At 30˚C, it’s no ‘white Christmas’, contrary to the songs played on the radio here in Bali, Indonesia. The time is also ‘heating up’ for the upcoming negotiation in the 13th UN Climate Change Conference that will start on December 3rd until the 14th – a critical period to strengthen and “ensure that the Kyoto Protocol is extended and expanded with deeper emissions reductions under the second commitment period.” And the youth of the world could not just sit-and-watch the turn of events: we want to be SEEN and be HEARD of our call to a future where ‘clean, renewable energy is the key.”
We, the SolarGeneration (SG Youth), together with our young creative and enthusiastic Indonesian friends, join together in a collective voice to “stop climate change now” through the Energy [R]evolution!
Last night, the gibbous moon captured us while on the way to the guest house. I was together with Hong of SG-China and Janine of SG-Germany. It was past midnight when we arrived at the guest house. The two of them retired to bed the soonest while I stayed quite a bit at the reception area and read the Jakarta Times with a number of articles on climate change issue, and after which I met with the Greenpeace campaigners and SG member, Woon from Thailand. It felt great to be surrounded with happy and passionate people of which the zest of inspiration sprung like the beautiful, white Jasmine flower under the cerulean sky of this picturesque tropical island that is at threat due to the “human-induced” climate change.
Early this morning, I was greeted by a melodic song of a bird unusual to my early morning back in the Philippines. I joined the team for breakfast and had planning session with Woon for the interactive game at the SolarGeneration booth in the conference center. Hong and Janine joined us and shared their ideas for the game.
Right after noontime, we left for the “basecamp” and met with the creative Greenpeace volunteers working on the campaign materials like the giant thermometer and the planet Earth effigy.
“Come Together” of the Beatles was playing in the airwaves – a very good tune just in time of the afternoon’s get together. I felt good listening to all Beatles’songs while helping out with in making the visual aids for the meeting.
We eventually had a meeting together with a good number of volunteers. Galih, Christian, and Aryo (the interpreter of the group) discussed the flow of the Solar Festival for the next two days at Kuta Beach and assigned groupings for the event. We left the basecamp for a trip back to the guest house for dinner and a short briefing with the team.
Coming together in one spirit and in one goal provides a ‘sense of inspiration’ to keep up what we believe is good for every living creature in the planet – to have a ‘green’ and peaceful environment.
SolarGeneration Pilipinas Calls on Government to Help Stop Climate Change
MANILA, 10 AUGUST 2007-- On August 12, 2007, more than one billion youth from all over the world will be commemorating the 7th International Youth Day, which has for its theme, "Be Seen, Be Heard: Youth Participation for Development." SolarGeneration Pilipinas is one with youth from all over the world in celebrating the youth's role in nation-building and is calling on the Philippine government to work toward solutions to climate change.
"There is no better time to be part of the youth [base] than today. Numerous problems beset the country and the youth is quick to realize that it is not enough to cheer at the sidelines while the elders are going crazy trying to find solutions to such problems. The youth are now given the opportunity to act with the elders. In cases where elders are uncooperative, the youth has no choice but to take the issue into their own hands," said SolarGeneration Pilipinas member Denise Matias.
"The Philippines has just escaped an impending drought with the arrival of a much-prayed for downpour, which also claimed the lives of at least 6 Filipinos. Human-induced global warming is already rearing its ugly face in the Philippines. However, all is not without hope. Just as the current global warming trend is brought about by human activities, so can climate solutions be."
This is a good example of an issue where the elders are not in sync with the youth. Matias surmises that this is probably due to the elders' myopic view of the issue. Most elders reason that they won't live long enough to feel the effects of climate change, not realizing that it is their children's and the youth's future at stake.
SolarGeneration Pilipinas calls on the Filipino nation to fully recognize the role of Filipino youth in solving pressing global issues. In their campaign for climate solutions, SolarGeneration Pilipinas members give suggestions on what each and every Filipino can do to avoid catastrophic climate change.
"A little goes a long way. Even a small cut on your power consumption will limit carbon emissions. Turn off the aircon and just use an electric fan especially since it's getting cold [due to the rainy season]. Or for college students, when you pass by an empty classroom, make sure the lights and the fans are turned off. Don't forget to tell your friends and family to practice the same energy-saving habits. We all have a stake in this world after all," said SolarGeneration Manila member Monchi Roderos.
Roderos, however, was careful to note that this is only the immediate solution to climate change. He believes that only a good policy and sound legislation on climate change can effectively solve the current crisis. "Like it or not, the government is still the best answer to our climate woes. Write, petition, serenade or do whatever gimmick you can think of to your Congressman and Senator or even your local government to raise awareness on the issue. After all, they should be working for the public and that's us," added Roderos.
Fellow SolarGeneration Pilipinas members Mary Ann Lee and Criena House agree with Roderos. Lee believes, "that the Filipino nation should continue to push and lobby the government for the funding of clean energy projects. More awareness about climate change should be created among the Filipino people. Education of both the old and young alike, should be prioritized." House, on the other hand, reminds the Philippine government to put the country's resources into good use. "The government knows that the Philippines has alot of renewable energy potential, so why not make use of it? Especially at a time of energy shortage, it would be wiser to use wind, solar, or geothermal power than "clean coal" because it worsens global warming. Build wind turbines or set up solar panes than build superhighways," said House.
