Monday, December 31, 2007

After Bali...??

So Bali did finally reach consensus on an agreement. That is an achievement it is true - even though the difficult commitments and real changes seem to have been put off again... I wonder how history will judge it...
We will have wait another 2 years (?) ... and again I wonder... how many lives will it cost?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More on tremor

Seems there was a serious quake near Martinique... Probably some minor damage here only.

Guyana feels tremor

At about 15:10 local time Guyana experienced a significant tremor. Certainly magnitude 3. Everyone left our office building but did not see anything falling down. Vehicles were rocking and power lines swaying.
Earthquake somewhere?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Preparing for Bali

A timely editorial in Stabroek News covers the main points from a Guyana prespective. I often refer to this paper because it often has good articles on this subject and also, very importantly, has online archives which are easily accessed.
From the editorial:
"... the focus of Guyana's preparatory work for COP13 in Bali and its interventions at that forum must be to build consensus among the participating HFLD countries to pursue a strategy aimed at achieving the outcome of a post-Kyoto carbon credit mechanism that provides incentives not only for reforestation in countries where tropical forests have already been destroyed, but equally for those that are exercising responsible stewardship over their intact forests. "
"Developing countries such as Guyana also require funding of the technology for adaptation and for implementation of measures to mitigate climate change impacts and such funding must also be seen as necessary commitments by developed countries and the global and regional financial institutions."
Note: HFLD means High Forest Low Deforestation

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Guyana blogs 2007

The blogging scene changes fast so it is time for a review of Guyana blogs. Not all the blogs in the last review are still active but many are. I have omitted the inactive ones and have not included those which are very new. Also there are a bunch of new blogs by volunteers spending a year or two here (Peace Corps, VSO, interns etc) - this is new trend. Some of them are basically letters home. A few are included only since we are looking here for more general blogs which are likely to be around for some years to come.

Another trend - more 'autoblogs', sites which purport to be blogs but which are generated from content trawled from elsewhere and used to push advertising. Mostly useless rubbish.

How am I finding blogs? Links on other sites. Searching using keywords 'guyana blog'.

From the last review
Golden Grove - Nabaclis Historical Society - politics and history (Started 2004)
Guyana - local tales and stories (Started 2005)
Guyana Diaspora - achievements of Guyanese overseas (Started 2006)
Guyana Genealogical and Biographical Society - local history (Started 2004)
Guyana Forestry Blog - forestry issues (Started 2006)
Guyana Providence Stadium - about infrastructure issues (Started 2005)
Guyana 360 - general commentary (Started 2006)
Living Guyana - a blog of a media critic (Started 2005)
The Guyana Grove - general commentary from a woman's perspective (Started 2005)
The People of East Coast Demerara - politics and history (Started 2005)
Wondering Thoughts - a diverse and unusual collection of posts on development, IT and other issues

Guyana's Overstream
- general commentary (2007)
Georgetown (Guyana) Hash House Harriers - "a drinking group with a running problem" (2007?)
Gossip Guyana - gossip for true, music / party scene
Tastes Like Home - food and receipes (2007)
St Stanislaus College - a school blog (2007)
Marian Academy - a school blog (2007)
Fun Times at Guyana High - blog of an intern in Guyana (Luay) (2007)
Fun in Peace Corps Guyana - blog of a volunteer in Guyana (Mark) (2007)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New environmental NGO

A new NGO is being set up - ECO-1. See the web site for details. I must admit to being involved though not a founding member! Registration is applied for.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting has begun

A major event for Guyana though not as much of a strain on our transportation system as the Cricket World Cup. The media here have quite a bit of coverage especially on the environmental issues raised.
Am hoping there will be real actions deriving from this event...
Our President offered our forest too support action against climate change - a good idea. Of course the forest is doing all it can, it just has to be allowed to continue to do so... I entirely agree that leaving existing forests standing gets no credit in the present scheme of things (see Credit for our trees).
Some news items about the CFMM:
Offer of entire forest in climate fight stands
Guyana forest offer for Heads meeting

Sunday 21st - the Meeting is over. Not sure what will come of it but it does seem that some serious discussion of climate change did place. Time will tell.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Cariscience, UNESCO and Guyana

Walter Erdelen, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences and Professor Harold Ramkissoon Executive Secretary of CARISCIENCE met the Head of State President Bharrat Jagdeo. The occasion was a UNESCO report called "Using Science, Technology and Innovation to change the fortunes of the Caribbean Region". Various related issues were discussed.
Science in Guyana is in dire need of a boost - let us hope this helps. It has few champions and has to compete with many other pressing Government priorities...
Looks like Cariscience needs a boost too since their domain name has expired... they have done some good work in organising conferences around the region in recent years.
A quick search using Google and a look at UNESCO's web site failed to locate the report.

