WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS DAY – more FREE resources

WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS DAY -Non-discrimination – December 10th 2009

Do we agree on ‘DAYS’ ? One answer ,of course, is  to say if it  is that important, every day should be human rights day. And so it should. As human rights are so important for everyone,rich,poor,old,young,white,black…then everyone has a stake on whether it is important or not.

Anyway at least the day raises a little more  awareness leading to  action for the following year.

As usual INEE provides some good resources for educators around the globe and here is a sample. Go their website for more

Peter Hyll-Larsen from the Right to Education Project housed by ActionAid and the INEE Minimum Standards Update Focal Point for Rights as a cross cutting issue, has written a blog post to mark this thematic focus of World Human Rights Day –  Non-discrimination in education in emergencies: the fundamental challenge.

TOOL: Education in Emergencies – Including Everyone: INEE’s Pocket Guide to Inclusive Education

This is a quick reference guide to help practitioners make sure that education in emergencies is accessible and inclusive for everyone, particularly those who have been traditionally excluded from education. Addressing the immediate educational needs of a diverse range of learners during emergencies is often seen as challenging, especially during the acute phase. Questions about what inclusive education looks like in practice, and how it translates into emergency settings, are common. There is often a misunderstanding that greater stability is needed before efforts to reach excluded groups can move forward. However, there are actions that everyone involved in an emergency education response can take, from the start, to include more people in learning. This guide looks at how to make education in emergencies more accessible for everyone, particularly those often excluded from education.

The Pocket Guide is for anyone working to provide, manage or support education services in emergencies, and offers practical actions that stakeholders in education in an emergency can take to improve inclusion. The booklet provides three types of information:

  1. Advice on practical ways to make each stage of an emergency response moreinclusive
  2. Ideas for addressing resistance or lack of awareness of inclusive approaches among other stakeholders
  3. A selection of key resources and materials that offer more detailed ideas on making emergency education responses more inclusive of marginalized groups

Click here to download Education in Emergencies: Including Everyone, the INEE pocket guide to inclusive education.

You can also order hard copies of the Pocket Guide in English here.

You can pre-order French, Arabic and Spanish copies by emailing admin@ineesite.org.

WEBPAGE: The Right to Education Resource Webpage on Education and Discrimination

A collection of Human Rights documents on education and discrimination, including highlights from relevant international conventions and General Comments from the Council on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  Click here.

TRAINING MANUAL and TOOLKIT: Non-Discrimination in Emergencies

(Save the Children)

This training manual and toolkit builds on the experiences of Save the Children’s work in emergencies across the world and is applicable to man-made or natural emergencies. It draws on the experiences gained in the 2004 tsunami response and this is reflected in many of the examples used. The publication aims to provide easy-to-use training materials and tools for highlighting discrimination with partners, communities and children in all emergency contexts. The manual has three functions:

  • a manual for trainers who may be new to work on non-discrimination in emergencies, offering tips on designing training for diverse audiences;
  • to provide exercises to raise awareness and increase knowledge about discrimination in emergencies;
  • a toolkit of easy-to-use checklists and handouts for reference

To access this training manual and toolkit, please click here.

THEMATIC GUIDE: INEE Minimum Standards Toolkit Thematic Guide on Human Rights

(Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies)

This Thematic Guide draws together the most practical and concrete tools and resources relating to Human and Child Rights to help education practitioners and policymakers meet the INEE Minimum Standards. Click here to download this collation.

RESEARCH: Education in Emergencies in South Asia – Reducing the Risks Facing Vulnerable Children

(Centre for International Education and research, University of Birmingham and UNICEF ROSA)

This research study documents the range of vulnerabilities in the South Asia and some of the programming strategies to address these groups. There are also 8 country studies. The underlying principle of the research is that of non-exclusion, but also then enhancing capability for the future. The premise is that by creating and building on ‘good’ schools or learning spaces, founded on the rights of the child, the vulnerable will be more likely to have their concerns addressed.

For access to the complete study, please click here.

TRAINING MATERIALS: Making a Difference -Promoting Diversity and Tackling Discrimination

(Save the Children)

These materials have been prepared for Save the Children UK to help programme staff analyse how discrimination impacts on the lives of children, in order to plan effective programming responses. We hope the materials will be used widely by colleagues in organisations wishing to explore issues of diversity and discrimination.

