God for the arrival of Earth First!,” Brower said. “They make me look moderate.”

It was, perhaps, this unflagging sense of optimism against all odds that defined Brower most. He was delighted at how the movement he helped to found and shape continued to grow in unpredictable and uncontrollable directions.

The evolution of environmentalism over the past fifty years has been spurred by any number of competing internal tensions: between national and grassroots, apolitical and partisan, international and domestic, lobbying strategies and direct action tactics. But more than anything else, the character of the American environmental movement has been forged by the unexpected threats it has had to confront: Three Mile Island, Love Canal, James Watt, the Exxon Valdez, strip mining, rainforest destruction, acid rain, the ozone hole, the decline of the spotted owl, oil drilling in the Arctic, global warming, globalization and the World Trade Organization.

Yet the environmental movement, by and large, has always been the most existential of social movements, willing to shift tactics on the fly, use what works and discard what doesn’t. “In our business, you’ve got to be fast on your feet,” said Brower, who died in November 2000. “When industry wins, they win forever. The most we can usually hope for is a stay of execution. It means we’ve got to stay eternally vigilant, be very creative and be willing to take risks.”

* * *

The modern grassroots environmental movement probably got its start in the citizen uprisings against nuclear power, beginning in the 1970s with the Clamshell Alliance, a decentralized coalition put together to fight the Seabrook reactor in New Hampshire and its rowdier counterpart on the West Coast, the Abalone Alliance, which targeted the Diablo Canyon plant in California. Indeed, in her book Political Protest and Cultural Revolution, Barbara Epstein argues that, aside from the civil rights movement, these groups were the “first effort in American history to base a mass movement on nonviolent direct action.”

The contentious debate over nuclear power also exposed one of the first great schisms inside the green movement, a rift that exists to this day. Many environmental groups, fixated on the looming energy shortage and obsessing on global warming, seized on the dream of nuclear power as a safe, clean alternative to coal-fired power plants. Indeed, Brower lost his job at the Sierra Club partly because of his lonely and unflinching opposition to the Diablo Canyon reactor, which was built on a major faultline.

But public attitudes toward the use of “atoms for peace” changed decisively on March 28, 1979, when the Number Two reactor at Three Mile Island experienced a partial meltdown, emitting radioactive gasses into the air near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and leaking contaminated water into the Susquehanna River. Most Americans first learned of the meltdown from the unimpeachable voice of Walter Cronkite, who opened the CBS Evening News by saying: “It was the first step in a nuclear nightmare. As far as we know at this hour, no worse than that. But a government official said that a breakdown in an atomic power plant in Pennsylvania today is probably the worst nuclear accident to date.” After four days of trying to keep details of the true extent of the accident under wraps, officials finally suggested that nearby schools should be closed and pregnant should evacuate the area. Public confidence in this supposedly safe and cheap form of power collapsed overnight.

But after the press left, people living near the TMI plant were left to deal with the aftermath. Within a few years, the inevitable respiratory illnesses, kidney ailments and cancers began to sprout up in the vicinity of the nuclear complex. Yet the media, wrapped up in the apocalyptic fervor of a meltdown scenario, seemed bored by these slow-motion tragedies and tended to side with the utilities and the nuclear industry in dismissing the link between the disease clusters and the release of radiation as the rantings of paranoids. (In fact, numerous scientific reports have revealed that merely living near a nuclear plant—where cancer clusters tend to occur and where there are higher rates of infant mortality, blood disorders and kidney problems—can be dangerous for your health.)

If the nuclear industry was hoping for a quick comeback in the United States once public anxiety over Three Mile Island calmed, those dreams were shattered on April 26, 1986 when the Chernobyl reactor, in Ukraine, blew its containment vessel during a test, bringing about the most serious industrial accident in history. The radiation released by the explosion wsa greater than from both the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs, contaminating farm and dairy lands, rivers and lakes and forcing the belated evacuation of more than 135,000 people from the city of Pripyat. Thirty-one people were killed in the initial blast and hundreds more fell ill to acute radiation sickness. Within five years of the blast there was a tenfold increase in thyroid cancers in the region.

