Sustainability in Science and Technology – What, Why and How?

A new doctoral course for post-graduate students at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Uppsala University  “Sustainability in Science & Technology – Water-Energy Nexus” is now opened for participation. 

“Sustainability in Science & Technology – Water-Energy Nexus” will treat three strategic questions facing science and technology in a wider trans-sectoral and transdisciplinary perspective. WHAT is sustainability? WHY it is needed for socio-economic developments? and HOW to achieve smart but yet sustainable societies?
Water, energy and natural resources are essential for our living on planet earth, yet they are not INFINITE. Declining access to these essentialities are gradually taking place around the world. The transformation process to sustainable societies is not only urgent but more importantly imperative. 
Water and energy systems require natural resources in their lifecycles, but at the price of severe negative impacts on environment, biodiversity and life quality. Sustainability in science and technology is the only means to cure and heal this paradox. 
“Sustainability in Science & Technology – Water-Energy Nexus” is planned in lectures, group assignment and seminars (part 1) with “lecture-based” instructions and case-studies involving individual mentoring (part 2). Target groups are PhD students in all domains of Science and Technology. The participant of the course will gain knowledge on how to structure their own future “Career Development Plans”.  

Early registration is recommended for pre-planning of individual mentoring that can be used as additional credit in Academic Teaching Training Course. For registration, please add your personal identity number (Swedish: personnummer), i.e. Swedish national identification number. 

More information on the course is given at: http://teknat.uu.se/digitalAssets/395/c_395062-l_3-k_sustainability-in-science-and-technology.pdf

Catalonia First or Make SPAIN Great Again

After World War II, European integration was seen as an antidote to the extreme nationalism which had devastated the continent. It was natural that mitigation actions should be found to save Europe and its population. Already in 1946 Winston Churchill postulated the emerging of a United States of Europe during the 20th century. In 1952 the European Coal and Steel Community was formed and was a declaration towards the first step for the federation of Europe and the gradual build up of Europe towards full industrialization and technological progress. Thereafter in 1957, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany signed the Treaty of Rome, where the European Economic Community (EEC) was created with the establishment of a customs union as trade is among key socio-economic issue to gain maximum market yields post the industrialization and technology advances. At the same time another pact was created, the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for co-operation in developing nuclear energy. This is again a natural step in further developing the social-economic programs in Europe, as energy resources are strategic and imperative drivers. From 1967-1973 the European Communities were formed with the enlargement to include Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. In 1981 Greece joined, Portugal and Spain following in 1986. 1985, the Schengen Agreement paved the way for the creation of open borders without passport controls between most member states. In 1986, the European flag began to be used by the EEC and the Single European Act was signed.  These steps are key issues of importance for trade, mobility and integration in the larger inner market in Europe, also for the international protection of the European trade-market. 

After the fall of the Eastern Bloc in 1990 ((https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/short-history/berlinwall), the former East Germany became part of the Communities after the reunification of Germany. With further enlargement to include the former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus and Malta, the Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the EU were agreed upon in June 1993. This expansion of EU introduced new levels of complexity and discord especially as historical conflicts have to be resolved. With this, the European Union was formally established by the Maastricht Treaty (1992–2007), whose main architects were Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand. The treaty also gave the name European Community to the EEC. Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU in 1995. In 2002, euro banknotes and coins replaced national currencies in 12 of the member states. Then, the eurozone increased to encompass 19 countries and in 2004, the EU saw its biggest enlargement when Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the Union. In 2007, Bulgaria and Romania became EU members. The same year and the following years, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania adopted the euro. On 1 December 2009, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force and reformed many aspects of the EU, e.g. the legal structure of the European Union, strengthened the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Both the introduction of the euro and expansion of Europe were further steps towards building the new identity of the larger Europe.

However, new realities emerged since the global economic crises of 2007-2008 (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_crisis_of_2007–2008) also from the beginning of the 2010s where the cohesion of the European Union has been tested by several issues. Including a debt crisis in some of the Eurozone countries, increasing migration from the Middle East, as consequences of wars and civil instabilities, and the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from EU ”Brexit” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brexit). The UK formally notified the European Council to leave on 29 March 2017. Also, the 2016 elections in USA with the new political reforms by President Trump aiming at Making America Great Again have feedback impacts on the international socio-economic politics.  

