Bizarre: Farm workers threatened at gunpoint for 'causing global warming' by harvesting crops.

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.

Since being charged with global warming, villagers have begun working on farms farther from the reserve, harvesting cassava. The man in red was one of the thirteen villagers who was charged along with Ms. Kwanla.

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

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h/t to WUWT reader “brokenyogi

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Amr Marzouk

Nothing is too stupid.

noaaprogrammer

As is the case in the U.S., the insatiable appetite of the bureaucracy for fines and taxes is the only way the nonproductive enforcers of ‘laws’ now how to feed and justify their existence.

TomRude

Totalitarism…

Gary Hladik

If their fines are commensurate with the “global warming” damage they’ve caused, the villagers should owe about 0.01 US dollars…collectively. Perhaps the balance of the 33 million baht (about a million US dollars) is enforcement overhead.

corio37

“You have the right to remain unsustainable. Any carbon dioxide you emit may be taken down and used against you.”

So how much of a fine do I get if I….. exhale?

ken Methven says:
June 29, 2012 at 10:40 pm
So how much of a fine do I get if I….. exhale?
That is death penalty for sure (also if you do not… :-)).

Ian H

The hired workers get charged. The guy who hired them? He is most likely too rich to be charged with anything. And the corrupt official who accepted a bribe to issue a bogus title to land overlapping a reserve – he won’t get charged either. But they will throw the book REALLY HARD at the poor villagers to try to compensate for these embarrassing omissions.
Typical.

LevelGaze

I,m acquainted with Thailand. Corruption in local government is rife.

Steve C

(sigh) Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad. Look around you.
The only question that remains is, do they have it in for all of us, or just the networks of petty fascists who are actively demolishing everything the human race needs to survive?
Read Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians (pdf) and despair. (And if your politics are ‘right wing’, please read it at least as far as where he explains that his use of the phrase ‘right wing authoritarianism’ is not a derogatory reference to your beliefs, but refers to the mindset of the legions of the bewitched who believe that anything in uniform has a ‘right’ to do whatever it wants and therefore don’t fight it but instead support it. The Soviet Union was run by his ‘right wing authoritarians’.) It’s not comfortable reading.

sophocles

ken Methven said:
So how much of a fine do I get if I….. exhale?
====================================
… depends. For CO2 whatever your local bureaucrats have set …
for methane, possibly 100 or 1000 times more! (despite the concentration
of CH4 being parts per BILLION, it’s “greenhouse properties” are supposed
to be really really scary!) 🙂

If they don’t prevent farmers from harvesting crops, how will their predictions of famine come to pass?

Post normal insanity!

wayne Job

I despair at the stupidity, I hope soon to retire and move to Thailand from OZ. I have a family in middle Thailand. On a recent trip I was sight seeing with my family and some of my young daughters friends. They pointed out a huge development of solar panels and I most likely showed some disdain and one of my daughters friends in perfect english said “a waste of money”
The previous trip this site was under twenty foot of water in the annual floods, I can only imagine it is a boondoggle. I was so hoping Thailand would be immune from this crap.

Rick Bradford

The fact that this dispute has been going on for 7 years indicates that this is one of Thailand’s typical scenarios, almost certainly involving unscrupulous landowners, corrupt local officials, and peasants trying to make a living who inevitably become the unwilling pawns in the game.
The ‘global warming’ aspect is just a convenient weapon to use in the battle.
And in one sense, these particular villagers are lucky — many people in similar situations have been shot out of hand. Life here is cheap in the extreme.
http://www.asiahumanrights.com/?events=an-environmentalist-who-campaigned-against-coal-factories-was-shot-dead

sophocles

The farmers stop harvesting crops—and planting them—except for personal “sustainable” food. It won’t be long before the cities collapse from the food riots …

Julian Braggins

Our laws make criminals of us all. A semi humorous article in our Sunday Telegraph by an MP Catherine Cusak listed fines accumulated on a hypothetical trip to the local Mall, none serious or dangerous, i.e. adjusting drivers side rear view mirror by hand, encroaching on the nearside white line, failing to signal at correct distance etc. which totalled $A9000 dollars ($US9006).
I despair at the way civilization is headed, are there no sensible people left in power ?.

