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Swedish, Nature conservation freak, Passionate about Africa, Loving Peace, Politically neutral

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The Evolving Ape looks back on 2008

Well it has been a year full of events. Just like any other year actually. It is now time to sum up and look forward to new adventures. Being a selfish and egocentric son of a b*tch, this recap will be done only amongst my own blog posts from the past year (well from April and forward, as this blog haven’t had its 1 year anniversary yet).

April 26th Kommer Mugabe att tillåta en förlust
The Zimbabwe crisis dominated the first couple of months on my blog. I then grow tired of that conflict. As can be seen in this post (although in Swedish) I was wondering whether or not Mugabe would accept a defeat in the election.

May 5th Securing food production is more needed than land distributions
As the oil and food prices were increasing at the beginning of the year, I commented on this in an early post that food security must go hand in hand with structural, political and sometimes cultural change in many countries. This issue would be brought up several times more throughout the year (see Dec 29 here below).

May 24th Shocked but hopefully not surprised
The xenophobic attacks in South Africa threw many people into the harsh reality that they have been avoiding for so long. People, regardless of ethnicity (or “race if you like) can be racists and do horrendous things. I noticed that the “We and Them” mentality can grow big anywhere, even in a rainbow nation like South Africa.

June 26th Klimatförändring – ett litet problem i sammanhanget
In the space of a couple of months two polar bears drifted ashore on Iceland, and one of them was shot on the spot. I commented that climate change is not only about CO2-emissions, but also about getting to terms with a potential mass migration of species; animals and plants, over man dominated land. And with that the potential of mass extinction.

August 8th Are Olympics athletes cowards?
Before the start of the Beijing Olympics there were a lot talking about boycotts and so on. I gave some suggestions of how the athletes could protest in the most attention-attracting manner. Unfortunately no one listened to me. In fact the only athlete that dared to protest, by throwing away his Bronze medal, was the Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian. But he protested for other reasons.

August 29th McCain less generous than Obama
Many people were surprised that John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his republican vice-president candidate in the US elections. I showed however that McCains face did not signal generosity as much as Obama’s face did. Accordingly, McCain needed to pair up with someone that would compensate for his shortcomings.

September 5th Africa needs new blood
Although Africa may have stopped bleeding ceaselessly, some blood transfusion is need so that fresh thinking can help the continent back on its feet. In my little “study” I noticed that the average time in office for a leader in a southern/central African country was 12 years. Which clearly signals an inbreeding in ideas and thoughts.

September 11th Okapi – video clip
Some good news! The shy and elusive okapi was spotted in Virunga National Park. This was the first time outside its known home range. It indicated that the long period of armed conflicts in the region (Rwanda, Uganda and DRC) seemed to have spared this extraordinary animal.

September 26th Video clip of war in Virunga National Park
Some bad news! The armed conflict in DRC caught fire again. I linked to a video clip that showed rebels shooting inside the Virunga National Park, which house the famous mountain gorillas and the elusive okapi (see September 11). Fears are growing for a new Rwanda, and both people and species have practically nowhere to go.

November 27th We need more westerner civilian causalities!
The terrorist attacks in Bombay, India, caused a full-scale media coverage of the event. This made me wonder what is needed in order to draw attention to other conflicts around the world, such as the one in DRC.

December 29th Can starvation be of any good?
In the last dying days of 2008 it was reported of a emerging starvation catastrophe in Africa. If the financial crisis doesn’t steal all the attention, this might be the head news for the next couple of months. And lets hope that the solution will not be just to save starving children for the day, but really create structures that will allow them to never end up in that situation again.

Finally, my news years resolution for next year will be to write more about environment and development, and less about politics, on this blog...

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Monday, 29 December 2008

Can starvation be of any good?

Reports, from among others the horn of Africa, suggests devastating effects in the countries that have been worst hit by the ongoing food crisis. Although this crisis was partly fueled by the high oil prices earlier this year, there is no denial that other factors also contribute to the chronic starvation in many countries. Exponential population growth rates in combination with a lack of strategies for sustainable food production can be considered as the main factors. And on top of that comes unpredictable weather patterns, which makes farming in many regions look like a round of Russian roulette.

As the rich part of the world is heavily affected by the financial crisis, fears grow that the food crisis will not receive the attention it needs. Focus will be directed on fighting “starvation” of the developed world, at the expense of the starving masses in South. But this might be a good thing. Perhaps a large-scale food crisis might enlighten the policy and decision makers in the developing world, and make them look for solutions that are sustainable; solutions that are based on the developing countries' own strength, which are free from the constant dependence on gifts, aid, and loans from other parts of the world.

