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As climate change disrupts the annual monsoon, India must prepare (Commentary)

first_imgOver the past few decades, India’s total annual rainfall averages haven’t changed but the intensity of precipitation has increased as extreme weather events (EWEs) become more frequent and widespread. Today, the country witnesses more episodes of extremely heavy rainfall, as compared to the past’s consistent, well spread out seasonal rains.The nation’s meteorological department already admits that this is a clear impact of climate change. These intense storms pose a huge danger to India’s agriculture-based economy and to millions of farmers whose livelihoods still largely rely upon a consistent rainfall season. There are also periods of droughts interspersed with floods.The good news is that Indian authorities are aware of the change and are trying to tackle the impacts of shifting rainfall patterns and adapt to them.These extreme weather events are of global significance since more than 1.8 billion people live on the Indian subcontinent, and the impact in the South Asian region has economic fallout in other parts of the world. This post is a commentary. Views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. A house lies submerged in the flood-affected part of Kodagu in Karnataka, India. Image by Abhishek N. Chinnappa.From the time settled agriculture started on the Indian subcontinent millennia ago, farmers have been able to largely depend on the calendrical reliability of the monsoon rains to sustain crops. Every year, winds from the southwest picked up moisture from the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal, and delivered it as soaking rain over the land, spread out between June and September. Then, between October and December, the same winds returned from the northeast, carrying moisture to the eastern coastline.However, this consistent seasonal cycle has been disturbed in recent years, and has become a cause of great concern not only for India, but also other countries of the subcontinent, where 1.8 billion people live. The director-general of the India Meteorological Department has confirmed to Mongabay-India that the seasonal reliability of the annual monsoons has been changing. What used to be a steady combination of rains and sun is giving way to long periods of inadequate rainfall followed by intense rain; in short — drought and floods.For instance in 2019, in the state of Kerala, at the southwestern tip of the Indian peninsula, June and July were months of inadequate rains, followed by a burst of intense storms in early August, causing floods and landslides in northern districts. The Kodagu and Chikkamaguluru districts in Karnataka state, northeast of Kerala, saw the same pattern. Avalanche, a river valley in the Nilgiris Mountains of Tamil Nadu state, to the east, received more than 900 millimeters (35 inches) of rain in just one day.Mumbai, India’s commercial capital city, was flooded for weeks this year and saw bouts of intense rain following each other in quick succession. Eastward flowing rivers originating in the Western Ghats have seen increased flow and the western districts of Maharashtra, including Satara, Kolhapur and Sangli, have faced heavy floods and destruction. Northwards in Gujarat state, it was Vadodara and surrounding regions that endured the brunt of the deluge. To the north and northeast, there were floods in Himachal Pradesh, while parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and Assam states were also under water.Juxtaposed to all this, the reservoirs supplying drinking water to the southern city of Chennai ran dry this summer. Chennai had devastating floods in December 2015, and since then has not received sufficient rains in subsequent monsoons.While extreme weather is not new to the monsoon, the recurring fierce intensity of these widespread storms is novel. In recent years, extreme weather events (EWEs) have become more frequent, intense and widespread.For example, when Kerala flooded in August 2018, the rains led to a domino effect of disastrous impacts. Kerala’s people were taken by surprise last year, since the previous such event happened in 1924, nearly a century ago. But similar intense rains fell in August 2019 – just a year later. Kerala was spared the devastation of 2018 this time only because the brutal rain did not happen all over the state, and the monsoon had been deficient before the EWE.A massive rain-induced landslide in Kerala that resulted in multiple fatalities. Image by Jinu S. Raj.The monsoons drive the Indian economyThe newly erratic monsoons are having a serious impact on the Indian economy, especially at this time with the nation in an all-round economic slowdown. Currently, the contribution of agriculture to India’s total GDP is only 16 percent, having been reduced over recent decades, but farming still employs nearly half of the country’s population, so a bad monsoon has a multiplier effect that cuts across all other sectors.In fact, India’s business calendar begins with the southwest monsoon, as the festival season starts after the first harvest that these rains bring. As in ages past, if you have good, helpful rains, then a bountiful harvest is almost assured, which reflects in the joyousness of the annual festival, be it Diwali or Onam. But if there is drought or floods, then a pall is drawn over the festivities, and with it bad economic spill-over into the following months.A good harvest drives domestic consumption, that gives buoyancy to the festivals and impetus to the economy. People buy clothes, goods, tractors, motorcycles and cars during such periods. A bad harvest dulls this impetus, oftentimes leading into a downward economic spiral.The impact is worse when EWEs cause destruction of public and private property and assets, striking different parts of the country near-simultaneously. And of course, EWEs, bringing bad harvests, mean more human mortality and morbidity. Farmers, businesses and enterprises of all kinds find it difficult to recover after the severe economic shock brought by an EWE.Animals swim through floodwaters in an attempt to reach safer grounds during the floods in Assam. Image by the International Fund for Animal Welfare/Wildlife Trust of India.The Post Disaster Needs Assessment Report produced by the United Nations and Kerala government estimated the state’s economic loss after the August 2018 floods at rupees 310 billion (US$ 4.4 billion). This was a heavy blow for a small state with a meager tax base. Then came the floods of 2019 bringing more ruin, even before