Sold. Cape Verde Islands

December 18, 2018 by

The islands of Cape Verde are currently going through mass privatisations in sectors such as land, transport, electricity, water, communications, and beaches. The government of the Islands (GOCV) claim privatisation to be beneficial for the reduction of poverty on the Islands, however, the people disagree. Many people on the island have already lost their property and have been displaced with little or no compensation at all. Some inhabitants have been given solely a week notice, while the majority were not given any at all. The land has been enclosed and sold to the Italians and Spanish industries, including its’ beaches, meaning that local people are prohibited from enjoying the once public beaches.

The government denies the privatisations of the beaches, however, according to the local newspaper, A Semana, (The Week), they accept that the only access to these beaches are through private condominiums, adding that news properties owners have their own rights to expulse any non-residents from the beaches. Moreover, the government also recognise the massive enclosure taking place including the illegal events. They still claim the privatisation is beneficial to the development of the islands. The legal privatisation is labeled “Regulatory Capacity Building Project”. Along with the government, the World Bank report  supportively states the advantages of privatisation taking place in the Island, and they go further in stating:

“privatisation will alleviate poverty through the achievement of a higher, private sector-based economic growth and support the Cape Verde Governments (GOCV) policy of reducing the size of the state.  It will change its role from that of an implementor to one that provides an enabling environment necessary for private sector development –  and increasing private participation in key economic sectors including utilities, trade, and transport, through the development of effective policy and regulatory frameworks” (World Bank, 2018).

The newspaper A Semana states that privatisation only beneficial the government and its allies as the livelihood of the local people, which represents the 90 percent of the population of the archipelagos are far from improving. Many people are losing their houses in the name of development and are being displaced to remote areas without water or electricity, leaving them in a worse situation than before.

The privatisation of some airlines, such as the national airline the TACV has led to discontinued domestic services and now operates mainly internationally, limiting the movement of many within the Cape Verde archipelagos. Moreover, while the government argues that the privatisation serves to create more employment and better the economy such that the education and healthcare systems can be improved, their opposition and partnerships express the opposite view.

According to the partnerships, privatisation is intended to reduce staff numbers and other limiting factors that reduce their profit. So,  how will privatisation help or improve the livelihood of the local people if there clearly is a controversy between the government and their partnership? After many years of previous privatisation, the islands continues one of the poorest.  Its main source of sustainability still comes from tourism, which accounts for 80 percent with the next largest categories being fisheries and salt industries. 

Sources:

http://www.capeverde.com/capeverde.html

https://noticias.sapo.cv/actualidade/artigos/governo-diz-que-nao-ha-praias-privadas-em-cabo-verde

http://projects.worldbank.org/P055467/cape-verde-privatization-ta-project?lang=en

ttps://moguldom.com/139593/privatization-plan-cape-verde-national-airline/

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Permute or exchange among Mumuhuila tribe

December 18, 2018 by

Mumuhuila tribe also referred as Mwila or Mwela, are indigenes from Angola, living in  Huila, capital of Lubango.   – There is limited information about this tribe, yet I present my research in this article on these extraordinary people.

Mumuhuila is a semi-nomadic ethnic group who are descendants from Bantu people and are one of the earliest people to undertake the Great Bantu migration to domicile in their present location in Angola.

The Mumuhuila people are well known for their resistance to integrating to a ‘modern’ society, and famous for keeping to their traditions, exhibited by their hairstyles, unique way of putting up dresses and especially adorning their bodies with ornaments and jewelry. The women are particularly noticed for walking with nude breast, a tradition dating back to ancient times, which is often a cause of bullying and harassment from the non-Mumuhuila people during visits to other locations.

Mumuhuila people are the few indigenes that still exist in Angola, and among them are the Mucubals a subgroup of the Herero ethnic group that settled in Namibia, a province in Southern Angola, whom was originally from Kenya and are related to the Massais.  This subgroup is very similar to Mumuhuilasin their normalities and customs, alongside San peoples who are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa.

