Monday, 30 September 2013

Angelina Jolie congratulates 2013 winner of UNHCRs Nansen Refugee Award

Ahead of the presentation of the 2013 Nansen Refugee Award to Sister
Angélique Namaika of the Democratic Republic of the Congo tonight in
Geneva, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie sent a message of
congratulations to the Roman Catholic nun and praised her for her
selfless work helping hundreds of female victims of violence, rape and
other abuse.   

“I warmly congratulate Sister Angélique Namaika, this year’s Nansen
Refugee Award laureate, for her outstanding and truly inspiring work to
support vulnerable displaced women and children in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo. The Nansen Refugee Award recognizes her
extraordinary contribution and the manner in which she has positively
impacted the lives of thousands of displaced people in the DRC.  Sister
Angélique’s work can also help to draw attention to the devastating
effects of rape and sexual violence and the need for justice and help
for survivors. The culture of impunity for sexual violence in conflict
must be challenged; for far too long it has been possible for rape to be
used as a weapon of war and for perpetrators to go unpunished. We need
global action to end war zone rape, and I call on governments around the
world to make this an urgent priority.” 

Sister Angélique was selected as the 2013 laureate in recognition of
her tireless efforts in north-east Democratic Republic of the Congo on
behalf of hundreds of women and girls displaced and abused by armed
groups – including the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, a rebel group
from Uganda. Through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, she
has helped transform the lives of more than 2,000 women and girls. Many
of them tell stories of abduction, forced labour, beatings, murder, rape
and other human rights abuses.

Sister Angélique was herself displaced by the violence in 2009 while
living in the small town of Dungu in Orientale province. She knows the
pain of fleeing one’s home. It is part of what drives her to work day
in and day out to reach all those in need.

The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony
The Nansen Refugee Award ceremony takes place in Geneva at
theBâtimentdesForces Motrices. The event will feature a keynote
speech from best-selling author Paulo Coelho and musical performances by
British singer-songwriter Dido, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna and
Grammy-nominated Malian musicians Amadou and Mariam.

Following the ceremony, Sister Angélique will travel to Rome, where she
will be received at the Vatican by Pope Francis on October 2 before
proceeding to Paris, Brussels and Oslo for other meetings.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Women of the World Call for Urgent Action on Climate Change and Sustainability Solutions.

The first International Women's Earth and Climate Summit was held in Suffern, NY from September 20- 23. With participants from 35 countries equally divided between the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The summit’s purpose, explained co-founder Osprey Orielle Lake, was to bring women together who are in strategic positions to implement the critical solutions that are needed to address the world’s pressing climate challenges.

"Nature will not wait while politicians debate," she stated.  "Women around the world are facing the impacts of a changing climate every day, and we are coming together to say 'Enough is enough' she said. “It is time for action that addresses the roots of this crisis and fosters just solutions."

Co-founder Sally Ranney said that not acting against climate change is “like sending a kid with 105 temperature off to school as if all is fine and damage won't be done. “

The participants shared their experiences and ideas on how to bring about change. Mirna Ines Fernández, Education Coordinator of the Bolivian Girl Guides Association, pointed out that the impacts of climate change disproportionately affect indigenous women and children and those from low-income communities.

Women are more reliant upon natural resources for their survival and/or live in areas that have poor infrastructure, which makes their communities particularly vulnerable. Drought, flooding, and unpredictable temperatures present difficult challenges for women who are responsible for providing food, water and firewood for their families, and their circumstances are only becoming more dire as no meaningful action is taken to stop climate change.

The delegates signed a letter calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, which states, "There is no single project in North America that is more significant than Keystone XL in terms of the carbon emissions it would unleash. As women who are already seeing the tragic impacts of climate change on families, on indigenous peoples, and on entire countries, we urge you to choose a better future by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline."

Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, Greenpeace campaigner Melina Laboucan-Massimo and author Tzeporah Berman are working to stop the development of the Alberta tar sands in Canada.

"The devastating impacts of the rapid expansion of the energy industry, as I recently witnessed in the tar sands of Alberta, has highlighted the need for our political representatives to pay attention to the concerns of women and their solutions for a sustainable future," said Williams.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo told the group, "There is nothing on earth that compares with the destruction going on there. If there were a global prize for unsustainable development, the tar sands would be a clear winner."  

After the conference, Tzeporah Berman talked to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, 
about what is going on in Canada and how it affects us all.

