Monday, February 24, 2014

Gay Marriage in New York Vs Uganda Anti-homosexuality law

This week I just decided to talk about Gay marriage bills that have been passed in states like in New York. In 2011 the state assembly passed the gay marriage bill. I would like to mention that in many countries, states, communities and organizations, laws, policies and statutes are passed without consulting all stakeholders. Poor people and minorities are always disfranchised through these laws passed by elites and the rich.
In New York the gay marriage bill was passed without consulting all New Yorkers. The gay marriage bill was passed to satisfy special interest groups which are composed of the rich. Gay or gay marriage is not only naturally immoral but also will lead to depopulation and death of religion (Weinstein, 2011).
I’m personally concerned about the fact that I will have to pay taxes to cater for two married men or two married women. I have always asked myself these questions; how just is it to legally allow men marry each other or women marry each other? Who would want to hear about men marrying each other? What is the essence of marriage? What is marriage itself? There are lots of questions that need to be answered. I’m very sure federal and state politicians are marred in this confusion. They support gays not because it is right but because they do not want to lose financial support from rich gay groups.
Another alarming issue that needs to be addressed is parents and their children that are caught up in this dilemma. It is becoming hard and difficult for parents to teach their children that gay acts are immoral since laws accept gays and proclaim that injustice has been done to them for not allowing them marry. In New York, gay marriage has increased exploitation of poor young men. Poor young men in New York are bought by gay rich men to full fill their fantasies (Spangenberg, 2001). These acts are seldom heard of because the media is controlled by the very groups.
Surprisingly gay groups have went ahead to promote gay interests in developing countries. Western countries are now tying accepting gays or losing aid. Uganda as an example, European countries have threatened to cut aid if Ugandan parliament passed anti-gay bill (fox-news, 2012). 
Below are some links to articles about gay marriage in New York.
Weinstein, J (2011) Gay Marriage Bill Passes Assembly for Fourth Time Retrieved From


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Coldest City In the World in Russia

Think we’re having a brutal winter? Winter temperatures in Oymyakon, Russia, average minus 50 C ( minus 58 F). The remote village is generally considered the coldest inhabited area on Earth. Oymyakon is a two-day drive from Yakutsk, the regional capital which has the lowest winter temperatures of any city in the world.

How do the locals deal with the cold? “Russki chai, literally Russian tea, which is their word for vodka,” photographer Amos Chapple told after his visit to the coldest city.
Oymyakon ironically means “unfrozen water.” This is due to the thermal spring located nearby. Originally the location was used by reindeer herders who would water their flock in the warm springs.
Oymyakon’s lowest recorded temperature was a frigid minus 71.2  C (minus 96.16 F) back in 1924. According to The Independent, wearing glasses outdoors can cause them to stick to the wearer’s face. This is just one of the more menial problems of the extremely cold weather.

Other adaptations locals have to make in their daily lives are more extreme than a short time of nearsightedness or farsightedness when stepping outside. The frozen ground makes it difficult for working indoor plumbing, so most toilets are outhouses. The bitter cold also makes it difficult to dig graves. The ground  has to be warmed with a bonfire before a funeral. Locals use heated garages for their cars. Cars left outside need to be kept running, otherwise they will not restart. Planes cannot fly into the area in the winter. And of course the risk of frostbite is great after only a few minutes in the cold.
"I was wearing thin trousers when I first stepped outside into minus 47 C,” Chapple said. “I remember feeling like the cold was physically gripping my legs, the other surprise was that occasionally my saliva would freeze into needles that would prick my lips."

Due to the frozen ground, crops cannot be grown in Oymyakon. The population survives on mostly meats. "Yakutians love the cold food, the frozen raw Arctic fish, white salmon, whitefish, frozen raw horse liver, but they are considered to be delicacy," local Bolot Bochkarev told "In daily life, we like eating the soup with meat. The meat is a must. It helps our health much.”

Chapple traveled through Oymyakon and Yaktusk on a journey for interesting pictures about life in the brutally cold environment. As a photojournalist, he searches for uplifting stories around the globe. He said that the cold posed some difficulties for his photography. He said that focusing the lens would sometimes be as challenging as opening a pickle jar.

Summers, however, in Oymyakon and Yakutsk, are relatively warm, and average around the mid-60s and 70s, and have reached as high as 94 degrees F, according to meteorologist Jon Erdman. But the winters are long and the summers, short, and according to Bochkarev, many locals actually complain about the warmer weather.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Water Security In Countries at Risk

The growth in human population, coupled with climate change, is making access to fresh water a contentious issue, and the solutions are a complex mix of individual choices and broad social and economic policies. But solutions are in our grasp, if we can find the will to act.
“This is a mess, and it is a mess that we have not attended to yet,” Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs said at a conference on water security held today at Columbia University. “Humanity is the driver, but we don’t have our hands on the steering wheel very much.”

Hundreds of students and other interested citizens attended and many more joined online for the conference, co-hosted by the Columbia Water Center and co-sponsored by the PepsiCo Foundation. The State of the Planet 2013 was one of a series being held by the Earth Institute to highlight major issues the world confronts as it tries to move toward a sustainable future. (You can watch a webcast here.)

With the world population already moving beyond 7 billion people, the stakes are enormous: How can we continue to provide enough safe water for drinking and sanitation, grow enough food for everyone, supply industry and preserve the natural world?

The world is seeing the effects of water stress: In many areas we’re already drawing down supplies faster than they’re being replenished. The recent drought has affected 60 percent of the continental area of the United States, devastated crops and driven up world food prices. In sub-Saharan Africa, ongoing drought not only cuts into food supply but drives migration and civil conflict. In India, the “green revolution” that has fed the subcontinent threatens to decimate underground water supplies.

