Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Commonsense wisdom from African farmers

They know “sustainable development” really means sustained poverty and malnutrition

By Kelvin Kemm (Dr Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and business strategy consultant in Pretoria, South Africa)

If you want to learn what farmers think (and need), talk to African farmers – not to bureaucrats, environmental activists or politicos at the Rio+20 United Nations summit in Rio de Janeiro. You’ll get very different, far more honest and thoughtful perspectives.

The recent (May 24) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network conference in Pretoria, South Africa brought together delegates from agricultural communities in many African countries. FANRPAN’s primary objective is to improve food security in Africa, by ensuring that small-scale farmers can become more productive. Their obvious enthusiasm and commonsense views were heartening.

FANRPAN chair Sindiso Ngwenya of Zambia gave an incisive presentation, pointing out that agriculture is the key to reducing poverty and ensuring food security in Africa. “We call upon the world to assist us,” he said, “not by treating us as beggars, but by treating us as equals.”

Ngwenya criticised many First World attempts to use climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development arguments to prevent African agriculture from advancing. “If you are using implements that were there before Christ, how much chance do you have?” he wanted to know.

And why would anyone think these UN-EU-US issues are important to African farmers and families who are trying to feed their families and neighbors, and improve their living standards by exporting their products?

Africa does not need foreign aid in the form of handouts, Ngwenya emphasized. African farmers need modern technology and reliable, affordable electricity. They need the world to buy African produce. Instead, far too often, European and other First World countries impose rules or block African exports, using a multitude of excuses that can no longer be tolerated.

FANRPAN has decided to go “Africa-wide,” Ngwenya announced. Africa is huge –larger than the United States, China, India and Europe combined. And yet 60% of its arable land is not used at all. On the arable land that is used in most African countries, crop yields are typically a quarter of the norm in South Africa. What’s needed, he said, are modern farming methods, seeds, fertilizers and equipment –at the level of every individual farmer.

Referring to the 2011 COP-17 world environment congress in Durban, South Africa, Ngwenya pointed out that the FANRPAN slogan is “No agriculture, no deal.” However, agriculture, and particularly the advancement of rural African agriculture, was not included in past COP objectives. Many delegates criticised this, saying it reflected the First World’s hope that Africa and African agriculture will remain primitive and underdeveloped, so that rich countries can praise Africans for being “sustainable” and protecting the planet.

Africans are being told by First World activists, politicians and pressure groups to “stay in tune with nature,” delegates noted – when this attitude really reflects a well-fed First World’s maneuver to retard African agricultural improvements.

When it came to the eternal climate change saga, FRANRPAN delegates emphasized “climate-smart agriculture” and noted that Africa has always experienced dramatic weather and climate variations. What’s needed now, they stresse, is sensible, fact-based science, to predict and adapt to local and regional climate cycles and variations.

Equally impressive was learning that a group of small-scale farmers from Burkino Faso had paid their own way to attend a meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, nearly 3,000 miles (4,500 kilometers) away, to present a petition calling for the development of evidence-based policies, to replace what to now have been emotional, harmful and oppressive policies, rules and treaties.

The delegates said they were tired of the First World telling them what to do, based on First World interests and perceptions. They understand all too well that calls for “sustainable development,” “biodiversity” and climate change “prevention” really mean demands for policies and practices that ensure sustained poverty and malnutrition.

FRANRPAN CEO Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda emphasized that the real work is done on the ground, at the level of individual countries – and “policy comes from people.” Individual countries must come to their own conclusions about what works for them, and countries must align their policies to ensure food security for their people, she said. Modern methods and technologies are also required, to enhance intra-Africa food trade and enable countries to export what they are good at producing.

Her enthusiasm was praised by a farmer who spoke from the floor, with a strong French accent. “There’s a lack of resources for small farmers to come here,” he said, even for important meetings like this, but he was glad he had spent the time and money to be there. Certainly, those that did attend exhibited enough excitement and enthusiasm for the millions who could not join them.

