July 2013

Ecology and Economics

The Philippines negotiator at a 2012 climate change conference is clearly affected by the reality of the impact of climate change on his own country.

A Guardian article give some additional information and a transcript of his speech:

When a senior diplomat at global talks breaks down in public, it is a signal that other countries must pay attention. It happens rarely, but it can have a dramatic effect.
On Thursday, it happened in a full plenary session of the COP18 climate talks at Doha.
Naderev Saño, the lead negotiator of the Philippines delegation, got halfway through his prepared statement and then stopped (video).
He wanted to relate the tortured negotiations to the tragedy unfolding in his own country when typhoon Bopha slammed into the island of Mindanao, killing hundreds of people and making thousands homeless. It was, he said, like hurricane Sandy which hit New York, Haiti and Cuba last month, a clear sign of climate change. No typhoon had ever come so far south, it was more intense than ever and one had not hit this region in many decades. Saño told the plenary session:
“As we sit here in these negotiations, even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising. There is massive and widespread devastation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered without homes. And the ordeal is far from over, as typhoon Bopha has regained some strength as it approaches another populated area in the western part of the Philippines.
“Madam chair, we have never had a typhoon like Bopha, which has wreaked havoc in a part of the country that has never seen a storm like this in half a century. And heartbreaking tragedies like this are not unique to the Philippines, because the whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confront these same realities.
“Madam chair, I speak on behalf of 100 million Filipinos, a quarter of a million of whom are eeking out a living working here in Qatar [as migrant labourers]. And I am making an urgent appeal, not as a negotiator, not as a leader of my delegation, but as a Filipino …”
At this point he broke down.
“I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.
“I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around. Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”
“Thank you madam chair.”
The hall rose and applauded.
Later I spoke to Saño, or “Yeb” as he is widely known. He said: “This was the 16th typhoon this year. It was particularly intense and uncharacteristic, struck the province of Davao Oriental. I know the area well. I have been there many times. Quite a few of our delegation have their families there.
“Each destructive typhoon season costs us 2% of our GDP, and the reconstruction costs a further 2%, which means we lose nearly 5% of our economy every year to storms. We have received no climate finance to adapt or to prepare ourselves for typhoons and other extreme weather we are now experiencing.

“We have not seen any money from the rich countries to help us to adapt. So more and more people die every year. I feel very frustrated. I was very emotional because it tears your heart out when you know your people are feeling the impact. We cannot go on like this. It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms.
“You feel frustrated when the UN process does not work. We always go to the brink in the negotiations. That is a bad sign. Climate change negotiations cannot be based on the way we currently measure progress. It is a clear sign of planetary and economic and environmental dysfunction.”

Looking around for more info I found an interesting article, on a Philippines website, that notes:

The whole world also has to rethink the present system of production and distribution which is not only wrecking havoc on our environment and causing climate change but also continues an unacceptable system of inequality that favors a few wealthy over millions of impoverished people.
The ethic and system to produce profit for a few will have to urgently give way to a world where production is geared for people’s welfare and needs, for immediate use, for immediate response to people’s basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
The present profit-oriented system will have to change as well to protect and preserve nature and our earth. Why must a few be allowed to continue to create poverty among people and destruction of our earth?

I haven’t found a site explaining the link between tornadoes and climate change. I don’t know the science but is important/urgent for me is the link between ecology and economics drawn by the writer of the aticle quoted.



I don’t want to make any judgement about this right now but breatharianism is intriguing, not just because going without food is remarkable in itself but because of what it implies about the nature of reality.

I met someone who claims to be a breatharian about a year ago but she didn’t talk too much about it. She didn’t want to be defined by it, it was just part of her life.

I have blogged about bretharianism, also called ‘inedia’ before; what seems a bit different about this guy, Kirby De Lanerolle. He , is that he claims to be able to teach breatharianism and he is young, handsome and more accessible to western sensibilities than people like Prahlad Jani. Kirby gave an interesting TED talk:

TED is a pretty mainstream media vehicle but it does allow non-mainstream speakers with disclaimers:

Note from TED: We’ve flagged this talk, which was filmed at an independent TEDx event, because it falls outside TED’s curatorial guidelines, by virtue of its questionable health advice. For example, it implies humans can gain adequate energy from air and sunlight instead of food, a claim which is not scientifically credible. Indeed it could cause harm if taken seriously.

What Kirby claims is beyond remarkable. He is saying that we can solve the food crisis by learning to live on air and love. There is a sense in which this is obscene; if it is possible to live without food why are people in parts of Africa starving to death? Surely something in them would have been triggered by the crisis of starvation. Kirby is either a liar, or he is one of a group of physiologically different humans who can go without food for extended amounts of time or he is telling the truth and we all have this hidden capability.


This documentary gives good background info on the conflict. It looks like there has been a long history of repression and violence with roots in sectarianism and economic injustice. On the one hand the Assad regime has been brutal in its suppression of opposition and on the other it has provided a framework of stability for a culturally divided people. While Assad has been heavy handed and his violence has been counter productive the US/UK calls for regime changing intervention are also heavy handed and would be counter productive here as they have been in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. What the documentary fails to mention is that the majority of Syrians, not just Alawites, prefer Assad on at least a ‘devil you know’ basis.

This is a BBC documentary but nothing here justifies, on humanitarian grounds, the rabid insistence of Cameron, Hague, Obama, et al, that Assad must go. There is however an explanation in that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and the US/UK share economic interests and political ideologies that put them at odds with the more secular and socialist governments in Syria, Gaddhfi’s Libya and Lebanon and with whatever Iran is. These powers are prepared to work with the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni extremists who have no love for them but hate what they see as the Sunni and Alawite ‘heretics’ with greater passion.

These days I’m finding that hour long documentaries test my attention span but we really should give time to understanding what motivates our government to violent interventions and the probable consequences of these interventions.

If a 12 Year Old Can Understand This …

This is a very special 12 year old. His understanding of the political situation in Egypt and the Middle East puts most adults to share. I was amused when the interviewer suggests that she doesn’t even know what a ‘fascist theocracy’ and the kid gives a concise and accurate definition.

As I said this kid is special, conscious and articulate he is performing above the expectation for someone his age. But what he is saying is not ‘rocket science’, why don’t more people in the UK realise that their government’s support for the insurgents in Syria is cynical and immoral?