Olive Branch Optimism
what a wonderful world...
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Carbon Exchange!!!
I've been hearing a lot of talk about Carbon Emission Exchange and Carbon Neutrality as of late, and I want to start by saying that I STRONGLY support the idea of an international carbon emmission exchange program. Why is it so important???

Well, in any case if we wish to defeat Global Warming it is extremely important to bring big business and global corporations on-board in the fight to decrease carbon emissions, and if we can't find a way to make it profitable to do so, it will never happen. So your probably wondering just how does this work??? How can a "Carbon Exchange Program" actually reduce the level of carbon in the air?

I'm no scientist or whatever- but I do understand the concept and will try to explain it in the simplest, most easy to understand way I know how. I'll start with the simplest part- the production of "carbon credits"- the "currency" exchanged in Carbon Emission trading schemes.

Carbon Credits are earned through the research, production or development of products which work to reduce the level of carbon, in the air. This can happen in any number of ways, but does include many variables. Here are just a few examples of ways in which carbon credits can be earned.

The creation of "Carbon Sinks" - the earth has natural methods of consuming carbon dioxide, they are the major way carbon dioxide levels are kept neutral by the Earth; and an effective way to earn carbon credits. There must also be carbon sinks other than those which occur naturally; forrests etc. But this is just a basic list:

1) Planting forrests. The tree's consume Carbon Dioxide and turn it into oxygen, storing the Carbon in their physical makeup (a tree trunk is over 50% carbon- so I am lead to believe).

2) Creating products to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and break the atomic structure down into carbon and oxygen seperately, and then put the carbon to use for some other purpose.

Another method of earning Carbon Credits is to research and produce alternative products with a greater level of energy efficiency. Reducing the overall consumption of energy//electricity is a sure-thing way of reducing carbon emission; particularly in Australia and other nations where the majority of energy is still produced from the burning of "Fossil Fuels" such as oil, gas and coal. There are many examples of products with greater energy-efficieny that are priced out of equal competition with those products wich are cheaper to make, but less energy efficient. Carbon Credits become worth money as the supply-demand ratio changes, and as such are a way for those who produce energy efficient products to make extra profit; which then in turn allows them to sell their product cheaper and as allow it to price-match with products that are less-efficient.

Here is a small list of consumer-end products which could earn their producer Carbon credits.

1) Energy efficient light-bulbs.
2) High-efficiency batteries
3) Solar-powered devices (like solar-hot water, solar panels for homes etc)
4) Energy efficient buildings//homes
5) Hybrid cars (which consume much less petrol than average cars).

There are many many things which could go on this list but when producing a carbon emission trading scheme there are more things which must be considered like, when these products pass their expiry date, what will happen to them? Will they loose their efficiency? Will they put carbon back into the atmosphere? Will a better technology arrive and take-over, making this product no-longer considered "efficient", since this is a term relative to what is dominantly used.

Of course then there are the other major ways Carbon credits can be earnt and emissions can be reduced; the use, research and production of products required for finding and making use of alternate, sustainable sources of energy is the feild most important and which would benefit most from any carbon emission trading scheme.

These industries include:

Solar-fuelled Power Stations//Generators.
Wind-fuelled Power Stations//Generators.
Tidal fuelled Power Stations//Generators.
Geothermal Power Stations.

NUCLEAR power technology is one that would be heavily debated since there has been no safe way of getting rid of radioactive waste yet; however it could be used temporarily as a way to reach our short-term goals of drastically reducing carbon emissions.

So there you have it. That's how carbon credits would be produced. All those involved in the aformentioned industries would then have carbon credits, equal to one kilogram of carbon emission into the air (per credit), which they could then sell off to carbon-emitting companies. This also means it would cost the company more for every extra kilogram of Carbon Dioxide they pump into the atmosphere- which, in itself, acts as a deterrant to carbon emission as well as an incentive to increase the efficiency of products and production lines.

