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.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Guyana - more storms?

Recently there seems to have been an increase in the incidence of damage from storms here in Guyana. Not having any other data I did a search in the Guyana Chronicle archives using the keyword "storm" and found relevant stories, excluding duplicates, as follows:

2010  2
2011  1
2012  2
2013  3
2014  3
2015  3
2016  2 
2017  6

Thus the first 4 years total 8 and the second 4 years total 14. 

Of course this is not proof but is highly suggestive that we are experiencing more damaging storms. Why should this be? Well climate change does predict stronger storms since the atmosphere contains more energy and more water.

It would be interesting to see if GPL or GTT are experiencing more poles damaged by storms.
Are we ready for future storms? What needs doing? What do house builders need to know?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Internet Week Guyana

This event organised by the Ministry of Public Telecommunications along with the CTU and international organisations was a first for Guyana and was a success. A report from the Guyana Chronicle says in part:
The high-level technology conference was held at the Pegasus Hotel from October 9 -13 2017, as part of celebrating International Internet Week 2017. Stakeholders from the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), and the Internet Society (ISOC), were all part of the success of this event.

A number of reports on it and other related activities can be found at the Ministry website.

Internet Society Guyana branch

Internet week was recently held in Guyana. One major outcome was the launching of the Guyana branch of the well-known and long-established international Internet Society. Here is an extract from a report of the event from CircleID by Malisa Richards, one of the main proponents:
Finally, Guyanese Internet users at all levels who are interested in internet governance issues and policy-making now have a local organization to address their interest. The Internet Society, a leading advocate for the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for everyone, announced on October 10, 2017, at the official launch of the Internet Society Guyana Chapter that they were happy to finally have Guyana onboard. It serves as a major development for the telecommunication sector in Guyana since we are currently in the process of liberalizing the telecommunication sector.
Work is underway to organise the local branch.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bahá’ís celebrate 200th anniversary

Inspired by the life and teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, millions of people worldwide have been celebrating the 200th anniversary of His birth on the 21st and 22nd of October 2017.
According to the Bicentenary website:
"Bahá’u’lláh was born in Tehran in 1817. Two centuries later, the day of His birth is celebrated around the world alongside the birth of the forerunner of His Revelation, the Báb, born in 1819 on the day before the birth of Bahá’u’lláh according to the calendar used in Persia. These Twin Holy Birthdays are celebrated by Bahá’ís and their friends as one annual festival where the closely interwoven lives and missions of these two Divine Luminaries are remembered together."
The website contains many great reports and pictures of these activities from around the world.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

So what's going on with AI (Artificial Intelligence)?

There have been a number of scare stories about AI recently. This article from Hackaday (a techie news site) attempts to put it into perspective:
"AI techniques include matching natural language to predefined templates. That’s really all these devices are doing today. Granted the neural nets that allow for great speech recognition and reproduction are impressive. But they aren’t true intelligence nor are they even necessarily direct analogs of a human brain."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Baha'i Bicentennial 2017

Mansion of Bahji
For Baha'is a major event is coming up in October - the bicentennial of the birth of Baha'u'llah in 1817. This occassion will be celebrated world-wide nationally and locally.

Here is some background information from Huffington:
"As 2017 begins, over 5 million Baha’is worldwide are preparing for major upcoming celebrations. On October 22, 2017, in some 100,000 localities worldwide, they will celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith."

And another background article from BWNS mentions a tribute from the President of India:
"In India, as preparations advance, the Baha’i community has received from the President of India—His Excellency Pranab Mukherjee—a moving tribute honoring this bicentenary year."

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The seas are warming and more

According to an article in the Guardian:
"Although there’s some uncertainty in the distribution among Earth’s ocean basins, there’s no question that the ocean is heating rapidly."

And from Nature:
"Revised tallies confirm that the rate of sea-level rise is accelerating as the Earth warms and ice sheets thaw."
And from the BBC:
"Scientists are "very worried" that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could accelerate and raise sea levels more than expected.
They say warmer conditions are encouraging algae to grow and darken the surface.
Dark ice absorbs more solar radiation than clean white ice so warms up and melts more rapidly.
Currently the Greenland ice sheet is adding up to 1mm a year to the rise in the global average level of the oceans."
Note - this darkening of the ice is not a major problem as yet.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

And a quick word on climate change

"Nearly nine in 10 people say they are ready to make changes to their standard of living if it would prevent future climate catastrophe, a survey on global threats found Wednesday.
The survey of more than 8,000 people in eight countries – the United States, China, India, Britain, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Germany – found that 84 percent of people now consider climate change a "global catastrophic risk"."
From the Guardian:
"New study confirms the oceans are warming rapidly"

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Guyana's vulnerability to sea-level rise

This post gives a brief overview of Guyana's vulnerability to sea-level rise.