"In the 2004 International Conference for Renewable Energies Declaration in Germany, as a SolarGeneration Pilipinas representative, I witnessed the Philippine representatives 'reaffirm their commitment to substantially increase with a sense of urgency the global share of renewable energy in the total energy supply.' Three years later and with a new Department of Energy secretary, I have yet to see the government translate its commitment into action. This just shows how the government puts little value on their promises to the youth," said Abigail Jabines, now Greenpeace Southeast Asia Climate and Energy Campaigner.
SolarGeneration Pilipinas members say that there are already enough empty statements, promises and commitments made. It's time that these are translated into concrete actions and that the elders and the government give more value to the youth. Climate change is already happening and it is happening fast. If the Philippine government is reluctant to take the lead on this, SolarGeneration Pilipinas members will have no choice but to step up, unite with fellow youth, and take their future into their own hands. ###
SolarGeneration is an international youth organization campaigning for climate solutions. Currently in 11 countries worldwide, SolarGeneration has actively participated in important climate meetings of IPCC, ADB, UNFCCC COP/MOP. SolarGeneration has also installed renewable energy projects and called for energy efficiency in schools through Green Campus projects. For more information, visit www.solargeneration.org. and solargenerationyouth.multiply.com
In Philippine history, anti-Marcos marches along the thoroughfare of Ayala Avenue served as a prelude to that led to the 1986 peaceful Edsa revolution and the same thing could be said for the Energy [R]evolution as electric-powered jeepneys are set to revolutionize the Philippines’ most recognizable icon, with a historic test drive along the busy streets of Makati City, the country's financial hub.
Korina Bustarga Account Supervisor working in Makati
Q: What do you think of the program implementing Electric Jeepneys?
A: There's less pollution, makes us use renewable energy so that we don't make use of fossil fuels....That's good for the environment.
Q: Would you support the use of E-Jeepneys in Makati?
A: Of course, why not?
Person on the Street: Korina Bustarga Account Supervisor
Q: What do you think of the program implementing Electric Jeepneys?
A: There's less pollution, makes us use renewable energy so that we don't make use of fossil fuels....That's good for the environment.
Q: Would you support the use of E-Jeepneys in Makati?
Jasper, Greenpeace South East Asia climate and energy campaigner, took time out from a coal industry conference in Bali to go coral diving.
Waking up early is always a pain, however, the prospect of going snorkelling in one of Bali’s best dive destinations is more than enough reason for me to drag myself out of bed at 5:00 a.m. Our destination is Menjangan Island, part of the Bali Barat National Park and Marine Reserve. Also known as ‘Deer Island’, it is home to one of Bali’s most popular scuba diving spots. Our mission is to bear witness to the amazing beauty of its coral reefs, which are threatened by massive bleaching due to sea temperature rise.
Following a bone-shaking 3-hour ride we arrive at the beach resort to catch the boat to Menjangan Island. With us is Professor Iyingketut Sudiarta of Warmadewa University in Denpasar, a marine biologist who has been studying Menjangan Island’s coral reefs. Our party boards two glass-bottomed boats, which afford us excellent, otherworldly views of the underwater world. We first head north east to check the area just outside the marine reserve. Our mood soon changes to one of depression and desolation as we find evidence of the appalling impacts this coral reef ecosystem has suffered. Professor Sudiarta tells us that reefs in the marine reserve suffered massive coral bleaching from the record high sea temperatures of the 1998 El Nino which hit 75-100% of the coral cover.
We then head west to Menjangan Island, looking forward to a less depressing sight and some snorkelling. The island’s dive sites boast great visibility, unspoilt coral, and abundant marine life. Through the glass bottom of the boat, we immediately notice the difference in the coral within the protected area. It is stunning and full of life with many different species of colourful fish everywhere, in stark contrast to the desolate reefs that we visited earlier. The dive sites contain 30 - 60 metre high walls of coral, with a fantastic array of soft and hard coral cover. From a depth of about 5 metres you can already find caverns and overhangs covered with soft corals and sponges.
I grab a set of diving skins for a closer look. A pair of brightly coloured Fusilier fish greet me as I swim towards the wall, while a Triggerfish eyes me warily. I begin to explore the crevasses hoping to spot a moray eel while enjoying the colourful garden formed by the massive, branching hard corals. The underwater world has never failed to amaze me and this dive spot ranks high on my list. However, the threat of massive coral bleaching and the desolate picture of the reefs we visited earlier lies heavily on my mind even as I enjoy the amazing sights of the healthy coral.
On the other side of the island, the coal industry is gathering for one of its regular Coal Trans meetings where business expansion is plotted and the discussion is all about profits, profits, profits with little regard for the environment, in particular climate change. The coal industry is responsible for about two-thirds of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions in the electricity sector and is the biggest climate change pollutant among fossil fuels.
