Climate Disruption: Thought of the Week

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Ripasso Energy Solar Electricity System

Ripasso 100-square-meter mirror dishes
Testing in Kalahari Desert – South Africa
Photo Credit: Ripasso Energy

World’s Most Efficient Solar Electricity System?

In South Africa’s Kalahari desert, Swedish company Ripasso Energy is testing its new small-scale concentrated solar energy system which directly converts 32% of the sun’s energy hitting the mirrors to grid-available electric power, compared to roughly half that for standard solar panels.
~ Could this be the world’s most efficient solar electricity system? by Jeffrey Barbee, The Guardian, 13 May 2015.

Guyana Independence Day 2015: A New Beginning

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Dawn on the Rupununi River - Southern Guyana

Dawn on the Rupununi River – Southern Guyana
Photo Credit: Dagron Tours

On May 26, 2015, the people of Guyana will be celebrating their forty-ninth independence anniversary under the new leadership of a multiracial coalition government. After forty-nine years of racial divisive politics, the nation embarks on a new beginning of a more inclusive government.

At the recent swearing-in of eight Cabinet Ministers, Guyana’s newly-elected President David Granger told those present: “We are determined to bring good governance back to Guyana. We are determined to have a Cabinet which is committed to National Unity.”

As with several new beginnings, expectations run wild; dreams hang within reach like ripening fruit on a mango tree; hope is born anew.

Those of us who have entered adult life and have already experienced new beginnings as a married couple and as newbie parents know the challenges each new beginning brings to our lives. Empty nesters face yet another new beginning as a couple alone with each other after years of child-rearing.

Those of us who have been freed from an abusive relationship know that it takes years for the scars to heal and begin life anew. Some of us never heal and continue to carry the abuser – long after he’s dead and gone – chained to our ankles, poisoning our children and grandchildren who unwittingly drink our Kool-Aid. Those who refuse to drink our cyanide-laced brew suffer alienation or ostracism.

After forty-nine years of abuse and deprivations perpetrated by both the African and East Indian political parties, healing and working towards national unity is a tall order. It will take time. Change at the top comes from change below, with each individual. Freeing ourselves from the chains of mistrust, fear, and hatred requires courage, openness, acceptance, and a willingness to forgive.

Forgiveness is not forgetfulness. We must acknowledge the sins of the past. We must not forget, lest we fall prey to them again.

Changing the way we relate to each other is a daily and ongoing struggle. Believing that we can achieve the change we seek is the first step to realizing our goal. The people of Guyana who voted for change have already taken that first step. Winning the minds and hearts of those who don’t want change or who don’t believe that change is possible may take another forty-nine years or more.

New beginnings are fraught with naysayers – those who like to put their bad-mouth on every effort we make – and those with big-eye who want everything for themselves.

With just a little over a week since the new president was sworn in, a member of his six-party coalition has already aired his discontent with the president’s agenda.

Meanwhile, still refusing to accept defeat at the polls, the opposition is planning countrywide protests and compiling evidence to file an election petition challenging recent poll results.

It’s a New Day in Guyana. Now is the time. Believe.

A Happy Independence Day to all Guyanese at home and in the Diaspora!

Climate Disruption: Thought of the Week

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Caribbean Climate Change Summit - Martinique - 8 May 2015

Caribbean Climate Change Summit – Martinique – 8 May 2015
Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie addressing Summit
Photo Credit: Caribbean News Now!

Caribbean Leaders Sign Off on Climate Change Declaration

“We remain convinced that the global goal of limiting average temperature increase to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels is inadequate for protecting fragile ecosystems in SIDS [Small Island Developing States] from the adverse impacts of climate change, and that a target rate lower than 1.5°C would be more appropriate…”
~ Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, Chairman of the nine-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Caribbean Climate Change Summit, Fort de France, Martinique, 8 May 2015.

Guyana Elections 2015: Outgoing President Refused to Concede Defeat

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Executive President David Arthur Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo - Guyana Elections 2015

Executive President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo
Guyana Elections 2015
Photo Credit: Guyana Graphic

On Monday, 11 May 2015, the people of Guyana went to the polls to elect a new president and government. The following days were tense and frustrating for me as the ruling party refused to release the preliminary results, claiming irregularities in the electoral process – which, by the way, was conducted under their control – and demanded a full recount of the ballots.

With the nation in limbo awaiting results, Heads of Mission of the American, British, and Canadian diplomatic community in Guyana, joined by Guyana’s Private Sector Commission, issued a public declaration asserting that the alleged irregularities were unfounded and calling the elections “free and fair.”

On Friday, two days later, the Head of the European Union Delegation in Guyana supported the position of the ABC Heads of Mission and called on all political parties involved to address “any possible grievance through the channels established by the law.”

Finally, on Saturday, I could breathe again. The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) released the elections results: The multi-ethnic six-party coalition has won the elections with a narrow margin of 4,506 votes, giving them 33 seats of the 65 seats in the National Assembly. Retired Brigadier General David Arthur Granger is now Guyana’s eighth Executive President; Moses Nagamootoo is the Prime Minister Elect.

I should be jubilant. Together with 50.55 percent of the electorate, young Guyanese turned out to vote for an end to racial politics and work towards national unity and equality for all. But, in power since 1992, the incumbent party’s refusal to concede defeat has left me uneasy. Is this due to arrogance, entitlement, delusion, or power drunkenness?

Their refusal to concede defeat intimates to their majority East Indian supporters that the newly-elected government is illegitimate and will not have their interests at heart.

How will their stance affect the work of the newly-elected government in forging national unity and ending inequality among Guyanese of all ethnicities?