The Mumuhuila people remain living in isolation and have no governmental representation or anyone to represent them. Despite the injustice already embedded into the system of the country, from the government to the ordinary people, the Mumhuila face further abuse, due to their lack of underrepresentation. Nevertheless, their working life documents their independence and self-sustainability.

The Mumuhuila people generally have large cattle stocks, also including goat and fowl breeding. Their wealth is measured by the quantity of cattle one has, which enables the entitlement of men having more than one wife. Agriculture is their second main mode of sustainability; they cultivate mostly maize as well as other staple foods. They are also noted for bee-keeping to extract honey which is a major part of their diet. Interestingly, Mumuhuila people rarely eat meat, rather, they eat corn, porridge, honey, milk, and chicken. They kill their cattle only on special occasions, such as weddings or pubertal rituals. 

The Mumuhuila people also engage in market exchange amongst themselves where they exchange crops and livestock for items such as blankets, sugar, salt, cornmeal, and wine. They also trade with non-Mumuhuila markets where women sell traditional tea, hair ointments called ‘mumpeke’ and ‘ngundi. However, they rarely go to the “modern” or capitalist markets, only in extreme cases, usually due to implications faced by modern society. Their main source of sustainability come from their own production. 

Source:

https://kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com/2013/08/mwila-mwelamumuhuila-people-africas.html

http://streamafrica.com/culture/history-bantu-people/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13036732

http://www.welcometoangola.co.ao/_mucubal_people

http://streamafrica.com/culture/history-bantu-people/

https://kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com/2013/08/mwila-mwelamumuhuila-people-africas.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13036732

Syrian Civil Defense- The Heroes

December 17, 2018 by

SCD

 

In the start of the Revolution in Syria, after a lot of demises due to regime air strikes on the areas held by the opposition, the untrained volunteers from the civilians would try to save the injured people taking them from debris for treatment to save them. Therefore, most of the injured died due to suffocation because the volunteers were untrained, delaying in the removal of the debris and also they committed some severe mistakes during their way for treatment to medical centres.

 

At the end of 2013, youths of Syria in the Aleppo province started to develop the volunteering team of a civilian in the areas outside of the regime control to assist the civilian and also rescuing the people who were trapped in the debris. After acquiring more experience, this youth organisation also expanded their volunteer work to other areas that were controlled by the opposition in Syria. They named their organisation as, “Syria Civil Defense” in 25th of October 2015. During the first meeting of this organization, they identified their goals and confirmed that “Great victory is in saving one life.” As their Motto a verse from the Holy Quran was selected by this youth organisation, “{and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind}”.

 

Abdulaziz al-Maghreby, the first director of the Syria Civil Defense in Aleppo, recollected the initial days of the organization’s work, the increased sufferings of those days and the reasons behind the foundation of the organisation, ““I used to see people suffering, using shovels and simple tools to extract those stranded after the bombings. They rarely emerged from the rubble alive, and many of those trapped died from suffocation after the collapses. This increased my conviction that a fully equipped and trained civil defence team should be established, capable of rescuing people as quickly as possible”.

 

“Training, the requirement of the equipment, fundraising were the major issues and challenge,” stated by the Maghreby. At the foundation of this organisation, the Syrian Civil Defense was unable to respond at a time on more than one place. The ideas of the Maghreby had mostly centred the risk of failure of the requirements of the inability of the group, particularly when employees were working for six months without their payments; these were the days when they were not covered by the Interim Government.

 

The International organisations and the Interim government were the major support for the projects of this organisation, counting the ARK organisation that started supporting the Syria Civil Defense in 2014 with various heavy sized equipment. The Team members were also trained by the “Mayday, an international organisation” for the operations of the higher level of professionalism. In the same time, Ambulances were provided by the Chemonics. Furthermore, Al-Khaled paid thanks to all these organisations for their support in their mission to save several lives from the attack.

