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.
Category: Energy Resources
The use of conventional energy sources, typically fossil-fuel hydrocarbons, primarily coal, oil and natural gas, have caused gradual degradation in environment and climate because of the emission of pollutants, including toxic compounds, greenhouse and acidic gases. Unilateral use of natural minerals and fossil fuel as energy sources, and the increasing competition on such limited resources have introduced large uncertainties and constrains in the energy sector, especially with the existing reality of “oil-peak”. In some part of the world, vegetation and woods from forests are also used for household needs, e.g. heating and cooking, which have caused gradual expansion of deserts and Sahara with associated negative impacts on groundwater and surface-water hydrology. Nuclear power remains to be important as it produces about 15% of world’s electricity. However, the access of such high-tech in developing countries is very limited compared to developed countries, e.g. EU, South Korea, Japan, US, Russia and Canada. Also, the fear from nuclear accidents and disasters, e.g. Fukushima in Japan and Chernobyl in Ukraine, and non-peaceful use of nuclear power poses further limitations on the expansion of nuclear power technology. Natural uranium, used in nuclear power plants, is also a limited resource. Hazard from nuclear accidents, disasters and uranium mining as well as nuclear waste remains to be of major environmental threats.
Hydropower, which is among renewable energy sources, is projected to grow considerably in China, Asia and Africa. Because of the coupling between water and energy resources “water-energy nexus” and there mutual impacts on the national and regional socio-economic developments and associated trans-boundary conflicts many issues have to be carefully assessed and resolved on continuous bases. Other sources of renewable energy, e.g. wind, solar and bio-energy, are becoming more and more popular and attractive on the global scale because of their environment-friendly nature and the flexibility they offer to individual users and small-scale stakeholder applications.
Interesting and scary reading that describes the daily reality around the world as experienced during 2020. What is going on planet Earth and the impacts of our irresponsible use of the global natural resources, in particular energy resources (by industry, transport, building and others), is based on scientific data and statistics specially what regards the atmospheric pollution. Among such impacts is the accelerating increase in the earth’s surface temperature (1880-2019).
What is happening in the atmosphere is triggering a global ‘Domino Effect’ with severe impacts on all other key spheres on Planet Earth. In particular the hydrosphere, the biosphere and ecosphere with tectonic threats on our living landscape (both rural and urban) and on daily basis. Global warming is also a medical emergency in times where COVID-19 pandemic makes the life more severe for many of us. The can be. connections between global warming and the COVID-19 pandemic. What is more serious is the scientific and technological advances, for many reasons, would not protect us against the consequences of global warming and will not bring back the decline in natural resources including loss of biodiversity. What is done is done and can’t be redone. As an example the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissor is unlikely to solve diseases caused by air and water pollution, also the mitigate the loss in biodiversity and tackle degradation in life-quality of atmosphere, bio and eco-sphere.
The Nobel Prize for Peace (https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/lists/all-nobel-peace-prizes/) has been awarded 100 times to 134 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2019, 107 individuals and 27 organizations. Among the International organizaions: Red Cross that got the Prize three times (in 1917, 1944 and 1963), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees got it two times (in 1954 and 1981), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. (2007), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Mohamed ElBatadei (2005). These are some examples, in the same manner, we can argue that BBC and Sir David Attenborough would also be excellent candidates that deserve the Nobel Prize for Peace.
