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EarthRights

Author: The human rights and environmental podcast, hosted by Melanie Désert and Pippa Neill

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The podcast focusing on the connection between human rights and environmental issues.
22 Episodes
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In this next BONUS episode of the EarthRights Podcast  about post-war peace processes, Mel is in conversation with Paola (Colombian national living in the UK) and Mary (PhD student researching the impact of the armed conflict and drug policy in Colombia).In view of the very recent uprisings and protests going on in Colombia and Europe, Paola and Mary tell us about the history of this conflict, the establishment of FARK, the left wing illegal army and the post war peace process currently in a state of flux. Many social leaders have been killed during these protests; Paola reflects that violence in this way is ingrained in Colombians as a means to solve political issues.Paola explains about the 50-60 years of civil war, which began in the 1950s, starting back in colonial Colombia when populist figure Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was assassinated an violence spread across the country. This lead to the creation of militarised groups, a struggle for power and political exclusion, even which after the civil war prevail today in Colombia.Paola then reflects personally on what the violence looked like when she grew up in Bogota as a child;  petrified of being bombed on a bus or in a shopping centre by paramilitary groups.  Mary tells us what it was like visiting Colombia more recently in 2014 during the time of the peace process and how she was surprised at how safe she felt.Paola and Mary also explain what the FARK is, and how this group was involved in the making of the Colombian peace process to end the long and violent conflict. Mary provides a lot of insight into Colombia's battle with drugs - Colombians have often been so desperate and destitute they have turned to the coca crop to make some money. The interwoven war on drugs in Colombia has seriously affected the civil war as drugs money has helped to fund militarised insurgent groups but the problems are still unsresolved. However, as we touched on in last week's episode looking at Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict and peace process, establishing peace is never simple and so we still have a situation in Columbia of great civil unrest, protest and corruption.
In today's BONUS episode, of the EarthRights Podcast Mel and Pippa talk to Ovida about Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict and the problems with peace processes. In this episode, we start by defining what peace processes are and exploring the difficulties that can occur when other nations intervene with internal conflicts. Ovi gives a detailed explanation of the deeply routed history of the conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities and how this conflict dates back to the colonial era in Sri Lanka. He believes it is fundamental to uncover the past in order to understand why the rifts between the two ethnic groups began.Ovi then goes into explain the difficulties of peace processes and why forcing peace onto a nation that has been forced into division in the first place can lead to many difficulties. But finally and perhaps most importantly, Ovi urges us all, wherever we are from, to recognise that we are all citizens of the world and so while it is important to acknowledge each others suffering, it is essential that we strive for a better future and  guarantee human rights in law and practice.
In this timely episode of the EarthRights Podcast, as people experience a new-found freedom in heading out of the year of 'lockdowns', Mel is in conversation with their dancing companion, Philipp Reimann, about the history of Berlin's liberal clubbing culture. Mel and Philipp talk about the difficult to define right to leisure. Leisure, play time and free time differ from society to society, individual to individual. But dancing and music are certainly one way people choose to spend their free time.As a human right, leisure and rest are recognised in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in many regional texts such as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.The right to leisure and rest may be seen, as Philipp explains, as a framework providing the freedom to choose the way we spend our free time.“People come together in large numbers from time to time, expecting an experience of unity, uplift, or, at least, diversion. The occasion might be a sporting event, concert, theatrical production, parade…” or indeed, DANCING. (Barbara Ehrenreich)Dancing enables the dissolution of the self, creates a feeling of oneness, wholeness and unity. It is also very intrinsic to and natural for us humans; Philipp describes the way that babies can feel music and move in time to rhythms even before they can walk.Dancing is part of the anthropocene, including of rituals and ancient ceremonies. It is always intended to create a feeling of togetherness. And, different dances or music may be seen to characterise or represent different groups in society.From the documentation of Egyptian slave dancers entertaining their kings; to monarchs during the renaissance period organising dances for people to court eachother; to now, in Berlin, where anyone, including people who have perhaps not fitted into mainstream society, can escape social rules, expectations and hide within the dark walls of clubs.However, when people do not conform to the mainstream way of spending their leisure time, such as by clubbing, then the activity can be construed as deviant or something the majority population or governments can criticise. In other words, some leisure activities are considered acceptable and others not.Philipp and Mel explore why Berlin became the epicentre of club culture and gained notority as a space for an alternative way to pursue leisure time. The scene reflects the infamous political and societal situations throughout the 20th century. They discuss the separation of Germany after WW2, the impact of the Cold War and how the stark divisions between East and West of the wall manifested in Berlin. Following the fall of the Iron Curtain, Berlin's clubbing scene really took off - everyone reveled in their then new-found sense of liberty - a feeling not too dissimilar to that which people are feeling now.