 

Moreover, Al-Khaled added that this organization expanded its functions also for example, the organization focused also on the issuance of the alert warnings regarding the potential threats and attacks, rescue and searching operations in the residential areas, including their evacuations from the areas of combating, securing graves in the time of emergency and also firefighting.

 

In spite of these all constructive and developing works by this organisation, most of the Syrian areas were unable to benefit from the training, support, materials as an aid that was also the same case with Aleppo. The members of the organisations were unable to be properly trained because they were unable to leave their living areas, therefore in most of the rural parts of the Damascus and Homs, the Civil Defense suffered from a lot of difficulties in the provision of training to their members. That also became a reason that most of the group members started leaving groups for the provision of training to other volunteers’ centre that was constructed in the besieged areas on first aid, firefighting and rescuing people from the rubble.

 

Presently, more than two years have been completed by the Civil Defense for their operations in Syria. Furthermore, the Syrian Civil Defense has expanded to eight other provinces of Syria and established 104 new centres across Syria. As per the words of the director of the Syrian Civil Defense, from their establishment, the volunteers of this organisation have saved and rescued more than 50, 000 victims that were trapped in the war zone and debris due to huge bombings in the areas of the opposition. Moreover, this organisation has adopted the laws and the terms of enrollment for the volunteers across the country. It has taken the structure of the institution and administrative.

In Angola, better livelihood to people means privatisation of public sectors

December 17, 2018 by

The president of Angola,  Joao Lourenco,  who replaced the former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos in September 2018, after his ruling of 38 years, in his campaign, he states that “We are the guarantors of development and progress, we create new jobs, and we improve the health and school systems”.  This suggests he wants to privatise most of the public sector, and potentially leave people in worse off situations than before.

On 12 of December, just two days ago, a prospectus has been approved to privatise 74 companies over the next few years.This means that the president will be selling 74 companies, mostly in the industrial sector, however, there has been no official disclosure of the companies to be sold, the cost, or whom the companies shall be sold to. Nevertheless, the president claims that the privatisation of these companies will improve the economy of Angola and justifies this by stating “the companies to be privatise are not required to remain under public ownership as a matter of policy should eventually be privatised”.

So far, the Port of Angola, VCI bank and the national carrier TAAG are already privatised. There is no visible evidence for the improvement of the economy from this privatisation event, that affected the livelihood of the people. Furthermore the over half the population continues to live under extreme poverty.  Improvements of better employment, healthcare and school systems that the president suggests will occur after privatisation has not been seen thus far. However, how privatisation would give employment to the local people, if the companies already privatised bring their own staff from abroad? The local people are left behind and only those with acquaintances inside the industries are lucky to be employed, those without any friends or acquaintances are left behind , despite less of the skills they may hold. The reality of Angola, is that too many privatisation and nothing of improvement. The population will continue suffering as “a reforming autocrats still an autocrat”. 

Sources:

http://tpa.sapo.ao/noticias/politica/lei-das-privatizacoes-reduz-peso-do-estado-na-economia

https://www.dw.com/en/who-is-angolas-new-president-joao-lourenco/a-40218458

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13036732

https://ophi.org.uk/ophi_stories/new-numbers-show-48-of-people-in-angola-are-poor-2/

The Pygmies, the oldest human being of Central Africa. Sustainability and Enclosure

December 17, 2018 by
The pygmies in the rain forest in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), going to hunt

                   The Pygmies in the rain forest of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

The Pygmy, otherwise known as “forest people”, are the first people of Central Africa, descended from the original Middle Stone Age population that lived in Africa 100,00 years ago; whom survived as an intact population until 800 years ago, until the farmer migrations from West Africa invaded their territory and split the population apart. The Pygmy at the same time are ancestors of Bantu peoples, who are found across Southern and Eastern Africa including; Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Angola, and by whom they are being marginalised.

