Bill McKibben: ‘Paris Summit is Missing One of the Great World Leaders on Climate’ Because He’s in Prison
One of the world’s leading climate campaigners is missing from the UN climate summit in Paris, because he is sitting in a prison cell after being deposed in a military coup. Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed was a key voice at the 2009 UN climate summit for island nations threatened by rising sea levels.
"Nasheed promised to take his whole country carbon neutral by 2020. Instead, the dictators running it now are inviting the oil industry in to drill," says Democracy NOW!'s guest Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. "If you want to think about irony, it doesn’t get much better than that."
Here's the rush transcript from the show:
AMY GOODMAN: One more question I want to raise with Bill McKibben, our guest right now, and that’s The Guardian piece that he wrote, The Paris summit is missing one of the great world leaders on climate. The article is about former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed. For years, he was a leading climate campaigner. Today he sits in a prison cell after being deposed in a coup. This is a quote from a clip of Mohamed Nasheed in 2009:
MOHAMED NASHEED: For countries to defend Poland in the 1930s, because it was a frontline state. It’s very important to take care of the Maldives now because the Maldives and many other small states are in the front line of what is happening to the world, to climate today. If you can’t defend the Maldives today, you won’t be able to defend yourselves tomorrow.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Mohamed Nasheed in 2009. And I certainly remember—met Mohamed Nasheed for the first time that year at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, one of the most vocal voices around the effects of climate change with his islands nation, Maldives. Bill McKibben, where is he today?
BILL MCKIBBEN: Well, he’s in prison on a prison island in that archipelago. Look, the Copenhagen climate summit, a great failure, had very few heroes but one of them was Mohamed Nasheed. I won’t soon forget him leading a huge crowd of people and chanting "3-5-0" booming out across that conference center. Nor will I forget, ever, the activism that he displayed. He, you know, taught his whole cabinet to scuba dive so they could hold an underwater meeting on their dying coral reef, something that was on the front page of every paper around the planet to dramatize what was happening.
What happened to him is horrible. He was not only a climate leader, of course, he was a great freedom fighter. They call him the Mandela of the Indian Ocean. He overthrew a dictator of 30 years in a free election. But the dictator’s people fought back, and in a military coup deposed him. Not only is he now in jail, but so are many, many others including many leaders of other political parties. The Maldives has turned into a full on autocracy. Nasheed apparently is apparently in poor health and being denied medical treatment. Amnesty International is speaking out on his behalf, so is Amal Clooney, who’s travelled there, the human rights lawyer, to visit with him. But it is a disgrace, and one hopes that leaders here at this conference will remember his leadership and speak up a little bit on his behalf.
AMY GOODMAN: Sadly after the gun was put to his head and he was deposed in a military coup, the U.S., I believe, was the first, if not one of the first countries, to recognize the new coup government.
BILL MCKIBBEN: It’s a—it’s really, really sad. It’s not as if the Maldives has some kind of enormous strategic value to anyone. It has enormous moral value. This is an archipelago of a thousand islands stretching across the equator in the Indian Ocean, but the highest point in the archipelago is only a few meters above sea level. They are the poster child for where not to be in a warming world. And it was Nasheed who promised to take his whole country carbon-neutral by 2020, instead, the dictators running it now are inviting the oil industry in to drill around the edges of those islands. If you want to think about irony, it doesn’t get much better than that.
AMY GOODMAN: Folks should check out our interview with Mohamed Nasheed before he was imprisoned at democracynow.org
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to more than 7% of all the world's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. One such species, the Pharohylaeus lactiferus bee, was recently rediscovered after spending nearly 100 years out of sight from humans.
Scientists have newly photographed three species of shark that can glow in the dark, according to a study published in Frontiers in Marine Science last month.
- 10 Little-Known Shark Facts - EcoWatch ›
- 4 New Walking Shark Species Discovered - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Incredible Species That Glow in the Dark - EcoWatch ›
FedEx's entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will become 100 percent electric by 2040, according to a statement released Wednesday. The ambitious plan includes checkpoints, such as aiming for 50 percent electric vehicles by 2025.
- Which Is Worse for the Planet: Beef or Cars? - EcoWatch ›
- Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Record High Despite Lockdowns, UN ... ›
- 1.8 Billion Tons More Greenhouse Gases Will Be Released, Thanks ... ›