After the accident, the Soviets delayed releasing any information to the public, grudgingly acting only after Sweden had revealed the disaster to the world. “The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant … has painfully affected the Soviet people and shocked the international community,” Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev said in a televised address.” For the first time, we confront the real force of nuclear energy, out of our control.” (Gorbachev would later claim that Chernobyl was a key event in giving momentum to glasnost and, along with the Afghan war, the fall of the Soviet Union itself.)

In the United States, the 1980 and 1990s saw numerous nuclear plants shuttered due to a combination of relentless citizen-organizing and their own financial extravagances: Marble Hill in Indiana, Columbia Generating Station in Washington, Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Tennessee, Shoreham in New York, Connecticut Yankee and Trojan in Oregon. In 1989, the Rancho Seco reactor in Herald, California became the first nuke plant shut down by popular vote.

There hasn’t been a nuclear plant opened in the United States since the Three Mile Island meltdown — though the Obama administration is pushing hard to build at least three new reactors in Georgia. This doesn’t mean that the nuclear industry went into a state of hibernation. Instead of focusing on the United States, Westinghouse, General Electric, ABB and Bechtel set their sights on the developing world: India, Indonesia and Brazil. Their forays were often gladly backed by the US government with financing through the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

An even more pressing problem in the United States is the challenge of how to deal with the accumulating mounds of spent fuel from the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear reactors. The nuclear industry, backed by politicians with nuclear plants in their states, wants desperately to truck the radioactive waste to the Nevada desert outside of Las Vegas and entomb it inside vaults in Yucca Mountain, a site on the traditional lands of the Western Shoshone.

The Shoshone have tirelessly fought the plan for more than two decades, joined by anti-nuke groups such as the Snake River Alliance and the Nuclear Information Research Service. They nicknamed the entire scheme the “Mobile Chernobyl” plan. It calls for more than 30 years of continuous shipping by train and semi-truck of 60,000 casks filled with radioactive reactor fuel. A single rail cask would harbor nearly 200 times as much cesium as was released by the Hiroshima bomb. One study predicts that more than 300 “accidents” can be expected involving the shipment of this high-level nuclear waste.

And Yucca Mountain itself is far from safe. For one thing, geologists say the site leaks, posing the real risk of nuclear waste hemorrhaging into groundwater. For another, it’s on unstable terrain. This area of Nevada has been rocked by more than 650 earthquakes in the last twenty years. Of course, the nuclear industry doesn’t want to be left holding the bag when something inevitably goes wrong, so they pushed through Congress a bill transferring the liability for spent reactor fuel to the U.S. government.

But where there’s risk, there’s also opportunity. In 1997, a strange amalgam of former Pentagon officials, CIA officers, venture capitalists and a couple of neoliberal environmentalists hatched a scheme to ship commercial radioactive waste to Russia, for disposal at a site in the Ural Mountains. The plan was fiercely opposed by many American and Russian environmental groups. Indeed, Russian greens mounted the largest campaign in the nation’s history, staging spectacular protests and gathering 2 million signatures to put the matter on the ballot in a public referendum. But the Kremlin rejected the signatures and the powerful Russian nuclear agency Minatom, which stands to make as much as $20 billion on the deal, persuaded the Russian parliament to give the go-ahead.

It’s the same old story: privatize the profits, socialize the costs.

* * *

Back in the spring of 1978, residents of the working-class community of Love Canal, New York discovered that a chemical dump site had been leaking toxins into their neighborhood, saturating their schools, playgrounds and homes with a poisonous stew of more than 200 chemicals. The prime culprit was Hooker Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum. One study showed that 56 percent of the children born in Love Canal between 1974 and 1978 had suffered some form of birth defect. Another study revealed that the rate of urinary-tract infections had increased by 300 percent over the same period. A disturbing spike in the rate of miscarriages was also reported.

The government was slow to react to protect the resident. This was, after all, a working class neighborhood with little perceived political clout. Then a group of mothers and housewives, led by Lois Gibbs and calling themselves the Love Canal Homeowners Association, sprang into action, filing petitions to close contaminated schools, pressuring New York Governor Hugh Carey to order an evacuation of the area and even commanding the attention of President Jimmy Carter, who signed a bill funding the permanent relocation of 660 families. The Love Canal campaign became a model for a new kind of citizen action: a blue-collar environmentalism that was uncompromising, tactically innovative and community-based. “The words ‘Love Canal’ are now burned in our country’s history and in the memory of the public as being synonymous with chemical exposures and their adverse human health effects,” Gibbs reflected. “The events at Love Canal brought about a new understanding among the American people of the correlation between low-level chemical exposures and birth defects, miscarriages and incidences of cancer. The citizens of Love Canal provided an example of how a blue-collar community with few resources can win against great odds, using the power of the people in our democratic system.”

