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.
Tourism is a growing industry that allows us to spend time way from work. It involves travelling and it is becoming an indispensable source for recreational, leisure and holiday purposes. It can be combined with business, education, research, sports, health and medication activities, also for visiting families and friends, and for experiencing the virtual world we meet on the Internet by real excursions and journeys that fulfill specific needs and ventures. In addition to recreation, tourism can be combined with a wide-range of activities to promote individual and group interests, to increase mutual interaction and for cross-fertilization of cultures, and to enhance social entrepreneurship.
Sustain-Earth.Com is introducing an ESG (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental,_social_and_corporate_governance) Fund-Raising team where Mr. Godfrey Mchunguzi Oyema, Tanzania, is excellent addition to sustain-earth.com. Mr. Godfrey Mchunguzi Oyema is a passionate and results-driven Environmentalist, Biodiversity (Wildlife) and Human Ecologist, ESG policy professional with understanding of the challenges facing biodiversity both in-situ and ex-situ conservation. His work involves analytical approaches to using observation strategies to predict and monitor behavior changes of animals in captivity and natural habitats. He has diverse and rich knowledge of managing animals in captivity using a variety of methods, as well as camera traps and behavior monitoring. His expertise is based on smooth business operations by collaborating with project partners and following projects from conceptualizing phase to completion including theory of change design, incorporation of partner needs and technical support.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) are three central factors in measuring sustainability dimensions and the societal impact of investments in companies. The social and environmental responsibility affects financial and economic performance in private and public sectors. The social capital is an important factor in establishing strong human capital and so is the case of the underlying environmental conditions of social frameworks. These are important in encouraging companies and capital markets to incorporate environmental and social challenges into their day-to-day decision-making.
ESG had also received most of the public and media attention, not least because of the growing fears concerning climate change which directed the spotlight more and more onto the corporate governance aspect of responsible investment. It brought also the focus to how the companies were managed, what the stockholder relationships were and how the employees were treated. The evidence toward a relationship between ESG issues and financial performance is becoming greater with wider recognition of the necessity of the sustainability in long-term investments. The environmental social and corporate governance are becoming increasingly important in the investment markets https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/environmental-social-and-governance-esg-criteria.asp).
Public goods are natural resource enjoyed by every person and it is impossible to prevent someone, including living organisms, consuming such good, e.g. air for breathing, water for drinking, sun and light to enjoy. Public goods are recognized as beneficial for everyone and therefore have existential values and necessities that must not be destroyed by one person or state. In this context, natural resources and the environment are global public goods that are should not be diminished, exhausted and/or degraded, e.g. a breathable atmosphere, stable climate and biodiversity. For these reasons Environmental Governance (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_governance) is also a political ecology and environmental policy concepts that advocates sustainability for management of all human activities. Governance includes government, business and civil society.
Sustain-Earth.Com will expand on ESG and its growing importance for promoting and achieving the UN-SDGs (https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030.html).
Africa has enormous untapped resources of renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, bio-energy and hydro-power (https://www.renewablesinafrica.com).
Africa has the highest incidence of food insecurity and poverty and the highest rates of population growth. Yet Africa also has the most arable land, the lowest crop yields, and by far the most plentiful land resources relative to energy demand. It is thus of interest to examine the potential of expanded modern production of renewable in Africa. Renewables in Africa are future strong enablers and drivers for sustainable developments with enormous socio-economic-environment benefits. Renewables in Africa will help to achieve its vision for Green Growth (https://www.greengrowthknowledge.org/sites/default/files/downloads/resource/African%20Development%20Report%202012_4.pdf). In Brazil, for example, bioenergy development have been synergistic rather than antagonistic. Realizing similar success in African countries will require clear vision, good governance, and adaptation of technologies, knowledge, and business models to myriad local circumstances. Strategies for integrated production of food crops, livestock, and renewables, e.g. bioenergy are potentially attractive and offer an alternative to an agricultural model featuring specialized land use (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4337098/). If done thoughtfully, there is considerable evidence that food security and economic development in Africa can be addressed more effectively with modern bioenergy than without it. However, what regards bioenergy which is so far a major resource of energy in Africa, researchers warn about its negative climate impacts and a brake on bioenergy by 2050 is suggested. This will alleviate the extreme pressures on land in the coming 30 years and avoid the negative impacts from high carbon footprint and excessive land use biomass production from crops, trees or grasses for fuel through 2100 (https://www.google.se/amp/s/phys.org/news/2019-12-bioenergy-negative-climate-impacts.amp).
Here we illustrate an excellent example of renewables from one of the African pioneers in Geothermal power generation in East Africa and the Rift Valley (https://geology.com/articles/east-africa-rift.shtml). The geology, evolution and landscape of the Rift Valley (https://geology.com/articles/east-africa-rift.shtml) in Africa makes it a unique resource and an example of the untapped renewable energy resources. Working opportunities in the energy market in Africa would open huge employment possibilities for technical engineers, including ICT.
DM and CEO of KenGen Rebecca Miano, Kenya, gives us a glimpse on the future of Renewables in Africa (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XOreOpeqQ4o&feature=youtu.be). KenGen as a global pioneer in geothermal energy in Africa and the world, it has access also to affordable inhouse expertise to meet crises such as COVID-19. However, demand in energy for expansion and modernization of power plants are enormous and would need more and more technical skills.
Why do we need Energy? Why do we need Water? Why do we need Food? and How these three basic needs are related to the Earth’s Natural Capital Resources. For Africa where its population will peak to reach about 40% of the world population by the end of this century including housing the youngest population on planet Earth, it is IMPERATIVE to know how this wicked “Water-Energy-Food-Natural Resources” Nexus will be managed. With the huge and growing global pressure on Africa’s mineral/natural resources and with the other given needs in mind, how can we define Africa’s Livelihood on the bases of achieving the UN-SDGs?
The new dams in Africa have the potential to meet increased energy (electricity) demands. At the same time, there are strong coupling between climate and the “water, energy and food” in Africa. Also strong links with the global needs for Africa’s natural resources. On the large-scale and long-terms spatio-temporal changes, locations of the planned dams could put the security of electricity supply at risk for large parts of Africa. As the majority of planned dams are located in river basins with upstream and downstream regions that rely on similar patterns of rainfall and hence be vulnerable all together to drought and dry years. Also, subject to other extreme climate and weather threats caused by major changes in rainfall pattern such as uncontrolled flooding. These vulnerabilities could lead to electricity supply being disrupted. This is why it’s important to factor climate variability and change into dam design and management, and diversify the electricity production, to avoid over reliance on hydropower.
Hydropower relies on the flow of water to drive turbines for electricity generation. It uses natural changes in elevation or artificial storage in reservoirs to take advantage of the water level difference. Drought or successive dry years can result in not having enough water to drive the generating turbines and thus cause shortage of electricity. In countries like the US and in parts of western Europe hydropower is complimented by other power sources. This means that in times of drought other sources of power can balance the shortfall. But in countries where the energy mix is or will be dominated by hydropower as in e.g. Africa specially the sub-Saharan African countries. Without alternative power sources, the impacts of climate can cause fluctuations in hydropower and thus can disrupt electricity supply. Supply might need to be turned off either to ration dwindling water resources or because demand simply can’t be met. For example, the Nile and Zambezi, where multiple dams are planned on the same river channels and lie in the same rainfall clusters. This means that dry years will affect storage in all the dams, lessen their ability to refill fully and could create a significant challenge for the supply of hydropower. There are already examples of this happening (http://theconversation.com/new-dams-in-africa-could-add-risk-to-power-supplies-down-the-line-89789). In December 2017, for example, Malawi’s state owned electricity company saw power output plummeting after a severe drought. Malawi relies almost entirely on hydropower and during the 2015–16 El Niño event, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe all experienced electricity outages due in part to reduced rainfall. Climate risks must be built into planning, this is particularly true in many of Africa’s river basins because they are highly sensitive to changes in rainfall. The increasing importance of hydropower and the potential for increasing levels of rainfall variability under climate change, underscore the need to incorporate climate risks into infrastructure planning in Africa.
There is no question the planned increase in hydroelectricity generation in Africa presents both significant opportunities and also challenges. It will assist the economic development of the continent, as greater electrification will drive industrialisation and support the creation of more secondary and tertiary industries. All these come with several socio-economic opportunities. Also, increase in water storage capacity will assist the agro-industry, by reducing its reliance on rainfed agriculture. However, an over reliance on dams could threaten food, water and energy security during times of drought, and would present challenges to a wide-range of communities that rely on the natural flow of water in rivers. Also, the boom of industrial and household activities around centralized power-stations and artificial water reservoirs can cause local and regional degradation in air and water qualities if strict rules and regulations for emissions and/or injections of pollutants are not properly put in place. These emerging threats and challenges need to be assessed with the water-energy-food nexus and life-quality in mind. If African countries seek to harness the wide benefits that their rivers provide, they must also learn from previous mistakes, minimise and mitigate the negative effects of the ongoing dam building.