GINA reports here, here and here

Monday, August 20, 2007

Brushed by a hurricane

Thursday and Friday (16th and 17th) gave us in Guyana a light touch of hurricane weather with episodes of heavy rain and unusually strong thunderstorms. The weekend saw only some more heavy showers. We are glad Hurricane Dean came no closer.

Stabroek News article on domain names

A very useful article in the Sunday business section by Patrick van Beek has drawn attention to the value of using .gy domain names for business purposes.
He says:
I think that empowering Guyanese individuals and firms with the ability to use .gy domain names should have widespread benefits. Firstly it creates a visible indicator to the rest of the world of Guyana's existence. Every email sent with a .gy extension puts Guyana on the map. It also sends the signal that Guyana is embracing information communications technology and that we are partaking in the knowledge economy.
Some further clarification is also useful:
1. Non-commercial domains are currently available at G$2400 per year from DevNet (previously SDNP, who also do hosting)
2. The Registry (at the University) currently charges G$5000 per year according to their web site.
3. Make sure YOU own the domain NOT the person who does your web site. You need to be the 'Administrative contact'. Otherwise you may lose control of your web site. This has happened...

Note: I am currently working at DevNet... :) but the facts are accurate.

The Stabroek News article
GY Domain Name Registry

LANIC visits Guyana

LACNIC (the Internet Address Registry for Latin American and Caribbean) paid a visit to Guyana recently (early August and, yes, this post is late...) in the person of Mr German Valdez who is the Policy and External Relations Manager. It was his first visit here and he was basically getting to know the local internet stakeholders.
DevNet organised a meeting at short notice for interested persons on Friday 3rd August. Attendance was low but some useful and rather technical discussion took place (IXPx, IPv6 etc).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Credit for our trees

The carbon credit schemes are designed to give a financial incentive to encourage forests, funded by those producing carbon dioxide emissions. Strangely and illogically the incentives currently are only for reducing deforestation or for reforestation. No incentives for keeping forests standing...
This is a burning issues for many in Guyana - no pun intended(?). May be we should cut down our forests so we can get credit for replanting... but that would be a foolish, unethical and short-sighted path.
A recent study high-lights this issue and calls for action. Guyana along with 10 others countries are singled out as HFLD countries - High Forest cover, Low Deforestation rate.
Some quotes:
Since current proposals would award carbon credits to countries based on their reductions of emissions from a recent historical reference rate, HFLD countries could be left with little potential for RED credits. Nor would they have the potential for reforestation credits...
Preventive credits are an important part of a realistic approach to quickly minimize carbon releases from loss of some of the world's most biologically important forests. Globally indexed reference emission rates for HFLD countries should be part of any international framework for reducing global carbon emissions from deforestation.
Stabroek News - report
EurekAlert - report
PLoS Biology - the original article

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The real problem - unsustainable lifestyles

This item from the BBC again really gets to the point:
Focusing on the need to reduce CO2 emissions has reduced the problem to one of carbon dioxide rather than on the unsustainable ways we live.
Is it not time to recognise that climate change is yet another symptom of our unsustainable lifestyles, which must now become the focus our efforts?
This issues was raised on this blog before see here. The concept we need here is moderation... how long will it be before we accept it?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Poor nations need more science

From a BBC report:

Poor nations are being sapped of the technology they need to break the poverty trap and catch up with the rest of the world, the UN has said.

Its trade and development agency Unctad used its annual report on Least Developed Countries to look at the role of science, technology and innovation.

Rather than being luxuries, they are necessities to help economies that are underdeveloped to grow, Unctad argues.
Could not agree more!
The full report is available for download free here. Have not read it yet as it is substantial...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Happiness as a national goal

A very interesting report by Richard Layard:
The first thing we know is that in the last 50 years average happiness
has not increased at all in Britain, nor in the United States, despite
massive increases in living standards.
Basically he says that once minimum needs are satisfied, happiness does not increase with wealth. Of course religion has been saying this for millenia. He also notes that:
We should also persist with income redistribution, since an extra pound or dollar gives more happiness to poor people than to the rich. That argument also implies redistribution to the Third World.
Statesmen take note...