It is even much more depressing to think that with the prediction of a more frequent El Nino and the subsequent massive bleaching, the Bali Barat National Park marine reserve and similar reserves around the globe stand little chance of survival if the coal industry does not stop its criminal ways. While the coal industry parties, the corals and our reefs are heading for a certain death. Join the energy revolution today.
Three Filipinas are attempting to be the first Asian women to reach the Everest summit. They're delayed by the weather at the moment, but are determined to continue. From their blog:
The Kaya ng Pinay Everest Team support group has reached Chinese Base Camp here in Tibet. We're all here preparing to go up to Advanced Base Camp to meet the women and the big buzz here is our Filipina climbers because of the record that they're about to set.
The women, Carina Dayondon, Janet Belarmino and Noelle Wenceslao, will be traversing Mount Everest, meaning they will be climbing from Tibet and going down in Nepal. This has never been done by any woman so the three women will be setting a world record by doing just that. So a lot of people are talking about that here at base camp.
As you can see from the banner, they are also calling for action on climate change.
Separately, a Greenpeace sponsored expedition to photograph evidence of glacial melting in Himalayas recently had to turn back when they found the mountain path ahead had been wiped out - update from that team here. Millions in China and India depend on the water from Himalaya glaciers.
Summer downpours aren't normal for tropical countries like Thailand, where it has been relentlessly raining for almost a week, causing the flashfloods and the like. After hastily finishing a cup of coffee I ventured the rainy streets of Phaholyothin Soi 11 heading towards Ari where Arthur the offices' Communications Manager was waiting along with the media people whom the office invited to 'bear witness', to one of the horrid effects of climate change to coastal communities, in order to communicate the urgency of tackling climate change to the bureaucrats of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who are meeting this week in Bangkok to discuss ways to mitigate global warming.
It took us more than an hour to drive to the place where we'll be taking a boat ride towards the coastal community of Khun Samutchine, which is the first community in Thailand to suffer the direct impacts of coastal erosion caused largely by storm surges brought about by climate change. While on the boat I got to meet Aurelie Uricher, a Solar Generation member from France who along with a host of other youth from around the world who are part of Solar Generation which is made up of young people from all over the world who are taking action against climate change and calling for a clean energy future, which was initiated by Greenpeace.
From the boat we were told that we'd be taking a short hike towards the village, of which we were told that we have to take off our shoes because it was very slippery because of the mud and rain. As we were hiking it's very obvious that the narrow patch of land that we're walking in used to be a part of a larger portion of the land mass in the area. Walking there you'd easily notice structures of what used to be were houses covered in eroded soil.
As we reached the village center we were greeted by a host of hospitable kids who offered us Pepsi and clean water to rinse our muddy feet on. Later on we were greeted by this huge woman who was introduced to us as their mayor, (or was it village chief?) Samorn Knegsamut, who showed us old photos of the place as well as artifacts from an ancient Chinese-Thai community that they were able to dig up since the soil subsequently eroded years earlier. She also told us of her account of how the soil erosion has forced her and a lot from the community to move their house 8 times so as to adapt to the rising waters that seemed to be engulfing their village.
Soon after, we were again hiking passing thru a row of houses on stilts; mud covered dogs' half-buried electrical pylons; buried houses and water tanks; and a long wooden bridge that was very slippery which eventually led to a Buddhist temple that has been buried up in soil with barely its top windows and spire sticking up to the ground. It kind of reminds me of ancient buried temples that we often see in movies like Indiana Jones or in video games like Tomb Raider; but what sets this temple apart is that its not ancient it was built there only 40 years ago, and it was only 20 years ago since it started to become submerged into the Gulf of Thailand.
In fact according to Dr. Thanawat Jarupongsakul, of the Department of Geology, in Chulanlongkorn University: _
The small coastal village of Khun Samutchine, in Samut Prakan province, south of Bangkok is the first community in Thailand, to suffer the direct impacts of coastal erosion caused by climate change. Samut Prakan province has the highest rate of erosion, officially at about 65 metres a year.The 200 households in the ancient settlement of Khun Samutchine has a profitable life living off the sea and enjoyed the bounty of a diverse natural habitat with wetlands, mangrove swamps, marshes, sloughs and estuaries that were home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.Unfortunately due to coastal erosion and advancing sea, most of these areas are degraded, deforested and devastated by the saltwater intrusion.95 families have already been forced to abandon their coastal homes altogether, according to Samorn Kengsamut, village chief of Khun Samutchine "as most people cannot afford to keep building new houses again and again just to see them washed out to sea a few years later."The remaining 105 families have discovered that they cannot go any further inland without illegally intruding the land owned by other people.The most important landmark shrine for the residents of the Khun Samutchine is a Buddhist temple that was once was located in the forest many kilometers away from the beach front, but today it is claimed by the sea. As it is the community heart and soul, villagers made several attempts to contact various agencies to help and had spent their own money to purchase materials to save the area around the temple from further erosion.Stabilizing and rehabilitating the shoreline is a costly undertaking for villagers at Khun Samutchine. For them, the temple could be protected by constructing breakwaters. Samorn Knegsamut, the village chief pointed out that even the mangrove trees cannot spread their roots because the mud is not deep enough to allow the trees to grow before the wind and wave wash it away.