The number of challenges that Africa presents in terms of energy-water-food nexus and life-quality are significant. As such nexus has also several feedback impacts on eco-system services and bio-diversity. Furthermore, the lack of adequate management of available water resources is contributing to an existing and accelerating water crisis in the African continent. Changes in climatic patterns are also expected to have impacts on crop yields, which in combination with population growth will lead to severe additional stress on water resources that otherwise would have to be dedicated to increase agricultural productivity. Under these scenarios, future water needs from the growing African energy sector may play a key role when combined with changes in water availablity and the future increasing demands from agriculture. A proper analysis of the water requirements of the African energy sector is important for an effective future planning and management of water, energy and food resources in Africa.
This said, an important and interesting issue is the impacts of water needs for energy use and production on the natural water cycle on local and regional scales in Africa, also probably on the global scale because of evaporation from an increasing number of artificial reservoirs behind the planned hydropower dams in the arid and semi-arid regions in Africa.
At this stage we give only one example on the ongoing plans in Ethiopia for hydropower production. However, sustain-earth.com will continue in detailing the what, why and how issues in the “water-energy-food nexus” in Africa. Follow the story here (https://youtu.be/NbKoXlYUNY0).
Let us see first what the Blue Nile means for the people sharing it. Water carried life and has deep roots wherever it exist, these roots are so powerful that can’t be ignored in any agreement. It is not only water and energy that the Blue Nile carried with it. The mystery of the Nile and the cultural issues of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt is a mesmerizing documentary that MUST BE SEEN. It is the best documentary for any one who is interested in the Nile River.
Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is Biodiversity scientist, Entrepreneur, Author and the 6th President Republic of Mauritius. She has joined the Editorial Board of Sustain-Earth.Com.
It is a great honor to have Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim on the Editorial Board of Sustain-Earth.Com. She has been the Managing Director of the Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique (CIDP) Research and Innovation, also Professor of Organic Chemistry with an endowed chair at the University of Mauritius. She has served as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Pro Vice Chancellor (2004- 2010). She also worked at the Mauritius Research Council as Manager for Research (1995-1997). She was elected and served as Chairperson of the International Council for Scientific Union – Regional Office for Africa.
As a Founding Member of the Pan African Association of African Medicinal Plants, she co-authored the first ever African Herbal Pharmacopoeia, authored and co-edited 30 books, several book chapters and scientific articles in the field of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. She has lectured extensively across the world; is a Member of the Editorial Boards of major journals, has served on Technical and national committees in various capacities. Elected Fellow of several academies and societies, Ms Gurib-Fakim received several international prizes including the 2007 l’Oreal-UNESCO Prize for Women in Science, the African Union Commission Award for Women in Science, 2009.
The 6th President and the First Female President of the Republic of Mauritius and served in that capacity during June 2015-March 2018. She was elevated to the Order of GCSK by the Government of Mauritius, and received the Legion d’Honneur from the Government of France in 2016. In 2017, she received both the lifelong achievement award of the United States Pharmacopoeia-CePat Award and the American Botanical Council Norman Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award. In 2018, she received the Order of St George at the Semperopernball, Dresden, Germany. In June 2016, she was in the Forbes List for the 100 ‘Most Powerful women in the world’ and 1st among the Top 100 Women in Africa Forbes List 2017, 2019. She is honoured as one of Foreign Policy’s 2015 Global Thinkers.
More about Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim can be found in Wikipedia (https://sv.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ameenah_Gurib); Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/profile/ameenah-gurib-fakim/); Council of Women World Leaders (http://www.councilwomenworldleaders.org/ameenah-gurib-fakim.html); Linkedin (https://mu.linkedin.com/in/aguribfakim).
Scaling up science and technology to promote and implement the UN-SDGs is crucial for achieving sustainability in Africa and bringing prosperity to future generation. In this context coupling science and technology and integrating them in the socio-economic-environment pillars of society is imperative. We invite you here to see the progress, challenges and opportunities for cross-sector innovations toward gender parity, among others, in leadership in Africa and globally. https://youtu.be/sx8d_Xkt4xY
Sustain-Earth.Com is tuning its activities towards building sustainable communities in Africa. Instruments and tools will be gradually imbedded and integrated to facilitate more effective cross-boundary collaboration both vertically and horizontally, e.g. through ‘top-bottom’ and ‘bottom-top’ interactions for interactive and coherent participation of all stakeholders in different sectors and on all levels. This is needed to promote and implement the UN-SDGs as they give guideline of what is needed to achieve prosperity. Three main drivers are essential in this respect Water, Energy and Natural Resources. However, ‘What, Why and How’ to produce, use and consume ‘Water, Energy and Natural Resources’ for Sustainable Development need responsible and resilient managent in all sectors individually and collectively. Scaling-up ‘Science, Technology and Innovation’ and their effective, integrated and coherent coupling to society, population and market needs is imperative in this context.
Africa’s population is the youngest in the world and is growing very fast. Yet future challenges to cope with the degradation in climate, environment and biodiversity are diverse, complex and multi-layered. In this context, AGRICULTUREfor example, needs Water, Energy and Natural Resources to promote and accelerate food security, make Africa a net exporter of food and to add value to its agricultural products and for regional integration. To achieve this the agricultural sector needs: to increase its production and productivity; improve the functioning of national and regional agricultural markets; foster investment and entrepreneurship in agrifood value chains; foster access to food and improved nutrition; and also to improve management of the water, energy natural resources.
More about these issues in the following report (2013africanagricultures.pdf).
While ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ in singular terms are composed of unique individuals from all walks of life, we still seek and need common solutions in spite of the fact that the modern political party systems are product of socio-economic conflicts of the last few centuries (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left%E2%80%93right_political_spectrum). Globalisation, by being affected by internetisation, is strongly shaping and reshaping democracies around the world. More and more intensive and complex engagement of world population, i.e. individuals of “WE THE PEOPLE”, is taking place. So, the number of solutions to achieve peace, security and prosperity are becoming endless especially if sustainability, with its ‘socio-economic-environment’ pillars, is to be seriously and actively taken in consideration. However, from the Science and Technology viewpoint a problem is a solution that is not yet found’ (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/288957; https://www.itseducation.asia/article/finding-possible-solutions; https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/look-for-the-solution-within-the-problem.html; https://www.aicpa-cima.com/news/the-problem-is-the-solution.html). We are desperately seeking new solutions and this remains to be the main concern shaping this century though the problems, barriers and challenges in our modern societies are becoming multilayered in nature, complexity and even diversity. It is not straightforward to tune individuals and their political structures to the same goals, i.e. to redefine what is meant by ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ in global context. It is a spatio-temporal dynamic process coherent with an ever ongoing progress in the development of human evolution on planet Earth.
This said, the COVID-19 crisis by being part of a complex health system on planet Earth demonstrates clearly the paradox in how to define ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ from viewpoint of individuals and communities, i.e. in ‘bottom-top’ models on the one-hand; and in political structures and governmental institutions, i.e. in ‘top-bottom’ models on the other-hand. Considering the global geographical data of COVID-19 and the associated antibody tests by today (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/) we may conclude that the so-called herd immunity, population immunity, or social immunity hasn’t been achieved yet as the time elapsed since the breakdown of the novel coronavirus ‘COVID-19 pandemic’ is yet very short. Herd immunity (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity) is a form of indirect protection from infectious diseases that occurs when a large percentage of a population become immune to an infection. Generally, it can be achieved through previous infections thus providing a protection for individuals not yet immune. As COVID-19 is resulting from a new virus it will take longtime to achieve herd immunity and unless we keep doing at least what we are doing now we could face severe consequences. According to WHO, we are currently taking huge and yet unknown risks by reopening our economies. The spread of COVID-19 is refuelling itself and accelerating in the same way as it started back in China by the end of 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/19/who-says-coronavirus-enters-new-and-dangerous-phase-as-daily-cases-hits-record.html). Herd immunity can be also achieved through vaccination which in the case of COVID-19 is not yet available and may take up to several years for worldwide public use. However, there is some light at horizon as we have new reasonable explanations about the contradictions in global infection and death rates around the world. We have delayed effects in the global immunity that resulted from BCG vaccination which has been introduced and still being used in the developing countries. This is apparent from the strong correlation of reduced infection and mortality rates of COVID-19 in the developing countries. Excluding the countries with low-income levels that have few number of cases of COVID-19 per million inhabitants, i.e. 0.32± 0.09, because of risks for biases from improper reporting. The middle high and high-income countries with current universal BCG policy (55 countries) the same value of COVID-19 is 59.54± 23.29 (mean±s.e.m) cases per million inhabitants, to be compared with middle high and high income countries that never had a universal BCG policy (5 countries) with about 4 times the number of cases per million inhabitants, with 264.90± 134.88. This difference between countries is significant (p=0.0064, Wilcoxon rank sum test), suggesting that broad BCG vaccination along with other measures could slow the spread of COVID-19 (https://www.dw.com/en/can-a-tuberculosis-vaccine-help-combat-covid-19/a-53388220). The epidemiological evidence, from this German-study, indicates that differences in morbidity and mortality produced by COVID-19 across countries might be partially explained by a country’s BCG vaccination policy. Italy, for example, with very high COVID-19 mortality never implemented universal BCG vaccination. Japan with low COVID-19 mortality rate despite not implementing the most strict forms of social isolation have been implementing BCG vaccination since 1947. Iran that is heavily hit by COVID-19, started its universal BCG vaccination policy only in 1984 thus leaving anybody over 36 years old unprotected. China despite having a universal BCG policy since the 1950’s, its tuberculosis prevention and treatment agencies were disbanded and weakened during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). This, according to this German study, could have created (https://www.dw.com/en/can-a-tuberculosis-vaccine-help-combat-covid-19/a-53388220) a pool of potential hosts that affected by and spread COVID-19. However, the situation in China, assuming COVID-19 data from China are correct, now seems to have improved relatively fast. So the present global COVID-19 data suggest that BCG vaccination seem to significantly reduce mortality associated with COVID-19. The earlier that a country established a BCG vaccination policy, the stronger the reduction in number of deaths per million inhabitants, consistent with the idea that protecting the elderly population might be crucial in reducing mortality. Similar studies have been performed around the world, researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia (MCRI) organized a trial to investigate whether the tuberculosis (TB) vaccine known as the bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) might offer protection against COVID-19 (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/covid-19-could-tb-vaccine-offer-protection). Earlier work has shown that it might reduce the risk of some respiratory infections that are entirely unrelated to TB (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31025-4/fulltext). In this publication it is indicated that in addition to the specific effect against tuberculosis, the BCG vaccine has beneficial nonspecific (off-target) effects on the immune system that protect against a wide range of other infections and are used routinely to e.g. treat bladder cancer. This led to the suggestion that vaccination with BCG might have a role in protecting health-care workers and other vulnerable individuals against severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Also in a study carried out in France and The Netherland (https://www.france24.com/en/20200403-could-tb-vaccine-protect-medics-from-covid-19) it is stated that though BCG vaccine does not directly protect against the coronavirus, it can provide a boost to the immune system which may lead to improved protection and a milder infection. So, the race to develop COVID-19 vaccines has well and truly begun, but amid this research excitement another, rarely talked about vaccine is suddenly getting a lot of attention (https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/can-bcg-vaccine-protect-against-covid-19). During its long existence, an array of evidence has emerged suggesting that BCG vaccine may also offer beneficial off-target effects, providing some protection against not just some forms of TB but other diseases as well as it appears to help boost the immune system.