Climate change grant

Excellent news!

From the Stabroek News:
The Government of Guyana and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) yesterday signed an agreement for a grant of US$455,000 ($93M) to assist in Guyana meeting its obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).
See article.

Friday, June 29, 2007

ICANN continued - the sequel

Wednesday was a day of cruising from one session to another. However there was another good session for Caribbean fellowship people to give input on the ICANN Strategic Plan. Later I attended to ISOC (Internet Society) meeting where many chapters reported in and topical issues discussed in the limited time available.
Finally, after looking in on some other sessions there was the meeting of 'fellow fellows' for some additional briefing - this took place each day though I failed to mention it.

Thursday. Whole day in a technical session for ccTLDs (I'll explain it this time - operators of top level country domains). Real interesting presentation by Bill Woodcock (CERT) on the Estonia incident. Other stuff on DNSSEC and Anycast.
By now the frenetic merry-go-round of meetings has slowed with busy people taking off for distant lands. Looks comparatively quiet...
Final fellowship session, the obligatory photo and the parting of friends...

Friday. A look in at the ICANN Board meeting. Not sure if I would feel comfortable consulting on a stage like that with a hundred people watching... off to check out the mall and the narrow streets and alleys of old San Juan. Trying not to think too much of the long flight up to Miami and right back down to Trinidad and on to Guyana. Thank God I am not going further.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

ICANN continued

More on Monday - useful workshop on protecting registrants - mainly about ensuring registrars for gTLDs (.com etc) backup their data in such a way that it can be recovered by ICANN if the registrar folds.

Tuesday. Spent the morning listening to complex but interesting issues related to IDNs - domain names expressed in non-Latin scripts (characters). Fortunately not a major issues for us in English-speaking Guyana.
Good discussions about Caribbean issues. This included particular problems and needs of small ccTLDs, malware and security, user education and the benefits of having Caribbean stakeholders being able to meet together at occassions like this. I guess bringing us together makes a critical mass of actors allowing (good) things to happen which would not happen otherwise... ICANN has gone to great lengths to make this happen and must be commended for it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

More from ICANN San Juan

Sunday the LAC (Latin America and Caribbean) Regional At Large Organisation worked hard getting itself organised. This organisation is made up of representatives from various civil society and other organisations in the region and itself represents these groups of users to ICANN. This is a recent innovation by ICANN.
A session on Domain Tasting was thought-provoking. The activity seems to have little merit. Domain kiting even less. I won't attempt to explain these here (see Wikipedia) but I believe a measure used to evaluate such activities should be their usefulness to society. Work should be of service to others and contribute to the well-being of mankind. Like a tree man should produce fruits. Activities which only take, produce nothing and even have negative effects on others are anti-social. And that brings to mind day trading...
The day ended with a group of us in a small Italian restaurant - good food, good company.

Monday. The opening session. Boredom expected. Actually interesting, presentations short which helped. Including Bernadette Lewis from the Caribbean Telecommunications Union was very good so that the speakers were not all from the US. ICANN is still some-what US oriented...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

ICANN San Juan meeting

Hi from San Juan, Puerto Rico!
I am here thanks to the generosity of ICANN's Fellowship program which aims to increase the participation of people from developing countries (like Guyana) in the ICANN consultation process.
The formal opening of this 29th International Public Meeting is on Monday but other regional activities have begun - Caribbean TLD registry operators and others met today. Excellent networking. Met people for the first time that I have exchanged email with for years... some new insights into ccTLD policy... firming up ideas for a new project.
See for more.
So far the Puerto Rico experience has been great from the little I have seen. Less green (here in the city), more blue sea, same weather as home in Guyana.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Climate change creates moral issues

A panel discussion on "The Ethical Dimension of Climate Change," organized by the Baha'i International Community and held in New York during this year's UN Commission on Sustainable Development looked at this issue.

One question asked was "How do we create a willingness to make the sacrifices that are going to be necessary?".

It seems clear that sacrifices will be needed to solve the problem global warming but few politicians seem willing to face this ... no surprise there.

Behaviour change and lifestyle change is needed. Most difficult for those who live most comfortably...
One participant hit the nail on the head when he said that "religious communities believe that the attitude in which humanity views itself in relation to creation is fundamental in changing behavior."
"This is central to the concept of moral action," he said. "If we change our attitudes, we will change our behavior."