the earlier damage was repaired and people rehabilitated.The impact of an erratic monsoon on agriculture is direct. Between 50 to 60 percent of Indian agriculture is still rainfed, without access to any form of irrigation. This makes farmers vulnerable to any change in monsoonal patterns; they rely on the rainfall’s arrival date, its even spread and consistent quantity. If it is late, seeds fail to sprout and young shoots wither; if the rains come in excess, then the plants drown. By the time the soil dries out, the rains may end, exposing the crops to end-of-season drought.Add to this the problem of the use of hybrid seeds and improved varieties tailored to produce maximum yield for a specific rainfall pattern. When the rainfall pattern changes — as is happening more frequently now — the plants deliver inadequately.Traumatized over multiple crop failures, farmers and farm labor migrate to other parts of the country to pick up other jobs or work as construction labor. Then, when an EWE strikes their new destination, they return home doubly-traumatized. Some farmers, who opt not to leave their farms even after repeated crop failures and debts, end their lives in frustration at their own hand.A coffee estate submerged in the floodwaters of the Kaveri river in Kodagu district. A preliminary survey by authorities revealed that more than 102,034 hectares (252,131 acres) of coffee plantation were damaged. Photo by Abhishek N. Chinnappa.Is India prepared?Importantly, India is aware of the EWE issue at the national policy level, and so is working to adapt. The national Economic Survey 2017-18 had a whole chapter dedicated to the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture. The survey is the document that the Union Government prepares and publishes a day before the Union Budget is presented in the parliament, and it summarizes the economic outlook for the present and future.Using the India Meteorological Department data, the survey is detailed. It has noted the increases in average annual temperature between 1975 and 2015, and changes in average annual rainfall in the same period. The number of dry days (rainfall less than 1 millimeter in a day) and wet days (rainfall more than 80 millimeters in a day) has increased. The record clearly shows that over the past four decades India has become hotter, drier, and that EWEs have become more frequent.The inclusion of climate change in the economic survey developed out of shift in political position that India made after many years of international negotiations. Starting in 1992, India’s position focused on the common but differing national responsibilities of the “equity principle,” spelled out in the provisions of climate change convention. In short, the understanding then was that climate change is a process caused by the historical and present-day greenhouse gas emissions of developed nations, and that the ability to emit carbon and grow economically is an equitable need of a developing country, such as India.It was only in 2008 that India initiated its first significant policy initiative on climate change. That’s when the Manmohan Singh government constituted the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change and when the National Plan on Climate Change was unveiled.Despite India continuing to emphasize the equity principle at the annual UN Conference of Parties (COP) at Paris in December 2015, it communicated to the world then an ambitious intended nationally determined contribution to ameliorate climate change. In Paris, India committed that, by 2030, it would reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35 percent of the 2005 value; generate 40 percent of its power needs from renewable sources; and create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional reforestation and tree cover. Since the Paris COP, India has made good progress on the renewable energy front too.However, with the monsoons becoming erratic, India will need to do more, strengthening the climate resilience of its communities — whether they be rural villages, towns or cities. The development of effective policy planning will be especially dependent on scientific models that project scenarios at higher resolutions; at the state, district and local levels. The climate change scenarios developed by the Assessment 5 Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) only gives a South Asia-level climate change pathway, which is far too low in resolution to be useful for accurate forecasting.A dog stands amid the floodwaters of the Lakshmana Tirtha River in Hunsur, adjacent to Kodagu. Image by Abhishek N. Chinnappa.State action plans on climate change (SAPCC) were supposed to represent climate change scenarios at least up to the state level. But different states have developed SAPCCs of differing quality. While Tamil Nadu has been effective in developing a state-level projection through 2100, neighboring Kerala’s analysis has been found wanting in such granular data, and its action plan is still a work in progress.Without micro-level projections, mid- and long-term preparedness will be difficult. In recent terms, experience has shown again-and-again that preparedness plans are always seen to be lacking or insufficient when disaster strikes. Importantly, fine-tuned emergency drills will need to be developed and practiced at the local government level to protect people and property against EWEs.If India is able to begin dealing with present-day climate variability effectively, then it will be moving in the right direction to deal with future, intensifying EWE scenarios. As of now, climate change seems to have come knocking early, and there is no way of predicting with precision what path it will take in the coming decades. Preparedness is the best way forward.Banner image caption: People move through a flooded street in Kerala. Image by Vimith Shal.This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 300 news outlets worldwide to strengthen coverage of the climate story.  FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Adaptation, Adaptation To Climate Change, Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change And Extreme Weather, Climate Change Policy, climate policy, Climate Science, Disasters, Drought, Emission Reduction, Environment, Environmental Policy, Environmental Politics, Extreme Weather, Flooding, Global Environmental Crisis, Global Warming, Global Warming Mitigation, Green, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Impact Of Climate Change, Precipitation, United Nations center_img Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

