Tag Archives: Peru

Environment  Mongabay.com: Pope and Peru’s top mining CEO agree and at odds on environment

Roque Benavides, CEO of BuenaVentura, Peru's largest precious metals mining company. Photo by Emilia Catanoso

Roque Benavides, CEO of BuenaVentura, Peru’s largest precious metals mining company. Photo by Emilia Catanoso

Through the good fortune of meeting TV producer Luis Moray in Lima, I was able to spend the last morning of my reporting during my first of two trips to Peru last summer interviewing one of the country’s most influential businessmen — Roque Benavides, CEO of BueanaVentura Mining. He read the encyclical before our interview so he would be prepared.  Mongabay.com, with expert editing by Glenn Scherer, published a series of three of my Q&A stories during the week of Pope Francis’ history visit to the United States in late September 2015.  My first Q&A is here.

Glenn Scherer wrote as an intro to my interview: 

  • Roque Benavides makes no apologies for Peru’s extraction industry, noting that it employs tens of thousands, and gives much back to the communities in which it works.
  • The CEO fears that the Pope’s encyclical is overly simplistic, putting too much of the blame for the environmental crisis on industry and business.
  • He argues forcefully that government has failed in its role as environmental protector, and that the poor are more destructive to the environment than industry.

Emilia Catanoso took a series of amazing photographs. Her best of the entire two-week experience.

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Environment  Sunday News & Observer: Pope gets pushback on environment

"The life of the plant is more important than anything the pope says." Photo by Jason Houstin

Emel Salazar in La Oroya, Peru: “The life of the plant is more important than anything the pope says.” Photo by Jason Houston

Every Pulitzer Center journalist must ensure that his or her work will be published or broadcast before a grant is considered. That’s the model. They pay expenses so that your work can fill the gaps of news organizations that want foreign reporting, but no longer have staff abroad. When my Pulitzer turn came around around again last spring, I called an editor I’ve long admired but never had the opportunity to work for: John Drescher of the New & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. After explaining my project, he readily agreed to take one of my stories. I was thrilled.

So on Sept. 20, 2015, I had my first page 1 story in a Sunday daily newspaper since I left the News & Record in Greensboro in May 1998. That’s a long time before Sunday fronts, but given that the N&O practically cleared page 1 for me and published all 1,900 words I wrote, plus several photos, it was worth the wait. It’s funny, but in buying papers in Chapel Hill, I felt the same thrill I did when I was a kid, seeing my first byline in print.

Front page, The Sunday News & Observer, Sept. 20, 2015. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Front page, The Sunday News & Observer, Sept. 20, 2015. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Breaking News  WGHP Fox 8 TV — The importance of Pope Francis in America

WGHP

My friend and news anchor Neill McNeill at WGHP Fox 8, the highest-rated TV news program in the Triad, called early Monday to see if I would come on the program in the early evening. Why? Pope Francis‘ first-ever visit to the U.S., which is getting wall-to-wall coverage. Three minutes flew by, but we covered some ground in this segment, including a bit about my Peru reporting. I’ll be back on Thursday to discuss the pope’s speech to Congress.

 

Environment  Mongabay.com: Peru’s Conundrum: a Pope’s environmental message divides his people

The smelting that virtually killed a city in the Andes, and poisoned its people. And the people want it open again, even as the pope speaks out against such environmental oppression. Photo by Jason Houstin

The smelting that virtually killed a city in the Andes, and poisoned its people. And the people want it open again, even as the pope speaks out against such environmental oppression. Photo by Jason Houstin

I had the great pleasure to work with mongabay.com editor Glenn Scherer on this important story, that is as comprehensive as it is sad and vexing. As Glenn wrote in the subhead: “Big business and labor in one of the world’s most Catholic nations wrestle with the economic implications of Pope Francis’ revolutionary encyclical on the environment.”

The link to the story is here.

Seven decades of acid rain has changed the chemical composition of the surrounding mountains. La Oroya is considered on of the most polluted cities on earth.

Seven decades of acid rain has changed the chemical composition of the surrounding mountains. La Oroya is considered on of the most polluted cities on earth. Photo by Jason Houston

Environment  Global Pulse Magazine: Pope Francis’ Encylical and Three Priests of Peru

This Peruvian priest in Cocachacra, home to the most contentious environment battle in Peru, is determined to remain neutral -- unless instructed otherwise. Photo by Justin Catanoso

This Peruvian priest in Cocachacra, home to the most contentious environment battle in Peru, is determined to remain neutral — unless instructed otherwise. Photo by Justin Catanoso

I met Robert Mickens in Rome in May through my good friend, Rome-based freelance journalist Eric J. Lyman. Mickens happens to be a leading expert on the Vatican and the guy who explained how I could get credentials to cover the release of the papal encyclical.

He was also interested in my reporting from Peru, and published my second story that focuses on three Peruvian priests in three parts of the country with three different perspectives on the environmental document. Mickens is the editor of GlobalPulseMagazine.com, which covers the Vatican and all things Catholic. The link to the story is here.

Environment  Pulitzer Center: Meet the Journalist, a video

The mayor of Cocachacra take me to the controversial mine copper mine site that he and 3,000 farmers have been battling to a stalemate since 2009. Photo by Enrique Ortiz

The mayor of Cocachacra take me to the controversial mine copper mine site that he and 3,000 farmers have been battling to a stalemate since 2009. Photo by Enrique Ortiz

The name of my project for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is:

Saving Eden: Francis Exerts His Moral Authority.  “Latin America’s first pope derides our “throw-away” culture while offering a stern prescription for environmental protection. Will those who revere him in his native region follow his lead?”

