12/01/2009 02:18 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What's Up With The Rainforest: Sting Urges Brazil To Listen To Tribal Dam Fears

In only a few days the world will be focusing its attention on the world's leaders as they meet in Copenhagen. As the news cycle shifts to the climate change conversation, I thought we would get a head start and check in to see what's up with The Rainforest NewsLadder. Working with the Rainforest Alliance we helped create The Rainforest NewsLadder as a way to list the most important conversations happening regarding protecting the rainforests. And as we head into Copenhagen a few interesting trends are starting to develop.

First, the big names are coming out to throw their weight around. For Sting, it means getting his weight around a group that is struggling to have a voice. The Brazilian government is planning to move forward on building a damn in the Amazon that has the potential to become an ecological and social catastrophe. The proposed hyrdo-electric damn would be the third biggest in the world - surely a positive for clean energy advocates. But at what cost? The plan would call for flooding a part of the rainforest that is home to 24 different ethnic groups. You might remember a similar full-court press by Sting on this very same issue, standing up for the very same indigenous tribes 20 years ago. "This was my intuition but now the science is backing that up", Sting said.

Speaking of Brazil... President Lula de Silva is reverting to school yard tactics as the pressure mounts on his country to take a leadership stance on climate change and protecting the valuable rainforests. Silva blasted the leaders in the northern hemisphere in a name calling tirade at the sparsely attended summit of Amazon nations before Copenhagen. In one gem Silva told reporters, "I don't want any gringo asking us to let an Amazon resident die of hunger under a tree." (Please read above Sting story of how he is managing the starvation of Amazons tribes all on his own). Expect more name calling and attention diversions from President Silva in the coming weeks.

From the school yard to the science labs, a story about the rate of sea level rises and the quickening pace of climate change garnered lots of attention at The Rainforest. Scientists, many from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sans Al Gore, got together to reexamine those Nobel winning statistics to conclude that they had not predicted the rate at which climate change was happening accurately enough. The missing variables? The pace at which iceshelves in Greenland and Antarctica are melting. Throwing those into the mix could mean a sea-level rise of 1-2 meters over the next 100 years. This has the potential to have huge impacts on major population centers located along the coasts, i.e. New York, Hong Kong, London.

Finally, the feel good story of the week from The Rainforest NewsLadder. The Penan Selungo rainforest people have been a nomadic tribe on the island of Boreno for centuries. The culture and history of this hunter-gatherer group is contained in a sprawling 629 square mile range boarding Indonesia. For decades the Malaysian government has been granting rights to timber giant Samling to cut down this rainforest. In a true David and Goliath battle, the Penan people (17 separate tribes) have joined forces to create Penan Peace Park and protect the rainforest from any further destruction. At a purely ceremonial park opening last week, the Penan set the stage for what will surely be a battle over rainforest conservation. Someone get Sting on the line.

Every couple weeks I will chime in with what is hot and trending on the Rainforest Newsladder, but you don't have to wait for me to get involved. See an interesting news story or great video that would add to the conversation about protecting and preserving the rainforests, post it directly to the Rainforest Newsladder and watch it rise up the rings in importance as more people get involved in this very important conversation.