And as we presented our banners that read "don't drown our future" as a reminder to the delegates at the IPCC meeting it was clear to me that the threat of climate change is not something that we can just shrug our shoulders on and pretend that like its 'business as usual'. Immediate action should be done to curb the uptake of greenhouse gas emissions which causes global warming and while it is all good to talk about adaptation to impacts it is more important to resist the threat from the source which is our continuous dependence on fossil fuel and in the case of Asia: coal, which has brought Thailand communities like Mae Moh, where more than 30,000 people have been displaced from their homes, thousands have experienced severe respiratory problems caused by the inhalation and exposure to sulfur dioxide emitted from the coal mine.
So as we have 'bear witness' it was obvious now that we have moral responsibility to take action according by telling the story of Khun Samutchine and of the plight of its people who are at risk of the dangerous effects of climate change.
Hello from Laos. This is a belated birthday greeting (almost two months past but not late -- I did greet my good friend...) and also a strange title, but I think it would have been sillier to use "Peeking at Pecking" as the lead to a post about bird watching. This is about the 8th birthday of Amaranna, perpetually eight years old, which she celebrated last October in style and with lots of color -- by hiking to Mt. Makiling on her big day with a group of friends and watching birds!
Here's a good take on a great birthday idea, which can also be a reminder of what we stand to lose if the climate continues to go awry. And the list of things to lose, as far as birds in a small, particular place is concerned, is long, as you will see towards the end of Amaranna's post. Can anyone tell me what the local names of the birds are listed at the end of this post? But here's excerpts from Amaranna's musings first... A couple of weeks after Milenyo (international code name: Xangsane) hit the Philippines, she and her friends decided to visit Mt. Makiling, curious about the effects of the typhoon on this birding haven.
"The morning started overcast and humid, which may have made viewing a little easier, as the birds seem slower. Makiling is not known as an easy birding area, but that morning, the place could only be described as dude birder's haven. The trail was closed, but all we really needed was to stay at the grounds of the TREES hostel. Milenyo had stripped a lot of trees of lots of their leaves and small branches, and so the birds were in full view.
"At first we couldn't put our bins down as we were seeing one bird after another. It was a delight to compare an Ashy Minivet with a Black and White Triller quite leisurely. Red-crested Malkohas, Coppersmith Barbets, Tarictic Hornbills simply took their time and stayed perched for what seemed to be an eternity for birdwatchers who'd normally just see a flash of feather here and there.
"After a while, we were so confident that we could put our bins down, rest our arms, have a cup of coffee, and munch on sandwiches because we knew the birds would still be there when we looked up again.
"The biggest thrill for breakfast was a Greater Flameback perched in full view, and for about 5 minutes right outside TREES hostel.
"At 8:30 am, the group headed towards the Botanical Garden and was greeted by noisy Bar-bellied Cuckoo Shrikes. Everyone stood in shock on the bridge towards the Raptor Center, gasping at the amount of mud dumped by a landslide on the once sparkling creek. Fortunately, all that mud did not keep members of the group from going down and being rewarded by a sighting of 2 Indigo-banded Kingfishers. For those who did not go down to the creek that morning, another trip to Makiling was instantly planned.
As I was flying to the expensively heated grounds of Singapore, captivated by Time Magazine's Science vs Religion feature, I came across the magazine's Best Inventions of the Year. Well, do I have to mention the overtly famous YouTube as the number one discovery? Lets not act surprised here. Amongst the new toys and transportations, the things that caught my attention were the hug-stimulating shirt, the floating bed, the appealing flexible flat lights and the hospital-helping robot, but I found the power saving knick-knacks, highlighted in the article, the most stirring of all.
As an architect, I am fascinated and intrigued and almost willing to invent, about saving energy, greenhouses, sustainable environment, etc. We have heard about hybrid cars and such, but these newbie devices are really cool and how I wish they will soon be available here in Manila, with a discount please.