Since Love Canal, Gibbs has been a leader of one of the most exciting and powerful strains of conservationism: the environmental justice movement. It springs from a single, glaring truth: people who are poor, disenfranchised and dark-skinned are the most likely to be victimized by chemical plants, hazardous waste dumps and myriad other industrial effluvia.

Hazardous waste facilities continue to be constructed with a chilling regularity in poor areas, largely inhabited by minorities. This is not a dry statistical phenomenon, but a deliberate business and political strategy. A leaked memo from the California Waste Management Board spelled out the gameplan in stunningly cynical language: “All socioeconomic groups tend to resent the nearby siting of major [hazardous waste] facilities, but middle and upper socioeconomic strata possess better resources to effectuate their opposition. These neighborhoods should not fall within the one-mile and five-mile radius of proposed sites.”

An investigation by the National Law Journal unearthed another ugly dimension of environmental discrimination. From 1985 through 1992, the fines handed out by the Environmental Protection Agency for violations of federal environmental laws were 500 to 1,000 percent higher if the crimes were committed in white communities as opposed to black and Hispanic areas.

These incidents aren’t abstractions. They occur in real American communities: Navajo forcibly evicted from their homelands on Big Mountain to make way for the expansion of Peabody Coal’s strip mines, the largest on Earth; Mexican-American families in the southwestern Texas town of Sierra Blanca, who are forced to live next to a 70,000-acre ranch where New York City dumps its sewage sludge; the black community of Convent, Louisiana, in the heart of Cancer Alley, which is surrounded by three oil refineries, 17 chemical plants and eight hazardous waste facilities; the Appalachian hamlet of East Liverpool, Ohio, home to the world’s largest hazardous waste incinerator; Gary, Indiana, dumping ground for US Steel.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion, as long-time environmental justice campaigner Richard Moore says, that “people of color don’t have the complexion for protection.”

* * *

By the summer of 1992, the attention of the world was riveted on Rio de Janeiro, for the international confab known as the Earth Summit. The Rio affair was billed as the first major huddling of world leaders to grapple with some of the most intractable environmental crises: global warming, ozone depletion, species extinction, rainforest destruction, depleted fisheries and desertification. Representatives from more than 170 nations attended, but the US government almost didn’t show up. Eventually, President George H. W. Bush was embarrassed into sending a delegation, although Team America quickly left without signing the session’s most important protocols, including the International Convention on Biodiversity.

Much of the attention in Rio and in the press was focused on the fate of rainforests, the so-called lungs of the world. The Amazon was being plundered at an almost inconceivable rate: upward of 149 acres every minute, 214,000 acres each day. Much of the forest was simply going up in smoke, in a kind of modern slash-and-burn regime designed to rid the land of its forests and its indigenous tribes and clear the way for huge cattle ranches, mining operations and oil pipelines. The loss of primary forest cover has presaged a staggering loss of species. The extinction rate in tropical rainforests world-wide was compared by biologists at the Summit to that which jolted the Earth at the end of the Cretaceous Age. Biologist Edward O. Wilson estimated that 137 species were being extirpated every day—that’s 50,000 each year. Indigenous cultures too have been torn asunder, victims of forced dislocation, acculturation, government-sanctioned murder, enforced starvation and introduced diseases. The population of the Amazon basin prior to Western contact has been estimated to have been as high as 9 million. By 2000, less than 200,000 indigenous people remained. And the death rate seemed to be increasing. Take the Yanomani of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela. In the late seventies, more than 20,000 Yanomani lived in Brazil. By 1997, fewer than 9,000 still existed.

All of this spawned the proliferation of hundreds of new green groups battling for the rainforests—or at least fundraising on the promise to protect the Amazon. Three stand out: Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Project Underground and the International Rivers Network. These three groups share some key features: they are international, aggressive, confront corporations directly, engage in direct action and work side-by-side with indigenous groups.

