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sigh.. what a day.

But here's a big loss - UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres to Step Down! She has been nothing short of amazing! She was given the reins of no short feet! She has brought so many divergent people/countries to the table! And she did it! She deserves a good holiday at the beachside in Costa Rica. OK that would be my dream of a well deserved holiday. She deserves a good holiday of her own choice, wherever that might be!

Impossible isn’t a fact; it’s an attitude: Christiana Figueres at TED2016
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When you read the bill S.543 in itself seems rather good.  But here are the implications of the bill. It's crazy and wrong way to go about doing things. Surely the President will veto it, but we need to talk to our representatives! 
smittenbyu: (distraught)
In India, my friends/family joke about politicians who get elected who have absolutely no knowledge or experience in the subject matter of running a government! I would half hear their grumbles. They have this image that it's a little better here in the US.

So, here's one who frightens me: Senator James Inhofe! And guess which committee head he has become, Environment & Public Works Committee.

How do they get these positions? Is it at random? Really?! I heard about it a few months ago. I as usual, closed the browser window thinking it was some horrible joke. I was hoping anyway. Alas, as usual it's me in denial.

I doubt with anyone else anything would happen anyway. So, maybe he will provide some comic relief? Again, I am looking at the positive. Trying really hard. Because the alternative is living in fear and dread. 
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It was December 1995 issue, never forget. Just 6 months before high school graduation. National Geographic. A special. It confirmed and inspired me to decide my major and show an actual interest in pursuing college. She was Dr. Jane Goodall. I didn't read the whole article. Just the part she wrote. Her thoughts and her wishes for the world. It changed my life. It instilled in me what I wanted to do.

Sure, I have not saved the world as my ambition was back then! ha! Nowhere close! Idealism went into deep hibernation once I actually started college and looked at all the problems we face. But I always am grateful for her words. Her kindness, her beliefs. She instilled in a deep sense of hope for a better future. That we can achieve better if we put our minds to it. We are capable, no matter which part of the world. That we are no better than the other, just a bunch of human beings with strengths to help problem solve.

Anyway, that's all serious and an utopia.  Just watched this and had to laugh!

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Science has given us so many things we use today. Research has helped solve so many of our issues today. In 2010, one of the biggest changes my dad saw in the US since his last visit here 30 years ago is the slow decline in research in the US. He would remember the wealth of ideas that would flow. The creativity that was nurtured in this country. The excitement of experimenting, the freedom to try things out. Now you are left with labs in the private sector. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it narrows down the scope so much. 

Congress has slowly been cutting funding of research organizations. They see it as a waste. The latest target, well, it's been a target for some years/decades - the East West Center in Hawai'i. And yet science is encouraged by so many entities as a positive thing. We have several friends who have graduated with their PhD's stuck without a job. They feel let down. They were promised such glory of great work. 

It';s sad to read such articles in the paper - U.S. pushes for more scientists, but the jobs aren't there. There is so much more to find out about the world. The biggest area being finding solutions to the energy crisis.

I probably am biased. I grew up with scientists all around me and my background is environmental studies. But it feels like it's such common sense - something that Congress keeps declaring they are trying to bring to the table. Fine if you don't believe in climate change, whatever. But you are the one who preaches "personal responsibility". Well, take it up. Stop cutting funding at least! 


Feb. 15th, 2012 09:59 pm
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I take D to many playgroups. It's a lot of fun to put several toddlers in a room and see what happens. They all want the same toy the one kid discovered. The host often shares how her kid had never shown interest in that toy before, too! Some mothers work very hard to get their kid to share. I have witnessed toddlers get into a complete tug of war over a toy, screaming and shouting. Sometimes, we moms have also had to get into the tug of war to separate the screaming kids. This is an age where they don't understand the concept of sharing.

And yet we try place such importance to it. We keep trying, failing miserably. Once they learnt to share, we forget about how important this skill is in the world.  It seems so trivial, a small thing. But if you see the numerous problems with the world today, it comes down to being unable to share.

Watching the news often makes me realise that not much has changed since toddlerhood.

Last week, I was home, and so watched the Republican Presidential candidates give their speeches at CPAC. I am not a conservative. But it's good to hear what the other side thinks. Additionally, I have low blood pressure and since their no cure for that except for adding salt to my food, this was a good solution. So, I listened.

At one point, Santorum made a claim that "climate change is a leftist scientific conspiracy to destroy America!" And he went on about this group uses the conservatives' sentimentality of being good stewards of this earth to gain power. I nearly fell out of my chair. Where has he lived in the last three decades? He referred to the positive correlation between energy consumption and standard of living and therefore we need to stop the "no-growth environmental radicalism".

hmmm... when people make such claims, there really is no way to argue. It leaves no room for a discussion. So, I return to the room this morning where D was enjoying her weekly music and movement class, filled with wild crazy toddlers in a room with lots of colourful balls and two small slides.

