Posted by Heifer Sonoma/Napa On Friday, September 30, 2011

Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel peace prize, died on Sunday night of cancer. She was 71. A feminist, social activist and an environmental crusader who showed no fear, her Green Belt Movement, founded in 1977, planted tens of millions of trees. She came into the GRITtv studios in September 2009, where she talked about the responsibility of all countries, industrialized and developing, to live within their means. Asked about resource wars, she spoke powerfully about equity and human rights, comparing the society to a forest, she said, "the canopy and the mushrooms both need light." It's powerful stuff. She'll be sorely missed. Maathai was in New York at the time for the UN summit on climate change. There have been promises from the major industrialized nations, including China and the United States, to take action, she said, but they've mostly failed to follow through. She looked ahead to the Copenhagen summit with caution. Caution that proved disastrously well placed. In the last two years, the industrialized nations have slowed, not sped, their progress towards change. Maathai's death, as activists around the world marked "Moving Planet Day, a global mobilization "to move beyond fossil fuels" underscored what she taught, namely that action on climate change will be driven, not from the top, but from below. Plant a tree for Maathai?
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