Mel and Pippa are in conversation with Mexican journalist, Frank Hernandez, for Episode  Nine of the EarthRights Podcast. They discuss the Mexican border crisis and whether the new Biden administration is a cause for hope or concern.Frank was born and raised in Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican town on the border of the U.S.. He is now residing in the U.S., working for the Mid-West Centre for Investigative Reporting, a non profit newsroom in Illinois covering agriculture and rural life in the U.S. The Mexico border crisis exists because many Mexicans are driven to leave their country due to climate  change – there are more droughts and extreme weather events causing land to no longer be habitable or profitable for farmers. And, indigenous communities have been forced to flee their ancestral lands due to American and Canadian mining corporations exploiting their natural resources. Frank urges listeners to 'look at the dynamic between economics and the impacts on the indigenous communities trying to resist corporations invading their ancestral lands.'  EarthRights also explored the policy of extractivism and its impacts with Miles Rudgley in Series One - listen to Episode 6: 'OIL or LIFE' .Frank tells EarthRights about his first-hand experiences crossing the border each day as a university student during Trump's term. During the height of the border crisis, Frank's waiting times increased from around 1 hour to between 3-5 hours - each way, everyday - all this just to access his education. He sad: You get used to it but it is exhausting…'He also discusses the impacts of the new Biden administration. Since taking office, Biden has ended the deportation programme, a step in the right direction in comparison to Trump. But human rights abuses are continuing and there have been cases of African asylum seekers not being sent back to their home countries and instead being sent to Haiti…Frank opens up about his personal experiences growing up in Ciudad Juarez, one of the most dangerous cities in the world. From 2007-2012, it was ranked the most dangerous city in the world – the world's homicide capital. 'This is even in comparison to places like Afghanistan and Iraq, where actual conflicts were going on.'A few times Frank has been close to where shootings happened. 'It was regular, it was normal, it was not out of the ordinary that you would witness murder in the streets…'Working in such a dangerous part of the world is important to appreciate with regard to the border crisis; 30 or more environmental activists have been murdered in Mexico recently after challenging the invasion of their lands by oil and mining corporations. These murders were likely perpetrated by foreign corporations and most of those murdered have come from indigenous communities.
For Episode Eight of the EarthRights Podcast, Pippa and Mel are in conversation with Melis Omalar, journalist at Guiti News(an independent news outlet that focuses on migration) and communications assistant at the International Rescue Committee.Identity is so complex - there are so many different aspects to each person's live. Melis shares with us her experience living in Berlin, Germany as a Turkish-German. She has often felt 'othered' - German people often pre-judge Turk-Germans and. A lot of tension in recent years has revolved around racism and discrimination - one incident Melis draws on is the  racist, terrorist attack that took place in Hanau on 19th February 2020.Based on her experiences as a Turk-German, Melis tells EarthRights about the importance of having a balance and uncovering the nuances in stories about migration - hence her work at Guiti News. She explaines that the mass media forms narratives that are very damaging to the public opinion surrounding refugees and migrants, people often already experiencing trauma.Language is extremely important and powerful - please read Pippa's article about 'Why language matters'.For clarification on definitions on migration: - International Convention relating to the Status of Refugees- Glossary on Migration (Guiti News)Melis also mentions about the assimilation of refugees and migrants into mainstream German culture, which is very difficult, but she suggests that people can create friendly connections online with: Conversation Over Borders.Finally, BIG TECH: Melis and EarthRights talk about the problems with algorithms and their designers (generally 'white privileged males'), social media and the way we now consume news online. How can we really expect to have healthy conversations when there is a lack of content moderation, fact checking and diversity.Mel has also explored the concept of big tech, digital rights and citizenship in her article: The digital gender divide'.  So, are we chilling in Orwell's 1984?   Here is some further reading you can do...- Envy - Yuri Olesha- One Dimensional Man - Herbert Marcuse (read online) - Free Speech - Ten Principles for a Connected World (podcast episode) 
During Episode Seven of the EarthRights Podcast, EarthRights is in conversation with Roxane Chaplain, Personal Assistant to Marie Taussaint at the European Parliament. Together they work on environmental and legal matters at the EU level.Roxane, Pippa and Mel discuss the concept of climate justice, which means to frame the climate emergency as a political and legal issue rather than one purely physical in nature.Roxane has also worked for Notre affaire  à tous over the past few years and assisted the NGO, along with three other organisations, in taking the French State to Court over its inadequate action in tackling climate change - particularly in view of the Paris Agreement 2015.Throughout the episode, Roxane explains why the law is an important tool for making governments change and actually take the climate crisis seriously. Alongside this, the legal concept of rights of nature, which was spoken about at length in Episode 5 of the First Series,  is discussed. Roxane tells EarthRights about how giving legal personality to physical entities can help form more reciprocal relationships between nations, people and the environment.
