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CONGO’S UNPOPULAR RE-ELECTION

Congo Election

Congo’s Kabila chases an unconstitutional, unpopular re-election

Congo ruling party shows all signs of seeking Kabila third term

KINSHASA (Reuters) – From the sprawling capital Kinshasa to villages deep in the equatorial forests, Congo’s ruling PPRD is in full-on election campaign mode – and President Joseph Kabila’s face is everywhere.

The deadline for declaring candidates for Democratic Republic of Congo’s scheduled Dec. 23 poll is just one month away, and Kabila, 46, is officially not allowed to run again: August 8, 2018

NO SIGN OF A SUCCESSOR

But his bearded portrait smiles down from billboards and T-shirts being printed by his People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), while there is no sign of a successor.

Kabila intends to bypass the constitution and run for a third term. Any such move would likely ignite chaos across the vast, mineral-rich country, which has never seen a peaceful change of power in the 58 years since independence from Belgium.

Kabila is unpopular in the capital Kinshasa and many parts of the country. A rare poll released in March showed that eight in 10 Congolese have an unfavorable opinion of him. Scores have died in protests since he refused to step down when his mandate expired 18 months ago.

Congo Election

Militias have proliferated, killing and displacing villagers, kidnapping foreigners and shutting down eco-tourist spots. The violence has even hit mining operations in Africa’s top copper producer and the world’s leading miner of cobalt. Continue reading CONGO’S UNPOPULAR RE-ELECTION

WATER RESOURCES IN HAITI SOLVED 2

Water Resources Haiti

Water resources in Haiti are a major concern.

The lack of adequate safe (potable) water supplies for basic human needs is a significant problem throughout Haiti, although surface and ground water resources are abundant. This situation leads to increased competition for limited resources. Several of the main reasons for this situation are:

  • uneven rainfall distribution;
  • degradation of the watersheds caused by deforestation;
  • rapid growth in urban areas with demand beyond capacity;
  • poor distribution networks;
  • poor water resources management;
  • no single agency responsible for management of water ;
  • lack of adequate data needed to make informed decisions;
  • poor irrigation supply network leading to underdevelopment; 
  • lack of wastewater  treatment and solid waste disposal.

Most of the streams are relatively small and less than 100 kilometers long. With each passing year, the rivers and streams flow more like torrents and less like stable permanent rivers. The largest natural lake in the country is Étang Saumâtre has no outlet, and contains brackish water. Many of the smaller natural lakes that exist throughout the country also contain brackish water. 

ABJECT POVERTY

About 54 percent of the population lives in abject poverty. Based on 1997 estimates, the unemployment rate in a work force of approximately 3.6 million is about 38 percent.

Only 61.7% of the population have jobs but these are the working poor as many make only $3.10 per day. Women are least likely to go to school or have a job. Violence against women is common with 22.8% of women reporting abuse – what of the abuse that goes unreported? Of course the issue of “restavek” children or child slavery persists despite national and international laws. It is a socially accepted norm to sell children ages 5-15 and to make then work for no pay, to deny them the opportunity to attend school and results in children being abused both physically and sexually.

In Cite Soleil – the largest slum in Haiti is 3 square miles and has about 200-300,000 people. Most are unemployed and the vast majority are children. In Haiti 65% of the people are under 25 years old. The children live in extreme hunger and are exposed to gang violence, high risk for HIV/AIDS, no opportunity for an education, no sewer system and rat infestations. On average – nine people live in one shack.

Most people who live in the slums state their biggest fear is violence – especially for women and girls (Haugen and Boutros, 2014). In the slums, this problem is rampant; acts of violence are intentionally hidden, legal protection is non-existent and violence keeps the poor from ever escaping poverty.

Port-au-Prince

Water supply for Port-au-Prince, the most populated area in Haiti, is poor. In 1995 only about 35 percent of the nearly 2.5 million inhabitants had access to the water system. Most receive water only twice a week. The lack of service is attributed to

  • system losses associated with the age of the distribution system and theft of service, estimated at 60 percent;
  •  interruptions in the power supply to the wells and pumps; and
  •  contamination of water sources.

Continue reading WATER RESOURCES IN HAITI SOLVED 2

Unstable Weather 2

Phenomena of Unstable Weather

HEAT WAVES

The deadly weather phenomena, heat wave, is a long period of hot unstable weather. Heat waves have increased in frequency and duration in recent years and will continue to do so.

Unstable Weather

Carbon Tax is not Enough!