The workshop activities are divided into four categories:

  • Awareness: for use with participants who have a limited awareness of diversity and discrimination issues; or who have a detailed knowledge of one issue of difference, but no experience of integrating other issues of difference into their work.
  • Assessment and analysis: for participants who already have an initial awareness of diversity and discrimination issues, but who lack, confidence or ideas for how to get started in applying the theory to practical planning, implementation and review. Some of these activities can also be adapted for use with partners and stakeholders as part of baseline research in planning and review processes, not just as staff training activities.
  • Action: provides frameworks to help participants implement actions to promote diversity and non-discrimination.
  • Gathering and verifying information: provides ideas for different ways of collecting and checking the information that participants will draw on when analyzing the current situation and developing plans for intervention.

To download these training materials, click here.

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Climate Change – the real truth?

Of course no matter what people say we do not know the truth but we may know some of the truths.

What is more troubling about the climate change debate is that, as usual, it is being hijacked. On one side climate change activists may leave out some important facts, because we are not all scientists and we would not understand ( I heard this argument put forward as a reason for children being excluded from the climate change debate -they are too young to understand).

On the other side -the climate change denyers/disbelievers -they often have vested interests and damn all evidence as being trumped up by governments who want to tax people more.

What has been forgotten is the sum total of our destructiveness – we have forgotten about the plundering of the tropical rain forests, overfishing of the oceans, urban pollution, destruction of habitat and species and the list gets longer each day. It is the sum total of our effects on our environment that we should be concerned about –  not just climate change. The evidence about climate change has to be seen in the context of recent human activities (which we know a lot about) and the broader climatic cycles that can only be interpreted through archaeological and geological studies (such as inter-glacial periods etc) which we are still learning about.

What do we know about?

Habitat destruction

Habitat destruction

The expansion of agricultural activity has led to the destruction of huge areas of natural habitats, including forests, grasslands and wetlands, in nearly all regions of the world. For tropical forests, the richest habitat for biodiversity, logging is typically the first major pressure, often providing access to remote areas and leading to further clearance and degradation. The expansion and development of urban areas and infrastructure also reduces natural habitats, and new roads give access to additional areas, which results in further losses. The relative importance of these factors varies in different parts of the world (box 2), but all play a significant part in the destruction of habitats and therefore in driving ecosystem change.

habitat destruction

Pollution

The urban areas of Europe, North and South America as well as Asia are some the world’s major producers of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution. Other significant polluters are the coal-fired power stations of South Africa and bio-mass burning in other parts of the African continent. Heavily used shipping lanes such as the Red Sea also contribute significantly to the earth’s man-made pollution.

These are some of the findings of 18 months of observations by the European Space Agency (ESA) satellite Envisat. The images produced by Envisat make clear the impact of human activities on air quality and the spread of urban pollution.

no2levels_europe

Overfishing

zambezi_overfishing

Is overfishing a problem?

The FAO scientists publish a two yearly report (SOFIA) on the state of the world’s fisheries and aquaculture. 2 The report is generally rather conservative regarding the acknowledging of problems but does show the main issues. In general it can be stated that the SOFIA report is a number of years behind time of the real situation.

  • 52% of fish stocks are fully exploited
  • 20% are moderately exploited
  • 17% are overexploited
  • 7% are depleted
  • 1% is recovering from depletion

The above shows that over 25% of all the world’s fish stocks are either overexploited or depleted. Another 52% is fully exploited, these are in imminent danger of overexploitation (maximum sustainable production level) and collapse. Thus a total of almost 80% of the world’s fisheries are fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse. Worldwide about 90% of the stocks of large predatory fish stocks are already gone. In the real world all this comes down to two serious problems.

  • We are losing species as well as entire ecosystems. As a result the overall ecological unity of our oceans are under stress and at risk of collapse.
  • We are in risk of losing a valuable food source many depend upon for social, economical or dietary reasons.

Examples of the outcomes from overfishing exist in areas such as the North Sea of Europe, the Grand Banks of North America and the East China Sea of Asia.[2] In these locations, overfishing has not only proved disastrous to fish stocks but also to the fishing communities relying on the harvest. Like other extractive industries such as forestry and hunting, fishery is susceptible to economic interaction between ownership or stewardship and sustainability, otherwise known as the tragedy of the commons.