Chairman Ngwenya wrapped up the proceedings by criticising the apparently intentional side-stepping of agricultural issues during COP-17. The First World must stop impeding African farmers and end “the paralysis by analysis,” he said. Absolutely right.

There is far too much First World smoke and mirrors, telling Africans they are saving the planet – when the real intention is to stop them from acquiring modern technology and electricity that would allow them to surge to middle class or even rich country status.

This FANRPAN conference serves notice to the United Nations Environment Programme, Rio+20 Sustainable Development Summit, Europe, United States and other obstructionists that Africa has caught on to what they are doing – and is no longer willing to play their game.

That’s good news for every African, Asian, Latin American and other poor family that wants to eat better, live better and have the freedom to pursue their dreams.

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It's raining, it's pouring, that'll be the global warming...

Background: Britain has just had what they call a "drought" (it still rains in British droughts) and the doomsters made the most of it. But in accord with the normal fluctuations of British weather Britain is now having huge downpours of rain, with resultant floods in some places

By Richard Littlejohn, commenting from England

Bill Giles, the nation’s favourite weatherman was in no doubt. Britain was burning up. Within 20 years, Dundee would soon be as balmy as Berkshire. France would be virtually uninhabitable, as the Dordogne turned into a desert.

So convinced was Bill by the imminent threat of global warming that he was ripping up his English country garden in Oxfordshire and planting olive trees instead. That was back in 1996.

To be fair to Bill, he wasn’t the only one suckered by the great global warming scam, although as a qualified meteorologist he should have known better. For the past 15 years we have been bombarded with ever more hysterical predictions about the momentous effect ‘man-made’ global warming would have on Britain.

There would be grapevines growing in the Pennines; the Midlands would resemble a Grapes of Wrath-style dustbowl; and in Torquay, giant wildebeest would sweep majestically across the veldt . . . 

Unfortunately for these alarmists, the weather has continued to have other ideas. If the warmists were right, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee would have been blessed with continuous, scorching sunshine and half the country wouldn’t be under three feet of water right now.

Britain’s weather has always been unpredictable. You might have thought they’d have got the message when snow fell in October 2008 on the very day the ‘Climate Change’ Bill was being debated in the House of Commons.

But, then again, you might just as well try to convince an Islamist suicide bomber that if he’s expecting to be greeted in Paradise by 72 virgins, there’s an outside possibility he may be disappointed.

G.K. Chesterton wrote memorably that when people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything. Never has that been more true than in the case of those who worship at the altar of global warming. Even though temperatures peaked in 1998 and the world has been getting colder ever since, the warmists refuse to be deflected from their conviction that the planet is in meltdown.

When it became apparent that temperatures were actually falling, they simply changed the name of their religion from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’. The cooler weather was merely a ‘blip’, they declared. Keep planting the olive trees.

Those of us who had the audacity to pour scorn on their new orthodoxy were smeared as ‘deniers’ — no better than Nazi apologists who maintain the Holocaust never happened.

The virulence of their character assassination merely serves to underline the desperation of their dishonest cause. All evidence to the contrary is discarded. Try pointing out that we had ice fairs on the Thames hundreds of years ago and that Britain experienced a well-documented warm period in medieval times and you can expect a torrent of self-righteous abuse.

They’re not interested in history, they’re only interested in the here-and-now, which is why the warmists have no sense of perspective and will brook no argument.

Thus, the recent drought was proof positive that the world will soon run out of water. Yet the fact that it hasn’t stopped raining since is dismissed as statistically irrelevant.

There is, of course, no accounting for any kind of religious fanatic. They are immune to reason and consider any heretic who challenges their sacred tenets to be fundamentally evil.

The central conceit is that everything bad which happens in the world is man-made and only man can do something about it. They refuse to acknowledge that there are forces bigger than themselves at work.

This is abject nonsense. Whenever there has been a man-made disaster, nature has been quick to clean up.

After Saddam Hussein flooded the Persian Gulf with crude oil, we were told the pollution would last two million years. It was all gone in six months.