Catalonia is now calling for independence from Spain (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/20/spain-guardia-civil-raid-catalan-government-hq-referendum-row) which already indicating, as in the case of Greece, regional economic insecurities can pile to trigger not only political instabilities but further large-scale and long-term economic consequences for both Catalonia and Spain. 
(http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/spain-economy-survive-catalan-secession-170930163702214.html; http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/29/news/economy/catalonia-independence-spain-economy/index.html). From the viewpoint of the richer Catalonia and its population, the socio-economic developments in Spain as a whole can not be sustainable by being dependent on Catalonian economy forever. For both Spain and Catalonia a long-term solution has to be found as the situation is indeed getting much serious and the risk is that such scenario can have spillover effects to other parts of Europe. 


 

Saudi Arabia – Broad Sustainability Reforms with New Rights for Women and Youth

Saudi Arabia is taking major and new steps for social modernization with reforms to engage its youth and women in shaping a more sustainable future for Saudi Arabia. It has been indeed several multi-layered and multi-scale challenges to perform such ice-breaking changes in the social fabrics of a society that emanated from deep rooted cultural traditions. While, it may seem simple, easy and straightforward for any outsiders to think that such changes can be done overnight, it is in reality a tectonic social transformation for Saudi Arabia to do such changes, it is also of historic dimensions. 

The MENA region, in this context, is taking major steps towards more open socio-economic and social reforms to join the global trends in the path to modern sustainable societies. As the three pillars of true sustainability involve environment, economic and social issues, all these can not be solved and implemented all at the same time. It is a long and gradual process that can not be faster or kept shorter. 
The decision of allowing Saudi women to drive comes amid a broad reform program that last week led to women being allowed into a sports stadium for the first time. This is also in parallel of many other long-term and large-scale reforms, vision 2030, to move away from being dependent on oil, to diversify the economy of the country, invest in infra-structure,  in women and youth, health, education and the labor market in general. 

https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/26/saudi-arabias-king-issues-order-allowing-women-to-drive

Sustainability and Smart Cities – Does Biking and Walking pose More Threats than Cars to Life-quality? 

The piling up of air pollution in many cities and urban areas due to worldwide traffic chokes on millions of roads in many cities is still given official prioritaires or even promoted by legal actions. Air quality in many cities and urban areas around the world is becoming major health threats for everyone. Collective breathing of rubbish in the air of many cities is now much more serious than individual smoking, this is making living in cities a nightmare especially where thermal isolation is non-existing. In hot and arid climate zones with limited or no rain, poor air quality makes such health threat a chronical problem and daily struggle for survival. It is not only because of cars but also the failing and collapsing old infra-structures of aging transport systems not suitable for modern life. Many sources of pollution other than chemical ones, e.g. physical and biological, from factories, population and household in heavily populated areas with daily traffic (in and out) from rural areas add even more pollution to the emittions from traffic.

Even in some parts of the world cultural and social issues screen and shut out half of the population from promoting sustainable solutions in mitigating and counteracting the core roots of air pollution. Even more serious is where the whole population have no alternatives other than joining the heavy traffic and collapsing infra-structures thus removing all little ramaining possibilities to breath whatever left to breath. Even those who wish to walk can hardly find some safe, free and secure space to do so. 

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jun/12/girls-ride-bikes-iranian-women-defy-cycling-fatwa-tehran?CMP=share_btn_fb

Lessons Learned – Would Nuclear Annihilation Be A Lasting Solution?