My first impression is that there is a ‘spin’ being put on this story to make it seem far mroe extreme than it really is and paint the Thai authorities as being unreasonable when all they are doing is trying to protect their nature reserves.
The story seems to indicate the farmland was illegally cut out of protected forests and whatever silly ‘warming’ reason they might tack on the end, given how much of the tropical forests have been destroyed and what that has meant for wildlife I don’t think it is unreasonable for the authorities to try and punish those who continue to encrouch on a fast shrinking resource.

PMT

I recommend reading the source article as there is (the sublime) common sense:-
“Meanwhile, Ms. Kwanla continues her life as an agricultural laborer, now harvesting cassava and onions. She says that she has to fight back on principle. “I want to show them that I am not wrong. If we accept the charges, that is saying I am wrong.””
and (the ridiculous) scientific nonsense:-
“The global warming fines that the villagers must pay are calculated using a formula created in the 1994 by Dr. Pongsak Wittawatchutikul, a National Parks Department specialist. With this formula, a thermometer is used to measure the temperature of soil in degraded land and soil in forest land. The difference in the temperatures is calculated. Then an estimate is made about the amount of energy it would take to cool down the hotter deforested area using an air conditioner. This calculation, along with an approximation of the number of trees cut down and the amount of soil loss, determines the fine.”

markx

Forever (in human terms), the rich have used land title to extract a few extra drops of sweat blood and cash from the poor…. in that society, the various authorities will all benefit by under table payments as the ‘legal’ process goes through its stages, whereas in ‘more advanced’ (choke) western societies the authorities are content with their fat pay packet and fine just go directly to a caring government which is only concerned for the wellbeing of the populace (sarcasm warning).
It has always been thus. Only now they find they have a handy new lever to pull, and a whole stash of useful new charges to lay. Some of those in positions of power may even feel a little bit righteous about it, while the remainder are just pleased the wheels of justice (or let’s say the wheels of ‘process’) continue to turn, aided by that essential lubricant, cash.

polistra

According to this:
http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo/countr/thai/natur.htm
the Thai environment law was written in 1992 specifically to go along with the UN’s Agenda 21. So its focus on violent suppression of private property is not highly surprising.

Patrick Davis

“sophocles says:
June 30, 2012 at 12:30 am”
Indeed. Alarmists don’t know the difference between MILLION and BILLION and go on to quote methane is “22 times” more potent a GHG. I even was in debate with an Aussie carbon tax supporter who claimed CH4 had, and I quote, “Interesting. CH4 has 4 carbons.”, the scientific illiteracy in Aus is very scary.

Kelvin Vaughan

Patrick Davis says:
June 30, 2012 at 2:38 am
“sophocles says:
June 30, 2012 at 12:30 am”
Indeed. Alarmists don’t know the difference between MILLION and BILLION
I must admit I have trouble with a billion. Over my lifetime it has changed from a million million to 100 million to a thousand million!

mfo

It appears that the workers were prosecuted but not the landowner, unless I’ve missed something.
Thailand’s ranking in the corruption index of Transparency International:
http://www.transparency.org/country#THA_PublicOpinion
23% of Thai people reported paying a bribe in 2010.

“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.”
That is about US$14,900.
The GDP per capita in Thailand is US$4,108 a year, roughly one-tenth of what it is in the US. See: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=GDP+per+capita+Thailand+United+States
That means that, in terms of purchasing power, the fine for the farm workers is the equivalent of about US$150,000.
Perhaps it would be far more painless for them to be shot.

John Slayton

Richard Tyndal: …on a fast shrinking resource.
Land prohibited from being used by the people who need it is not a resource.