The Pygmy are an egalitarian society and very pacifistic  people. In their traditional language has no word for war; they believe in peace and in the goodness of human kind and all the tools they make are for hunting purposes as they are traditionally hunter-gathering

The Pygmy have been living in the rain forest of the countries like Kenya, Republic of the Congo, South Africa and Angola for generations. They consider the forest as their world and their God they source of their existence, as  everything they need comes from the forest, livelihood, spiritual and physical needs.  The forest provide food, medicine and the tools they need to build their home, and because of their dependence on the forest, they respect deeply the forest, and say the forest and them are the same, they love the forest as their own body. 

The Pygmy hunt and gather almost on an everyday basis. They hunt a variety of game, both big and small animals, from small birds to cattle, water buffalo and elephants. Hunting is the men responsibility, however, the women and children also take part in directing the animals to the track of the men by making loud noises, clapping and screaming to scare the animal. They hunt using traditional methods such as, arrows, bows, spears and nets. In relation to gathering,  they  gather vast range of forest products, such as wild honey, roots and vegetables, which is the responsibility of women, likewise, men also take part.  For the Pygmy, there are no taboos for men and women to share roles or take part in the same responsibilities informally described for women or men. Everyone in the community contributes to their best ability, without the hierarchy sometimes found in a “modern” society.

The pygmy also exchange goods with their neighbours the village people, the Bantu to acquire cultivated foods and other material items. This, however, plays a small role in their overall ecosystem sustainability as they do much more to prevent conflict with village people. There are conflicts amongst the Pygmy and the general population, meaning that currently, they are being forced to leave the forest and are forbidden to return. They are being evicted without compensation, reparation or any concern for what will happen to them. This is because the government and other agencies including business people and NGOs consider their way of life outdated.  The forcible removal of The Pygmy and the privatisation of their land can be detrimental, and according to Jerome Lewis, a British anthropologist that has been working and living with the Pygmies since 1993, argues, “privatisation is not something that Pygmy hunter-gatherers have a firm sense of as they believing in sharing”.

In Rwanda, Congo and other parts of Africa, the government is selling the land that once belonged to the Pygmy and privatising it so that activities like logging and intensive bush-meat trading can occur. This leaves many Pygmy displaced, leaving them homeless and resorting to begging and selling their labour cheaply to survive. Often, they are exposed to long, unendurable workloads, where the majority often receive no payment and face enslavement. The situation of The Pygmy is deteriorating each day; they have no rights and a lack of representatives. If the situation continues, Jerome Lewis suggests that “the continent will lose an important part of its genetic and cultural history’.

Sources:

http://hraf.yale.edu/ehc/summaries/hunter-gatherers

https://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/pygmies/racism#actnow

https://www.voanews.com/a/pygmies-of-central-africa-driven-from-ancestral-jungles–119688109/159756.html

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2009/02/short-history-african-pygmies

Alaska’s Virtuous Rent

December 17, 2018 by

The definition of rent, if considered in the classical economic sense, is the regular payment for the use of any type of property, whether it be cars, housing or land. In terms of housing, it has become an intrinsic part of modern society, entirely controlled by local supply and demand. More and more people are having to rent property instead of purchasing it due to soaring home prices and higher mortgage rates that make monthly payments to buy higher than monthly payments to rent. This recent pattern is due to too much demand and too little supply. Although you could argue that wealth saved in renting rather than buying property can be reinvested elsewhere, home ownership has long been an important source of wealth for many households, creating mutual gains for both home buyers and sellers and contributing to the economy overall. Rent is considered unique in that it solely redistributes wealth rather than creating it.

The USA’s economy, the biggest in the world, is often seen as unrivalled and something to be emulated, reinforcing the notion that wealth is synonymous with happiness. It could be considered the ultimate example of how a hyper-capitalist society functions. Whilst the USA embodies prosperity, innovation and opportunity, it remains a nation with anomalously high levels of income inequality, maternal mortality rates and obesity for its measured level of development. As of 2015, 10 percent of Americans earned nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent. The healthcare system is dictated by the market leading to every aspect of healthcare being maximized for profit with Americans spending 80 percent more per capita on healthcare than Canadians do, for example. Prices for healthcare are exorbitant, and residents who fall into an income bracket not quite low enough to receive government-subsidised healthcare are affected the worst.