Carbon should not flow unpriced into the atmosphere, any more than you should be allowed to toss your garbage in the street. A rising carbon tax would discourage carbon emissions in every single economic transaction, every day of the year. 

Once one major country or region adopts carbon dividends with border carbon adjustments, other countries are compelled to follow suit [to prevent paying border adjustments to countries with carbon taxes]. One by one the dominoes fall.

Since every action of a modern life involves using fossil fuel, the only way to get enough change is to send a price signal through the matrix, so that everyone from investors to car buyers to milk-drinkers will find their behavior changing automatically. Carbon pricing is also one of the tools clean tech entrepreneurs cite as key to supporting innovation.

Carbon pricing plans now cover about 12 percent of the world’s emissions — have been far from earth-shaking.  At best, a carbon tax is one arrow in a quiver full of other arrows we’re going to need to let loose in a volley.

Unstable Weather

Bill McKibben’s “Step It Up!” campaign to stop global warming.

Step It Up, a nationwide campaign to combat global warming, drew thousands of Americans concerned about climate change. Holding 1,400 events around the nation, participants in National Day of Climate Action got creative. In lower Manhattan, protesters formed a line at the place where rising sea levels are predicted to reach. But that was ten years ago. Where is this model now?

Unstable Weather

If there is a model within American memory of what must be done, it is the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.

 Will FORESTATION occur rapidly enough to avert the worst effects of a warming world? 

Unstable Weather

The 2020 gap is, according to a recent United Nations Environment Program report, the difference between global emission levels consistent with the 2°C and emission expected if country commitments are implemented. “Global emissions should not be higher than 44 Gt CO2. However the range of expected global emissions (median estimates) from the pledge cases is 52 – 54 Gt CO2 in 2020. The gap in 2020 is therefore 8 – 10 Gt CO2.”  This gap can be CLOSED by FORESTATION.

Unstable Climate

Tropical forests are incredibly effective at storing carbon – providing up to 30% of the solution towards climate change. It has been estimated that 8 – 10 Gt CO2 could be stored in tropical plantations.

Despite this, nature-based solutions only receive 2% of all funding devoted to climate solutions.

Politicians are completely overwhelmed by the sheer complexity, size and number of crises in the world at present. Politicians should not be lurching from crisis to crisis like a drunk. They lack the leadership that Winston Churchill brought to the Second World War.

Unstable Weather

The Copenhagen Accord commits developed countries to the goal of sending $100 billion per year to developing countries in assistance for climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation through 2020. If ten per cent of this went to African farmers this would be around a micro finance support of $800 per farming household per year, which could provide a powerful incentive to change.

There was also a collective commitment by developed countries for $30 billion in “new and additional” resources in 2010-2012 to help developing countries reduce emissions, preserve forests, and adapt to climate change; and a goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year in public and private finance by 2020 to address developing county needs.

Aside from saving the planet, Are Tropical Nurseries a Good Investment?

YES!

Continue reading Unstable Weather 2

Next Green Revolution 2

The Next Green Revolution

Science prevented the last food crisis. Can it save us again?

 

Africa’s cropland biome occupies ~38% of the photo synthetically active land area of the African continent (~19.8 M km2) and encompasses more than 90% of its rural population living in 54 countries.

Next Green RevolutionRegion of Interest

We must concentrate on the biomes of Africa that include forests and rangelands, but exclude deserts

Next Green Revolution

Overall Region of Interest

A big, risky decision for small holder farmers is what type and how much fertilizer to apply to their crops. There is lot of uncertainty about how the crops will respond, with a risk that the farmers will even lose when they harvest and sell the produce. Testing the soil beforehand and knowing how plants will respond can play an important role in reducing this risk. But the high cost and lack of access to testing services have been major bottlenecks for farmers in developing countries.

Low-Cost Soil AnalysisNext Green Revolution

Similarly, planners in governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations who are working out what to supply to small holder farmers are also faced with large uncertainties on what types and combinations of inputs to supply and where, in relation to the local soils. For example, a number of agencies in Africa are designing fertilizer blending and liming programs and so need to know how strongly acid soils are and what soil micro nutrients may be limiting in different areas. Existing soil maps do not provide up-to-date information on specific soil properties that are needed to guide such decisions.

New advances in rapid, low-cost soil analytical techniques in the laboratory that simply measure light reflecting from a soil sample are reducing the cost of measuring soil properties. Soil infrared spectroscopy allows a soil sample to be scanned in just 30 seconds and the resulting fingerprint used to predict a number of soil properties based on calibration databases. And this costs just $1 compared with at least $100 using conventional soil testing methods. With the availability of satellite imagery and from space and now unmanned aerial vehicles at ever increasing spatial resolution (250 metres to sub-metre), it is becoming possible to make high resolution soil property maps at low cost.