RAN set the model. Their actions ranged from global boycotts of Mitshubishi (a prime destroyer of rainforest in Malaysia and Indonesia) to aiding the cause of the Penan of Borneo, the Kayapo of the Amazon and the Pygmies of the Ituri forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. RAN has worked with many of these tribes and rainforest ecologists to develop sustainable economic uses of intact rainforests.

In the popular imagination, the loss of tropical forests has mostly been linked to the rapacity of timber companies. But throughout much of the tropics the rainforests harbor other treasures the multinational corporations are eager to exploit: namely oil and gold. Project Underground was started as a way of helping local communities in the tropics and elsewhere fight off the depredations of the transnationals. Much of Project Underground’s early work focused on the Grasberg gold mine in Indonesia. One of the largest mines in world, with deposits of gold, silver and tin valued at more than $70 billion, Grasberg started as a joint venture between the New Orleans-based mining giant Freeport McMoRan and the regime of former Indonesian dictator Suharto.

The riches of that mine didn’t find their way to the Amungme tribe, who live next to the mining site and consider the it’s blasted out of sacred. Instead, the Amungme have been forcibly evicted from their homes and killed by Indonesian troops acting as security forces for the mining company. Over the past thirty years, more than 2,000 people have been murdered by security forces and Indonesian troops near the mine.

As horrifying as these acts are, the long-term environmental consequences from the mining operation may take an even greater toll. The mine generates 200,000 tons of contaminated mine waste every day, with much of this being dumped into the Aikwa River system, poisoning the Amungme’s drinking water and toxifying or killing the fish that are the staple of their diet. In 1996, the Amungme filed a $6 billion class action suit in US federal court against the company. “Freeport has killed us,” said Tom Beanal, an Amungme tribal leader. “They’ve taken our land and our grandparents’ land. They ruined the mountains. We can’t drink our water anymore.”

The Berkeley, California-based International Rivers Network was one of the first groups to confront the malign environmental role played by international finance institutions. IRN’s focus is on dams, which have proliferated across the developing world in the name of economic aid, too often destroying riverine ecosystems and indigenous communities for the sake of US corporations. IRN made its mark tackling the biggest dam of them all, China’s Three Gorges. This monstrosity rises 575 feet above the Yangtzee, the world’s third longest river, and created a reservoir more than 350 miles long, compelling the forced resettlement of nearly 1.9 million Chinese.

Construction on the $26 billion began in 1994, backed by financing from a myriad of Western institutions, including Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, First Boston, Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, the largest financier of dams worldwide.

But IRN put together an international coalition of groups that targeted these funders and international construction firms. This was an entirely new kind of environmental campaign, which targeted and exposed the complex political economy of mega-construction projects. In 1996, IRN won a key opinion from the National Security Council, which determined that the US government should withdraw financial support for the project. A few months later, the Export-Import Bank announced it would not guarantee loans to US companies seeking contracts at the dam. Then, in the biggest victory of all, the World bank announced that it would not underwrite Three Gorges.

In the end, of course, the dam went up, the floodgates closed and the waters rose, flooding forests, marshes, shrines and villages. But a price had been exacted and the international funding agencies had been put on notice.

* * *

On a 1992 trip to NASA headquarters to examine the latest in geo-satellite technology, President George H. W. Bush was presented with two large satellite images. One depicted a million acres of forest in the Brazilian Amazon. The other samed the same amoung of acreage on the Olympic peninsula of Washington state. Bush shrugged his shoulders and wandered off. But the following day the photos landed on the front page of the New York Times. The contrasts in the images was striking. The Brazilians, so often the target of American condemnation, had logged off and burned about 10 percent of the Amazon’s primary forest. By contrast, the United States had logged off more than 95 percent of the Olympic rainforest. The ensuing battle over the fate of the remaining five percent of ancient forest in the United States would become one of the fiercest in the history of American environmentalism. The ecological symbol for this struggle became a diminutive and secretive bird that inhabited the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest: the northern spotted owl.

Traditionally, green groups such as the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society had tended to avoid battles over forest protection for easier targets: alpine wilderness or so called “rocks and ice” terrain. As consequence, through the 1960s and 1970s millions of acres of publicly-owned old-growth forest in Oregon, Washington, California and southeast Alaska were leveled with little organized opposition. All that began to change in the early 1980s, when a new, more militant generation of activists began blockading logging roads and hanging from giant trees slated for clearcutting.

