Monday, January 28, 2008

The Axis of Extremes

Thomas Friedman modertated a discussion with Al Gore and Bono on Climate Change and Global Poverty at the World Economic Forum recently.

Bono pointed out, that the world is at threat from three extremes - extreme climate, extreme poverty, and extreme idealogies. This, I think, is the best description of the world we live in today. Nothing makes me more happy than the fact that global community has come to realize the threat from these extremes. Yet another thing that Bono highlighted was that the people who have least contributed to the crisis of environment are the most affected and have very little or no means to undo it and shield themselves.

Al Gore's frustration was that the size of the community that really discussses these issues and seriously considers doing someting about it is very small. There's a lot of chatter but it is restricted within this group of people.

The first step that we can take is to get aware of these issues and then start talking about them to others. Let's spread the news, spread the awareness, and start changing our lives. Let yourself be the first one to change by rejecting extremism, lowering down our carbon footprint and helping a budding entrepreneur in third world or donating to feed a hungry displaced child living in a refugee camp in Africa.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Environment @ Mercy of Politicians - Sad State of Affairs

So you thought that the US Government is doing a whole lot to save our environment? Indeed, they are - President Bush has committed $5 Billion to research global warming.

You also trusted them to tell you the truth as it is. Correct? Consider this. Clinton White House wanted the scientific community to exaggerate the gravity of global warming, whereas the Bush White House wants to undermine it. Actually, "wants to undermine it" is an understatement. It seems, as per the CBS documentary on global warming on January 20, 2008 that the current administration has done all it possibly can to prevent the truth about global warming from getting out to the world. They have restrained top scientists from speaking to media, forced people to resign from their jobs, edited scientific reports with political gibberish and misrepresented scientific findings to the public. Take this for example - a report from a top scientist from NASA said that increased human activity is leading to global warming. Chief of Staff of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality sent it back edited to say that human activity may be leading to global warming. That was not all. There were paragraphs deleted and edited to make the report sound as if there's nothing proven yet. Here's are two examples of these edits: "Earth is undergoing a period of rapid change" was changed to "Earth may be undergoing a period of rapid change". Words like "uncertainity" were edited to read "significant remaining uncertainity". Lines were crossed out, such as, "energy production contributes to warming" is crossed out.

Isn't this Perjury?

The sad part of it is that the people doing it all are not trained scientists, but lawyers and career politicians, who are also probably lobbyists for large energy and oil companies or organizations like American Petroleum Institute. Where's the transparency in it. Since when have the politicians been granted immunity from punishment for gross misrepresentation of truth. Isn't this perjury? Shouldn't the concerned White House staff be behind bars for this?

Recommendations (Video and Text)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Social Responsiblity - Utilize Your Expertise

Last month, while facilitating a brainstorming session on how we can be more socially responsible, I had a chance to interact with Jeff Wishnie. That gave me an opportunity not only to know more about Jeff but also how he has been able to play an active role in social development and has contributed to it. Jeff, who is a well know paraglider and the CTO of Inveneo, has helped many rural communities in countries of Africa get ICT. An interesting twist to the scenario, however, is the low energy consumption computers and wireless equipment that Inveneo has designed, which are extremely rugged, easy to install and maintain and utilize open source solutions.

A bit into the discussions, the obvious question got posed to him. Why technology when these communities can use monetary donations, free vaccinations, microfinance, etc? This question, as absurd as it may seem, is a very good one. In one of the previous posts ( Technology and Development - Response Strategy for Economic Growth ) I have talked about how the generous masses in the developed west and technologically advanced countries can help with Microfinance. Simplicity of the concept and its economic impact directly to the needy but deserving citizens helps strengthen the economic development of community and builds capacity. In response to that Jeff's answer was very interesting. His rationale was simple and appealing - there's nothing wrong with donating money, food, clothes, installing play pump or anything other than what he is doing. He has put a lot of work and effort in building up his skills working in California for which people pay him a lot of money. The aim, therefore, is to use that expertise to help the masses. I think, that's a fantastic approach to social responsibility. Most of the woes of the underdeveloped world can be solved only if we all can use our expertise for social causes. That's what you are good at, that's where your heart is and that's what you, probably, know the most about. The trick, nonetheless, is to blend that knowledge with low cost, affordable, robust, and userproof solutions that are sustainable. And that's what Jeff is out doing most days of the year in Africa.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Recycling Logo Demystified

Recently when I saw a recycling logo on Styrofoam to-go box it surprised me, as I knew molded Styrofoam is not recyclable. I was curious to find out what these recycle logos actually represent. Does it indicate that product can be recycled or does it mean that the product is made from recycled content? After a little research I found out that recycle logo doesn’t necessarily indicate either.

There are no regulations for the use of recycle logos. If you are one of those who want to contribute to environment by buying products with recycled content you should check what labels says. If the label just says “recyclable” or “recycle” it may contain no recycled content and it may not be possible to recycle them in your area. Look for labels that list percentage of recycled content. e.g. “made from 100% recycled material” or “20 % percent post consumer fiber” and similar stuff.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

CBS Sunday Morning - A minute to Nature

Every Sunday morning, like many other CBS viewers, I too tune into to get a bit more educated with the CBS Sunday Morning. There's no doubt that it is one of the best weekly glimpses that TV has to offer.

My love for this TV program has grown more so because of the dedication it has towards environment. At the end of each episode, Sunday Morning dedicates a minute at the end to show the beautiful flora and fauna from different parts of the world. Their camera crew, it seems, locates some pristine part of the wilderness and let their cameras roll. And these clips are then broadcast without any visual and audio editing.

I like the fact that CBS is beaming these serene scenes to its viewers rather than running commercials. As per the current trends in TV advertisement rates it may very well be a $500,000 hit that CBS is taking.

Good going and excellent show of environmental responsibility, CBS. Best of luck!