Next Green Revolution

To successfully close the gap, we’ll need to adopt a variety of innovative strategies. We must produce more crops, while more efficiently using the food we already grow.

What are we to do?

Continue reading Next Green Revolution 2

SUBSISTENCE FARMERS in AFRICA 2

 SUBSISTENCE FARMERS NEED HOPE
Subsistence Farmers

Consider the livelihoods of the tens of millions of vulnerable subsistence small-holder farmers around the world. In 20 to 25 years we will get to a point in some places that either it will be too hot, too dry, too wet, or too cold for the crops we are planting and you, which will be incredibly disruptive at best.

Over the last two decades, either early or late on set of rainy seasons, unexpected rainfall, declining rainfall, and extreme day and night temperature are common.

According to The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 75% of the world’s 1.2 billion poor (defined as consuming less than one purchasing-power adjusted dollar per day) live and work in rural areas. 50% of the developing-country rural population were smallholders (farming 3 ha or less of crop land), and ≈25% were landless. The proportion of smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa was higher at 73%. 

Environmental degradation in such tropical dry land areas is widespread, irreversible or appropriately referred to as “desertification”. All this, and other stressors, are seen as contributing to an increased vulnerability to drought, which in turn feeds back in to environmental degradation and conflict. There will be eventual impacts on human development indicators such as health and education.

There is a bright side: increasingly unstable weather in recent years has left many farmers more willing to try new ideas. Many are now open to adapting of using practices like crop diversification, planting date adjustment, soil and water conservation and management, increasing the intensity of input use, integrating crop with livestock and rabbits, and tree planting. Subsistence Farmers

  • ·         Small-holder farmers can shift to irrigated farming in the face of climate variability.
  • ·         Small-holder farmers can hold some wealth in bank accounts, and others use micro finance credit to expand.
  • ·         Small-holder farmers can use supplementary feed for livestock, purchased or lopped from trees in their orchards.
  • ·         Small-holder farmers can engage in rabbit accumulation as a rational form of insurance against drought. 

 FOOD AID: EARLY SOLUTIONS NOW

Why in a “world of plenty” are 20 million people face famine? Continue reading SUBSISTENCE FARMERS in AFRICA 2

Reforesting the Tropics 2

Saving Humanity: Reforest the Tropics

Buying Time to develop alternative technologiesReforesting the Tropics

Planting trees remains one of the most cost-effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, reforesting the tropics will act as carbon sinks, alleviating the greenhouse effect. There are millions of acres of tropical pastures available. When given proper care, orchard tropical trees bear fruit up to 50 years or more.

Reforesting the TropicsPLANT MORE TREES around the world — because… trees are carbon storage (sequestration) experts.

The United States has cut down over 50% of its original forests in the last 400 years, which would have absorbed 50% of its carbon emissions. Once carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere it stays there for a long time. About 33% continues to cause damage after 100 years.

 It is estimated by the U.S. Forest Service that all the forests in the United States, combined, sequestered approximately 309 million tons of carbon each year from 1952 – 1992, offsetting approximately 25 percent of human-caused emissions of carbon during that period in the United States.

The world’s forests remove over one quarter (27%) of current annual human carbon emissions from the atmosphere each year, the equivalent of about 2.4 billion tons of carbon according to the latest published scientific research.

Reforesting the TropicsThe tropical zones of the world seem particularly attractive for forestation because of the high rates of productivity that can potentially be attained there, and because there appear to be large areas of land that would benefit from tree planting.

Reforesting the Tropics

TREE MATH

Young trees absorb CO2 at a rate of 13 pounds per tree each year. Trees reach their most productive stage of carbon storage at about 10 years at which point they are estimated to absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year and one acre of trees absorbs 2.6 tons of CO2 every year.

 For every ton of new-wood growth, about 1.5 tons of CO2 are removed from the air and 1.07 tons of life-giving oxygen is produced.

POSITIVE GROWTH OF TREES IN THE TROPICS

Borial zone trees absorb 0.5 Pg C/yr compared to Temperate zone trees at 0.7 while tropical trees grow at the rate of 1.3 or 185% more efficiently year-round than trees in a temperate zone

Younger and faster growing orchards generally have higher annual sequestration rates and they are given higher personal care of proper fertilizer and water: add a further 25% increase. We conclude there is an additional (185% + 25%) or 210% increase in the value of CO2 absorption.

