News that is edifying not electrifying, information that produces hope not heat

The Greens work locally and internationally and so, have their pulse on the people, thoughts and activities that shape our world and our civilization. It is therefore mandatory that we are spidered into every part of the world and its happenings. We also know that we live in an age of fake and therefore, we know what is hearsay, what is rumor, what is blind belief, what is spin. We also know how to cut through that fog of lies and drive to the truth, inconvenient though it might be at times. This area covers the most pertinent and most reliable facts about our world that constantly upstream to us. Of course, we are kind and anti-sensation so our tone in these posts reflect that. We will certainly break any news we find important. We might even call some of it hot or electrifying. But not hot in the conventional meaning that term has acquired where news that boils one’s blood is equated to hot news. News that makes your hair stand on end is called electrifying news. Whatever else we do, we are not a bunch of jokers that subscribe those definitions of heat or electricity.

Youth-Led Green and Inclusive Businesses takes off in style

The world is increasingly understanding the folly of engaging in brown and black business approaches even if it is not yet quite ready to espouse the alternative –green business practices. The Youth Led Green Transitions in Enterprises project was launched by the Greens to trigger this change in the way the country does business. The open call for submissions to join the exercise was met with over 60 applicants for the 15 available slots in the pilot project showing that at least among youth, enthusiasm to enact positive change in their businesses was high. In shortlisting the prospective participants, the GMSL were careful that the vetting process was based exclusively on the nature of the business, the potential for reasonably quick recalibration and change and commitment to such restructure. There was absolutely no discrimination whatsoever with respect to gender, race, creed or sexual orientation making it a project that was wholly inclusive in action in and age and day when non-discrimination is mostly on-paper.


The first two training programs for the participants were held over February and March of 2024. The expectations of the participants and the aims of the project were outlined in terms of Green Thinking for business optimization. From a practical perspective, they were taught how to do an elevator pitch and each of the participants game up with their own version of it. The importance of communication and the mechanisms of leveraging communications channels were also imparted to the participants. The meet was open and inclusive in nature with everyone afforded the opportunity to interrupt at any time to clear up any issues or doubts they had. In the second meet, the participants were coached in business management from a green perspective as well as innovation and product development methodologies. These are precursors to the actual actions that the 15 participating youth led companies will be engaging in to transform their businesses into more environment friendly and guilt-free operations.


There is still some distance to go but so far, the response from these young entrepreneurs has exceeded the expectations of the GSML, its partners Sri Lanka Export Development Board, National Innovation Agency, Thuru, Zero Trash and Earth Dreams International and the British Council who funded the project.


However, the GMSL, as always, exercises caution in making claims until the exercise reaches its fruition and the final outcomes are assessed for their impact, sustainability and replicability. During the course of the next two months, the program will be continuously monitored with the GMSL teams ready at every instant to move in to implement checks and balances based on the results of its innovative continuous assessment mechanism and control over its oversight.


On the side of the participants too, there have been many kudos for the project and the GMSL and that is in fact the best possible validation of the project as seen by their feedback seen in the insets. It is indeed interesting to note in these two widely differing impact statements, the entrepreneurs have received programming inputs in their own unique ways, emphasizing those facets of training, the expertise provided, the tools delivered  and the engagement environment in terms of what is most important to them. In that respect, the GMSL believes  that it has succeeded in optimizing the expectations and the needs of widely differing youth business people and these statements are a testament to the flexibility and the highly personalized engagement with the participants.


Ocean temperatures are off the charts

Frightening rise in temperatures:


For four years in row, ocean temperatures broke the previous year’s all-time record. A team of international scientists belonging to 16 institutes from across the world found that five of the hottest years were recorded during the last six years and the rate of warming is increasing. This is a worrying trend. The oceans cover 70% of the earth’s surface and whatever happens there is going to massively impact what happens everywhere else. The team that studied the issue puts it rather brutally “The state of our oceans can measure the world’s health, and judging by the updated oceanic observations … we need a doctor”.


With the world emerging from a three year break due to La Niña (This is El Niño’s cooler counterpart), temperatures started climbing in March 2023 and went off the charts in April before falling somewhat.Gregory C. Johnson, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says “It’s a little bit like we’ve had the freezer door open for a while and it’s helped to cool the planet, but even while that freezer has been open, background temperatures have continued to rise. Now the freezer is closed, everything is hotter than before”.


Coral bleaching has spread globally

Coral bleaching has spread across the planet’s oceans due to anthropogenic climate change among other factors


The 2/10th of a degree higher than previous may not look like much but one must understand the sheer amount of energy required to heat such a huge volume of water. Scientists are still trying to figure out what factors are at play with some saying it could be the start of a new trend while others say that they should be expected



as an alarming indication of the impact of Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC).


