Our well-being on planet Earth depends on three main essential drivers, i.e. Water, Energy and Natural Resources (fossil minerals and renewables including biosphere and its eco-systems) ‘WENR’. To achieve sustainability and resilience in our societies and to promote prosperity requires using and sharing our common 'WENR' capital with consideration to the complex and multi-layered NEXUS, i.e. the interactions and processes within and between these three drivers 'WENR’. Currently, Earth is facing existential threats caused by us collectively. Scaling-Up and Scaling-Out 'Science, Technology and Innovation' of the WENR-systems and coupling them to the 'Socio-Economic-Environment' pillars of our societies as defined by the UN-SDGs are one of the very few means to mitigate existing and future threats and bring full vitality in the functioning and metabolism of all life forms and processes on Earth. Sustain-earth.com is an open access online platform that allows active contributions and feeback.
COVID-19 and the vaccines against it demonstrated very clearly the importance of conveying not only R&D but also the responsibility of the stakeholders of R&D (https://www.who.int/observatories/global-observatory-on-health-research-and-development/analyses-and-syntheses/who-r-d-blueprint/who-mapping-of-r-d-stakeholders) and the end-users what concerns Quality Assurance ‘QA’.
Traditionally, the conventional approaches in R&D are having an internal ‘QA’ by Peer Review systems (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_review), e.g. in journals, funding organisations and patent-offices. The function of peer review is to evaluate the R&D by people with similar competences, i.e. peers. So, it is self-regulation by qualified experts within the relevant field in order to assure high-quality standards, enhance performance in R&D and certify reliability and credibility in the science and technology. These are often used to determine the suitability for academic publication in different types of activities in various fields or professions, e.g. medical peer reviews.
The ongoing Information Revolution promoted the expansion of the social media, improved access to knowledge through the World Wide Web ‘WWW’ and enhanced quality of Google search motors. At the same time we are experiencing a fast development in the fourth industrial revolution empowered by Artificial Intelligence ‘AI’ and Machine Learning ‘ML’ where Internet-of-Things ‘IOT’ is allowing more and more greater refinement and enhancement in social media tools.
Closing the gap between R&D through Open Access and Social Media instruments are essential parts of the Revolution in the Information Communication Technologies ‘ICT’. This unprecedented revolution is also important for improving the quality of R&D what regards the safety and security of the global citizens on the one hand, for the promotion and implementation of the UN-SDGs on the other hand.
A timely example is the involvement of the global population in how good is good what regards the vaccines against COVID-19. Read more about clear links between AstraZeneca and rate blood clots (https://youtu.be/dn8JS1ODlwY) and associated possible recommendations (https://youtu.be/dn8JS1ODlwY).
普通话会成为未来的第二种全球语言吗? 非洲和亚洲的趋势正在见证全球语言转换领域的这种持续变化。As we know “If you speak to people in your language, it goes to their heads but if you speak in their native language, it goes to to their hearts”.
With China is growing very fast to be soon the world super economic and financial power (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/business/2020/may/29/is-china-overtaking-the-us-as-a-financial-and-economic-power; https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/RL33534.html), as well as driver of trade and development not only in Asia but also in Africa. There are a lot of new facts and debates about what China is in reality and how the world would look like in the coming decades until the end of this century. In this context, is quite interesting to see the new trends in the expansion of the Chinese Mandarin language in the world education systems.
South Africa, in January 2016, cemented its place in history by becoming one of the first African countries to integrate Mandarin into its public school curriculum. This has ushered in a new era of ‘Mandarin language rush’ with other African countries following suit. In December 2018, Uganda also integrated Mandarin Chinese as a second language into their schools. Also, the introduction of the Mandarin Chinese language to East African school curricula signals China’s growing influence in Africa as a global superpower. In January 2020, Kenya’s Curriculum Development Instituteannounced that Mandarin will become part of Kenya’s school curriculum as an optional subject in elementary schools. Kenya is the latest East African nation to follow the Chinese-language trend in schools after Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47657451), Zimbabwe and South Africa, among others (https://www.google.se/amp/s/globalvoices.org/2019/07/23/is-mandarin-chinese-the-language-of-east-africas-future/amp/).
The introduction of Mandarin is considered to be a key step towards creating beneficial developmental relationship for both sides. Many of the supporters see this step as a positive policy change that gives many African learners the opportunity to not only learn one of the most difficult languages in the world, but also compete effectively with their counterparts the east and the west in a rapidly changing and growing global market. Given the fact that China is currently one of the biggest players in the global market, they believe that Mandarin will enable African countries to solidify their economic partnerships with the Chinese. The supporters argue that many African countries have integrated French, English, Portuguese, and German languages in their public schools yet no such uproar as is being witnessed with Mandarin has ever been raised. The current opposition for the introduction of Mandarin is but a veiled attempt orchestrated by western powers to limit the economic influence of China in the region. Whether or not the ‘Mandarin language rush’ is a case of Chinese neo-colonialism, or developmental relationship, only time will tell.
However, China’s influence in Africa grows as more young people learn to speak Mandarin (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.cnn.com/travel/amp/mandarin-language-courses-africa-intl/index.html) and many many more will continue to do so. Let us give some few examples on how young Africans get motivated to take up Mandarin as their second language or at least their third language. We have to keep in mind that many Africans have English as their first or their second language. The tradition to take a European language such as French, German or any other is becoming largely outdated for many reasons, this is at least for the young Africans.
Mugandiri didn’t have any Chinese contacts until he write a letter to the Chinese ambassador in Harare and in less than two months after that, he had joined a fully-funded three-month programme for young entrepreneurs in south eastern China. Mugandiri was one of 25 participants from developing countries who visited universities and factories in Fujian Province, and met several Chinese businesspeople. He returned home and decided to find business partners in China he became aware of the language barriers. Mugandiri searched online and came across the Confucius Institute (CI) at the University of Zimbabwe. He enrolled in evening classes in Mandarin for a nominal fee. Read more about Mugandiri at https://africanarguments.org/2018/06/started-hype-chinese-spreads-fast-africa-language-success/.