Similarly, when the BP pipeline burst in the Gulf of Mexico, it was billed as a catastrophe of biblical proportions which would wipe out an entire ecology. Two years later, tourists are back on the beaches and the seafood restaurants are doing a roaring trade.
Taking advantage: Businesses have spotted a lucrative opportunity to cash in on everything from useless War Of The Worlds wind turbines to state-subsidised solar panels

Taking advantage: Businesses have spotted a lucrative opportunity to cash in on everything from useless War Of The Worlds wind turbines to state-subsidised solar panels

If the great global warming lie was confined to the usual weird beards and dope-addled hippies left over from the Woodstock Generation, none of this would matter much. But ‘climate change’ has been appropriated by big business and big government for their own ends.

Politicians quickly seized on it as a way to expand their own empires, pass new laws and levy an exciting new range of fines and taxes. Here in Britain, Westminster remains in thrall to the green lobby, setting insane targets for carbon reduction, which will destroy what’s left of our manufacturing industry and lead to a serious energy shortage within a few years.

Despite the financial crisis and unsustainable levels of government spending and borrowing, the public sector continues to hire ‘climate change’ advisers and auditors on salaries of up to £65,000.

In the private sector, businesses have spotted a lucrative opportunity to cash in on everything from useless War Of The Worlds wind turbines to state-subsidised solar panels. They are cheered on by the BBC and the Met Office, which continues to get the weather forecast spectacularly wrong while concentrating on its new role combating ‘climate change’. Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, it’s Flaming June in Britain and it’s still raining.

What, then, became of Bill Giles, one of the original prophets of global warming doom? If you watch daytime TV, you may have spotted Bill advertising a home equity release scheme on behalf of a finance company.

Is he planting olive trees in his garden in Oxfordshire? Er, no. He’s playing golf on a time-share complex somewhere hot.

On the firm’s website, Bill writes: ‘I was delighted when they invited me to appear in their new TV advert, particularly when they offered to fly me to Spain to avoid the cold, wet UK weather!’

Be fair, though, Bill has been proved right about one thing. Yesterday the weather in Dundee was exactly the same as the weather in Berkshire — a balmy 53f (12c) and raining.


Another Candidate For Clueless Journalist Of The Year

Steve Goddard is the nemesis of the "freak weather" alarmists. He specializes in history so can show that so-called "freak" weather was common in the past too. Just another small example below

Along comes Dennis Bromage with one of the stupidest Polar Bear stories ever.

A FAMILY of polar bears are left floating in still waters as rising temperatures continue to wreak havoc on their natural habitat.

The mother and her two six-month-old cubs were marooned 60 miles out to sea off the coast of Svalbard, Norway, in the Arctic Circle.

Rising temperatures caused by global warming has seen the polar bear’s natural habitat fall apart.

Photographer Dennis Bromage, 37, from Stockton-on-Tees said: “It’s tragic. The baffled bears just stared into the water as if to say, ’where did all the ice go?’

Looks bad, eh? The next picture shows that they are actually on about 50% concentration ice, ideal for hunting.

"global warming causes ice sheet to break up"

No Dennis, that is called summer, it happens every year. Then he goes on with this unbelievable tripe.
Dennis, who was only ten feet away from the bears on a boat, said: “Their main sources of food are out to sea. "Starving … break up of ice means family can’t reach food. “If forced ashore, they will starve for the summer because there is just nothing for them to eat."

Let’s get this straight. The bears are right where they need to be to get food, and that is bad. If they weren’t there, that would also be bad. No matter where they are, that is bad.

“The ice is breaking up earlier and earlier every year. But the bears will cling on to the ice for as long as they can.”

Complete BS. In 1922, the water around Svalbard never froze all winter, and there weren’t any seals for the bears to eat. There is more ice there now than there was 90 years ago.

Hudson Bay bears go 3-4 months every summer without ice, and their population is booming. It is time to stop lying about Polar Bears, who’s population is at record high numbers.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

All Pain and No Gain

The Illusory Benefits of the Utility MACT

Executive Summary

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)Utility MACT Rule establishes the first-ever maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) fromcoal- and oil-fired power plants.