Another side-effect of rapid economic growth is pollution and the consequent disproportionate use of finite, global resources by countries such as China, the USA and India. If looked at through the lens of common resources, countries are not paying proportionately for the damage they are inflicting on the environment. Pollution and consumption of finite resources are outputs of activities whose negative and unavoidable effects cannot be confined to the countries that are creating them, bringing into question how we can keep all our activities and responsibilities, with their subsequent successes and failures, caged in our own constructed physical borders.

With the release of the IPCC’s most recent report on climate change, “Global Warming of 1.5C”, the world is starting to take notice more than ever before. Perhaps predictably however, the biggest oil-producing regions, Saudi Arabia, USA, Russia and Kuwait, all declined to fully endorse the U.N. report. At a pro-fossil fuel event in Poland last week, one of Donald Trump’s White House advisers stated, “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” underpinning the “profit at all costs” concept that capitalist society lives by.

One example of a positive response to the pitfalls of economic growth is Alaska’s virtuous rent. Since 1980, the Alaska Permanent Fund has capitalised upon the dividends from the state’s commonly owned resource- oil. The Alaska Constitution was amended to make sure that a certain percentage of profits from the oil went back into the local economy, paying between $1000 and $3269 per person. This could be seen as the price charged for the private use of a common asset, essentially making polluting activity more expensive and investing that wealth back into the local community. Consequently, Alaska has one of the highest median incomes in the USA and the lowest rates of poverty.

Using Alaska’s example to increase the occurrence of virtuous rent systems could lead to less wealth being concentrated at the top and more equality in our economic dealings, nationally and globally.

Agricultural Technology(Agri-tech) Changing the Face of Agro-investment Case Study: Nigeria’s Farmcrowdy

December 17, 2018 by

Agri-tech is the use of technology to improve and boost farming through informed observation, monitoring and analysis of weather, pests, soil and air temperature. Agri-tech conjointly includes the utilisation of mechanisation and applications that controls heaters, irrigation and the employment of pest management and control through aerosol release dissemination. The technologies and applications employs the utilisation of; drones, satellite photography and sensors, IoT-based detector networks, phase tracking, weather forecasts and intelligent computer code and software analysis for pest, infestation and disease prediction, soil management and alternative analytical tasks

Farmcrowdy is a Nigerian’s “First Digital Agricultural Platform that empowers rural farmers via offering them with improved seeds, farm inputs, education on modern farming techniques and gives a market for the sale in their farm produce. This gives the farmers the ability to farm more acres and through extension results in increased food production and security in Africa.”

Their aim is to impact on the collaborative food production and boost food security across continents with a mission  enable everyone participate in the achievement of global food security thus their motto Empowering Farmers Together, where they  will give full support to  farmers and work hand-in-hand with the  farm sponsors towards a future where everyone  can sustainably grow food for the future generation to feed from.

Farmcrowdy is a Nigerian agri-tech that organisation that is reforming and at the same time restructuring how individuals participate in farming and food production through networking on-line and mobile platforms, and predicts that a whole lot of additional Nigerians based  within the Diaspora would look into spending  their money into the country’s projected £30bn agricultural sector, due to the robust returns on investment, as well as the indisputable fact that technology is currently breaking down barriers to investment and engagement.

According to Onyeka Akumah, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder states that, “With the present climate of economic uncertainty hovering the United Kingdom with the likes of Brexit for instance, we have a tendency to feel it is vital that series of opportunities and different means of alternative investment is created and at the same time accessible. The United Kingdom is the home to over one million Nigerians, and with a multi-million pound of transferable funds in the remittance market, Nigerians living within the Diaspora will not only have the choice to send currency home to their families for their upkeeps but to also conjointly build their personal investment portfolios through investing in one of the country’s largest sectors.” No wonder the Britain is ranked the fourth largest streaming source of remittance within the world with Africans like Nigerians receiving more or less £4 billion in remittances annually.