Namisi Moses Apollo has become a celebrity in the villages of Luwero district in central Uganda, where he has been teaching the Chinese language at Everest College for two years. The 32-year-old teacher, who returned to Uganda in 2015 after studying in China for about seven years, has won the hearts and minds of local youths for his efforts to improve their future by teaching them Chinese. Namisi had previously taught Chinese at the Confucius Institute of Makerere University before relocating to the Everest College and introduced the Mandarin language to the rural youths, read more about Namisi at https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1168173.shtml.
Africa and Asia, including the MENA region, will house about 82% of the world population by 2100. The new silk road will boost the trade and the economy in the Asian, African and European corridor that will be joining these regions and the surrounding countries (http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spotlights/understanding-chinese-new-silk-route/; https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/building-new-silk-road; https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.dw.com/en/sierens-china-new-silk-road-hangs-in-the-balance/a-53431109) thus creating a new global trade and integrated infrastructure for transport and mobility.
Even in many Asian countries the flip towards learning and mastering Chinese is becoming a new trend in their education systems, see for example Australia (https://youtu.be/3G1EyvRZmOs).
Indeed, it doesn’t come with surprise that the world GDP ‘Gross Domestic Product’ has been accelerating since the great civilization of Ancient Egypt. In general, the world economic systems evolved in milleniums and generations on their own with weak and poor global coupling to the social and environmental pillars of sustainability. This has developed systematically on the expense of the health and wealth of planet Earth. Some very few exceptions do exist.
It would have been more beneficial if such developments involved parallel measures for better preservation and protection of life quality on Earth. Some of the gains in world GDP, at least in the past centuries, could have been used for mitigating the social and environmental conditions. Some few countries were successful to freely do so on their own especially those that were not, directly or indirectly involved in long-term conflicts and wars. It is therefore unfortunate that political structures and policies have generally supported, or being forced to support, the past negative trends. With some exceptions the global education systems, including higher education, have in practical terms either followed or served linear economies. This also involved poor attention and tuning of the underlying global machinery of R&D. Current education systems are becoming more and more isolated from the reality of our planet as we have it today and as it seems to be in the future. We know what the problems are, and where they are likely to be most severe, but we still don’t have enough tools to prepare future generations to act accordingly. We continue to replicate copies that empower linear economies with little effective spaces for creative, stimulative and innovative sustainable solutions.
Promotion and implementation of “circular economy” though the potential for beneficial socio-economic-environment outcome are facing major difficulties around the world. These difficulties bring with them cluster of wicked obstacles for generations to come what regards achieving the UN-SDGs. They also applies to the weak mitigation of climate and environment change policies which indeed impose severe constraints on natural resources, biodiversity and life quality in general. It is very clear from COVID-19 that we are still facing severe problems that clearly undermine our existence in particular the young generations what regards building sustainable and resilient economic systems. To cope with COVID-19 many countries were forced again to borrow from future economic resources that belong to the next generations. We will continue to do so for solving any emerging crises and new threats as we are still EITHER consuming OR deteriorating our common capital of natural resources.
The UN-SDGs are no more than a compilation of the shortcomings that resulted from the global economic systems whether on the right or left of the political spectra. Both capitalism and socialism, including the collapsed communism 1989, and anything in between or still on the extremes of both sides, failed to cope with what we are facing today. What we have today everywhere didn’t emerge from thin air or develop overnight. Indeed, it resulted from blind conflicts within and between political structures on the right and the left that contributed in the aggravation of the climate and environment threats that we are facing today.
As an example is the outdated definition of poverty (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty) that is still used in global economic and education systems “Poverty, is the state of not having enough material possessions or income or for a person’s basic needs”. How do we define basic needs in ICT ‘Information Communication Technology’, AI ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and ML ‘Machine Learning’ era? How do we define poverty in the era of the Anthropocene with continuous degradation of the life quality on earth? Or even from the UN-SDGs perspective, i.e. to have inclusive social, economic and environment elements that holds on all levels from individual, to community and up to society levels? The definition of absolute povertyis also outdated as it lacks the means to meet the basic needs of life quality other than the necessary personal needs, such as food, clothing and shelter. Isn’t clean air, clean water, clean environment, access to the internet, quality education, equal opportunity, gender, ……… etc. are basic necessities?
Will we continue to repeat previous mistakes? What do you suggest?
Our water-energy systems around the world have complex and comprehensive interactions within and between each other. Yet, the complexity is accelerating more and more as global water-energy resources are also dependent on in the ongoing changes in the climate and environment. More importantly, the growth in world population along the increasing needs for water, energy, food and natural resources as well as eco-system services add new dimensions to how and when we can achieve the goals of the UN-SDGs.
The WEBINAR https://youtu.be/G3D0X96IuqY conducted at Boston University throws some light on what, why and how we can advance our knowledge on water-energy-food-climate nexus.
An update of Part One of the forthcoming WEBINARS 2021 on Sustainability in Science and Technology – “The Performance of Planet Earth”. It gives an extended but yet short introduction that includes also the human impacts on life and the associated malfunctioning in the different spheres of the Earth’s system.
Our renewable life on Earth is fading away as consequence of the malfunctioning of the three main drivers; water, energy and natural resources that are feeding on each other for their production, processing, distribution and use.
The ever increasing speed of unsustainable extraction and consumption created an unprecedented acceleration in scarcity and demand of life drivers by being the motor of our agricultural, industrial and urbanisation sectors.
