Every time I think I’ve seen the craziest thing yet about global warming mania…along comes something else. From the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific blog, comes this bizarre story from Thailand that shows what lengths a government will go to to slap a global warming fine on farmers.
Humans cutting down forest land to farm is nothing new. However, charging rural farmers for causing global warming is. A controversial formula is quantifying the damage villagers have to pay for their small scale farming. Now, the villagers are taking a stand against what they know is wrong.
PHETCHABUN – Early one Thursday morning, a gun was pointed at Ms. Kwanla Saikhumtung, a 34-year-old mother, because she was farming.
The man who pointed the gun was one of ten armed officers from Phu Pha Daeng, the local wildlife sanctuary in Lomsak district. After observing the villagers for three days, the officers finally informed Ms. Kwanla and twelve fellow villagers from Huay Kontha that they were trespassing on wildlife sanctuary land. They demanded that the villagers come to the police station to talk with them.
They refused. The villager that hired them paid taxes on the plot, leading the villagers to believe they had a right to work the land, and they worried about finishing their work.
The officers quickly became annoyed. One threatened to shoot any villager that resisted the officers’ orders.
“Are you really going to shoot? I’m here to harvest the corn, and you want to shoot us?” Ms. Kwanla shouted. She then bravely grabbed the barrel of the gun, pressed it to her chest, and said, “If you’re going to shoot, shoot.”
The officer lowered his gun. That night, the officers marched the reluctant villagers through the community and drove them to the police station.
This incident was the beginning of a seven-year-long legal battle, pitting Ms. Kwanla against the Thai government. She and the other twelve villagers — the youngest only sixteen at the time — were first charged with trespassing.
The real shock, however, came when they were slapped with a 470,000 baht fine for contributing to global warming under the charge of causing environmental damage.
As the landowner was paying taxes on the plot of land in question, he had the right to grow crops on it. Since Ms. Kwanla and the other villagers had been hired to harvest his corn, it had seemed that they were not breaking the law by being there. However, unknown to the landholder, his plot overlapped with the wildlife sanctuary land.
The Royal Forestry Department (RFD) fined the villagers for cutting down trees and farming, drawing from the 1992 National Environmental Quality Act which forbids “destruction, loss, or damage to natural resources owned by the State.” Their fine was determined according to a formula used to calculate environmental damage. The formula measures the increase in temperature caused by cutting down trees. Any increase in the land temperature shows ‘global warming’. In essence, cutting down trees to farm corn leads to global warming.
The Huay Kontha villagers have a running joke, “Because we pick the corn, the world gets hotter.”
The charges that Ms. Kwanla and the other villagers face shed light on an emerging trend in Thailand. Land dispute issues are becoming increasingly common. According to Pramote Pholpinyo, coordinator of the Northeast Land Reform Network (LRN), there are currently 35-40 “global warming” cases against villagers in Thailand, with charges amounting to almost 33 million baht.
Full story at the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific blog
h/t to WUWT reader “brokenyogi“