Africa has been dealing with the impacts of climate change since the 1970s. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described the African continent as the one that will be most affected.

What does Africa need to tackle climate change?

Out of the 10 countries most affected by greenhouse gas emissions, six of them are in Africa, yet the continent only receives 5 percent of dedicated climate funding, writes Abou-Sabaa [Reuters]
Out of the 10 countries most affected by greenhouse gas emissions, six of them are in Africa, yet the continent only receives 5 percent of dedicated climate funding, writes Abou-Sabaa [Reuters]

One Planet Summit showcases Africa’s role against climate change – Maria Macharia

While Africa is responsible for merely 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 65 percent of the continent’s estimated population of 1,3 billion people is considered to be directly impacted by climate change.

It is against the backdrop of this irony that global leaders, entrepreneurs, international organizations, and civil society meet in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Thursday next week to help accelerate focus and attention on climate investments in line with the Paris Agreement objectives.

The stakeholders will meet under the auspices of the One Planet Summit (OPS), which also focuses on promoting renewable energies, fostering resilience and adaptation and protecting biodiversity in the continent.

“OPS, which is in its third edition, is the French initiative to engage states and global ministers to implement climate policies,” said Mr Lõhmus. Nairobi will be the first first regional host of the OPS.

One Planet Summit (OPS) is held following the realization that resources and solutions for renewable energy already exist in Africa but there is a need to speed their financing and mainstream their development

AIWA! NO!

French President, Emmanuel Macron, and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, as well as World Bank Group Interim President Kristalina Georgieva and UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, will co-chair the conference, which will be among the highlights will co-chair the conference, which will be among the highlights of the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) running from March 11-15.

Ado Lohmus, a UNEA special envoy, this week confirmed Macron will be in the East African country next week.

“On the 14th, he (Macron) will open the OPS, which will also be meeting here in Kenya alongside UNEA,” Lohmus said in Nairobi this week.

More than 2000 delegates from around the world have registered to attend UNEA-4 and are to be a key part of OPS proceedings.

OPS is one in a series of some climate events this year leading up to the UN 2019 Climate Summit and to the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In December 2018, the World Bank Group announced a major new set of climate targets for 2021-2025, doubling its current 5-year investments to around $200 billion in support for countries to take ambitious climate action.

Africa, from the shores of Lake Chad to the Congo Basin, is being hardest hit by the effects of climate change but it can also be at the forefront of solutions

The new plan significantly boosts support for adaptation and resilience, recognizing mounting climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries. The plan also represents significantly ramped up ambition from the World Bank Group, sending an important signal to the wider global community to do the same.

Ahead of the OPS, Kenya government officials assured preparations for the OPS were progressing well, with the country having previously held international events of this nature.

Last year, Kenya co-hosted the first-ever global conference on the sustainable blue economy, alongside Canada.

OPS is held following the realization that resources and solutions for renewable energy already exist in Africa but there is a need to speed their financing and mainstream their development.

Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s Ambassador to France, and French State Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Brune Poirson, recently held meetings to finalise plans for the OPS and UNEA-4.

Macron has previously spoken of his government’s goal to be a strategic partner to Africa in the field of climate change adaptation.

France is the largest financial contributor to the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), alongside Germany and followed by the Council of the European Union.

At the Africa-France Summit held in Mali in 2017, the French president announced that financing for renewable energy in Africa would be increased from €2 billion to €3 billion, implemented by the Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency) over the 2016-2020 period.

“Africa, from the shores of Lake Chad to the Congo Basin, is being hardest hit by the effects of climate change but it can also be at the forefront of solutions. It can succeed where Europe has not always been able to,” Macron prominently said during a state visit to Burkina Faso in late 2017.

This week, the World Bank, a partner for the OPS, stated cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Nairobi, could inform global action on climate change.

Nairobi already has a strong private sector presence as the eighth most attractive city in Africa for foreign direct investment, according to the global institution.

“As such, it can share important lessons learned with other cities in the region and around the world. The One Planet Summit provides the perfect space to do just that by actively inviting new partners to collaborate and launch new initiatives,” the World Bank stated.

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The Greenpeace and AirVisual analysis of air pollution readings from 3,000 cities around the world found that 64% exceed the World Health Organization’s annual exposure guideline for PM2.5 fine particulate matter – tiny airborne particles, about a 40th of the width of a human hair, that are linked to a wide range of health problems.

90% of people breathe polluted air; New Delhi is world’s most polluted big city, Beijing eighth

Beijing ranks #122 on the list of the world's most polluted cities
Beijing ranks #122 on the list of the world’s most polluted cities

As temperatures fall, air quality worsens in the Indian capital – AIWA! NO!

