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Thursday, September 26, 2013

U.S. President lectures nations, is muted on greatest urgency facing planet ─ Naidoo

Climate change:  endless scarcity, endless conflict
Excerpt, minor edit by 
Carolyn Bennett

Greenpeace’s International Executive Director, South African-born Kumi Naidoo describes himself as an activist who is “passionately involved in liberation struggles,” who continues “to speak truth to power across the range of Greenpeace campaign activities around the globe,” and who is “dedicated to engagement, dialogue and change”, and the quest for “a green and peaceful planet for all the world’s inhabitants.” He appraises the United States world affairs model.


 “The approach of the United States [is], ‘do as we tell you to do … do as we say, not as we do’.

On torture, they (The United States) are signatories to the anti-torture conventions, but we’ve got waterboarding, we’ve got Guantanamo, we’ve got extraordinary rendition.
Kumi Naidoo 

On respecting human rights and not violating people’s privacy without their knowledge ─ people around the world are saying …, ‘we had so much optimism in Obama.’

“President Obama was saying, ‘yes we can, yes we can’; but, with all of this NSA spying, maybe he was saying, yes we scan, yes we scan, yes we scan.”

Mute on climate change

Among the speeches in the 68th session debate of the UN General Assembly this week, the powerful U.S. President “hardly mentioned climate change,” Kumi Naidoo observed in interview today with Democracy Now.

“Even the CIA and Pentagon in a 2003 report … suggested that in the coming decades the biggest threat to peace, security, and stability would not come from conventional threats of terrorism …; but from the impact of climate change

UN General Assembly
“So if any heads of state, any political leaders are concerned about peace, security, and stability; then they should be using the platforms at the United Nations to talk about the biggest urgency this planet has ever faced.

“We are talking already of serious impact ─ particularly in the developing world.

“We are seeing lives being lost. The UN Secretary-General has pointed out that “the genocide in Darfur was certainly intensified and exacerbated because of conditions resulting from climate change.

Neighboring Lake Chad, one of the largest inland seas in the world ─ again, according to the Secretary-General ─ has largely shrunk to the size of a pond.

The Sahara Desert is marching from Senegal to the Sudan southwards at the rate of one mile a year. 

Triggering conflict was water scarcity, land scarcity together food scarcity.

“All this is happening as heads of state talk about interventions around chemical weapons ─ all of which are important ─ but the biggest threat to peace and security is already upon us: climate change and its growing intensity.
It is therefore deeply disappointing that U.S. President Barack Obama “did not make this connection.”

Sources and notes

“As IPCC Warns of Climate Disaster, Will Scientific Consensus Spark Action on Global Warming?” September 26, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/9/26/as_ipcc_warns_of_climate_disaster

Kumi Naidoo

South African human rights activist Kumi Naidoo is Greenpeace’s International Executive Director (November 2009- ). Born in Durban, South Africa (1965), Naidoo became involved in anti-apartheid activities when he was 15 years old, resulting in his expulsion from high school. He was involved in neighborhood organizing, youth work in his community, and mass mobilizations against the apartheid regime. During the apartheid government, Naidoo was arrested several times and was charged for violating provisions against mass mobilization, civil disobedience and for violating the state of emergency. As a result of this he went underground before finally deciding to live in exile in England. During his exile he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University and earned a doctorate (D.Phil.) in political sociology.

He returned to South Africa in 1990 after the release of Nelson Mandela and led the adult literacy campaigns and voter education efforts; and was the founding executive director of the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO). From 1998 to 2008, Kumi Naidoo was Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of Johannesburg-based Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, which is dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. He was the founding chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.

He describes himself as an activist who is “passionately involved in liberation struggles,” who continues “to speak truth to power across the range of Greenpeace campaign activities around the globe,” and who is “dedicated to engagement, dialogue and change”; and in pursuit of “a green and peaceful planet for all the world’s inhabitants.”

Currently he leads the Global Call for Climate Action (Tcktcktck.org), which brings together environmental, aid, religious and human rights groups, labor unions, scientists and others; and organizes mass demonstrations around climate negotiations.

Kumi Naidoo at


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