Inspired by the writings of Edward Abbey and fed up with the timid and top-down nature of many big environmental groups, the Earth First!ers and their allies placed their bodies between big trees and chainsaws. The 1980s saw repeated confrontations between the Earth First!ers, the Forest Service and the timber giants: in the Siskiyou and Klamath Mountains, at Millennium Grove (where the oldest trees in Oregon were illegally logged on Easter Sunday), at Opal Creek and along the Brietenbush River. The battlegrounds evoke the same resonance for environmentalists that Shiloh, Vicksburg and Antietam do for the Civil War buff.

In the end, the fate of the spotted owl ended up in the hands of a Reagan-appointed federal judge named William Dwyer, who confounded his Republican allies by dealing the Bush administration a string of stinging setbacks, culminating in an injunction against any new timber sales in spotted owl habitat. In his landmark ruling, Judge Dwyer denounced the Forest Service for “a remarkable series of violations of environmental laws.”

The spotted owl injunctions, which effectively halted all new logging operations in old-growth forests, became a contested issue in the 1992 presidential election, with Bush pledgeing to over-turn the logging ban if re-elected. Bush lost, but Bill Clinton and Al Gore came to the timber industry’s rescue anyway. The betrayal was pure Clinton: convene a staged “town hall” meeting, put out a prefabricated plan and induce your liberal friends to swallow their principles and sign off on it. This shadow play was what happened at the April 1993 Forest Summit, a ridiculous display of consensus-mongering that saw some of the nation’s leading environmentalists play footsy with executives from Weyerhaeuser.

Shortly after the Portland summit, the political arm-twisting began. “The Clinton people told us that during the campaign they’d made commitments to the timber lobby that logging would be restarted before the end of 1993,” recalls Larry Tuttle, then executive director of the Oregon Natural Resources Council, a plaintiff in the original spotted owl suit. “They said we had to agree to lift Judge Dwyer’s injunction or they’d get Congress to come up with something worse.”

Tuttle and many other grassroots greens objected, but the big national groups capitulated to the scare tactics of the Clinton crowd. By the fall of 1993, the ancient forests were once again being menaced by chainsaws. After five years of logging under the Clinton plan, the spotted owl’s population plunged more rapidly than the environmental impact statement for the plan predicted it would decline under a worst case scenario over a period of 40 years. But the owl was always just a symbol, an indicator for an entire ecosystem on the verge of collapse. Among the other species caught in a tailspin toward extinction: marbled murrelets, coho salmon, cutthroat trout, Pacific fisher, pine marten, red tree voles, bull trout, dozens of salamanders, mollusks and hundreds of wildflowers, vascular plants and fungi. In all more than 1,800 species of plants and animals in the Pacific Northwest are at risk from old-growth logging.

* * *

Eight years of Bill Clinton and Al Gore yielded few rewards and many more bitter disappointments. During the early days of the administration, Clinton and Gore played a shrewd game. They tapped more than 30 environmentalist for key positions inside the new government, from Carol Browner as head of the EPA to Bruce Babbitt as Interior Secretary. That gave the mainstream greens the kind of political access they hadn’t enjoyed in more than a decade. But as it turned out, a little face-time with high-ranking bureaucrats was about all the enviro establishment got of Clinton and Gore. The 1993-4 congressional session, when Democrats controlled all branches of the government for the first time in 12 years, ended up as one of the least productive environmental legislatures since the Truman era. And the Republican takeover of congress in 1995 put greens back on the defensive, having to battle both a hostile congress and an indifferent executive office.

The failures of the Clinton years are perhaps best illustrated by the issue that Gore had made his calling card: global warming. By the mid-1990s had gone from a theory to a harshly experience fact of life. A wave of searingly hot summers and droughts scorched the Midwest, accompanied by fierce storms and prolonged El Niño conditions in the Pacific. The 1990s would be the hottest decade on record. The stage was set for the Kyoto convention in 1997. The meeting was conceived as a follow-up to the Rio summit and was supposed to put the brakes on this perilous warming trend. But the event itself would prove emblematic of the shifting alliances and competing interests in global environmental policy.