The ongoing multi-layered interactions within and between water, energy and natural resources triggered wicked webs of negative and irreversible impacts in the biosphere and its underlying supporting spheres of the Earths system; the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and the cryosphere. These existential spheres for life have undergone severe degradation in eco-system services and the quality of our natural environment as evident in water insecurities; climate threats; water and ecological pollution, decline in biodiversity and irresponsible use of the mineral and materials in the lithosphere.
The footprint of human trash is apparent and felt everywhere all over the planet with huge loss in both the abundance and diversity of animals and plants. Another example is the expansion of animal farming and dairy production on the expense of arable land and the enormous emission of air and water pollution as well as the excessive freshwater withdrawal.
The Earth is a living organism that lost its natural functioning symmetry what concerns material consumption versus conservation and protection of the wealth and health of life. Air pollution has direct negative effects on health and indirect threats on all life forms through cycling, transport, atmospheric reactions and deposition on land and in water resources. Aquatic eco-systems are facing diverse hazards because of acidification and eutrophication, in addition to increasing severity due to environment and climate change.
The technosphere and associated human activities have directed planet Earth towards a new era, the Anthropocene, where the overall human-made mass of materials and products are currently surpassing the global biomass of renewables.
These are warning clocks calling our attention to what can we do for Earth? so we can still enjoy it more. Thank you for your kind attention.
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The worldwide endeavours and efforts to create safe, effective, accessible and affordable COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to bear fruits and to demonstrate the very beginning of the end to defeat COVID-19 and save the life of humans on Earth. 2020 is now ending by a remarkable achievement and success as 2020 will be remembered as one of worst years in human history for the past centuries, if not more. A handful of vaccines have been authorized around the globe; many more remain in development. Here you can follow the advances in the global landscape of vaccines (https://www.raps.org/news-and-articles/news-articles/2020/3/covid-19-vaccine-tracker). Other detailed information on development of COVID-19 candidate landscape are also complied in the WHO database (https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/draft-landscape-of-covid-19-candidate-vaccines).
The biggest vaccination campaign in modern history has begun. This is a remarkable event and a major milestone in modern history that brings happiness and relief for the global citizens as more than 4.2 million doses in seven countries have been administered, according to data collected by Bloomberg. Delivering billions more will be one of the greatest logistical challenges ever undertaken in human history (https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/covid-vaccine-tracker-global-distribution/).
Advances in science and technology have always demonstrated enormous capabilities to save humans from common threats as in many other cases in human history. The boundaries between science fiction and technological realities are now vanishing very very fast and the 21st century can be a turning point for more and more common solutions to bring resilience and prosperity as long as politics (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics) and political well act hand in hand with science and technology. ICT and IOT can bring together the global efforts and endeavours in sustainable tracks of success by decreasing ‘top-bottom and bottom-top’ communication gaps. COVID-19 has indeed showed how humanity can join together and unify to defeat common threats.
By the end of 2020, sustain-earth.com wishes all of us a Happy soon coming 2021.
The performance of humans is driven by diverse needs for food and security to overcome the challenges for decent live on Earth.
This is an introduction to Part Two of the WEBINARS on “Sustainability in Science and Technology” – The Performance of humans’, hosted by sustain-earth.com.
Africa is the origin of homo sapiens and the renewables helped their evolution during millions of years and their migration out of Africa 70 000 years ago.
During the hunting gatherer era humans started to master artefacts and simple tools, also to build small communities and settlements. They domesticated animals, plants and learned to cultivate land and build shelters for their living.
The agricultural era that started 10 000 years ago culminated in an outstanding ancient Egyptian civilisation that lasted 3000 years. During this era people used water to promote agriculture, farming and to produce food. These achievements were made possible by taking advantages of renewable resources only, the sun (heat and light), water from the Nile and limited use of natural resources.
The mechanisation of agriculture in the 18th century during the first industrial revolution triggered increasing use of artificial pesticides and fertilisers. However, the limited water resources on Earth caused new needs for diversification of water production and management in order to have clean, affordable and accessible water for the growing population and the increasing urbanisation. The first industrial revolution involved various manufacturing processes supported by water and steam power.
The second industrial revolution in Britain was based on increasing electrification and use of combustion engines, rapid standardisation and industrialisation of many sectors in the 19th and 20th centuries. The widespread developments of the first and second industrial revolutions created huge pollution and waste in the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the biosphere that continued and continued until now. New but limited renewable technologies, however, with zero net emission of green house gases started to appear by the end of the 20th century. This was due to the fear that fossil fuels are limited and have negative impacts on life. These developments were possible by more affordable access to renewable energies and the expanding use of alternating and direct current motors. Indeed, there are still several environmental challenges for scaling-up and scaling-out the renewables. Among these are the storage of renewables and integrating them in well-established grids. However, renewables and batteries require needs for new materials and further expansion of mining and processing that are dependent on heavy consumption of water and energy.
The third industrial revolution of digitalisation started by the end of the 20th century and opened new possibilities for increasing efficiencies and volumes of communication not only between humans but also between humans and machines, and between machines and machines as well.
The Information-Communication-Technologies and the Internet of Things will allow extensive and intensive expansion of Science and Technology with new gates for innovation worldwide on all levels and in many sectors. We have now many examples around the world which demonstrate that the boundaries between science fiction and technological realities are vanishing very very fast. We are, now, in urgent needs to proceed with the 4th industrial revolution and to continue with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning but with careful attention to the demands of renewables, preservation and protection of life.
The WEBINARS on Sustainability in Science and Technology will be hosted by sustain-earth.com. and will appear in 2021. They are coordinated by Professor em Farid El-Daoushy (Uppsala University, Sweden) and will be given by many professionals and professors from around the world. It is based on trans-disciplinary and trans-sectoral approaches to explain and detail several patio-temporal yet complex, wicked and interactive problems that piled-up over very long periods of time and caused the evolution of a new geologic era, i.e. the so-called anthropocene.