Climate change creates moral issues, says panel

Friday, May 04, 2007

Biofuels Potential in Guyana

See the GyDG for details about the ECLAC report on biofuels in Guyana... here
From the abstract:
"Present conditions of the energy and the agro-industrial sector of Guyana provide an excellent opportunity for the production and use of ethanol as a source of fuel in the country. Furthermore, in addition to price considerations, it is important to be able to produce locally part of the national energy demand, using available natural resources and proven technologies. This would also stimulate diversification in the sugarcane industry which is currently exposed to well known challenges. Moreover, the use of ethanol as a source of energy would have significant environmental advantages. All together, these conditions make a decidedly sufficient and robust case to promote the use of ethanol for energy security in Guyana."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Climate Change Symposium

Recently, on the evening of April 23rd, a very interesting climate change syposium was held to mark Earth Day. Organised by the University of Guyana School of Earth and Environmental Sciences in collaboration with WWF and CI it offered presentations by half a dozen well qualified speakers. Also present were the Prime Minister, Minister Jeffrey, Presidential Advisor Chanderpal and UG staff.

Zainool Rahaman (Hydrometeorological Office) spoke on "Understanding climate change and its consequences" and described the current situation in Guyana.

Dr Mark Bynoe spoke about "Climate change and food security" emphasising the dependence of Guyana on agriculture and moves being made to mainstream climate change adaption.

Dr Patrick Williams outlined the work being done by WWF.

And Eustace Alexander outlined the Conservation International programme.

Dr David Singh (Iwokrama) spoke on "Poverty, Development and Climate Change". In particular he emphasised the need for a robust carbon trading scheme which would encourage the control of deforestation and revalue standing forest.

The final presentation was by Navin Chandarpal on "Climate Change: Guyana's Response". He described the work done in Guyana over the last decade or so and the preparations for work on the Second National Communication. He talked about mainstreaming climate change adaption and the need for scientific studies rather than more policy studies.

Guyana's Hydrometeorological Service climate change page

Guyana Sea Defences Shore Zone Management System

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ethanol for fuel

Bio-ethanol has been in the news lately and has acquired politicial overtones. Does it make sense for Guyana? It would certainly seem to given the urgent need to diversify the sugar industry here in view of increasingly tough competition in selling sugar internationally and the importance of the industry to the country both economically and socially.

Without making changes to existing car engines about 10% ethanol could be added to gasolene. This would reduce the gasolene import requirement. It would also reduce Guyana's carbon emissions since ethanol is replaceable from natural sources and not a fossil fuel. Higher percentages of ethanol require some slight modification to existing vehicles.

Using some rough figures Guyana uses about 50,000 hectares of land for growing sugar cane and produces around 300,000 (metric) tonnes of sugar.

Using figures from Brazil if one tenth this land were used to produce sugar cane for ethanol production then it could yield about 30 million litres of ethanol. I am told we import around 120 million litres of gasolene. This much ethanol would be sufficient to replace 10% of gasolene used as a fuel in all cars and still leave a large quantity for export.

A look at the cost benefits of using ethanol as a fuel proved a bit difficult as I could not find current data and prices have changed so much recently but it looks favourable and sugar prices are likely to fall while gasolene prices may go up further.

Judging from recent press reports it would seem that one or more investors may be coming in to set up new canefields specifically for ethanol production and export. I see no reason not to move rapidly to 10% ethanol in all gasolene as a first step.

Statistics on sugar to 2001
Wikipedia on ethanol for fuel

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Working on something...

Am still here ... currently working on a couple of items for the blog concerning sea level rise and ethanol. More soon. Do not intend to post unless there is something useful to say...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Internet workshop