The world was just waiting for this incredible event of Sir David Attenborough to join the Instagram. It is just to use Instagram as amplifier for lifting-up biodiversity as an important part of ‘Life on Our Planet’. In just few days his Intagram Account went viral (https://instagram.com/davidattenborough?igshid=11ay0osmkukkp) with millions of followers and more to come. It is as he has an important message to us. The power of social media can hardly be ignored anymore even by highly educated professionals and politicians. What is more important is the content of social media channels that keep improving as more and more are becoming dependent on them and critical voices continue to add new dimensions as ‘survival of the fit’ is becoming an evolution and the norm for progress on the Internet. With the rise of the Internet (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet) and the boom 🤯 of social media (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media) it is crucial to underline that quality of the content is being recognised more and more by the users. For a great portion of us, that can’t afford regular schooling and/or the expensive higher education, the social media channels are becoming an important source, if not the only source, of knowledge. Classical, conventional and international broadcasting channels (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_broadcasting) aren’t the only standard source of information and knowledge for many of us as they used to be. Though these trends, the global education systems, including higher education, are still closed systems as they don’t necessarily serve, i.e. the needs, the majority of the world population but rather an elite minority, as in football and other sports. Education, knowledge and knowledge transfer are imperative also as tools for public awareness, to share the responsibility, and not necessarily as a passport to the labor market that still support growth/linear economy. Universities and higher education institutes still lack efficient tools to reach out to the normal citizens, mediate knowledge and come near the society through tight engagement and active interactions. This is also the case for public education funded by taxes. Though the extreme importance of education institutes, in particular higher education, they still use ‘business-as-usual’ strategies without enough outreach policies to mediate and advocate knowledge to the public for protection and preservation of our common natural resources. This is the third duty of the universities and not only to perform pure ‘Research and Education’ that still can’t cope to solve existential problems as climate and environment changes, and the collapse in biodiversity, also to offer the necessary services to the citizens in major health disasters and pandemics as COVID-19. This is partly because universities and higher education continue to fail in creating partnership for goals neither with the citizens nor with the politicians as these are also part of their responsibilities, i.e. not to be isolated from the society and live on their own.
Sir David Attenborough and BBC achieved what the world universities failed to do, i.e. communicate science and technology in pedagogic and simple way, to inspire and motivate people, specially the young ones. To raise biodiversity as equally important, as climate change what regards our survival on planet Earth, is without hesitation an outcome of the work of Sir David Attenborough and through the systematic and continuous support of BBC (https://www.google.se/search?q=david+attenborough+nobel+prize&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=sv-se&client=safari). This is why they are very well placed to be nominated for the Nobel Prize.
We are greatly honoured to have Professor Torbjörn Ebenhard on the Editorial Board of sustain-earth.com. Professor Torbjörn Ebenhard is the Deputy director of the Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Professor Ebenhard is a biologist with a B. Sc. degree from Uppsala University and a Ph. D. degree in zoological ecology from the same university. His early research was focused on island biogeography and conservation biology. Presently he is employed by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and based at its Swedish Biodiversity Centre (CBM). It is a special unit for research and communication on conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity as a crucial issue for society, especially as related to Sweden’s implementation of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Its mission is to initiate, conduct and coordinate policy-relevant research on the complex interactions between biodiversity and social development, and contribute to society’s capacity to manage these interactions in a sustainable way.
Apart from administrative tasks of Professor Ebenhard at CBM, he works on a number of assignments from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, supporting their activities on biological diversity in Sweden, and in international negotiations. Professor Ebenhard is mainly involved in the negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as a member of the Swedish national delegations. He is also member of the Scientific Council on Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Services at the SEPA, and serves on the board of WWF Sweden.
As explained by Professor Ebenhard “The recent Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services produced by IPBES shows that the present and projected global loss of biodiversity jeopardizes our possibilities to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Humanity is ultimately dependent on biodiversity for its wellbeing and survival. The food we eat, the clean water we drink, the clean air we breathe, fibres for clothing, wood for building homes, and bioenergy to replace fossil fuels – all is provided by biological diversity. But more is at stake. As we deplete the resources that could support us, we also annihilate living organisms and degrade natural ecosystems. According to the IPBES report at least 1 million species of animals and plants are now threatened with extinction. However, the IPBES report also gives hope, as it states that we can bend the curve of biodiversity loss, if we are determined to do so. What it takes is nothing less than a transformative change of the entire human society.”
Professor Ebenhard also reminds us that “Ten years ago the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to which almost all countries are party, decided on a strategy and a set of global goals to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity, the so-called Aichi targets. They represent a high level of ambition, a much needed component of the transformative change IPBES envisages. CBD’s report Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, issued in September 2020, shows that none of the 20 Aichi targets will be met in full. This disappointing result, at a time when all targets should have been met, is due to a widespread inability by governments to implement the CBD strategy at the national level. Goals and targets at the national level have generally been set at a too low level of ambition, and national measures to reach these goals and targets have been insufficient. We do know, however, that when governments, as well as companies and individuals, have taken appropriate action, it does work, as shown by many successful cases of conservation and sustainable use around the world. But they are too few to bend the negative curve at global level.”