Mercury is the principal HAP targeted by the Rule. Unlike most air pollutants, mercury poses health risks not via inhalation but after being deposited in bodies of water. Microbes can transform some of the mercury into an organic form, methylmercury, which can accumulate in aquatic food chains.

The EPA contends that pregnant women in subsistence fishing households consume enough methylmercury in self-caught fish to impair fetal cognitive and neurological development. The MACT Rule supposedly reduces the risk to unborn children by lowering methylmercury concentrations in non-commercial fish. But the agency provides no empirical evidence that any American children are harmed by mercury emissions.

With an EPA-estimated annual compliance cost of $9.6 billion, the Utility MACT Rule is one of the most costly environmental regulations in the nation’s history.The EPA claims that the Rule will deliver up to $80 billion in annual net benefits, with no risk of significant adverse impacts on fuel choice, electric supply reliability, or employment. These claims are false.


Distinguished Israeli professor says global warming caused by sun, not man

Note that this is about Giora Shaviv, not Nir Shaviv. Shavivs seem to be a wise lot

After I wrote a commentary here on June 3, 2012 about global warming and climate change and what all this might mean for the future existence of Israel as a state in the arid Middle East, an Israeli scientist that I contacted told me that he thought I was barking up the wrong tree and was wrong about global warming. This led to what, for me, was a fascinating e-dialogue.

I met Professor Emeritus Giora Shaviv, the Swartzmann-Medvedi chair in Space Sciences at The Technion in Haifa after coming across a 2009 news article in the Jewish Chronicle in London headlined “Israeli scientist denies global warming.”

Although Dr Shaviv and I don’t see eye to eye on this, I wanted to find out more about his ideas and climate views, after reading this opening lines of the London story: “A leading Israeli scientist has renounced the concept of man-made global warming at a lecture given to the British Technion Society, just days before world leaders meet to discuss ways to halt it. Professor Giora Shaviv professor of physics at the Technion, claimed that the accepted level of carbon dioxide in the air is wildly exaggerated.”

”Dr Shaviv said that though for years the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has claimed that an increase in carbon dioxide has led to an increase in temperature, in fact, the reverse is correct. He argued that the movement of the sun affects temperature, which influences the levels of carbon dioxide, and that these levels have risen and fallen for centuries, even before mankind.”

Then came the clinker: “CO2 is not responsible for heating the earth, the cause is the activity of the sun which we cannot control,” Dr Shaviv said.

And one British defender of Dr Shaviv’s views was quoted as saying:”There is a hysteria and exaggeration of the issue with people worrying that the end is nigh. People need to calm down. The reality is we haven’t got a clear idea what the climate is doing.”

So, having read all this, I emailed Dr Shaviv in Israel and in Internet time, received a reply from him and we later exchanged a few more cordial and friendly messages back and forth. He knows that I feel that global warming maybe very well spell the end of the human species in the next 500 years, if we do not halt CO2 emissions worldwide. And I know that he disgress with me.

”Dear Danny,” Professor Shaviv wrote to me, when I asked him about global warming, “I did not deny the possibility of global warming in that 2009 article you read online. I argue that

a) If at all, it is not man made, b) It is due to solar activity, c) The effect is much smaller than claimed, and d) It is periodic and warming and cooling happened in the past before the industrial revolution and when there were no humans around.”

When I asked Dr Shaviv what his opinion of climate activist Al Gore, he told me: “Al Gore is an idiot who does not know what he is talking about. He shows two graphs and hides the third one. Moreover, there is evidence that temperature rise preceded the CO2 rise (long before the industrial revolution) so that the cause and effect that Al Gore claims is completely wrong.”

When I asked Dr Shaviv what he thought about my ideas on climate change, especially about the possibility that the very future of Isreal could be at stake within the next 500 years if climate change is not halted, he replied: “I see your points, Danny, and I remain calm. The sun will take care of it.”

