Tuesday, April 17, 2012

MARLEY - Movie on the life of Bob Marley opens Friday April 20, 2012 in theatres and on-demand

Cannot wait to see this! From the movie website:
Bob Marley's universal appeal, impact on music history and role as a social and political prophet is both unique and unparalleled. MARLEY is the definitive life story of the musician, revolutionary, and legend, from his early days to his rise to international superstardom. Made with the support of the Marley family, the film features rare footage, incredible performances and revelatory interviews with the people that knew him best. Directed by Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland) ~ In theatres and on demand 4.20.2012 
From a Wall Street Journal interview with the director Kevin MacDonald:  
What is it about Bob Marley that has made him so enduringly popular more than 30 years after his death? 
I think the key for me to understanding him is that he’s really the only third-world superstar. Nobody from the developing world has ever gone on to have that level of fame and international success. The whole reason why dreadlocks are in fashion, that’s because of Bob. No country is as associated with a single individual as Jamaica is with Bob. Go anywhere around the world, especially in the developing world, and you find people who worship him. His mural is all over the place. Even in the Arab Spring, in the closing credits [of “Marley”] we have a clip of people singing “Get Up, Stand Up.” Then you have the whole musical thing—there’s nobody who doesn’t like Bob Marley’s music.

Friday, April 13, 2012

It's the Climate: Connect the Dots

Utterly brilliant 2 minute video brought to you by the folks that give a s&*% about what's happening to the earth, the climate, and whether there will even be a habitable earth 7 generations from now. Watch and join the Connect the Dots Climate Impacts Day action on May 5, 2012:

Invitation from Bill McKibben of 350.org:

Dear Friends

 Across the planet now we see ever more flood, ever more drought, ever more storms. People are dying, communities are being wrecked — the impacts we’re already witnessing from climate change are unlike anything we have seen before. 

 But because the globe is so big, it’s hard for most people to see that it’s all connected. That’s why, on May 5, we will Connect the Dots.

 In places from drought-stricken Mongolia to flood-stricken Thailand, from fire-ravaged Australia to Himalayan communities threatened by glacial melt, we will hold rallies reminding everyone what has happened in our neighborhoods. And at each of those rallies, from Kenya to Canada, from Vietnam to Vermont, someone will be holding a…dot. A huge black dot on a white banner, a “dot” of people holding hands, encircling a field where crops have dried up, a dot made of fabric and the picture taken from above — you get the idea. We’ll share those images the world around, to put a human face on climate change–we’ll hold up a mirror to the planet and force people to come face to face with the ravages of climate change. 

Anyone and everyone can participate in this day. Many of us do not live in Texas, the Philippines, or Ethiopia — places deeply affected by climate impacts. For those communities, there are countless ways to stand in solidarity with those on the front-lines of the climate crisis: some people will giving presentations in their communities about how to connect the dots. Others will do projects to demonstrate what sorts of climate impacts we can expect if the crisis is left unchecked. And still others of us will express our indignation to local media and politicians for failing to connect the dots in their coverage of “natural disasters.” 

However you choose to participate, your voice is needed in this fight — and you can sign up here: www.climatedots.org 

These will be beautiful events, we’re sure. But they will also have an edge. It’s important for all of us whose lives are being damaged to know that it’s right that we get a little angry at those forces causing this problem. The fossil fuel industry is at fault, and we have to make that clear. Our crew at 350.org will work hard to connect all these dots — literally — and weave them together to create a potent call to action, and we will channel that call directly to the people who need to hear it most. 

May 5 is coming soon; we need to work rapidly. Because climate change is bearing down on us, and we simply can’t wait. The world needs to understand what’s happening, and you’re the people who can tell them. 