Youth climate strikes sweep Asia ahead of UN Climate Action Summit

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Activism, Climate, Climate Activism, Climate Change, Climate Change And Extinction, Climate Change And Extreme Weather, Climate Change Policy, Climate Change Politics, Climate Justice, Extreme Weather, Global Warming, United Nations When Super-Hurricane Haiyan descended on the Philippines in 2013, it not only left behind more than 7,400 casualties and nearly $5 billion in destruction. It also helped birth a strong youth climate justice movement.That movement is now surging across Southeast Asia, with major climate strikes by students in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia on September 20.Such acts of defiance are not easy in Asia, where deference and obedience to parents and elders is deeply ingrained. But with the whole world at risk, Asia’s young people are in the streets and determined to save the future for their nations and themselves. Young social worker Marinel Ubaldo in a lone protest at Shell Philippines’ Manila headquarters, September 19, 2018. A victim of typhoon Haiyan, Ubaldo uses her voice to demand corporate accountability and push for stronger climate adaptation in high-risk communities. Image by Geric Cruz / Greenpeace Philippines.MANILA, the Philippines – In 2013, Marinel Ubaldo was just 16 years old and Matarinaw, her seaside village in Eastern Samar, was paradise. She considered herself a simple barrio lass who found contentment in collecting seashells for decorative uses and sea cucumbers for dinner. Sometimes, she went out onto the Pacific Ocean along with his father, a local fisherman. Life was simple, quiet, happy.She was aware, yet blissfully ignorant, of climate change.In that same year, Super-Hurricane Haiyan descended on the Philippines. It arrived on November 3 and left eight days later leaving behind at least 7,417 casualties, more than a thousand people missing and $4.9 billion in damages. The storm placed seven provinces under a state of disaster and caused a humanitarian crisis. The most ravaged areas were Samar and Leyte, where 90 percent of infrastructures and homes were flattened to the ground.Local and provincial governments assumed that Matarinaw had been blotted off the map, and with mountain boulders covering access roads, no help arrived. In the weeks that followed, Ubaldo and her family lived in forlorn hope on stray cans of sardines that washed ashore. She remembers the once blue sea of her childhood littered with corpses and the air reeking of rotting flesh. Whenever the winds growled, she shivered and cried. The slightest rainfall today has the same impact, making her uneasy.Yet Ubaldo carried inside her determination unusual in someone so young. “Haiyan changed my life and changed me,” she tells Mongabay. “I was forced to grow up. I felt helpless but I know I have to survive.”Youth from Thailand march to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, demanding that the Thai government prioritize climate change. Image by Climate Strike Thailand.Dedication to the climate crisisWithin a year, Ubaldo was devoting her time to learning more about climate change and its impacts – and what she could do on the ground as a social worker. Now age 22, she organized the Philippines first youth climate strike last May in Tacloban and with the same fervor, led the climate mobilization on September 20, 2019.“Climate justice has become my advocacy. It’s imbued in my heart, body and spirit,” she says. “I know I can change this reactive response to disasters and if policymakers are really concerned for our welfare, then they should listen.”The protest in Tacloban is part of Youth 4 Climate Philippines, a nationwide youth-led series of strikes buoyed by a shared love for the environment, and a common fear of climate change. It  is part of the Global Climate Strike movement, which in turn was inspired by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg. She will be leading a major student protest on September 23rd as the United Nations meets for its Climate Action Summit – an event where the world’s nations are supposed to increase their 2015 Paris Climate Agreement carbon reduction pledges.“Climate Change strikes hard, but the YOUTH will strike harder!” goes the group’s catchphrase “Let’s step up for the planet!” says another. The momentum, ignited by Thunberg’s original lone protest back home in Europe, has engaged Philippine youths in 28 locations to do the same: skip school to hold rallies, workshops and talks from September 20, and through the UN declared “Climate Week,” September 27.Artist Krishna Ariola merges her art with climate change advocacy. Hailing from Bacolod City, she painted her inspiration: fellow activists from Negros. One of her paintings carries this message: “You had your future, give us ours.” Image by Geric Cruz / Greenpeace Philippines.A personal battle for a global causeThe Philippines is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, and Ubaldo is among the thousands of youth who have experienced the catastrophic impacts first-hand. Their stories of survival have fueled staunch advocacy, imbued with the will to assure they never experience those horrors again.What frequently bogged them down at first was their strategy: How and where could they most effectively voice their advocacy? But after global calls for youth protest, they found many kindred spirits through Facebook. Since March 14, their page has received more than 5,000 likes and follows and resulted in the creation of sister pages.Their protests have also received blessings from adults, including education departments and some school heads. On September 17, the national education department issued a memorandum addressed to regional directors, school division superintendents and public and private school heads requesting that schools “excuse students who will be joining the localized climate strike provided that parental/legal guardian consent is given.”The Philippine Youth for Climate protests are anchored on six major demands: that the government declare a climate emergency; that the nation phase out coal and other fossil fuels in the energy supply chain; that it make a speedy transition to renewables that secure jobs and livelihoods; that it safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples and environment defenders; that it strengthen the country’s adaptation and resilience strategies; and that the Philippines government offer support for local climate solutions.These sweeping demands have fostered all manner of creative individual expression of protest among young participants. Krishna Ariola, 22, for example, used her skills as a watercolor artist as a means of demonstrating, and painted scenes of fellow youth in dissent against multinational company Shell, an oil and gas superpower.“I brought along my fellow youth advocates from Negros, using my hands [to relay] their messages!” she says, pointing to the faces in her artwork. “I’m not the only one with this message for Shell. We have had major wins fighting fossil fuels in Negros but that will amount to nothing if the bigger problem is not solved and that is … that major corporations like Shell should face the people and use their resources to mitigate climate change.”A vegetarian for 16 years, Ariola was raised in a family that was conscious of its carbon footprint. After college, she drew inspiration from “a circle of young, feisty … advocates,” and together they followed the activist path seeking climate justice.Acting now is important, says Ariola, as climate change will negatively impact the future of today’s youth. “We are young, we have dreams. Our parents did not nurture and send us to school for us to just protest every day,” she says. “But at this point, we don’t have a choice – what’s the point of studying and working hard if we die because of one typhoon?”Taking to the streets, however, poses high security risks in Negros, a fact of which Ariola and her group are aware. The island of Negros, in the major island group of Visayas, is a hotbed of civilian and activist killings – with 87 recorded deaths as of July. Seven military infantry battalions and 300 police forces are stationed on the island to quell public dissent.Ariola’s group is cautious but unstoppable. “We are careful because we are a youth group. But many sectors, including civil groups and the Church, are making sure that the youth’s voice is heard. Even if we want to rally and we can, we are looking out for the safety of our friends,” she says.The youth from Ilocos Norte protesting after a coastal clean-up. They’re part of Youth 4 Climate Philippines, which has carried out youth climate strikes in at least 27 locations around the country. Image by Youth 4 Climate Philippines.Stand up, Southeast Asia!The Philippines isn’t alone. The tide of youth revolution has reached the shores of other Southeast Asian countries. Climate strikes were initiated by female climate justice advocates and occurred on September 20 in Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia.The demonstrations, says organizer and Mongabay intern Nanticha Ocharoenchai, were a risk in themselves, as Asian cultures consider rallies to be “disrespectful to the elderly,” with parents and other elders often viewing such actions as unbecoming or even violent.“We get a lot of support from students in international schools, but not so much from Thai schools,” the 22-year-old communications graduate says. “Going to rallies is not a nice image. Students are not supposed to stand up… There’s a collective culture that values the hierarchy of seniority.”Ubaldo agrees: “As children, we’re always told that when older people are talking, we shouldn’t butt in. We have to be quiet and we just let them talk.”The Asian climate protests pose real risks for young people. For example, Thai schools conduct major annual examinations and some youth activists who attended May demonstrations were at risk of being suspended, which could affect their futures. But despite the risk, many volunteers are willing to join the dissent and add their voices to the fight.“If there’s no strike at all, that means that no one is demanding anything,” Ocharoenchai says. “At least [with the strike] Thailand has a representation. With this, we are creating awareness. We can do collective impact but in the end, it’s the government who would be responsible.”The youth activists Mongabay spoke with say that climate justice is at a tipping point in their regions, and they are hopeful that their voices, backed by collective mobilization, could make policymakers listen.Making the protests positive, rather than focusing on negativity, is thought to be a potential key to success. “Sometimes when we talk about climate change, there’s a lot of negativities,” Ocharoenchai says. “[I ask myself] Does what you do really matter? Will it really save us?”She found her answer while trekking in a Khao Luang National Park in Sukhothai last year. Surrounded by the verdant tree canopy which she adores, and viewing breathtaking expanses of mountain and sky, Ocharoenchai understood her mission: “Even if this is the last [natural place] left on earth, it’s worth protecting. It’s too beautiful and too precious to give up and I’m sure there’s more places like that on earth,” she concludes.For Ubaldo the motivation is different. “One day my nieces and nephews will get older and I will have children. When I tell them about climate change, I want … to narrate a story of how we [the youth] fought,” she says. “We stood up against it. We acted, we spoke up, we fought.”As heads of state, policymakers and stakeholders convene at the United Nations Climate Action Summit tomorrow, the youth of the world will be watching and they will be acting.Banner image caption: Climate strike in Manilla, the Philippines. Image by Climate Strike Manilla.This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 300 news outlets worldwide to strengthen coverage of the climate story.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)