I hope this all makes sense to those of you who read all the way to hear. It's a very interesting concept that I think we need to push our governments and the United Nations into creating as a global exchange. Not on a country-to-country basis either; this would be unfair because developed countries can afford to buy up all the credits at the expense of developing countries- it needs to be done on a BUSINESS TO BUSINESS scale on an INTERNATIONAL level.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Saddams Penalty
On Sunday the 5th of November an event occurred which shook, and sometimes shocked members of the Iraqi blogosphere; Saddam Hussein was sentanced to death. For those who don't know the court case was in relation to the slaughter of 148 civilians in the town of Dujail 1982, as revenge for a failed attempt to assasinate Saddam Hussein. Iraqi's in the Middle Eastern blogosphere reacted in different ways- but one thing was clear; they know he's guilty, but is he getting off too easy?

The first and most important place to start with this report is over at Asterism. Here Salam Adil has already written a round-up of discussion about the Saddam verdict in the Iraqi Blogosphere; make sure you check it out. Next most important is probably this post by Zeyad from Healing Iraq, also a round-up of the Iraqi blogosphere's responses. Another round-up of responses from the Iraqi blogosphere was also completed this week, however this time not from within the Iraqi blogosphere; the Christian Science Monitor (which conduct's probably the best Iraqi-reporting in American media) have used Iraqi' bloggers as a key source in an article discussing the verdict.The article "Iraq's bloggers weigh in on Hussein death sentence" was written by Arthur Bright and compares the differing responses from George W Bush, the Baath party, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with those of several prominant Iraqi bloggers.

The rest of this roundup will attempt to develop and understand the dominant arguments being presented through the Iraqi blogosphere in relation to the verdict. There are several of these arguments, ranging from those who believe this will have a huge impact, through to those who believe it will make little to no difference at all.

Lets begin with those who obviously don't think this will make Iraq better; there is Fatima and her neighbourhood who aren't celebrating, Truth About Iraqi's, Zuzu thinks the whole charade is organised to increase the tension in iraq. Zeyad thinks this will all play into the hands of al-Sadr and al-Hakim, the post also includes a translation of the response by Shalash al-Iraqi. Sam at "An Iraqi's Thoughts" is glad the verdict has finally come but still see's troubled times ahead for Iraq. Khalid at "Tell Me A Secret" doesn't believe Saddam's sentance will improve the situation at all and believes that Saddam's death will probably be held off until a politically "convenient" time.

Then there's those who are celebrating or think it is atleast a small step forwards; Hammorabi, Dr Nazhad Khasraw Hawramany from "Iraqi Kurdistan", Sooni and probably others. Similarly, Asterism see's this as a gift to the Mehdi army- do some research and make up your own mind about wether that is good or bad for Iraq.

However others think Saddam should not be hung-yet, because thats too easy (Neurotic Iraqi Wife), or that hanging him will make very little difference in the over-all scheme of things. Marshmallow is neither against nor for it, she does not FEEL anything about it; she just wants Iraq to be on it's feet again. Riverbend reminds us that presidents and governments come and go; it's not all about the man it's about the feeling of being a pawn in someone elses game of chess. Hala_S looks at the reality of the situation; even as all this is going on, Iraqi's are still "not allowed to be happy" and are being broken into smaller factions.

There is only one firm conclusion here: Saddam deserve's to suffer for what he has done. Which leaves us with another firm question, is death by hanging enough for a man whose hands are soaked in so much blood?
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Surviving the 21st century: 101.
So we're in the 21st century (supposedly). We've been here 6 years already and all these promises of a better life and a better future seem to be collectively flowing out the door. Instead we are heading towards armageddon or at very least World War Three as the self-centred populations of developed countries do nothing but consume, consume, consume and consume a little more.

