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Music video by Young Artists For Haiti performing Wavin’ Flag. (C) 2010 Universal Music Canada Inc.

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Of the 800 children born each day in this luckless Caribbean nation, only 567 are fortunate enough to eventually attend school. One of three finishes sixth grade, and just seven of that original 800 ever see the inside of a university.

And those numbers reflect the situation before the Jan. 12 earthquake wiped out or damaged 1,300 schools.

As leaders prepare to shape this quake-battered nation’s rebuilding effort, proponents of education want to seize the moment to fix a broken education system.

“Poor parents pay up to half of their income to send kids to bad schools,” said Marcelo Cabrol, the Inter-American Development Bank’s chief education expert. “It’s like going to see a doctor without a license to practice.”

For months, he, New Orleans’ education guru, Paul Vallas, and members of a high-level Haitian presidential commission on education have been waging a quiet debate on how to transform education in this nation where 2.5 million of the nine million people can’t read or write.

At the heart of their discussions: How to ensure quality education in a country with so much inequity and so few resources — and where 90 percent of the schools are privately run, adhering to wildly disparate standards.

Even before the quake, a million school-age Haitian children simply didn’t go to school.

What they have come up with is an ambitious plan that seeks to use international aid dollars to not only subsidize the construction of new schools but also to put private schools, which are the vast majority, under state oversight.

Although the Haitian government has a spotty history as far as competent stewardship is concerned, the hope is that money can be used as a means to hold schools accountable and as a way to raise teacher salaries in a country where some household servants can make more than educators.

In exchange for funding, schools would be required to reduce classroom sizes, train and recruit quality teachers, and qualify for national certification.

The plan seeks $4.3 billion over two years, and is among dozens of projects — including the construction of a new $15 million, 320-bed teaching hospital in the central Haiti town of Mirebalais — that are expected to be presented Tuesday when former President Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive chair a meeting of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission.

Full Story…

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — The number of Pakistanis rendered homeless by massive flooding doubled to 4 million, the United Nations said Thursday as Washington planned to ramp up assistance to aid the suffering.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she plans to announce an additional $60 million in U.S. aid to add to the $90 million already pledged by the United States.

In addition, Democratic Sen. John Kerry said Thursday that $200 million from Kerry-Lugar Bill allocations will be diverted to flood assistance. The bill, named after Kerry and Republican Sen. Dick Lugar, essentially grants $7.5 billion in nonmilitary aid to Pakistan for social and economic development.  Read More…

For some problems there is no second best solution!
The Paradox of Second Best

“Earth Song” performed by Michael Jackson from YouTube

WINDHOEK, Namibia (AlertNet) – The area around Otjiwarongo in Namibia’s heartland is a green sea of short, shrubby trees as far as the eye can see. While beautiful to some, this bush is an invader species and seen by ranchers as a dreaded pest that pushes out nutritious grasses.

Since the 1950s, bad grazing practices have led to the bush taking over 26 million hectares of Namibia’s rangeland – an area the size of New Zealand. That costs the country’s beef farmers $160 million a year in lost earnings, in an industry that farmers say accounts for 3 to 6 percent to Namibia’s gross domestic product.

But what if the bush could be fed into a power plant, clearing land for grazing and simultaneously supplying Namibia with clean, renewable electricity in a region that is starved of energy?

“(Burning) wood to make electricity is one of the cheapest renewable energy options available,” said Robert Schultz, head of energy projects for the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN), a think tank.

“And it is quick,” he said. “Sixty minutes after powering up the plant, kilowatts are flowing into the grid. This makes it suitable to meet unexpected peaks in demand.”

Read More…

Will there be a Nobel Prize for the Environment in 2012?
The Call For a Nobel Environment Prize

“Keep Your Eyes On The Prize” performed by SNCC from YouTube

UNITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly on Wednesday recognized access to clean water and sanitation as a human right.

After more than 15 years of debate on the issue, 122 countries voted in favor of a compromise Bolivian resolution enshrining the right, while 41 abstained.