In part one, the natural drivers of life on planet earth, in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and lithosphere, will be explained to give the necessary bases for understanding the boundary conditions of the natural climate and environment systems of the Earth. In part two the life-styles of humans ‘homo sapiens’ on planet since their evolution on Earth, and migration out of Africa 70 000 years ago, i.e. during different transitions and changes from the hanter gatherer era until now will be followed. Part three will give the impacts of the combined spatio-temporal interactions between human life and the planets’ own drivers on the global economic systems. Further part three will involve issues related to growth economy versus circular economy. In part four analysis of the performance of sustainability with reference to the first three parts will be done. In this context, resilience in human knowledge versus science, technology and innovation will be examined. These four parts together will give background information on ‘what, why and how’ what regards sustainability can be put together in a resilient framework to scale-up and scale-out science, technology and innovation to meet the UN-SDGs in order to achieve prosperity on planet Earth.
In summary the forthcoming WEBINARS can be described as follows:
Part One: The performance of planet Earth.
Part Two: The performance of humans ‘Homo Sapiens’.
Part Three: The performance of world economic systems with consideration to growth economy versus circular economy.
Part Four: The performance of sustainability. Resilience in knowledge versus science and technology.
Photosynthesis is the main reaction behind all life forms on planet Earth, it triggers life processes in global eco-systems on land and in aquatic systems (ocean, lakes and rivers). For photosynthesis to do its job and produce all forms of healthy and nutritious food that makes up global biodiversity, including us humans the ‘Homo Sapiens’ (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human) water is needed. Indeed, even if we say water is the origin of life, it isn’t totally 💯 correct as we still need carbon dioxide in trace amounts. An important question is high trace is trace? Even though we have water and carbon dioxide at the right concentration, we aren’t done yet, as we also need solar energy ‘light photons’ to initiate this magic reaction and the very secret of nature that evolved four billions of years ago, the ‘photosynthesis’.
There are many other imperatives that are needed for the natural photosynthesis to do its job properly and to keep it in tact with all the functioning and metabolism processes of life forms on earth apart from the reactants, i.e. water, carbon dioxide and the photon from the sun. We need healthy atmosphere and healthy hydrosphere, these underlying spheres of life are currently undergoing continuous degradation by us humans. This indeed imposes great threat for the proper functioning and metabolism of the very basic mechanism that fuels the life on Earth, i.e. the photosynthesis.
The atmosphere is important for agricultural sectors and farming, apart from supporting the forest eco-systems. Naturally healthy and fertile soils, are also needed, that have the right mixture of nutrients and free from toxic chemical remains and heavy metals. Also, soils need to have good water holding capacity which is regulated by the organic content. For the atmosphere to be healthy environment for the photosynthesis to take place on land, we must have suitable atmospheric composition, e.g. carbon dioxide concentration that allows having appropriate temperature, in addition to being a necessary component for photosynthesis. Also, not to have toxic compounds in the atmosphere such as nitrogen oxides that through photo-reactions can produce boundary-layer ozone that has negative impacts on growth of vegetation, in particular forests.
What regards aquatic systems we still need suitable temperature (which is dependent also on the heat-balance in the atmosphere) in water bodies, suitable pH as acidification from acidic nitrogen- and sulphur-oxides destroys the living-habitats of fish such the corals in the ocean, also it destroys the food-web and kills fish as in fresh-water lakes and rivers; suitable amount and levels of oxygen for breathing is also imperative in aquatic systems. Naturally, we need also other trace nutrients in particular phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium (applies also for healthy vegetation on land and agricultural production). However, excess amount of nutrients cause eutrophication as the water bodies become overly enriched with minerals and nutrients which induce excessive growth of algae. This results in oxygen depletion in the water body after the bacterial degradation of the algae. As an example is the so-called ‘algal bloom’ or great increase of phytoplankton levels. Eutrophication is often induced by the discharge of nitrate or phosphate-compounds, fertilisers or sewage into aquatic systems.
We humans so far failed to imitate nature, i.e. to do what is known as ‘Artificial photosynthesis’ which still science fiction. Would we ever have Artificial Intelligence ‘AI’ to cultivate our earth, produce our food and create an Artificial Biodiversity? ‘AI’ can create robots and machines that imitate us humans in many ways through collecting the patterns of our behaviour. Robots can’t run the life on our planet itself but they can be better version of humans through Machine Learning ‘ML’ and thereby replace humans to do many many jobs in food industries, and also many other industries.
The implementation of AI and ML in food manufacturing and restaurant businesses is already moving our industry to a new level of performance, enabling fewer human errors, less waste of abundant products, less infections. They also allow lowering costs for storage, delivery and transportation. They can create happier customers through timely and quicker service. Even they can allow voice searching, more personalised and effective orders. Robotics for big factories and restaurant businesses will occupy its niche very soon and will bringing more benefits in the long run. Both AI and ML benefit from the enormous flora of sensors, actuators in addition to digital coding and programming.
For more details on these issues see: https://www.google.se/amp/s/spd.group/machine-learning/machine-learning-and-ai-in-food-industry/amp/.
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Introduction to the forthcoming WEBINARS, hosted by sustain-earth.com, on “Sustainability in Science, Technology and Innovation ’SISTI’ of Water, Energy and Natural Resources”. Part One of the introduction – The three main drivers of life on Earth: “Energy, Water and Natural Resources WENR”. These drivers, by being dependent on the main underlying and interactive sphere of the Earth System (atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and lithosphere) are decisive for the performance and quality of both the life on planet Earth and the life of humans.