So, putting COVID-19 in a global historical perspective what regards the evolution of pandemics and diseases that threatened humanity reveals and uncover many important and strategic issues (https://www.converse.edu/story/reflections-on-current-past-pandemics/; https://www.historyassociates.com/the-covid-19-pandemic-in-historical-perspective/; https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/spanish-flu-pandemic-and-mental-health-historical-perspective). Until around 1970, historical research about pandemics had been virtually non-existent. Some novels and popular histories appeared over the decades, but it was Alfred Crosby’s 1976 book Epidemic and Peace, 1918 (reissued in 1989 under the title America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918) that paved the way for international research about the subject. One of the book’s major achievements was to draw attention to the fact that the pandemic quickly disappeared as a topic of public conversation soon after it was over, ignored by periodicals and textbooks for decades. To many historians, this collective silence is as much a part of the pandemic’s story as the course of the disease itself. The first outbreak of global diseases occurred from 1347 to 1351, killed up to 50% of the Europe’s population (https://www.converse.edu/story/reflections-on-current-past-pandemics/). King Edward III of England ordered English ports to be closed before the plague reached England late in the summer of 1348. The best advice, that remains to be true until today, anyone could offer was to flee, in essence a form of social distancing. As in this case distancing all the population of England by closing its borders. A more recent pandemic, the influenza of 1918-1919 also has even more lessons for us to learn (https://www.historyassociates.com/the-covid-19-pandemic-in-historical-perspective/). The 1918 influenza pandemic occurred in a world devoid of viral vaccines, relatively minimal medical knowledge, medical infrastructure, and limited global communications. Most important, a century ago, medical professionals didn’t categorize the flu as a viral infection and there were no efficient, precise ways of diagnosing and documenting the influenza. There were neither a World Health Organization for global coordination of health issues nor scientific know-how to allow for isolation of viruses and the generation of quick effective antiviral tests. The origin of the 1918-1919 disease is still undetermined, it seemed to simultaneously appear in the USA, Europe, and Asia. Usually, influenza affects the young and the elderly, described as a ‘U’. The outbreak of 1918-1919 described as a ‘W’ shape as young, elderly and many in the twenties and thirties were affected too. Over 500 million people were infected worldwide, i.e. one-third of world’s population at that time. Between 50 and 100 million people died worldwide and 675,000 people in the USA. The period 1918-1919 overlapped with WW-I, so in addition to the huge lack of understanding of infectious diseases and medical responses, specially to civilians, the WW-I itself put more constraints on medical reserves and full implementation of social distancing both in Europe and the USA. Both Europe USA and other countries were placing most of their attention and support to the war. In the USA for example, as the flu found a foothold, Philadelphia’s health commissioner ignored warnings from medical experts and proceeded with a planned parade to support the war effort. While St. Louis issued warnings almost immediately when the first cases appeared and its health commissioner promptly banned public gatherings exceeding twenty people, closed schools, theaters, churches, and other places for several weeks. The death rate in St. Louis amounted to less than half, per capita, of that in Philadelphia. Flattening the Curve by social distancing was already used in 1918 though other cities around the world still went business-as-usual in running civil and public sevices, and businesses promoting the war.
The BCG vaccine (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BCG_vaccine) first became available in 1921 and it appears on the World Health Organization (WHO) List of Essential Medicines. More than 100 million babies globally receive the BCG vaccination each year. Aside from TB, the BCG vaccine also protects against other conditions that involve mycobacterium (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycobacterium) including leprosy. Scientists produce the vaccine using live Mycobacterium bovis (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycobacterium_bovis) taken from bovines, which they have attenuated to reduce their virility. Although no studies, to date, have investigated the BCG vaccine’s influence over SARS-CoV-2, the scientists hope that the story might be similar. If the BCG vaccine can bolster and strengthen the immune system, it might reduce the infection rates of SARS-CoV-2 or lessen the severity of COVID-19 (http://theconversation.com/could-bcg-a-100-year-old-vaccine-for-tuberculosis-protect-against-coronavirus-138006). This is actually an important finding of the careful studies and examination of the global spatio-temporal data of COVID-19. So, without the collaboration of world health institutions, collation, coordination and compilation it would have been impossible to arrive to such achievement which is an essential conclusion for the advancement in science and technology. This is a reminder of the strategic importance of Goal 17 of the UN-SDGs “Goal 17 seeks to strengthen global partnership to support and achieve the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda to bring together national governments, the international community, civil society, the private sector and other actors”. Again the Goal 17 itself can’t be achieved without promoting and implementing a web of many other underlying infra-structures that are very-well defined in the UN-SDGs. Such underlying infra-structures allow stronger coupling of the citizens and communities to their multi-layered governmental and institutional bodies and organizations on all levels and scales. It is a matter of improving and strengthening vertical and horizontal communications in ‘botton-top models’. ‘Top-bottom models’ are not as effective and efficient in the developing and less-favored countries, it can be also the case in some developed countries. This is how to arrive to the proper operational definition of “WE THE PEOPLE”, i.e. empowering the citizens to enhance their performance in the very basic three pillars of sustainability: social, economic and environmental. A global transformational process where the responsibility is shifted more and more towards citizens to achieve knowledge-based democracy of engaged and well-informed citizens.
“Globalisation” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimensions_of_globalization) means different things to different people, and the same applies to “Democracy” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy). Globalisation has benefits, challenges e.g. risks and contradictions (https://www.chathamhouse.org/london-conference-2015/background-papers/overcoming-risks-and-contradictions-globalization; https://velocityglobal.com/blog/globalization-benefits-and-challenges/; https://www.newyorkfed.org/newsevents/speeches/2017/dud170511) with tectonic transformation and challenges associated with it. It has Pros And Cons for the poor and the rich countries in terms of access of small businesses, multi-nationals and working people to free markets. Not all barriers in globalisation, that hider the promotion and implementation of the UN-SDGs, can be eliminated overnight and risks still remain for social injustice, abuse of human rights, unfair working conditions, mismanagement of natural resources, and ecological damage, violation of intellectual properties, spread of infections and diseases, human trafficking and degradation of social welfare in general (https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikecollins/2015/05/06/the-pros-and-cons-of-globalization/amp/). We have also to take in consideration the existing illiteracy, corruption and misconduct in developing countries. Also, the remains of destructive impacts in the socio-economic fabrics that resulted from centuries of colonisation and slave-handel.