New Delhi was the world’s most polluted capital city in 2018, two groups monitoring air pollution said on Tuesday in a study of the amount of fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 in 61 capital cities around the world. 

The Indian capital, home to more than 20 million people, was followed by the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka and Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, according to the study by IQ AirVisual, a Swiss-based group that gathers air-quality data globally, and Greenpeace.

FILE PHOTO: Men walk in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
PHOTO: Men walk in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The Indian capital, home to more than 20 million people, was followed by the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka and Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, according to the study by IQ AirVisual, a Swiss-based group that gathers air-quality data globally, and Greenpeace.

New Delhi’s toxic air is caused by vehicle and industrial emissions, dust from building sites, smoke from the burning of rubbish and crop residue in nearby fields.

The city’s average annual concentration of PM2.5 in a cubic meter of air was 113.5 in 2018, the groups said in their report, more than double the level of Beijing, which averaged 50.9 during the year, making it the eighth most polluted in the world.

FILE PHOTO: A man rides his bicycle in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
FILE PHOTO: A man rides his bicycle in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

PM2.5, or particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, is so dangerous because it lodges deep in the lungs.

The World Health Organization sets a daily mean air quality guideline of 25 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter of air.

China struggled for years to enforce environment rules and crack down on polluting industries, but it has benefited in recent years from vastly improved legislation and greater political will to combat poor air quality.

“In mainland China, in particular, this has led to significant improvements in year-on-year reductions in PM2.5 levels,” the groups said in their joint study.

India is home to 15 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, they said.

“The question which remains to be answered is whether there is enough political will to aggressively fight the health emergency India faces today and move away from polluting fuels and practices,” said Pujarini Sen, spokeswoman for Greenpeace India.

Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani


Elephants have very large and complex brains. At an average of 4.8, kg the elephant brain is the largest among living and extinct terrestrial mammals. Elephants have the greatest volume of cerebral cortex available for cognitive processing of all land mammals. The neocortex, which in humans is the seat of enhanced cognitive function such as working memory, planning, spatial orientation, speech and language, is large and highly convoluted.

Betty The Learned Elephant, Make the world better – #BehaveMoreElephant

We feel deep gratitude to ELEPHANTS, for what they have taught us and for what they mean to us.

We feel deep gratitude to ELEPHANTS, for what they have taught us and for what they mean to humankind – Crimson Tazvinzwa, AIWA! NO!

May 25th is solemnly recognized as “Elephant Day” in Chepachet, for it was on May 25, 1826 that Betty, The Learned Elephant, was shot and killed in the village.

Betty’s first appearance in Chepachet was July 31, 1822 and she won the hearts of amazed onlookers with her intelligence and size. People here, as well as those up and down the eastern seaboard, were seeing the elephant from Calcutta, India for the very first time. Betty, or Little Bett as she was affectionately called by her owner, was only the second elephant to walk on the North American continent.

The first Indian elephant was Big Bett, who arrived aboard Jacob Crowninshield’s ship, America, at New York Harbor during 1796. Soon she was purchased by Hakaliah Bailey, the predecessor of the Bailey of the famous Barnum & Bailey Circus, which was yet to be created many years later. In those early days, Big Bett was displayed in coastal cities and towns by a keeper who might lease her for the season, then return her to Hakaliah Bailey at his home in Somers, New York to winter over in the shelter of his enormous barn.

Elephants are very long-lived and exhibit a high degree of social complexity. Their social network is unusually large, radiating out from the natal family through bond groups, clans, and independent adult males and beyond to strangers. The close and enduring cooperative social relationships operating between in dividuals and families within this fluid multi-tiered society is rare in the animal kingdom.

ELEPHANT VOICES

Exotic animals from foreign lands across the ocean became a tremendous attraction and drew people away from church-going. Such diversion from the study of the Scriptures was considerred by the religious community as the work of the devil. And still the crowds came to see these marvelous creatures.

In the summer of 1816, Big Bett and her keeper were in Alfred, Maine and made the mistake of walking across the farmland of a religious fanatic on a Sunday. The farmer shot her. Poor Mr Bailey was heartbroken and, in Big Bett’s memory, he erected an elephant statue in his home town of Somers, New York which stands today in front of Elephant Hotel.

Mr Bailey’s determination to have a replacement for the precious pet he had lost resulted in the arrival of a ship from India with his Little Bett, who became well known from Charlestown to Portland as the fabulous Learned Elephant, also known as Betty.