These three drivers ‘WENR’ have, so far, sustained all life forms on planet earth. Energy from the sun triggers photosynthesis where water in the HYDROSPHERE together with carbon dioxide in ATMOSPHERE have been the bases of all life in the BIOSPHERE both on land and in aquatic systems. Minor amounts of earth’s mineral resources in the upper LITHOSPHERE are also used as nutrients in the evolution of biodiversity and associated eco-services we benefit from as well as the production of our food. Homo Sapiens are not only part of the global biodiversity but they are becoming the main actor shaping it. Homo Sapiens extended the production. use and consumption of energy, water and the natural resources in the atmosphere (where oxygen is also crucial for life), hydrosphere, biosphere and lithosphere (including fossil minerals) for their living. The extensive and accelerating use of these drivers has surpassed the natural capacities and boundaries of planet earth to sustain all its life forms.
These drivers are imperative to achieve sustainable prosperity through integrated and resilient economic, environmental and social synergies. They involve trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial (nexus) interactions in the socio-environment-economic fabrics that are shaping the future our planet including all societies around the world. Incorporating Environment-Social-Governace ‘ESG’ is fundamental for healthy and wealthy economies around the world.
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Though the expectation of vaccine is around the corner, we still need to wait for at least few months. Meanwhile COVID-19 will not go away by itself and it will still be with us for sometime.
It is commonly known that COVID-19 can spread through aerosol droplets for quite some distant, get attached and accumulated on surfaces for time periods that allow them to circulation in buildings by ventilation and air-conditioning systems. Though there are risks and indications that AC and ventilation systems can cause spreading of COVID-19 there are still limited, systematic detailed and comprehensive studies on the exact effects of humidity, temperature and the technical specification of filters in large central ventilation and AC system. Through the so-called ‘Memory Effects’, e.g. in Offices, Towers, Restaurants, Hotels and similar Complex Buildings. In theory, it is enough that few infected persons can cause spreading of COVID-19 in the whole building if control, considerations and precautions are not well in place. Though out-door air can be used to some extent to mitigate this problem there are still several limitations. So, degraded indoors air-quality can in itself cause serious public health issues as we still don’t have enough knowledge. Even being tested negative isn’t enough to be safe in air-flights (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.cnbc.com/amp/2020/10/14/travel-and-coronavirus-do-pre-flight-covid-19-tests-work.html).
We are facing the threats of a second wave that may very well be much aggressive and we need to be very careful about indoors air-quality. Air-quality is definitely a serious matter that requires good sanitation in air and also how to deal with it needs to call our attention.
Few observations, literature and research articles on this matters are given here.
In the past decades we have observed an accelerating urbanization around the world where many old cities expanded enormously. Leaving little spaces for the citizens to move freely, to breath fresh-air, to exercise in natural environments and even be exposed to the sun. In many cities there are no affordable and easy access to parks, forests and green areas. Even more serious new cities in many parts of the world are built intentionally with increasing densification where living areas are designed to meet the needs of working adults, transport systems and cars as if recreation and children don’t exist.
All of us have definitely experienced the considerable degradation in the life-quality of our modern cities. They became parts of complex industrial production sites and we became part of complex machinery systems. Even with the invent and use of ICT we still over crowded in small areas, i.e. to be as productive as possible. In the early days of the ICT is was believed that people can be more flexible and resilient and not always forced to be in working places. However, business-as-usual became part of our life-style as if ICT doesn’t exist.
COVID-19 has drawn our attention to how urbanization and modern life-style brought with several negative impacts to life-quality. In many cities and urban areas around the world it is even hard to apply ‘physical distancing’ as there are no spaces to do so. Also, ‘stay at home’ isn’t a suitable practice as household may have many persons living in the same appartements and houses. Public transport systems, schools and public services can still be very crowded. Even the use of masks are not standard in many places or even not recommended or recognized as being a safe option. One can ask what options are left other than transmitting infections.
A city is more than its buildings and more than just housing. Modern densification is often about constructing as much housing as possible, as quickly as possible. Of course, considerations are great for housing but in the rush to build quickly it is important to slow down and ask ourselves: What kind of environments and life-style are we creating? Why and for whom are we building? How can we create cities and living environments that are sustainable, resilient and comfortable for everyone? Are our urban spaces contributing in a good built environment for pleasant life?
The Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning has produced a document in response to public debate on the densification of cities and communities, and to provide inspiration and guidance regarding ways to supplement the existing environment. Densification is not only about housing, it is about good built environment and life-quality for the people who live, work and spend time in the city. This publication gives views and arguments concerning some of the challenges and opportunities of densification. It also has interviews conducted with a few people about how they approach the challenges that exist. For example: how people’s needs for sunlight and daylight can be satisfied, how disturbing sounds in a dense city can be handled, how vegetation can be used as a resource, how room for public services can be created, and how a densification strategy for the entire city might be developed. It highlights a number of examples of municipal densification projects, all of which have added value over and above new housing. Mirja Ranesköld, planning architect, was the project leader and Elin Normann Bjarsell, landscape architect, was a member of the project team. Other coworkers contributed with their views and suggestions during the course of the project. The interviews were conducted by Elisabeth Klingberg at PratMinus (https://www.boverket.se/globalassets/publikationer/dokument/2017/urban-density-done-right.pdf).
Here some example of successful planning in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden, where I spent marvelous time in its ’Slottsskogens’ (https://www.goteborg.com/en/slottsskogen/) with an animal park, one of the oldest in Sweden. Just to demonstrate the old good times.
Interesting and scary reading that describes the daily reality around the world as experienced during 2020. What is going on planet Earth and the impacts of our irresponsible use of the global natural resources, in particular energy resources (by industry, transport, building and others), is based on scientific data and statistics specially what regards the atmospheric pollution. Among such impacts is the accelerating increase in the earth’s surface temperature (1880-2019).