However, despite the requirement to understand the phenomenon better, everyone knows that with such changes marine life will be killed, coral reefs bleached, sea levels risen and the planet heated even faster.


The ocean has continued to heat up for the last 67 years:


In that context, NASA, in a 2020 report says that 90% of global warming is happening in the oceans causing the water’s internal heat to increase. To put it simply, that means that 90% of the heat from human-induced global warming is contained in the oceans. Since 1955 when modern record keeping began, ocean water temperature has increased by 345 (± 2) zettajoules.


Each data point in chart 1 represents a five-year average. For example, the 2020 value represents the average change in ocean heat content (since 1955) for the years 2018 up to and including 2022.


Chart 2 tracks monthly changes in ocean heat content for the entire water column (i.e. from the top to the bottom of the ocean) from 1992 to 2



019, integrating observations from satellites, in-water instruments, and computer models. Both charts are expressed in zettajoules.


Both charts show the steep rise in both the heat and the depth heat profile of our oceans and this is a very concerning indicator that we certainly do need a doctor.


Heat stored in the ocean causes its water to expand, which is responsible for one-third to one-half of global sea level rise. Most of the added energy is stored at the surface, at a depth of zero to 700 meters. The last 10 years were the ocean’s warmest decade since at least the 1800s. The year 2022 was the ocean’s warmest recorded year and saw the highest global sea level.


What can we do about it?


The question that has been asked for years and never answered must continue to be asked but now with increasing urgency. The most important factor that must be considered here is that if we keep the oceans safe, we keep the planet safe. This means that at the very least, 90% of our efforts to curb human induced climate change must be targeted at reducing ocean temperatures. We can do this on land certainly, but we must also make sure that creating a sustainable, climate friendly blue economy gets priority status in our efforts to treat our oceans and cure them of the grave ills that beset them.

First climate lawsuit to be heard by European Court for Human Rights

In a first for recognition of climate stability as a human right, the Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection (KlimaSeniorinnen) made history by taking their government to the top human rights court in Europe claiming that its weak response to the climate crisis violates their human rights. Having exhausted their legal options in Switzerland where their 2016 case was defeated, they decided to escalate action by taking it to the ECtHR in Strasbourg. The case has been referred to the judges of the Grand Chamber, the court where only the most important cases are heard.


The group, with an average age of 73, has a membership of over 2000 senior women. They were joined by another group comprising of four individuals between 80 and 90 years old. They are claiming that government inaction of rising temperatures exposes them to the risk of dying during heatwaves.


These Swiss seniors want to enforce their basic rights for health — for themselves and for the next generation

These Swiss seniors want to enforce their basic rights for health — for themselves and for the next generation (Source, Copyright: Greenpeace / Ex-Press / Flurin Bertschinger)

Their concern was that the Swiss government failed them in their promise to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius with their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) seeking to reduce emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and to become completely carbon neutral by 2050. However, the Swiss people voted out plan related to specific measures to be taken in a 2021 referendum resulting in a watered down version of the law being currently worked on within the legal system of the country.


Corina Heri, researcher at the Institute of Law at the University of Zurich says that this is the first time that the highest human rights court in Europe has accepted a climate case and this is a strong position of intent that has wider implications and repercussions. While the outcome of the case will only be applicable to Switzerland, it is very possible that a positive ruling my open up the gates to many others not only within the 46 states of the European Council but the entire world.


A group from the Senior Women for Climate Protection association hold banners outside the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France March 29, 2023.

A group from the Senior Women for Climate Protection association hold banners outside the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France March 29, 2023. (Copyright: REUTERS/Emma Farge)

On thin ice!

What will happen if all of the ice on planet earth melted due to global warming? The before and after pictures below show riven and gashed continental masses. Cities such as Shanghai and Miami will no longer exist.


What happens if all the ice in the world melts?

What happens if all the ice in the world melts?

Scientists monitoring sea ice in the Antarctic at the Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado revealed in February 2022 that Antarctic sea ice cover has reached a record low of 750,000 square miles, significantly below the 815,000 square mile record set in March 2017.


N. Raphael, a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies Antarctic sea ice said the downshift was unprecedented and warmer sea temperatures among other factors might have played a part.


Arctic ice in 2000 and 2022

The Arctic ice satellite pictures taken in 2000 and 2022 paint a grim picture.

The Arctic is a different story entirely. While Antarctic sea ice extents are highly variable from year to year and has increase slightly since 1970 when satellite observations began, the Arctic has been losing its sea ice with the region warming about three times as fast as other regions resulting in sea ice melting at the rate of about 10% per decade.