first_imgArticle published by Rhett Butler Animals, China wildlife trade, China’s Demand For Resources, Conservation, Diseases, Environment, Infectious Wildlife Disease, Wildlife, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking, Zoonotic Diseases Princeton University professor of ecology, evolutionary biology, and public affairs David S. Wilcove argues that the coronavirus outbreak in China shows that the wildlife trade imperils more than animals: It puts people at risk of zoonotic diseases.What do the coronavirus, HIV, and the impending extinction of the world’s rhinoceroses have in common? The answer is that they are all a result of the wildlife trade, a rapidly growing, multi-billion-dollar enterprise that is driving species to extinction, damaging ecosystems, and—increasingly—threatening human health.What is most urgently needed is a change in cultural norms in cities around the world, especially in Asia and Africa: a recognition that keeping wild animals as pets or selling them for products (apart from sustainably caught seafood) is both a threat to the environment and to human health.This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. What do the coronavirus, HIV, and the impending extinction of the world’s rhinoceroses have in common? The answer is that they are all a result of the wildlife trade, a rapidly growing, multi-billion-dollar enterprise that is driving species to extinction, damaging ecosystems, and—increasingly—threatening human health.The coronavirus originated in a “seafood” market in Wuhan that sold much more than fish; Chinese authorities found everything from hedgehogs to wild boars to crocodiles for sale there, providing ideal conditions for viruses to jump to new hosts and, ultimately, to people. HIV can be traced to people killing and butchering chimpanzees for sale in the “bushmeat” trade. And all five of the world’s surviving rhinos face extinction as people hunt them for their horns, which are carved into status trinkets or ground up for their fictitious medicinal value.Market in China. Photo by Rhett A. Butler for MongabayA study published last fall in Science estimated that one in every four bird or mammal species on earth is caught up in the wildlife trade. Add the reptiles, amphibians, and tropical fish, and we are talking about thousands of species that are being taken from the wild and sold as food, pets, or products in legal and illegal markets around the world. The illegal component alone may be comparable in value to the trafficking of weapons or drugs.Scientists increasingly talk about an “empty forest” syndrome – seemingly intact tropical forests where the large mammals and birds have been hunted to extinction, and the desirable songbirds have been trapped for sale as pets. Unless this trade in wildlife is curbed, we face a future of accelerating animal extinctions, forests devoid of their important species, and, most alarmingly, disease epidemics. So, what can be done?Caged birds in Jakarta’s bird market. Photo by David Wilcove.There is an international treaty, the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), designed to prevent international commerce in endangered species. However, in a study we published last year, University of Chicago economist Eyal Frank and I showed that over a quarter of imperiled species caught up in the international wildlife trade have yet to be protected under CITES. The process for identifying and protecting such species must be expedited, and funding for enforcement of CITES must be increased.CITES can help to prevent the extinction of species traded between nations, but it is powerless to stop the domestic wildlife trade within nations. Yet a disease that originates in a market in Wuhan or in any city in any country can quickly become a global threat when an infected person boards a plane or train. The bottom line is that any country’s wildlife trade poses a threat to all countries.Wealthy countries like the United States can play a useful role without being seen as meddling in the affairs of other nations. Through foreign aid and technical assistance, we can help developing nations increase their food security, thereby reducing the need to consume wild animals. And we can help them to strengthen enforcement of their wildlife protection laws, while boosting our own customs inspections.Individual states can help, too. In December, Governor Cuomo signed into law the “Save Our Species Bill” that gives New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation the authority to ban trade in the state of any species (or parts thereof) it considers to be in danger of extinction.Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Rhinos are threatened by demand for their horn for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.But what is most urgently needed is a change in cultural norms in cities around the world, especially in Asia and Africa: a recognition that keeping wild animals as pets or selling them for products (apart from sustainably caught seafood) is both a threat to the environment and a threat to human health. This change has to come from within; it cannot be imposed by other countries.This will be an enormous challenge, but there are at least a few hopeful signs. In China, for example, the popularity of shark-fin soup, a delicacy that requires the killing of millions of sharks every year, has plummeted as younger people reject this destructive tradition. A well-crafted public relations campaign led by celebrities played an important role in changing attitudes.It will take countless more efforts like this to suppress the global wildlife trade. In the meantime, we are all at risk.David S. Wilcove is a professor of ecology, evolutionary biology, and public affairs at Princeton University.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.Conservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