What is happening in the atmosphere is triggering a global ‘Domino Effect’ with severe impacts on all other key spheres on Planet Earth. In particular the hydrosphere, the biosphere and ecosphere with tectonic threats on our living landscape (both rural and urban) and on daily basis. Global warming is also a medical emergency in times where COVID-19 pandemic makes the life more severe for many of us. The can be. connections between global warming and the COVID-19 pandemic. What is more serious is the scientific and technological advances, for many reasons, would not protect us against the consequences of global warming and will not bring back the decline in natural resources including loss of biodiversity. What is done is done and can’t be redone. As an example the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissor is unlikely to solve diseases caused by air and water pollution, also the mitigate the loss in biodiversity and tackle degradation in life-quality of atmosphere, bio and eco-sphere.
The Nobel Prize for Peace (https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/lists/all-nobel-peace-prizes/) has been awarded 100 times to 134 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2019, 107 individuals and 27 organizations. Among the International organizaions: Red Cross that got the Prize three times (in 1917, 1944 and 1963), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees got it two times (in 1954 and 1981), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. (2007), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Mohamed ElBatadei (2005). These are some examples, in the same manner, we can argue that BBC and Sir David Attenborough would also be excellent candidates that deserve the Nobel Prize for Peace.
The world was just waiting for this incredible event of Sir David Attenborough to join the Instagram. It is just to use Instagram as amplifier for lifting-up biodiversity as an important part of ‘Life on Our Planet’. In just few days his Intagram Account went viral (https://instagram.com/davidattenborough?igshid=11ay0osmkukkp) with millions of followers and more to come. It is as he has an important message to us. The power of social media can hardly be ignored anymore even by highly educated professionals and politicians. What is more important is the content of social media channels that keep improving as more and more are becoming dependent on them and critical voices continue to add new dimensions as ‘survival of the fit’ is becoming an evolution and the norm for progress on the Internet. With the rise of the Internet (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet) and the boom 🤯 of social media (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media) it is crucial to underline that quality of the content is being recognised more and more by the users. For a great portion of us, that can’t afford regular schooling and/or the expensive higher education, the social media channels are becoming an important source, if not the only source, of knowledge. Classical, conventional and international broadcasting channels (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_broadcasting) aren’t the only standard source of information and knowledge for many of us as they used to be. Though these trends, the global education systems, including higher education, are still closed systems as they don’t necessarily serve, i.e. the needs, the majority of the world population but rather an elite minority, as in football and other sports. Education, knowledge and knowledge transfer are imperative also as tools for public awareness, to share the responsibility, and not necessarily as a passport to the labor market that still support growth/linear economy. Universities and higher education institutes still lack efficient tools to reach out to the normal citizens, mediate knowledge and come near the society through tight engagement and active interactions. This is also the case for public education funded by taxes. Though the extreme importance of education institutes, in particular higher education, they still use ‘business-as-usual’ strategies without enough outreach policies to mediate and advocate knowledge to the public for protection and preservation of our common natural resources. This is the third duty of the universities and not only to perform pure ‘Research and Education’ that still can’t cope to solve existential problems as climate and environment changes, and the collapse in biodiversity, also to offer the necessary services to the citizens in major health disasters and pandemics as COVID-19. This is partly because universities and higher education continue to fail in creating partnership for goals neither with the citizens nor with the politicians as these are also part of their responsibilities, i.e. not to be isolated from the society and live on their own.
Sir David Attenborough and BBC achieved what the world universities failed to do, i.e. communicate science and technology in pedagogic and simple way, to inspire and motivate people, specially the young ones. To raise biodiversity as equally important, as climate change what regards our survival on planet Earth, is without hesitation an outcome of the work of Sir David Attenborough and through the systematic and continuous support of BBC (https://www.google.se/search?q=david+attenborough+nobel+prize&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=sv-se&client=safari). This is why they are very well placed to be nominated for the Nobel Prize.
We are greatly honoured to have Professor Torbjörn Ebenhard on the Editorial Board of sustain-earth.com. Professor Torbjörn Ebenhard is the Deputy director of the Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Professor Ebenhard is a biologist with a B. Sc. degree from Uppsala University and a Ph. D. degree in zoological ecology from the same university. His early research was focused on island biogeography and conservation biology. Presently he is employed by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and based at its Swedish Biodiversity Centre (CBM). It is a special unit for research and communication on conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity as a crucial issue for society, especially as related to Sweden’s implementation of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Its mission is to initiate, conduct and coordinate policy-relevant research on the complex interactions between biodiversity and social development, and contribute to society’s capacity to manage these interactions in a sustainable way.
Apart from administrative tasks of Professor Ebenhard at CBM, he works on a number of assignments from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, supporting their activities on biological diversity in Sweden, and in international negotiations. Professor Ebenhard is mainly involved in the negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as a member of the Swedish national delegations. He is also member of the Scientific Council on Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Services at the SEPA, and serves on the board of WWF Sweden.
As explained by Professor Ebenhard “The recent Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services produced by IPBES shows that the present and projected global loss of biodiversity jeopardizes our possibilities to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Humanity is ultimately dependent on biodiversity for its wellbeing and survival. The food we eat, the clean water we drink, the clean air we breathe, fibres for clothing, wood for building homes, and bioenergy to replace fossil fuels – all is provided by biological diversity. But more is at stake. As we deplete the resources that could support us, we also annihilate living organisms and degrade natural ecosystems. According to the IPBES report at least 1 million species of animals and plants are now threatened with extinction. However, the IPBES report also gives hope, as it states that we can bend the curve of biodiversity loss, if we are determined to do so. What it takes is nothing less than a transformative change of the entire human society.”