The fluxes in the overall sea ice cover is unpredictable to say the least. While it grew slightly since 1970, the rate of increase accelerated from 2000 onwards to a record high in 2014 before dropping rapidly to a record low in 2017, rebounding back to average levels in 2020 and the dropping back to even greater lows in 2022. The changes now seem to be happening quickly. This is ominous. Are these the symptoms that long term trends might be reversing? Scientists are still not aware but they go directly to the problem of global environmental instability where the ice dance as it were is a prime indicator that when it comes to climate, the environment and the continuance of life on earth, we are treading on dangerously thin ice.

COP 27: So, green hydrogen is the next great fix eh?

Moving forwards with the debate started in Glasgow (COP 26), one of the three round tables on day 2 was all about the buzz related to transitioning to a so-called hydrogen economy and the debate on whether or not it is a viable option especially for the global south hungry for cheaper fuel options. Will it save us or damage us depending on how much water is withdrawn for the purpose is part of that debate. Overall, it is seen that while it does have immediate positives the mantra that it reconverts back to water when it is combusted with oxygen to “provide additional water for a country” is just duckspeak. Additionally, there is always the issue that the production chain of hydrogen can come in a variety of colors such as gray, blue and green and even pink, yellow and turquoise. Only the green variety will be produced climate-neutrally.

With competing uses for water, well, the overall outcomes vis-à-vis human security in which both water security and energy security play a part may not be all that clear when the effort to secure the one may negatively impact the other. With the world facing significant water security issues with ACC (Anthropogenic Climate Change) causing droughts and desertification coupled with an ever increasing population of humans on the planet, the more water is withdrawn for purposes other than for natural consumption by animals, people and plants, the water problem may only be exacerbated by these moves.


The countries with the highest water withdrawal for hydrogen to total water withdrawal

The countries with the highest water withdrawal for hydrogen to total water withdrawal: Source: World Bank and FAO

At present, 90 MT of hydrogen produced annually, just 0.5% is produced through renewable electricity while the rest comes from natural gas. 95% of current demand for hydrogen is in the Oil & Gas and Chemicals industries, to refine oil and produce ammonia or methanol.


However, ambitious plans have been put forward at the COP by various global north countries. Bart Kolodziejczyk, a research fellow at Monash University, Australia who studied the matter across 135 countries observes that only nine of the 135 countries studied would require an increase in their current freshwater withdrawal of over 10% to completely transition to hydrogen-based energy, whereas 62 countries would need to increase their freshwater withdrawal by less than 1%. There is a visible trend among the countries with a significant increase in water withdrawal to transition to hydrogen. These countries are either desert countries with little annual precipitation, such as Qatar, Israel, Kuwait or Bahrain, or small island states, such as Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago or Malta, which would also struggle due to limited freshwater reservoirs.


he countries with the lowest water withdrawal to meet energy demand in the form of hydrogen

he countries with the lowest water withdrawal to meet energy demand in the form of hydrogen: Source World Bank and FAO

Singapore, which relies highly on neighbouring Malaysia for freshwater resources, tops the list. It would have to increase the water it uses to convert to hydrogen-based energy by about 46.4%. On the other hand, Tajikistan, being at the very bottom of the list, would require an increase of only 0.056%. The average value for all 135 countries is 3.3%.


Sri Lanka, in that respect, is seen in the lower segment of percent withdrawals of water for energy against total withdrawals. While we can certainly look at the option, we have enough alternative renewable sources (solar and wind) that are cheaper and do not compromise water volumes. A careful study of the future energy mix will be required for such countries as the global south and as things stand now, it is possible that there is no requirement for these to switch completely to a hydrogen society but rather, use that option within narrower demand side channels.

Digital innovation offers a simple way to monitor the world’s trees

Monitoring our forests and trees is quick and it is easy with tech innovation. The SDG Knowledge Hub, the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD) has brought attention to the Open Foris initiative of the Forestry Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) that was launched back in 2011. The idea was that software supporting monitoring should be open-source, easily accessible, and free for anyone to use from anywhere, at any time. This was marvelous and indeed it has created a platform that is truly rendering benefits.


As IISD mentions, the way we monitor our forests has changed dramatically in the last few years. Yes of course, we have our tried and tested physical media maps and records but these require special facilities and take years to get right and more importantly keep right as a continuous data stream becomes available. It was the domain of “experts”. In many cases, digitizing data, downloading images and processing them took months. With such expensive projects, in many cases, facilities were abandoned by the end of the funding and the data lost for ever.


