Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. In this US election year, Democracy Now! is more important than ever. For 20 years, we’ve put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. We lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. A generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar if you donate right now. That means when you give $10, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you every day.

Your Donation: $

Earth Day Special: Vandana Shiva and Maude Barlow on the Rights of Mother Earth

April 22, 2011

This week the United Nations General Assembly discussed international standards that grant nature equal rights to humans. Similar protocols have been adopted by over a dozen U.S. municipalities, as well as Bolivia and Ecuador. Renowned environmentalists Maude Barlow and Vandana Shiva join us. Says Shiva, "Most civilizations of the world, for most of human history, have seen the world in terms of relatedness and connection,” says Shiva. "And if there’s one thing the rights of Mother Earth is waking us to, is: we are all connected." [includes rush transcript]


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: As the world celebrates Earth Day, Bolivia is about to pass the world’s first law that grants nature equal rights with humans. The Bolivian delegation to the United Nations urged the global body to adopt a similar law during this week’s Harmony with Nature conference.

DAVID CHOQUEHUANCA: [translated] The United Nations is revolutionizing the way we look at our planet. At the moment, various issues are being receded in the United Nations, and we have begun to discuss the idea of declaring an official International Day of Mother Earth. And we will also soon be discussing what are the rights of Mother Earth.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the Bolivian foreign minister speaking in New York City about the Harmony with Nature dialogue at the United Nations.

This week also marks the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill; next week, the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Radiation levels around the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan remain high. As these disasters multiply, Latin American countries such as Bolivia have taken the lead in adopting measures to protect the environment. Ecuador has also adopted a resolution protecting nature.

We speak with two renowned environmental justice activists: Maude Barlow and Vandana Shiva. Maude Barlow is the head of the Council of Canadians, Canada’s largest public advocacy organization. Barlow is also co-founder of the Blue Planet Project and chair of the board of Food and Water Watch. Vandana Shiva, world-renowned environmental leader, feminist and thinker from India, is the author of many books, including Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace and Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development.

I started our conversation by asking Vandana Shiva about the nuclear catastrophe in Japan and what it has meant for India, where major anti-nuclear protests have been sparked, in which one protester was killed. I asked her to explain what happened.

VANDANA SHIVA: We have a very, very strong anti-nuclear movement in India. And the difference between the Indian movement and any other movement is it’s not just about the stupidity of splitting the atom to boil water, which is what nuclear power ultimately is, creating huge amounts of radiation hazard in the process, but in India it involves the typical violence of land grab. And one of the most fertile parts of India in the Western Ghats, the Ratnagiri district, this planning to set up the biggest-ever nuclear power plant of the world, being built by a French company, AREVA, violating every right of the people, including local democracy, where people have a right to decide what happens. All the local authorities have resigned. And the protests continue. And just two days ago, there was a killing, when the police fired on peaceful protesters. So, in India, the costs are even higher, because the human costs join with the costs of nuclear hazard. And from 23rd to 26th, a march is being organized — and I’m part of the organizing group — from Tarapur, which is the oldest nuclear power plant of India, to Jaitapur, which is where this giant mega nuclear power park is being set up.

AMY GOODMAN: And people live there. They will be displaced?

VANDANA SHIVA: People live there. I mean, typical of such things, they claimed it was barren land and nobody was there. It’s one of the most fertile. That’s where this wonderful Alphonso mango comes from, this amazing, giant-sized, delicious mango. Good fisheries, amazing horticulture, and well-to-do people, because nature is abundant. It’s the Western Ghats, where the monsoon just pours the water. And coastal regions are usually just the more productive, more fertile.

A similar protest is happening around a steel plant called POSCO, a Korean plant, but it’s not owned by the Koreans anymore, it’s owned by Wall Street. It’s owned by the financial institutions of this city, who brought down the world’s economy. And it was very interesting that Warren Buffett was in India about giving, you know, creating the art of giving, and he has huge shares in the steel plant which will displace large numbers of people. And for six years, people have been saying, "No, we will not give our land."

And I think that’s so important, that we need to realize that, first, we don’t give rights to nature. Nature has rights. And more often than not, nature’s rights and people’s rights are allied as one in most places of the world, where, in places like Jaitapur or places like the POSCO area, people are saying, "This land is our mother." This is not an esoteric idea. It’s the most relevant, potent, democratic idea of our times.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about a man you probably would agree with on a number of issues, George Monbiot. He, we recently had on, debating the issue of nuclear power. This is what he had to say.

GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, obviously, what happened — what’s happening in Fukushima concerns me a lot about the area surrounding Fukushima. It’s a horrible, dangerous, extremely traumatic series of events that we are seeing there.

But I’m very worried that the global response to what’s happening in Fukushima will be to shut down nuclear power stations around the world and to cancel future nuclear power stations, and that what will happen is that they will be replaced by coal. Now, coal is hundreds of times more dangerous than nuclear power, not just because of climate change, though, of course, climate change is a big one, but also because of industrial accidents and because of the impacts of pollution on local people. If we just look at industrial accidents alone, these massively outweigh both the fatalities and the injuries caused by any nuclear accident we’ve ever seen. In China alone, last year, 2,300 people were killed in industrial accidents to do with coal mining; purely by coal mining accidents, 2,300 killed. That’s six people a day. That means that in one week, the official death toll from coal in China is greater than the official death toll from Chernobyl in 25 years. And that’s to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of people contracting really unpleasant lung diseases, which will cause them a very slow and painful and terrible death.

So, what I’m calling for here is not complacency. I think it’s absolutely appropriate to be very concerned, indeed, about what’s happening in Fukushima. But I’m calling for perspective, and I’m saying that we must not replace a bad technology with a much, much worse one, because, unfortunately, that is what’s likely to happen.

AMY GOODMAN: So that was the well-known British columnist George Monbiot, who is in favor of nuclear power, says it’s simply cleaner than coal, and if we’re talking about climate change, which he’s deeply concerned about, nuclear is the answer.

VANDANA SHIVA: Well, what we really need is a coal-free and nuclear-free future, because the sun’s energy is so abundant, and we’ve not even started to tap it in sensible ways. Alternative renewable energies, if only we would put the investments in that direction, would be affordable, would be decentralized. Nuclear must be a centralized system. And as we are witnessing in Jaitapur with the protests, with the shootings and the killings and the place turned into a total police state where nobody can gather, even the elected officials can’t hold meetings, where democracy has to be sacrificed, that’s not the kind of option we need for energy.

And I think it’s wrong of George Monbiot to rubbish the point of view of millions of people around the world, including governments, like the government of Germany said, "We won’t build any more nuclear power plants," China, which has put everything on hold. Now, these countries aren’t crazy. They aren’t a fringe. And I personally get disappointed when friends like George Monbiot think they are the wisest ones on this planet. And just because they have a column, they can switch everyone’s way of thinking. There is an ancient recognition of the hazards of nuclear. I began my life in the nuclear industry of India, and it’s when my sister woke me up to the damages. I wasn’t ever taught radiation biology. We were just taught physics, fission physics. And I realized it was very partial knowledge.

AMY GOODMAN: You are a physicist.

VANDANA SHIVA: Yes. And then I did theoretical physics, and eventually I did foundations of quantum theory. And what I love about the rights of Mother Earth is we’re overcoming the separation between humans and nature that was built into the Cartesian thinking that nature is out there and we are out here, but also the kind of divisive separatedness that Cormac [Cullinan] pointed out yesterday at the United Nations conference on Harmony with Nature. He said, "I began my life fighting apartheid, and apartheid means separateness — separateness on the basis of color." I think separateness is the disease of the past. It’s the dinosaur in the intellectual frame. Separateness was a very artificial imposition. Most civilizations of the world, for most of human history, have seen the world in terms of relatedness and connection. And if there’s one thing the rights of Mother Earth is waking us to, is we are all connected. And it’s in that connection we can’t have arrogant solutions, like nuclear is clean. Just because you don’t see the radiation doesn’t make it clean. Fukushima has become like Chernobyl, and that, the Japanese government is recognizing.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, Maude Barlow, why are you here in New York at the United Nations on this Earth Day?

