Monday, December 22, 2008

Climate related investments will pay

The message from today's linked article from Scientific American is clear: invest significantly now in tackling climate change and its worst impacts will likely be avoided. But cautious investments may well be wasted - they simply won't be enough to make a difference. This is the conclusion reached by researchers in Germany and the Netherlands, who studied how much it would take to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above 19th Century levels (generally considered the 'tipping point' for catastrophic impacts). They found there was a 90% chance of meeting this goal with average annual investments of 2% of GDP globally, made from 2005 through to 2100. That's definitely a big commitment... It's a wake-up call to leaders across the world as they consider the consequences for their environmental policies of the global economic downturn. But it's also a hopeful sign, as it underscores the value of acting collectively and boldly today to secure our future. If those same leaders are listening, they may find their policy decisions easier to make...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Concerted acts of kindness

This is a great story of some young men trying to spread festive cheer. I found it in the UK's Independent newspaper. The four men concerned are housemates in London, and some time ago they decided to try and brighten the lives of others by making their wishes come true. For example, they managed to persuade Yamaha to donate a red guitar to a child, and helped send people to see a soccer game at the new Wembley stadium and others to see the Moscow State Circus. More recently, though, their "Kindness Offensive" project has focused on gathering donations of food and toys to share with unsuspecting, but deserving, members of the public, such as asylum seekers. It's a great example of how - not so much random as calculated - acts of kindness can have a knock-on effect... not least of all on those being kind, as these guys seem to be really enjoying themselves! (Photo from the Independent.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Guinea worm may soon be eliminated

Woah - I just realized how long it was since I last posted. Sorry folks. I've been consumed by work over the past two weeks. Fortunately, RTBH reader Stacey reminded me of a story I'd seen but was too tired to post! (Thanks, Stacey!) It's from the BBC, and it documents the progress made in preventing guinea worm infection. The worm is present in water in many poor countries - when people drink water containing guinea worm larvae, the little critters stay in their bodies and grow. They can reach a meter in length and eventually emerge from the skin - as you can imagine, it's extremely painful and disabling. There's no vaccine or treatment for the disease - you avoid it by filtering water and taking other precautions. Thankfully, through such measures, the disease has already been eliminated in many countries, and worldwide infection rates have dropped by 99% since 1986. 80% of all remaining cases are in Sudan. Former US president, Jimmy Carter, is spearheading the final push towards worldwide elimination - with additional support from the Gates Foundation and the UK government - and he thinks it could all be over within 2 years! That really would be quite an achievement... (Photo from BBC.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

HIV positivity in Lesotho

It is World AIDS Day - as it is each year on 1st December - and there was plenty of coverage of the topic on the newswires. In general, it was rather muted and somewhat overshadowed by other big stories (such as the fallout from the Mumbai attacks last week, and the global economic crisis). However, once again the BBC produced a great photo-journalism piece to mark the event - linked from the post title above. For the last month, the BBC has been covering the day-to-day lives of HIV positive people in the small African nation of Lesotho. Today's photo montage focused on Joseph Ramokoatsi, an HIV and AIDS counsellor in the remote community of St Rodrigue, who is also HIV positive. Joseph's openness about his own HIV status has inspired many other people to discover theirs, and to seek treatment for HIV or TB if they need it. He's even appeared on posters advertising HIV testing services, and has motivated others to work as counsellors (such as Mamatsoele Leseo, pictured here in the red t-shirt next to Joseph). In short, he's a symbol of hope in the fight against this disease - across Lesotho and beyond. (Photo from BBC online.)


Bloggers Unite for World AIDS Day 2008 - challenge site
Bloggers Unite