By 1822 a broadside proclaimed the arrival of the talented 12-year-old pachyderm in Rhode Island and Betty lumbered into Chepachet under cover of darkness on July 31. Her keeper and guards raised the tent sides so that, by morning’s early light, the 6,000 pond elephant was concealed from view. To see the wondrous celebrity there was an admission fee of 12 1/2 cents – children under 12 half-price.

Following the warmth of the spring sun northward, Little Bett walked for four more years, satisfying the curiosity of villagers from the Carolinas to Maine.

Upon Betty’s reurn to Chepachet, cruel fate dealt her a lethal blow on May 25, 1826 at the old wooden bridge that spanned Chepachet River. Hakaliah Bailey had lost yet another marvelous elephant.

Then the realization began to dawn among those with exotic animal traveling shows that they must improve their public image and unify to protect themselves and their valuable animals. Circus Fans of America now recognize this incident nearly 200 years ago as the deciding factor that led to the formation of the American circus as we know it today.

On the 150th anniversary of Betty’s death, Chepachet’s historian decided that it was time for the village to honor the Learned Elephant. After convincing the Rhode Island General Assembly to proclaim May 25, 1976 “Elephant Day,” the citizens of Chepachet placed a commemorative plaque on the bridge to mark the spot where Little Bett had fallen. Commemorative ceremonies of one sort or another have been held each year since.

Edna M. Kent
Glocester Historian
www.glocesterhistorian.com

It's the perfect chance for animal lovers of all ages to get close to one of the most majestic mammals in the world!

There’s a really dark side to ‘Elephant Tourism’: circuses, bull hooks and hard labour; check out Betty – the elephant’s abuse hidden in plain sight

The Dark Truth Behind Elephant Rides

Animal Defenders International

AIWA! NO!|This is a snapshot of a day in the life of Betty, an elephant used for rides in the US.

Travelling from city to city, Betty stands silent and still as groups of people clamber onto her back. After walking around in a circle, the group climbs off Betty and another takes their place. And so it goes on and on, day after day, month after month, year after year.

Try not to "squee" too loud while adoring these pictures of Betty White at the Reid Park Zoo
Try not to “squee” too loud while adoring these pictures of Betty White at the Reid Park Zoo

All the while Larry Carden stands by Betty’s side, bull-hook in hand, a constant reminder of what will happen if she does not follow his commands.

This is a man who was arrested and accused of animal abuse after using the bullhook on another elephant Bo as he led him off the stage during a performance at UniverSoul Circus in Atlanta in 2015.

Bullhook/ANKUS

Notice how he holds the torture devices in full view of the elephants in order to remind them what will happen if they get any ideas about refusing to perform confusing tricks or even just about reaching for a few leaves on a tree. I wonder if the elephants have ever thought about wrapping their trunks around one of those things and showing Mr. Scummy Handler exactly how it feels.

Notice how he holds the torture devices in full view of the elephants in order to remind them what will happen if they get any ideas about refusing to perform confusing tricks or even just about reaching for a few leaves on a tree. I wonder if the elephants have ever thought about wrapping their trunks around one of those things and showing Mr. Scummy Handler exactly how it feels.

As we know only too well, and have the evidence of our investigations to show, such abuse is usually hidden from view.

Oakland committee to vote on ban of bullhook use on elephants
Joshua Escobar on December 2, 2014

For Betty, Bo, and other elephants and wild animals suffering in circuses across the US today, please support state and federal legislation to help them: http://bit.ly/SCS-US

Our thanks to the ADI supporter who took this video of Betty at the Garden Bros Circus in Denver, Colorado this weekend.

Indonesia’s latest tsunami raises global questions over world disaster preparedness

Indonesia tsunami raises questions over governments’ disaster readiness and preparedness.

Debris are seen after the tsunami damage at Sunda strait at Kunjir village in South Lampung, Indonesia, December 28, 2018. Antara Foto/Ardia
Debris are seen after the tsunami damage at Sunda strait at Kunjir village in South Lampung, Indonesia, December 28, 2018. Antara Foto/Ardia

By Fergus Jensen and Fanny PotkinCIGONDONG/JAKARTA, Indonesia REUTERS|AIWA! NO!| – As Indonesia reels from the carnage of yet another natural disaster, authorities around the globe are working on how they can prepare for the kind of freak tsunami that battered coasts west of Jakarta this month.

The Dec. 23 tsunami killed around 430 people along the coastlines of the Sunda Strait, capping a year of earthquakes and tsunamis in the vast archipelago, which straddles the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire.

No sirens were heard in those towns and beaches to alert people before the deadly series of waves hit shore.

Seismologists and authorities say a perfect storm of factors caused the tsunami and made early detection near impossible given the equipment in place.

