Friday, March 19, 2010

UN World Water Day

Date: 22nd March, 2010
Time: 8.00pm

Venue: Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork


Free. All welcome

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is coordinating the organization of the World Water Day 2010 campaign on behalf of UN-Water and in collaboration with FAO, UNDP, UNECE, UNICEF, UNESCO, UN-Habitat, WHO, and the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication as well as with partner organizations such as International Water Association, World Wide Fund for Nature, World Water Council and Cork Environmental Forum.

March 22nd 2010 will mark a global event on water management with events and presentations taking place throughout across the planet in every continent. Cork Environmental Forum in association with Engineers Ireland are hosting a water seminar at Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork.

About the speakers:

Declan Waugh, Director EnviroManagement Services and founder of Partnership for Change, has twenty years experience in environmental management, research, impact assessment, environmental auditing and risk assessment, waste management, planning and development, contaminated site investigation and management of environmental risk. He has spent ten years working in environmental management of the mining industry and ten years working as an environmental consultant managing a wide variety of infrastructure projects and green tech projects in addition to being a noted environmental researcher. The title of his presentation is ‘Flood risk management: An examination of the Bandon Flood event of Nov 19th 2009 including land use planning and disaster management’.

Weather, climate and water resources can have a devastating impact on socio-economic development and on the well-being of humankind. According to the World Meteorological Organization weather and climate-related extreme events, such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, storms, cyclones, floods and drought, account for nearly 75 per cent of all disasters. They can lead to an enormous toll of human suffering, loss of life, infrastructure and economic damage. How we monitor these events, try and predict their occurrence and ultimately plan and prepare for extreme weather events and issuing timely warnings are essential to mitigate the disastrous impact of such events on a population and economy.

Declan’s presentation will examine what we may have learnt from the recent extreme flooding which occurred in November 2009, an event that caused enormous social and economic impact on both urban and rural communities across Ireland.

Tony Cain, principal of H2O Consult, has 20 years experience in the design and construction of sewerage systems in the UK and Ireland. He has particular experience in the hydraulic analysis and detailed design of sustainable drainage systems and road drainage systems and was the drainage design manager for a €1 billion programme of road construction works in Ireland including N6, N7 and the M50PPP project. He has recently set-up his own company, H2O Consult, to deliver sustainable water management solutions in Ireland. He is also a member of the management committee of Cork Environmental Forum and has recently been nominated by SWAN for appointment to the South West River Basin District Management Plan Advisory Council. The title of his presentation is ‘Sustainable drainage systems and rainwater harvesting: An overview of the types, design, environmental benefits of SUDS and rainwater harvesting systems’.

Contact: Kevin Murray, chair, Cork region

Note: This event is run in association with Cork Environmental Forum.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Biofuels and Food Security

An internal report by the World Bank on the link between biofuels and food prices argues that the drive for biofuels by American and European governments has pushed up food prices by 75% in stark contrast with U.S claims that using crops for fuel, rather than food, has only pushed prices up by 2-3%.

All other factors including rising demand for food from China and India, back-to-back droughts in Australia had only a marginal impact on food prices according to the report.

The reports states that without the increase in biofuels, global wheat and maize stocks would not have declined appreciably and price increases due to other factors would have been moderate.

The rise in prices has caused food riots in several countries and lead to banning of grain and other food exports. The implication of this report, then, is that crop-derived fuels have been the ultimate cause of food riots, starvation and high prices around the world.

The World Bank’s index of food prices increased 140 percent from January 2002 to February 2008. This increase was caused by a confluence of factors but the most important was the large increase in biofuels production in the U.S and EU. Without the increase in biofuels, global wheat and maize stocks would not have declined appreciably and price increases due to other factors would have been moderate.

The combination of higher energy prices and related increases in fertilizer prices, the decline in the dollar caused food prices to increase by about 35 % from the January 2002 until Feb 2008 and the remaining three quarters of the 140 percent actual increase was due to biofuels.

One-quarter of all the maize and other grain crops grown in the US now ends up as biofuel in cars rather than being used to feed people. Increased biofuel production has increased demand for food crops and been the major cause of the increase in food prices. Allmost all of the increase in global maize production from 2004 to 2007 went for biofuels in the U.S and the net effect was that the increase in global consumption fro the other uses came from stocks. Global maize production increased 55 million tons from 2004 to 2007 according to the USDA and biofuels use in the U.S increased 50 million tons. Global consumption for all other uses increased 33 million tons, which caused global to decline by 27 million tons and maize prices to more than double. Maize for biofuels accounted for 25 percent of U.S production in the 2007/2008 crop year according to the USDA and 11 percent of global production.

The report concluded that rapid income growth in developing countries has not lead to large increases in global grain consumption and was not a major factor responsible for the large grain price increases.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Future Is What We Make It.

The facts are, our economy has been destroyed, our financial sector is collapsed and we are witnessing a rising tide of unemployment and dispossession. So far despite the billions spend on corrupt and failed financial institutions there are no indications of improvements and we are to expect worse to come. I imagine therefore there are many of you all asking the same question I am, how did we get here? what have we learnt? and what do we do now?

Do we try and rebuild on the same designs and system failures? do we continue with a political system and class that has failed this country? do we still believe in this government?

The answer must be clear, we do not.

When a situation becomes untenable we must exercise our will and reason to act, we must consider the imperative. Our imperative is our society, our community, our shared history and determination not to surrender to defeat, our imperative is believing in the next generation but also providing the foundation for civic leadership and ethical government.

This government supported by its senior civil servant’s is built on a foundation of shame, on guilt and promotion of corruption; protecting the interest of the few while violating the interests of its citizens. Civil society must protect its members and defend their rights and common interests.

It is imperative that we as citizens decide that this government has had its day.

This government has to fall, the political system is broken, the same system allowed the election of this government and now protects those that are responsible for laying the foundations of our current crisis, a system that lets those responsible walk free, with generous pensions and bonuses protecting government workers, state appointees and top civil servants on massive salaries and benefits.

Our political system does not deserve to be defended but rather taken apart and put back together again. It has proven to be very creative at letting people off the hook for criminal behaviour, no one has yet to be held accountable for all its many failures, it is a system designed to facilitate failure and criminal behaviour, its allows the law to be bent, the rules to be broken, no one to be held accountable.

In order for us to get out of this disaster, each of us has to look to the future, to work for our collective interests not self interest, to built an ethical future that will inspire the next generation, we need to remove the element of fear, apathy and anger and build a future of hope, support and a brighter vision for modern Ireland.