Wan

the flooding in Thailand last year was alarming by any definition of the word, it’s a good idea that they are stopping the deforestation that has no doubt contributed to this massive problem

DougS

Do the eco loons who promulgate the AGW alarmism scam ever look at these events and think – ‘oh dear, unintended consequences’.
Or do they think ‘yesssss, there’s no limit to how we can control the population’.

leftinbrooklyn

Richard Tyndall says:
June 30, 2012 at 1:51 am
‘…given how much of the tropical forests have been destroyed and what that has meant for wildlife I don’t think it is unreasonable for the authorities to try and punish those who continue to encrouch on a fast shrinking resource.’
Food is a somewhat valuable resource also.

more liberal wackiness:
Genghis Khan hailed as environmentalist for ‘scrubbing’ humanity’s carbon footprint: http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=255473#ixzz1DBJ8hyDG
Scientists claim global warming destroyed Rome: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=252957
Rome fell because of what?: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=255573
Dinosaur flatulence may have led to global warming: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/dinosaur-flatulence-may-led-global-warming-154336900.html

meemoe_uk

powermongers have always been at war with farmers. Any excuse to attack them is used

Otter

Read the comments at the site of the original article. Some people really do Not give a damn about the lives of the poor.
(this may show more than once, as I am having connection troubles.)

Gerard

i agree with Richard Tyndall above. The reasoning “contributing to global warming” is pretty silly. The fact that local farmers are stopped cutting forests in nature reserves is a necessary act. That these policeman carry guns is given the amount of highly armed poachers around also nothing to be surprised about.

Steve from Rockwood

Why would the government even sell the land if it was part of a wildlife sanctuary?

Not an “Australian” Patrick a WATERMELON and proof that brain death is not fatal.Climate Change is Natural and CO2 is life.

Patrick Davis

“Kelvin Vaughan says:
June 30, 2012 at 3:10 am”
I disagree. A British BILLION was a MILLION MILLION however, the accepted international standard for BILLION is 1000 MILLION. No confusion there, for me at least.
“Richard Tyndall says:
June 30, 2012 at 1:51 am”
Seriously, any relation?

RobertvdL

Last few days before Australian climate madness takes effect
http://www.australianclimatemadness.com/
And this is not at gunpoint ?
“And of course, it will do NOTHING for the climate.”

Madman2001

I am disturbed that the readers of this blog — normally reasonable thinkers — are somehow supporting these folks who are turning a nature preserve into farmland and mocking the government who is trying to stop them. Let’s read a little deeper, folks, and not be so Pavlovian whenever the word “global warming” appears.

Patrick Davis

“agwnonsense says:
June 30, 2012 at 5:49 am”
Say what?

Dave Worley

The landowner should have known that part of his land was a nature preserve. The poor farmer probably doesn’t know. Is the boundary well marked? Lot’s of unknowns in this story.

Otter

‘As the landowner was paying taxes on the plot of land in question, he had the right to grow crops on it’
Sorry, madman2001, there seems to be a Disagreement as to who owns the land, don’t you think?

PaulH

How else can they impose global warming laws but at gunpoint?

Grey Lensman

The land existed and was owned
A law was passed and some of the land became part of a nature reserve
So was the owner compensated. Did the Land Office verify the boundaries. Was the owner informed. Reeks of arbitrary line drawing by incompetents yet again ( African national boundaries)
The owner rents out the land to farmers. He gets rent, they get land to farm and feed themselves.
Police then take guns to the farmers but not the and owner? Why ?
Same pattern we see around the world. Money talks.Corruption pays. Lack of work, the Land Office, gets rewarded.
The poor pay.
Sad to see the anti farmer comments, nobody sees fit to explain to them or compensate them

John Slayton

There is a danger that some of these third world-wildlife sanctuaries may become analogous to the Norman ‘royal forests.’ (Google ‘Norman Yoke’) Reigning monarchs should beware; Robin Hood has many descendents. They still consider Sherwood Forest their own….