Professor Ebenhard also reminds us that “Ten years ago the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to which almost all countries are party, decided on a strategy and a set of global goals to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity, the so-called Aichi targets. They represent a high level of ambition, a much needed component of the transformative change IPBES envisages. CBD’s report Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, issued in September 2020, shows that none of the 20 Aichi targets will be met in full. This disappointing result, at a time when all targets should have been met, is due to a widespread inability by governments to implement the CBD strategy at the national level. Goals and targets at the national level have generally been set at a too low level of ambition, and national measures to reach these goals and targets have been insufficient. We do know, however, that when governments, as well as companies and individuals, have taken appropriate action, it does work, as shown by many successful cases of conservation and sustainable use around the world. But they are too few to bend the negative curve at global level.”
According to Professor Ebenhard “We now suffer the ravages of the covid-19 pandemic to our health and economy, while the growing climate crisis promises to make things much worse, but the looming biodiversity crisis will be of a completely different magnitude. The challenge now is to find integrated solutions, where the entire human society is involved in handling pandemics (there will be more than the present one), climate change and biodiversity loss. For this to happen we need people and decision makers to be aware of the nature of these crises, involve all stakeholders, set new ambitious strategies and goals for biodiversity and ecosystem services, strengthen national implementation and global cooperation, and work in a truly integrated way to address biodiversity loss, climate change and human wellbeing.”
Professor Anders Wörman is the Head of division for Resources, Energy and Infrastructure, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm (https://www.kth.se/profile/worman).
His research interest spans over wide-range of trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial areas in engineering sciences and technology within water resources, hydrology and environmental hydraulics. Ongoing research are due to water and energy availability in terrestrial hydrology, effects of climate fluctuations and landscape changes on runoff, hydropower regulation, extreme flows in rivers and safety of embankment dams. His skill and expertise include: environmental impact assessment; water quality; water resources management; engineering, applied and computational mathematics; hydrological modeling; rivers; civil engineering, hydrologic and water resource modelling and simulation; water balance; waterfall runoff modelling; aquatic eco-systems; surface water geo-statistics; contaminant transport; groundwater penetration; radar and climate change impacts.
Professor Wörman was co-founder and the first manager of the undergraduate educational programme for Environmental and Aquatic Engineering at Uppsala Univ. before being chair prof. at KTH. KTH has dedicated research programmes in Applied Sustainability. One of such programmes is oriented towards finding customized solutions to develope sustainable and resilient technical applications that are climatically and environmentally suited for Africa (https://www.kth.se/en/om/internationellt/projekt/kth-in-africa/africa-1.619441). It is interesting to mention that the world longest river, the Nile, spans over large catchment areas that are located in different climatic/weather (spatio-temporal variability in temperature and precipitation) zones (http://atlas.nilebasin.org/treatise/nile-basin-climate-zones/). These special features of the Nile call for technologies that can cope with climate-environment changes of both natural and man-made origins. Combination of natural and man-made climate changes will certainly induce severe constraints and limitations on what, why and how ‘Water, Energy and Natural Resources (fossil and mineral deposits, eco-systems and biodiversity)’ Nexus need to be carefully accessed on long-term and large-scale bases. In this context, Prof. Wörman has trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial knowledge suited to handle the complex, inextricable and multi-layered interactions within and between Water, Energy and Natural Resource Systems. These interactions are imperative to understand of coherent and resilient coupling with the Socio-Economic-Environment ‘SEE’ aspects in communities living in river-catchment systems in Africa. These issues are of special interest as river-systems are the dominant landscape units with huge importance for preservation and protection of renewable and fossil resources.
We are delighted to have Professor Bengt, Carlsson at Department of Information Technology, Division of Systems and Control, Uppsala Univesity, on the Editorial Board of sustain-earth.com. As Prof. Bengt Carlsson put it in his words “Treating wastewater is great, but making the treatment resource-efficient is even greater”. Among the expertise of Professor Bengt Carlsson: energy efficiency; automatic control system identification; sustainable development; and wastewater engineering.
Sweden has been been a pioneer in water quality and water cleaning both what regards natural and urban waters. However, the digitalisation is now part of production, use and consumption of water worldwide as the pressure on water resources increased enormously and still accelerate. Here, we give an example on The UK Digital Water Utility Experience (https://youtu.be/V8DEAy3o0S8).
What are the greatest challenges for water and wastewater treatment today? Some of the greatest challenges for water and wastewater treatment today is the contributions of pharmaceuticals that has increased pollution loads on environment. One challenge, is therefore, to effectively separate such residues in treatment plants and another is to cope with achieving climate-neutral wastewater treatment plants.
This post will be further updated and revised very soon.
An international Editorial Board in under construction to empower sustain-earth.com and to scale-up and scale-out Science, Technology and Innovation ‘STI’ for promoting and implementing the UN-SDGs, i.e. Socio-Economic-Environment ‘SEE’ aspects of human life on planet Earth.
It is a great honor to have Dr. Mikael Höök, Associate Professor, Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University (https://katalog.uu.se/profile/?id=N5-943) to join the Editorial Board of sustain-earth.com. Being pioneer in global energy systems, Dr. Höök leads the research group ’Global Energy Systems’, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development Programme. He has interests in popularization of science and research in energy systems, and bridging them to socio-economic-environment policy-making.
He has a PhD with specialization in global energy resources. His research deals with availability and production of fossil fuels with focus on oil and coal, but also supply of other natural resouces such as lithium and other raw materials for clean/green energy technologies. His research interests include also quantitative modelling of energy systems, fossil fuel production, field-by-field analysis, and long-term supply of natural resources. He is also very interested in wider issues like energy systems developments, resource depletion, energy security, climate impacts and sustainability. Currently, he leads several research projects focused on global oil supply outlooks and resource supply for energy transitions. He also teaches courses focusing on energy systems, energy security analysis, natural resources and sustainability. He is a lifetime member of International Association of Mathematical Geology and Geosciences (IAMG) and HP Lovecraft Historical Society (HPLHS).