Reforesting the TropicsThis map shows solar-induced fluorescence, a plant process that occurs during photosynthesis, from Aug. through Oct. 2014 as measured by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. This period is springtime in the Southern Hemisphere and fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Photosynthesis is highest over the tropical forests of the Southern Hemisphere but still occurs in much of the U.S. Grain Belt. The northern forests have shut down for the winter.

 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia), CSIRO forests researcher Dr Canadell estimate that tropical forest re-growth is removing an average of 1.6 billion tons of carbon per year. Combining the uptake by established and forest re-growth plus emissions from deforestation, the world’s forests have a net effect on atmospheric CO2 equivalent to the removal of 1.1 billion tons of carbon every year. Reforesting the TropicsReforesting the Tropics

In terms of cutting emissions a 53% reduction in 2010 emissions is equal to almost 20 Gt of CO2 emissions. For some perspective, global emissions from coal fired electricity generation were about 9 Gt CO2 in 2010.

Reforesting the TropicsThe larger predictions from climate models are due to the fact that, within these models, the more important greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds, act to greatly amplify whatever CO2 does. This is referred to as a positive feedback. It means that increases in surface temperature are accompanied by reductions in the net outgoing radiation – thus enhancing the greenhouse warming. … Satellite observations of the earth’s radiation budget verify this fact.

VALUE OF TROPICAL TREES

Moisture created by the rain forests travel around the world. America’s Midwest is affected by the forests in the Congo which is roughly a distance of 6000 miles. Moisture from the Amazon falls as far away as Texas.

The Benefits of Tropical Trees:

Continue reading Reforesting the Tropics 2

Enough Food for the Future? 2

Is There Enough Food for the Future?world food crisis

The new UN climate report shows that crop yields already are being adversely affected by a changing climate, and how we respond globally in creating a more resilient food system is very important now. But we also recognize that food is central to our culture and is a source of great pleasure and comfort to people. We want to ensure we tackle all aspects so that we have enough food for the future.

world food crisis

The estimate of more than 9 billion people in less than 40 years highlights a stark challenge for the global food system.

We have enough food for the roughly 7 billion people alive today, but nearly a billion are hungry or malnourished, mostly due to poverty and unequal distribution. To feed those who are currently hungry—and the additional 2 billion-plus people who will live on the planet by 2050—our best projections are that crop production will need to increase between 60 and 100 percent. “Business as usual” could lead to a doubling of demand for agricultural production.

If the population is growing by less than one-third, why would the overall demand double? Simply stated: more people have more money.

Meeting the problem through production alone won’t be enough, and we should explore many alternatives that focus on reducing demand for food, like changing our diets and reducing food waste and loss. Increasing crop production can be part of the solution.

What drives the demand?

Continue reading Enough Food for the Future? 2

WATER CRISIS: A CATASTROPHE 2

  • TODAY’S CRISIS WILL BECOME A CATASTROPHE.

water crisisIf water is not managed better…water OUR THIRSTY WORLD

As water becomes ever more scant the world needs to conserve it, use it more efficiently. Researchers from MIT predict that by 2050, more than half of humanity will live in water-stressed areas, where people are now extracting unsustainable amounts from available freshwater sources.  We can expect a water crisis that will go viral into a catastrophe if we continue with business as usual.

Many people have a strong moral aversion to paying for the life-sustaining liquid. Some feel that water is a right, and should therefore be free. Others lobby governments to subsidize its distribution to favored groups. This results in vast, but preventable waste.

To make matters worse, few places price water properly. Usually, it is artificially cheap, because politicians are scared to charge much for something essential that falls from the sky. This means that consumers have little incentive to conserve it and investors have little incentive to build pipes and other infrastructure to bring it to where it is needed most.

water scarcity

In many countries people can pump as much water as they like from underground aquifers, because rules are either lax or not enforced. But it is unsustainable: around a fifth of the world’s aquifers are over-exploited.

.water crisis

India appears to be headed for a very great water crisis because of the inexpensive available pumps together with a large population:
GROUND WATER USAGE

People do not drink much water—only a few liters a day. But putting food on their tables requires floods of the stuff. Growing 1 lb of wheat takes 125 gallons of water; fattening a cow to produce the same weight of beef involves 12 times more. Overall, agriculture accounts for more than 70% of global freshwater withdrawals. Farmers in parched places grow thirsty cash crops such as avocados, which could easily be imported from somewhere wetter.