The two small slides required them to climb up the two steps and slide down and take turns. Some toddlers played with the colouful balls and quite a few were more excited about the slides. D was excited to crawl up the slide and slide down. We had to teach her that she had to climb up the stairs, slide, then get back of the line and go her turn. So, once she figured that out, everyone was happy!

As adults we also want the same "toy" - a comfortable life, with a house, car, running water, good health, the latest gadgets, and other consumables. But we live in a world where the resources are limited. So, we should relearn what our parents so painstakingly taught us - to share!

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We would be upset that we didn’t get free refills of soda at certain restaurants. We were college students and we tried stretching that dollar as far as we could. And this probably was the reason why they didn’t give free refills.

But it seems we are now in a country where that’s the only place we look for refills.

I have this pen I like very much. It writes very well. Sadly the ink finished or dried up because we use pens so rarely. I tried looking for a refill and none could be found. I realised it’s been ages since I looked for refills for a pen! And why don’t more of us do it?

My watch battery died out. I tried getting a battery replaced. My goodness the cost! It would be cheaper for me just to buy a watch! So far I have been having it changed whenever I was in India. It’s a fraction of what it would cost here for the battery & the labour combined! Why are things so expensive when all you want to do is refill? It would send less of things to the big trash can.

There will be a price we will have to pay for all this convenience. Cause it’s a lot of junk we are sending to the big trash can and it can only take so much. And then developing and underdeveloped nations will get tired of taking all our trash too.

We all grumble about the national debt/deficit and what a burden we are creating for the next generations and the ones after to come. Why don’t we worry just as much about the environmental mess we will be leaving for them?

Earth Day

Apr. 22nd, 2009 12:06 pm
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I must be missing something. I am in Washington D.C. but am not able to find a single event to commemorate Earth Day! They must be all doing secret activities or something. There was a large exhibit on the National Mall on Sunday, to which N and I dropped into but it was a bit disappointing from what I expected D.C. to be hosting. Last year it poured cats and dogs but there were so many more exhibitors than this year.

I did attend though a very interesting talk by Dr. Maria Neira from WHO, who shared the WHO's strategy on Climate Change and Health. How they are promoting the strong link between Climate Change and Public Health. She briefly summarised the results from the report released on Public Health & Climate Change.

And what is a WHO talk without the statistics. But it is really sad that every year over 3.5 million children die from undernutrition, 2.2 million (mostly children) die from diarrhoea, and 900 thousand die from malaria. The report that is soon to be released at their upcoming meeting in Geneva at their next World Health Assembly will show the link between these incidents and changes in climate (some directly and some indirectly). She shared the objectives from the report create awareness, generate more evidence, and strenghtening existing health systems.

I sound/feel a bit cynical/skeptical. I am reading Laurie Garrett's Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. And it's too heavy for the optimist to read. N recommended this book when I asked him for non-fiction suggestions. I have been ending my daysreading this book and it's definitely informative on how precarious our systems really are and there's so much that is needed to be done. So, with this in the back of my mind, sitting through the talk made me really wonder the impact of it all.

N promises the next book suggestion will be a positive one. something to look forward to! And in the meantime, US EPA made headlines last week finally acknowledging that greenhouse gas emissions are dangerous to the environment! oh what enlightenment!

One of the questions asked in the talk was who could possibly take leadership in the problems facing Climate Change & Public Health issues. The speaker first commented that commitment and leadership was needed from all nations as diseases and climate have no boundaries. She went on to say that the emerging countries have the opportunity to take on the lead, being Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa. Or maybe even USA with the recent admission of dangers of greenhouse gases.

It's not anything new, but I do believe that whoever finds a way to deal with this issue will be the one with the competitive advantage.

I am turning off my PC, TV, and am off to the library on foot to share the resources there for Earth Day!  And it's a cold day in D.C. - if this is not a sign of climate change, I don't know what else is!
smittenbyu: (distraught)
on offshore drilling. For that oil to reach the gas tanks will take another 10 years. Of course, Congress still has to pass it for it actually take any effect. If it's passed States will individually get to decide. Alaska is just eagerly waiting for this. The proponents of this claim that if the bill passes, then there's a possibility of releasing petrol from the country's reserves. But this is all an ASSUMPTION. President Bush Jr didn't make any such suggestions. Just another political move. Ironically, it was his father who put the ban.

Oil companies have so many number of land leases for oil exploration which they are not using (as shown in the article). The proponents of lifting of the ban claim that the lands set for this don't necessarily have oil. Fine. Did they return the land then? They are just sitting on it.