What and who would we blame if we see the same events of “love-hate stories” being repeated in history, again and again but with different actors and in different places. It is hardly a love story that keeps played here and there as “Casablanca”, the American famous drama film and one of America’s great classics of 1942, just before WWII. The famous saying “Play it again Sam” that falls the same time as the birth of the nuclear era around the same time. In this case a “hate story” to put an end to the bloody WWII, where politics called upon all scientific and technical efforts to invent the first nuclear bomb, “the Manhattan Project” (https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-the-atomic-the-manhattan-project-1991237). It was an race against Nazi Germany to create the first atomic bomb that lasted from 1942 until 1945 and forced Japan to surrender and finally ended the war. But, it opened a huge gate and put the world to the Atomic Age. The first consequencess was mass of destruction of tectonic scale, the killing and injuring of over 200,000 people, in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It brought also massive suffering for generations as a result of genetic damages of direct and indirect damages of cell and DNA. At the same time, with the fear of nuclear weapons, Albert Einstein looked beyond the current war to future problems that such weapons could bring. In his letter to Niels Bohr (Danish physicist) in December 1944, he wrote “when the war is over, then there will be in all countries a pursuit of secret war preparations with technological means which will lead inevitably to preventative wars and to destruction even more terrible than the present destruction of life.” It was hardly the intention of Albert Einstein to come around with his famous formula of 1905, as part of his Special Theory of Relativity, where he pointed (http://www.doug-long.com/einstein.htm) that a large amount of energy could be released from a small amount of matter as expressed by the equation E=mc2 (energy = mass times the speed of light squared). 

Nuclear bombs became a reality that generated hundred of nuclear tests and laboratory work, known and unknown, to do more of the same stuff but yet with even more annihilation power. This brought the world and humans to live with constant threat and question repeated quite often would it be another “Play it again Sam”? It is not wrong at all to call nuclear bombs as tools for total annihilation as this is exactly what they are supposed to do, the total annihilation of life. 

Recently Guardian shared “Annihilating North Korea would create more problems than it solves (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/04/annihilating-north-korea-create-more-problems-than-solves-trump-us-right-nuclear-taboo?CMP=twt_gu). This is certainly true as what the previous wars did (WWI, WWII, Korea War, Iraq War, Libya War, …), just bringing more and more conflicts and problems.

For Trump and the US right, breaking the nuclear taboo has always been thinkable. Donald Trump thinks more countries should have nuclear weapons. Here’s what is known in the media (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/04/06/should-more-countries-have-nuclear-weapons-donald-trump-thinks-so/; https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2016/06/02/politics/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-japan/index.html; https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2016/06/02/politics/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-japan/index.html). Meanwhile, Donald Trump conveniently forgets the time he said more countries should have nukes and explaining that it is  the “dishonest” media: (https://www.google.se/amp/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5828903be4b0c4b63b0d1c7d/amp; https://www.google.se/amp/amp.timeinc.net/time/4437089/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-nukes/). 

The option of nuclear threat has been always on many tables around the world, what then the world will do with all the nuclear arms that exist around the world. 

Africa – The Best of Sudan Film & Video Competition 2018

The first global video competition about “The Best of Sudan” will be launched by Sudan Knowledge “SK” and The World Association for Sustainable Development “WASD” during the 5th International Diaspora Conference 2018 coorganized with, and hosted by the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations system “JIU” in the Palais des Nations – Genève, Switzerland. Deadline of submission is the 15th of September 2017

https://youtu.be/l9oFc3BSxXgاخر يوم للتقديم ١٥ سبتمبر ٢٠١٧

SWAS 16th International Annual Conference, Genève 12-16 April 2018.

The World Association for Sustainable Development “WASD” will organize its 16th International Annual Conference in 12-16 April 2018, Palais de Nations, Genève, Zwitzerland. To be co-organized and hosted by the United Nations Joint Inspection Unit (JIU).

The Theme is “Public private partnerships for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda  for sustainable development”. 

See more at: http://www.wasd.org.uk/books/palgrave-studies-of-sustainable-business-in-africa/tt-sudan/

Drone Plans to Plant 100,000 Trees a Day

A system of drones has been developed to help quick rehabilitation of Earth’s lungs, forest trees. The system is supposed to help plant almost 100,000 trees per day.

The Earth is rapidly losing its forests at a rate much faster than humans can manage to replant with the same speed. How much is the degradation of world forest is, is not really known and figures vary. According to Scientific American “most analysts show up to 15 percent [of global carbon emissions] is due to deforestation.” This means that by clearing or burning the Earth’s forests, we are directly contributing to huge increase in climate change rates. One Australian engineer is enlisting technology to fight the battle against the ongoing deforestation. Dr. Susan Graham has helped to develop a pair of drones that can slow down some of such damage by planting trees at a rate that far outpaces what is possible to do by hand.