And now the arguments about climate change (ref:BBC)

So what are their arguments, and how are they countered by scientists who assert that greenhouse gases, produced by human activity, are the cause of modern-day climate change?

1. EVIDENCE THAT THE EARTH’S TEMPERATURE IS GETTING WARMER IS UNCLEAR
Sceptic Counter
Instruments show there has been some warming of the Earth’s surface since 1979, but the actual value is subject to large errors. Most long-term data comes from surface weather stations. Many of these are in urban centres which have been expanding and using more energy. When these stations observe a temperature rise, they are simply measuring the “urban heat island effect”. In addition, coverage is patchy, with some regions of the world almost devoid of instruments. Data going back further than a century or two is derived from “proxy” indicators such as tree-rings and stalactites which, again, are subject to large errors. Warming is unequivocal. Ocean measurements, decreases in snow cover, reductions in Arctic sea ice, longer growing seasons, balloon measurements, boreholes and satellites all show results consistent with records from surface weather stations. The urban heat island effect is real but small; and it has been studied and corrected for. Analyses by Nasa, for example, use only rural stations to calculate trends. Research has shown that if you analyse long-term global temperature rise for windy days and calm days separately, there is no difference. If the urban heat island effect were large, you would expect to see more warming on calm days when more of the heat stays in the city. Furthermore, the pattern of warming globally doesn’t resemble the pattern of urbanisation, with the greatest warming seen in the Arctic and northern high latitudes. Globally, there is a warming trend of about 0.8C since 1900, more than half of which has occurred since 1979.
2. IF THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE WAS RISING, IT HAS NOW STOPPED
Sceptic Counter
Since 1998 – more than a decade – the record, as determined by observations from satellites and balloon radiosondes, shows no discernible warming. The year 1998 was exceptionally warm because of a strong El Nino event, while 2008 was unusually cold because of La Nina conditions. Variability from year to year is expected, and picking a specific warm year to start an analysis (or a cold one to end with) is “cherry-picking”. If you start in 1997 or 1999 you will see a sharp rise. Furthermore, while the UK Met Office regards 1998 as the hottest year yet, Nasa thinks it was 2005 (they use the same data but interpret it differently). According to the Met Office, the 10 warmest years in the modern record have all occurred since 1997.
3. THE EARTH HAS BEEN WARMER IN THE RECENT PAST
Sceptic Counter
The beginning of the last Millennium saw a “Medieval Warm Period” when temperatures, certainly in Europe, were higher than they are now. Grapes grew in northern England. Ice-bound mountain passes opened in the Alps. The Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than it is today. There have been many periods in Earth history that were warmer than today – for example, the last interglacial (125,000 years ago) or the Pliocene (three million years ago). Those variations were caused by solar forcing, the Earth’s orbital wobbles or continental configurations; but none of those factors is significant today compared with greenhouse warming. Evidence for a Medieval Warm Period outside Europe is patchy at best, and is often not contemporary with the warmth in Europe. As the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) puts it: “The idea of a global or hemispheric Medieval Warm Period that was warmer than today has turned out to be incorrect.” Additionally, although the Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than in the following few decades, it is now warmer still. One recent analysis showed it is warmer now than at any time in the last 2,000 years.
4. COMPUTER MODELS ARE NOT RELIABLE
Sceptic Counter
Computer models are the main way of projecting future climate change. But despite decades of development they are unable to model all the processes involved; for example, the influence of clouds, the distribution of water vapour, the impact of warm seawater on ice-shelves and the response of plants to changes in water supply. Climate models follow the old maxim of “you put garbage in, you get garbage out”. Models will never be perfect and they will never be able to forecast the future exactly. However, they are tested and validated against all sorts of data. Over the last 20 years they have become able to simulate more physical, chemical and biological processes, and work on smaller spatial scales. The 2007 IPCC report produced regional climate projections in detail that would have been impossible in its 2001 assessment. All of the robust results from modelling are backed up by theoretical science or observations.
5. THE ATMOSPHERE IS NOT BEHAVING AS MODELS WOULD PREDICT
Sceptic Counter
Computer models predict that the lower levels of the atmosphere, the troposphere, should be warming faster than the Earth’s surface. Measurements show the opposite. So either the models are failing, or one set of measurements is flawed, or there are holes in our understanding of the science. Interpretation of the satellite data has not always been straightforward – but it does not show the opposite of what computer models predict. Two separate analyses show consistent warming, one faster than the surface and one slightly less fast. Information from balloons has its own problems but the IPCC concluded in 2007: “For the period since 1958, overall global and tropical tropospheric warming estimated from radiosondes has slightly exceeded surface warming”.