According to Professor Ebenhard “We now suffer the ravages of the covid-19 pandemic to our health and economy, while the growing climate crisis promises to make things much worse, but the looming biodiversity crisis will be of a completely different magnitude. The challenge now is to find integrated solutions, where the entire human society is involved in handling pandemics (there will be more than the present one), climate change and biodiversity loss. For this to happen we need people and decision makers to be aware of the nature of these crises, involve all stakeholders, set new ambitious strategies and goals for biodiversity and ecosystem services, strengthen national implementation and global cooperation, and work in a truly integrated way to address biodiversity loss, climate change and human wellbeing.”
Professor Anders Wörman is the Head of division for Resources, Energy and Infrastructure, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm (https://www.kth.se/profile/worman).
His research interest spans over wide-range of trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial areas in engineering sciences and technology within water resources, hydrology and environmental hydraulics. Ongoing research are due to water and energy availability in terrestrial hydrology, effects of climate fluctuations and landscape changes on runoff, hydropower regulation, extreme flows in rivers and safety of embankment dams. His skill and expertise include: environmental impact assessment; water quality; water resources management; engineering, applied and computational mathematics; hydrological modeling; rivers; civil engineering, hydrologic and water resource modelling and simulation; water balance; waterfall runoff modelling; aquatic eco-systems; surface water geo-statistics; contaminant transport; groundwater penetration; radar and climate change impacts.
Professor Wörman was co-founder and the first manager of the undergraduate educational programme for Environmental and Aquatic Engineering at Uppsala Univ. before being chair prof. at KTH. KTH has dedicated research programmes in Applied Sustainability. One of such programmes is oriented towards finding customized solutions to develope sustainable and resilient technical applications that are climatically and environmentally suited for Africa (https://www.kth.se/en/om/internationellt/projekt/kth-in-africa/africa-1.619441). It is interesting to mention that the world longest river, the Nile, spans over large catchment areas that are located in different climatic/weather (spatio-temporal variability in temperature and precipitation) zones (http://atlas.nilebasin.org/treatise/nile-basin-climate-zones/). These special features of the Nile call for technologies that can cope with climate-environment changes of both natural and man-made origins. Combination of natural and man-made climate changes will certainly induce severe constraints and limitations on what, why and how ‘Water, Energy and Natural Resources (fossil and mineral deposits, eco-systems and biodiversity)’ Nexus need to be carefully accessed on long-term and large-scale bases. In this context, Prof. Wörman has trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial knowledge suited to handle the complex, inextricable and multi-layered interactions within and between Water, Energy and Natural Resource Systems. These interactions are imperative to understand of coherent and resilient coupling with the Socio-Economic-Environment ‘SEE’ aspects in communities living in river-catchment systems in Africa. These issues are of special interest as river-systems are the dominant landscape units with huge importance for preservation and protection of renewable and fossil resources.
We are delighted to have Professor Bengt, Carlsson at Department of Information Technology, Division of Systems and Control, Uppsala Univesity, on the Editorial Board of sustain-earth.com. As Prof. Bengt Carlsson put it in his words “Treating wastewater is great, but making the treatment resource-efficient is even greater”. Among the expertise of Professor Bengt Carlsson: energy efficiency; automatic control system identification; sustainable development; and wastewater engineering.
Sweden has been been a pioneer in water quality and water cleaning both what regards natural and urban waters. However, the digitalisation is now part of production, use and consumption of water worldwide as the pressure on water resources increased enormously and still accelerate. Here, we give an example on The UK Digital Water Utility Experience (https://youtu.be/V8DEAy3o0S8).
What are the greatest challenges for water and wastewater treatment today? Some of the greatest challenges for water and wastewater treatment today is the contributions of pharmaceuticals that has increased pollution loads on environment. One challenge, is therefore, to effectively separate such residues in treatment plants and another is to cope with achieving climate-neutral wastewater treatment plants.
This post will be further updated and revised very soon.
