Saturday, April 28, 2018

12th International Baha’i Convention takes place in Haifa

A small group of delegates from Guyana are attending this event. A report from Bahá’í World News Service says:
"The International Convention is a unique gathering held every five years in Haifa, the administrative and spiritual center of the Baha’i world community. Delegates hail from virtually every nation. Over the course of the convention, they participate in a series of consultative sessions and elect the Faith’s international governing body, the Universal House of Justice."

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Satellite observations find sea-level rise accelerating

A report from NASA says:
"This acceleration, driven mainly by increased melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise projected by 2100 when compared to projections that assume a constant rate of sea level rise...
If the rate of ocean rise continues to change at this pace, sea level will rise 26 inches (65 centimeters) by 2100 -- enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities..."
"Nerem and his team used climate models to account for the volcanic effects and other datasets to determine the El Niño/La Niña effects, ultimately uncovering the underlying rate and acceleration of sea level rise over the last quarter century."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Drinking water and salt

Water from wells and many surface sources contains small amounts of salt. For some of us this can be a health issue.

Some useful information about this can be found in this article from the Government of Western Australia. According to this article for a healthy person the salt content becomes a concern if the water tastes salty.

However for those who have to keep to a low salt diet it gets more difficult.

"...the following people should be aware of the level of sodium (salt) in drinking water when the level is greater than 20 mg/L:

  • Persons who are monitoring their salt intake for high blood pressure 
  • Persons with cardiovascular or heart disease 
  • Persons with kidney problems or
  • Persons on low sodium diets."

From what I have been told measuring the salt content is not easy and this would at present be likely to mean sending samples outside Guyana.

On a quick check most bottled water gave no salt content information on the label. One brand gave a salt content of 20 mg/L and one other stated that the water contained no salt. The GWI website did not provide such information either.

The salt content of our local water can be adversely affected by dry conditions and by salt water intrusion. As we experience climate change this will need to be monitored more closely.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Petroleum and Climate Change in Guyana’s Future

In October 2016 Professor Mandle gave a talk on climate change here in Georgetown. I was not aware of it at the time but write it now as I feel it covered some keys points which have not had public attention so far. It was brought to my attention by the Vice-Chancellor of University of Guyana in his address at a similar function recently. It was clear that he also felt it was an important address.

Below is a review of a few keys points of the talk.

The talk was entitled 'Petroleum and Climate Change in Guyana’s Future' and was delivered for the inaugural C.Y.Thomas Distinguished Lecture as a part of the week-long celebration of the University of Guyana 50th Graduation on Thursday 27th October 2016. It delivered by the distinuished Professor Jay Mandle of Colgate University, New York.

The talk consists of some nineteen pages. It can be found online in text format here. One of several references is to an important ECLAC report from 2011 entitled "An assessment of the economic impact of climate change on the Coastal and Human Settlements Sector in Guyana" which is available online here.

The talk starts with some background on the widely respected Professor Thomas. This brief review is concerned primarily with climate change so we will move on to where Professor Mandle begins to focus on Guyana and climate change.

The Coast - in this section some geography is outlined and the vulnerability of Guyana to flooding due to its long-standing and barely adequate system of sea walls and gravity drainage.
Summarising he says:
"In short, global climate change means that the Guyanese Coast will be invaded by both salt and fresh water flooding."
Petroleum - the prospect of large incomes from oil is outlined. The challenge of corruption is identified.

Petro-dollars - four claims on oil dollars are given, namely: a fund for unexpected government spending, poverty-alleviation, increased spending on normal government functions,  a sovereign wealth fund.

The Problem of Adaptation - the question of adaption of the coastal area to climate change and sea level rise is considered.
"With the consequences of climate looming, Guyana would seem to be facing the need to choose between two competing strategies: whether to try to protect the Coast with adaptation, or alternatively, to initiate a substantial if not total relocation to the Interior."
And "...adaptation on the Coast is not a viable option over the long run". 
Interior Development - planning for probable relocation inland will be very challenging and expensive.
"Guyana will have to relocate at least sections of its population, economy, government, and civil society to the Interior. Doing so will be a radical departure for the country."
"Rice, sugar and ground provisions are grown on the Coast. None of these is likely to be part of the country’s comparative advantage structure in the Interior. Entirely new crops will have to be cultivated and new industries will have to be built..."
So it seems sugar has no future in Guyana.
"Access to and from the Interior at the moment is too limited for it to support the level of economic activity that will be necessary."
"Petro-dollars will make it possible to finance much of this investment in infrastructure."
The Need to Debate - public consideration of the issue has yet to begin. This concludes the talk.
"There is much excitement concerning the country’s future as a petroleum exporter. But the need to use those funds to settle the Interior has not been the subject of public discussion. Overcoming this reticence, and debating the merits of Interior development is something that should begin as soon as possible."
Reference is made to the talk in the University of Guyana publication 'Renaissance' to be found here.

Monday, December 25, 2017

University of Guyana forum on climate change

This forum was the tenth in the Turkeyen & Tain Talks by the University of Guyana and was held on November 30, 2017.

The event started with remarks by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw L. Griffith. In introducing the subject he made particular reference to a talk by Professor Mandle in 2016. There will be a follow-up post on the talk by Professor Mandle soon.

The chairman and moderator was Dr Paulette Bynoe, Dean of the Faculty of Earth and Envirnomental Sciences.

This was followed by brief remarks by Reuben Robertson of FAO.

Presidential Advisor Gary Best gave an overview of the issues from a Guyana perspective.

Ms Gomin Camacho spoke on agriculture and youth networking.

Ms Martina Duncan addressed aspects of managing climate change.

Mr Amir Dillawar spoke about climate change, youth and energy.

Dr Devon Gardner talked about Caribbean and energy issues relating to climate change.

The talks by Presidential Advisor Gary Best and Dr Devon Gardner were covered in more detail, especially in relation to oil, in a report by Demerara Waves.