"These pipelines have provided a tangible focus for communities on the ground, and the oil industry and the government have, in a sense, created their own perfect storm. Because, while before it might have been people who were concerned about climate change that would get involved in tar sands or pipeline issues, now it is people worried about their groundwater It’s first nations and indigenous people across North America who are protesting their rights. It’s landowners. So, now you have this perfect storm."

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Twitter Goes Gaga as #OURNASS Protest Holds on 26th September in Abuja.

Tomorrow 26th September, 2013 has been set aside for a peaceful protest to be held in Abuja, to demand the National Assembly scorecard towards Nigeria's development.

The protest which is been organized by a coalition of different civil society organization, has education,health,budgetary allocation and implementation amongst other as it focus.

On twitter you can follow the conversation with the hashtag #OURNASS.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tobacco Money Worse Than Blood Diamonds, Groups Warn Fashola

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) have condemned the celebratory reception accorded the Managing Director of British American Tobacco (BAT), Keith Gretton,  during  a visit to the Lagos State Governor,  Babatunde Fashola  on Monday, September 16, 2013
In a statement jointly issued in Abuja, the groups said: “this is a major miss-step by Lagos State and we owe it a duty to remind the Governor, seen by many as a role model, that tobacco investment is worse than blood diamonds”.
Media reports indicated that Governor Fashola had, while hosting Gretton in his office at Alausa, hailed BAT for allegedly creating jobs since it began operations in 2003, and added that the Lagos government would continue to maintain a conducive environment for BAT and other businesses to thrive in line with its objectives of “aggressive investment” in infrastructure and security to improve the business environment.
During the meeting, Gretton disclosed that Nigeria was one of BAT’s top 10 markets, adding that the company would continue to perform its corporate responsibilities to Nigerians. He also said BAT supported agriculture and remits about N15 billion in taxes annually to the Federal Government .
But in a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN  and CISLAC  said that their findings revealed that  the main import of the meeting was to secure Fashola’s endorsement for BAT’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project for the state at a time the state is considering a law to  ban smoking in public places.
The groups said: “We have gathered that BAT was making plans to donate Hilux jeeps to the Lagos Security Trust Fund just as some corporations did few a weeks ago.  This is carefully planned so that BAT could interfere in the proposed law to prohibit smoking in public places. This is completely unacceptable.
“Tobacco companies have demonstrated beyond reasonable conviction that they are enemies of public health and therefore enemies of the public good. Their attempt to tap into the profile of Governor Fashola to secure public acceptance is repulsive.
“We therefore want plead with Fashola not to taint his political stature with tobacco money.  Any porridge from Big Tobacco will run the stomach! A good research by his aides can reveal how political leaders around the world treat funds.”
“What we need in Lagos  State is a strong legislation  to  make corporations  accountable for all costs associated with production and profits, and in this case, to make  the tobacco industry accountable for the deaths, diseases ,  environmental, social  and other  costs  associated with smoking in the State.

 “Not only is this unholy visit very disturbing, it has confirmed what we have always said that the tobacco industry will never subscribe to any form of regulation. That BAT top echelon is visiting the Lagos State Government at a time the State is contemplating far-reaching laws to regulate the marketing and sale of cigarettes in the state is very revealing to the discerning.
“While we believe Lagos, like any other state must attract investments, a company that markets lethal products is definitely not the kind of investment that the people of Lagos or Nigerians need. . The Governor’s pat on the back of a company that has a track record of frustrating regulations is totally unacceptable”.
 “Human rights and the business environment are interconnected because people are involved. A decent environment for Lagosians means protection against indignity of all sorts including exposure to dangerous products like cigarettes, direct smoking, second-hand smoking or third degree smoking”.
“We want to remind the governor that the choice of Lagos by BAT is informed by the company’s belief that the huge number of youths in Lagos is a big market that must be targeted as replacement smokers for a dying generation of smokers”.
“Rather than open its doors to BAT at this point, we feel the Lagos state government should take a cue from the Federal Capital Territory and other states that have gone as far as declaring smoke-free public places, ban on public smoking and other regulatory steps against tobacco manufacturing firms”.
 “The governor rightly posited that many of the diseases today are caused by the lifestyle choices that people make. We  submit that BAT and other tobacco companies through their misinformation, glamorization of cigarettes and deceitful marketing strategies hide vital information on the deadly nature of their products to users to get them hooked on  cigarettes.
“This suspicious visit to the Lagos State Governor is a continuation of BAT’s strategy of ingratiating with government officials to seem socially responsible while garnering good press.
“Our demands are unequivocal: The Lagos State government should immediately revoke permits for the company’s four  million pounds headquarters which it claims to be a demonstration of its commitment to Nigeria, and put in place far-reaching tobacco control laws. Anything short of this is a license to the tobacco company to continue the killing of our people”.