Welcome to Episode Six of the EarthRights Podcast; Mel and Pippa are in conversation with Cheila Collaço Rodrigues and Inès Deroche Rios, current and former Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists in Portugal. We start with the impact of the Portugese dictatorship, which Cheila explains moulded modern Portugese culture. People are very conservative and fearful, having experienced dictatorial violence so activism has often been hidden quiet; but this makes the XR movement there very special as it makes Portugese resistance louder and more public.Inès and Cheila also open up about how they came into activism. In dealing with depression, anger and in needing an outlet to channel concerns over being women, housing, money and other worries, XR in Portugal was born. XR provided a platform from which they could both address all concerns at once, since the climate emergency impacts all of them."Housing problems are a climate change problem, they are a  feminist problem, they are a racial problem - having intersectionality in all these problems is very important." (Chelia) They also tell us about the three objectives of XR:1) Tell the truth - make governments tell the truth about the climate emergency2) Carbon neutral by 2025 - NET 03) Stop biodiversity loss... and the concept of mobilising 3% of the population in order to create change:"We just need 3% of the population to come together to make a radical change. When I read that it have me so much hope, even at the beginning of XR in Portugal we were just 10 or15 people, but then I realised, these 10 people are getting us closer to the 3% we need to really make a change." (Inès)...as well as the meaning behind 'Love and Rage'  - the slogan all XR activists use to sign of any action, manifesto or letter they do.Finally, Inès and Cheila discuss the difficulties in remaining 'apolitical', an essential principle of XR. Climaximo in Portugal came with different egos and personalities, a pre-existing power structure with men at the top and a public association with the Portugese political elites. Inès tells us how working with Climaximo created so much distress for her that  she could no longer continue her role in XR.
For Episode Five of the EarthRights Podcast, Mel and Pippa are in conversation with two Russian friends, who have asked to remain anonymous given the current unstable political situation in Russia.  Ideology, corruption, propaganda, Alexei Navalny and methods to silence criticism - this episode aims to unveil some of Russia's secrets... Whilst the interviewees oppose the Russian government, much to the surprise of Westerners, they are in the minority - a lot of people will not agree with them. Mel, Pippa and anon discuss Russia's 20th century history, starting with the October Revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union. At that time, the concept of socialism was still embryonic, but as the decades passed, Lenin and Stalin gave it an ugly, oppressive and deadly nature that continues to shape present day Russian politics. Importantly, anon tell EarthRights that there is a huge difference between Moscow and the rest of the regions in Russia in terms of politics and daily life. 18 million people live in Moscow - the city that never sleeps - but it is being developed by corrupt leaders and is heavily influenced by technologies created in China.Propaganda is ever-present in Russia; the impact is greater on the older generations than younger people, who more and more are researching their news on the internet. In fact, YouTube is the online platform where Alexei Navalny has published his critique and exposed the corruption of the Russian government, particularly Putin.The Russian state and its notorious secret police have a reputation for silencing criticism in hideous ways. Anon explain why protesting in support of Alexei Navalny, and expressing opposition is very dangerous in Russia. It is not like taking to the streets in Europe; one risks immediate detention, which in many instances leads to torture or death.These risks and realities have pushed the Russian interviewees and their young family to leave Russia and seek a safer life in Europe, with less censored education and with better protection for their fundamental rights and freedoms.
