A Conversation on Climate Change in the Papua New Guinea Islands

February 24, 2016

Patrick Nason and John Aini

Ranguva Solwara Skul, Kaselok Village, New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea

Participants: Sekunda Aini, Michael Tarere, Ambrose Kolmaris, Hagar Boskuru, Bernard Miller Silakau, Wilson Tonias, GomanMatas

On 13 December 2015, the authors and participants gathered at the headquarters of Ailan Awareness, a locally owned environmental NGO in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea, to talk about climate change. Eight of the nine of us reside in Lovongai Village in the nearby island of New Hanover. The majority of our conversation was focused on changes that were occurring in that particular village, with useful comparisons being made to “mainland” New Ireland. This was, in part, a local response to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) held in Paris earlier in the month.

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New Featured Article!

“Transforming Participatory Science” Available as Free PDF

February 17, 2016

The latest Environment and Society featured article is now available! This month’s article, “Transforming Participatory Science into Socioecological Praxis,” comes from Volume 5 (2014). Brian J. Burke and Nik Heynen evaluate the participatory traditions of citizen science and sustainability science, finding that they often fall short of the transformative potential because they do not directly confront the production of environmental injustice and political exclusion.

Visit the featured article page to download your copy of the article today before it’s gone! A new article is featured every month.

BRIAN J. BURKE is an assistant professor in the Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Department at Appalachian State University. From 2012 to 2014 he was a postdoctoral researcher with the Coweeta Listening Project. His research aims to support movements for social justice and environmental sustainability by examining their ethical visions and strategies and the challenges they face. Drawing on political economy and political ecology, he studies how material and sociocultural forces shape processes of social and socionatural change in specific contexts. His work has included projects on urban environmental activism on the US-Mexico border, rural cooperatives in Latin America, alternative economies in Colombia, and environmental knowledge.

NIK HEYNEN is a professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia and director of the Coweeta Listening Project. His research utilizes a combined urban political ecology/urban political economy framework to investigate how economic, political, and cultural processes contribute to the production of material inequality and uneven urban environments. His three main research foci relate to the analysis of how social power relationships, including class, race, and gender, are inscribed in the transformation of nature, and how in turn these processes contribute to interrelated and interdependent connections between nature, space, and social reproduction.

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Working With, Part II

On the Work of Collaboration in Coastal Alaska

February 10, 2016

Karen Hébert with Danielle DiNovelli-Lang

“Please join me and stand with the bears!” So ends a recent e-mail I received from an environmental organization campaigning to curtail old-growth logging in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The Tongass is the United States’ largest national forest and encompasses most of the land in Southeast Alaska. In November, the US Forest Service released a draft of a proposed amendment to the current Tongass management plan, whose ninety-day comment period extends through February 22.1 According to the message in my inbox, written by a wilderness advocate and bear-viewing guide, the draft amendment includes some important provisions to protect prime salmon habitat and forest livelihoods but leaves bears out in the cold. The proposed plan sacrifices the “bears’ necessities” to continued old-growth logging in the Tongass, the e-mail contends.

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Solar, Sustainability, and Strategies in Sarawak

February 3, 2016

June Rubis

The orang solar (“solar men”) are finally here. The longhouse community has been lit in a pleasant buzz since awaiting the arrival of the technicians (described by my adoptive parents, as “orang solar”) who would install new solar panels. The week prior, the available men in the longhouse had worked every day on building the shed that would house the solar batteries within and the solar panels above.

Apai building the solar shed (December 2015)

Apai building the solar shed (December 2015)

Apai1 tells me that the solar batteries are arriving separately from Germany. He is so impressed with the origin of the batteries that he repeats this fact to me a couple of times. However, he worries, they might be delayed in the port, not in time for Christmas when the villagers’ adult children return for the holidays from working in the cities.

The solar panels are not the first that the village has had. The first sixteen solar panels were placed above the longhouse roof about a year ago, replacing the many village generators run on diesel. However, the electricity generated from the solar panels is enough for “lights and TV only”—not enough to run the iceboxes or a washing machine that sits idle in a bathroom where I bathe with a scoop and a bucket.

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