Civil Society Network Against Corruption Demands Official List of President Jonathan Delegation to UN General Assembly

Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) has requested for the list and identities of members of President Jonathan's delegation to 68th UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY 

This was as a result of a publication of Sahara Reporters dated 22nd of September 2013, an online newspaper, which reported an alleged burgeoning 600-man delegation of President Goodluck Jonathan to the ongoing 5-day United Nations General Assembly Session in New York, United States of America. In another report, on the, the trip was alleged to cost an estimated N6 billion (Six billion Naira) of tax payers money. 

In a statement issued by the Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Dr. reuben Abati, this morning, the 600-man allegation was debunked and online newspapers disparaged the online medium as anti-government. The statement further put the delegation at 30-persons official delegate revealing a scanty identities of few members of the President's delegation while it acknowledged the presence of some private Nigerians whose visit to the US coincides with that of the president and his delegations. Nigeria is reputed as the country with highest population of out-of-school children; one of the few countries with little chances of meeting the Millennium Development Goals; and heavily dependent on donor funds in the provision of basic necessities of life for its citizens. 

CSNAC said to sustain the credibility of this government among Nigerians and in the community of nations, a more robust and convincing response is expected from the government in situation such as this, borrowing from similar huge government delegations to past international gatherings.

It is for this all-important credibility that they requested the necessary ministry to make available to them the list of official members of the delegation and the actual cost of this trip by virtue of sec 2,3, and 4 of the Freedom Of Information(FOI) Act.

Furthermore, the group demand that the delegates list of the President to the United Nation General Assembly should be available in the next one week.

This recent demand by the Civil Society Group is coming on the heels of repeated elaborate delegates   Of President Jonathan's anytime he travels on official assignment and the cost of these trips are from government budget to the detriment of other developmental projects.

Hollywood Celebrity Harrison Ford of "Indiana Jones" visits Indonesia on Environmental Protection

Harrison Ford with Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his visit to the country on Environmental Protection.

Harrison Ford of ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Star Wars’ fame stirred controversy in Indonesia when Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan accused the actor of behaving badly during an interview about the country’s deforestation problem. Ford visited Indonesia to make a documentary film on climate change. Zulkifli complained that Ford didn’t give him enough time to answer some questions during the interview:

The interview time was very limited. I was given a chance to make only one or two comments.

I understand the American man just came here to see Tesso Nilo [a national park on Sumatra island] and wanted violators to be caught the same day.

Zulkifli’s complaint was echoed by a presidential special staffer on social affairs and disaster relief who described Ford’s behavior as “harassment against a state institution”.

But the incident also sparked discussion about the effectiveness of the government’s environment policies especially its failure to prosecute individuals and companies involved in forest fires that caused a deadly haze in the region a few months ago.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker supported the minister and demanded the expulsion of World Wide Fund for Nature in the project to preserve a local national park.

Ford also met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and they discussed the various efforts and programs to preserve the country’s forests.

Comments left by readers of Jakarta Post reflected the frustration of many Indonesians about the country’s worsening environment woes. Abdul Malik thinks Ford is correct:

Ford is correct. Why is nobody in jail and all their assets taken? Is the minister looking for sympathy?

Sput Jam asks about the slow progress in resolving the issue of forest fires:

How many plantation and land owners have been charged in court for burning to clear their land in Riau?

Next year, it will be the same again. The only difference is the wind direction.

That was probably the first time in his life that the forestry minister was held accountable. Good work, Mr. Ford.

Getting Paid, Not Aid: A Call to Revamp Aid in Africa BY TONY ELUMELU

President Clinton has said, “No country can work itself out of poverty with aid alone.” Indeed, throughout Africa, we have seen first-hand how the international community's traditional approach to solving the continent's problems through charity and aid has fallen short. While such support has undoubtedly done much good for millions across the continent by delivering food security, health care, emergency relief and education, the results have not been sustainable.

Such “free money” can actually be counterproductive, by crowding out vital private-sector solutions. Private enterprises cannot compete with highly subsidized capital, and the net result is that charity often provides a short-term fix at the expense of a long-term solution.

For example, it has been shown that the greater the level of foreign aid that is spent on health care, the less that recipient countries spend themselves. Diseases such as malaria and polio were not eradicated in the developed world through charity. Such health victories were achieved because the average working person could afford to go to the doctor, and because there were functioning health insurance markets and profitable pharmaceutical industries around to develop and manufacture vaccines.