In response and review to the previous problematic deploying of funds whereby investors were unable to track the progress of crops or their guarantee payments made, Farmcrowdy now provides a secured, trustworthy platform for interaction with farmers and sponsors  via mobile technology. This thereby enables Nigerians within Great Britain, and those within the Diaspora or anyone for that matter to invest within the country’s booming agricultural sector from the comfort of their homes.

The way it works is that Farmcrowdy an agric-tech platform offers Nigerians the chance to venture in and participate in agriculture by selecting what sort of farms they want to sponsor. Then Farmcrowdy uses the sponsor’s funds to; secure the land, have the farmer participate in the negotiation process, plant the seeds, insure the farmers and farm crop product, complete full farming cycle, sell the harvest produce and pay the farm sponsor a percentage of profit of the return  for their support and whilst this farming process is going on, the farm sponsors are able to keep track of the complete cycle by obtaining updates via in texts, photos and videos.

Farmcrowdy was launched in the African country of Nigeria in 2016 and as of the writing of this blog boasts of ten thousands of acres and seven thousands of signed up farmers across nine States in Africa’s most populous country. To-date, the platform has accumulated a robust active sponsor base totalling over one thousand sponsors, and total investments in more than £1,620,000 with a growing range of sponsors situated within the Great Britain, due to the Diaspora’s robust connections to African country like Nigeria.

Testimonial from Recipients

Adetunji Olusegun (Poultry Farmer, Ogun State)

Adetunji Olusegun is a farmer with a Poultry farm in Ogun State. He has been into poultry farming for over 17years. Farmcrowdy rescued their poultry farm which was about shutting down by providing them with the resources and skill needed to run the farm. They were able to get farm to its full capacity (20,000 birds)

 

Elizabeth Bassey-Bassey (Cassava Farmer, Akwa-Ibom State)

Elizabeth Bassey-Bassey is one of our female Cassava farmers from Akwa-Ibom state. She is an orphan whose dream is to study agriculture/practice agriculture. She is also focused on sponsoring her education up to masters level. Working with Farmcrowdy, is gradually making her independent enough to chase her dreams.

 

For more information why not log onto: https://www.farmcrowdy.com/

For more testimonies log onto: http://farmcrowdy.com/impact/

The Tragedy of the Commons in the Fish Market

December 16, 2018 by

overfishingThe idea of the commons is not a foreign concept nor a new one. Commoning has always been a part of the human existence and can be especially seen in most African cultures. A simple example would be how in most African cultures, common land was used by everyone without restrictions or any form of top down management, and yet no one abused that power or misused the resources.

Although the idea of the commons is appealing and seems like a system that cannot fail. Unfortunately in the fish Industry there has been many failures. Elinor Ostrom spoke and wrote of the tragedy of the commons. The tragedy of the commons according to Ostrom;

“arises when it is difficult and costly to exclude potential users from common-pool resources that yield finite flows of benefits, as a result of which those resources will be exhausted by rational, utility-maximizing individuals rather than conserved for the benefit of all.”

Simply put this means that people take advantage of the freedom to use common resources and instead of using only what they need. They start to take more than what is necessary and eventually the pool of resources runs out and there is nothing left for everyone to continue to use. The earth has the ability to keep reproducing a resource for centuries and unfortunately human beings believe that this reproduction is limitless and that as long as we continue to want to take. Then the earth with continue to produce. Unfortunately this reproduction as everything has a limit and a natural cycle. Which if this cycle is interrupted (i.e. humans taking from the earth), eventually the cycle will not be able to reproduce itself adequately enough to reach the needs of the human.

overfishing1This tragedy has been wide spread in the fish market and many Fisheries have been forced to close. One of the earliest example of this tragedy was with the Grand Banks of Newfoundland in Canada. In the 16th century there was such an abundance of Cod fish in this area. So much of an abundance that this was a fishing community and it is said there was a limitless supply of fish. It took 500 years for the effects of the greed of man to start to show. In the 20th century the fish supply began to dwindle because the fish were not able to reproduce themselves at the same pace the fishermen where fishing. In 1992 the fishery was closed due to the lack of fish that were now in that area.