6. CLIMATE IS MAINLY INFLUENCED BY THE SUN
Sceptic Counter
Earth history shows climate has regularly responded to cyclical changes in the Sun’s energy output. Any warming we see can be attributed mainly to variations in the Sun’s magnetic field and solar wind. Solar variations do affect climate, but they are not the only factor. As there has been no positive trend in any solar index since the 1960s (and a negative trend more recently), solar forcing cannot be responsible for the recent temperature trends. The difference between the solar minimum and solar maximum over the 11-year solar cycle is 10 times smaller than the effect of greenhouse gases over the same interval.
7. A CARBON DIOXIDE RISE HAS ALWAYS COME AFTER A TEMPERATURE INCREASE NOT BEFORE
Sceptic Counter
Ice-cores dating back nearly one million years show a pattern of temperature and CO2 rise at roughly 100,000-year intervals. But the CO2 rise has always come after the temperature rise, not before, presumably as warmer temperatures have liberated the gas from oceans. This is largely true, but largely irrelevant. Ancient ice-cores do show CO2 rising after temperature by a few hundred years – a timescale associated with the ocean response to atmospheric changes mainly driven by wobbles in the Earth’s orbit. However, this time, CO2 is leading temperature. Furthermore, the situation today is dramatically different. The extra CO2 in the atmosphere (35% increase over pre-industrial levels) is from man-made emissions, and levels are higher than have been seen in 650,000 years of ice-core records. They may in fact be higher than at any time in the last three million years.
8. LONG-TERM DATA ON HURRICANES AND ARCTIC ICE IS TOO POOR TO ASSESS TRENDS
Sceptic Counter
Before the era of satellite observation began in the 1970s, measurements were ad-hoc and haphazard. Hurricanes would be reported only if they hit land or shipping. The extent of Arctic ice was measured only during expeditions. The satellite record for these phenomena is too short to justify claims that hurricanes are becoming stronger or more frequent, or that there is anything exceptional about the apparent shrinkage in Arctic ice up to 2007. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment project notes that systematic collection of data in parts of the Arctic began in the late 18th Century. The US National Hurricane Center notes that “organised reconnaissance” for Atlantic storms began in 1944. So although historical data is not as complete as one might like, conclusions can still be drawn from it. And the IPCC does not claim that global warming will make hurricanes more frequent – its 2007 report says that if anything, they are likely to become less frequent, but more intense.
9. WATER VAPOUR IS THE MAJOR GREENHOUSE GAS; CO2 IS RELATIVELY UNIMPORTANT
Sceptic Counter
The natural greenhouse effect keeps the Earth’s surface about 33C warmer than it would otherwise be. Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, accounting for about 98% of all warming. So changes in carbon dioxide or methane concentrations would have a relatively small impact. Water vapour concentrations are rising, but this does not necessarily increase warming – it depends how the water vapour is distributed. The statement that water vapour is “98% of the greenhouse effect” is simply false. In fact, it does about 50% of the work; clouds add another 25%, with CO2 and the other greenhouse gases contributing the remaining quarter. Water vapour concentrations are increasing in response to rising temperatures, and there is evidence that this is adding to warming, for example in Europe. The fact that water vapour is a feedback is included in all climate models.
10. PROBLEMS SUCH AS HIV/AIDS AND POVERTY ARE MORE PRESSING THAN CLIMATE CHANGE
Sceptic Counter
The Kyoto Protocol has not reduced emissions of greenhouse gases noticeably. The targets were too low, applied only to certain countries, and have been rendered meaningless by loopholes. Many governments that enthuse about the treaty and want a successor are not going to meet the reduction targets that they signed up to in Kyoto. Even if it is real, man-made climate change is just one problem among many facing the world’s rich and poor alike. Governments and societies should respond proportionately, not pretend that climate is a special case. Poorer countries should not be forced to constrain their emissions and therefore their economic growth, as they will be under a Copenhagen treaty. Some economists believe that a warmer climate would, on balance, improve lives. Arguments over the Kyoto Protocol are outside the realms of science, although it certainly has not reduced greenhouse gas emissions as far or as fast as the IPCC indicates is necessary. The latest IPCC Working Group 2 report suggest that the impact of man-made climate change will on balance be deleterious, particular to the poorer countries of the tropics, although colder regions may see benefits such as increased crop yields. Investment in energy efficiency, new energy technologies and renewables are likely to benefit the developing world. A Copenhagen treaty would not force emission constraints on the world’s poorest countries – in fact, it will funnel money to them for technology and climate protection, helping clean growth. More affluent developing countries – including China – will have to constrain their emissions growth but they agreed to this at the 2007 Bali summit.
In case the two columns are not completely visible,I will try and separate them for ease of use:

1. EVIDENCE THAT THE EARTH’S TEMPERATURE IS GETTING WARMER IS UNCLEAR

Sceptic

Instruments show there has been some warming of the Earth’s surface since 1979, but the actual value is subject to large errors. Most long-term data comes from surface weather stations. Many of these are in urban centres which have been expanding and using more energy. When these stations observe a temperature rise, they are simply measuring the “urban heat island effect”. In addition, coverage is patchy, with some regions of the world almost devoid of instruments. Data going back further than a century or two is derived from “proxy” indicators such as tree-rings and stalactites which, again, are subject to large errors.

Counter

Warming is unequivocal. Ocean measurements, decreases in snow cover, reductions in Arctic sea ice, longer growing seasons, balloon measurements, boreholes and satellites all show results consistent with records from surface weather stations. The urban heat island effect is real but small; and it has been studied and corrected for. Analyses by Nasa, for example, use only rural stations to calculate trends. Research has shown that if you analyse long-term global temperature rise for windy days and calm days separately, there is no difference. If the urban heat island effect were large, you would expect to see more warming on calm days when more of the heat stays in the city. Furthermore, the pattern of warming globally doesn’t resemble the pattern of urbanisation, with the greatest warming seen in the Arctic and northern high latitudes. Globally, there is a warming trend of about 0.8C since 1900, more than half of which has occurred since 1979.

2. IF THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE WAS RISING, IT HAS NOW STOPPED

Sceptic

Since 1998 – more than a decade – the record, as determined by observations from satellites and balloon radiosondes, shows no discernible warming.

The year 1998 was exceptionally warm because of a strong El Nino event, while 2008 was unusually cold because of La Nina conditions. Variability from year to year is expected, and picking a specific warm year to start an analysis (or a cold one to end with) is “cherry-picking”. If you start in 1997 or 1999 you will see a sharp rise. Furthermore, while the UK Met Office regards 1998 as the hottest year yet, Nasa thinks it was 2005 (they use the same data but interpret it differently). According to the Met Office, the 10 warmest years in the modern record have all occurred since 19

3. THE EARTH HAS BEEN WARMER IN THE RECENT PAST

Sceptic

The beginning of the last Millennium saw a “Medieval Warm Period” when temperatures, certainly in Europe, were higher than they are now. Grapes grew in northern England. Ice-bound mountain passes opened in the Alps. The Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than it is today

Counter

There have been many periods in Earth history that were warmer than today – for example, the last interglacial (125,000 years ago) or the Pliocene (three million years ago). Those variations were caused by solar forcing, the Earth’s orbital wobbles or continental configurations; but none of those factors is significant today compared with greenhouse warming. Evidence for a Medieval Warm Period outside Europe is patchy at best, and is often not contemporary with the warmth in Europe. As the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) puts it: “The idea of a global or hemispheric Medieval Warm Period that was warmer than today has turned out to be incorrect.” Additionally, although the Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than in the following few decades, it is now warmer still. One recent analysis showed it is warmer now than at any time in the last 2,000 years.