MAUDE BARLOW: Well, there’s been the debate this week — an interactive dialogue, it’s called — at the United Nations on a resolution on Harmony with Nature that was introduced by the Bolivian ambassador to the U.N. but was adopted by the General Assembly. So we’re beginning the discussion and dialogue at the United Nations on the concept of the right to water. A number of us were in Cochabamba a year ago, this Mother Earth Day, when we finalized this draft of this Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. And so, basically, we’re here to introduce it to the U.N. The concept — we eventually want the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth to be a companion piece to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but we’re not there yet. We understand that. But that’s the goal, both within nation states at the United Nations and then just organizationally. We want people to adopt it and start talking about it. And we have a wonderful new book called The Rights of Nature: The Case for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. So, this is a beginning of a real process to have a larger dialogue on exactly what Vandana’s saying.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the threat to water in the world today?

MAUDE BARLOW: Well, the threat to water, while just speaking about nuclear, is a wonderful example. It was interesting. I just — and it’s a perfect example of what we’re talking about when we say that we have to recognize nature’s rights — and Vandana is right: it’s not giving, it’s recognizing — is a report I saw the other day on the fish, you know, touched by the radiation contamination from the nuclear plant in Japan, and said, "Don’t worry. By the time it gets to humans, it won’t be harmful." And it was like that’s all that mattered. You know, it’s this human-centric notion that we’re all that matters, that other species of the planet doesn’t matter.

The biggest threat to water in our world is that humans, modern humans, quote, "civilized" humans, see water as a huge resource for our pleasure, profit and convenience, and we do what we want with it. We dump whatever we want in it. We grow whatever we want, wherever we want. We move it wherever we want. And we are running out. There’s a brand new report, says by 2030 the demand in our world for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent. And I don’t know if people can get their heads around how a horrific statistic that is and the suffering that that’s going to cause. You know, you can come at this as some — and, you know, people are already joking: "Oh, you’re talking about rights for ticks and rights for rats." That was — you know, this is the right wing mocking what we’re doing. We’re talking about survival here. We’re talking about human and other species’ survival on this planet, if we don’t change the way we see the world, the way we see nature, the way we see water. It is not a big resource for us. It is the essential — these are the essential elements of a living ecosystem that gives us all life, and this is about survival.

AMY GOODMAN: Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, Canada’s largest advocacy group, and Vandana Shiva, environmental leader from India. Among her books, Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. We’ll come back to this Earth Day conversation in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road in Washington, D.C., on this Earth Day. We rejoin our conversation with Vandana Shiva, the renowned scientist and environmentalist from India, and Maude Barlow. She’s head of the Council of Canadians, and, well, among her books, Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Fight for the Right to Water.

AMY GOODMAN: We saw you in Cochabamba last year when we were covering the conference, the gathering of tens of thousands of people around the rights of Mother Earth, Pachamama, as they said there. Why is Bolivia and Ecuador taking the lead here?

MAUDE BARLOW: Well, partly because they have governments that actually represent a lot of the will of their people. And I can’t imagine what that feels like. We’re going through an election in Canada, and we’re just tearing our hair out, because we’re going to get a bad government again. So I think, partly, you’ve just got a government closer to the needs of the people.

But the Andes are melting. I mean, we have a crisis. A brand new study last week from the Foundation of U.S. Scientists said that La Paz, which is the capital of Bolivia, is in great crisis with a terrible drought threatening the two million inhabitants because of climate crisis. And unless something dramatic changes in a very short period of time, they don’t see any way around this. So it’s affecting their food, it’s affecting their access to water. So it’s very immediate. When you have this kind of immediacy, I think people like the president of Bolivia, Morales, and his ambassador to the United Nations, Pablo Solón, just say, "I don’t care if you like me or not. I’m not particularly here for a popularity contest. I’m here because we’re talking about life and death of the people where we live. And we need to get that urgency out there." And that was — it was Bolivia that led the charge on getting the right to water recognized. And so, similarly, very interesting that it would be the same government —- it was Bolivia that said no to the so-called consensus that happened in Cancún, which was based on a market model for the so-called solution to climate. So -—

AMY GOODMAN: And what’s wrong with the market model?

MAUDE BARLOW: The market — well, Vandana will have so much to say, too. But basically, the — and the U.N. has just put a huge price tag on nature now. The whole answer, not just to climate crisis, but to the water crisis and the forest crisis, is to put a dollar figure on nature and bring nature into the market system, so that basically all of nature has to compete with other uses for it in order to survive. And it basically — it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s a recipe for the wealthy of the world and the powerful within countries claiming, well, they’re, you know, so much more than others and so much more than nature.