For Episode Four of the EarthRights Podcast, we are in conversation with Marketa Fišarová, former Social Inclusion Officer in the Czech government.When Mel first moved to Prague for her Masters, Marketa offered Mel a place to live and consequently showed her around the city and taught her about the Czech way of life. This laid the foundations for an international friendship, one that is quite uncommon among the majority of the nationalist Czech population. Marketa tells us about the deeply rooted corruption within the Czech government and its ties with Russia, established when Czechoslovakia was a part of the Soviet Union. This issue is made worse by the monopoly over most mainstream media channels that the current Prime Minister, Andrej Babiš, holds. Marketa believes that a bottom up approach can help us fight against the corruption and systemic issues with community and inclusion.At the time they lived together, Marketa was working as the Social Inclusion Officer within the Czech Government. Marketa tells us about some of the struggles she faced during her role; the pay gap causing people to move to the private sector, discrimination against already socially excluded families in the education system, and why bureaucracy and corruption are at the heart of these problems. Marketa offering Mel a place to live is a real manifestation of her views, and now as a mother, Marketa tells us about her aims to teach her child a community way of life - one that supports the fight against climate change and lasting friendships.
 For Episode Three of the EarthRights Podcast, we are in conversation with Kataryna Liashchenko, Ukrainian Sociologist, about the Frozen Conflict: Ukraine's Coal Crisis.This is an extremely informative episode on how Ukraine's failure to move away from coal production has led to an environmental crisis, but also a society and economy rooted in corruption. Corruption has subsumed Ukraine since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, leading to a frozen conflict with Ukrainian separatist groups in the coal-rich region of Donbas.At the beginning we discuss Kate's experiences of the 2014 Orange Revolution, as well as the impact of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, which is arguably the biggest land grab to occur in Europe since World War Two.  Kate tells us about Russia's appropriation of her uncle's hotel in Crimea and how most Ukrainians have chosen on principle not to visit the area, once a thriving tourist destination, until it is again under Ukrainian rule.Then we move on to the simultaneous, but more life threatening situation in the Donbas region, which hosts one of the largest coal basins in the world. Today, however, the region is deeply rooted in depression - economically and psychologically. Kate explains that large-scale corruption in coal mining companies that started during Soviet times continues to  ruin the lives of many families living there.The human cost of the mines is huge: many miners loose their lives, the health impacts are disastrous and the ability to lobby or speak out against the conditions is greatly curtailed by the lack of freedom of speech and the presence of separatist combatants.At the same time, the negative environmental consequences of coal mining have accumulated: waste accumulation, air and soil pollution. Depletion and poisoning of water resources have turned Donbas into a region of environmental crisis. 
In this episode of the EarthRights Podcast Series Two, Pippa and Mel are in discussion with Vlada Melnychuk and Olja Brusko, two climate activists from Ukraine, who formed Zero Waste Society Ukraine.  The discussion starts with #FridaysForFuture Movement, which began in August 2018, after Greta Thunberg and other young activists sat in front of the Swedish parliament every day for three weeks and their strike went viral. Since then, Vlada and Olja have been organising strikes of this kind in Ukraine, particularly Kyiv, with over 2000 participants.Vlada and Olja then explain some of the challenges they have faced in trying to motivate people, including their families and friends, to start thinking about climate change. At a systemic level, the infrastructure in Ukraine does not currently provide for proper recycling or waste disposal, which they say is frustrating.With Zero Waste Society and other NGOs, Vlada and Olja are creating tools and templates for consumers to feel empowered to demand change from producers, such as stopping the use of single-use plastics. They have also been working with producers and local authorities to start designing measures that adopt circular-economic principles."We want to tell consumers that they have the power to make a change when they vote with their wallet." (Vlada)EarthRights, along with Vlada and Olja, encourage consumers to contact producers directly: "Of course you should use your reusable coffee cup, but I would also like to say, write to the producer, speak to the shop... if a few people start to do this then people will listen and that's when changes happen." (Olja)