Countries across the continent need to create the right environment — political, economic and social — to build self-sufficiency and move beyond the aid trap. “Charity” and “development” should never be conflated.

How can we increase resilience and reduce reliance across Africa for future generations? Through a development approach that I call “Africapitalism” — an economic philosophy arguing that the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.

Africapitalism is also a call-to-action for Africans to take responsibility for our own development — and for the international community to evolve their thinking about how best to channel their efforts and investments in the region. We must keep the following tenets in mind as we work to create a future where increased social good and economic expansion across the continent go hand-in-hand.

Doing Well And Doing Good

Harnessing the power of the private sector to drive economic development is the most effective way to sustainably create wealth and resources in local economies. Philanthropists, nonprofits and non-governmental organizations alike can and should play a role in this by leveraging their resources to create meaningful and long-lasting change through and with the private sector.

Take water, for example – a vital yet scarce resource in much of Africa. A charity might pay to construct a new well, but if no one has a stake in it, or responsibility for maintaining it, it will just as quickly fall into disrepair and disuse. If that donation were structured as a for-profit, micro-utility, it would create incentives and resources to maintain it — improving its sustainability and long-term impact.

At Heirs Holdings, we believe that investments should not only generate financial returns, but should also generate social wealth – we call it “doing well” and “doing good”. Our recent $300 million investment in a power plant in Nigeria to generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity is an example of a long-term investment that can bring development to Africa. Through this investment, we intend to not only create value for our partners but also ensure the benefits of access to electricity are felt by everyone.

Building Strong Local Businesses

Home-grown businesses such as United Bank for Africa, the pan-African banking group, and MTN, Africa's largest mobile operator, fly in the face of the common misconception that developing economies are “aid dependent” and cannot possibly have the resources to support commercial enterprises.

Business heavyweights like Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga in Nigeria, Reginald Mengi in Tanzania and Patrice Motsepe in South Africa are reinvesting in domestic industries that support the basic needs of African people. They are creating tens of thousands of jobs, impacting individuals, families and entire communities.

Of course one of the main ingredients of a strong local business is a strong local workforce. While Nigeria has seen encouraging economic growth, its high youth unemployment rate and skills gap may ultimately hinder the nation's ability to compete unless we address this now. Looking to confront this challenge through Africapitalism rather than aid, the Tony Elumelu Foundation made a commitment last year through the Clinton Global Initiative to advance a technical and vocational training curriculum in Lagos, to address this skills gap. This is the kind of solution I'd like to see more of — one that takes into account both the current market needs and the community's interests.

Use Subsidies To Reduce Risk, Not Self-Sufficiency

Private investors are willing to take on the risks of building these kinds of businesses, but are often wary of bearing the full financial brunt in emerging regions. Philanthropic dollars can help in many ways, from co-investing with the private sector, to partially subsidizing operations until businesses can achieve profitability and sustainability or subsidizing management training to help businesses gain the specific skill sets they need for growth.

This is the approach we advocate for and practice at The Tony Elumelu Foundation and at Heirs Holdings. It's an approach embraced by change agents such as SNV Netherlands Development Corporation, which recognizes the difficulty that small and medium enterprises have with securing capital in the developing world. I'm pleased to see that through CGI, SNV is investing $9 million to connect early-stage enterprises in Africa and beyond with impact investors.

Rethink The Way We Define Results

If the private sector is to accomplish these goals, we must fundamentally re-examine our priorities and objectives. We must do away with short-term thinking. We should be investing over time horizons measured in decades, rather than fiscal quarters. We must stop the practice of extracting wealth without reinvesting for growth. We should be strategically building domestic industries and manufacturing to support healthy, vibrant national economies and grow intra-African trade.

We want to get beyond the current aid paradigm, moving forward into the 21st century with bold initiatives which blur the lines between development and private sector engagement. We believe that this approach will ultimately make a greater, more lasting contribution to Africa's development. Economic prosperity is the most valuable and lasting legacy we can offer Africa – and Africapitalism should be the objective of all development projects.

Friday, 20 September 2013

70 per cent of Nigerians take adulerated cooking oil: Bukola Adebayo


The Chief Executive Officer, Dufil Prima Plc, Mr. Deepak Singhal has said that 70 per cent of Nigerians do not have access to healthy cooking oil.


Singhal who spoke at the launch of Power Oil in Lagos noted that adulterated oil packaged in unhygienic environment usually not refined ans and contains high quantity could cause obesity, heart disease and diabetes.