[Luxembourg-Portugal] Objectif : éviter la 100e défaite au stade Barthel !

first_imgÉLIMINATOIRES DE L’EURO-2020 Le Luxembourg dispute dimanche la toute dernière rencontre éliminatoire de son histoire au stade Josy-Barthel. Il faut des adieux à la hauteur.Coquin de sort. Si les Roud Léiwen s’inclinent dimanche contre le Portugal, il s’agira, pile-poil, de la centième défaite de son histoire en match officiel de qualification. Des rencontres éliminatoires au Barthel, ils en ont disputé 120, entre Mondial, Euro, Nations League et JO et il n’y en aura jamais 122. Le nouveau stade national – qui n’a toujours pas de nom d’ailleurs – sera théoriquement prêt en mai et il faudrait un sacré retournement de situation pour que la prochaine campagne de Nations League ne reprenne pas là-bas en septembre.Il n’est pas exclu que l’on revienne fouler cette pelouse, malgré tout, en mars ou en juin. Il subsiste deux dates, en effet, en début d’année prochaine et juste avant l’Euro, le Grand-Duché devrait être sollicité par des équipes qualifiées, mais il ne s’agira plus que de matches amicaux dont on ne sait même pas s’ils permettront de dire adieu à ce monument du sport luxembourgeois aussi correctement que la visite du champion d’Europe portugais, ce dimanche. Et encore, pour l’heure, ces dates sont vides. Il faudra attendre la semaine prochaine pour savoir s’il y a la possibilité de trouver des adversaires alors que la Nations League 2019 verra elle se disputer ses matches couperets. Puis être soumis au bon vouloir des pays demandeurs au début de l’été. (Infographie : Le Quotidien. *= en coupe du monde, championnat d’Europe, Ligue des Nations, Jeux Olympiques).Le vieux Barthel a toutefois le droit de se dire que ses feux ne s’éteindront pas définitivement ce dimanche sur le coup de 18 h. La FLF reste en effet dans le flou sur la date exacte de livraison de son nouvel écrin et attendu que le parking situé à côté n’est pas, lui, dans les mêmes temps, il est inenvisageable d’y jouer avant le mois d’août. Encore faudra-t-il voir sous quelles conditions puisqu’il faudra deux matches tests au préalable, avant de l’ouvrir au grand public. L’un à vide (contre un club pro?), l’autre à jauge réduite. Il faudra y observer le comportement des différents équipements. De la sono, de l’éclairage, des entrées électroniques… Les stadiers doivent aussi se familiariser avec tout le côté sécuritaire du lieu.«Un pincement au cœur» pour Paul PhilippLe secrétariat fédéral a en tout cas reçu l’assurance de la Ville que son service des sports continuerait à œuvrer sur la pelouse ces prochains mois. Mais il n’empêche, en coulisses, on se prépare à dire adieu à l’édifice, qui porte sur lui les traces de plusieurs décennies de services.7 septembre 2012 : Romain Schneider et Paul Philipp lors des éliminatoires du mondial 2014. À l’époque, le Luxembourg s’était incliné 1-2 contre le Portugal. (Photo : archives lq/Julien Garroy)«Cela va me faire un pincement au cœur, avoue Paul Philipp. Je vais sûrement essayer d’aller m’asseoir une toute dernière fois sur le banc de touche, un jour où je serai seul. On s’est battus pour ce nouveau stade, mais une très grande partie de l’histoire du football luxembourgeois s’est écrite au Barthel. Il n’est pas encore prévu de muséifier une partie du matériel ou du lieu, mais vu que tout va disparaître pour créer un quartier résidentiel, il faudrait garder trace de la mémoire de l’endroit. J’y ai officié à 8 ans comme ramasseur de balles. Mes meilleurs souvenirs sont ici. C’est un crève-cœur.»J.M. et J.C. Partagerlast_img read more