Both democracy and globalisation are dynamic in evolution and depends on political structures around the world. The shift from agricultural and rural societies to industrial and urban ones has forced new challenges that resulted in economic development but also economic competition. Advances in science and technological were major drivers that resulted in screwed shifts and systematic changes with trends in more and more differentiated, polarised and degenerated globalisation and democracies (https://ged-project.de/globalization/what-are-the-drivers-behind-economic-globalization/) in favour of trade and economic structures as defined and driven by growth and linear economies. Growth and linear economies, as consequences of screwed globalisation and democracies, are in flavour of developed countries that have easy and prompt access to science and technology on all aspects (https://ourworldindata.org/is-globalization-an-engine-of-economic-development; https://www.salon.com/2014/08/02/how_the_middle_class_got_screwed_college_costs_globalization_and_our_new_insecurity_economy/). Currently, globalisation is not an accurate descriptor of the 21st century as there has been tectonic and huge internet-driven transformational changes sweeping in all public and private sectors, trade and businesses. Yet, the international economic landscape is not tuned to incorporate within it the UN-SDGs. It is unfortunate that the UN-SDGs are degraded and reduced to only one goal, i.e. Goal 13: The Climate Action. Though Climate Action is important in itself, the same can be said for all goals as evident from COVID-19. The term internetisation is believed to be a replacement for the concept of globalisation as time and geography are irrelevant (https://www.google.se/amp/s/theconversation.com/amp/internetization-a-new-word-for-our-global-economy-88013). Internetisation is the contemporary face of globalization as it includes all modern tools of electronic globalisation and embraces the digital connectivity and empowerment of the internet and the World Wide Web. Globalisation of knowledge, including science and technology, and the associated impacts on industrialisation and economy, has benefitted, almost entirely the developed countries, through the considerable brain-drain from the developing countries either actively or passively. In passive terms, all researchers around the world are forced to publish in international journals that either controlled by the science and technology policies serving mainly growth and linear economies or fit in the science and technology strategies defined by the developed countries.
The gradual and systematic shift from ‘globalisation’ to ‘internetisation’ has also negative and positive impacts as is the case for globalisation. IOT, ICT and social media are still controlled by free market economy, i.e. linear and growth economy. This evolution has affected the way individuals define ‘WE THE PEOPLE’, i.e. from viewpoint of the citizen which is not coherent with how the political structures define it. We are not any longer living in isolated bubbles. Here are some literature that explain how countries, citizens and businesses around the world are becoming more interconnected, as various drivers such as technology, transportation/travel, social media, and global finance make it easier for goods, services, ideas, innovation and people to move freely across traditional and classic borders and boundaries (https://courses.lumenlearning.com/marketing-spring2016/chapter/reading-globalization-benefits-and-challenges/). These changes underline the ongoing transformation from ‘slow globalisation’ to more and more ‘fast globalisation’, i.e. ‘internetisation’. In any case, the major impacts on businesses that provide an abundance of worldwide benefits comes with major challenges for individuals, stakeholders and governments (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.globalization-partners.com/blog/benefits-and-challenges-of-globalization/amp/; https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/spero.htm). As globalisation or ‘internetisation’ can open and create new markets and technological advances with potential to empower and enrich everyone, so far it has created global unsustainable ‘socio-economic-environment’ inequalities. So, more and more political challenges have emerged that urge us, our governments, institutions and multilateral policy-makers to overcome the associated risks and contradictions. As companies, and stakeholders alike, start to grow and expand they face new difficulties to navigate and reach their global expansion goals and overcome competition barriers, decentralisation of industires, protectionism and cultural differences around the world. However, it is time to end the profit-at-all-costs mentality, because if we don’t build an economic future within a sustainable framework in which we are respectful of our planetary boundaries, and the need to change our energy, use of natural resources and technology systems, then we will not have a living planet for human beings. It is also, very important for countries to recognize there are essential services that need to be provided in terms of healthcare, education, good governance and a social safety that cannot be compromised on. The volume of needs that we have today made it clear that global cooperation is imperative and abundantly clear.
The rise of ’Black Lives Matter’, ‘I Can’t Breath’ (https://youtu.be/7Hj__JaNBI4), ‘Anti-Slave’ and ‘Anti-Racism’ demonstrations (https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/07/world/global-floyd-protests-weekend-intl/index.html; https://www.marketwatch.com/story/george-floyd-demonstrations-across-europe-grow-larger-and-louder-2020-06-07) around the world uncovered various socio-economic realities and disparities. These represent future challenges that are imperative for promoting and achieving sustainable societies. As by today, it is not straightforward, even in higher education and developed economies, to realise and grasp the involved dimensions associated with the inconvenient truth about how minorities, including blacks, immigrants and less favoured groups (https://socialsci.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Sociology/Book%3A_Minority_Studies_(Dunn)/02%3A_Dominant_and_Minority_Groups/2.01%3A_Dominant_and_Minority_Groups) may still feel or experience disparities in modern societies including Europe e.g. UK (https:www.timeshighereducation.com/blog/why-my-professor-still-not-black); Sweden (https://liu.se/en/article/svart-i-sverige). The stories that, to some extent, still remain to be part of our social heritage are rooted in many underlying historical and cultural events about racism, as documented and explained in Science. The sociocultural and socio-economic stratification of historical roots are still causing and promoting socio-economic barriers and hinders for inclusive integration and assimilation. Remedies and mitigations are well described in the Paris agreement of 2016 which was signed by the international community, i.e. the UN-SDGs compromising 17 goals for the prosperity and well-being on planet Earth (https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030.html). Michael E. Ruane, a graduate of Harvard University and reporter at the Philadelphia Bulletin and Washington Post writes “Such thought exists today with pernicious assumptions about the current nature of black life and black people, still featuring age-old racist references to blacks as animals. It persists despite the advent of modern DNA science, which has shown race to be fundamentally a social construct. Humans, as it turns out, share about 99.9 percent of their DNA with each other, and outward physical characteristics such as hair texture and skin color, about which racists have long obsessed, occupy just a tiny portion of the human genome” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-brief-history-of-the-enduring-phony-science-that-perpetuates-white-supremacy/2019/04/29/20e6aef0-5aeb-11e9-a00e-050dc7b82693_story.html). Until early 20th century the thoughts of Louis Agassiz, the famous Swiss American scientist and Harvard professor, who was studying what was called polygenism, and the New York lawyer and racial theorist named Madison Grant pointed that “blacks were often situated along the evolutionary ladder midway between a classical ideal and the orangutan”. Grant, whose father, a Union army doctor, had earned the Medal of Honor in the Civil War, believed in a rigid racial hierarchy, with “nordics” at the top and blacks and others at the bottom. It was not until 1936, when the African American sprinter Jesse Owens smashed the ideas of Hitler and Madison when he won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. But Owens’s own track coach belittled the success of black runners: “It was not long ago that his ability to sprint and jump was a life-and-death matter to him in the jungle.”
The historian Ibram X. Kendi says “What black inferiority meant has changed in every generation . . . but ultimately Americans have been making the same case and even when “Americans have discarded old racist ideas, new racist ideas have constantly been produced for their renewed consumption” and some day the time will come “when Americans will realize that the only thing wrong with black people is that they think there is something wrong with black people.” Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D. in African American Studies in 2010, Temple University, USA and a leading scholar of race and discriminatory policy in America.
The growing blind fear for the collapse of modern ’economic’ democracies because of the major failure of integration policies in the US and Europe, caused serious political conflicts in Europe and call for military domination in the US against protesters (https://www.democracynow.org/2020/6/2/trump_insurrection_act_military_against_protests; https://www.dn.se/ledare/peter-wolodarski-det-ar-sa-har-demokratier-dor/). Also, the shortsighted economic growth in Europe, that doesn’t promote the UN-SDGs (except what regards one goal, i.e. Climate Action), has triggered major refugee crises in 2015 and 2016 consisted primarily of a sharp rise in the number of people coming to Europe to claim asylum. Arrivals have now dropped, and governments have cracked down on the movement of undocumented migrants within the EU; many thousands are stuck in reception centres or camps in e.g. southern Europe, while others try to make new lives in the places they have settled (http://www.theguardian.com/news/audio/2018/jun/25/five-myths-about-the-refugee-crisis-podcast). Interestingly, the refugee crisis itself resulted from series of wars, e.g. Gulf war in 1991 (https://www.thebalance.com/cost-of-iraq-war-timeline-economic-impact-3306301; https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugees_of_Iraq) based on false beliefs about weapons of mass destruction and triggered a spiral of political conflicts and instabilities caused by sanctions against Iraq, violence during and after the American-led invasion and occupation. It is also well-known and well-documented how Africas colonial history has affected its socio-economic developments (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/07/how-africas-colonial-history-affects-its-development/; https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000065575) and still remains to be a major underlying obstacle for building sustainable labour market specially for the Africas young population.
Socio-economic disparities existing in the labour market promote toxic cultures in workplaces on micro and macro scales. They are plagued by fighting, drama and unhappy employees to the point that productivity and the well-being of the people in the office is affected. There are seven major signs of toxic culture to look out for in your workplace (https://inside.6q.io/toxic-work-culture/). On the large-scale and long-term these trigger enormous damage not only for work places but for communities and the society as a whole. They can be hidden for long-time and can show up at anytime with different consequences and impacts (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/08/business/media/refinery-29-christene-barberich.html; https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/media/2020/jun/09/editors-resign-us-publications-accusations-racist-toxic-culture). The victims of a toxic work culture are often the employees in particular those belonging to minority group such as immigrants and out-sourced workers specially to foreign (offshoring or nearshoring) businesses (https://yaro.blog/2641/is-outsourcing-exploitation/).
When and how we will be able to integrate the seventeen UN-SDGs in all sector activities around the world remains to be imperative. Unfortunately most of the focus still put on one Goal, i.e. Climate Action, which indeed is far from being enough to achieve prosperity, security and safety on planet earth.