In more resent years the same thing has happened in Britain with the North Sea and the Banning of Cod Fishing, In Asia the Philippines and China. A recent UN backed Report on Biodiversity stated that;

“Unsustainable aquaculture practices, overfishing and destructive harvesting, threaten coastal and marine ecosystems, with projections that, if current fishing practices continue, there will be no exploitable fish stocks in the region by 2048.”

This fish problem has clearly been going on for many centuries and as expected the general population seem to not be learning their lesson. So it is up to Government to stop this problem. But instead of Governments to have heeded the voices of scientists a long time ago they have been slow in their response and continue to be slow in their efforts thus the situation we are in today. I will close with the words of Robert Watson, the chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES);

“The time for action was yesterday or the day before,”

 

Bamboo Toothbrushes – a small step to eliminating daily toxic plastics?

December 16, 2018 by

We have  a huge plastic problem! It is literally everywhere and is a toxic problem as it is part of our daily lives.

Plastic pollution is an epidemic primarily because it never biodegrades and it never goes away. An astonishing 50% of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away. It is flooding our landfills, oceans and streets and does not solve the problem of long-term waste.

It’s also a huge problem for the health of wildlife, as many animals ingest it thinking it is food and can have problems thereafter breathing and digesting.

How do we make plastic more sustainable?

The bottom line is that there is simply too much plastic for our world to handle, and the problem is getting worse. Therefore today’s solution is less about recycling and more about minimizing plastic consumption and supporting brands that have innovative solutions to plastic production and waste.

Toothbrushes are detrimental too. 

If we listen to our dentists, we should replace them at least every three months. That means we all chuck 4 plastic toothbrushes into landfill each year because they aren’t recycled. That is 40 toothbrushes a decade. Say the average age we live to in the UK is 80 something. That’s around 320 plastic toothbrushes each, and then times that by 66 million. Feeling queasy yet and not just because maths makes your head hurt?

It takes about 200 to 400 years for a plastic toothbrush to actually decay, and scientifically plastic doesn’t decay. It just deforms and moves into either the soil level or the water level. So that’s 4 toothbrushes, per person per year, think about how many years worth of plastic each person is adding. So what’s a solution? Bamboo. 

Who would think, bamboo? If brands can work towards eliminating plastic straws, why not Toothbrushes?

Bamboo is sustainable because it is so fast growing, and it biodegrades. If it is a choice between a wooden handle and adding to the ever-growing pile of plastic toothbrushes in landfill I know what I’m choosing.

With plastic being such a massive detriment to society, switching out the first plastic thing you use in the morning, the toothbrush is a good approach for the average consumer to reduce plastic.

Bamboo toothbrushes are more expensive, in monetary terms alone. When you factor in the cost to the environment and the fact that plastic is made using oil, a non-renewable resource, the real cost of a plastic toothbrush becomes more apparent. If you are planning on bequeathing your plastic toothbrushes to your grandkids and they to their own grandkids, then you’ve eventually got your money’s worth environmentally speaking.

Switch to stainless steel bottles, and bamboo straws!

Grocery bags of course, there are so many natural options like Jute and Cotton bags.

Poland and climate change. Propaganda versus the truth

December 16, 2018 by

Poland has long been a place where environmental protection came second to economical growth. This year the world has been invited to the COP24 summit in Katowice, the capital of the coal industry, to discuss climate change. Twenty thousand delegates and many more around the world have seen this promotional video.

The two minute clip begins with a quotation from the author of “The Little Prince”, Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “We do not inherit the Earth from our fathers, we borrow it from our children“. So far, so good, you might think. But this is where the decent contents ends. What follows is a series of half-truths or outright lies, about a mystical land where the environment is a priority and so much is being done to create a sustainable future.

