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IDEA takes HEAL to Durban and Kenya

Juliet Duff, Irish Doctors Environmental Association - IDEA will represent HEAL at the climate change talks in Durban later this year (COP 17, 28 November - 9 December 2011).

We’ve published Juliet’s personal tribute to Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan tree-planting ecologist who died of cancer on 25 September 2011. Juliet links the combat of Wangari to that of Teresa Treacy, an Irish farmer who is currently in prison in Ireland as a result of her struggle to protect trees.

In the spirit of Wangari Maathai Ironically, Teresa Treacy, a 65 year-old woman sits a prison in an Irish jail as Wangari Maathai is laid to rest in her native country in Africa. She is considered a national and international hero.

Wangari was the courageous woman who made international fame over 20 years ago through her peaceful but “illegal” attempts to halt the destruction of trees, forests and natural heritage for the sake of development in Kenya.

Why did her subsequent imprisonments and abuse move so many people across the world and win her the Nobel Peace Prize? Because she stood up for what every one of us knows in our hearts is right. She was willing to sacrifice her life to protect one of Earth’s major living systems from the growing assault launched by a misguided perception of “development” and “economic growth”.

She began the Green Belt Movement that spread worldwide to protect the environment and promote good governance and cultures of peace. The hope was that, among other things, women & men would no longer be threatened with imprisonment for protecting the Earth’s natural heritage.

Now decades after her initial imprisonment, we have a courageous Irish woman languishing in Mountjoy Prison for protecting her own trees on her property, from assault. Teresa, who shares a farm with her sister in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, has spent many years planting and managing native Irish trees in order to maintain and improve the natural habitats that her land provides. But the ESB (Electricity Supply Board) intend to erect high voltage power lines over and across her land and she refuses to allow it. She did not agree to the large monetary compensation offered.

Despite Wangari’s worldwide recognition, business remains as usual. This ever-increasing systematic attack on our planet’s natural resources and biodiversity is fundamentally disrupting the Earth’s capacity to maintain the dynamic and finely tuned balance that sustains life, as we know it.

Around the world there are increasing numbers of international meetings trying to deal with the current global crises and the pending disasters they will cause.

Taxpayers are paying for them to try to protect us from the fallout. Yet, the source of most of these crises is precisely to be found in the business as usual – unsustainable development that compromises future life, as we know it, on the planet. Our current global economic model is incapacitating Nature’s life supporting systems. This is not a question of evolution this is a question of a misguided perception which breeds greed, fear and conflict.

Natural resources are dwindling. Drinking water is being abused at such a rate that it is becoming the next commodity for privatisation. The loss of species has become so extreme now that keystone species (species that play a critical role in sustaining an ecosystem, eg. bees) are under threat. Toxic chemicals and technologies that pollute water, air and soil are affecting human health on an unprecedented scale, (including cancers, chronic diseases/conditions and allergies). GM food crops now threaten Ireland’s ecosystems, our health, and food sovereignty. And recently, in Lough Allen and Clare Basin regions, there have been exploration licences granted for hydraulic fracturing or Fracking, one of the most destructive and polluting technologies developed to extract natural resources.

Many people, including world leaders, now publicly say that the survival of the human race is at stake. The alarm bells are already ringing. What will it take for us to wake up and realize what we are doing? - Juliet Duff, Irish Doctors Environmental Association, IDEA

Originally posted on 19 October 2011

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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