To start with ‘racism and discrimination’ do exist in many forms and ways but with the growing global socio-economic-environment awareness the impacts and consequences of ‘racism and discrimination’ can’t be denied anymore. ‘Enough is enough’ and the whole world is now protesting after the legitimate cry of George Floyd “I Can’t Breath” that resulted in his cruel death. Finally racism and discrimination that has been taking place systematically and by institutional organisations even in democratic societies is being filmed (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.the-sun.com/news/924037/girl-who-recorded-george-floyd-killing-therapy-online-trolls/amp/). The echo of George Floyd is a symbolic reminder of how we humans still fail to give space for each other to exist. This is done through how we brought up to think and to act ‘Me, my and mine’ as by today in year 2020 the survival of some on the Earth with seven billion people, among other living species, is still ruling above all and everything. It has now culminated in a phrase ‘I Can’t Breath’ that millions and millions (if not billions) of people wish to say but they were always, and still, ordered to listen. This mindset is a long-standing historical heritage that was gradually and systematically allowed to grow and expand globally. From generation to generation, it has established itself as a global culture to dominate our life-style on planet Earth. It is not only about discrimination and racism but it is about a cancer (with no medicine) or a virus (with no vaccine) that has resulted in destroying all forms of life on planet Earth including humans themselves.
Modern democracies started to feel the pain of racism and discrimination as expressed by those suffering from it “I Can’t Breath”. This has been crystal clear through endless negotiations in the UN committees to bring peace and prosperity to our world. The cure, that the world agreed on, is being defined in a holistic document of 17 goals; the UN-SDGs of 2016 (https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030.html) which is a roadmap for achieving sustainable development for all. Indeed it is a collective global approach for counteracting all forms of historical racism and discrimination by building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”. Among these goals is erasing poverty and hunger that are very dominant in the black communities specially in Africa (https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/research-news/2017-10-25-pollution-and-poverty-a-deadly-mix.html) also through providing people with quality education, health, clean water, sanitation, energy, equal opportunities and decent jobs. Global partnerships are needed to achieve these goals by peaceful means. The wicked problems of racism and discrimination though neither be solved overnight nor be left for centuries without solutions. We can’t keep running away from them by todays business-as-usual policies, strategies and politics. ‘Enough is enough’ and the world can’t go on turning their backs and leaving behind future generations on a planet that is full of ‘viruses’ of different forms. It is an imperative and urgent need to tune our collective efforts to save the planet from a total annihilation. Better late than never.
Health is a key issue for the sustainable socio-economic-environment transformation of any society. That is clear and evident now to all, and everyone, of us specially in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. However, moving the whole African continent and putting it on a sustainable roads of secure and safe public health it neither trivial nor can be achieved overnight. Africa is very much different and has several obstacles that hinder direct transfer and import of technology from the developed world. But challenges and opportunities are enormous. Not all innovations are likely to survive in the longterm and large-scale because of several reasons that are either treated or will be treated in sustain-earth.com. Future innovations have be based on solid and deep rooted sustainability pillars. Examples on such innovations are given at (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/aug/26/africa-innovations-transform-continent) and will be commented on, elsewhere, at sustain-earth.com. We need to screen all the existing innovations to evaluate and assess them against the new criteria of sustainability.
The African demography (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Africa) has special features what regards population distribution, growth, health, diseases, health care systems, transportation, urban/rural mobility, economy, …. ect all of which have to be taken in consideration to bring about successful transformation to sustainable communities. In the current state of development, innovative ICT-medical tools provide appropriate solutions to offer public health services as ICT/IOT has capabilities to couple P-2-P and M-2-P communications by short-cuts without the need of unnecessary transport specially in critical situations and for people in isolated locations. One such ICT-based solutions is Cardiopad that enables Remote Heart Diagnosis through digital tablets (https://youtu.be/NFIOuy3J-IQ). This has been developed by Arthur Zang, a Cameroonian engineer. When such new innovations find its way in the market they open a chain of other applications and services that can together build integrated and coherent infra-structures to scale-up solutions for whole communities. Let us congratulate Arthur Zang, his team and Cameroon for their innovation.
Sustainable development in Africa will be brought about by spreading innovation across the continent. It stems from the extreme needs for immediate sustainable solutions for the critical problems facing and threatening its advance to the next phase of development. One of such obstacles to achieve sustainable communities is waste, that either existing, e.g. sanitation, or emerging, e.g. e-waste and waste from fossil remains (mining including oil). Innovation for better healthcare, increased access to quality of education, improved social life, poverty reduction and better life-quality by promoting renewable-based technologies are some examples.
Africa is urbanising and ‘motorising’ faster than any other region in the world. The degradation of the continent’s urban air quality will triple or quadruple within 15 years. Invention of small cars, e.g. electric mini-cabs, such as Mellowcabs (https://youtu.be/UKlkS8ZloRE) that operate on three-wheels with low cost, eco-friendly is a convenient taxi and transport services in that can empower cities across Africa. Other innovations are that these vehicles are being manufactured from recycled materials, and feature state of the art electric motors and batteries. Other multi-layered advances in these small and practical vehicles that are embedded in their technology are ICT-technologies, connectivity, data collection, and analytics are catalysing a technology revolution that could dramatically alter the face of the transport sector in Africa and beyond.
In several previous posts (sustain-earth.com) several issues were addressed to describe and highlight the diverse characteristics of our present era ‘The Anthropocene’ in particular what regards human waste and pollution (sustain-earth.com). In this context, positive and promising innovations to handle, treat and turn waste to beneficial and friendly products in the developing countries, e.g. Africa, are being introduced. Waste and pollution from irresponsible production and consumption are being continuously injected to our main spheres that govern all life forms on planet Earth, e.g. the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere in three forms, physical, chemical and biological remains. The threats has to do with how we use our natural capital resources, including the minerals in the lithosphere, of planet Earth that have caused enormous, continuous and commutative damage to all life forms on planet Earth. Unfortunately, we have accepted and even welcomed all types of waste and pollutions to the level that we are gradually pushing the waste and pollution peak to unknown distant future. A future that doesn’t belong to us. Waste and pollution is described by some people as a ‘hoax’ or ‘fake news’ not created neither by the market nor by us. So, let it be the fate of future generations and the fate of who don’t contribute in ongoing irresponsible production and consumption. It is the current narrative to keep expanding and supporting irresponsible production and consumption. That is the philosophy of denying and refusing to listen to the facts of science that brought us to the point of tip-over of our planet Earth to the very edge of no return. So, would the young generation of Africa manage to change such narratives?
Statistics from around the world regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including the most developed countries in Europe and the USA, show considerable gaps in our health care systems in particular for the risk groups of world population. According existing data most infections and deaths do take place in hospitals (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52196978). It is an unprecedented truth in the 2020 that our modern health care systems, even in most advanced countries, are unable to provide safe and secure medical treatments for the most needed when it is needed. It is a scary reality for all of us, even for professionals in the health care sectors. The working conditions in hospitals and in health care systems are suffer from several uncertainties with clear associated risks to die among doctors and nurses in COVID-19 is also unacceptably high (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/asia-pacific-health-workers-risk-all-to-fight-covid-19/1791014; https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/90-000-healthcare-workers-infected-with-covid-19-icn/1831765). The pitfalls and other shortcomings in global health care systems and the related health consequence are being analyzed, assessed and compiled by WHO (e.g. 20200411-sitrep-82-covid-19.pdf). The figure given here shows people died with confirmed COVID-19 in England and Wales by week ending 27 March 2020 according to data from Office for National Statistics (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52196978). In this figure about 93% of the people infected by COVID-19 died in hospitals, i.e. a total of 501 persons out of a total of 538).
This situation and chaos didn’t take place overnight, though according to the UN-SDGs of 2017, Goal 3 calls is about: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/). Naturally the global health care system is very much dependent of other major factors: education; life on land; life under water; clean water and sanitation; poverty; hunger; energy; economic growth; industry and innovation; inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible production and consumption; climate action; peace and strong institutions; partnership in goals and gender equality, all of which are goals in the UN-SDGs-package. According to New York Times, we knew the coronavirus is coming, yet we failed “the vulnerabilities that COVID-19 has revealed were a predictable outgrowth of our market-based health care system”. Also, in Europe, the crisis has been systematically developed and evolved during very long periods, e.g. for Sweden (https://mobil.unt.se/ledare/mangarigt-kaos-i-varden-av-de-allra-aldsta-5564852.aspx) as the death of coronavirus in olderly health care is above 45%. There are several reports of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes across Europe, e.g. strains on health and social care systems and healthcare workers have been reported with shortages in laboratory and testing capacity, personal protective equipment and healthcare capacity (including ICU ventilator and healthcare workforce capacity and staff being absent due to illness, quarantine or isolation (covid-19-rapid-risk-assessment-coronavirus-disease-2019-eighth-update-8-april-2020.pdf). These highlight vulnerability of the elderly in long-term care settings and the importance of infection control measures to protect the vulnerable population in nursing homes. However, this is the situation of the reality as we know it today and more unknown data and facts will be unfolded gradually as the COVID-19 pandemic will still remain with us for some time. There is no definite answer how long it will keep circulating and how the future will be. Let us hope that we will not have the same fate as the dinosaurs, it was probably a virus that caused them to disappear. When science and technology has no solution it is only the natural laws of the survival of the fittest as described by Darwin.