Natural climate variability – such as periodic dry spells and damaging storms that cause flooding and erosion – already demands better planning and conservation. Climate change will exacerbate these problems. Columbia Professor Mark Cane of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said global warming is likely to make already dry areas drier, and wet areas wetter. When drought hits, things will be worse off. And, he said, the solutions that work today might not work in the future.

Right now we’re only using about 4 percent of the available fresh water on the planet, noted Brian Richter, director of global freshwater strategies for The Nature Conservancy. But that’s what is affordable and accessible; the rest of the supply is largely hard, and costly, to deliver.
We need to talk about what water is available within our economic reach. “We all have to figure out how to use less water,” he said, and “we really have to move to a cap-and-trade system in a lot of these places, we have to facilitate the movement [of water] toward more efficient uses.”
State of the Planet 2013, :aura Trevelyan, Richard Sandor
The BBC’s Laura Trevelyan with Richard Sandor, founder of several climate exchanges for trading carbon, at the State of the Planet 2013 conference on March 28.

How we manage the financial side of the equation will be key. Water already is in effect a commodity, traded through surrogates such as agricultural products. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of fresh water usage: 500 gallons for every chicken raised, 2,000 gallons for every steak, noted Richard L. Sandor, a financial markets expert who delivered the keynote address today. Sandor has specialized in environmental financial futures, founding a series of climate exchanges around the world for trading carbon.

“Water will be the biggest commodity of the 21st century,” he predicted. We need to build the market for water in ways that are regulated and transparent, establishing who has property rights for water resources and setting up legal frameworks in ways that allow us to put a price on water without depriving humans of their basic needs.

Pollution from farms entering the Chesapeake Bay, for instance, hurts the fishermen who make their living there; clean water has a value that needs to be recognized, and accounted for on both sides of that equation, he said.“You don’t need to take a shower in New Mexico, or plant Kentucky bluegrass – but if you do, it should cost you something,” Sandor said. “We need to create financial incentives to achieve social objectives.”

Some businesses already see the value in clean water. As a resource, water is an important component of business success for a company like PepsiCo, Rich Delaney, the corporation’s senior vice president for operations, said. The company, with more than 500 manufacturing plants in 120 countries, needs to preserve the resource for its business, but also to maintain vital relationships with its local communities and its consumers.

“More and more, our consumers are raising the bar on managing resources well,” he said.
The corporation works to conserve and recycle water more efficiently in its operations. And, the philanthropic PepsiCo Foundation funds projects to help farmers use water more efficiently, and to develop better local water systems in underserved communities (some of those projects are being operated through the Columbia Water Center).
One audience member asked: Shouldn’t water be a right, and not a commodity?
State of the Planet 2013, Vijay Modi, Jeffrey Sachs
Vijay Modi and Jeffrey Sachs at State of the Planet 2013 on March 28.
“Water is a scarce and valuable resource; it requires a price to use efficiently; but that’s only a partial perspective,” Sachs responded. What happens, he asked, when the price of water becomes too high for the poor?

“If you reflect on the saying that water is life [you realize that] if you price water out of the reach of people that is a pretty serious offense,” Sachs said. “Markets don’t solve that problem.”
He proposed some form of a “lifeline tariff,” under which everyone in a community would be able to get a basic amount of water for free, or a minimal price. For additional usage, the price would go up. Such a system might be managed using “smart cards” that can track how much people use and how they pay for it, he said.

“Until that happens I fear the idea that turning water over to markets will be devastating for the poor,” Sachs said. “But without markets, it will be devastating for the problem of supply.”
As the population keeps expanding, will we be able to meet everyone’s water needs?
“From the technological and biological point of view, we can do it,” said Upmanu Lall, director of the Columbia Water Center. “Are we going to do it anytime soon? No.”
Among the solutions, he said, there is great opportunity for better efficiency in agriculture. The water center works in India to help farmers reduce water consumption with the help of tools that monitor soil moisture levels and better irrigation systems. It also looks at whether farmers are growing the right crops in the right places, to reduce demand for water by planting drought-resistant crops in drier areas, for instance.

“Technically we know how to solve the problems,” Lall said. “But the business model is not there.”
Vijay Modi, director of the Modi Research Group at Columbia, noted that in some areas, more people have cell phones than adequate sanitation services. The question, he said, is how to match in water systems what has happened in the explosive expansion of mobile communications technology. The answers, he said, are varied and complex.

Governments should be able to pay for the initial infrastructure of pipes and water tanks and other major systems. The larger problem is how to pay to get the water “the last mile” – bringing it close to households, and staffing and maintaining the systems. And, how to best allocate water supplies so everyone gets a basic amount of drinking water, especially when supplies are short.
The issue “has to be approached with humility; we don’t have a magic solution,” Modi said.
State of the Planet 2013
Hundreds attended the Sate of the Planet 2013 conference in March to listen and talk about water security.
So, what can one person do?, asked another audience member.
Several speakers agreed that the most effective solution is simply to eat less meat, or none at all, since it takes so much more water to produce it.
Mark Cane had another approach: “The first thing is tear out your lawn.” More than half of domestic water consumption goes onto people’s yards, Richter noted.

On a community scale, Cane suggested looking around at what might be causing problems for the natural environment in your own town and trying to work with others to solve them.
For more on the conference, visit the website, or check out the hashtag #sopwater on Twitter.
You can find out more about the speakers here.