An international Editorial Board in under construction to empower sustain-earth.com and to scale-up and scale-out Science, Technology and Innovation ‘STI’ for promoting and implementing the UN-SDGs, i.e. Socio-Economic-Environment ‘SEE’ aspects of human life on planet Earth.
It is a great honor to have Dr. Mikael Höök, Associate Professor, Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University (https://katalog.uu.se/profile/?id=N5-943) to join the Editorial Board of sustain-earth.com. Being pioneer in global energy systems, Dr. Höök leads the research group ’Global Energy Systems’, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development Programme. He has interests in popularization of science and research in energy systems, and bridging them to socio-economic-environment policy-making.
He has a PhD with specialization in global energy resources. His research deals with availability and production of fossil fuels with focus on oil and coal, but also supply of other natural resouces such as lithium and other raw materials for clean/green energy technologies. His research interests include also quantitative modelling of energy systems, fossil fuel production, field-by-field analysis, and long-term supply of natural resources. He is also very interested in wider issues like energy systems developments, resource depletion, energy security, climate impacts and sustainability. Currently, he leads several research projects focused on global oil supply outlooks and resource supply for energy transitions. He also teaches courses focusing on energy systems, energy security analysis, natural resources and sustainability. He is a lifetime member of International Association of Mathematical Geology and Geosciences (IAMG) and HP Lovecraft Historical Society (HPLHS).
Follow some interesting topics on global energy issues addressed by Dr. Höök in the ’Evolution Show Podcast’ by Johan Landgren (producer and host). The Global Energy Trends, Part II (https://youtu.be/DdmVr4rTUGw): Strait of Hormuz and Iran’s role in the energy market will follow Part I on Global Energy Trends (https://youtu.be/DdmVr4rTUGw) dealing with Oil Addiction and US shale boom; how would we be able to build a sustainable future without fossil fuels?
Historical texts from Spain, Italy, the Middle East and Egypt revealed how lustreware, pottery, batteries, steel swords and hair-dyeing were using nano-composites generating metal-glass and metal coatings on surfaces in different ways to produce impressive products of exceptional quality with enhanced material’s properties (https://www.theguardian.com/nanotechnology-world/nanotechnology-is-ancient-history). Damascus steel swords from the Middle East were made between AD300 and AD1700 with impressive strength, shatter resistance and exceptionally sharp cutting edge. The blades contained oriented nanoscale wire-and-tube-like structures with exceptional qualities. Pottery across the Renaissance Mediterranean was often decorated with an iridescent metallic glaze of colour and sheen down to nanoparticles of copper or silver. Ancient Egyptian hair-dyeing, dating to the Graeco-Roman period, was shown to contain lead-sulphide nanocrystals of 5 nanometre diameter (https://neurophilosophy.wordpress.com/2006/09/06/the-ancient-egyptians-used-nanocosmetics/).
Though craftsmen were highly skilled to produce such materials that by modern definitions falls under nanotechnology they didn’t not know that they were working on the nanoscale. Such amazing inventions from ancient times dated back to thousands of years are numerous examples of ancient technology that leave us awe-struck at the knowledge and wisdom by the people of our past. They were the result of incredible advances in engineering and innovation as new, powerful civilizations emerged and came to dominate the ancient world. Many of such ancient inventions were forgotten, lost to the pages of history, only to be re-invented millennia later. Among the best examples of ancient technology and inventions are: 2000-years-old metal coatings superior to today’s standard; 2000-years-old Bagdad battery; 1600-year-old Roman artisans of impregnated glass with particles of silver and gold; the Assyrian Nimrud lend of the oldest telescope; the steam engine by the Hero of Alexandria and many more (https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-technology/ten-amazing-inventions-ancient-times-001539).
In a series of posts we will explore why the 21st century will be prosperous for Africa. Indeed, there are various reasons to predict why Africa will continue to shine more and more though the threats that climate change, including global warming, will hit Africa more than other continents (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_in_Africa). Naturally there are other threats that so far hindered Africa from faster developments as compared to the rest of the world, specially that the history of Africa is very much different. Here is a list of key factors, among others, about the ongoing tectonic changes and drivers that will bring a lot of positive socio-economic impacts in Africa.