We're still relying on dodgy old cars that spill more pollution into the atmosphere than a coal-fired powerplant. Which reminds me, we still use coal-fired powerplants for the majority of our electricity generation here in Australia, despite the availability of hundreds of alternative forms of energy production. Not to mention the fact that hundreds of ways to decrease energy consumption by increasing product efficiency have been ignored for years on end.

If we're going to live through the 21st century without bringing the advancement of the human race to a grinding halt we're going to need to work on what we've already got- not ignore it in hope of finding some kind of "miracle cure" to all our problems that allows us to go on consuming, consuming, consuming and consuming a little more. These are just some basic steps we can all take to start decreasing energy consumption around the world and increasing the efficiency of energy consuming products and persons.

Step 1) If it doesn't greatly disrupt your life not to use it, don't use it.
Step 2) If it's not in use, turn it off (except for products which use more electricity to turn themselves on than in being left on).
Step 3) If you can find something more efficient, use it!!!!
Step 4) If you have an old car that spits exhaust on those behind you; UPGRADE.
Step 5) If your using deisel; MAKE YOUR OWN.
Step 6) If you buy absolutely everything from the one place, DON'T BE SO LAZY.
Step 7) If your going to repeat something your told, RESEARCH IT FIRST.
Step 8) If your hungry, MAKE SOMETHING YOURSELF
Step 9) If you live in a house with unused land; GROW SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE.
Step 10) If you or your workplace are extremely wastefull; USE OR LIMIT THE WASTE.
Step 11) If you don't know how good something is for your health; FIND OUT.
Step 12) If you don't know how bad something is for your health; FIND OUT.
Step 13) If you can use something which is BETTER for you health; DO IT.
Step 14) If you don't know how bad something is for the environment; FIND OUT.
Step 15) If you can use something BETTER for the enviroment; DO IT.
Step 16) If you don't believe you can make a difference in the world; FIND A WAY.
Step 17) If you believe you CAN make a difference in the world; DO IT.
Step 18) If you have never planted a tree in your life; DO IT.
Step 19) If you are using something you know is dodgy; FIND AN ALTERNATIVE
Step 20) If your life motto is "She'll be right"; CHANGE IT
Step 21) If your life motto is "Can't someone else do it?"; CHANGE IT.
Step 22) If your life motto is "I'll do it later"; DO IT NOW.
Step 23) If your biography contains no positive contributions to the world; MAKE IT.
Step 24) If you hate it when someone does something; DON'T DO IT YOURSELF.
Step 25) If your happy being ignorant at everyone elses expense; SHOOT YOURSELF.

If steps 25-onwards don't automatically appear in your brain when you really try to think about it, perhaps your stuck between Step 24 and Step 26. The hypothesis of this post is very very very very simple.

Thursday, November 02, 2006
Ramadan, Politicians & War
Life goes on as norm in the Middle Eastern blogosphere with much discussion about politics, politicians and their many promises and failures. However one clear distinction can be noticed in the Lebanese blogosphere, the argument of who won the recent war in Lebanon. The question however is not who gained from this conflict, rather it appears to be who can shout we won the most//loudest.

The findings from the Brammertz Report, a study into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005, was cause for discussion. BOB, from Bob's Blog found several interesting points in this report and highlighted them in his post on the Lebanon Bloggers Forum entitled My take on Brameretz report. This report and the many protests organized by political powers in Lebanon have brought back memories of the Cedar Revolution, the series of protests in response to Hariri's assassination, leaving many wondering what has changed since March 14, 2005? For those who have never seen nor heard of the Cedar Revolution, I will add some protest-photos at the bottom of this post.

Wrapping up the Lebanon discussion I am happy to say atleast something positive has been noted as a result of the recent war, Ramrumple writes about Lebanese womens reaction to the influx of UNIFIL boys into southern Lebanon.

