Human Sensitivity To Their Geo-Home Grows
|August 24, 2012||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under News|
Brazil Halts a Dam, A Party Tries to Share the Land
If we’re to save the ecosystem, we humans must revise our economy by sharing. We trim, blend, and append two 2012 articles from (1) AFP, Aug 14, on Brazil, and (2) the Green Party of Connecticut on taxes by A. Costa (co-founder of Re-New London who ran for the city council on the NL Green ticket in 2007).
by AFP and by Art Costa
Brazil Court Orders Work On Amazon Dam Suspended
A federal court in Brazil ordered that work on the huge Belo Monte dam in the Amazon be suspended, saying native communities affected by the controversial hydroelectric project must be heard.
The regional federal court ruled that the construction of the dam across the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon, should be halted until indigenous peoples can have their say at a congressional hearing.
The dam, expected to produce 11,000 megawatts, would be the third-biggest in the world, after China’s Three Gorges facility, and Brazil’s Itaipu dam in the south.
The Brazilian court noted that when Congress approved the project in 2005, it called for an environmental impact study after the start of the work.
Under the law, the native communities were given the right to air their views in Congress on the basis of that environmental impact study, but this was not done, the court said.
It said that the Norte Energia consortium in charge of the project will be able to appeal the decision to a higher court.
Norte Energia told AFP it was awaiting formal notification of the court ruling before responding.
The court said the consortium was liable for a daily fine of $250,000 should it flout the order.
By the end of the year, some 12,000 workers were scheduled to work day and night on the site, located in the northeastern state of Para, and up to 22,000 were to be at the site next year.
Work on the dam began a year ago, despite fierce opposition from local people and green activists.
Indigenous groups fear the dam will harm their way of life while environmentalists have warned of deforestation, greenhouse-gas emissions, and irreparable damage to the ecosystem.
“Avatar” director James Cameron and actress Sigourney Weaver have given their backing to dam opponents, drawing parallels with the natives-versus-exploiters storyline of their blockbuster Hollywood movie.
Belo Monte is expected to flood an area of 500 square kilometers (200 square miles) along the Xingu and displace 16,000 people, according to the government, although some NGOs put the number at 40,000 displaced.
Some 150 indigenous activists recently occupied one of the dam’s four construction sites for three weeks to demand that Norte Energia honor commitments made to their communities.
JJS: A few insiders expect to rake in enormous sums from the dam because they expect to escape paying for most of the damages they impose on both people and planet. Often they also get taxpayer monies invested in their project, vastly reducing their exposure to risk. Those two state favors — subsidies and limited liability — erase the competitive advantage of power sources that harmonize with the ecosystem and don’t enjoy massive political investments.
If you could get government out of the dam business, then in a sunny place like Brazil, you could probably get workable alternatives like photovoltaics that are powerful and affordable up and running within just a few years. The main disadvantage of energy sources like photovoltaic panels is that they can go on any property, like a windmill in the old days. That means they don’t need to be concentrated in huge power plants, where the technology can be easily controlled by insiders and the prices constantly rigged in their favor.
But to get away from things like dams, we need to move toward things like sharing Earth’s worth, toward which many Greens have taken a step.
Land Value Tax Coalition
Connecticut has an opportunity to reverse the blight of our urban centers. There is a convergence between what we know about urban efficiencies and sustainability, and the desire to release us from the bondage of the property tax.
The property tax has within it a “bad” and a “good” component. The bad is the tax on buildings (capital and labor). A tax on buildings creates land speculation, slumlords, and urban blight. The good tax is the one on land. Today Connecticut’s property tax is primarily on the “bad.” Henry George, the 19th Century political economist, provided the theoretical underpinnings of a perfect tax in his opus Progress and Poverty.
With a Land Value Tax (LVT), property tax is reformed. Revenue shifts from buildings, allowing homeowners to improve their property without incurring disincentives, while taxing society’s shared commonwealth — Land. A number of wonderful things occur with this simple shift. A few of these are:
* Land speculation, which hoards societal wealth, drastically declines.
* Efficiency of urban centers, where the greatest societal wealth is created, begins to come back to life.
* Affordable housing for homes and rents is achieved.
* Taxation is spread across the city as it is fairly levied on land use.
* The tax burden is reduced on middle and lower income citizens.
* The city has the necessary and sufficient revenue to pay for its infrastructure, social services, and schools.
As you might imagine, LVT is a Green Tax. It has been endorsed by every major environmentalist organization throughout the world. Lastly, all of the aforementioned is supported by over 200 empirical studies worldwide.
The Re-New London Council is in the process of building a statewide coalition to pass enabling legislation that would provide this essential tool for urban centers.
JJS: More Greens realize that public recovery of the socially-generated value of land or locations works in cities. It also works in the countryside, too. That realization can’t be far behind.
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