What Dr Shaviv was getting at was this: He believes that the sun is most responsible for the flucuations on the Earth’s temperature over millions of years and that global warming is caused by the sun even now, and is not caused by humans or the industrial output of carbon dioxide emissions or cars or India’s and China’s coal burning factories. He believes the sun will take care of eveything and that Al Gore is very very wrong about almost everything.


Australia conservative leader vows to clear way for giant Olympic Dam mine

Greenies hate mines and this one mines the ultimate horror: URANIUM! The Green/Left government are down to about 23% in the polls so Australia should have a conservative government again in about a year's time

FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has committed to removing all obstacles to the Olympic Dam mine's expansion and making its success a priority of the Coalition if it wins government.

He also said that Prime Minister Julia Gillard must give BHP Billiton a written assurance that the Minerals Resource Rent Tax will never be imposed on copper, gold and uranium - which are central to the expanded mine's operations.

Speaking to The Advertiser before a two-day visit to South Australia from today, Mr Abbott, right, said yesterday the Government should simply "abolish the bloody thing" to ensure the project went ahead.

"No one could be more enthusiastic about the Olympic Dam expansion than I am," he said.

"I want to do everything I humanly can to help this expansion to go ahead by not having a carbon tax, not having a mining tax, and trying to ensure that we don't have bloated construction costs because of union militancy through the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

"So there are three major incentives to go ahead that I could provide BHP were the Coalition in government."

Mr Abbott said the project was crucial to the SA economy, creating thousands of jobs and adding up to $7 billion a year in gross state product. It was "hanging in the balance", he warned. BHP Billiton was threatening to put the project on hold, citing the rising costs of doing business in Australia. While the resources giant will be one of the main contributors to Labor's multi-billion-dollar MRRT from next month, this will apply only to super profits made on coal and iron-ore mines.

Mr Abbott, however, says the company and its backers now increasingly are worried about sovereign risk - the future danger of profits being eroded by expanded taxes or more new taxes.

"No one thinks a re-elected Labor government will continue to restrict the mining tax to just those two minerals (coal and iron) and BHP now regards Australia as having serious sovereign risk issues, thanks to the Gillard Government," he said.

"The only way to persuade the mining industry the tax will not be extended to other minerals is to abolish the bloody thing and that's what we'll do."

Mr Abbott, who will visit resources industry businesses while in SA, said the Government should admit it now was putting up barriers to wealth generation.

BHP Billiton has revealed it is unlikely to go ahead with all of its major resources projects as it grapples with declining commodity prices, slowing growth in China and higher operating costs.

"If the Government were serious it would say, 'look, we got it wrong on the carbon tax, at the very least we'll bust it down to the European price rather than have it sitting there at $23 a tonne'," Mr Abbott said.

"They would also enter into a project agreement with BHP to explicitly exclude, for the life of the Olympic Dam expansion, any mining tax application to this project."

With just weeks before the carbon price and the MRRT take effect on July 1, Mr Abbott warned they might force the company's hand.

"Well, you'd have to say based on what (chief executive) Marius Kloppers and (chairman) Jac Nasser have said recently, that the project is hanging in the balance at the moment," he said.

Marius Kloppers recently said on Lateline that because of a whole range of factors including the carbon tax, Australia had moved from being a low-cost to a high-cost place to do business and Jac Nasser said "no" when asked if BHP was going to go ahead with the $80 billion worth of investment.

On the ABC's Q&A program on Monday, Ms Gillard compared Mr Abbott's unrelenting campaign against the carbon price with fears generated by the High Court's Mabo decision.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here



slktac said...

Obviously, the polar bears weren't hungry. If the photographer was 10 feet away and they were hungry, he would not have filed this story.

alternative investment said...

The entire premise of "food shortages" or "peak oil" ignores human ingenuity. People have been talking about "peak oil" for years, but suddenly new technologies open up possibly trillions of barrels of shale oil for use. Once China and Africa start to use western farming methods, the same thing will happen on the agriculture side. Peter