(copied from MBendi
with sincere compliments!)

Ben Oostdam story #547



Recently my family have taken to calling me a cynic.
Maybe it's because I dared to question why 
Transparency International had adjudged New Zealand
to be the world's least corrupt nation when just a
few weeks ago a former cabinet minister was jailed
for bribery and corruption?
Or was it because I wondered aloud whether the reason
Nigeria featured so low on their list wasn't because
people polled thought Nigerian scams were engineered
from there rather than from North America or Europe?

That's the problem with opinion surveys, they just
reflect opinions - considered, biased, gut-feel and all
- and then the press trumpet the results to the world
as undisputed fact.
And next year, the participants remember the results
from the year before so....

Speaking of opinions, I am starting to worry that
Moeletsi Mbeki's characterisation of African leaders
as corrupt kleptocrats is starting to influence my own
views of the continent's leadership.
Thus when I read that African leaders are demanding
huge reparations from the developed world ahead of the
Copenhagen conference on climate change,
my instinctive reaction was to wonder how long it would
be before the monies are recycled back into an anonymous
Swiss bank account - or to fund the next international
shopping spree by Mrs. Mugabe as I was reminded a few
minutes ago by an articulate Zimbabwe refugee begging
at the roadside - rather than being used responsibly to
cut emissions and prepare for higher temperatures.

Of course, the best way African leaders could prove
me wrong would be to produce a blueprint for African
carbon reduction, complete with budgets and project
timelines and then implement it on schedule - 
now that would really show up the G8!
If you look at a satellite image of Africa by night,
most of the continent is in darkness,
with two major exceptions. Around the Gulf of Guinea
there's a huge blaze from the hundreds of oil wells 
flaring associated gas, while down at the bottom of
the continent king coal powers South Africa's 
industry and transport. 
The governments and companies concerned should have
acted years ago to channel the gas and cut the dependence
on coal but no.
Meanwhile, headlines from Kenya about the spoilage of
the Mau Forests this week reminded cynical me that
African leaders could well be in cahoots with the
Asian and European logging companies bulldozing and
burning forests across the continent and beyond.
That too should be halted as part of the plan.

If you look at a satellite photo of Africa by day,
a very different picture emerges.
Over a large chunk of the continent nary a cloud
intrudes, day in and day out, all year round
and forecasts are that the clouds are going to get
even less frequent for many places.
Surely Africa should be the world's leader in
establishing solar power plants to provide electricity
for the locals and for the cloudy regions further North -
or is this just the 21st century version of Africa
being just a non value-added commodity producer?
As the continent heats up, so the plants should become
ever more productive.
Then there are all those huge rivers just waiting to be
tapped for hydro-electricity.
In fact there was a grand plan for dams on the Congo
River to generate enough power for everywhere from
Nigeria to Cape Point, with some to spare,
only now we understand BHP Billiton has persuaded
the DRC government that the power would be better
used in a huge aluminium smelter employing a hundred
or so people rather than lighting the homes and offices
and factories of millions across the region as part of
improving their lifestyles - 
I, for one, would certainly be prepared to forego my
ration of aluminium to ensure a more enlightened
life for those around me.

Preparing the blueprint isn't helped by all the global
warming denialists, with Europe's Conservative Parties
now leading the charge, decrying Copenhagen and urging
African leaders to continue their profligacy.
If they're wrong, our grandchildren get fried. 
And if they're right and we've implemented the blueprint,
so what, the quality and cost of life will have improved
immeasurably for generations to come with less soot in
the lungs and bluer skies for the eyes to behold.
Cynic or not, I prefer to not take the chance.

If this editorial stimulates your thinking about where
the world is headed,then you will definitely be interested
in our MBendi Blog - Signposts to 2020 and World Outlook.
On our African Renewable Energy page, we have included a
summary of the Clean Development Mechanism which offers
a way for developed countries to reduce emissions and
meet global warming commitments by investing in carbon
reduction projects in developing countries.

LINK: MBendi Blogs - Signposts to 2020
COMMENT: a marvelous set of articles including such items as:
Scripps Institution of Oceanography:
Warming World in Range of Dangerous Consequences

BLO fecit/copied it 20091128 - stories