I explain the background and premise of my project in this video, which was shot on location in Peru and edited by Michael Frierson, professor of film at UNC-Greensboro, It turned out really well, with assistance from Enrique Ortiz and Emilia Catanoso.

Environment  Mongabay.com: Pope’s environmental encyclical arrives in Peru to mixed reviews

Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change and environmental protection. Released at the Vatican in June 2015

Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and environmental protection. Released at the Vatican in June 2015. Photo by Justin Catanoso

In early May, Jon Sawyer, founder and executive director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, asked me to take on a special assignment. He believed it was tailor-made for me. The topic: Pope Francis’ upcoming already-controversial encyclical, or Catholic, teaching document on climate change and environment protection. The premise: how is the document being received in Latin American, the popular pope’s home region. I was honored to accept the assignment.

After being able to cover the Vatican press conference on June 18 while in Rome with my Wake Forest travel writing students, I traveled to Peru twice during the summer — a total of three weeks — to report the story. I was joined by incredible professionals such as guide and consultant Enrique Ortiz, fixer Aldo Villanueava, photographer Jason Houston, and for two weeks, my daughter Emilia Catanoso, who was my first photographer.

I was proud that my first stories were published on one of the nation’s most respected environmental web sites, mongabay.com. Here’s a link to the first story.

Jesus Cornejo, one of the most courageous men I've ever met. He is featured in the story. Photo by Enrique Ortiz

Jesus Cornejo, one of the most courageous men I’ve ever met. He is featured in the story. Photo by Enrique Ortiz

 

EnvironmentRadio  WFDD: Local Efforts Help Battle Global Climate Problem

Photo by Michael Frierson

Photo by Michael Frierson

In my final radio report on the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru, I spoke with WFDD’s Keri Brown about some basics: why we have global warming, the extraordinary role forests play worldwide as a sponge for greenhouse gas emissions, and the notion that mayors might be more effective than heads of state in fighting climate change. The audio story is here.

Excerpt: “This was probably the most surprising thing I learned in Lima. I was talking with a climate scientist from NASA and he told me that the world’s 50 largest cities account for about 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. If you think about cities like Beijing, Mumbai, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro or Los Angeles – big, smoggy places with a lot of traffic and a huge demand for energy – it makes sense.”

EnvironmentRadio  COP20 post mortem: Achievements and obstacles from the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru

Joseph Zambo Mandea and Melaine Kermarc, both Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, were among the climate change activists I met and interviewed at the COP20 - the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Joseph Zambo Mandea of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Melaine Kermarc of France, both with the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, were among the climate change activists I met and interviewed at the COP20 – the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru. Photo by Justin Catanoso

From the WFDD web post Dec. 17, 2014 (Audio link is here) — A global summit to address climate change wrapped up in Peru last week. After 36 hours of overtime negotiations, a draft of the Lima Accords was presented–a plan which will change how countries deal with carbon emissions. Wake Forest journalism professor Justin Catanoso is a regular WFDD contributor and attended the UN Climate talks.

Catanoso reported that there was momentum and optimism ahead of the summit. He says that still remains today, with the Lima Accords, which is the first deal committing every country in the world to reducing their fossil fuel emissions.

“This represents a significant breakthrough in a 20-year effort by the UN to come up with some international accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Catanoso.

But he adds that the strength of the accords is also its weakness. Each nation will set its own reduction levels and they likely won’t be held accountable by any governing body to guide that decision.

“If we don’t have that mandated amount, then we may not be able to keep global warming under 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 50-75 years,” says Catanoso. “That’s the point in which scientists say if we get warmer than that, things really spin out of control. The planet becomes increasingly uninhabitable.”

Every country has six months to report their intended cuts to the UN which would begin in 2020. It’s in advance of a meeting in Paris next year, where they will possibly sign binding agreements to cement greenhouse gas reductions.

Breaking NewsEnvironment  KERRY: The Climate Crisis Is Here, And Republicans Are Threatening Us All

Former Vice President Al Gore listening to Secretary of State John Kerry's blistering speech at the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Former Vice President Al Gore listening to Secretary of State John Kerry’s blistering speech at the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru. Photo by Justin Catanoso

LIMA, Peru — In a clear message to the world that the United States, at least in the form of the Obama Administration, intends to lead prominently in the battle against climate change, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Lima on Thursday (Dec. 11) to deliver a blistering assault on GOP climate deniers in a 32-minute speech to a packed press conference.

I was just a few rows back and saw Al Gore‘s profile against the video screen with Kerry speaking. It made for a powerful image — two Americans who have been raising awareness about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions for a generation. I snapped the photo with my iPhone.

AcostaBusinessInsider published my story about Kerry’s speech, which includes a one-on-one interview I had with the Peruvian co-chair of the Green Climate Fund. Naturally, the GOP leadership in Washington intends to block Obama’s $3 billion pledge to the fund. The story contains a short video clip of the vice chair shot and edited by Michael Frierson, a UNC-Greensboro film professor.

A powerful quote from Kerry not in the story:

“Ask yourself, if Al Gore and Dr. Pachauri and Jim Hansen and the people who’ve been putting the science out there for years are wrong about this and we make these choices to do the things I’m talking about, what’s the worst thing that can happen to us for making these choices? Create a whole lot of new jobs. Kick our economies into gear. Have healthier people, reduce the cost of healthcare. Live up to our environmental responsibilities. Have a world that’s more secure because we have energy that isn’t dependent on one part of the world or another. That’s the worst that can happen to us.

“But what happens if the climate skeptics are wrong? Catastrophe. And we have a responsibility to put in place the precautionary principle when you’re given certain evidence and you’re a public official.”