AMY GOODMAN: Vandana Shiva, you’ve been taking on corporations in India and around the world, but talk about the corporatization of nature.

VANDANA SHIVA: I think the consequences of the corporatization of nature is, first and foremost, that at a time where we should be recognizing the integrity of nature, the prior rights of nature, nature’s generosity, the generosity of the earth to provide us life itself, we are going headlong into the path of hallucination, where we’ve assumed we are not just separate, but we are continuing the idea of mastery and conquest over nature, adding to the technological tools, like the idea that we can control nature through nuclear power. Now we want to control nature through market mechanisms and commodification.

Why is that wrong? Firstly, it’s wrong because nature is too rich, too diverse. We know too little about it. So, whatever price we’ll put will be partial. It’ll never catch the whole story. We have not even begun to find out the soil organisms that give us food. We don’t know how different species hang together in a forest to create that amazing biodiversity of the forest. So it will be linear. It will just be just carbon functions, when that’s not the only function of a forest. And it will definitely not take into account the integrity of species. I started Navdanya and saving seeds when I found out that corporations wanted to patent life, when life is not created by them. It is created sui generis. It is part of creation.

But there’s a second problem with the commodification of nature. And that is that it gives a new legitimacy to appropriate and alienate the resources that support people’s lives, especially the resources of the poor. So, what do we see with this new thinking of commodification of nature? We see the biggest land grab that Africa has ever seen, much worse than anything that happened during colonialism. In India, the land grab for mining, for nuclear power plants, for steel plants, is literally becoming a war zone. There’s a green hunt that’s being implemented. Our dear, dear friend, Dr. Binayak Sen, someone like us, was thrown into jail for life imprisonment. Thank goodness the Supreme Court just a few days ago granted him bail, saying that if you carry literature on Marx, it doesn’t make you a Naxalite, just as much as carrying Gandhi’s biography doesn’t make you a Gandhian.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, wait. Stop for a second, because very few people follow this story. And Democracy Now!'s Anjali Kamat went and spent the weekend at the Sens', has been bringing us reports on Dr. Binayak Sen. But in a nutshell, explain his case and the significance of it.

VANDANA SHIVA: Well, Dr. Binayak Sen, as I said, is a dear friend, a medical doctor who has worked to serve the tribals all his life. He was a gold medalist from one of the leading medical colleges of India, but decided instead to go to the villages. He and his wife, Ilina, have worked with the tribals. I’ve worked with them to help set up community seed banks for seed conservation, like we do in Navdanya. Binayak has been working to set up primary healthcare initiatives. And he was also the head of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties.

Now, the commodification and globalization of the resource grab has meant that this area where he worked, which is now called Chhattisgahr, a new state — it’s a very mineral-rich area — that’s where the corporations are going for iron ore. That’s where they’re going for coal mining. And that means they’re violating the rights of the tribals that are institutionalized now in our constitution. We have a Panchayati Raj extension to scheduled areas, which basically means the tribals decide what happens to their land. And when they started to decide — and I was at these public hearings in the early days when, in the '90s, when this law was passed, one after the other, tribals would say, "We don't want money. We want our land. We want our forest. We want our home. We want to live with Mother Earth." That’s when the violence started. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t a global advising system going on. But now there are private militias in addition to 70,000 paramilitary troops that have been deployed in tribal areas, in the name of controlling the Maoists, but really to flush out the tribals, create an empty land, so the minerals can be grabbed.

Binayak wrote a report for the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, being the vice president, and said this militia was killing innocent tribals. It became the first report. That’s what really got the government very angry with him. And they were targeting him for very long. Eventually they arrested him, planted fake evidence, like putting some letters into someone else’s bag and saying they were handed over by Binayak. It’s a long story; I won’t go into details. But Binayak, who is a medical hero of India, he’s a civil liberties hero of India, he is as good as you can live a life for the people, in service of the people, thrown into prison for life imprisonment. And that’s why his case is so significant, because it’s like, you know, in the Nazi time, you remember that poetry that the priest wrote: "I wasn’t a unionist, so I didn’t speak. And I wasn’t a" —

AMY GOODMAN: "First they came for the unionists; I didn’t speak."