The road ahead for the people of Guyana will not be easy. Much needs to be done to bring about real change. Victory at the polls must be fought for each and every day going forward.

I cried with joy the day America elected its first black president. Today, over six years later, the struggle for real change for the 99 Percent continues.

No rest for the weary.

Climate Disruption – Thought of the Week

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Satellite Photo of the Amazon Rainforest - 31 July 2011

Satellite Photo of the Amazon Rainforest – July 31, 2011
Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Lungs of Our Planet are Dying

“Tropical rainforests have been popularly thought of as the “lungs” of the planet. Here, we show for the first time that during severe drought, the rate at which they “inhale” carbon through photosynthesis can decrease. This decreased uptake of carbon does not decrease growth rates but does mean an increase in tree deaths…”
~ Dr. Christopher Doughty, Lead Author of Research Paper “Drought impact on forest carbon dynamics and fluxes in Amazonia,” University of Oxford, UK.

Mothers Can Be Complicated

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Mother and Daughter - Abstract Painting by Marie Jamieson

Abstract Painting – Mother and Daughter – Ink on Heavy Paper
By Marie Jamieson

On this day in the United States and in some countries around the world, as we honor our mothers, I have to admit that mothers can be complicated. Happy the woman who has a loving relationship with her mother! I did once…before our thirty-year separation.

My mother migrated to the United States. I stayed behind in Guyana, got married, became a mother of two, and later migrated to Brazil. My mother and I became different individuals. Our values and priorities in life diverged. Continue reading

Climate Disruption: Thought of the Week

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Dutch government sued for climate action failure

Dutch government sued for climate action failure
Photo Credit: Urgenda, Netherlands

Landmark Dutch Lawsuit: The Urgenda Climate Case

The Urgenda Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the Dutch Government for not taking sufficient measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause dangerous climate change. The Urgenda Climate Case is the first case in Europe in which citizens attempt to hold a state responsible for its potentially devastating inaction.
~ The Urgenda Foundation, Netherlands

“In the Waters of Time” – Poetry by Brazilian Poet Flora Egídio Thomé

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Justice for Freddie Gray - Baltimore - USA

Justice for Freddie Gray – Victim of Police Brutality – Baltimore/USA – April 2015
Source: Common Dreams (Photo courtesy of Ryan Harvey)

As yet another African-American community erupts in the face of police brutality, I offer the poetic wisdom of Brazilian educator and poet, Flora Egídio Thomé (1930-2014). In my Poetry Corner May 2015, I feature six Haiku poems from her collection In the Waters of Time (Nas Águas do Tempo), published in 2002.

The title of her collection alludes to the fluidity of time.

Born in times of water
in the waters of time I am…
drifting alone.

Water gives life to our planet. The oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. Even our bodies are composed of water: 60 percent in adult men and 55 percent in adult women. Because of this life-giving water, we exist and experience time.
Continue reading

Climate Disruption: Thought of the Week

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Naomi Klein - This Changes Everything

Naomi Klein with front cover of her book, This Changes Everything
Photo Credit: Climate & Capitalism

Capitalism vs The Climate

Fundamentally, the task is to articulate not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy.
~ Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, Simon & Schuster, New York, USA, 2014

Success or Failure: Which is More Destructive?

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Feeding America - Map the Meal Gap - Food Insecurity in Your County

Feeding America – Map the Meal Gap – Food Insecurity in Your County
[Click on link below to view Interactive Map]
Source: Feeding America

Success or failure: which is more destructive? This is a question raised by Lao-tzu in the Tao Te Ching, simply translated as The Book of the Way. For a society that views success as a goal in life, such a question seems ridiculous. Coming from the Ancient Chinese philosopher, it’s a question that merits consideration.

Like me, I’m sure you’ve have your share of failure along this journey of life. The second novel I’m currently working on is inspired by a period along the way when I messed up big time. It changed the direction of my life, eventually bringing me to this place and moment in time.

Through our failures, we learn what works and what doesn’t. We become more discerning in our relationships. We grow. We become stronger as individuals. Sure, we can allow our failures to destroy us by taking refuge in alcohol, drugs, gambling, or some other self-destructive behavior.

In other words, our failures lead us to success. Seen in this way, failure and success are two sides of the same coin. We can’t have one without the other.

We all want success of some sort: the American Dream, financial security, status, fame. For writers, having a novel on the New York bestseller list would be a definite indication of success. The Pulitzer Prize would be the ultimate success! Some of us set our sights on being the next President of the United States.

Success is the pinnacle of a life well lived, of obstacles overcome, of rivals defeated. The scars, losses, and sacrifices along the way are all part of the game. But the price of success can lead to self-destruction.

Success with fame kills. I think of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Robin Williams. I’m sure you can think of many other celebrities whose lives were destroyed by fame.

Success with power corrupts. Corruption among the power elite on Wall Street, CEOs of transnational corporations, politicians, and world leaders has become endemic across our planet.

Humankind’s greatest success story is the progress we have made through industrialization and technological advancements. We have paid a steep price for the quality of life that our successful “free market” capitalist economies afford us. While enriching the lives of a few, our way of doing business has impoverished billions of people worldwide. In the United States, the world’s most successful economy, Feeding America provided 46.5 million hungry Americans with meals in 2014 (see captioned Map of Meal Gap).

Our exploitation of Earth’s natural resources is destroying the ecosystems on which we depend for our survival. Industries that maintain our comfortable lifestyles have disrupted the complex balance of our global climatic system.

The success of our global “free market” capitalist system of continual economic growth has been the most destructive force on our planet, for all living species, including our own.

If we are to change course, we will have to rethink the meaning of success in our individual lives.

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