The silver-hued flower light had a fresh, contemporary concept with a flash of energy-saving wonder. This is an environment-friendly, flower-shaped light which monitors the energy usage in your home. Pretty neat huh? It actually discerns the power consumption, if it's low, the light blooms and shows its charming beauty! But when it senses high usage, it gets shy and closes. The Swedish Company, Static! invented this Flowerful home piece to increase energy saving awareness, with a modern and quirky design. availablity? its not yet for sale. To learn more, see www.tii.se/static
As much as we want to use solar power in our buildings and homes, sometimes, designers and even homeowners are wary on how those huge and protruding solar panels will look on top of their newly-built tower or house. The good news is, reportedly in 2008, the most dependable and thin film material for generating electricity from sunlight power, generating glass, steel, metal and polymers, making possible a new generation of solar energy units and photovoltaic construction materials will be out in the market! Time Magazine gave a thumbs-up to HelioVolt's FASST, a revolutionary solar-panel designed so slim, it can actually be part of that modern, minimalist building you just designed or admired! Now that's Slim, Shady and Solar-powered. Price is yet to be announced. Let's cross our fingers on this one! To learn more about this, visit www.heliovolt.com
We are all familiar with turbines and how it contributes to power saving techniques but this supposed best invention marks another notch in turbine technology. The Skystream 3.7 is a wind turbine designed especially for home use. Now, we can contribute in saving the environment! Installed on a 35-ft. vertical piece, it attaches to typical utility hookups and starts rotating in drafts as low as 8 m.p.h. The article states that it can generate up to 80percent of the average household's electricity and shave of approximately 600 bucks or more off annual utility costs. That's the good news. The downside is, it's about $10,000, including installation. OUCH. Hhhmmm, I wonder if this can also cut down its price? To learn more visit skystreamenergy.com
Of course, we have to face the irony of these things, the technology that costs the manufacturers to come up with these remarkable ideas are indeed veritably expensive yet helpful. Is this like a science versus religion discussion? maybe style vs substance? is it like buying a fast food burger over a gourmet, organic sandwich? Do we continue to emphasize and draw light to new and costly concepts? Or do we retrace our steps and just do the simplest deeds? Like switching off the light when you go out perhaps? but some issues are not that easy to solve, especially when it concerns our health, the environment, our lives. Think about the long-term effects these intially costly devices will give. lesser consumption means lesser decimal points on those bills! READ MORE!
Well, it's been a while. This "prelude to a wrap-up" has taken some time. Thankfully Bengkers managed to get a nice post from her friend, Giselle, which you can browse in the post just before this one. As thanks, were posting a nice sunset pic for Giselle from young ones at the historic site of Angkor Wat, standing up (and sitting down) for their future.
There were questions before as to whether, after the Nairobi climate negotiations end, we should also conclude the Cool The Planet blog. Everything should have an ending, but apparently, according to some letter writers, there's little reason to bring our little conversation to a close. One said, we've managed to connect disparate approaches made from distant lands on a common topic, which is no mean feat. Another wrote asking why the frequency of posts went down when the colors had just begun to get interesting.
What to do? Right now, it's hard to say. All conversations come to an end when the number of voices dwindle to one or some, or none, which of course says that it's all up to us to say whether everyone moves on or not. It's been a tiring one month push, in truth, and friends in Metro Manila have been busy seeding the minds of many in their work to get both houses of the Philippine legislature not just to adopt a renewable energy bill but to pass a definitive one that is actually useful and strong. We still hope of course that one or some of them will find time to actually share what they've been up to along with the fruits they have picked up along the way, particularly the inside stories, the funnies and the odd piece of news.
While we wait for their consideration, why not share your thoughts on the questions below? Give 'em a try...
1. Did his reindeers go on strike or has Santa Claus joined the Animal Liberation Front and freed his brown bucks?
1. We're really not sure about the reindeers issue but Santa Claus did join environmental group Greenpeace for a bike, run and walk for "climate and clean energy campaign" inside a campus park in suburban Manila, 26 November 2006. Greenpeace is holding a series of activities and a massive shift to clean and renewable energy to stop climate change and to campaign for a stronger renewable energy bill. JOEL NITO/AFP/Getty Images
Here's a post from my good friend, Giselle Segovia, who wants to help out. She used to be the editor-in-chief of the event/music magazine Lemon and she's been writing ever since I remember. She now stays in Canada and would really like to help out in any way she can. Thanks G, you're the best!
Living in a country that yearly plunge into below zero temperatures, it's not difficult at all to disconnect to something as trivial as "climate change." Summer in Toronto is literally borrowed time and is forever too short. I can totally see how people here or in North America in general can take global warming for granted - hot temperatures are hard to come by on this side of the globe.
A huge chunk of me is in Manila though, and it's warming up by the minute.
If we want to know how punishing the sun can be, the Philippines is a primary spot to get a first-hand experience. But to say that Filipinos know all the ramifications attached to this clause is assuming too much. It's equally just as easy for us to take things for granted. Think about it: For a typical educated and able Pinoy (someone that can sure access this posting), how many hours in a day do you actually stay out of air-conditioning? You sleep in an air-conditioned room, ride an air-conditioned vehicle and work in an air-conditioned office. Not to mention the malls, restaurants, bars and clubs that are AC'd to the max. So it can't be as real to that Filipino (a lot of you are, there's no shame in admitting it) as how it is to the real archetype "magsasaka," - the one who's really suffering in all of this. The truly sad part about it is that this farmer who's scorching in the fields, probably contributes the least in climate heating - but ironically, he's paying for it.
It's no secret that saving up electricity is GOOD. Basically cutting back on a lot of stuff perhaps even reacquainting yourself with a fan (and please for the celebrities this means the device and not the follower). But why is conserving energy a positive thing? Why is it something that will benefit ALL of us, in the short and long run? You see, Meralco is not just a bill we pay. Behind the numbers and the consumption is a process that hurts the environment - essentially the world as we know, and love it. Okay, we know from Science 101, that power stations generate electricity by burning fossil fuels. However, apart from the pollution that these plants produce, more importantly what we could miss is that this procedure alone is the biggest factor in carbon dioxide emission. The influx of which allows extra heat to reflect back into earth - way more than we can handle. This imbalance is causing climates to shift - and because everything in the world is connected, no living thing will be spared.