VANDANA SHIVA: Yeah, yeah. And it’s exactly like that. They’ve made a test case of Binayak to say, "Any of you who stand for the rights of Mother Earth, who stand for the rights of people to their resources, watch out. If we can do this to a Binayak, we can do it to you." And that’s why I really believe we are at this watershed. We’ll either go the democratic route, recognizing the rights of Mother Earth, living within the limits of the planet, living a good life with less wastage of resources, or we will go very fast into the path of fascism, militarization. And commodificaton of nature has to be a militarized commodification in today’s time.

AMY GOODMAN: What does "earth democracy" mean, Vandana Shiva?

VANDANA SHIVA: For me, earth democracy means, first, recognizing the fundamental fact that we are part of nature, that human rights and nature’s rights are not separate, because we are just one strand in this amazing mystery and miracle that the earth has created in terms of life. But earth democracy also means democracy in the everyday life of people, exercised daily by ordinary people, not the once in a five-year or four-year election, because everywhere around the world, we are seeing, you can bring someone to power, and they don’t represent your will anymore.

So, democracy under corporate control has mutated from "of the people, by the people, for the people" into "of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations." In this country, I watched how Wisconsin suddenly became a playground for destruction of democracy and destruction of the fundamental rights of collective bargaining and public services and public domain, only because there is this corporate pressure on privatizing everything and preventing people from exercising their democratic rights. So, it’s the democratic rights of the people and the earth versus the fictitious corporate rights that corporations have assigned to themselves, and now they’re costing the earth and people too much. They’re bringing nothing in return. It used to be the case that when General Motors put out a car, it gave employment. It even gave salaries so people could buy that car. Today, the corporations give nothing back to society. They just take from nature, take from society, and want to rubbish this planet and rubbish our lives. And I think people are getting fed up. The entire rising in the Arabic world is part of that fed-upness.

AMY GOODMAN: It is also, Maude Barlow, the first anniversary of the BP oil disaster. You come from Canada. There was just a protest around fracking, around BP, around tar sands. Can you talk about what we should understand about where we are headed? In this year, offshore drilling, President Obama said it could resume. People in the United States hardly know what tar sands is, though we get much energy, oil, from Canada.

MAUDE BARLOW: Well, at current rate of growth, the tar sands will become, in the quite soon foreseeable future, the worst site of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Enormous amounts of water is being destroyed. They’ve taken down a forest, this boreal forest the size of Greece. And there are children in the downstream First Nations communities with bile duct cancer at the age of four. I mean, it is an absolute horror. And what Americans need to know is that it’s coming to a community near you in the form of this dirty oil, the bitumen actually being piped by pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer to be refined in the Gulf, or there are other pipes now taking it and more to be built to take it to the American side of the Great Lakes. It is corrosive, it’s poison, and it will destroy the water systems if it leaks, which I promise it will.

We also have gas fracking all over North America. This has become just an absolute obsession with people who know about the danger to water, because, of course, what you’re required to do is put massive amounts of chemicals into the water and then steam-blast it into the rock horizontally and to release the gas. And we’re even seeing operations along the Saint Lawrence River, and even the Quebec government has just given operations the OK to explore right within the Saint Lawrence River. And that’s not allowed on the American side, by the way. Usually we say, "Oh, it’s worse on the U.S. side," but it’s not in this case. It’s worse on the Canadian side.

I think the point here, to make the connection to the rights of nature, is that while our governments make noise about caring about the environment and make — on Earth Day, will all make, you know, strong statements about this, all of their actions belie this, from trade agreements, which we continue massively to promote around the world — the bilaterals, there are close to 3,000 of them now — to these big new CETAs, they’re called, Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreements, which are not just national procurement, but sub-national procurement. That’s water systems and roads and mining operations and municipalities and schools. It’s everything. It’s the next level down, where corporations are going to actually be able to dictate the conditions under which local funding is — how you spend your local money and on what values, and be able to stop fair trade bans and that kind of thing. All of that is galloping along. And this is so-called green economy, as it is seen by the powerful in our world, is basically no change, continued unlimited growth, continued unlimited free trade agreements, continued unregulated investment of the type that’s taking place with the land grab in Africa, but with a green technology. So we’ll just substitute that dirty old technology, which of course they’re not, because the tar sands is the dirty old technology, and that’s what they’re building it on. So it’s just language around caring for the earth.