Please join us–we need you to send the most important alarm humanity has ever heard: www.climatedots.org 

Onwards, 

Bill McKibben for the whole team at ClimateDots.org

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jamaica and Climate Change

Havendale flooding, Kingston, Jamaica ~ Tropical Storm Nicole

Hat-tip to our friends over at Green Antilles for the heads-up on this good article re-posted here from IPS News: 

Working to Cope with Climate Change, Jamaica Calculates Costs By Zadie Neufville KINGSTON, April 8, 2012 (IPS) -
Jamaican authorities are aiming to transform an island that experts say faces one of the worst climate risks in the world into a nation "equipped to prepare for and respond to the negative impacts of climate change". 

Vision 2030, the National Development Plan, offers strategies to simplify climate change adaptation, merging its principles with both development and local policy frameworks. Charting a course from 2010 to 2030, the plan aims for "a strong and stable economic foundation". 

Extreme events have had a significant impact on Jamaica's economy, environment and people. Five major storm events between 2004 and 2008 reportedly caused 1.2 billion U.S. dollars in losses and damage. 

Industries that suffer the brunt of each impact include agriculture, which reportedly employs 180,000 people; tourism, employing about 106,000; and fisheries, employing 100,000. 

Economists agree that in addition to exposing the country's lack of resources, adaptation planning has uncovered vulnerabilities in the financial sector. They also point to the need for sustainable financing for adaptation and risk reduction strategies – Jamaica's adaptation is being funded by grants, loans and donations from international bodies. 

Private sector risks:
 The burden of equipping Jamaica to adapt to the impact of climate change does not fall solely on the government. The private sector is also being urged to pay attention to areas where it is vulnerable. Insurance companies, for example, face risks that could cripple the financial sector, environmental economist Maurice Mason said. "Lack of adequate re- insurance means the financial sector is highly exposed," he warned. The economist noted that because businesses are grounded in stock returns, they seem to have overlooked the long-term planning necessary for climate change adaptation. In 2004, Dyoll Insurance Company collapsed after it amassed huge losses resulting from Hurricane Ivan's devastation of several countries and the Cayman Islands. Delayed compensation payments on crop insurance also drove many farmers out of business and hurt agro- processing companies. "With increased intensities and frequencies of hurricanes and storms predicted, the implications for loss are great for local insurers and their re- insurers," Mason concluded. 

"Adequate re-insurance options for local insurers and a reassessment of the triggers and parameters used" by the Caribbean Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), which provides risk insurance for Caribbean governments to cover damages from natural events, are needed, said environmental economist Maurice Mason. 

Vision 2030 is built into Jamaica's second national communication to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNCCC). Central to Vision 2030 are a national energy plan, plans for other sectors and a still incomplete climate change adaptation plan. 

 "Achieving a healthy natural environment" is one of the plan's four goals, as the vulnerable island is heavily reliant on natural resources. The plan's 15 outcomes incorporate the related themes of climate change and disaster risk reduction, tourism, manufacturing, environmental protection and sustainable planning. 

In drafting Vision 2030, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) sought input from Jamaicans from all walks of life. "If our ecosystem development does not allow people to live, they will work to destroy it," said PIOJ head Gladstone Hutchinson. 

Pointing to the necessity of a "strong focus" on improved environmental management, he noted, "dysfunction in any of these spheres will impact Vision 2030". 

 No place left untouched 

At risk are Kingston's commercial district and its service infrastructure, the historical town of Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport. Portmore, a settlement of more than 250,000 people, Jamaica's fastest growing town of Old Harbour Bay and the famous Negril are also threatened.

 Scientists at the Geo-Informatics Institute of the University of the West Indies predict sea level rise of a minimum two to three millimetres per year during the first half of this century. Such levels could affect an estimated 102 square kilometres in some of the most densely populated coastal areas. 

A one to two metre rise, the UWI study speculated, would devastate low-lying coastal areas and key installations, including major power generation facilities, the oil refinery, airports and seaports. It would also have a serious impact on the natural protection of the Kingston harbour. 

High engineering costs means there must be focus on improving access roads and shoring up the capability of response agencies, Mason, who works at the Disaster Risk Reduction Centre at the University of the West Indies, told IPS. 

