Earth Finds

Earth Finds

Ill will On Fossil Fuels Break Loose

Things begin falling apart as NASA announces 2016 is hottest year in recorded history. So the threat of climate change proves soaring enough to move countries to break the ice. Here begins a story of men and women standing erect through manmade pains facing the changing planet. Thousands of whom have emptied sorrows to the streets or coal quarries or oil terminals in May 2016 sampling a united will to get rid of dirty energy once and for all.

History may just be rewritten. But the half thrilling and half intimidating side of the truth will forever echo the curse of dirty energy lobby as among the most impossible dystopian illusion of this generation. When the globe finally cools, the battle is successful. When extinction approaches, will the oil industry have planet ‘B’?

Whether or not climate activism is the cup of tea here, the dark past of climate denial, by all standards have bred about 0.04% (400 parts per million) carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, many times higher than 400,000 years ago.

Fossil fuel companies bigger than monsters have bankrolled anti-climate change philosophies; climate activists – as meek as lambs of God are being arrested…the list is endless, but the most recent illogical treatment is the arrests of nearly 60 advocates protesting Keystone pipeline in the US. So confirms the saying: “change is painful but inevitable.”

Equally, it might hurt world governments to give up oil wells for the public wellbeing. But the pains and wretchedness resulting from extreme weather conditions such as ill-health, including those caused by droughts, floods, food insecurity and inundation from rising seas is even much long bottled in communities around the world.

Even oil industry knew of 'serious' climate concerns more than 45 years ago. In fact, researchers warned American Petroleum Institute in 1968 how the release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels could eventually lead to ‘worldwide environmental changes.’

Despite this good faith, they chose to pay a deaf ear, that’s why things had to fall apart. Some did the opposite – trying to challenge climate change science – with illicit documentations. Further evidence unveils that American Petroleum Institute, the peak body for the oil industry in the US, knew about the dangers of climate change at least 20 years before the issue was brought into mainstream public discourse via the former Nasa scientist James Hansen.

The then influential world leaders like the US president Lyndon Johnson also received an early cautioning about climate change, with scientists explaining the mechanism of the greenhouse effect as early as 1965.

For how long could any such delicate matter be hidden? Not too long! With the final blow being the latest Nasa’s thermometers reading global average temperatures as ‘soaring at 1.28C’ as of March above the average from 1951-1980, while February was 1.34C higher, dangerous tipping points, an irreversible benchmark could be crossed.

Climate change is usually crosschecked over years and decades, but even scientists have been struck by the recent unprecedented temperatures. Furthermore, annual heat records have been also breaking records, with 2015 demolishing the record set in 2014 for the hottest year seen, in data stretching back to 1850.

Prof Michael Mann, a climate scientist who spends most of his time between shelves and laboratories of Penn State University also became agile-tonged about March data by saying: “Wow. I continue to be shocked by what we are seeing.” He said the world had now been hovering close to the threshold of “dangerous” warming for two months, something not seen before.”

“The [new data] is a reminder of how perilously close we now are to permanently crossing into dangerous territory,” Mann said. “It underscores the urgency of reducing global carbon emissions.”

As such terrifying facts unfold; the fossil fuel business seems dragging towards hell, with sharp losses resulting from steep price drops. Alternatively, exemplary investors like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is divesting its heavily invested holding in BP.

The weights “breaking” dangerous fossil fuels is the most courageous wave of actions challenging business as usual across the world. Motivated by an ever strengthening, ever stretching effort to achieve 100% renewable energy, breakfree campaign resounds the knell that spelled fossil fuels at the close of COP21.

In the UK, the campaign had the country’s largest open-cast coal mine shut over 12 hours. While in the Philippines, over 10,000 people marched in Batangas city demanding the cancellation of the proposed 600 – megawatt coal powered plant in Barangay Pinamucan.

All signals indicate greener earth and a brighter future will lean on the raptures of renewable energy miracles that must shatter the bondage of carbon dioxide emissions nuclear energy price competitions built from the cradles civilization to the present moment.

To harness the moment, activists and concerned citizens committed to addressing climate change—from international groups to local communities to individual citizens— are united to maintain grips to force energy providers, as well as local and national governments, to steer towards a renewable future through investing in wind and solar energy.

This enviable cause justifies the discharge of thousands of men and women showing the world a glimpse into wrecking resistance through solidarity hard for politicians foster. Each action was unique: from the coal fields of UK, to the oil wells of Nigeria, to defiant actions against new coal power plant in Indonesia and the Philippines -- and many places beyond but all echoes one sound: stop polluting our ecosystem! End fossil fuels. And now.