Follow some interesting topics on global energy issues addressed by Dr. Höök in the ’Evolution Show Podcast’ by Johan Landgren (producer and host). The Global Energy Trends, Part II (https://youtu.be/DdmVr4rTUGw): Strait of Hormuz and Iran’s role in the energy market will follow Part I on Global Energy Trends (https://youtu.be/DdmVr4rTUGw) dealing with Oil Addiction and US shale boom; how would we be able to build a sustainable future without fossil fuels?
The ‘ICT’ Information Communication Technology has enormous impacts and caused huge changes in our lives and on all levels, this is however specially true in the developed world. Meanwhile, the heterogeneity, what regards accessibility, affordability and diffusion of modem ICT, is still a worldwide issue. The majority of people in the developing world still suffer from serious inequalities which indeed sets major constraints in many life situations. In this context, the UN-SDGs, including targets therein, represent the intertwined relations and the increasing complexity of the socio-economic-environment aspects in modern societies. The UN-SDGs is an inter-connected package of interactive goals all of it have multi-layered dynamics with continuous and tight feedback impacts within and between each other. They have to be promoted and implemented in parallel and coherently, and above all to operate in phase with each other. Delayed effects in the function between and within the goals can have unprecedented consequences for major groups in societies as is presented here.
COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated, for example, how education is being severely affected in many countries (https://www.un.org/development/desa/dspd/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/08/sg_policy_brief_covid-19_and_education_august_2020.pdf) where the teachers and students became incapable of performing their activities as in normal situations. Many indeed were left behind and still. During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNESCO came with initiative against the COVID-19 “NO TEACHER OR STUDENT SHOULD BE LEFT BEHIND” as proposed by the Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO. As we didn’t have enough room for preparedness on how to meet the pandemic, the UNESCO initiative provided little solutions to promptly help the situation but it paved the way on how to tackle similar situation in the future, specially the second wave of the pandemic which already started in some countries. The impacts of COVID-19 are devastating to the fabrics of life, in general, as we know it, particularly on the education systems in the developing countries. According to UNESCO, some 107 countries implemented nationwide closures of schools by 18 March 2020, in response to the pandemic. This affected over 861.7 million children and youth, i.e. about 45 per cent of the global population of children and youth in schools or according to latest figures up to 78% of global population of school children and youth. Almost a whole generation in the developing world became at risk over night. In the coming second wave if this isn’t dealt with on time, this unprecedented situation could lead to the collapse of school systems in many developing countries as the local governments can’t cope with such enormous consequences of the virus.
The UNESCO initiative focuses specifically on providing a concrete, meaningful and timely response to the unprecedented crisis that the coronavirus is inflicting on the education system in the developing world. Its objectives were/are: (1) to generate extra-budgetary funds from the World Bank, IMF, regional banks, governments, NGOs, public and private donors, and other voluntary supports; (2) to provide urgently needed funds to schools in developing nations in order to permit the payment of two to three months salaries to teachers; (3) to assist schools to adapt their working methods to enable students to pursue studies under confinement; (4) and to revalue the teaching system/profession in the developing countries (https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/no_teacher_or_student_should_be_left_behind.pdf).
As an example, we can see the case of South Africa and how the digital inequalities in e-learning, in their complex education system, has impacted pupils specially those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, e.g. the rural communities. We can name some different reasons for the complexity, which also apply to many other countries in Africa. Language is one, most pupils don’t speak English, as a mother tongue while the official language dominating many classrooms is English. French, for example, is still a dominant language in other African countries while the population in general may have different mother tongues or dialects. Also, the effects of the virus have kept pupils and teachers at home. While e-learning is the solution, the reality in South Africa, as in most developing countries, is very different. Teachers have varying digital skills and many families and teachers cannot afford the systems necessary to sustain some online learning activities. COVID-19 has shown that technology is not anymore a luxury but rather an important component of the education process. However, we still define poverty in conventional ways ‘business-as-usual’ even in world organizations such as IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the WB (World Bank).
In presenting solutions, a wide range of factors must be considered. These range from access to computers, to teacher training, to the social and economic challenges faced by teachers, pupils and schools in their communities. Though Information and Communications Technology ‘ICT’ is taught as a school subject, the government needs to consider an additional range of issues to solidify its commitment towards e-learning. This includes policies and strategies surrounding connectivity, data costs, skills development, hardware access as well as contextual multilingual digital learning content. Many schools still have little or no technology facilities, e.g. tablets and advanced computing systems. Formal training in applied technical skills needs to be extended to all teachers. Adequate digital skills training should become a mandatory component of all teacher training programmes in universities, universities of technology and colleges. Another obstacle is the cost of data-transfer which is among the highest in Africa.This means that pupils can’t always easily access information on their mobile phones. In fact, when pupils and teachers receive the right support for digital learning, the response is often remarkable. Many teachers can willingly dedicate their weekends and school holidays to digital learning and teaching, with no financial incentives. There is also bright spots of collaboration between computing students from the University of the Western Cape with teachers in a high school in an underprivileged part of Cape Town. Their work together has cultivated computing skills and sparked learners’ interest in other subjects like chemistry and astronomy. To know more about the problems of e-learning under the constraints caused by COVID-19 in South Africa see this reference (https://theconversation.com/how-south-africa-can-address-digital-inequalities-in-e-learning-137086).
Follow the story of Lual Mayer who is now managing his own business in Washington DC for Computer Gaming to involve and engage children and youth for peace making. Mayer a survival of the Civil War in South Sudan that spend 22 years of his childhood in a refugee camp in Uganda. A true self-made innovator, who never a saw a computer in his life, that learned by himself how to master a computer and manage codes to build computers games for peace making. For many of us this a magical story of turning the impossible, where many may experience civil wars in Africa and refugee camps full of instrumental obstacles not only to survive but more importantly to be an innovator to inspire millions to fulfill impossible dreams