According to Wikipedia:
The chief majority (about 90%) of Guyana's 0.74 million population lives along a narrow coastal strip in which ranges from a width of 16 to 64 kilometres (10 to 40 mi) inland and which makes up approximately only 10% of the nation's total land area.
Drainage throughout most of Guyana is poor and river flow sluggish because the average gradient of the main rivers is only one meter every five kilometers. ... Georgetown is below sea level and must depend on dikes for protection from the Demerara River and the Atlantic Ocean.
And from Climate Hot Map:
Guyana's capital city of Georgetown relies on seawalls for protection. When flooding occurs after large waves top the seawalls or heavy rains, sluice gates open for drainage. However, these gravity-fed gates can do so only when the tide is low enough.
The coastal plain is home to almost all the country's agricultural production — critical for both food and export. The main crops are sugar and rice.
Sea level along the Guyana coastline is rising faster than the global average which will exacerbate future increases from further global warming.
The sea wall

According to Wikipedia:
The Sea Wall is a 280-mile seawall that runs along much of Guyana's coastline, and all of the coastline in the capital city of Georgetown. It protects settlements in the coastal areas of Guyana, most of which are below sea level at high tide.

Currently over topping and minor breaches at high tide are not uncommon and cause local flooding. Breaches are repaired usually in a few days. Much of the costs of building and maintaining the sea walls have been met by overseas aid. The system of dykes, drainage canals and sluice gates was begun by the Dutch in colonial times to protect sugar plantations and not as effective as it used to be. Away from Georgetown the seawall is often earth and stone.

The 2005 flood

In 2005 there was a severe flood due to intense rain which caused from two to five feet of flooding in Georgetown and large parts of the coast for weeks. According to a PAHO report "Almost 200.000 people in Guyana were affected by the floods that hit Guyana" - which is more than a quarter of the population.

The future

And from Climate Hot Map again:
Without improved sea and river defenses and drainage systems, the coastal plains of coastal Guyana face serious flooding—if not complete inundation—owing to higher sea levels possible under worst case scenarios. Such flooding would devastate most of the population and have consequences for a large percentage of the gross domestic product.
It is difficult to imagine increasing the height of the sea wall more than a few centimeters. It would probably require complete rebuilding and the cost would be very, very high.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Plastic roads

Several countries such as India, Netherlands and Scotland, are experimenting with using recycled plastic to construct roads. One such approach is described in this BBC report.

Guyana - Earth Day 2017

A national programme gave an opportunity for President Granger to emphasis the government position on environmental issues. According to an article in the Guyana Chronicle:

“We feel that the Green State is an extension of our moral commitment to ensuring that mother earth is protected and preserved. The Green State will ensure the promotion of harmony between humanity and between humanity and the habitat of our rich fauna. Guyana contributes to ensuring that the shield’s rich flora and fauna that its abundant water supplies and diverse ecosystems remain intact for the benefit of all humanity, and of course present and future generations.”

“Guyana’s forestry store nature’s delicate balance,” President Granger told the gathering, and said the country’s forests which cover 85% of its lands provide essential environmental services.

“Guyana is a net carbon sink… Guyana’s intact forests also reduce land degradation, enhance soil nutrients and promote water retention. Guyana therefore is a protector of mother earth, because these vital environmental services are provided by our forests,” President Granger further said.

It is expected that the government will soon release its plans for moving away from almost complete dependence on fossil fuels for energy and transportation.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Survey Report on the South Rupununi Savannahs

The WWF has released an important new survey report on the savannahs. According to the web site:
"The publication represents the most recent (and potentially, the first) broad-based documentation of floral and faunal diversity in Guyana’s southern Rupununi region, is based on work undertaken in the Kusad Mountain and Parabara areas. "

It can be downloaded from the same web page shown above. It is full of amazing pictures, maps and introduces the biodiversity idea using local examples. Just what is needed in schools.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

What is a green economy?

The government is aiming for a green economy (see this report) but what is a green economy? It would seem that it is difficult to define easily in practical terms.

According to Wikipedia:
'The green economy is defined as an economy that aims at reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, and that aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment. It is closely related with ecological economics, but has a more politically applied focus.'
It is said to include:
Renewable energy
Green buildings
Sustainable transport
Water management
Waste management
Land management
And regarding energy (and of special interest to us in Guyana):
"Green economies require green energy generation based on renewable energy to replace fossil fuels as well as energy conservation and efficient energy use."
So we have a long way to go in the energy sector.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Guyana and climate change - Jan 2017

Some recent developments reported locally:

Integrated approach to tackle climate change (Guyana Chronicle)
"The need for closer collaboration between agencies here in addressing climate change was raised on Thursday as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) commenced a two-day stakeholder engagement in Georgetown.
..provision will be made through the Climate Change Adaptation Programme (CCAP), which will be implemented in several Caribbean countries, including Guyana."

Guyana to participate in Climate Change & ACTO Meetings (GINA)
"Guyana will participate in fourth board meeting of Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership Project (JCCCP) at the invitation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which will be held in Jamaica from February 1- 2 2017."

So why is climate change so important to Guyana? We need to pay more attention to this issue so here are a few things which come to mind:
- it is causing sea-level rise which will become a critical issue for obvious reasons, eventually much of our best farm land will be lost plus our capital
- the slowly rising temperature will have very serious effects in the future, agriculture will have to adapt
- there is a global shift away from using oil which has important implications
- we need to shift our energy sector (and transportation) away from fossil fuels to hydro and solar.