But the disaster should be a wake-up call to step up research on tsunami triggers and preparedness, said several of the experts, some of whom have traveled to the Southeast Asian nation to investigate what happened.

“Indonesia has demonstrated to the rest of the world the huge variety of sources that have the potential to cause tsunamis. More research is needed to understand those less-expected events,” said Stephen Hicks, a seismologist at the University of Southampton.

Most tsunamis on record have been triggered by earthquakes. But this time it was an eruption of Anak Krakatau volcano that caused its crater to partially collapse into the sea at high tide, sending waves up to 5 metres (16 feet) high smashing into densely populated coastal areas on Java and Sumatra islands.

During the eruption, an estimated 180 million cubic metres, or around two-thirds of the less-than-100-year-old volcanic island, collapsed into the sea.

But the eruption didn’t rattle seismic monitors significantly, and the absence of seismic signals normally associated with tsunamis led Indonesia’s geophysics agency (BMKG) initially to tweet there was no tsunami.

Muhamad Sadly, head of geophysics at BMKG, later told Reuters its tidal monitors were not set up to trigger tsunami warnings from non-seismic events.

The head of Japan’s International Research Institute of Disaster, Fumihiko Imamura, told Reuters he did not believe Japan’s current warning system would have detected a tsunami like the one in the Sunda Strait.

“We still have some risks of this in Japan…because there’s 111 active volcanoes and low capacity to monitor eruptions generating a tsunami,” he said in Jakarta.

Scientists have long flagged the collapse of Anak Krakatau, around 155 km (100 miles) west of the capital, as a concern. A 2012 study published by the Geological Society of London deemed it a “tsunami hazard.”

Anak Krakatau has emerged from the Krakatoa volcano, which in 1883 erupted in one of the biggest explosions in recorded history, killing more than 36,000 people in a series of tsunamis and lowering the global surface temperature by one degree Celsius with its ash.

BROKEN WARNING SYSTEM

Some experts believe there was enough time for at least a partial detection of last week’s tsunami in the 24 minutes it took waves to hit land after the landslide on Anak Krakatau.

But a country-wide tsunami warning system of buoys connected to seabed sensors has been out of order since 2012 due to vandalism, neglect and a lack of public funds, authorities say.

“The lack of an early warning system is why Saturday’s tsunami was not detected,” said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho, adding that of 1,000 tsunami sirens needed across Indonesia, only 56 are in place.

“Signs that a tsunami was coming weren’t detected and so people did not have time to evacuate.”

President Joko Widodo this week ordered BMKG to purchase new early warning systems, and the agency later said it planned to install three tsunami buoys on the islands surrounding Anak Krakatau.

The cost of covering the country is estimated at 7 trillion rupiah ($481.10 million). That is roughly equivalent to Indonesia’s total disaster response budget of 7.19 trillion rupiah for 2018, according to Nugroho.

But other experts say even if this network had been working, averting disaster would have been difficult.

“The tsunami was very much a worst-case scenario for any hope of a clear tsunami warning: a lack of an obvious earthquake to trigger a warning, shallow water, rough seabed, and the close proximity to nearby coastlines,” said seismologist Hicks.

In the Philippines, Renato Solidum, undersecretary for disaster risk reduction, said eruptions from the country’s Taal volcano had caused tsunami waves before in the surrounding Taal Lake.

He told Reuters that what happened in Indonesia showed the need to “re-emphasize awareness and preparedness” regarding volcanic activity and its potential to trigger tsunamis in the Philippines.

The United States has also suffered several tsunamis caused by volcanic activity, including in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington, according to the national weather service.

MORE EDUCATION

In Indonesia earlier this year, a double quake-and-tsunami disaster killed over 2,000 people on Sulawesi island, while at least 500 died when an earthquake flattened much of the northern coastline of the holiday island of Lombok.

In a country where, according to government data, 62.4 percent of the population is at risk of being struck by earthquakes and 1.6 percent by tsunamis, attention is now focused on a continued lack of preparedness.

“Given the potential for disasters in the country, it’s time to have disaster education be part of the national curriculum,” Widodo told reporters after the latest tsunami.

For Ramdi Tualfredi, a high school teacher who survived last week’s waves, these improvements cannot come soon enough.

He told Reuters that people in his village of Cigondong on the west coast of Java and close to Krakatau had never received any safety drills or evacuation training.

“I’ve never received education on safety steps,” he said.

“The system…totally failed.”

($1 = 14,550 rupiah)

(Additional reporting by Wilda Asmarini, Tabita Diela, Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta, Linda Sieg and Tanaka Kiyoshi in Tokyo, and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila.; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)