THE COMING CRISIS

Continue reading WATER CRISIS: A CATASTROPHE 2

Decentralized Tree Nurseries in Africa 2

DECENTRALIZED TREE NURSERIES

More than 92 percent of all nurseries catering for villages are still located at regional and district levels. As a result, seedlings have to be transported long distances, sometimes even beyond 50 km. The inadequacy of transport is one of the major setbacks in tree-planting, in terms of both availability and cost. All efforts must be made to decentralize nurseries as much as conditions allow.

To bridge this energy supply-demand gap, a massive amount of tree-planting is needed. The natural forest is shrinking very fast, and most alternative energy sources have had no significant impact so far.

One of the main reasons tree-planting is failing among some African communities is that they are often given species only for firewood, like eucalyptus. 

 Weak village leadership contributes directly to delays over deciding whether to plant trees or not; and then, even if trees are planted, it can retard or neglect maintenance.

THE NEXT STEP: ORCHARDS AND BIOCHAR

Each woman farmer and their family will begin the task of preparing to plant 300 fruit and nut trees on their leased 1.5 acre farms, Every tree will need a 2- 3 feet diameter excavation, where a biochar earth mound will be built of branches.

nursery layout2

EARTH MOUND KILN

biochar mound

The earth mound kiln is built in the following manner:

The bottom of the base is covered with logs forming a grate or crib on which the wood is piled vertically. The grate forms a free space between the bottom and the wood charge through which the air necessary for the carbonization process passes. The piled wood is covered with leaves and grass and then earth about 20 cm (8”) thick.

The pile has an outside stack made of steel drums, which is connected to the pile through a flue cut into the ground, running under the pile and covered with round logs. The pile has a number of air vents located around the circular base.

biochar soil management

The carbonization process is started by introducing a torch into the firing flue opposite the stack. This type of pile is reported to be easy to operate to produce good charcoal quality with a yield of 55% charcoal to wood by volume. The pile’s volume varies from 100 to 250 m³ of wood. The whole cycle takes 24 days; four days for charging, six days for carbonization, ten days for cooling and four days for discharge.

 Carbon Emission to be Solved

Continue reading Decentralized Tree Nurseries in Africa 2

THE CONCEPTUAL AGE 2

The Conceptual Age has come.

The world as you know it is changing. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind. We are moving from an economy built on logical capabilities of the Information Age to an economy built on inventive, empathic, big picture capabilities of the Conceptual Age.

In the Conceptual Age we are doing what the overseas knowledge workers can’t do cheaply, that computers can’t do faster, and that satisfies the aesthetic, emotional and spiritual needs of a more prosperous time. In this new age, we need to offer something that satisfies the non-material, transcendent desires of an abundant age?

 So what are we to do to prepare ourselves for this change? We will concentrate on several aptitudes:

  1. The appetite for design thinking to reframe experience has never been greater. We start with Design: Today’s Tall Trees

mechanizing-africa

Forests act as a carbon sink by taking carbon dioxide out of atmosphere. It seems like simple arithmetic: a tree can absorb up to a ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime (25 – 40 years), so planting one should be an easy way to mitigate climate change. Remember that tropical trees work 12 months of the year sequestering carbon because there is no dormant winter season. We need to plant billions of trees in Africa.

  1. We must tell our Story to communicate with others and to build a purpose.

Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are set up to understand stories. Every society has told stories. We have a story to give away to someone else who needs it.

The basis of our work depends on agricultural mechanization. A young African will move to the city if all he can earn is $10/day. This same African will return to the land because mechanization has changed the whole picture: the farms can now be more productive.

Enter the world of Living Water MicroFinance Inc. Our company mission is to support women farmers and their families in Africa. We negotiate with landlords to make land available to these subsistence families for a long term lease over 25 years. We help produce cash crops, which include cacao and inter-cropping with yams and banana plantain. We start with a tree nursery that is supported by a Carbon Tax Fund, in which every tree that is planted and lives for 25 years has a net present value of $1.50.

  1. We must look at the Big Picture – combining all the pieces to a new whole or holistic thinking.

The ability to see the Big Picture encompasses the ability to grasp the relationships between relationships: integrating and imagining how all the pieces fit together. The person who invented the wheel may have been smart but the person who invented the other three wheels was a genius.

The Big Picture:

Stage 1     

We develop Agricultural Mechanization of Africa: The main objective of farm mechanization is increasing agricultural production. We focus primarily on the export of tractors.                          

Stage 2   Carbon Emission to be Solved

Continue reading THE CONCEPTUAL AGE 2