Monday, February 05, 2007

"Eco-millionaire's land grab prompts fury"

Douglas Tompkinscalls himself a 'deep ecologist'. He is a millionaire on a quest to preserve some of Argentina's last frontier lands from human encroachment by buying them and turning them into ecological reserves.

But Argentina may not permit him such philanthropy. Opponents are branding him a new-age 'imperialist gringo' and claim he has a secret aim: to help the US military gain control of the country's natural resources. Tompkins, who sold his Esprit clothing firm in 1989 for a reported $150m to devote his time and wealth to ecology, takes such attacks in his stride. 'Land ownership is a political act; it arouses passions,' he says.

Tompkins, 63, holds to a very severe brand of environmentalism and is fond of reminding listeners that, unless runaway consumerism is halted, 'we humans will be building ourselves a beautiful coffin in space called planet Earth'.

Yet such statements do not carry much weight with Argentinian nationalists. The heaviest fire has come from radicals in the ruling Peronist party. Left-wing legislator Araceli Mendez introduced draft legislation in Congress a few months ago to confiscate the American's vast holdings. At the centre of the storm is a 310,000-acre estate Tompkins owns in the Ibera wetlands, a labyrinth of marshes, lakes and floating islands of nearly 2 million acres. 'He says he's worried about the birds and the wildlife,' said Mendez. 'But his land is above the Guarani aquifer, one of the most important fresh water reserves in the world, only 700km from an airbase the United States plans to build in neighbouring Paraguay.'

The aquifer is soon to become an issue of strategic defence policy. Argentina's military planners are convinced the country's oil and fresh water deposits could become targets for world powers in an ecologically dark future, and are putting together 'Plan 2025', dividing the country into regions based on their resource potential.

The Argentinian press has suggested Tompkins might be a covert CIA operative securing US access to the aquifer. And even Argentinians who don't share such conspiracy theories are uncomfortable with Tompkins transforming his properties into environmentally pristine but unpopulated and economically unproductive areas....

Tompkins and his wife say they are not old-fashioned imperialists in a new guise. 'All the fears created by the fact that I am American buying land are ridiculous,' said Tompkins. 'My intention has always been to eventually turn over the land to the Argentinian government for a national park.' He has already done so, donating an estate in Patagonia to the National Parks administration in 2004. In the late Nineties he had bought the 155,000-acre Monte Leon sheep farm, including a 25-mile stretch of South Atlantic coast, home to one of the largest Magellan penguin rookeries in the world and also abundant in sea lions, pumas and birds.

But pressure to pass an anti-Tompkins bill in Congress could be strong. The presence of other high-profile foreigners fuels passions. The Italian clothing giant Benetton holds 2.2 million acres in sheep farms in Patagonia and has clashed with the indigenous Mapuche people over land ownership claims. And US media magnate Ted Turner likes to go trout fishing on his Patagonian estates.

For Tompkins, it has been a long road from fashion king to 'deep ecologist'. As the founder of North Face and Esprit, he sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of clothes worldwide every year. All that changed when he became involved in radical environmental projects, what he calls his 'restoration work', returning native animal and plant species to the nation-sized swaths of land he owns....

1 comment:

sushil yadav said...

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.





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