It's a terrifying thought especially when people find out that we're so close to the point where we can't reverse the effects. To put it simply, it's like stage 2.5 of cancer. There's a fair chance, but it's going to be tedious and very tough work. Often times, we won't feel rewarded. In this complicated age where everything is gray, it's not enough that we help; doing the right things can look "self-righteous" and the picture of everything dying is preposterous and far-fetched. So chances are we won't be taking steps for ourselves. There are too many priorities (aka work) and responsibilities (aka family, friends). So I'm thinking, maybe we should help our dear ol' mother planet not for our own sakes but for someone we love; a friend, father, lover, wife, child - think of her and how she might have to endure an incredibly sick earth.
I mean, I know you won't do it for the farmer (shame on you!). But would you pass up the chance to give the people you care for a better world? READ MORE!
It's the last day of the Nairobi negotiations and it has been frustrating and also exhilarating. For one, my glasses broke a few days ago and I've been getting this dull headache from time to time since then, similar to a low-grade hangover. Work hours during climate treaty events are also notoriously long -- for most of those involved in such negotiations, day in and day out it can be mostly non-stop lobbying, writing articles or position papers, strategizing, coordinating with colleagues and allied organizations, meetings with delegates, patching up political spats and leveraging support for specific measures or issues or positions, putting out 'political brush fires' or igniting indignation. It's been a tough two weeks. Happily, through the Cool The Planet site, blogging with such a wide and diverse group of people has provided a nice, distinct frame to my activities here in Nairobi. We've begun a nice conversation alright, and we've had bloggers, commentators and visitors from virtually all the regions in our planet. The chat box alone showed that climate friends from Iran, Brazil, Italy, Nepal, India, Pakistan, the US, Canada, Korea and New Zealand had dropped by to leave good thoughts and good words for everyone to munch on.
The posts and the exchanges on this two-week blog has showed that there's really so much that people can share with one another with regard to what is taking place in our climate. Each post actually demonstrates topics and ideas that can allow others to connect to an urgently needed conversation regarding the protection of things that are dear to us and the role played by something we take so much for granted -- our climate -- in our daily rhythms and thoughts and quirks and visions. Climate is literally a huge thing, but it is also so basic. It's a good enough starting point for most everyone to begin thinking about the consequences of how we live today and the impacts of our actions, or inaction.
Thankfully, significant negotiation items in Nairobi have moved forward considerably even though many issues have not progressed as far as many thought they would. The more crucial issues have been agreed, however, and next steps have been identified.
There were times when the negotiations seemed to be stuck hopelessly in bad gridlocks but the process has nonetheless moved forward, allowing many to hope that the agreements achieved in Nairobi will lead to deeper future cuts in global emissions along with the provision of new and much larger funds that can assist the most vulnerable countries to adapt to climatic impacts.
I should have set this down much earlier, obviously, but it has proven difficult to balance regular blog posts and posts mapping the process along with having to attend to my work here as a member of Greenpeace International's delegation, which for two weeks straight was virtually a 6AM to midnight task. In any case, what's done is done -- and with this post what has not been done is now done. Check out the section on who won the daily Fossil of the Day award during the negotiations. This is a prize given to the country delegation that played the most obstructive or destructive role on a given day during the negotiation period. Don't forget to check out the distinguished CAN daily called ECO, which gives delegates -- and the whole process actually -- crucial analysis and positions on the most vital issues throughout a negotiating period. You can actually track the whole negotiations -- including shameful political posturing, hypocritical episodes and lobby gossip -- by reading each ECO issue. READ MORE!
Like a resounding toll of bells, this familiar call of "balooooot!" can be heard every night in most Philippine streets. Balot is it? Online encyclopedia Wikipedia would describe it as "a fertilized duckegg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell." Indeed it is. Peddled at night by (who else but...) balot vendors, it has become a favorite midnight snack and beer companion to Filipinos.
Upon coming home one midnight, I heard once more the now-endangered balot call and reminded me of my long-overdue post about balot. Balot has managed to remind me a couple of important things about life, one of which is climate change and its wrath on the future. See, eating balot is basically eating an aborted duck. Balot is cooked by submerging the egg in boiling water, which consequently cooks the developing duck inside the egg shell. (Heat is the key in producing this Pinoy delicacy). And our future would most likely suffer the same fate as balot if we continue to ignore climate change. No shell can spare us (and the future) from climate change. Aborted futures, that is what the balot is reminding us.
And however annoyingly rousing the balot vendor's midnight call may be, in light of the pressing issue of climate change, a call of its kind is very important. We need a constant reminder of why we need to be involved and why we need to act now!
Only when we've embraced climate change solutions will the balot vendor's call bear a different meaning and sound (at least to me). For now, let "Baloooooot!!!" be a reminder of what we stand to lose if we continue ignoring our climate's yelp for help.