Kyoto was doomed from the start. Before the meetings even opened, the US Senate had voted 97-0 to reject any agreement that emerged from the session. And the US negotiators, under Gore’s orders, started furiously backpedaling from previous commitments almost the as soon as they stepped off the plane. In the end, the Kyoto accord was a feeble one, requiring the signatories from 37 industrialized nations to only reduce their carbon emissions by an average of 5 percent below 1990 benchmark levels by 2012. And there was plenty of loopholes to excuse not meeting even these modest reductions.

But as the clock closed on the Clinton administration, Congress still had not moved to ratify the Kyoto treaty, and at a meeting in The Hague, the US outraged the European community by attempting to scuttle the accords by pushing for even more “flexibility” in evaluating emission reductions. The US representatives, now thoroughly marinated in the language of neo-liberal, or market-based, environmentalism, pushed for the use of credits for carbon “sinks”—forests and other lands that absorb carbon dioxide pollution—and for emissions trading to help nations meet their goals. This was a particularly galling position considering the fact that although the United States contains only 5 percent of the world’s population, it is responsible for more than 23 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

After eight years of Clintonism, American environmentalists found themselves in a paradoxical fix: popular support for their causes had never been higher, but their political influence was steadily eroding. The 2000 presidential election saw the movement sharply divided, in conflict with itself. Pragmatists sided with Al Gore, despite his ineffectual record; idealists and radicals threw themselves behind the Green Party run of Ralph Nader. In the end, both camps would be disappointed.

George W. Bush, however, turned out to be the unwitting savior of the environmental movement—even as he and his oil-drenched cabinet plotted the plunder of what was left of the natural world. That’s because of a simple truism: environmentalists are better on the defensive, when they’re on the outside, with their backs against the wall. Like James Watt, Bush and Cheney became a mobilizing force. The green fundraising machines cranked into action and millions poured into the coffers of the green establishment.

On the frontlines of the war on the environment, Bush brought clarity. There was no mistaking his intentions, as so many did under Clinton.

* * *

Over the course of the last 30 years, US environmentalism has become a big business. Nine of the biggest green groups enjoy budgets of more than $30 million a year, while four have budgets in excess of $50 million. This newfound wealth inevitably has made Gang Green more cautious and politically timid. Thus the divisions between inside-the-Beltway groups, national organizations and more militant and grassroots have become ever more fractious. Even Earth First! Has been out-radicalized by the emergence of the Earth Liberation Front, which has torched ski resorts, luxury homes built in the wilderness and biotech operations.

Meanwhile, a new internationalist environmentalism is taking root. On matters such as global warming, ozone depletion, and pesticides, the European Union has enacted more protective policies than the US government. Greens have come to political power in Germany, amassing seats in parliament and forming part of the cabinet in 2002. In France, José Bové and his band of militant farmers gained international headlines for challenging corporations such as McDonald’s and Monsanto. Similar movements are taking hold in India, Russia, South Africa and across Latin America. When Subcomandante Marcos led his Zapatista army of Mayan rebels into Mexico City in 2001, the 150,000 people who packed Zocalo Plaza heard Marcos deliver a fiery speech that linked indigenous rights, economic justice and environmental protection.

All of these disparate strains of environmentalism converge on the streets of Seattle on November 30, 1999 protesting the World Trade Organization. Organic farmers stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Earth First!ers and human rights campaigners, trade unionists and animal rights advocates—all united in a common desire to shut down this coven of global finance ministers. The WTO was viewed by the street marchers as the mouthpiece of a global economic system that tramples indigenous people, exploits workers, circumvents national laws and ravages nature. Ironically, the consolidation of the corporate world had served the function of consolidating the opposition to it. The movement assembled on the streets of Seattle was a snapshot of the new face of environmentalism: internationalist in perspective, anti-corporate in tone and unified by a desire for social and ecological justice.

Dave Brower was in Seattle that week. Though weakened by cancer, there was the old fire in his eyes. His 88-year-old heart was with the street protesters. The arc of Brower’s life parallels the course of the environmental movement itself: from elitist hiking clubs to political players to militant confrontations with corporate power. Through decades of bitter battles, Brower never relinquished his optimism. The archdruid always spoke of the possibility of radical change and of the ability of popular movements to take on and defeat entrenched power.

On that misty day in Seattle, Brower pointed to the clouds of tears and said, “Our future is out there on the streets. It’s alive and well and fighting harder than ever.”

Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of sitka.

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press.

(This article is excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank, forthcoming from Haymarket Books.)