Reyes quits national team, will focus on 2023 World Cup buildup

first_imgGilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netIt looks like coach Yeng Guiao will be handling Gilas Pilipinas for a longer time—perhaps even permanently.National coach Chot Reyes announced late Tuesday night that he was stepping down from his post as chief mentor of Gilas Pilipinas and will focus on building the team for the 2023 World Cup that the country is hosting.ADVERTISEMENT Reyes cited the PBA’s latest decision to provide the national team with a buffet of players as part of the reason why he decided to move on and focus on his different duties under the Manny V. Pangilinan group of companies.“Now that the PBA has opened its doors fully to the SBP and the national team, it is time for me to step aside and contribute in a different capacity, focusing on the 2023 program,” Reyes posted on his Twitter account (@coachot).FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissReyes had two stints at the helm of Gilas Pilipinas. His first stint ran from 2012 to 2014 before returning and taking Tab Baldwin’s spot in 2016.Under Reyes, the Philippines won the silver medal in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship and booked a ticket to the 2014 Fiba World Cup, a first in 40 years. But while Reyes had a lot of success with the Gilas program, his coaching tenure had been beset by several controversies too.Under him, the Philippines dropped to its lowest finish in the Asian Games when it placed seventh in Incheon in 2014, a stint remembered for Gilas Pilipinas shooting at Kazakhstan’s goal as it chased quotient.Reyes was also the head coach of the national team when it scuffled with Australia during their World Cup qualifying match on July 2 at Philippine Arena in Bulacan, a brawl that actually opened the window for Guiao on the Gilas bench.With Reyes fined heavily and suspended for that brawl, Guiao was tasked to handle Gilas Pilipinas for two Fiba qualifying windows.Guiao earned that shot after whipping a two-week-old squad reinforced by NBA standout Jordan Clarkson just five days before the tournament into a competitive team that finished fifth.ADVERTISEMENT Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew LATEST STORIES Gov’t to employ 6,000 displaced by Taal Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college Guiao’s stock rose even higher when the PBA opened its players for him to form a team for the two upcoming windows. Gilas Pilipinas will go into those games with 10 of its standouts also suspended because of the brawl.Players who hadn’t shown up for a Gilas Pilipinas practice joined Guiao’s training sessions at Meralco gym, enhancing the NLEX mentor’s reputation as a unifier of basketball’s oft-divided stakeholders.“Together with all the players & coaches who have sacrificed and put their careers on the line for flag & country, we wish coach Yeng and the current team great success, as they continue the World Cup journey. Once Gilas, always Gilas,” Reyes wrote.Guiao and the national team flew to Tehran to face Iran on Thursday for a World Cup qualifying showdown.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Japeth Aguilar embraces role, gets rewarded with Finals MVP plum Tim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew SEA Games 2019: No surprises as Gilas Pilipinas cruises to basketball gold PLAY LIST 06:27SEA Games 2019: No surprises as Gilas Pilipinas cruises to basketball gold00:50Trending Articles05:02SEA Games 2019: Philippines clinches historic gold in women’s basketball02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title Give Nietes due respect; no rematch, please Allen Durham still determined to help Meralco win 1st PBA title View commentslast_img read more