We are kick starting Series Two of the EarthRights podcast in conversation with Fil Sys, trainee lawyer and Roma rights campaigner. "There is a creeping injustice across Europe that is just not talked about. Roma people are the largest minority in Europe yet these people are subject to some of the most medieval racism, segregation and prejudice in Europe."As a Roma man himself, Fil openly and honestly shares his first-hand experiences of racism and discrimination with EarthRights. This is an extremely powerful episode and we urge you to listen, learn and share widely to spread the message about the plight of Roma and how to begin unlearning racism towards them.Fil explains the deep and convoluted history of Romani people, including their often overlooked persecution by the Nazis during the Second World War, and how this has led to their ostracization in central and eastern Europe today.During the episode, we also talk about Fil’s research into the segregation of education for Roma children, which he advocates is the most important area of life that needs to be changed in order to combat the racism Roma people face. His work focuses on the infamous and still unresolved case of D.H. v the Czech Republic. Discrimination against Roma is experienced in almost all sections of public and private life in the Czech Republic: schools, hospitals, transport, politics, housing and in the use of language.Most importantly, Fil tells us how we can all be an ally to Roma people to help fight against the injustices they face. You will learn how to refer to Roma, the racist roots of other terminologies, how to identify when you are culturally appropriating the Romani way of life, and how... “to convert everyday acts of racism into niceness.”Finally, please follow the celebrations on 8th April 2021 for International Roma Day and the 50th anniversary of the Roma Congress.
EarthRights is back for Series Two to unravel the connection between human rights and climate change like never before.Join Pippa and Mel for conversations with activists and professionals from around Europe and beyond telling their stories of struggle against human rights abuses and the climate crisis.Visit our website for more information and talking points. Follow EarthRights on Instagram and Twitter.
In this final episode of the first series of the EarthRights podcast, Pippa and Mel are discussing what the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed; the fragilities and inequalities in our system, and why ethical standards need to be restored on our road to recovery.Ethical standards guide laws, human rights and the ways we live our lives. So Pippa and Mel thought it appropriate to highlight the injustices exacerbated by the pandemic and which therefore need ethical values restored at their centre. Be it state benefits, mental health, domestic abuse, racial injustice and access to food, there have been many traumatic and unfair experiences felt by the population.The pandemic has brought to the foreground that businesses and powerful bodies have huge amounts of power – and with power comes responsibility. So, in order to grow and learn from the experience we need to acknowledge what is wrong, inhumane and unsustainable and rebalance power in a way that holds businesses and states accountable for their practices.To understand more about what an ethical recovery might entail, Mel spoke with a leading, practicing academic in global health ethics – Dr Sridhar Venkatapuram (Global Health Institute, King's College London). They discuss the importance of harnessing ethical principles into the process of law making and social change in a post-pandemic world.“The last year has shown us that simply changing the law or putting in new rights is not enough, what we have to do is make sure there is social acceptance of these things.”Sridhar also reflects on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and what we can learn and include in the recovery from the current pandemic. We should look at the surrounding social conditions that make people vulnerable – not just wait for a vaccine to protect people from one virus – but actually change the norms and the social conditions, then vulnerable people will be protected from all health dangers.Following on from the interview, Pippa and Mel make suggestions for how individuals can make an ‘ethical recovery’ in their day-to-day lives. Starting conversations in small spaces, with family and friends, and making small and focused changes, which can be sustained going forward.
In episode 7, EarthRights looks at the possibility for a green and environmentally focussed recovery from Covid-19. The lockdowns which were introduced at the start of the pandemic provided the earth with a break, a tiny chance to recover and pause.It also provided the opportunity for many of us to slow down our previously fast-paced lives and take in the beauty of our natural world. Pippa and Mel discuss the main lessons they learned from living in this new way and the changes they have seen at the national and global level.During their conversation, Pippa speaks to James Melling, from the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. He reflected: “I think people in the pandemic have become more integrated into the nature around them, and when people feel connected to nature in this way they start to care more because it matters to them, and so they are more likely to stand up for nature.” Caring about nature also induces behavioural changes, such as taking up active travel - not simply because it is far better for the environment, but also because it makes you healthier and feel good. Pippa and Mel also make various suggestions about how to start educating yourself so that you can make a “green recovery in yourself”. Also, they look at how to take action at the local and government level. Here are some things you should do:Urge your MP to sign the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill: https://www.ceebill.uk/ Make Ecocide a Crime in the UK: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/320890 Make Ecocide an Int. Crime: https://www.stopecocide.earth/petitions Finally, Mel reflects on her own experience of getting in touch with her MP about making cycling routes safer and what resulted. She also chats to Carolyne Culver Green Party Group Leader at West Berkshire council about the local approach to climate change. Carolyne stated: “When petitioning for a climate emergency we were told it was hyperbole.” 