– African identity, slavery and colonialism distorted her identity and disoriented her values. However, Africa was not the only continent that suffered colonization. The concept of African identity has changed are still changing relatively fast specially with the growing restrictions in migration.
– African independence, decolonization and transition to independence characterized the past century and national identities in many parts of Africa are gradually emerging.
– Large-scale infra-structures, there are mega projects taking place in Africa (the case of Egypt participation in partnership for goals, Goal 17 of UN-SDGs) such as developing its transport systems to connect the continent from the very north in e.g. Egypt to its very south, South Africa, also from the west to the east (https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/77914/Egypt-launches-32-projects-in-Africa-in-1-year-report). One example is the enormous use of smart phones technology in trade, business and finance.
– Coupling rural to urban regions, this among key and important issues in the development of Africa as 70% of African are living in rural Africa and producing 70-80% of agricultural outputs.,
– African Union, AU is a continental body of the 55 member states that make up the African Continent. It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999).
– Human resources, population growth and youth, towards 2100 the population of Africa will peak to about 40% of the world population with very high percentage of youth.
– Natural resources Africa is abundant with natural resources including diamonds. gold, oil, natural gas, uranium, copper, platinum, cobalt, iron, bauxite and cocoa beans. This is of course in addition to its amazing biodiversity.
– Generation shift, new generations and leaders are currently shaping and reshaping Africa, combating corruption, enhance good governance and transparency and taking advantage of modern technologies, e.g. ICT, IOT, crowdfunding, protection of natural resources, also in the energy, agriculture, farming, tourism and other sectors.
– Security, many African countries are becoming more aware about the improvement of national integrity and internal security and safety of population specially that Africa has a complex diversity of ethnic groups. Remarkable developments in safety in Africa took place and still the focus of the African countries.
– Biggest market in the world, the needs of Africa will make it one of the biggest market in the 21st century. There is diversification and expansion the economy and trade both internally and with the rest of the world including Europe and Asia. This will generate tectonic changes in international trade, business, transport and mobility in labor and services.
– Global investments. Based on data through 2017, France is the largest investor in Africa, although its stock of investment has remained largely unchanged since 2013, followed by the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom and China. Geographically Europe and Asia can be linked through North Africa and the GCC countries.
– UN-SDGs the world has created a global agenda for promoting and implementing sustainability which Africa will benefit considerably from it. UN-SDGs and involved targets for developments are key issues that are shaping policies and strategies to cope with poverty, hunger, gender, inequalities, education quality, health, water and sanitation, energy, strong institutions, life quality, biodiversity, ……. etc.
Sustain-Earth.Com will work on mobilizing Human Resources in Africa for empowering the youth and students for scaling up Science, Technology and Innovation ‘STI’ to promote the UN-SDGs. We are delighted to have Professor Amidu Olalekan Mustapha from University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria to work on these issues.
Furthermore, the necessary instruments and tools will be developed and implemented for active engagement of the higher education, universities and research institutions in Africa to couple ‘STI’ to society, population and market needs. University graduates, early-stage researchers and professionals (according to scientific and technical merits) through dedicated mentoring programmes will act as catalysts in creating the necessary multi-layered links with relevant stakeholders in all sectors and on all levels. The diverse, rich and wide-range of higher education and research programmes in Africa will provide the necessary Human Resources ‘HR’. This will involve raising the public awareness among the involved stakeholders. A data-base will be created to define, collect and compile the expertise, professional and the targeted stakeholders.
The involvement of high-level interactions with sectors and organisations as was the case in previous trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial activities, e.g. IRPA-Nairobi Conference in 2010 (http://www.iur-uir.org/en/archives/conferences/id-44-afrirpa2010-third-african-irpa-regional-congress) will be assessed. This will be part of building on previous experiences and successes of already existing networking infra-structures. However, this will still require major challenges but suitable grounds will be found for what and how to do. According to Professor Amidu Mustapha there are a number of existing initiatives and platforms that we can link up with, e.g. both in Nigeria and Kenya. The members of the existing groups may also have other goals in addition, but we can benefit mutually in the common areas of environmental sustainability and knowledge development especially among youths.