Read the complete story with the original video here: https://futurism.com/new-drone-plans-on-ambitious-mission-to-plant-100000-trees-a-day/

3R-Culture for Saving Planet Earth from Waste and Pollution. 

The 3R-culture “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is establishing itself with key concepts in the ever expanding ideology and awareness of the fight against the accelerating pile-up of waste and pollution. Waste and pollution is not only a threat for endangering the whole life on planet Earth but it is also one of the main core reasons for global contrains and malfunctioning in industry and technology. Furthermore, it has also huge impacts on micro socio-economic developments and stability of rural and coastal environments in particular the livelihood of the poor and local communities that are dependent on the natural resources of their land-water systems. 

These multi-layered and multi-scale threats taking place in the Anthropocene and are caused by an ever expanding cycles of “production-consumption-waste” with increasing rates that we have not seen its peak yet, the “Peak Waste” (https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/ReciclajeInclusivo/esquemas-inclusivos-de-responsabilidad-extendida-del-productor-aprendizajes-desafos-y-oportunidades-por-derek-stephenson, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/when-will-we-hit-peak-garbage-7074398/, http://environment-review.yale.edu/tags/industrial-ecology-urban-planning).

In low income countries with increaing transformation towards industrialisation and urbanization but yet with poor public infrastructures and almost non-existing policies for environmental protection and preservation, waste and pollution threats are enormous. However, a new 3R-culture is emerging from grassroot rural communities to save their livelihood which, unlike big national/international industries and production/urban facilities, is very much dependent on their living land-water resources where they live, work and develop roots that can last for decades or even generations. 

In the photo is the WORLD’S FIRST: THE PLASTIC-ONLY BOAT TO FIGHT POLLUTION that was created by the people of Kenya of the East Coast of Africa. This dohow in over 30 tonnes of recycled plastic waste, a waste which is indeed Kenya has lots of it. Such waste became the raw materials making a 60-foot dhow that is set to sail from the Kenyan coast to South Africa, in an initiative meant to raise awareness on the growing menace of plastics to marine ecosystem and spur a plastic revolution.

See more at https://www.fairplanet.org/story/worlds-first-the-plastic-only-boat-to-fight-pollution/?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#link_time=1501838864

How Would ICT lead us to? How True is True and how Fake is Fake in Growing & Diverse Knowledge Flora

The expanding globalization of knowledge in an era of increasing popularity of the  internet and its social media instruments has both positive and negative impacts on our understanding of the reality around us.

Recently it has been alarming reports on fake news and misleading information. But how would we judge the quality of information and sort out what is true and what is fake? The question is not easy to answer especialy with considerations to the ever growing complexity of the web of knowledge. Also, our society has changed and will continue to change not only what regards the diversity of news but also the increasing interdependency of the ICT on the contemporary new geologic Epoch the Anthropocene. It is proposed to underline the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change. Indeed, climate change is just one aspects of the impacts of humans on the Earth’s geology as it is only concerned with the changes in the atmosphere. There are other intensive impacts on the hydrosphere, biosphere and the lithosphere (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene). With the Paris Agreements and the associated obligations to promote and implement the UN-SDGs there are growing conflicting interests on global, regional and local scales involving setting rules and finding solutions for effective optimization of economic, environment and socials interests. 

Fake and false news are not new, have exited in previous history and will continue to exist, if not expand and accelerate. Fake news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media. It is intended to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, or environmentally often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention. It uses eye-catching headlines or entirely fabricated stories to increase readership, online sharing and Internet click revenue. It also undermines serious media coverage and makes it more difficult for journalists to cover significant news stories (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_news).

With Iraqi war and most recently the 2016 Precidential elections in the USA fake news came to be the focus on several levels. One fake news entrepreneur, for example, says we should expect even more Trump hoaxes in 2017 (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.buzzfeed.com/amphtml/craigsilverman/top-fake-news-of-2016). Hoaxes about US politics were among the top-performing fake news content on Facebook in 2016, according to an analysis by BuzzFeed News. According to this article, twenty-three of the 50 top-performing fake news hoaxes we found on Facebook were focused on US politics. Overall, fake news about US politics accounted for 10.6 million of the 21.5 million total shares, reactions, and comments these English-language stories generated on Facebook this year, according to the analysis.