Deemed future for Black Gold

Hailed as black gold in some quarters, fossil fuels are the Holy Grail most countries desire to have and gain control of. Their desire for control is fueled by their interest in the amount of money they stand to gain should they enter in the fossils fuels industry.

However, away from the conference rooms, economic power talks and stock markets, things are not as glossy as they seem. Communities are suffering from the effects of pollution from coal mines, oil spills kill sea life and taxpayers suffer the most when some individuals in the oil industry evade taxes through corrupt deals. Above all, there is an increase in the carbon footprints which stands to cause drastic climate change and as we know the effects of natural disasters are borne by the same community.

There can be a complete shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy and it is happening. Several civil society groups around the world are joining arms to pressure corporations and oil companies to keep their hands off fossil fuels. So far this month, there have been 20 escalating actions involving over 30,000 people in 6 continents. Their targets are coal fields, sand mines, corporations and banks to pressurize them into keeping their hands of fossil fuels.

It is beyond Africa

To highlight a few, in the Niger Delta actions were held in iconic locations. The action at Ogoniland demanded an urgent clean-up of decades old oil spills and underscore how it is possible for citizens to resist the power of the oil corporations, and keep their oil in the ground where it belongs. Another action was on the Atlantic coast, where Exxon’s offshore wells frequently leak, and impact fisheries and harm coastline communities’ livelihoods.

In Constitutional Hill, South Africa a speak out session brought together drought-affected communities and farmers from around South Africa after which they took to the streets in a bread march. Elsewhere in Johannesburg, a peaceful action was organized by break Free South Africa to demand response from the controversial Gupta family and their attempts to stifle voices speaking up against them.

Newcastle Coal Port, the world’s largest coal port was shut down for a day following protests from more than 2,000 people. While some blocked the harbor entrance, others blocked the critical railway crossing dressed as angels. In Lakewood Colorado, USA hundreds of people disrupted an auction selling off thousands of acres of public land for oil and gas drilling.

Youth in Kenya leading the way

Kenya is keen to be part of these actions too. Speaking on the interference of oil corporations in climate talks, Mr. Willice Onyango an official of International Youth Council says “Thanks to interference from big polluters, the Paris Agreement doesn’t go far enough to prevent the worst effects of climate change here in Kenya. We – the people, urge our government leaders to take action in Bonn, Germany to eliminate the primary obstacle to more ambitious and aggressive action by showing big polluters the door.”

This was ahead of a conference held by the same group on 19th May 2016 that has invited the Kenyan civil society to rally and demand that delegates to the UN climate treaty take decisive action to address the interference by fossil fuels industry on climate policy. Interesting discussions emerged from this conference. Communities at the centre-stage of climate change impacts and establishing population climate linkages at research level should be achieved.

It was an event on fossil fuel industry capture of climate policy and what we can do about it. Also present findings of the report entitled “Fueling the Fire” detailing the big corporations that bankrolled COP21 in Paris and call on a global investigation into the corporate capture of THE UNFCCC.

These events are part of a rapidly growing movement of people demanding that big polluters are removed from the climate policy making process. To date more than 570,000 people have joined the call, which was launched in May of 2015.

The train has already left the station and the effects of climate change policies are being felt by close to 50 major coal companies like Peabody Energy which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US. The fluctuating oil prices are also stocking the fire of energy transition and it will be very expensive for any country to rely on petroleum products for energy.

Kenya’s submissions to the UN ahead of the COP21 Summit in Paris promise to reduce carbon emissions by 2030. They plan to achieve this target by the expansion of solar, wind and geothermal power, increase in forest cover by 10% and a reduction on the reliance of wood fuel. This shows that even developing countries can develop without fossil fuels.

So far there has been an increase in solar panel installations through the Rural Electrification Programme and the Lake Turkana Wind Project is in the works. There are prospects of geothermal sources outside the Olkaria plant that are also being explored among other renewable energy sources that can contribute to the national power grid.

Anyone seeking to enter into the fossil fuel industry for business should rethink their decision because the future seems dark. The global actions are just the beginning of what seeks to put an end to the destruction caused by exploitation of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, as individuals we must do our part by engaging in small acts like planting trees and shifting to more renewable sources of energy like solar panels in our homes. At the end of the day the buck stops with us and our ability to resist these products.

(c) Courtesy of Ordia Akelo – Climate Trackers Writing Fellow

DJI Phantom Lion Rock Hong Kong 獅子山頂
I take the stairs in leaping bounds, ambitiously striding upwards two concrete blocks at a time. After the fifth spread-eagling leap, I’m feeling knackered as the lactic acid is already pumping through my legs, choking them. My heart is pumping, blood thundering in my ears, and my breath bursts forth stochastically. But I soldier on. Two others follow me, and it would be intolerable to allow them to see me pause for even a moments rest.

I glance up the mountain again. Beads of sweat refract the sunlight into my dilated pupils, exposed after having nestled in the recessed shelter under the brim of my blue Danish Emergency Management Agency hat. A droplet twinkles as it jingles on a stiff strand of brow hair. The hydrostatic tension binds it to my right eyebrow, before it begins gracefully plummeting…downwards…into my gaping eye.

Pain. Brief blindness. Severe blinking. And then it’s over – the stinging salt of the sweat diluted by the relative freshness of the tear it brought forth.

This was my last Sunday, a day much like any other in the past 3 months, and one (yet again) necessitating the issuance of the “Very Hot Weather Warning”, by the Hong Kong Observatory – our local meteorological watchdog.

“Such days are becoming increasingly frequent here in the former British colony turned “Special Administrative Region”, and even denim-clad local is beginning to take notice.”