A starting point will also involve reshaping and tuning two previously given courses at Uppsala university in 2018 and 2019 (http://teknat.uu.se/digitalAssets/395/c_395062-l_3-k_sustainability-in-science-and-technology.pdf; http://www.teknat.uu.se/digitalAssets/395/c_395062-l_1-k_sustainability-in-science-and-technology-2019.pdf). In these two course water, energy and natural resources nexus were detailed in order to explore what, why and how these drivers can be coupled to socio-economic-environment aspects that are necessary to help the ongoing transformation to sustainable societies. Over twenty professors and professionals were involved in conducting these courses, however there are still enormous needs to develop and extend these courses to meet the realities in many developing countries specially in Africa. This is also while considering the practical approaches that would be required in the implementation process. Particularly what regards the existing and emerging needs (UN-SDGs) in Africa for practical and appropriate policies and strategies.
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).
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.
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?
The electronics industry generates up to 41 million tonnes of electronic waste ‘e-waste’ that brings with it an ever growing problem worldwide especially in Africa as certain countries have become dumping grounds for electronics from Europe and North America. After WWII and the gradual independence of the African countries much of the military materials of the colonial powers from Europe were leftover in many Africa countries. Since then the e-waste started also to grow in Africa as some African counties were used as dumping places of electronic waste. This represents an additional pile-up of waste besides the home-made waste being produce in Africa. Recycling industries in the developed countries are based on turning waste to profitable products with least possible economic resources otherwise the waste is shipped elsewhere. WoeLab, an African 3D-printing innovation that is now stepping up its small-scale recycling efforts on the African continent. It is a way of combating the e-waste in Africa and members of the Tanzanian community technology hub joined together to create Africa’s first-ever 3D printer from e-waste. Such newly born industry is utilizing the discarded electronic parts to help advance the technology of the region where about 60% live in poverty thus offering access to emerging and self-sustainable technologies to improve their livelihood.
Generally speaking, global waste is gradually piling up and we are constantly and continuously pushing peak-waste more and more into uncertain and unknown distant future. This without hesitation will bring humanity to a wave of successive threats in the same way as the COVID-19 crisis that we are going through now. The amount of human garbage is rising fast and won’t peak this century unless global transformational changes in responsible production and consumption can take place (https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/10/30/global-waste-on-pace-to-triple). By 2100, the growing global urban population will be producing three times as much waste as it does today. That level of waste carries serious consequences for our cities, and the global environments as well, around the world.
It is certain that environmental destruction because of waste is enormous (https://www.nature.com/news/environment-waste-production-must-peak-this-century-1.14032). Solid waste ((https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/planet-earth/state-of-the-planet/solid-waste). Waste is mostly an urban phenomenon as compared to rural communities because of less packaged products, less food waste and less manufacturing. The acceleration of waste in the 21st century that already started in the 20th century because of the global transformation from agricultural to industrial activities brought with it much of new and serious threats to the atmosphere (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/gaseous-waste), e.g. greenhouse gases and climate change and degradation in air quality. Also, to the biosphere, e.g. collapse of biodiversity, the ecosphere with degeneration of eco-systems services and the hydrosphere (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.transparencymarketresearch.com/amp/liquid-waste-management-market.html), e.g. degradation in water quality of the global water resources. The countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are the largest waste generators, producing around 1.75 million tonnes per day. This is expected to increase until 2050 due to urban population growth and projections to 2100 show that global ‘peak waste’ will not happen this century (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/when-will-we-hit-peak-garbage-7074398/) if current trends continue in the same way, i.e. ‘business-as-usual’. This is although waste in OECD countries will peak by 2050 and Asia–Pacific countries by 2075, waste will continue to rise in the fast-growing cities of sub-Saharan Africa. We produce 11 billions ton of waste every year, i.e. on average over one ton of waste by everyone of us on the planet. What regards solid waste it comes from construction and demolition (36/%), household (24%), industry (21%), commercial (11%), water supply and sewage (5%) and energy production (3%). Add to this gaseous and liquid waste. How soon the world’s trash problem begins to decline, i.e. the global peak waste, will depend upon how soon Sub-Saharan Africa will manage to decrease it’s own waste production, e.g. through prevention, reuse and upcycling, recycling, reduction, controlled and uncontrolled disposal.
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).
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.