BC Government announces support for proposal of LNG ship-refuelling facility

first_imgVANCOUVER, B.C. – The B.C. Government has announced that it is joining the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and FortisBC to establish the first ship-to-ship LNG marine refuelling, or bunkering, service facility on the west coast of North America.According to the Government, the use of LNG to power the world’s ocean-going vessels is forecast to expand and B.C. is well-positioned to benefit from this growth.Premier John Horgan says establishing this facility will allow B.C. to have a direct impact on global emissions by reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from visiting vessels.- Advertisement -Horgan says it will also create more jobs and opportunities for British Columbians.“This will allow B.C. to have a direct impact on global emissions by reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from visiting vessels. Working together, we can meet the increasing global demand for energy solutions that reduce air pollution and protect our climate, while creating more jobs and opportunities for everyone in B.C.”Once the bunkering service is complete, it is estimated that it could have an annual economic impact of $930 million and facilitate about 3,170 full-time equivalent person years of employment.Advertisementlast_img read more

Warriors had the championship heart, just not the championship bodies

first_imgOAKLAND  — The Warriors fought to the end.Man, did they fight.They showed unspeakable tenacity, steely resolve, and an unquantifiable amount of heart. But they didn’t have enough soldiers to win the war.Stephen Curry had a chance to win it — a clean-as-you-could-expect look at the rim from behind the 3-point arc, but his shot in the final seconds clanked off the front of the rim. The Warriors had a chance to get the rebound — they scrambled on the floor, finally getting to the …last_img read more

Ferrari-Like Gears Move Your Muscles

first_img(Visited 85 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 A creative science reporter compares the “gears” of molecular motors in your muscle cells to those of high-performance cars.A short but potent article in PhysOrg, “A nano-gear in a nano-motor inside you,” describes dynein—a molecular motor that transports cargo in cells and helps muscles work.  In so doing, the reporter shows how nature outsmarted scientists who thought the motor was slow and inefficient.  First, the build-up sets the stage in hunting terms:To live is to move. You strike to swat that irritable mosquito, which skilfully evades the hand of death. How did that happen? Who moved your hand, and what saved the mosquito? Enter the Molecular Motors, nanoscale protein-machines in the muscles of your hand and wings of the mosquito. You need these motors to swat mosquitoes, blink your eyes, walk, eat, drink… just name it. Millions of motors tug as a team within your muscles, and you swat the mosquito. This is teamwork at its exquisite best.Zooming into the cell, the article describes how a scientists used to wonder why “nature” made a “counter-intuitive choice” to use dynein, a rather sluggish motor, instead of the more powerful kinesin.  By measuring the forces on dynein, a team at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), led by Dr. Roop Mallik, found the answer: dynein has gears.  Mallik explained,“Each dynein showed a special ability to shift gears, just like you shift gears in your car to go uphill. Therefore, each dynein in a team could speed up or slow down, depending how hard it was pulled back. This allowed the dyneins to bunch close together as they were pulling. The bunching helped dyneins to share their load equitably, and therefore work efficiently to generate large forces. Remarkably, motor-teams made up of another motor (called kinesin) which is much stronger than dynein, could not generate comparable forces. The reason? Well … you guessed it right. Kinesin does not have a gear!!“The double exclamation points put the delight in finding the answer.  “Because of this, dynein’s do much better at teamwork than other stronger motors that cannot change gears,” the article explained.  And even though dynein gears are orders of magnitude smaller than those on a performance car, the principle is the same:Taken together, these new studies show that Nature may have learnt how to use the gear in a motor much before we made our Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s. But, what boggles the mind is that dynein’s gear works on a size scale that is ten-million times smaller than the Ferrari’s gear.This led to a bit of debate in the comments about evolution vs. intelligent design, even though the article didn’t mention evolution.Evolutionists try to explain this by saying that natural selection uses whatever works, even if the design is inelegant.  But surely the key question is how did a molecular motor arise in the first place.  It would seem a diversity of motors for different purposes is a good design.  And if the reporter here thought of Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s by comparison, how can the Darwinist invoke blind natural selection?  From uniform experience, the only cause sufficient to arrange parts for gear-driven function is intelligence.  Animals as diverse as flies and mammals share the same motors in their respective muscles.  On the face of it, these considerations falsify neo-Darwinism, but Darwinians are clever.  They say that the common ancestor invented the motors, then they stayed the same for millions of years along different evolutionary branches.  They say,  “Nature evolves to the point of ‘good enough’.”  Such insufferable ingrates.  Say that to a Ferrari designer.Gimme that old time selection,Gimme that old time selection;Gimme that old blind selection;It’s good enough for me.It was good enough for Darwin,It was goody for Dobzhansky,It was good enough for Dawkins;It’s good enough for me.last_img read more