In episode 6 of the EarthRights Podcast, we talk with Miles Rudgley about his research into Ecuador, oil extractivism and the rights of nature. Miles is currently working as a research associate at Fidelio Partners, which focuses on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in the UK and abroad. At the end of his year abroad working in Peru, Miles took a boat down the River Napo, which is in the East Ecuadorian part of the Amazon in the midst of indigenous lands, and saw a billboard saying ‘OIL OR LIFE’.This contradictory slogan, Oil or Life, formed the basis of Miles’ research into the Buen Vivir (Good Living) plan in Ecuador introduced by Raffael Correa - Ecuador’s former president. Starting with the indigenous teachings and ontologies upon which Buen Vivir is based, Miles talks about sunaq kawsay, pachamama (mother earth) and other ancient indigenous belief systems which were, for the first time, incorporated into the Ecuadorian Constitution 2008. ‘Rights of Nature’ were also included in this Constitution. Rights of Nature consider nature as a living being, rather than be regarded as the property of humans, which is how nature is seen by Western nations. Whilst “Ecuador is a trailblazer for incorporating the Rights of Nature,” the episode reveals how the country is at the mercy of a boom and bust economy, typical of South American nations. This creates reliance on oil extractivism to fund the generous social welfare programmes promised by the Ecuadorian government, but destroys indigenous lands and their way of life.The boom and bust cycle renders Ecuador trapped: “We have to respect that for many countries, oil is the foundation of their economies - what is going to replace oil as a revenue earner and funder of social welfare programmes in countries less fortunate than ours?”
In Episode 5 of the EarthRights Podcast we discuss the ins and outs of corporate sustainability with Curtis MacGeever, Senior Sustainability Consultant at Anthesis. Curtis’ role is extremely important because he helps to map action plans for businesses and local authorities in order for them to meet targets under the Paris Agreement.Sustainability is a broad term; for Curtis “it is about society being able to thrive in a fair way that does not exploit our planet, ecosystems or people”.The discussion moves on to why a more sustainable approach is needed in the UK (and across the world). Because our current system is centred around the need for ‘growth’, be it at an individual level or the way we measure a government’s success, Curtis, Pippa and Mel express their concerns about how this model ignores the environmental and social impacts it has in favour of profit.Curtis then talks about the ways he and his colleagues at Anthesis analyse the environmental data sets in order to create action plans for businesses and local authorities to reduce their carbon emissions.The long term and short term climate action plans are a great step, but are we really taking the urgency of the climate crisis seriously? And what can we be doing to ACT NOW?Appreciating that the science around sustainability can be technically challenging to understand, the three of them express the need for creating accessible and digestible information about how we can act. These sustainable behavioural shifts need to “trickle down” from managers to workers ‘on-site’, and to consumers.Finally, “never underestimate the impact of your choices… governments and businesses are driven by collective choices.”
In episode four of the EarthRights podcast, Mel is interviewing Pippa about her dissertation, where she investigated the metaphors used when politicians are talking about the climate crisis. Pippa chose to focus on Obama’s speech from the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. To begin with, Pippa explains why she made this decision and why this is a landmark speech when it comes to the climate movement. It is easy to think of metaphors as a purely rhetorical device used in poetry or creative writing, but in fact, metaphors are pervasive throughout the English Language. Many of our daily expressions are metaphorical in nature, we just might not realise it at first, for example, ‘you’re in high spirits’ is a realisation of the metaphor - happy is up and sad is down. Due to their pervasive nature, metaphors can be extremely important in framing the way we look at a social issue, and a growing body of research has suggested that metaphors not only influence thought but they can also influence action. So when it comes to the climate crisis, one of the biggest and most complex issues that mankind has ever faced, looking at how politicians frame and discuss this issue is vitally important in our understanding of it. Throughout this episode, Pippa goes into detail about the specific types of metaphors used in Obama’s speech, but the fundamental point Pippa makes is that the language we use when talking about a social issue is vitally important; it can create action, invoke hope and also help us to realise the severity of the issue at hand. In May 2019, the Guardian recognised the importance of this and endeavored to use the terms ‘climate emergency’ or ‘climate crisis’ instead of ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming.’ Katherine Viner, editor-in-chief, said: “We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue. The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”EarthRights also joins the Guardian in this pledge, as we explained in this podcast episode, the language we choose to use is vitally important - it has the potential to invoke action.