“ 70 per cent of Nigerians get their oil from market in jerry cans, lylons, unlabelled bottles. This oil is injurious to the health because they are not refined and they are contaminated.


“ Bad oil blocks the arteries because it contains high cholesterol. It makes it difficult for  it to pump blood to the heart, this can cause coronary heart disease and increase the risk of stroke and blocked arteries.”


He added thata major factor why Nigerians do not patronize good cooking oil was Power Oil will check all of that by giving consumers quality at affordable prices. With that, they would no longer jeopardize their health by purchasing vegetable oil from unreliable sources,” he quipped.


Singhal also noted that cooking oil was the largest source of  fat in the Nigerian diet, families must ensure that they used quality vegetable oil which has been proven to be heart friendly when preparing meals.


Also, the representative of the National Agency For Foods Drugs Administration and Control, Mrs. Abiola Adekoya said the agency would also reel out measures to rid Nigerian markets of adulterated and unbranded cooking oil.


Adekoya said, “It is not every oil that is in the market that is good for consumption. It is not all the factories where all these cooking oil are that  adhere to good manufacturing practices.

“ It is important that you know the source of  your cooking oil before you buy it. We are working to address the proliferation of oil in the country.”

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Eight confirmed dead, 1,600 homes destroyed in Colorado floods: Reuters

Search-and-rescue teams bolstered by National Guard troops fanned out across Colorado's flood-stricken landscape on Monday, as a week of torrential rains blamed for eight deaths and the destruction of at least 1,600 homes finally gave way to sunny skies.

Much of the evacuation effort was focused on remote foothill and canyon communities in north-central Colorado, where the bulk of nearly 12,000 people evacuated since last week were stranded due to washed-out roads, bridges and communication lines, state emergency officials said.

The overall flood zone has encompassed 17 Colorado counties across a normally semi-arid region nearly the size of Delaware.

Drizzle and patchy morning fog that had hampered airborne emergency operations early on Monday lifted by afternoon, allowing National Guard helicopters to return to the skies to help ground teams find trapped flood victims and carry them to safety.

In Boulder County alone, about 1,500 people had been evacuated to emergency shelters as of Sunday night and another 160 on Monday, most of them by helicopter, county emergency management office spokeswoman Liz Donaghey said.

The rest were ferried out by military vehicles. Many of the air-lifted evacuees had to be hoisted by hovering choppers one at a time from rooftops and upper-floor balconies, she said.

Asked how many more may still be stranded, she said, "We don't know what we've got until we have them."

In neighboring Larimer County, officials put the number of evacuees yet to be reached at roughly 1,000.


Meanwhile, ranchers have been advised to move livestock away from rain-swollen streams as floodwaters spread further east onto the prairie, and authorities warned residents to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes that might be slithering to higher ground.

Larimer and Boulder counties bore the brunt of flash floods first unleashed last week by heavy rains that started last Monday and drenched Colorado's biggest urban centers along a 130-mile (210-km) stretch in the Front Range of the Rockies.

At the peak of the disaster - the heaviest deluge to hit the region in four decades, experts said - floodwaters roared down rain-saturated mountainsides northwest of Denver and spilled through canyons funneling the runoff into populated areas below.

The flooding progressed downstream and spread onto the prairie through the weekend. The rain-gorged South Platte River continued to top its banks on Monday, submerging large tracts of farmland as flooding rolled eastward in the direction of Nebraska.

Authorities said downstream flooding could be worsened by a river channel cluttered with overgrown vegetation and debris from several years of minimal flows along the South Platte.

State officials issued flood warnings to Nebraska residents urging them to shut off utilities and electrical machinery along the river.


In its latest update on the disaster, the Colorado Office of Emergency Management said the official death toll had risen to eight, up from five over the weekend.

The latest count included two women, aged 60 and 80, who were reported missing and presumed dead since Sunday, after their homes were washed away by floodwaters in the Big Thompson Canyon area of Larimer County.

As of midday Monday, nearly 600 people remained unaccounted for in Larimer and Boulder counties combined, with many believed to be still stranded in remote areas cut off by floodwaters and left without telephone, cell phone or Internet service, officials said.

An estimated 1,500 homes have been destroyed and 4,500 damaged in Larimer County alone, emergency management spokeswoman Jennifer Hillmann said. In addition, 200 businesses have been lost and 500 damaged, she said, citing preliminary assessments by the county.

Boulder County officials confirmed 108 homes were destroyed in the hard-hit town of Lyons but had no countywide property loss figures.