However, today, we do not need such top-heavy facilities or computers and software purchased at heart-attack prices. Pretty much anyone can map and land and collect data using a mobile phone or laptop, to efficiently produce better data at a fraction of the cost. As IISD says, “This is not just because mobile devices and networks have improved. As the climate crisis grew, it became clear that a critical mass of accurate and timely information on deforestation and land degradation and restoration was fundamental to protecting ecosystems and fulfilling UN commitments for action for sustainable development. A quantum leap was needed to allow countries to gather and share data autonomously on the scale needed and without financial, legal, or logistical constraints”.


This is precisely what Open Foris offers. You can contribute as can we all by simply clicking here to download the handbook first and then here to push your own findings and data to the global info-space. Happy monitoring!

Egypt’s president on COP 27

In a year that saw the IPCC’s AR6 tabled and its contents analyzed and discussed by literally millions of people on earth, the next COP is shaping up to be an interesting one. The incoming presidency for COP 27, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt has issued the following welcome message to all participants at the soon to be held COP 27:


President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt

The hosting of COP27 in the green city of Sharm El-Sheikh this year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the thirty years since, the world has come a long way in the fight against climate change and its negative impacts on our planet; we are now able to better understand the science behind climate change, better assess its impacts, and better develop tools to address its causes and consequences.


Thirty years and twenty-six COPs later, we now have a much clearer understanding of the extent of the potential climate crisis and what needs to be done to address it effectively. The science is there and clearly shows the urgency with which we must act regarding rapidly reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, taking necessary steps to assist those in need of support to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change, and finding the appropriate formula that would ensure the availability of requisite means of implementation that are indispensable for developing countries in making their contributions to this global effort, especially in the midst of the successive international crises, including the ongoing food security crisis exacerbated by climate change, desertification and water scarcity, especially in Africa that suffers the most impacts.


In 2015, the world came together and showed the will to make the necessary compromises which led to the successful adoption of the Paris Agreement. Today and in light of the unmistakable messages in the recent IPCC reports, and following COP26 in Glasgow, we are once again called upon to act rapidly if we are to really meet the 1.5-degree goal, build our resilience, and enhance our capacity to adapt. And while these are no doubt major undertakings, I sincerely believe that they can also become opportunities for transformation towards sustainability if we collectively think creatively and demonstrate the necessary political will.


With this in mind, Egypt and its people look forward to welcoming you all at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, where we trust the world will come together, yet again, to reaffirm its commitment to the global climate agenda despite the difficulties and uncertainties of our time. I am positive that all parties and stakeholders will be coming to Sharm El-Sheikh with a stronger will and a higher ambition on mitigation, adaptation and climate finance, demonstrating actual success stories on implementing commitments and fulfilling pledges.


I deeply believe that COP27 is an opportunity to showcase unity against an existential threat that we can only overcome through concerted action and effective implementation. As incoming Presidency Egypt will spare no effort to ensure that COP27 becomes the moment when the world moved from negotiation to implementation and where words were translated to actions, and where we collectively embarked on a path towards sustainability, a just transition and eventually a greener future for coming generations.


Welcome to Sharm El-Sheikh. Welcome to COP27.


How many types of trees are actually there on earth?

Despite Robert May optimistically stating back in 1994 that we will know all of the tree species by the year 2044, we are half ways there without even coming close. A January 2022 report by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the world’s most cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals says that there may be approximately 9000 tree species unknown to science of which 40% may be in South America. This was the result of a three-year research project that counted approximately 73,000 species currently living on earth and goes to show how rich our terrestrial ecosystems are. However, it also underlines their great vulnerabilities to anthropogenic changes from land use to climate change with the rarer the species the greater the risk. Referring to rare species a full third of the count fall into these categories with low populations and limited spacial distribution such as tropical lowlands and mountains.


According to the report, there is a gradual increase towards equatorial regions. With the taxa at higher latitudes lesser and more manageable, they are well characterized. However, the report says that if hyperdominance of a small fraction of species in the tropics is a general phenomenon, it would mean that these regions generally harbor a very large number of rare species, many of which are endemic.


One of the most important research areas is to determine the exact contribution of rare species to ecosystem services and this is still “a work in progress” according to the report. Given global issues related to the destruction of species as well as the appearance of modified or new species as well as the comparatively small amount of knowledge we have in terms of the actual count of these organisms, the ongoing studies are exceedingly more relevant to understanding how we as a planet should move forward with knowledge, care and concern for the flora of the world and its critical relevance to the continuance of life of all sentient beings on the planet.


You may read the full article by PNAS here.

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