Welcome to Episode 3 of EarthRights podcast. Today, Pippa is interviewing Mel on her research into the human rights situation in Cuba but dealing with it from a non-traditional perspective. The traditional perspective being that Cuba has an appalling record of upholding many basic civil and political rights. As you’ll hear early on in the episode, Mel thought there was more to it than that. Starting with the inspiration for the topic, Mel and Pippa talk about a conference they went to together in Prague 2017 during the week of ‘Festival Democracy’ called NOT A USEFUL ARTIST. At the conference many exiled and dissident artists spoke about their work and their loss of the freedom of expression – in Cuba it is very easy to be imprisoned for opposing the state.It was clear the Cuban approach to civil and political was insufficient. And yet, in its modern history, Cuba has been seen to have a good record of upholding economic and social rights (universal health care, education, transport and food subsidies). So, as Mel demonstrate, Cuba has prioritised economic and social rights over civil and political rights. She explains a few of her own theories for this prioritisation.However, since the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba has found it hard to guarantee economic and social rights and thus the achievements of the 1959 Revolution – universal health care, food, transport etc.Cuba seems to be in a lose-lose situation.Added to Cuba’s struggle is the U.S. embargo used to sanction it – the U.S. in its attempts to force Cuba to improve its record with respect to civil and political rights, has in fact contributed to the inability of Cuba to grant basic health care, food and sanitation needs to the population. The U.S. approach causes the Cuban state to retaliate and further tighten its policy with respect to civil and political rights – e.g. imprisoning more dissidents.The approaches of both nations operate in a vicious circle. But Mel, at the end, suggests that the U.S. approach is inappropriate for Cuba, and points to another podcast that she and Pippa have listened to by Scene on Radio, which discuss the convoluted journey of American Democracy. A particular episode we recommend is ‘American Empire’.
For episode two, EarthRights dives into the fashion industry, one of the greatest culprits of environmental degradation and unrelenting violators of human rights. Because the fashion industry plays off consumer trends, we want to show you why individuals have the power to change it. As Lily Cole states: “Realise the political power of your money and spend it with the brands you know are treating their workers and the environment in the best possible way”.The cycle of fashion picked up speed during the industrial revolution in Europe with new textile machines enabling clothes to be mass produced. In the early 1900s, imperialism and colonialism facilitated Britain (and other industrialising nations) to access resources and cheap labour from within the colonies it had invaded.In the 60s, fashion trends started to move at a DIZZYING speed – young people embraced cheaply made clothes to follow cat-walk trends.So, what’s the environmental impact of the last 70 years of fast fashion? Be it the hideous amounts of CO2 required to transport goods across the world, the water shortages caused by the intensive cotton manufacturing process, the toxic chemicals and dyes contaminating people’s drinking water supplies, or micro-plastics used to make synthetic fibres now being found inside human cells – one thing is abundantly clear, fast fashion needs to SLOW down.The fashion industry also has a terrible record of protecting human rights. Because supply chains are long and apparel company bosses are far removed from individual experiences in garment factories, they do not take anywhere near enough responsibility for the effect of their decisions. The factories are unsafe to work in, there are numerous cases of forced labour, including child labour where children are forced to mine mica for makeup. And women (making up the majority of the garment work force) face daily sexual abuse and harassment.What can you do to help? At the end of the episode, Pippa and Mel will look at some of the ways you can be a more conscientious shopper. Look at the transparency index and on the GoodOnYou app to find out how environmentally and socially responsible the brand is.
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