For those who are knowledgeable of local conditions, please hold your giggles:
1. Why was the land registrar not fired for double registering land?
2. Why was the tax collector not fired for collecting tax on tax exempt land?
3. Why was the title company insurance policy not activated?
4. Why were the surveyors performance bonds not revoked when they failed to identify the correct, non-overlapping boundaries?
5. Why were the border postings on the edge of the preserve taken down?
In a functioning system there are multiple layers of protection that should have stopped this situation long before the police walked out into the fields and started pointing weapons. Thailand’s system broke down and failed its people long before that day when the police came.

strawbale23

This is a very good blog which I read regularly and appreciate for its ability to balance the often alarmist agw agenda being pushed by the main stream media.
However this post is an example of wuwt using the same sensationalist tactics which it so often critisizes
Unecissary, à mistake and does much to damage the reputation of wuwt in my opinion
[REPLY: The mast-head reads …and news, which this is. I would also like you to take a look at the site policy page. You have commented here as “Paul”, “Paul Sheraton”, “Airforce1”, “strawbale” and now “strawbale23”. Please pick one screen name and stick with it. -REP]

Shona

[SNIP: You are right. It is off-topic. -REP]

Richard Tyndall says:
June 30, 2012 at 1:51 am
My first impression is that there is a ‘spin’ being put on this story to make it seem far mroe extreme than it really is and paint the Thai authorities as being unreasonable when all they are doing is trying to protect their nature reserves.
The story seems to indicate the farmland was illegally cut out of protected forests and whatever silly ‘warming’ reason they might tack on the end, given how much of the tropical forests have been destroyed and what that has meant for wildlife I don’t think it is unreasonable for the authorities to try and punish those who continue to encrouch on a fast shrinking resource.
================================================================
Richard, the “protection” of the forests were most likely retroactively applied. It’s a sick game which gets played. Through arm twisting and bribery and blackmail, some NGOs and some governmental entities convince underdeveloped nations to cordon off huge tracts of land as “wildlife refuges”. Often, the people inhabiting the land are simply displaced, or killed, if they move to slow. Here’s an example…..http://suyts.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/systematic-war-on-the-poor/
These atrocities are brought to you by: Clean Development Mechanism, the Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation, New Forest Company (via Kyoto protocol), Department for International Development, and many others.

Scarface

It’s like the Khmer Rouge all over again: All the original Cambodian mulberry trees, that the silk worms feed on, were cut down by the Khmer Rouge, which labelled them a “non-productive crop” and claimed that wearers of silk were proponents of a bourgeois, Westernised consumer base “festering” in Cambodian cities.
These people have to be stopped. The insanity to prevent people from making a living the old hard way is beyond all reason. Green IS the new RED.

DirkH

Steve C says:
June 30, 2012 at 12:14 am

“Read Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians”
” (And if your politics are ‘right wing’, please read it at least as far as where he explains that his use of the phrase ‘right wing authoritarianism’ is not a derogatory reference to your beliefs, but refers to the mindset of the legions of the bewitched who believe that anything in uniform has a ‘right’ to do whatever it wants and therefore don’t fight it but instead support it. The Soviet Union was run by his ‘right wing authoritarians’.) It’s not comfortable reading.”

That is just marvelous, Steve C. So by retired Professor of Psychology Bob Altemeyer’s definition, any person “who has a high degree of willingness to submit to authorities he perceives as established and legitimate, who adheres to societal conventions and norms, and who is hostile and punitive in his attitudes towards people who don’t adhere to them.”
cannot be a left-winger.
In other words, Bob Altemeyer defines leftism as pure and innocent and the right wing as evil.
Excuse me while I puke. BTW I got the definition from the leftist bible so don’t accuse me of distorting the NPOV.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_Wing_Authoritarianism
Did he get some kind of George Orwell award for his redefinition of words?