Indeed, the pandemic is far from bring over and several counties, e.g. in Europe are hesitating in opening their economies or rather have considerable difficulties and uncertainties to do so. At the same time the rates of infections and death are still rapidly growing in many countries around the world, e.g. Russia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Bangladesh, Colombia, South Africa, Egypt, Kuwait, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq and Bolivia (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/).
We are back to Darwins time of the 19th century which strongly motivated him to do research on biological evolution rather than studying medicine. Ironically, he didn’t realize the strong links between medicine and biological evolution which we are facing today because of our tight interaction with ecosphere to secure our food. In his research he answered many questions as how species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwinism).
Different strategies and approaches have been implemented in various spatio-temporal scenarios by different countries to cope with breakdown of COVID-19, its local, regional and global evolution in terms of spreading and containment. Never in the history of humanity there have been such involvement of politicians, policy-makers, stakeholders and citizens as we are experiencing in the COVID-19 pandemics. Thanks to the wide-scale of engagement worldwide and the open access to everyone to the World Wide Web ‘WWW’ (https://sv.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web) that made information, data and statistics as well as the critical analyses of news on COVID-19 openly accessible and affordable worldwide. With some exception in the variations of the quality of information and data, it has been possible to follow with reasonable convenience the COVID-19 pandemics also with possibilities for live-updates (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?utm_campaign=homeAdUOA?Si). So far great achievements with various degrees of success were obtained, yet much need to be done to declare being winners against COVID-19. Currently, it is not certain if we can securely and safely reopen our economies at least globally on local and regional levels. It is too early to say when and how we can do so. We are in a transition state requiring new measures and actions to get the situation under total control and not to be confronted continuously with a pressing state of “lifting or not lifting” the restrictions of the total lockdown of socio-economic activities and businesses around the globe. In this context, so many countries are confronted with yet complex challenges and difficult decisions. The way to go back to normal life is not simple, easy or straightforward or even clear as it would involve several careful and well-balanced decisions on multi-layered spatio-temporal scales involving how COVID-19 would look like after recovering from the first round of the pandemic in the northern hemi-sphere. Currently, we started to see signes of partial spatio-temporal recovery in many, but still limited, places around the world as we see, also, signes of partial spatio-temporal spreading in other regions far from the original epi-centers in China, Europe, Asia and the USA. So, there would be unknown delayed-effects here and there with further negative feedbacks. There are mainstream theories or hypotheses and even evident-based facts on why we have achieved various successes or failures in coping with COVID-19. Among high-lights is the secret behind New Zealand’s (https://youtu.be/mKorML1GPVY), Vietnam’s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_coronavirus_pandemic_in_Vietnam), Germany’s (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/610225/) COVID-19 success, also to some extent UAE (https://www.khaleejtimes.com/Dubai-lifts-24-hr-movement-restrictions-in-Naif-Al-Ras–), just to mention some. Is it the wise management of New Zealand’s, Vietnam’s, Germany’s and UAE’s or are there other yet unknown circumstances? Is it because of policy-makers and their leadership as based on scientific background and how science-based approaches are coordinated with effective engagement of public/private institutions, stakeholders and citizens? Or is it the strong appeal to the notion of social togetherness and the believe that we will pass this test if all citizens genuinely see this as their task? Is it also, about the very rational assurances and emotional appeal to the citizens, institutions and stakeholders at a time of rising panic? In any case, it is thanks to a variety of factors, e.g. Vietnam, New Zealand, Germany and UAE that appear that these countries have dealt with the outbreak better than many other countries. Germans for example largely continue to heed the chancellor’s detailed directives. Unlike in the US, Italy, Spain, France, the UK and others with high rates of cases and deaths, total deaths in Germany, Vietnam, New Zealand and UAE have been relatively low or even very low. However, any resulting successes are at least in some degree attributable to the leadership, a way of bringing “divergent interests together in compromise,” as explained by some. Their abilities to admit what they don’t know, and delegate decisions, have been particularly important for healthy political structures. In the case of Germany, it is about putting together experts from well-funded scientific-research organizations, including public-health agencies and the country’s network of public universities. The Berlin Institute of Health, a biomedical-research institution, has, like other organizations, recently pivoted its efforts in order to study the coronavirus, e.g, working closely together to “establish nationwide systems” of research. The federal government, with Merkel at the helm, plays a convening role, recently gathering all of the country’s university medical departments into a single coronavirus task force. The virus is still far from defeated but judging by Merkel’s approach in collating information, her honesty in stating what is not yet known, and her composure she may someday be remembered not as Germany’s greatest scientist, but as its scientist in chief: the political leader who executed, celebrated, and personified evidence-based thinking when it mattered most. This is an unfailing demonstration on how the “Scientific Approach” even in wicked socio-economic crises can lead us to successful outcomes. On the other-side of the mainstream celebrities and politicians with large social media followings are proving to be key distributors of disinformation, random thinking and irrational speculations relating to coronavirus. According to a study that suggests the factcheckers and mainstream news outlets are struggling to compete with the reach of influencers. The actor Woody Harrelson and the singer MIA, for example, have faced criticism after sharing baseless claims about the supposed connection of 5G to the pandemic, while comments by the likes of the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, playing down the scale of the crisis in the face of scientific evidence have attracted criticism in recent days (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/apr/08/influencers-being-key-distributors-of-coronavirus-fake-news). This also the case of president Trump that considerably played down the risks of COVID-19 and delayed putting in place mitigation actions, also as unlike other global leaders who pledged to accelerate cooperation on a coronavirus vaccine and to share research, treatment and medicines across the globe did not take part in the WHO initiative with a sign of Trump’s increasing isolation on the global stage. Both China and the US have accused each other of bullying and disinformation over the COVID-19 outbreak thus damaging efforts to secure cooperation at the G20, the natural international institution to handle global health outside the UN (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/24/us-stays-away-as-world-leaders-agree-action-on-covid-19-vaccine). Yet, as countries from Italy to New Zealand have announced the easing of coronavirus lockdowns, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, back at work on Monday after being hospitalised with the disease, announced that it was too early to relax restrictions there (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/04/27/some-countries-prise-open-covid-19-lockdowns-but-uk-says-not-yet/). For Europe as a whole it remains to see how the economy will be reopened (https://shmfakhruddin-net.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/shmfakhruddin.net/2020/04/20/europes-plan-to-ease-restrictions-for-covid19/amp/). This reflects how sound policies play an important role not only in saving lives but also in how fast economies can be reopened and recovered.
The coronavirus is taking strong grip in the member states of the EU and the spreading of COVID-19 has achieved different stages in the member states with variable geographic rates, extent and hot zones distribution. The top of the spreading-peak is far from being achieved in all of the member states as is the case in China where the recovery seems to be taking place. The situation in Europe is worse than the corresponding one in China at its early stages of COVID-19 spreading (https://www.svd.se/who-kraver-mer-provtagning-och-isolering; https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/save-lives-with-social-distancing-how-to-protect-your-family-from-coronavirus-primed-to-hit-india-like-a-bomb/). The EU is now facing tectonic threats on several scales as coronavirus is new, aggressive and fatal on all levels and has complex, dynamic and fast interactions and impacts on all sectors. Though there has been division between the EU member states regarding how they can deal with COVID-19, the policies have shifted and converged very rapid into general strategies to limit spreading of the COVID-19 by restricting mobility and gathering of the citizens in public and working places. However, such restrictions don’t apply to strategic and critical service in key sectors such as health care. In higher education and upper school system there is major turn from campus teaching to distant and IT online teaching to limit gathering and travel and transport (mobility). It is a total turn away from previous theories and actions to use, apply and implement the so-called ‘herd immunity’ (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity; https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/coronavirus-herd-immunity-meaning-definition-what-vaccine-immune-covid-19-a9397871.html%3famp) as it was suggested, e.g. in the UK (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/16/pm-tells-britons-to-avoid-non-essential-contact-with-others). Sweden has (https://youtu.be/Snnflr_8HKM) in particular taken many solid decisions in this respects to protect and support its citizens on several levels. The UK (not member state) shifted away from considering potential advantage of the population to acquire some element of herd immunity as this scenario, according to new data from Italy would require the loss of very high number of people from the coronavirus. The herd immunity model fierced backlash on social media in the UK with people claiming it amounted to evidence that their government was happy for large numbers of people to get coronavirus (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/15/boris-johnson-to-hold-daily-coronavirus-press-briefings). All of the member states in Europe however aren’t in favor of such strategy and follow more or less the recommendations of the WHO to break the chain of the COVID-19 transmission, i.e. to limit the expansion of the disease. Early actions (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/save-lives-with-social-distancing-how-to-protect-your-family-from-coronavirus-primed-to-hit-india-like-a-bomb/) can save lives and the WHO has previously slammed the UK and Sweden for scaling back coronavirus testing and warned ‘don’t just let this fire burn’. However, though “Wait and See” strategies exhausted the early possibilities of coronavirus testing, the new policies now are going in the right track to save more lives and empower the citizens by correct public awareness tools as well as to give the private and public sectors the necessary economic support. In Sweden for example, the government has launched strong economic support packages (300 billion ‘swedish crowns (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.thelocal.se/20200316/sweden-launches-300-billion-kronor-coronavirus-crisis-package/amp) to protect businesses and jobs from the fallout of the new coronavirus. Among other measures in Sweden for example, narrowing the possibilities of gathering and mobility, strengthening distant and online teaching, intensifying health care efforts, public awareness on protective health issues and providing economic support to compensate impacts from shutting down work-places and effects from health injuries.