Edited to mention: Thanks to Wikipedia for the picture, don't know whose hand is on the picture but just focus on the balot. Worth a try, especially with a pinch of salt. Yummy.
Skateboarding has entered an era where top riders sign corporate sponsorship contracts with "anti-offensiveness" and "no disparagement" clauses, mainstream television stations like ESPN- Disney's sports division - show the X-Games and skateboarders shred at the Olympics. Thanks to corporations like Nike we can eat extreme pizza, drive Nissan's X-Terra SUV, wear extreme deodorant, hire extreme consulting firms and invest in extreme equity funds. But if we are all extreme now, then where have the real rebels gone? Disappeared in a haze of Ritalin?
The quote above echoes the same sentiments when I along with my girlfriend Jeanie, and her students shot a video of my skateboarding nephew Gato for an advertising project a few weeks ago. The shoot brought back memories a lot of memories including that when I along with other skate buddies rode our boards to a fast descent in at a bypass in Edsa during EDSA 2: Or when I would skip school to skate; or when a 'skate scene' flourished in front of our house in Teachers' Village.
Skate-punk no more At that time we were having the time of our lives because it was rebellious, nonconforming and firmly tied to punk rock. It was uncool. People hate us and preppy kids made fun of us for sewing rubber pads on our busted sneakers. But nowadays skateboarding all of a sudden turned hip. Starting with the integration of skateboarding scenes in the videos of jock-core band Limp Bizkit, up to the anthemic 'sk8rboi' trash of Avril Lavigne. It seems that the tables were turned to those of us who skated before the advent of the present status of skateboarding culture in today's youth. It's no wonder why I'm no longer riding my board and play at the scene in front of our house; in fact none of the people I skated with still play there.
I guess the corporate-powers that have come to realize that skaters were a troubling yet alluring demographic for big business.
Light at the end of the tunnel
But as I look at how the skate-punk subculture has faded into obscurity with its marriage to corporate-consumer culture that caters to your average mall-going teen I still see a light at the end of the tunnel...
Also skateboarding can be an art, hobby, sport or A METHOD OF TRANSPORTATION. It is common knowledge that climate change is a by product of our dependence in fossil fuels to get us power including to power to drive our cars. It's quite fascinating to think of how much power would be saved if we'd all try out skateboarding, in the same way that we've ride our bikes to school or work.
Thinking about it makes me stoked enough to grab my busted Vans shoe and to ride my board to work while listening to Pennywise or NoFX, how about you? READ MORE!
Here's another post from Bangalore-based writer Samir. Read it and learn, and tell us later what fluid thoughts you plan to breed, and whether you know of a better escape clause than the person Samir asks at the end of his piece.
They say water is the source of life, and life was supposed to have started in water - well they cant be wrong. I know quite a few water borne diseases and I do know that water also breeds pests. There is a town in India called Lakhpat in the state of Gujarat, local folklore has it that the town was so called because it was a very rich town and had many millionaires the verbatim translation in English is a town of millionaires. This was a port town around 300 years back. The town was on the confluence of the river sindh which came in from what is now Pakistan, it was a port town. Slowly the river changed course, today there is no hint that this was once a town of the rich. People have migrated, there are not more than a few families left in the town.
And, water, they say is source of life. But it is, one of the pointers in the development index is how many people have access to potable water, politicians promise constant water supply if they get elected. There are villages in India that no one wants to marry into because the water there is no longer potable. There is a story that Lord Krishna was cursed by a group of sages because he offered his wife water before he did them.
In India every home serves its guests water, this was also a custom in every restaurant. Before the menu was handed the waiter would pour you a glass of water. But things have changed, the waiter comes and asks "bottled" or "ordinary". What was valued as emotive now has a value - we know how much a litre of water costs - Rs 12/-. There is a soft drink called Limca that goes with the sobriquet 'thirst quencher'. In Rajasthan, the Indian desert state, you may not be able to find drinking water in the villages, but every shop has Coca Cola stocked in its shelves. .
Those who can afford it will buy water and those who cant – well tough luck. I asked a person if the summers were getting hotter here, he replied in the affirmative and also told me that he had a way out - air conditioners in his house and car.
Young minds are a challenge to get through across the board. Often we feel as if we are pulling teeth from them regardless of the fact that they are smart as you can imagine. Teaching middle school age kids pose so much obstacles. My favorite of all is figuring out a lingo that they use as I impart propositions on environmental issues. Are they ready for such vicissitude? Must this be a matter of importance when it derelicts material possession and want? So you reflect and spend a few days on how to inform squirming rug rats on conservation, recycling, preservation, reusing and the big one of all, global warming.