My forebears (i.e. the “Rents”) are Brits, and as such I have had occasion to journey back to the Motherland, that far-off, yet well known little (series of) island(s) sometimes referred to as “Blighty”. And blighted they are – incessant rains, sleet, fog, mist, etc. Any type of drab weather, and the United Kingdom is plagued by it! Accordingly, a typical characteristic of any true Brit is upon meeting another, to instantly bemoan the awfulness of the weather on that day. These interchanges inevitably beginning with exclamations of “Oh dear! The weather today is truly dreadful. It’s just so [hot/wet/cold/dry]!” [insert the Queen’s voice]

Having escaped that particular monotonous litany of dull weather-bound conversation in Britain, as of two years ago, I now find myself entering into similar dialogues here…in a former British colony…

Apparently, there is no escaping your heritage!

This particular hot day, Sunday 19th July, marked the 8th event this year which exceeded the balmy 33°C, putting us three scorching days ahead of last year’s incidences, and presenting pretty clear evidence that our native newspapers’ headlines may not be quite as hyperbolic as some like to believe.

The most widely read English language paper, the South China Morning Post, cooed earlier in the year as “Hong Kong enjoy[ed] unseasonably warm, dry weather in April”…unfortunately, this soon gave way to “More Hong Kong hill fires reported after hottest Ching Ming festival on record”. And as time has marched on “Up to seven typhoons and a hot 2015” has been heralded, and subsequently substantiated by “Hong Kong’s record heat likely to stay on the boil after hottest June in a century”. And it’s true. We are currently experiencing the hottest conditions in Hong Kong that we have ever had to contend with…at least since records began in 1884.

Plagiarising the Hong Kong Observatory verbatim, this month “the monthly mean temperature of 29.7°C was 1.8°C above the normal figure of 27.9°C and broke the previous record of 29.0°C set in 2014 by a wide margin of 0.7°C.”

“Compounding such temperatures, which admittedly pale in comparison with the heatwave in India in May, which killed over 2,500 as night temperatures exceeded 37°C (blood-boiling conditions) and as roads melted under the 48°C days, is the high humidity.”

According to the (hopefully) reliable ““, the last time I checked, under conditions of 31°C and 73% humidity, the “Real Feel” was more akin to 44°C…At the time, I certainly thought that assessment was accurate, as yet more sweat droplets beaded, dripped, and flowed in rivulets down the lightly creased, and bearded contours of my face…again pooling in the arches of brow en route!

There is a near endless stream of information and opinion (and sweat) I could espouse on the rising temperatures we are facing just here in our urbanised domain, but I’ll reign myself in here…and leave more thoughts for another day!

Courtesy of:

Sam Inglis MSc
Associate in Hong Kong
Odyssey Books & Maps

We are all standing on this ice sheet that is susceptible to the weight of over seven billion. The hole up North sends a shiver through our skin. I see twenty five showered in their warm clothing. What about the seventy one of us? Where will our warmth come from?

Down South, the friction crack is deep on this side of film crust. What did they do to expose feeble life to this worrisome and sleep depriving crack? Moreover, she has to worry of where or when her next plate of rice will be found. Forget about disappearing flows of life that nourish this ice sheet. They say the South has surpassed its carrying capacity and they are too many on this side. But they do not have what North has. I walk on bare foot while he drives this monster that guzzles the underneath precious. He prides of his inventions that block the sun shine to our faces. We can’t even recall memories of clear sunrise or set. Why was he created and invented all this blood sucking calculus around us.

I hear him whisper on other side of the fence, “They have too much space, why don’t we exchange our time on our side with theirs”. We can’t pretend no more this hole on our side will swallow us – take our children’s play fields away and next they will be force to live on manufactured ice-lining to cover numerous foreseeable holes.

option1Yes, you see how they are well armed to kill us. Let’s dump this polythene bag here and see if they will cross over to pick. This side of the friction crack is care free – we did not cause the hole and this crack too. I see heaps of rubbish and throat chocking odor. I have stomach upsets due to infiltrated filth in my only cup of life. I take this glass of wine where we all meet. Our social plus spiritual-cultural divide seems to have overtaken our interests to hold this champagne glass on this ecological space. In my eyes it looks like the top – have it, and between stands great narrow divide with wide base of – have not.

I feel some breeze sweeping the snow dust on my worn out feet. I am in a siesta and through this eye I see two inverted glass cups similar to those of champagne glass. Slowly, the dust gathers into the top cup. It looks like one side is full and the other empty. A vine tree with degenerating growth is what I see. Equality my heart jumps, both glass cups are half full but the lower one seems to increase. I can hear a voice whisper through this glass cups let’s pull the curtains down. There will be no moment like this again.

It seems everyone overheard the whisper. Woken up by this confusion, someone stepped on me, they are running and she is crying what we will do. The glasses seem to be getting closer to our helter scepter life. This breeze is gradual pulling my arm up similar to magical robes. I can’t reach the two glass cups. In her little angel strength she tries to hold me up. Where is everyone? I am at the verge of falling through the friction crack. Their mass on one side may save me. It is like a slow heavy jack lifting me and only to about touch this glass cups. The full one tilts to the top and I see snow dust slip to the lower side. I hear a cheer, like a triumphant army trudging through the well cared fields and consciously placed huts.

United they narrate of being sandwiched with these nearly divided ice plates. Imagine being buried within these plates and sink down in this sludge of misconducts. You saved us but I harshly say no – don’t you see the friction crack is now no more. It will recur if we do not take time to take care of it. Let us uphold Una Terra, Una Famiglia Umana spirit – Italian words for one planet one human family.

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