The bank that’s an art gallery

first_img31 December 2003You’ll have to remind yourself when you walk into Absa Towers North in Main Street in downtown Johannesburg that it’s actually a bank, not an art gallery – you’ll be overwhelmed by the spectacular original art in the building.There is a small art gallery in the building, but most of the artworks are housed in the offices and reception areas.It’s a wonderful space in which to display the artworks, and when the building was commissioned in 1999, the major artworks were commissioned at the same time, allowing the architects and artists to work together to ensure that the building accommodated the artworks perfectly.The Absa head office is on the east side of the city, and consists of four office towers. It’s a quiet side of the city, with a police satellite station positioned nearby. The streets linking the buildings have been pedestrianised and are linked by the Absa Square, a quiet space with benches and trees under which to relax and unwind.When you walk into North Towers, you’ll be struck by a huge colourful mural, by artist Karel Nel, entitled Place of Nurture. Ahead of you is an escalator positioned in a circular well, sparkling with aluminium and steel, and the promise of great things. As you get to the top of the escalator you’ll be dazzled by the huge six-storey open space in front of you, in neutral and clinical shades of whites, greys and metallics, with rows of windows, and large charcoal-coloured granite tiles on the floor.It’s the perfect setting for the six-storey tall tuft carpet banners by Norman Catherine, woven by rural men. There’s five of them and you’ll find it hard to pull your eyes away from them – they soar into the space, with 42 distinctive, square, colourful faces on each banner.When you do pull your eyes away, you’ll be drawn towards the 11-metre high untitled Walter Oltmann wire sculpture in a corner of the huge foyer, depicting replicas of carved African stools. It weighs half a ton and had special steel supports inserted into its middle to prevent it from sagging. It’s magnificent.And up the next escalator, and around a corner and through several doors, you’ll be knocked out by the huge metal Mobile City, created by Lewis Levin, Paul Cawood and Susan Woolf. It’s a mobile of the old city of Johannesburg and the newer, modern city, perfectly balanced and taking up two floors of space. It’s moving slowly, making a cycle every 20 minutes. It has a magical, enchanting quality that will make you want to linger.Absa describes these three works as the “three wonders of the world”, and it’s a fair description. But there are many more treasures to keep you enthralled.There’s the large tapestry panel by Andrew Verster, woven by rural women; a six-metre panel by Karel Nel; a five-panel work by Annette Pretorius, and other large works on every floor adjacent to the escalator.Every executive has an original artwork hanging on his or her office wall. These fortunate people can take time out from meetings and banking to marvel at Jacob Pierneef, Helen Sebidi, Irma Stern, Speelman Mahlangu, Walter Battiss, Anton van Wouw, Solomon Malope, Gregoire Boonzaier, Alexis Preller, Maud Sumner, Eli Kobeli, and Leonard Matsoso, among many others. What is Absa BankAbsa is an amalgamation of four banks: Volkskas, Allied, United and Trust, which took place in the early 1990s, and is now South Africa’s largest bank, employing 35 000 people. Volkskas had the largest art collection that formed the basis of today’s collection, which now numbers 20 000 works, valued conservatively at around R70-million.In previous years, R3.5-million was budgeted for the purchase of artworks. These days R100 000 is set aside for acquisitions, and Cecile Loedolff, manager of art and functions, has the enviable task of spending that money. She does this by keeping track of artists, visiting galleries and exhibitions, and has a panel and an external art adviser from Unisa to advise her on purchases.Loedolff believes that Absa has the largest corporate art collection in the world, all original and all South African, dating back to 1900. It’s a well-balanced collection, with all media represented. In some cases she has up to 40 works of certain artists.Loedolff is busy sifting out undesirable works in the collection, and has been selling prints and oils that don’t fit the profile of the collection. She has re-allocated 13 000 artworks around Absa’s countrywide branches.L’Atelier AwardAbsa encourages the development of artists in another, significant way: they sponsor the annual L’Atelier Award, which is the most lucrative and prestigious local art awards, co-organised by the South African National Association for the Visual Arts. It’s open to 21-35 year-olds, and the prize is R70 000, plus 3-6 months in an apartment in Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, an artists colony where the winner will mix and learn from novices and masters from around the world.The first winner of this Award, back in 1986, was Penny Siopsis, a major artist today. Other winners include Diane Victor, Isaac Khanyile, Paul Edmunds, and Virginia MacKenny.There are four merit award winners each year, who each receive R15 000.This year up to 600 entries were received, out of which the best 100 were selected, and reduced to the top 10 finalists, whose work is on display in the Absa Art Gallery. There’s a national selection panel, and the final judging takes place in Johannesburg. Over the past six years the winners have all been from Johannesburg.Tours of the Towers are conducted by Loedolff, by appointment. She says the collection has a world reputation, and tourists “can’t believe what we’ve got”.Does all this art make a difference to those working in this rarified environment? Yes, it seems so. There’s always an exhibition running on the first floor outside the open-plan and elegant canteen, overlooking the Catherine banners.A wonderful resource, not only for Absa employees but for the people who live in and visit Johannesburg.Source: City of Johannesburg website Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Making room for more corn

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Even with a glut of old crop corn in storage, news came out of the USDA Planting Intentions Report that corn production will not let up anytime soon.In order to see some relief from the lower markets, leftover corn and soybeans will have to go somewhere. Due to a number of factors both domestically and internationally, the possibilities are limited.“In the years to come we expect to see a flat volume of corn going into biofuels production,” said Pablo Sherwell, Senior Analyst of Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research Group. “The decline of Argentina’s Peso and Brazil’s Real is challenging the U.S. from a competitive standpoint in the world  market.”While views on the Trans Pacific Partnership differ inside the beltway, Sherwell believes that the deal will be beneficial for agriculture.“The key for agriculture’s success in the future is going to be finding new markets,” Sherwell said. “Especially with China decelerating with global soybean imports, something like the TPP will help to fill that void and keep U.S. exports moving.”The wildcard for U.S. corn, according to Sherwell, is going to be how much of the product can be used for the animal sector, which is expanding domestically.last_img read more