Protestors Shine Light on Trans-Pacific Partnership's Secret Corporate Coup
When negotiators from the 12 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership gathered last week in Salt Lake City, UT, they were met by the TPP Welcoming Committee, a coalition of environmental, social justice and labor groups who did their best to show that there is opposition to the deal in the U.S.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would affect laws and regulations involved in fields including agriculture, media and medicine, and would cover about 40 percent of global GDP. While the leadership of both mainstream political parties in the U.S. supports the deal, advocates of environmental and social justice, as well as some elected representatives, have criticized it.
The Sierra Club has said the TPP would result in an "explosion of fracking." Public Citizen called it a "corporate power tool of the one percent." And, in a letter signed by more than 130 Democratic members of Congress, Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) and Rep. Miller (D-CA) described the TPP as "weakening ... buy America provisions, providing extraordinary investor-state privileges, and restricting access to lifesaving medicines in developing nations."
One of the goals of this week's protests was to raise the profile of the deal. The text of the TPP remains secret to everyone except the national negotiating teams and more than 600 corporate "advisors."
That secrecy was dealt a blow last week, when Wikileaks published the TPP's chapter on intellectual property. The 95 pages of leaked documents revealed that the U.S.' negotiators are pushing for a number of policies opposed by most or all of the others—on issues such as the patenting of plants and animals, harsher fines for those accused of copyright violations, and the ability to prosecute individuals who use or share copyrighted content by accident.
As the Washington Post showed in a detailed infographic, the leaked text seems to demonstrate that the U.S. has become isolated in the TPP talks.
Interactions in Salt Lake City last week between protestors and negotiators from other countries gave the same impression.
Bill Moyer, the executive director of the Backbone Campaign, one of the organizations that participated in the actions, says that when some of those foreign delegates stepped outside of the hotel to view or photograph anti-TPP slogans that activists had projected on the hotel wall, they thanked the protestors for their work.
Then, at another point in the evening, Moyer shouted, "Don't allow yourself to be bullied by the U.S." to a group of negotiators from Latin American and Asian countries, and they responded by saying, "We're doing our best!"
Organizers used a variety of inventive tactics to express their feelings about the deal throughout the week. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, they used light cannons to project messages onto the walls of the Grand America Hotel, where the negotiations were being held. On Wednesday, they suspended a 75-foot-tall banner outside the hotel using weather balloons, and about 30 people marched to the hotel’s entrance while banging pots and pans.
"We completely undermined their attempts to keep the TPP invisible in the U.S. and elsewhere," said Moyer. "We overcame the barriers of short notice and geography to show the country, the world and the international delegates that resistance to the TPP is growing in the U.S."
Jesse Fruhwirth, a volunteer with the Salt Lake City-based climate justice group Peaceful Uprising, said the TPP is relevant to climate politics, too. The agreement is likely to make the permitting process for oil and gas drilling easier—bad news for those working to stop or mitigate climate change.
The issue of extraction is especially sensitive in Utah, which possesses valuable gas deposits as well as tar sands.
On Tuesday, as the local Bureau of Land Management auctioned off 44,000 acres of public land for oil and gas leases, TPP opponents joined members of Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance in a rally at the auction site.
James Trimarco wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. James is web editor at YES! and you can follow him@JamesTrimarco.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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