Air rescue operations were the largest in the United States since flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, National Guard officials said.

President Barack Obama declared the area a major disaster over the weekend, freeing up federal funds and resources to aid state and local governments.

State officials would be unable to assess the overall damage until rescue efforts were complete and the floodwaters had receded, said Micki Trost, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Emergency Management.

The prolonged showers were caused by an atmospheric low-pressure system that stalled over Nevada and western Utah, drawing extremely moist air out of Mexico and streaming it north into the southern Rockies, meteorologists said.

Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said 21 inches of rain fell in parts of Boulder city, northwest of Denver, during the week-long deluge, nearly double the area's average annual rainfall.

The last multi-day rainfall to spawn widespread flooding in Colorado's Front Range occurred in 1969. But a single-night downpour from a 1976 thunderstorm triggered a flash flood that killed more than 140 people in Big Thompson Canyon.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Writing by Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by Dan Whitcomb, Richard Chang, Ken Wills and Philip Barbara)

Hail Storm Turned Islamabad White

Islamabad turned white on sunday as hail storm hit the capital city of Pakistan in the morning. It went pitch dark for hours which followed with thunder, hail storm and heavy rain. Apparently, winter is coming to Islamabad.

Don't link Climate Change to weather extremes: Bjorn Lomborg

One of the most persistent claims in the climate debate is that global warming leads to more extreme weather. Green groups and even such respectable outlets as Scientific American declare that “extreme weather is a product of climate change.”

The meme seems irresistible as a political shortcut to action. President Barack Obama has explicitly linked a warming climate to “more extreme droughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes.” The White House warned this summer of “increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events that come with climate change.”

Yet this is not supported by science. “General statements about extremes are almost nowhere to be found in the literature but seem to abound in the popular media,” climate scientist Gavin Smith, of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said last month. “It’s this popular perception that global warming means all extremes have to increase all the time, even though if anyone thinks about that for 10 seconds they realize that’s nonsense.”

Global warming is real. It is partly man-made. It will make some things worse and some things better. Overall, the long-run impact will be negative. But some of the most prominent examples of extreme weather are misleading, and some weather events are becoming less extreme.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivered a 600-page report on extreme weather in 2011. It got little attention — because it is nuanced.

Global warming, in general, will mean higher temperatures. That causes more heat waves — more extreme weather. But it also causes fewer cold waves — less extreme weather. Many more people die from excessive cold than excessive heat, so fewer people will die from cold and heat in the future. By mid-century, researchers estimated in 2006, that means about 1.4 million fewer deaths per year. In the continental U.S., heat waves in the past decade exceeded the norm by 10 percent, but the number of cold waves fell 75 percent.

Moreover, global warming will mostly increase temperatures during winter, at night and in cold places, making temperature differences less extreme.

Global warming will also cause more heavy rain; this is clearly more extreme. But warming will also help alleviate water scarcity — less extreme. About 1.2 billion fewer people are expected to live with water scarcity by the end of the century because of increased precipitation.

Drought is expected to increase in some regions while decreasing in others. Overall, the impact will probably be slightly more extreme. Likewise, sea levels will rise, which will mean more flooding of coastal structures — more extreme weather. The total impact is likely to be less than 0.1 percent of global economic output.

Hurricane wind speeds are likely to increase (more extreme), but the number of hurricanes is likely to decrease or hold steady (less extreme). The number of extra-tropical cyclones is likely to decline (less extreme).

Obama’s examples of more extreme weather from droughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes are weak examples for the U.S. Wildfire may be the only one of those indicators that is increasing in the U.S., but to a large degree that is because fire suppression efforts have resulted in more material being available to burn.

The IPCC found that “droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, in central North America.” A scientific overview published in June in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that the severe drought of 2012, which at one point covered 39 percent of the U.S., was still much less extreme than droughts in the 1930s (which covered 63 percent) and the 1950s (50 percent). And all those droughts pale next to the six-decade mega-drought in what is now the U.S. West in the 12th century.

Damage from flooding in the U.S. has declined from 0.2 percent of gross domestic product in 1940 to less than 0.05 percent today. U.S. hurricanes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900. …

A new paper in the journal Nature shows on a crucial measure that there is no increase in extremes. Looking at temperature variability as one kind of extreme weather, the authors document that extreme weather globally has been constant since 1960. Moreover, the researchers found that extreme weather as temperature variability will decline in the future with higher levels of carbon dioxide. …

It is understandable that a lot of well-meaning people, wanting stronger action on global warming, have tried to use the meme of extreme weather to draw attention. But alarmism and panic are rarely the best way to achieve good policies. The argument that global warming generally creates more extreme weather needs to be retired.

