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Volume 14, Number 10
May 18 - June 7, 2008

opinion

Also in this section:
Editorial: Stop feeding Colombia's violence
Leis, The multiple deaths of Victoriano Lorenzo
Bernal, Panama's Transparency Law
Human Rights Watch, The mass extradition of Colombian paramilitary leaders
Lucero, The rise and fall of the Shining Path
Arango, Women's institutionalized underrepresentation in Chile
Pilgrim, Leapfrogging old ways to save the environment
Wilson, Peak oil and American politicians
Emeagwali, Africa must produce or perish
Committe to Protect Journalists, Chinese journalist gets four years
N. Jackson, Why every vote will count in November
Edwards, Endorsement of Barack Obama
McCain, Remarks to the National Rifle Association
Letters to the editor

Remaking our environment
by leapfrogging old ways
by Clarence E. Pilgrim

A bus driver was making his usual stops along a particular route, when an elderly gentleman with apparent poor vision and wearing spectacles, got on board on one of his many stops. The bus driver noticed through his rear view mirror that as he continued along his path, the gentleman would look through the window then examine the contents of his wallet, and quietly mutter some inaudible words to himself. Getting closer to the completion of all of his stops, the driver at his last stop told the gentleman that he was nearing the end of the line, hence he asked the man when he would like to disembark. The gentleman looked into his wallet then painstakingly searched his pockets. The driver said to the man that if he was short on money, he will be okay to accept whatever he has. The gentleman promptly replied that it wasn't the money that was the problem, he simply did not know where he was going.

Many developing countries, like the elderly gentleman in the story, are simply riding the bus of seeming economic development, but really do not know where it will lead. Unfortunately and interestingly, some of the so-called more developed nations understand the vulnerabilities caused by such issues as climate change, energy conversion demands and the uncertainty caused by inadequate food security. However they still embark on a journey which is financially expedient to do in the short to mid-term, and continue to be guided by myopic expediency when making long term decisions for the future. They fail to get the visions of the many dangers which are contained in the realities of a bigger global picture.

There are many vulnerable countries that are very dependent on agriculture and lack the resources and infrastructure to cope with the ravages of nature as it manifests itself in the form of severe floods, droughts, sea-level rise, etc., along with man made acts.

Even those countries which are rising stars in the global economy are not immune.

The recent earthquake in the potential world economic giant of China, reminds us of the devastating impact which nature can once again inflict on a "disaster-weary" world. It is estimated that nearly 15,000 people were killed and over 25,000 are still trapped in rubble. Villages were flattened by the 7.9 quake, and around 10,000,000 people are affected in the Sichuan province, while the country's disaster spending is already over 1 billion yen. It is with our gravest sense of sorrow and hope, that the rest of us look and offer whatever help we can, so that the grieving and suffering are comforted.

It is not enough to wait and see where the next natural or man-made disaster will occur, and then exercise management strategies to return systems and degrees of structures back to normality.

What can be done at this time is to lead growth and development in directions that will make the best use of modern, environmentally friendly technologies, thus "leapfrogging" unplanned and disjointed development controls. This approach includes the transfer of technology in a deliberate and consistent manner from nation to nation down to the practical application at grassroots level.

An excellent example of the future direction of energy transition is the electricity generation from biomass and use of biofuels in automobiles.

But such technological advancement cannot take place in isolation. It is essential that developing countries incorporate --- early in the process of development --- efficient and modern technologies that are now available to meet the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The rising global food prices must be given priority as it affects many vulnerable groups.

The UNICEF organization calculates that 40 percent of all underweight babies in the world are Indian. Around 1.5 to 1.8 million children in India alone could end up malnourished. In South Asia 48 percent of under fives in India are stunted, compared to 43 percent in Bangladesh and 37 percent in Pakistan.

The enormous expansion potential of the world's food growing capacity must run counter to the long term interest of reducing poverty and hunger on a global scale, while taking climate change and the preservation of biodiversity into account.

A deliberate but necessary energy source change from fossil fuels must be a planned one. It is necessary!

Fossil fuels continue to impact in many ways even on the very health of our bodies. A recent Harvard School of Public Health study found that tiny chemicals caused by burning fossil fuels (particulates), causes the development of blood clots in the legs. It is believed that pollution makes the blood more sticky and likely to clot.

As global development continues, the key is to lessen the unpredictability, by making predictable decisions now!

Conserving, developing and implementing actions of potential economic value cannot be done in isolation. Leaders must think globally and harmonize all actions that will correct the errors of the past by moving boldly into a new future.


The author is an educator and senior civil servant in Antigua and Barbuda



Also in this section:

Editorial: Stop feeding Colombia's violence
Leis, The multiple deaths of Victoriano Lorenzo
Bernal, Panama's Transparency Law
Human Rights Watch, The mass extradition of Colombian paramilitary leaders
Lucero, The rise and fall of the Shining Path
Arango, Women's institutionalized underrepresentation in Chile
Pilgrim, Leapfrogging old ways to save the environment
Wilson, Peak oil and American politicians
Emeagwali, Africa must produce or perish
Committe to Protect Journalists, Chinese journalist gets four years
N. Jackson, Why every vote will count in November
Edwards, Endorsement of Barack Obama
McCain, Remarks to the National Rifle Association
Letters to the editor

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