And what we’re trying to say is that if we’re really going to survive as a species, and if the planet is to survive in any condition as we understand it, we have to shift our thinking and stop thinking of ourselves as being above nature and stop thinking of ourselves as having the rights that no other species has or no other form of the earth has. We just have to change. What would the world look like if we could see it differently? Right now, for most environmentalists, the best we ever get is that we negotiate the amount of toxics being dumped into a particular system, or in the tar sands, all we’re — I mean, all we’ve ended up doing is having a series of reports, which just tell us how bad it is, but we haven’t — we have not managed to stop one pipeline. We have not managed to stop one government expansion, one corporate expansion, in the tar sands in all the years we’ve been fighting it. And I don’t see, frankly, Amy, how we’re going to do that, unless we have a mindset change. I really —- I think right now it’s just a negotiation about how much of this toxic waste we’re going to allow and dump into our waters and our air and how much genetic damage we’re going to do as -—

AMY GOODMAN: And the mind shift would be what? What do you see needs to happen?

MAUDE BARLOW: The mind shift is that we are a species like any other and that we will not survive unless we place our rights in tandem with the rights of the earth, and then we understand that we come from the earth. Everything we have, everything we wear, everything we eat, everything we touch comes from the earth. And if we don’t change our minds, if we don’t change the way we see the world, if we don’t stop thinking of ourselves as superior, we’re not going to survive. And I see it as an evolutionary step, a human — an evolutionary step in our human development, if we could actually come to this.

And I think that there’s a comparison to the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, because they fought really hard for that. And people will still say, "Well, what did it mean?" because human rights are still being violated. Well, just because a universal value is broken doesn’t mean it’s not a universal value to have. And we have to add to the universal value of the right of humans, these fundamental rights of humans, the right of the earth to survive and for us to survive together.

VANDANA SHIVA: And I think the more key issue, Amy, is, actually, this is a majority perspective. Most of the indigenous cultures of the world, most of the non-industrialized cultures of the world, most of the non-Western cultures of the world live in the consciousness that we are part of nature and the earth is a mother. We are fighting against dams on the Ganges. And it’s a very real discourse that the Ganges is a divine mother. She has her own standing. And the government cannot block her flow. She has a right to flow free. It’s a real serious discussion in India today. That’s the basis of fighting the dams, not only the environmental impact in terms of displacement. All the work we’ve done against patenting of life, bringing back the integrity of species.

And I think if you really start to connect the dots, you realize that we are at the kind of moment where we were when slavery was being abolished, people. There were crazies then who thought it was right to trade in human beings and own them as property. A few people thought it was wrong. It took a while, but we would never today imagine it’s right to own other human beings. Well, property in nature, property in life forms, patents on life, privatizing water, commodity trading of carbon pollution, the emissions treaty, all of that is as insane and as mad as slavery was. And we need to get out of this bondage, which has been created by a very tiny minority, who have lots to gain by raping the earth and destroying the rights of people.

AMY GOODMAN: One last question, and we just have a minute. Your assessment, as we move into the 2012 presidential election in the United States, of President Obama, from Canada, from India? Maude Barlow?

MAUDE BARLOW: I wish he would stand up for what I think is deepest in his heart, and I wish he would stop giving the other side’s line to the world. We don’t need him to describe or promote the compromises that he’s made. We really desperately need leadership. And I just hope that he understands that that’s the most important thing he can do for us all.

AMY GOODMAN: Vandana Shiva?

VANDANA SHIVA: Well, you know, President Obama has often said Gandhi is his big inspiration. And Gandhi had told us the earth has enough for everyone’s needs, but not for a few people’s greed. When Obama came to India, instead of talking Gandhi, instead of building a common world from U.S. to India on that Gandhian vision of everyone living well with less, he came only to seek $50 billion deals for corporations, for fighter jets, for India joining hands for the invasion of Africa for land grab and the so-called green revolution. I do wish that Obama would exercise the policies that have brought him the inspiration that brought him to power.

AMY GOODMAN: Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, thanks so much for joining us on Earth Day.

MAUDE BARLOW: Thank you.

VANDANA SHIVA: Happy Earth Day!

AMY GOODMAN: Environmental leader Vandana Shiva, among her books, Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. And Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians. Coming up, Van Jones, Tim DeChristopher, Bill McKibben. We’ll be back in 30 seconds.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Email icon redDaily News Digest