In order to address the present-day climate crisis, fossil fuel projects need to be shelved and existing infrastructure needs to be replaced now that renewable energy is more affordable and widespread than ever before. The only way to achieve this is by keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground and accelerating the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

 

By Boaz Opio

Environmental Writer, Kampala Uganda.

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Uganda’s Oil Might Anoint Future Dictators

A global wave of actions to keep fossil fuels in the ground has been gathering momentum all over the world. Already seen in countries such as UK, over 300 people shut down the UK’s largest open cast coal mine for a day. Hours later, 10,000 people from all over the Philippines gathered in Batangas City to demand an end to coal.

All these huge actions are in the name of ending the dark activities of fossil fuel companies. As such, the potential harms of Uganda’s budding oil well as well as the building of pipelines towards Tanzania should never be overlooked. With economic specs on, oil and gas looks like a worthy undertaking. But zooming towards the real world infested by climate change syndromes, you are instantly shocked by the obvious contributions of burning fossil fuels to climate change.

While “Phasing out fossil fuels,” is a decision already reached by 195 countries including Uganda during the 2015 United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Paris, the land locked country is embarking on gigantic fossil fuel investment. Anyone with a reasoning mind can hesitate here. 

The fossil fuel industry, with its companies and lobbies, not only harm our planet by producing greenhouse gas emissions that create climate change. They also breed bad blood infecting democratic systems by using corrupt practises, bribery and tax evasion to accomplish their goals, ultimately affecting our governments.

Across Africa, the impact these damaging lobbies are as abysmal as coal pits. From South Africa to Libya and from Nigeria to Uganda, there are rising worries that African heads of states’ tough grips on power is akin to the prospects about the mineral wealth in their respective countries, a feeling that has not spared Uganda as regarding President Yoweri Museveni’s 30 year old regime. 

Newspapers recently quoted the president say: “You hear people say ‘Museveni should go’, but go and leave oil money,” at a campaign rally in eastern Uganda. The same source says Museveni’s obsession with the country’s largely untapped oil reserves will either prove a benefit or a curse to Uganda. But experience shows that a curse is inevitable.

Talk of the devil, to start with, already there has been perilous court turmoil over oil firm contracts and negotiations on building a refinery. Oil and gas was discovered way back in 2006, around the same time as Ghana, which started production in 2010. Uganda is expected to start its pumping hers in 2018.

Even darker, these resource agreements are shrouded in secrecy, keeping millions of Ugandans in the dark about events in the sector.
A group of civil society organisations – including ActionAid Uganda, Global Rights Alert, Seatini, Advocates coalition for development and Environmental Transparency International Uganda – has launched an online petition urging president Museveni to make the extractives sector more transparent but the outcomes are still disappointing.

“Winfred Ngambiirwe, the executive director of Global Rights Alert told journalists in Kampala: “We would also like government to make a binding commitment by agreeing to take tangible steps to better involve the citizens in the development of oil and gas sector.”

While many Ugandans are pinning their hopes for a better life on the fledgling industry and oil is expected to earn the country more than $3bn annually for close to two decades once production begins, our hopes may be a waste. But damages including climate change, health hazards, corruption and possibilities of wars in the oil rich region are even heavier and disheartening than the expected revenues by all measures. 

The climax of such a “tragedy of endowment” – as development economists of Makerere University call will be reached when truths begins to unfold as trickling oil money is diverted by the further military ambitions of the future leader and strengthening their arsenals rather than focusing on pursing the economic and social welfare of the public.

Again, everyone should be wary because fossil lobby has known for years of the existence and potential damage of climate change and has never acted accordingly. An investigation from last year showed how Exxon Mobil knew about climate change as early as 1977, but this did not prevent the company from spending decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoting climate misinformation. 

Furthermore, they fund climate change denial through big foundations and organisations, and promote solutions that are in line with their corporate interests, but many times not enough to preserve the planet.

In 2015, a study proved that ExxonMobil and Kochs family are the key actors who funded the creation of climate disinformation think tanks and ensured the prolific spread of their doubt products throughout mainstream media and public discourse. For many years, anonymous billionaires donated lumpsum valued at $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science.

Thus, for a developing country neither free from the dangers of climate change nor safe from kleptomaniac political systems as Uganda, the people should demand accountability now and during production. Doing so, we are clearing the path of development off unaccountable governments, but above all, protecting our ecosystems against the harms of fossil fuel industry and block the rise of oil-greedy governments.