Bjorn Lomborg, an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, directs the Copenhagen Consensus Center. He is the author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” and, most recently, “How Much Have Global Problems Cost the World? A Scorecard From 1900 to 2050.” This column first appeared in The Washington Post.

Culled from

Monday, 16 September 2013

Whither Nigerian Youths?

According to the United Nations definition of youth, it refers to a young person within the age bracket of 18-35 years. This group of people signifies a period of strength, adventure, creativity and innovation. Also they contribute to development of any nation when given the needed support in an enabling environment. In the 60's lots of Nigerians were given scholarships to study in foreign land with the plan to return and contribute to developing the country. On their return they were given jobs and they had minimal comfort. Then was when the concept middle class was meaningful. Nigeria at that time enjoyed such accolades as "a country flowing with milk and honey, giant of Africa, and pride of the Sahara". This is because tourists at that time had Nigeria as one of their priority destinations. Also then, foreign citizens residing in the country before independence gladly sought to be naturalized Nigerians, while a large number of citizens of other countries came to Nigeria in search of greener pastures.

Now, over fifty years down the line, the jewel of the Savannah has lost its shine, the land seem no longer green and Nigerian youths now leave the country in their multitude in search of the missing link. But unfortunately, the more effort they make the tougher the expedition and the farther they are from realizing their dreams of a lofty life because indeed, the road is rough and the grass is not greener on the other side. Many had varying experiences to share, some have become victims of human traffickers and forced labour. This article is inspired by a gruesome and pathetic video of young Nigerians who died on there way trekking through the Sahara desert with the hope that a cannan land exist not too far from them. In the video, their corpses were found by a Nigerian who narrated in a native Igbo language, the agony and harsh conditions, these dead Nigerians passed through before dying in the desert without food and water, and most of them could not be identified. It was really not the first time that I have heard stories of my fellow country men and women who leave our fatherland with high hope and believe that they can make it outside this country.

Last year, I came across a newspaper vendor who narrated to me how he managed to survive in a ship basement for days before arriving in Libya. According to him, he was among some that survived because some died before they got to Libya. While in Libya, the crisis that finally led to the death of President Gadaffi was a bad time for some Nigeria immigrants. He said they were arrested,tortured and some died. He managed to escape back to Nigeria with his life but many years wasted and back to square one. He advised young people to stay back in the country and work towards developing Nigeria because we all cannot leave in search of a pasture that is assumed to be greener but filled with sorrows, tears and death.

Will I continue to blame the youths of Nigeria for migrating and going in search of greener pastures? No I can't blame just them because the society in which they find themselves is not conducive enough to allow there dreams grow and blossom. A situation where the minimum year of graduation from the University is 6 years, no thanks to cease less strikes by so called academics or university administrators. For close to three months, public universities in Nigeria had been under locks, as lecturers and the Federal government are yet to agree in the demands of the lecturers. But lots of money have been spent recklessly by the Federal government for activities that do not contribute in any meaningful way to the development of this great nation. Many university students have lost their lives as they continue to wait endlessly for the gates to there campuses to be opened. I am also sure many have gone in search of greener pastures.

According to Steven Kapsos expert review of his paper titled "Global Employment Rate for Youth" for the United Nations Social and Economic Department, "Youth underemployment, unemployment, and situations in which young people give up on their job search impose significant costs to the economy, society, individuals and their families. A lack of decent work, if experienced at an early age, threatens the person’s future employment prospects and frequently leads to an inadequate insertion into the labour market that can last a lifetime. There is a demonstrated link between youth unemployment and social exclusion (ILO, 2010). An inability to find employment creates a sense of uselessness and idleness among youth that can lead to increased crime, mental health problems, violence, and drug use. Consequently, there are obvious personal benefits accruing to young people by making the most of the productive potential of youth and ensuring the availability of decent employment opportunities for them".