There is a country where the climate is consistently improving“, we hear. That’s an impossible claim, as the climate is getting unstable globally, without kind exceptions to its favourite places. Poland, like the whole world, is touched by climate changes, temperatures are rising and you can see the effects. 2015 was the warmest in the history since the measurements began; in early November this year, a historical temperature record was recorded this month; due to climate changes, heat waves will happen more often in the future and will be more intense. Probably the point is not that the climate is literally improving, but that the conditions that affect its change are improving – that is, greenhouse gas emissions are limited. However, in this sense it is also not true.

It’s a country that takes practical steps to reduce green gas emissions“, we hear, watching new trees pop up and animated central heaters changed for new shiny ones. Unfortunately, residential buildings are responsible for approx. 15 percent greenhouse gas emissions. 22 percent comes from industry and mining, and 39 percent from the energy sector. Thus, the energy industry has the greatest potential to reduce emissions. In addition, according to data from 2013, 76 percent fuel used in heating is coal. Total emissions are smaller today than those recorded in late 1980s, but this decline has already occurred during the political transformation, in early 1990s. According to the Energy Forum report, “emissions in Poland have been growing in the last four years”. In addition, “in 2016, Poland was the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases among EU countries”. In 2006 – 2016, greenhouse gas emissions per capita in Poland did not change significantly, while the EU average dropped.

We see renewable energy solutions – the wind turbines happily going round and solar panels gleaming in the sunshine, sending shiny new electricity down the network, while the voice in the background announces the implementation of “modern, environmentally friendly technologies to produce and save energy“. That’s false again. In a recent report, the Supreme Audit Office warned that “Poland’s achievement of the 15% target for the share of energy from renewable sources (RES) in total gross energy consumption in 2020 may be at risk.” The share of RES in energy production is falling – in 2016 it amounted to about 11% was the lowest since 2013. Poland is at the far end in terms of RES share. The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) is of the opinion that the authorities are guilty of this situation: “lack of a consistent state policy towards RES, delays in issuing executive regulations and lack of a stable and friendly legal environment”. In 2016 the number of applications for concessions for generating energy in RES decreased by 60 percent. According to SAO, the reason was limiting wind turbine use, introduced this year by the Wind Farms Act.

The dream country from the clip “promotes low-emission means of transport“. It is true that the government wants to promote electro-mobility. This year, a law was passed to regulate this sector and to introduce a framework and infrastructure for electric vehicles. However, it is not known how “promotion” will translate into reality. The government assumed that by 2025 there would be one million electric vehicles on Polish roads. The reality today is that in the first quarter of 2018, only 152 electric cars were registered in Poland. It is better with electric buses – there are about a hundred in Poland, and more are ordered. In this respect, we are oddly in the European lead. It is difficult to say whether this is the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. First of all, transport is responsible only for about 13 percent. Secondly, electricity driving cars or trains is, after all, produced mainly by coal-fired power plants.

It’s a country where sustainable forest management and care for nature help to absorb excess CO2 from the atmosphere“, claims the voice, but it’s not true that these are extremely important actions in reducing emissions. In 2016, forests in Poland consumed 9% carbon dioxide produced by us – about the same as the European average. Experts emphasize that the absorption of CO2 by forests is not enough to fight climate change. Currently, forests occupy 29 percent of the country. It’s believed that the most important is the preservation of old forests, mainly because they contain carbon resources, but also because tree farms have lower carbon storage capacity than natural forests. Meanwhile, only EU institutions have stopped current Polish government from intensive cuts in the primeval Białowieża Forest.

It’s a country where change is perceived as a change for a better future and where no-one is left behind“, we hear, watching coal miners turn into doctors, teachers, coaches, businessmen and chefs. Currently there is no programme for gaining new qualifications by the miners who leave the profession, and in about 20 years there haven’t been any other incentives either. Through empty promises, the government wants the miners to believe that their jobs are sustainable, while an estimate suggests that we’ll run out of coal in about 15 years’ time. That might be the only way to finally close the mines and push for better air to breathe for everyone.