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The Waggle

Issue 68

Project Regeneration
Brazilian indigenous men of Pataxó ethnic group celebrate International Day of Indigenous Peoples with traditional songs and dances in typical costume.

Brazilian indigenous men of Pataxó ethnic group, who have seen a recent resurgence in their native language, celebrate International Day of Indigenous Peoples with traditional songs and dances in typical costume.

Salty View / Alamy Stock Photo

 Wisdom Embedded in Language • Anna Steltenkamp

Indigenous people make up less than six percent of the global population yet speak more than half of the world’s languages, each with “a universe of information” that would disappear if it were to become extinct. For example, three-quarters of all medicinal plant uses are linguistically unique (known in only one language). Rich stores of multi-generational, place-based wisdom that have supported the flourishing of eighty percent of global biodiversity for millennia are held in languages. Still, an estimated 42 percent of the existing languages in the world are endangered

Susan Chiblow (Anishinaabe) and Paul Meighan (Gàidheal) write that “language is land, land is language.” How can we cherish this abundance of cultural diversity and celebrate its value for protecting biodiversity? The United Nations proclaimed 2022 to 2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, aiming to revitalize multilingualism as a treasured heritage of humanity. To learn more, watch Anishinaabe linguist Lindsay Morcom’s TED Talk, “A History of Indigenous Languages – and How to Revitalize Them,” which speaks to North American histories and enduring traditions. Then, explore Cultural Survival’s past conference, “Restoring and Protecting Our Native Languages and Landscapes,” to hear from 30+ Indigenous educators, practitioners, linguists, and activists leading language revitalization

 The Best Teacher is Mother Earth • Paul Hawken

Wendsler Nosie is a prominent Apache leader known for his relentless advocacy for indigenous rights and environmental justice. He has dedicated his life to protecting sacred lands and preserving the cultural heritage of his people. @Wisdom.Keepers (Instagram). 

 Bio-based Textiles  • Claire Inciong Krummenacher

Shredded denim and Circulose pulp.
Renewcell breaks down used cotton and other cellulose-rich textiles (demin, left) and transforms them into a new, biodegradable raw material: CIRCULOSE® (right).
Microfibers shed from synthetic fabrics in the laundry account for about a third of the microplastics released into the ocean each year, despite emerging regulations to reduce the amount transferred from washing machines into our water. To tackle the problem, innovators have been experimenting with bio-based materials that achieve the same functionality and benefits as synthetic fibers without the plastic waste. Among them include TômTex, which creates bio fabrics made from mushroom and shrimp shell waste that debuted in London and Paris Fashion Weeks last year. Similarly, Allégorie utilizes apple pomace and leaves from cacti, mangos, and pineapples to create a more sustainable vegan leather. Meanwhile, the Swedish company Renewcell has established the first commercial-scale textile-recycling factory that shreds old cotton clothing and uses chemical processing to convert it into material that can be spun into new fabric, while Natural Fiber Welding uses liquid salts to fuse cotton threads and mimic the durability of synthetics to create apparel suitable for sports and outdoor use. Other ways to address the issue include putting synthetic clothing in a special bag meant to filter microfibers during the wash and avoiding using plastic-coated laundry pods. To learn more, see Clothing Nexus.

 Cultural Burning • Courtney White

Aboriginal elder George Milpurrurr shows his children how to make a controlled fire to burn off dangerous dry grass Arnhemland.
Aboriginal elder George Milpurrurr shows his children how to make a controlled fire to burn off dangerous dry grass Arnhemland.
The resurgence of Indigenous fire management and traditional ecological knowledge continues to make headlines. In Australia, new research reveals how traditional Aboriginal fire practices, also called cultural burning, can promote biodiversity by influencing plant species richness in desert environments. In Northern California, Indigenous-led “good fire” practices have been reintroduced and are becoming integrated into the policies of state fire agencies. Not long ago, such practices– involving controlled burns in small areas to reduce fuel loads and stimulate vegetation– were outlawed. In Southern California, members of Chumash groups are working with researchers to quantify the ecological benefits of ‘fighting fire with fire.’ In the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Indigenous groups are pressing land management agencies and others to allow cultural burning practices for ecological restoration goals and to improve forest resilience to the effects of climate change. In Montana, artificial intelligence is being paired with good fire practices to help buffer local communities against the risk of large-scale wildfires. Other terms for these traditional forms of fire management include fire-stick farming and fire as medicine. The video Cultural Burning: Tending the Wild, explains one of the practices in detail. See the Fire Ecology Nexus for more information.

