Compensation

That is what Earth Institute director and economist Jeffrey Sachs calls aid for regions that are suffering from climate change although they had nothing to do with it. Right he is.

Here an interesting article I read today on our attempts at creating a sustainable future.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=planet-seeks-plan-for-sustainability

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Fundamental Challenges of Humanitarian Aid

Today I read an article on the situation in Haiti two years after the devastating earthquake that killed over 300,000 people, injured as many and left one million homeless.

It was frustrating to read how innumerable official and unofficial NGOs struggled and failed to coordinate themselves, to use money efficiently and to free themselves from the obstructive competitiveness that shouldn’t even exist within a common cause.

This was just one aspect of many that went terribly wrong on Haiti’s path to recovery.

Just imagine – at the beginning of 2012 half a million Haitians were still homeless and living in camps where 300 people had to share one toilet – if they were lucky to have one at all.

As a result thousands started dying of Cholera.

Meanwhile the world is forgetting about Haiti and focusing on more recent disasters – as dictated by the media.

On a more positive note – when reading an interesting article on the connection between humanitarian aid, economic development and environmental improvement

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=combining-development-humanitarian-aid-and-climate-change-responses&WT.mc_id=SA_CAT_ENGYSUS_20121011

I was fascinated to read about an ingenious invention: the “Life Straw”!

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=water-filtration-system

This fantastic device apparently kills practically all bacteria and viruses that pass through it.

After reading the article on Haiti I hope there is SOMEONE over there who hears of this and can arrange for at least some of the money that is still available NOT to be wasted.

This post is not meant to be critical of NGOs. Especially having worked for one I know that it is damn hard work where circumstances are always chaotic and one just keeps bumping into one obstacle after the other. Things never go smoothly or as planned.

Establishing a central body and plan like they did in Haiti was a good start I think. I hope they will find a way to really make it work.

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Here is some extensive information on the situation in Haiti if you are interested:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Haiti_earthquake

 

(source http://www.mbc.edu/news/r_detail.php?id=2283)

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REDUCE, RE-USE, RE-CYCLE.

Our organic food supplier WILD Organics discussed the topic of “packaging” in their latest newsletter. It is often difficult to judge these days which choice is the best one to make for our planet. Obvious is “the less the better”; but when you have to have it – which one is the best choice for our environment? WILD has done quite a bit of research and found the following:

“We have tended to assume that paper is better than plastic and that starch based plastics are better than oil based ones. Our preliminary research has indicated that this is not always the case and that we need to understand more before investing in this area.

 

It now seems that we would be much better to use oil based plastics and invite customers to return them in the boxes for recycling than to use plant, starch based plastics which require large amounts of energy to manufacture, compete for land with food and have the potential to disrupt traditional recycling streams.

 

As an example of why we have found it important to research and truly understand the whole context before knee-jerk “green initiatives” – last year we were trying to come up with a more environmentally acceptable alternative to normal plastic bags and were persuaded to invest in degradable plastic. Having invested in a large stock of printed bags we now find they are probably the worst option because:

 

there are serious questions over whether a product breaking down to methane, CO2 and water in landfill is desirable. There is a perfectly reasonable argument that by not breaking down they would constitute a form of carbon sequestration.

 

Most significantly they are non-recyclable and, as they inevitable get mixed with regular plastics, actually detract from the ability to sensibly recycle plastics.

 

Our research is suggesting that, counter intuitively, plain old oil based plastic bags returned to us in the boxes for recycling is certainly better than degradable bags, probably better than plant derived, starch based plastic and probably better in many instances than recycled paper bags.”

 

So the best we can do appears to be the 3R’s  .. .REDUCE, RE-USE, RE-CYCLE.”

I will do my own research and will share with you what I find. Please share what you know regarding this topic!

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