Last week a workshop was held here in Guyana which was a milestone in the development of internet governance in the region. It passed almost unnoticed. Not really surprising since the internet infrastructure involved is not much understood by users and is largely hidden.
The workshop was on DNS (Domain Name Service) and was for those in the Caribbean involved in running the various country 'top level domains' or ccTLDs which allow internet addresses (domain names) ending in .gy (Guyana), .tt (Trinidad), .jm (Jamaica) etc to function. Pretty technical stuff but very necessary if the Caribbean is to catch up in terms of e-commerce and such like.
The countries represented were: Bahamas, Bermuda, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Monserrat, Trinidad. Cuba had been expected but, I heard, had a problem due to the new Caribbean visa introduced to help travel for the Cricket World Cup and alas did not make it.
Those present reported their status. Most were running their own name servers which meant that they were able to manage their country domains and deal with requests for domain names. Two countries were yet to reach this position and were planning to reclaim control (redelegation) from an overseas company to which it had previously been given. Most countries had some issues to discuss either technical or administrative. In many cases difficulties were arising because of lack of interest by the respective government. Fortunately this is not true in the case of Guyana, at present, where an oversight committee is actively working on policy and other issues.
The rest of the four days was spent going through technical aspects of setting up, running and testing name servers, policy issues and so on. See here for the workshop web site.
The workshop is one of a series run jointly by ICANN, ISOC and NSRC. The instructors were very helpful and are giving on-going support and assistance where needed. ICANN in particular is helping with redelegation issues.
The instructors seemed well-pleased with the organisation of the workshop by the University of Guyana IT Centre staff and complemented participants on level of functioning of their servers (while acknowledging there is much to do).
It was great to see the Caribbean administrators and technical staff here in Guyana. Several admitted misgivings on hearing the workshop was to be in Guyana but said they were glad they came since they found it different from what they expected and very much enjoyed their stay. Hopefully the experience will lead to much greater cooperation across the region in this sector and there are signs of that happening already.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Dr Trotz on climate change in Guyana

On Friday there was an excellent presentation on climate change from a Caribbean and Guyanese perspective. The event was initiated by the GMTCS with support from several other organisations. The speaker was Dr Ulric (Neville) Trotz, Science Advisor for the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in Belize. He is, of course, well known and much respected locally
He was introduced by Joe Singh who needs no introduction to Guyanese.
I only realised that the event should be blogged afterwards - clearly I am new to this and should have made notes...
Dr Trotz did a good job of reviewing the facts and the development of the international action (and lack of action) on the issue. He also talked about the struggle of developing countries to get recognition for their point of view. There is much that needs doing and the international political climate is not very favourable. He mentioned improvements in computer models used for forecasting - of particular interest to me since I worked on such models years ago.
I will not attempt to summarise all that he said but the links below should help.
Following the presentation there was a lively question and answer session. Both Minister Robert Persaud and Navin Chanderpaul made remarks in repsonse to questions to the effect that the Government is trying to take climate change in to account within limits imposed by resources available and international political considerations (I do not recall their comments in detail). Work has been done locally over a number of years - see link below.
Mention was made of further presentations and there was talk of an email list to help share information about such activities. I am sure DevNet can help with that.

Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre - see Downloads for reports etc
CARICOM page for the CCCCC
2004 Presentation by Dr Trotz on Climate Change (PDF)
Guyana Initial National Communication (UNFCCC) (PDF)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Guyana flood of 2005

It is now 2 years since the 'Great Flood'. Said to be Guyana's worst natural disaster. Thankfully we have been spared a repeat - so far. Lessons have been learned and many improvements made in neglected infrastructure. The medium prospects remain uncertain however given climate change.
Here is an SDNP website from 2005 with links to other flood web sites (not all of which still exist) documenting the event.
Here is a Stabroek News article from today about families still recovering from the flood.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Guyana sea level

Reading a recent BBC article on sea level rise I was reminded of an article in one of our main national newspapers (Stabroek News) . The first article is about recent research suggesting that the rate of sea level rise is more than some had predicted and is about 10mm per year:
The team from Germany and the US found that for the timescale relevant to human-induced climate change, the observed rate of sea level rise through the 20th Century held a strong correlation with the rate of warming.
When applied to the possible scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the researchers found that in 2100 sea levels would be 0.5-1.4m above 1990 levels.
This agrees with local records which are referred to in the Stabroek News article:
According to the project document, an analysis of tide gauge records from 1951 to 1979 shows the trend in sea level rise for Guyana to be in excess of 10 mm/year, which implies a net change in sea level of 0.9 ft for the 28-year period examined. Assuming that the rate found remains constant then the net change in the sea level from 1951 - 2005 is some 1.8 feet. According to the studies quoted in the PID, sea level rise in the region of Guyana is 2 to 5 times faster than the global estimate.
The project referred to seek to address water control issues arising from climate change.
Given that most of our population lives near or below sea level these figures indicate how serious the situation is for us here! Short-term planning no longer suffices...