"Where climate change is concerned, everything up to 10 meters is vulnerable. That will put all our critical facilities at risk, our transhipment port in Kingston, both major airports and the north coast - that is effectively 70 percent of our GDP," he said in a telephone interview. 

Protecting Jamaica from sea level rise will cost approximately 532 million U.S. dollars, using a 1992 estimated cost of 197 U.S. dollars per person, and even without estimating the impact on natural resources, costs have begun to add up. 

Raising about four kilometres of Palisadoes Road by just over three metres above sea level is estimated to cost 65.7 million dollars. The road links the airport and the town of Port Royal to the rest of the island. Recently, it has been blocked due to storm surges, marooning the historic town and airport. But experts also point to the need for reengineering works on roadways such as the main route from Kingston to the south coast. The main escape route for Portmore and other vulnerable communities, it becomes impassable during bad weather, and alternative routes are also prone to flooding and landslides. 

The U.N. Adaption Fund has approved funding for the construction of protective structures to halt the erosion of the world famous Negril Beach, a project with a 25 million dollar price tag. Experts estimate one to two metres of the beach is eroded each year. In 2010, the popular destination reportedly brought in a quarter of the island's 2 billion dollars in tourism earnings. 

Deploying natural resources 

PIOJ's Mary Gooden outlined adaptation strategies that include identifying alternative employment for communities where human activities are hurting forests and wetlands. "We have to teach them to protect the environment while living in it," she said noting that individuals are being helped to develop plans and proposals as well as access start-up funding. 

The Forestry Department has replanted more than 300,000 hectares of forests in degraded upper watershed areas to reduce run-off, erosion and silting of waterways. The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is restoring natural coastal defences by replanting mangrove trees in some of the island's most vulnerable communities. Mangroves absorb wave energy, thereby reducing impact on the land. They are also a source of fuel wood, animal feed and sticks to build fish pots. 

Vision 2030 places high priority on alternative sources of energy to mitigate climate change. Most of the island's energy generation facilities and supporting services lie within a 10-metre vulnerability zone. The energy plan hinges on the state-owned Wigton Wind Farm in central Jamaica. The facility has helped reduce Jamaica's oil purchasing, which topped 1.48 billion U.S. dollars between January and June 2011. The plan aims to reduce the amount of electricity generated from imported petroleum from 95 percent to 30 percent by 2030, with 15 percent from renewable energy by 2020. 

In order to lessen the impact of floods and droughts, artificial water recharge mechanisms that return excess water to natural underground storage systems are also being installed, as are rainwater catchment systems. Additional weather stations are also being set up to provide valuable data on rainfall and temperature.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Seeds of Light is building an Orphan Center in South Africa

I'm pleased to be supporting Seeds of Light as they embark on their biggest project yet: the building of an orphan center that will support hundreds of AIDS orphans in South Africa. From the Seeds of Light website:
Our approach is twofold. We take action with practical projects to support and uplift impoverished and marginalized communities such as : providing access to clean water; creating food gardens; improving overall health of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children; and preserving endangered species and ecosystems. We also offer a range of trainings to enhance life-skills.

Watch the latest update:
From the latest newsletter:

Several months ago we announced our plans to help build an orphan center, Ekurhuleni Center for Orphans and Vulnerable Children ("Place of Peace"), Seeds of Light's biggest project ever! The Center will feed and care for 300-500 AIDS orphans daily, and eventually will house some of the neediest of those children. In December, we were offered a matching grant from a U.S. foundation, and we are thrilled to say that we raised the full $45,000 match for the grant! Thank you for making that possible! Since we last wrote to you, there has been another very exciting development. The Foundation who sponsored the matching grant in November offered us an additional matching grant of $72,000. This means if we raise the full match, we will have a total of $145,000 needed to finish Phase 1 of the Orphan Center! Will you please help with a one-time donation or a monthly donation? Or would you be willing to organize a fundraiser of some kind--garage sale, bake sale, raffle, etc.?   

To get involved or join in supporting this great cause, please visit the Seeds of Light website.