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For those interested in the study of climate – including its impact on society and society’s impact on it – 1972 was an extremely important year. In that year a collection of weather anomalies occurred adversely affecting global food production and therefore availability. At that time some blamed the food shortages on the weather. More recently, however, those claims have been reevaluated and the blame is being apportioned more correctly between weather and society. The anomalies of 1972 included the fourth consecutive year of drought in the Sahelian zone of West Africa , the failure of Peruvian coastal fisheries, droughts in Central America, the Soviet Union, India and China, along with excessive rains in parts of the Philippines, Australia and Kenya…

-Mickey Glantz, 1979

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15-19 November 2010, Kathmandu, NEPAL

The burning Issues on climate change and their impacts – many of which are effectively irreversible – will affect everyone on the Earth. Human health, patterns and intensity of precipitation, water and food supplies, energy supplies, and the viability of natural systems: all will be affected if Earth’s climate continues to change. Taking unified global action against climate change, The Small Earth Nepal and the Consortium for Capacity Building (University of Colorado) in collaboration with the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Government of Nepal, Centre of Research for Environment Energy and Water (Nepal), Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand) and International Research Center for River Basin Environment, University of Yamanashi (Japan) are organizing a regional-scale International Graduate Conference on Climate Change and People, bringing together various scholars, graduate students and climate change practitioners to equip and mobilize Young Minds about climate change and societal issues. The Conference is mainly supported by Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN) under the CAPaBLE Program. The conference is also co-sponsored by UNESCO. Additional sponsors are welcome to join.

The Conference is mainly focused on the multidisciplinary capacity building of graduate students of various disciplines through the sharing of knowledge and experience by experts and participants on Climate Affairs, from climate-related science to impacts to policy & economics to ethics & equity. Climate Affairs is a concept which aims to enhance the “eco-generation” of climate leaders and climate agents in their respective academic and practical areas of concern.

The Conference activities concentrate to provide the following:

—  To build scientific capacity of young students from multiple disciplines, fostering and enhancing networking processes and awareness for sustainable development options in the region.

—  To equip graduate students with usable knowledge on the importance of multidisciplinary activities in addressing climate change, regardless of their home academic discipline.

—  To enable participants to formulate a multinational networking group to develop baseline skills needed to understand climate change mitigation, adaptation and prevention measures.

—  To create awareness among the community and social leaders for identifying their roles in effective ways to combat the influences of a changing climate.

Selection of Participants: Expression email or Letter of Interest and Commitment Level. Interested undergraduates may also inquire about the conference.

Registration Fees: US$ 100 for the SAARC Countries and for Other Developing Countries from GREATER South Asia (e.g., Central and Southwest Asia to Myanmar), US$ 150 for the Developed Countries from Asia-Pacific Region

Funding: Partial or full funding may be available to the selected participants from Developing Countries

Deadline for Submission of Application with letter of interest and CV: 15 September 2010

Further details, please contact:

Michael Glantz at michael.glantz@colorado.edu

Dhiraj Pradhananga at smallearth@wlink.com.np

the agenda is available here

More Information

April 14/15 2010
“You can call me a ‘good skeptic.’ I don’t buy everything the [climate] modelers say. I don’t buy everything the climate people say. I’ve worked with them for 40 years. I know where some of the Achilles heels are; some of the arguments,” states Dr. Mickey Glantz, the Director of the Consortium for Capacity Building, University of Colorado.
“However, I do see sea level rising. I do see the ten warmest years on record in recent times. Warm ecosystems moving up-slope, that worries me,” as do other confirmed climate change observations, which he recounts in this candid assessment of the realities of climate change and what , if anything, mankind can do about. But while Glantz recognizes the problems of forecasting the long-range impacts of climate change, for him an equally challenging issue is getting us to agree there is a problem. He asks friends and colleagues, What would it take to get you to change your views on climate change? No one can offer an answer.
He recommends moving aside the climate scientists and IPCC and convening a engineering panel to start addressing the practical aspects of how to tackle the problem, noting that ‘there is no Planet B.’
Other video presentations from the 2010 Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar are available on EV World.Com.

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