Across to the United Arab Emirates next where improvements are being made to the worrisome level of internet censorship ! Keefyboy from Adventures in Dubai posts about the UAE's only telecom company Etisalat unblocking some of the most popular sites on the internet, possibly in response to the imminent launch of a second telecom company du.Grapeshisha also writes a compelling post labeled the Dollar value of banned sites in the UAE, which addresses the issue of banning popular community building sites like myspace and comparing this with the need for banning sites that actually deserve it. Grapeshisha argues that the UAE, which prides itself in being technologically advanced should not be restricting the internet medium, but rather working with the medium to create a friendly environment for Muslim populations.

Before finishing up with a very brief description of what's going on in Iraq there is an important topic to mention; this month (beginning upon the sighting of the moon on September 23 this year) is Ramadan. While some bloggers mention how this holy month been taken to far, used for profit and missunderstood by some who partake in the ;fasting;, secretdubai from Secret Dubai Diary explains that Ramadan is actually about the cleansing the soul. Despite being a holy-month dedicated to spiritual cleansing and self sacrifice, not much has changed in Iraq where extremists are rampaging with killings, after killings, after killing and worse. (MAKE SURE YOU READ THAT LAST LINK), and finally it amazes me how some Iraqi's can maintain their sense of humour, even in times like these...
We're all the the same...

While Muslim's leaders demand apologies and the Muslim street breaks out in protest against the Pope's use of an anti-Islamic quote from a 14th century Byzantine leader, many bloggers look at the reaction wondering why?.

Keefy from Adventures in Dubai posted the entire text of the pope's speech and bet most of the protestors had not read it. Ramrumple wonders why it's not OK to portray Hassan Nasrallah (Hizballah Leader) in a comical sketch, but it's OK for al-Jazeera TV to do the same by portraying the pope as shooting down peace (in the form of doves)? Iraq Pundit gives an almost comical commentary of how the situation has unfolded, pointing out the irony in these violent reactions. He also wonders why there is no reaction from the Muslim street when hundreds of Muslims are killed each day in Iraq in the name of Islam.

Iraq The Model, one of the most popular blogs in the Middle East, tries to look at things from a different perspective, using an academic approach by quoting respected Arabic books on Islamic History. However a few days later Omar posts his anger about what he calls a "War on Peace" by Islamic extremists.

In the comments section of this post there was an interesting conversation about the role of militant islam's role in global terrorism. Two interesting comments were posted by "bg" on the 25th of September the first was the introduction to an excellent "weekly roundup" of radical islamic activity around the globe written by by Charles Bird from Obsidian Wings. The second comment sampled and linked this article, which discusses true role of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network (literally, The Base network) in organising and perpetuating militancy among Islamic extremists around the globe.

There were over 150 comments from people all-over the globe on that particular post, and the same or more on most other recent posts at Iraq The Model; this blog is a very successful forum for discussion about Iraq and the Middle East in general. There was much other discussion in the Middle Eastern blogosphere aside from the Pope issue. As usual there are always some stories of hope such as the post "Iraqi Muslim Amongst Jewish People! Felt Welcomed!" from 24 Steps To Liberty, an Iraqi blogger who moved to America very recently.

Truth Teller, the Iraqi doctor who blogs at "A Citizen of Mosul" briefly tells the story of having to move his clinic somewhere safer due to poor the security situation. Discussion about the Middle East outside of the blogosphere tends to be limited to professional opinions, journalistic reporting or discussion about western policy and wars in the area. Just search Google for "Online Discussion" + "Middle East" and see for yourself. However in the Middle Eastern blogosphere, especially for those who delve deep into the comments sections, there is a wealth of practical analysis and discussion about moving forwards. What's most impressive is how some people like the Tel Aviv university lecturer Ze'ev Maoz can breach cultural boundaries and discuss the situation realistically.

I have recently been asked the question "is the blogosphere going to bring a solution to the problems in the Middle East?". To this I must say no, it is not the solution itself, it will definately be part of the solution. But to end this post here is something from Hala_S to remind us that we all come from the same place.