Imagine! After a youth complete his/her higher education and cannot find a job, most times after all the frustrations, decides to travel out of the country in search of greener pastures. This become the next future ambition as what he/she studied in school cannot enable them fulfill their ambition. All efforts and resources are channelled towards this next decision, most family and friends go to the extent of selling lands and properties to raise the needed fund for this project. In cases where the person is fortunate to travel out, he/she is now pressured to work hard in any country they find themselves just to repay the financial assistance offered in the travelling processs. Nigerians outside work there ass out to save money that they send home to families and friends. They go as far as working between 8-24hours to be able to survive and eke out a living. All this contribute to the economic growth of such countries where they reside. Reports have it that Nigerians make up a large population of the best doctors and nurses found in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and in the Middle-East. If Nigerians continue to travel out and work there ass out in all these countries, with all our best brains in the medical field contributing in ensuring these countries have the best health care, who will improve our health system? Who will ensure that the number of deaths related to maternal and child mortality is reduced as Nigeria contributes the most to this global statistics? Who will ensure that Nigeria is Polio-free as we are among the top three countries in the world and the only country in Africa not making the world polio-free? Who will ensure that all our researches and policies are fully implemented to drive our economy to the next level? All those countries where our people migrate to, they are working to develop those countries, so who will now develop our own Naija?

We all know that the next general election is in 2015, but political parties and politicians are already galvanizing and planning for 2015. It is time we use our votes wisely to elect candidates that would improve the standard of living of the people, not people that will share bags of rice and money but increase the level of suffering of the people. I know some people may say I am speaking grammar that can't provide food for them, but if I may ask, what happened to the bags of rice and money you received in 2011? How far have they gone in alleviating your sufferings or improving the standard of your life? We have the power to choose those that will change this nation and also hold them accountable with our votes. If we don't stop, think and plan, we may wake up to discover that almost half the population have migrated to one country or another, or all the youths are gone and we are then a nation of old-people, old-ideas, old-tactics (gerontocracy). I hear God forbid. We shall know if God will forbid or we forbid.

As Martin Luther-King said about fifty years ago, in his I have a dream speech, that ONE DAY - his three little children would not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of there character. I too have a dream, that Nigeria will become a country where people from far and near will come in search of greener pastures and our youths will be the vanguard of development and peace. That what will truly represent in the continent, the big brother in Africa would be felt by all Africans and the most populous black nation in the world that is great and with good people would be among the top five economies in the world.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

African Green Revolution Forum warns of severe finance gap in African agriculture


The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) has warned that a Green Revolution cannot materialise in Africa without a major concerted effort to secure financing for agricultural production.


The Forum was held in Maputo, Mozambique brought together over 200 delegates from across Africa and internationally, focused on the critical role to be played by public-private partnerships and inclusive business models in the development of Africa’s agriculture.


The Forum heard that the global gap in finance for agriculture stands at US$ 450 billion, an issue which is more acute in Africa than anywhere else. Evidence shows that only 10% of African smallholder African farmers have access to the financing they need to expand their production and raise their income.


Irungu Houghton, Convenor of the AGRF, said: “Throughout the African continent, we are witnessing successful partnerships between the private and public sectors and smallholder farmers. But these partnerships are still too rare. We will only be able to transform Africa’s agriculture, and alleviate food insecurity and poverty, if smallholders have the funds to boost their crop yields and expand their business.”


Dyborn Chibonga, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Smallholder Farmers of Malawi, said: “Some African governments have gone some way towards addressing affordability and accessibility of production inputs, but challenges still persist. Each and every year smallholder farmers are pulled into a downward spiral of taking out high-interest loans in order to buy farming inputs for the following season. Without access to credit, smallholders cannot raise productivity.”


The AGRF committed to focus over the next year on a number of priority actions, including:


•          Ensuring that rising revenues from extractives industries are invested into the development of agriculture


•          Reducing corruption in public-private partnerships and designing business ventures that are transparent, environmentally and socially responsible


•          Building the capacity of famers’ associations, finance institutions and agribusiness agencies to work together


•          Encouraging governments to offer tax incentives and make preferential procurement choices for companies that source from smallholder farmers


•          Developing inclusive financial models that combine incentives, reduce debt risk and promote longer-term agribusiness models


•          Combining incentives, reducing debt risk and promoting longer-term agribusiness models


The Honourable Antonio Limbau, Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Mozambique, who formally closed the AGRF, said: “We are honoured and pleased to have hosted this important forum in Mozambique ten years after the Maputo Declaration. This forum was a valuable opportunity to discuss practical steps to strengthen capacity and extend the use of modern technology to increase productivity.”


Jane Karuku, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) – a partner in the AGRF – said: “2014 is a critical year for agriculture, when African governments will be setting investment targets and plans to develop agriculture over the coming decade. The African Union has recognised this crucial moment and designated 2014 as the Year for Food Security and Agriculture. We are delighted to announce that next year’s AGRF will be co-hosted with the African Union in Addis Ababa in September 2014.”