 Momentum Builds to Stop Ecocide • George Biesmans

A large banner that says "Stop Ecocide" seen during the demonstration  at Schiphol-East Airport,  Amsterdam, Netherlands. 5th Nov, 2022.
More than 200 Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace climate activists were arrested on Saturday at Schiphol-East Airport, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 5th Nov, 2022.
The global movement to enshrine the crime of Ecocide within international law has the wind in its sails after a series of recent positive developments. This month, municipal authorities in the Netherlands, business leaders in Sweden, and politicians in Finland called for Ecocide to be made a crime via the International Criminal Court. These come on the heels of a vote by the European Parliament to criminalize “crimes comparable to ecocide” in a new continent-wide Environmental Crimes Directive and the publication of a new Islamic Charter that also references the crime. In 2021, an independent panel of legal experts defined ecocide as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.” Multiple countries have already established ecocide as a national crime - including Mexico, Brazil, and Scotland - while Belgium recently became the first to recognize it as an international-level crime; the ultimate goal of the global campaign Stop Ecocide International. Making ecocide the fifth major international crime, alongside genocide and crimes against humanity, “would act as a global deterrent for would-be perpetrators” of environmental offenses “in the most senior positions of decision-making power.” To get involved, link up with the Stop Ecocide campaign in your country or consider setting one up.

 Circularity in Wind Turbines Juliana Birnbaum

Aerial view of wind turbine assembly, Lorraine region, France.
Forgive the silly puns, but I got sucked in learning how wind turbines typically go round and round until they land in the dump— a very linear route for the rare-earth elements (REEs) in the magnets that power them. Despite the name, they are not truly rare but are usually found in low concentrations. REEs with science fiction-sounding names like neodymium and dysprosium are essential to electric vehicles and the green energy transition, but there are heavy ecological impacts to mining them. So, it makes sense to develop more sustainable approaches to recovering them and also to find ways of reclaiming and repurposing rare earths, yet less than one percent of them are now recycled. That is starting to change: a new Department of Energy program aims to keep REEs out of landfills by offering a “Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize.” The initiative supports the rapid development of a circular industry for turbine components, and several teams of scientists won funding to move their ideas to the second phase. This stage involves detailed plans on how to scale up the various recycling technologies they innovated in phase one, which range from acid-free dissolution to molten salt electrolysis. The race is on to put them into production before the large numbers of currently deployed turbines start to wind down and reach the end of their 30-year lifespan.

 French Village Shares Solar Energy • Scott Hannan

Loire Atlantique, Saint Joachim, the village and la Grande Brière. 
Loire Atlantique, Saint Joachim, the village and la Grande Brière. 
The French town of Saint-Joachim is installing an array of solar panels that will be the first project in the country to distribute energy evenly among such a large community. Most clean energy initiatives take a top-down approach, with the government or private companies installing and selling energy to customers. The project in Saint-Joachim is a grassroots, Communal Self-Consumption project, with over 97% approval from its citizens. A similar project is underway in a town in Slovenia, where solar panels are being installed on all municipal buildings. In Saint-Joachim, they are also solving multiple challenges at once, as the canopy of panels will provide shelter for a cemetery prone to flooding, allowing easier access for citizens visiting their friends and ancestors. Splitting the energy among the town’s households and businesses equally is requiring a new algorithm, and it is estimated that participants will save an average of €150 to €250 on their annual electricity bills.  

Take Action on Nexus
Find out how to support regenerative aquaculture for ecosystem health, community resilience, and as an alternative to industrialized “factory” farming in oceans and waterways in our Aquaculture Nexus

Photo Credits
1. Salty View / Alamy Stock Photo
2. Image Courtesy of 
3. Penny Tweedie / Alamy Stock Photo
4. ZUMA Press Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
5. Thierry GRUN - Aero / Alamy Stock Photo
6. Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

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