How young must we teach our children about our only home? John Locke in his empirical view of the human mind that pre-exists as a tabula rasa or a blank slate still holds water for most. Yet the world of obstetrics theorized that as early as the first trimester of child bearing, the young inside the womb; absorbs the world outside. The bucket yields on us no matter what. We teach our kids a million and one things everytime and we wonder, will they be okay at the end of the day? And you see them, choosing to dunk a ball of scrap paper where the can reads "PAPER" and empty juice bottles to dispose of on bins marked "PLASTIC or GLASS". And you smile, and you thank your lucky stars you must be doing something right. It will take a few more of sharing, learning and probably debating before they could relate climate change to fossil fuel addiction. It might feel ages knowing if you are getting through their hyper-passive mode. So, how young should we let them know? May I suggest...as early as we can.
while my fellow blogger, dyabayns has found a creative way of using solar energy to make coffee, here is another great idea on how to utilize the sun's rays (and it looks quite good, if i may add).
charge your phone, ipod, digital camera or pda with Solio™, the Universal "Hybrid" Charger. it absorbs energy from an electrical outlet or the sun and stores this within the Solio’s own internal battery. it looks very streamlined (comes in white, black, silver and hot pink!), plus it saves you from lugging around several chargers for your gadgets.
utilizing solar energy is very practical! it's free, reusable, widely available and clean! let's hope that these people come up with more solar-powered gadgets in the future which look great.
would you know of any other tech savvy gadgets which we can use? let us know about it! :) READ MORE!
You know you're Filipino when you have one of these in your bathroom.
Produced by the Ashlar Industrial Corporation in the 1990s, the name 'Orocan' actually stands for their entire line of plastic products; which includes not just their trademark plastic drum, but also laundry basins, coolers, jugs, pitchers, utility storage, etc. But to a Filipino, the word 'Orocan' pertains to the lovely, plastic container you see in the photo; so much so that any large, plastic drum, regardless of the brand, is referred to as an 'Orocan'. The Orocan is a work of genius. Available in a range of attractive colors, and made of hardy material, the Orocan has evolved only slightly throughout the years, becoming more streamlined. The original ones in the early 90s looked like a plastic version of "Oscar the Grouch's" garbage can. If you look in your lola's (grandmother's) bathroom, you might still be able to find the original, vintage model. That's right, they are never thrown away. No matter how dilapidated they get, they go through a thousand and one incarnations (as you will soon read). An Orocan is forever.
The Orocan has a thousand uses, many of them yet to be invented. It's most common use is as a water storage receptacle. Like all Filipino kids, I have lived through dozens of calamities and natural disasters where we've had to survive without running water for a week: super typhoons, earthquakes, drought, broken pipes, week-long blackouts, coup de etat, and military uprisings (ok, so the last two aren't ' natural disasters, but I'm proud to have lived through a good dozen or so of them). To me, these trying times were marked by freezing-cold, candle-lit baths using our precious water rations, which we scooped out with a tabo (ladle) from (you guessed it) Orocans.
In many Filipino bathrooms, it is not uncommon to find a giant, water-filled Orocan squeezed into the tiny crevice between the toilet and the wall, with a bucket or can floating serenely on the water's surface. Especially in areas where water pressure is weak, many households still flush their toilets the old-fashioned way by pouring torrents of water down the loo, much to many a guest's discomfort I'm sure.
In the summertime, the Orocan makes for a great kiddy-pool. Not only is it less wasteful, requiring less water, but kids get a kick out of being stuffed into tiny, watery, restricting spaces. I should know. As a kid, my mother used to put me in a water-filled Orocan in our driveway on balmy summer afternoons, and I would have a blast.
Aside from being the perfect water-saving device, there are many other creative uses for the Orocan. In the old days, when the lids were still 'Oscar-the-Grouch' inspired, kids would use them as shields when pretending to be Lion-O from 'The Thundercats", Conan the Barbarian, or one of the ninja Turtles (even though they didn't have shields). They were also great places to hide in during games of hide-and-seek.
For the college dormer, the Orocan makes for a lovely side-table or stool when turned upside down; while for the musician, the Orocan can add lively percussion to any song. The possibilities are endless.
And now for my main point (bet you thought I didn't have one!).
Australia is said to be facing it's worst drought in 1000 years. We are reminded of it everyday, on TV, in the news, on flyers you get in your mailbox reminding you of Sydney's on-going water restrictions. We do have a reservoir of recycled water used for flushing our toilets, and watering our lawns. Even then, it's not enough. Australia is a naturally arrid place, due to it's climate. But it seems the dryness has reached an alarming new level.
The local effects, as of now, are that I'm not allowed to water my garden as much as I'd like to. My plants are sad. The national effects include failed crops, a reservoir that is slowly being depleted, and possible drinking-water shortages in certain areas in the future.
They've identified the culprit as climate change. Already, the heat here is blistering on warm days (and I thought there was no place hotter Manila), and Australia is bracing itself for what is expected to be the warmest summer ever.
Australians seems pretty savvy on the issue of climate change (all except their Prime Minister, but I'm not in the mood to get political about this). There seems to be hundreds of on going campaigns on both national and grassroots levels to delay the frightening onslaught of global warming. There is definitely a greater sense of urgency in the fight against global warming here than in the Philippines. But while it's great that people are taking action, I can't help but feel frightened over how real it all is. It's become more than just mere theory. Just ask my plants.
Will I be seeing Orocans in Australian bathrooms in a few years time?