Anyhow, even if it does get passed, we won't really see much of a difference. And lets see then what the proponents have to say. And fine you get more petrol. Then what? You are still sitting on the problem of pollution, recession, unemployment, health care problems and the list continues. OPEC will worry that their biggest buyer will not be buying and further increase its prices or reduce its supply (this was one of their concerns when the US & UN asked them to increase production). What a solution!

Folks, it's all getting interesting for us.


Apr. 21st, 2008 11:32 am
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I ran jogged 1.5 miles (2.25km) today with just one 3 minute break (brisk walk) in the middle! yay! Alright, this also shows I haven't been too regular at the gym. :X But it's still feels good to be able to do that. I need to work on the pace though. My goal is to keep up with hubby when we go jogging out in the park when the weather gets better.

I am hungry.

The weather is getting warmer and some evenings just before the night cools down, it gets unbearably warm. So we bought a fan last week! It was just in time! We have air-con unit that's just the heater emitting cold air. Neither of us is a fan of AC anyhow! And I saw the amount of dust that has collected in the unit when the maintenance guys came to change filters, I am now afraid to use it!

Yesterday was Earth Day at the National Mall. But it poured so heavily, I did not go. Tomorrow is the actual day celebrating the Earth or mourning its slow demise*, whichever way you look at it.

The trees are even more abundant with leaves this week. It's amazing to see the change each day!

I am hungry.

There is so much to do. I must get on with things!

* I don't actually think it's dying, but it's changing, which is perfectly fine for the planet. It has seen drastic changes for many millions of years. It's human survival with the changes that's the issue at hand.
smittenbyu: (thinking)
Tuesday, March 11 was the launch of the 16th Annual Environmental Film Festival at the Nation's Capital. We went to watch the world premier of Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives: Environmental Footprint of War.

When we make war, we destroy not only the enemy, we destroy our earth as well. In all its stages - from the production of weapons through combat to clean up - war entails actions that pollute land, air and water, destroy biodiversity and drain natural resources. Yet the environmental damage caused by war (and preparations for war) is underreported, even ignored. The environment is war's silent casualty. Using specialist and eyewitness accounts from Vietnam and Afghanistan to Australia and the Pacific Islands and supported by on-site and archival footage, Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives shows how war and preparations for war further compromise the environmental health of a planet already under stress from massive population increases, unsustainable demands on natural resources, and ruinous environmental practices. In the context of today's growing awareness and alarm about global climate change, the film shows that natural security (the protection and preservation of ecosystems) is an essential component of any realistic approach to national security. Directed and produced by Alice and Lincoln Day and VideoTakes, Inc.
Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives: Environmental Footprint of War"

The movie was made by two of the board members of the Film Festival who have been members for a bit over 15 years now. This was due to the lack of adequate coverage on the subject not only by the film festival but also by media in general. They couldn't be further from the truth. We have witnessed the burning oil fields during the Gulf War, the intentional oil spills in Lebanon, the nuclear testing in the Bikini islands in the Pacific, the deforestation of Vietnam during the Vietnam war, and the list continues for pages and pages. The destruction might be at as large a scale as the dropping of the nuclear bomb to a "small" bombing on the streets of Baghdad or NYC. The environment is always the silent victim as portrayed so well in the movie. Ultimately it's the people's lives & health that is deeply affected.

The movie also focuses on the military spending! It's outrageous! It's beyond outrageous. The world spends $1.5 trillion on military (and the US makes up 48% of the spending) and the spending continues to rise (one source). It's beyond baffling. This is of course nothing new. We know this. But what adds to the bafflement & bewilderment is Lester Brown's comment on how much it could potentially cost us to clean up the environment, address the poverty issues (healthcare, education, food, shelter) would be a whopping $160 billion! If I remember correctly, Bush's budget is asking for $900 billion in military spending with an amazing $70 billion in funds for alternative fuels & other environmental related issues.

Another point the movie made, was as each one of us has begun to feel the pinch due to oil prices, we must start looking at not the oil producers but also our own government's military oil consumption. An F-16 jet in 1 hour consumes oil, what an average American consumes in a year! So, increased spending in military also means further increase in oil consumption by the military and higher gas prices for us. On the side, US alternative to petrol is the addition of ethanol. ethanol's source is corn. Farmers earn more from sending their corn to this use than to food source. And we wonder why our food prices are going up. On a side note, there's another documentary (King Corn - You are What You Eat) coming up that looks at the abundant use of corn in our everyday foods. Foods that often are cheap and eaten by many who aren't well off and can't afford the healthier foods. Increases in food prices will further hurt the poor man/woman's pocket.

The film's solution to change is for us to be more active in politics. As it's the government that makes these decisions that affect us. The governments can afford to make the changes we need. Help to get their priorities straight. We should make better use of our rights of living in a democratic nations. We have the right to make sure candidates who make promises are held accountable after elections.

This movie specifically focuses on the US, but it's applicable to any country that has military budget.


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