Since the breakdown of a new Coronavirus in China and an early alarm by a Chinese physician (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/world/asia/chinese-doctor-Li-Wenliang-coronavirus.amp.html) who tried to sound a warning that a troubling cluster of viral infections in a Chinese province could grow out of control with serious consequences, the rest of the world responded with a naive and irrational thinking “wait and see”. This is though it is a novel and rather unknown virus (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html) and the very first alarm by doctor, Li Wenliang, was an outcry to the world, and not only to China, to be prepared about what could happen in the future. The logic and rational thinking tells us another reality, as experienced everyday since the outbreak at Wuhan and after very long “wait and see”. The reality that a virus is a virus and can hit any person anywhere once is exposed to it directly or indirectly. It is a blind gambling to think something else as we live in very tight and densely urbanized communities, and not seldom overpopulated cities, on a very globalized planet with very fast, ultra active and even super crowded transport systems 60/24/7. How can we continue to sleep with a virus that doesn’t sleep, has constant and enormous possibilities for spreading globally and not only locally or regionally as previously thought. We thought that what happened in Wuhan wouldn’t happen somewhere else and people around the world continued watching what is going in China and how the virus is spreading with no idea that we belong to the same planet. The virus has no boundaries to stop it as there are no effective medicine to halt its spreading, no well-defined information on the dynamics of its transmission and how containment can be done on national and global scales. Though these known facts the world was left with only one irrational option “Wait and see” until it is right among us, in our working places and allover the globe in almost every country. The WHO was criticized by being slow to act on this epidemic as in previous health crisis (https://youtu.be/Fha0m7Wo3F0). Statements from WHO are based on the global statistical spread “wait and see” of the virus and not on the nature of the virus itself and careful forecasting and predictions of what could happen as based on spatio-temporal consequence analyses of the transmission and spreading dynamics. With an early (at a later stage) but yet fast global spreading of the coronavirus the WHO did warn the global community about quick actions and economic solidarity. Consequently, many countries around the world were still slow to act as they followed the early statements of WHO rather than taking own initiatives to protect their national population. New viruses such as COVID-19, by being novel is not among the priority list of WHO (https://www.who.int/activities/prioritizing-diseases-for-research-and-development-in-emergency-contexts) so it came as a surprise with insufficient strategies how to handle it more than “wait and see”, as a first reaction, and this in itself caused huge “wait and see” uncertainties among politicians, as economic issues based on growth economy have also to be taken in consideration. Though the science is crystal clear, it is new novel virus (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2Fabout%2Ftransmission.html; https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/as-coronavirus-spreads-many-questions-and-some-answers-2020022719004) with far unknown impacts and serious precautions have to be in place as being experienced and guided from reality (https://youtu.be/A1yXTlvTB08). Many information was given to individuals (e.g. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/cleaning-disinfection.html; https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7927017/How-travel-safe-coronavirus-outbreak-according-expert.html). How to deal with it on the personal level is of course very important but being an issue of Public health the main responsibility is still, and should be on the first place, on the national level as effective national and timely strategies supported by coordinated infra-structures are imperative in such situations. By intuition everyone of us felt it will come sooner or later to our homes but we reacted irrationally hoping that what happened in China will not happen to us though human beings, in spite of where on planet earth, are biologically the same organism (http://www.project2061.org/publications/sfaa/online/chap6.htm) driven by basic human biology principles (https://www.edx.org/course/essential-human-biology-cells-and-tissues). It is time now to rethink about more sustainable socio-economic system where health and economic issues are treated on equal footing (https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/coronavirus-recession-economy-would-pose-unique-threats-federal-reserve-response-2020-3-1028956481). Better late than never, the OECD declared a sharp recommendation that “Governments need to act immediately to contain the epidemic, support the health care system, protect people, shore up demand and provide a financial lifeline to households and businesses that are most affected (https://www.google.se/amp/s/abcnews.go.com/amp/Business/coronavirus-cut-global-economic-growth-outlook-half-oecd/story%3fid=69334244). There are no other means to face a new emerging reality that requires sustainable policies as formulated by the UN-SDGs. For Coronavirus live updates: Bookmark this map to track global cases in real-time (https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6). The global map of coronavirus as by 10/3-2020
REGISTRATION is opened for participation in a new Ph.D. faculty (Science and Technology) COURSE at Uppsala University “Sustainability in Science & Technology”. As far as possible and if places are available Ph.D. researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences are also welcome to register.
Deadline of registration isthe 10 of October 2019. Please register as early as possible.
“Sustainability in Science and Technology” treats strategic worldwide questions for scaling up science and technology to achieve sustainable societies. WHAT is sustainability? WHY it is needed? and HOW to achieve sustainability.
Water, energy and natural resources are imperative for our living on planet earth, yet they are not INFINITE. The ongoing transformation to sustainable societies is both urgent and necessary. Water and energy systems require natural resources in their lifecycles.
Increasing global pressures on yet declining water, energy and natural resources come with a heavy price of severe impacts on environment, biodiversity and life quality. Sustainability in science and technology is the only means to cure and heal this paradox, however this can not be achieved overnight.
“Sustainability in Science and Technology” is planned in lectures, study-visits and group discussions with “lecture-based” assignments. Group discussion are designed to benefit from the IT-based “Laborative Lärosalen” of UU. Target groups are PhD students in all domains of Science and Technology. Participant will not only gain knowledge on how to structure their own future “Career Development Plans” but also to shape and reshape ongoing global transformation to sustainable societies. Also, in shaping what is meant by Sustainability.
The Course will be given during November and is schedules in two parts: the first two weeks (4/11– 15/11) we will have 12 Invited Talks of 24 hours followed by two weeks (21/11 –3/12) of Seminar and Assignments of27 hours.
The Ph.D. researchers at Uppsala University who completed the course in 2018 have very positive, yet critical, feedbacks with an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5. Following their evaluation and recommendations, it gives us much pleasure to invite you to sign up, join and follow this interesting and innovative journey of sustainability. I am convinced that your contributions will allow us to penetrate deep in real life questions/issues for generations to come.
Scaling up science and technology to meet the UN-SDGs is not only a major challenge for politicians and professionals but more importantly for universities around the world. For young academics the question is how to create career-development-plans to cope with uncertain market and future? Would the Paris agreement achieve its goal? If not why? and if yes what are the supporting measures needed so as the Paris agreement can fulfill its mission?
The conflicting uncertainties regarding global warming and climate change is getting more and more real. It is not only a Chinese Hoax as described by the President of the United States (https://www.google.se/amp/s/time.com/5622374/donald-trump-climate-change-hoax-event/%3famp=true), it is also an European paradox causing social trauma (https://youtu.be/vGPU5SWV1DE) of two contrasting realities. A growing conflict and fear fueling collective social frustration about what we want in our life – Life Quality? or Life Standard? The Paris Agreement is now suffering from a new Hoax, a competition between two contrasting European (also global) interests, a comedian theatre 🎭 by the European Commission and the European Citizens. A blaming and shaming that is dividing Europe into two blocks. Whether you believe or not in global warming and climate change it is shame on you. Shame on you if you believe, though you want to protect and preserve the natural resources, as you are participating in the degradation of European standard of living. Shame on you if you do not, though you are concerned about promoting high economic living standard, you are not caring about the European life quality (also quality of life on planet Earth) by protecting and preserving our common natural resources and capital.
One example illustrating the European paradox and trauma what regards the Paris Agreement is the transport and air aviation sector. This also, applies globally. The transport and air aviation has huge emissions of greenhouse gases and contribute intensively in global warming and climate change. Still there are many other sectors that have more severe contributions (https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data). The standpoint of the European Commission what regards transport and air aviation is a comedian theatre 🎭 over global warming. On the one hand it supports the business-as-usual in transport and air aviation sectors (http://sorenandersson.com/aviation-a-climate-change-villain/; https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport_en; https://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/air_en; https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/aeronautics_en). The European Commission says “The Aviation Strategy is a milestone initiative to generate growth for European business, foster innovation and let passengers profit from safe, cleaner and cheaper flights, while offering more connections. This Strategy contributes directly to the Commission priorities of jobs and growth, digital single market, energy union and EU as a global actor. The Aviation Strategy of the Commisson will enable European aviation to flourish globally. So, despite the current economic crisis, global air transport over the long term is expected to grow by around 5% annually until 2030. While on the other hand the European Commisson supports the ongoing protests against business-as-usual in transport and air aviation (https://youtu.be/szdgJi2VKW8). The European Commission says, an air-flight from London to New York and back is producing carbon dioxide emission equivalent to the same emission that an average European citizen does by heating a home for an entire year.