This article has been written by Boaz Opio, Climate Change Campaigner
Kampala Uganda

Uganda’s Emerging Fossil-Fuel Industry At Cross-Roads

Uganda doesn't spring to mind for most people when coming up with a list of the world's oil-producing nations. But, in fact, 10 years ago more than two billions of barrels worth of oil were discovered in the landlocked nation, where nearly 40% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.

Since the oil discovery, many Ugandans have made the connection between oil, government revenues and how it has the potential to improve their lives, and that of the poor service delivery in much of rural Uganda. To them, oil is seen as a cash cow to save Uganda from its worst demons.

But it’s a connection that is over rated. Reports on ground indicate complete absence of corporate social responsibility on the part of contracted oil companies drilling the resource. The locals, and in particular those whose existence depends on local lakes and rivers, have suffered a lot.

Many local residents have been displaced from their land with little or no compensation. Most of them have been deriving their livelihood from fishing and farming. They are poor, but rather than benefitting from the discovery of oil near their homes, their source of survival hangs in balance. Where others see business opportunities, these locals see themselves as losers.

With countries like Tanzania and Mozambique home to major new oil and gas reserves, the prospect of massive new investments in Uganda's energy sector has sparked debate between those who say the country has a right to use whatever resources it has and those who are pushing it to avoid high emissions growth for the sake of the planet.

Climate change should caution us about the dangers of the conventional economic idea that any kind of economic growth is good. It is ironic that, as the developed world rings in the end of fossil fuel era, Uganda is poised to begin it. It is, of course, about economic growth, development and money.

The author of this article Henry Otafiire is passionate about writing on climate change. He has participated in a global writing movement of young people calling for an end to fossil fuels under the campaign break free from fossil fuels.

Uganda, like many African oil producing countries has been given a pass when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. In international climate talks, the “politically correct” stance has been that, first developing countries did not cause this mess; second, they need to focus on building out energy access to their populations; and third, their poor are most vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change. So, as the ‘’victim’’, Uganda just like other African countries should be given free rein to grow carbon use.

Uganda is looking to build an oil refinery and huge oil pipeline from albertine region to Indian Ocean coast. This appetite to extract oil is driven by deeply entrenched local and international business entities with little regard for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), global carbon budgets and most importantly recently adopted COP 21 Paris agreement which calls for transition from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy. Of course one has to wonder as this seems to be a dangerous energy path for the country.

So like many developing countries, Uganda faces two possible development pathways: one driven principally by renewable energy, or one pulled by the temptation of fossil fuels: oil and gas. The idea of infinite economic growth, which proves so attractive to economists, investors and financiers. It is premised on the assumption that there is an infinite supply of earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being exploited beyond the point it can replenish itself.

On the other hand, the shift to renewable energy resonates with a sustainable mode of economic thinking. It should teach Uganda a lesson that oil and gas reserves will create short-term booms, but these can collapse as many oil-producing countries are discovering in the face of plummeting oil prices.

Of course, if we consider how developed countries have attained their development through the use of fossil fuels, oil and gas development may seem an automatic path to go for Uganda too. However, this assumption teaches a simple lesson but which is fundamental. We need to debunk the myth Ugandans are holding that becoming an oil producing nation guarantees a rocket ride to a modern future.

Our country must commit itself to international legally binding Paris accord which calls for real action to drastically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean and renewable energy by 2050.

This article was written by 

Easter Promo: Africell Cuts 4G MiFi Price

 

Africell is giving Ugandans an early Easter present. The telecom giant Monday unveiled an unbeatable MiFi offer at the cheapest price ever as a reward to data seeking customers.  For only Ushs115,000, this is the best offer under the internet segment in the market presently.

The technologically advanced 4G MiFi comes with free 10GB of data to last a month plus a free sim card. The high end device also has super speeds of more than 21Mbps with capacity to connect upto 10 Wifi users.

The battery lasts longer per charge with 1500 mAh power. This Mifi is presently rated the best in the market with its price being the lowest for that kind of offer

Besides the 4G Mifi, Africell has also lined other offers that include a 3G modem with 1GB of data for only 60,000 shillings, a Pixi 4G LTE smartphone with 500MB of data and a free sim card plus the lowly priced Itel 1403+ at only 125,000 shillings which comes with a free sim card 500 Mb of data and a huge 4 inch screen. The promotion started today and is available at Africell stores

Africell has from last year been engaged in an affordable price for all its services campaign offering the lowest prices for both data and voice. Milad Khairallah the Africell Chief Commercial Officer says this is in line with Africell’s vision to give the best services, at the lowest cost and with the highest quality of service backed by the widest coverage of their network.

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