There are three very mind-awakening comments written by Peace Nganwa that touch upon what I have just written. They are well worth reading, as they give an insight to the hurdles that lie ahead for the developing world when it comes to food insecurity.

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Sunday, 28 December 2008

Minskande grönområden leder till sjunkande bostadspriser

Storstadsnaturen i Stockholm ska tydligen få sig en törn när huvudstaden ska bli en ”trygg” ”promenadstad”. Planerna är att prioritera och fokusera på sammanhängande stadsbebyggelse snarare än sammanhängande grönområdena. Tyvärr så kommer nog vinsten i x antal färre ruttna nedfallna träd att ätas upp av förlusten av menliga effekter på folks hälsa (bl a beroende på brist på rekreation och frisk luft). Ovanpå detta kan sen läggas sjunkande fastighetspriser när de krympande grönområdena gör många bostäder mindre attraktiva.

Det hela är egentligen rätt symptomatiskt för hur natur och miljö betraktas i politiken. Eftersom vinsterna av hög biologisk mångfald inte kan beräknas och redovisas på ett sätt som tilltala politiker, så får ekonomiska värden alltid företräde. Det faktum att de biologiska värden också är mer spridda över tiden (dvs vinsten från dessa kanske inte kan plockas ut förrän i nästa generation) gör saken inte mycket bättre, trots alla vackra ord om ”hållbar utveckling” och ”miljökvalitetsmål”.

Det roliga i detta sammanhang är att man faktiskt kan till viss del se de monetära negativa effekterna från skövling av naturen i urbana områden. Kanske inget särskilt förvånande med detta, men ändå intressant när det bekräftas i många studier att fastighets- priserna är korrelerade (har ett positivt samband) med mängden grönområden i närheten av fastigheten. Med andra ord så betyder politikernas planer för Stockholm inte bara en förlust för skalbaggarna, människors hälsa, men också för bostadsägarna.

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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

What the Pope does not want to see

Pope Benedict XVI said apparently today that homosexuality is as a big of a problem as the current climate change, and that both nature and humans need to be protected from destruction. I will restrain myself from commenting on this particular statement, as I have way too much to say on that particular matter...

Instead I just want to post a couple of comic strips, which nicely illustrate that the Pope’s church/religion has not, and is not, acting in the best interest of protecting human beings. Too bad nothing is done about this destruction.

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Monday, 22 December 2008

Egocentriska brandmän

För några år sen fick jag chansen att höra brandmän berätta om skälet/-en till deras yrkesval. Speciellt ett svar minns jag fortfarande mycket väl. Det kom från en lite mer erfaren brandman som halvcyniskt sa: ”När polisen anländer blir alla sura, när vi anländer blir alla glada”. I detta påstående så kan man skönja två egenskaper hos brandmannen. Han led av lätt hybris, och han var rätt godhjärtad.

Vi kan nog ta oss friheten att extrapolera dessa två egenskaper till att gälla, mer eller mindre, alla brandmän i Sverige (mina personliga observationer stödjer detta antagande). Man kan därmed förmoda att personerna i brandbilarna är ganska stora egocentriker, som trivs i att bada i den beundran som de får från omgivningen. Men man kan vidare också förmoda att dessa personer ser det som sin arbetsuppgift att sprida glädje och hopp till andra, vilt främmande, människor.

I samband med de senaste årens upptrappande våld mot räddningspersonal så är det dags att sätta ner foten! Vi kan inte tillåta framodlandet av en kultur där man bemöter brandmännens ankomst med ilska, vrede och stenkastning. Dessa människor (brandmännen) må vara lite egenkära, men är också väldigt ömsinta och hjälpsamma, och de ska väl kunna belönas bättre än det görs idag. Det finns ju risk att i framtiden så kommer alla potentiella brandmän att välja att utbilda sig till poliser istället, vilket innebär en klar förhöjning av surhetsgraderna vid olycks- och brottsplatserna...

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A modest proposal

Congo is apparently on Doctors Without Borders top 10 list over the world biggest and most forgotten humanitarian disasters. This is the tenth year in a row that Congo is on the list, and situation has gone from bad to worse. Something needs to be done quickly in order to bring an end to the threats that are imposed on people and the biodiversity (including the well renowned mountain gorillas) of the region.