Another important issue what regards carbon dioxide emission, is virtual emission. According to reports published by Our World Data Organization (https://ourworlddata.org) trusted by most reputed international Research and Media sources and institutions on “Carbon Dioxide and Greenhouse Gas Emissions” by Emissions” by Hannah Ritchie and Max Rose (https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions). The report clearly indicate that the global emissions in greenhouse gases are still increasing and “if we switched to a consumption-based reporting system (which corrects for this trade), in 2014 the annual CO￼ emissions of many European economies would increase by more than 30% (the UK by 38%; Sweden by 66%; and Belgium’s emissions would nearly double); and the USA’s emissions would increase by 7%. On the other hand, China’s emissions would decrease by 13%; India’s by 9%; Russia’s by 14% and South Africa by 29%”. This indicates Europe, and in particular Sweden, are doing very little for the rest of the world to decrease the global carbon dioxide emissions and to actively participate in the global mitigation of the impacts of climate change. It is indeed an inconvenient truth about the European paradox and trauma what regards following the Paris Agreement and taking international agreements seriously instead of blaming and shaming their citizens and the rest of the world.
We are just listening to ourselves debating what are the reasons? Is it the older generation that destroyed the planet? Is it the fossil fuel that polluted the air and caused climate change? Is it the piling-up of waste, where plastics became daily food for other species on planet earth? Is is the irresponsible production of industry and agriculture that degraded the land-water systems? Is it the accelerating population growth that is causing pressure on water, energy and natural resources? Is the younger generation that is protesting against a world that they are still trying to understand? Is it about managing science and technology developed by the older generation to bring about sustainable societies for future generations? Is it the growing gaps of inequalities between the rich and the poor? or the disparities between the developed and developing countries? The debate is about whether to kill ourselves or not and why by the end decide not to (https://youtu.be/fnyljp3X4jU). A modern Hamlet ‘to be or not to be’ in real time, a comparison between the pain of life and the fear of the uncertainty of death. As for the Hamlet’s dilemma, although dissatisfied with life, was unsure what death may bring. Climate change is an undiscover’d landscape from which what is gone doesn’t return (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/06/david-attenborough-s-worried-about-this-ocean-threat-and-it-s-not-plastic). Only living species discover death for themselves but don’t return from it to describe it, it is a one-way ticket. So, if life with global warming is bad, the death from it might be worse.
Sailing on a luxurious boat as means of traveling is absolutely not a sustainable solution with astronomic costs and it is extremely unlikely to be a practical solution for public transport (https://www.google.se/amp/s/beta.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/08/15/swedish-climate-activist-greta-thunberg-is-sailing-america-amid-storm-criticism/%3foutputType=amp). However, it is an illustration of a disparate and a long-time human challenge to solve the complex issues of achieving sustainable living on planet Earth. To be united behind the science, as is given on Malizia, is to find affordable and sustainable solutions for the world population. If science is allowed to be defined by irresponsible consumption, the earth will be irreversibly and completely drained from its natural resources. We will gradually and definitely end up with an unhealthy planet over-populated and managed by an illiterate and poor majority. The history is repeating itself, challenges and adventures motivated to find better life on planet Earth, took place before, as in the time of Christopher Columbus during 1492-1504 (https://youtu.be/3fvXZzcrEcc). It has been always about finding better and prosperous alternatives of life. However, though the science and technology that we have today is far much advanced than at Columbus time the challenges facing humanity are much more severe for the majority of the world population.
Is Climate Change issue turning the world into an increasingly organized activism that can trigger global waves of new fanaticism. After the case of the Swedish 16-years climate activist ‘Greta Thunberg’ waves of mass global protests took and are taking place. Yet, new preparation of massive school protests against politics and politicians are on the way and more are likely to take place. In The Guardian we can read the following: What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools’, prime minister Scott Morrison yells after being asked a question about school students participating in a climate change strike. Greens MP Adam Bandt asked if the PM would ‘listen to these kids, who are demanding your government to keep coal in the ground?’ Morrison’s response was that they should stay in school and leave politics to those ‘outside of school’ (https://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2018/nov/27/scott-morrison-tells-kids-going-on-climate-strike-to-get-back-to-school-video). Then the question to Morrison is why do you ask the citizens to vote? Would Morrison encourage people in the U.K. to stay at home and not participate in political elections or be engaged in political decisions and policies?
Scientistswarning.org, as is given on their home-page, is a Union of Concerned Citizens with a mission for protection and preservation of life on Earth. This organization is giving their total support for school protests (https://youtu.be/R6s8YgRH5T0). The essence of their mission is a protest against Consumerism, with its cast of advertising executives, bankers and economists, corporate CEOs, politicians, etc. It is all about the evolving of defective ‘operating system’ that insists on infinite, accelerating economic growth despite the ecological costs – namely the destruction of Nature. Many scientists have signed or endorsed what is displayed on the home-page of Scientistswarning.org to avoid the worst of ecological destabilization that we have inflicted on Mother Earth. We are all, as is said on their home-page “thereforede factomembers of what we are calling theUnion of Concerned Citizens of Earth”.
The ongoing school protests triggered by activists supported by international and national organizations are likely to expand to uncontrolled protests on diverse and global wider scales as there are million if not billions of less-privileged-people. Climate Change action is only one goal of the seventeen UN-SDGs. If our focus will continue to be focused on only one goal we are likely to run in huge trouble in the future. We can expect some sort of global civil wars that may include avalanches and waves of brutal activities around the world. That if things grow out of control. The Climate Change issue, though is certainly of global importance, is only a small part of the UN-SDGs (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/) with 17 goals and 169 targets that summarize the global defects in the socio-economic-environment systems around the world. The UN-SDGs is global comprehensive agreement that are designed by all world countries, they are shaped to mitigate and solve multi-layered disparities ranging from poverty, hunger, education, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth for all, reduced inequalities, responsible production and consumption, acceptable global quality of life on land and under water, peace/justice/strong institutions and partnership for goals. By being signed by all countries around the world give the global citizens the right to protest and to be activist.
The school protests initiated by climate activists, initially by Greta Thunberg’s family are not taking in their consideration the whole web of the UN-SDG thus are likely to trigger new series of violent protests around the world such as those took place in the MENA region in 2011, the Arab Spring.
There are no questions or doubts that we have serious conflicts and misconceptions around the world between Education and Politics. These conflicts are deeply rooted in the perception of the role of science and technology as essential and imperative drivers for sustainable developments and promotion of sustainable societies.
On the one side, politicians use (misuse) the outcome of science and technology to achieve, in best cases, short-term benefits not in favor of future generations. Also, politics is imposing restrictions on the mission of science and technology for the sake of improving the life quality of the global citizens. This has been the case for generations as it is evident from the great degradation in life quality on Earth in terms of air and water qualities as well as the accelerating abuse and decline of natural resources. These issues have severe impacts on future generations but also on current populations as well. Meanwhile, politics continue to contribute in the growing failure in education systems, in particular the higher education at universities (https://youtu.be/OReAF9qwMkY; www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6447626326525513728), including the associated mistrust in education to lead to successful long-term careers and real jobs. On the other side, it is also clear from how the citizens trusted, and still do so, that science and technology can bring better future for them, as they still go to schools and struggle day and night to join higher education. Of course, not all but the wealthy and lucky ones who have inherited advantages to support their education and to scape modern slavery of the imperatives of a failing growth economy. The citizens have also no other choice other than to follow political policies and growth economies that fail to meet their needs in particular to deliver security and safety for the future generations worldwide (https://youtu.be/Xwnqy51BJNM; https://youtu.be/GiD04TRwebQ). The perception of science and technology is dependent on what they bring to humanity and the society in terms of socio-economic opportunities with reference to the boundary conditions of life on planet earth, i.e. the environment and climate conditions on local, regional and global levels.
The political controversy on whether or not we need science and technology to run our societies is taking the same route as the classical conflict between the Church and science in the sixteenth’s century that resulted in a trial against Galileo Galilei and led eventually to his house arrest under the rest of his life. At that time, this was considered a generous punishment for his scientific work by being not along the mainstream catholic belief, i.e. that the earth was the center of the universe. The Church at that time was the political power that controlled the society, directed the track of science and even decided its outcome. The popular narrative would say that the Catholic Church feared Galileo’s truth and silenced him.Though all these restrictions, Galileo Galilei continued his scientific work which laid down the foundation for the successful work of Isaac Newton and his findings of a theoretical force (gravity) and a mathematical system (calculus) that when used together allowed astronomers to accurately predict the movements of our solar system. This all together gave us the hope that all natural occurrences are explainable in mathematics. Both Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton contributed in diverting the track of science in hybrid direction orchestrated by Albert Einstein.
These summaries illustrate the powerful role of conservative politics that restricts the scientific endeavors by being the collective outcome of the individual scientific works to the search for truth. But science always wins inspite of all political obstacles and restrictions. For the church to admit Galileo was right was to also say every other scholar for the past 1,500 years was wrong. This is the same for our politicians to admit that all life forms on planet earth are under huge threat. It is to also say that the current growth economy and the associated trends forced by business as usual in production and consumption are all wrong. Politicians even do more serious attacks on science as an excuse to go on with the same failing economic policies. If politicians continue to ignore science, as is currently the case, the mistrust in global education systems will face an increasing spiral of degradation. Also, politicians will force science and technology to proceed in supporting growth economies and halt many efforts to promote and implement circular economies as a consequence of an increasing mistrust in the role of higher education to support rapid transformation to a circular economy based societies.
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