News Release

Climate: Record Heat, Policy Adrift


Petermann is executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project and coordinator of the STOP Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign. She said today: “The first six months of 2012 were the hottest ever recorded. Thousands of weather records were broken — with nearly 4,000 in June alone.

“These impacts have long been predicted by climate scientists, but are virtually ignored at the international policy level. After the UN Climate Conference in Durban last December, Nature Magazine stated, ‘It is clear that the science of climate change and the politics of climate change, now inhabit parallel worlds.’ The Rio+20 Earth Summit that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last month was no exception.

“Very little was accomplished inside the official Rio negotiations. Outside, however, corporate networks such as the Consumer Goods Forum were undertaking their own negotiations, promoting profitable climate change mitigation schemes such as ‘avoided deforestation.’

“This is a noble objective, except that there is no accurate official definition of ‘forests.’ Even plantations of GMO [genetically modified organism] trees can be called forests. For example, ArborGen, a joint initiative of timber companies International Paper and Mead Westvaco, is using climate change to promote genetically engineered non-native eucalyptus trees for production of second generation biofuels and biomass electricity.

“Eucalyptus trees are a documented invasive species in the U.S., and the oils they contain are explosively flammable. The Oakland firestorm of 1991 was fueled by eucalyptus trees. Jim Hightower calls ArborGen’s GE [genetically engineered] eucalyptus trees ‘living firecrackers.’ The Charleston Observer likened them to ‘flammable kudzu.’

“If GE eucalyptus are approved by the USDA, ArborGen plans to sell half a billion of them every year for planting on millions of acres from South Carolina to Texas. In regions already suffering from droughts, one lightning strike in a eucalyptus plantation could set off a catastrophic firestorm.”

Background: “Warmest Half Year On Record For U.S. Mainland, NOAA ‘State Of The Climate’ Reports