I have touched upon this in a previous post (We need more westerner civilian casualties) and I see now an urgent need for more Westerners in the Congo region. Victims from the rich world will hopefully have a better effect in promoting actions by the UN and commonwealth. Some mutilated American children and raped British ditto. Some Italians chopped to pieces, and some Scandinavians burnt alive. That is what we need!

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Friday, 12 December 2008

EU shouldn’t cut down on their CO2-emissions

The EU countries apparently reached an agreement today to cut back CO2-emissions by 20% by the year 2020. This seems like good news, under the precondition that the CO2 reductions are not executed in the EU, or at least not in the western countries. The relative high marginal cost of abatement in Western Europe, in combination with certain diffusion traits of CO2, makes it almost immoral not to focus on clean development mechanisms in less developed countries.

CO2 diffuse very quickly in the atmosphere and spreads globally in an instant. This means that the potential harm that this compound can impose on nature and its inhabitants is felt equally much, regardless if there is one enormous emission source, or a million small ones. Thus, the reduction of CO2 has to be done where the abatement cost is the lowest, otherwise we are wasting our money.

For some people it might seem like the rich countries are running away from their responsibility of cutting down on their own emissions. However, if the abatement is performed in a less developed country this might very well mean a development of that poor country’s technology, paid by the rich country. And it will furthermore mean that the less developed country will be better equipped the day more CO2 reductions will be demanded by the commonwealth.

Hopefully the above mentioned is the road that the (highly) developed countries of EU want to go. It is actually the most sensible and logical road to chose, and if the focus is not exclusively on CO2 but also on energy efficiency/conservation, than we might have a somewhat brighter future to look forward to.

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Wednesday, 10 December 2008

HIV/AIDS medical research is a waste of money

Two thirds of this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine is awarded to Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for their discovery of HIV, the virus that cause AIDS (the last third of the Prize goes to Harald zur Hausen for the discovery that the human papilloma virus causes cervical cancer). Although it is now 25 years since HIV was first isolated we are no closer of finding a cure/vaccine for it. It is becoming more and more clear that if our biggest interest lies in eradicating HIV we need to stop wasting time and money on medical research.

I have mentioned it before on this blog (e.g. Thabo Mbeki should have won Nobel Prize in medicine) that the HIV-virus has an almost unique combination of traits, which makes it so successful in spreading and avoiding being “caught”. The fact that HIV attacks our immune system’s “virus defence”, and that it constantly mutates is bad enough. An extra fuel to this fire is that the virus predominately spreads by sexual contact and has a very long incubation time.

Being that it is the less developed countries that are hit the most by the HIV plague. It feels almost somewhat immoral to do research for vaccines/cures that most of the HIV-exposed people in the world won’t be able to afford. The focus should instead be directed towards many of the so-called secondary causes to AIDS. The rapid spread of HIV is much due to the very intense promiscuous human nature, which is probably best addressed by ABC (Abstinence, Being Faithful, Condomise).

Moreover, it has been suggested that high food prices have a significant effect on both proactive and reactive HIV/AIDS measures. As can be found in a very interesting article by Peace Nganwa there are several less obvious causes to the spread of HIV, which all can be linked to food insecurity (see How high food prices increase the risk of HIV). For example high food prices forces many poor families to pull out their children from school, which deprives them of education about HIV/AIDS and ABC.

Although I have said it before, I will say it again. The battle against HIV/AIDS will not be won in the medical research labs, it can only be won out in the field. Efforts need to be put into minimize the secondary causes of the spread of HIV/AIDS. This has to be done by a change of attitudes, especially among politicians, and change of social and political structures. I am not entirely sure who will be best suited for this job, but I think there is a potential among the people that live in HIV-infested areas, and understand how the disease is linked to many other factors in society. If these people would be given the same resources as medical researches, I am sure they would be more successful in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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Monday, 8 December 2008

It is not Mugabe's fault!

Can one consider Robert Mugabe as a disease? As a cancerous tumour that needs to be removed by brutal force? And upon removal of this cyst, is there anything to fill the gap after it? And who is willing to perform the operation? Do AU troops have enough surgical skills, or is the expertise of the UN needed? Will Zimbabwe’s closest friend; South Africa, provide comfort and support, or will it be too busy with its own operation; removing its foot from its ass...?

Many questions, few answers. The only thing we can be sure of is that Mr Tumour himself will never see his part in the deterioration of Zimbabwe’s body and soul. Instead he will blame other pathogens.

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