4.computer models

Computer models are the main way of projecting future climate change. But despite decades of development they are unable to model all the processes involved; for example, the influence of clouds, the distribution of water vapour, the impact of warm seawater on ice-shelves and the response of plants to changes in water supply. Climate models follow the old maxim of “you put garbage in, you get garbage out”.

counter

Models will never be perfect and they will never be able to forecast the future exactly. However, they are tested and validated against all sorts of data. Over the last 20 years they have become able to simulate more physical, chemical and biological processes, and work on smaller spatial scales. The 2007 IPCC report produced regional climate projections in detail that would have been impossible in its 2001 assessment. All of the robust results from modelling are backed up by theoretical science or observations.

5. THE ATMOSPHERE IS NOT BEHAVING AS MODELS WOULD PREDICT

Sceptic

Computer models predict that the lower levels of the atmosphere, the troposphere, should be warming faster than the Earth’s surface. Measurements show the opposite. So either the models are failing, or one set of measurements is flawed, or there are holes in our understanding of the science.

Counter

Interpretation of the satellite data has not always been straightforward – but it does not show the opposite of what computer models predict. Two separate analyses show consistent warming, one faster than the surface and one slightly less fast. Information from balloons has its own problems but the IPCC concluded in 2007: “For the period since 1958, overall global and tropical tropospheric warming estimated from radiosondes has slightly exceeded surface warming”.

6. CLIMATE IS MAINLY INFLUENCED BY THE SUN

Sceptic

Earth history shows climate has regularly responded to cyclical changes in the Sun’s energy output. Any warming we see can be attributed mainly to variations in the Sun’s magnetic field and solar wind.

Counter

Solar variations do affect climate, but they are not the only factor. As there has been no positive trend in any solar index since the 1960s (and a negative trend more recently), solar forcing cannot be responsible for the recent temperature trends. The difference between the solar minimum and solar maximum over the 11-year solar cycle is 10 times smaller than the effect of greenhouse gases over the same interval.

7. A CARBON DIOXIDE RISE HAS ALWAYS COME AFTER A TEMPERATURE INCREASE NOT BEFORE

Sceptic

ce-cores dating back nearly one million years show a pattern of temperature and CO2 rise at roughly 100,000-year intervals. But the CO2 rise has always come after the temperature rise, not before, presumably as warmer temperatures have liberated the gas from oceans.

Counter

This is largely true, but largely irrelevant. Ancient ice-cores do show CO2 rising after temperature by a few hundred years – a timescale associated with the ocean response to atmospheric changes mainly driven by wobbles in the Earth’s orbit. However, this time, CO2 is leading temperature. Furthermore, the situation today is dramatically different. The extra CO2 in the atmosphere (35% increase over pre-industrial levels) is from man-made emissions, and levels are higher than have been seen in 650,000 years of ice-core records.

8. LONG-TERM DATA ON HURRICANES AND ARCTIC ICE IS TOO POOR TO ASSESS TREN

Sceptic

Before the era of satellite observation began in the 1970s, measurements were ad-hoc and haphazard. Hurricanes would be reported only if they hit land or shipping. The extent of Arctic ice was measured only during expeditions. The satellite record for these phenomena is too short to justify claims that hurricanes are becoming stronger or more frequent, or that there is anything exceptional about the apparent shrinkage in Arctic ice up to 2007.

Counter

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment project notes that systematic collection of data in parts of the Arctic began in the late 18th Century. The US National Hurricane Center notes that “organised reconnaissance” for Atlantic storms began in 1944. So although historical data is not as complete as one might like, conclusions can still be drawn from it. And the IPCC does not claim that global warming will make hurricanes more frequent – its 2007 report says that if anything, they are likely to become less frequent, but more intense.

9. WATER VAPOUR IS THE MAJOR GREENHOUSE GAS; CO2 IS RELATIVELY UNIMPORTANT

Sceptic

The natural greenhouse effect keeps the Earth’s surface about 33C warmer than it would otherwise be. Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, accounting for about 98% of all warming. So changes in carbon dioxide or methane concentrations would have a relatively small impact. Water vapour concentrations are rising, but this does not necessarily increase warming – it depends how the water vapour is distributed.

Counter

The statement that water vapour is “98% of the greenhouse effect” is simply false. In fact, it does about 50% of the work; clouds add another 25%, with CO2 and the other greenhouse gases contributing the remaining quarter. Water vapour concentrations are increasing in response to rising temperatures, and there is evidence that this is adding to warming, for example in Europe. The fact that water vapour is a feedback is included in all climate models.

10.PROBLEMS SUCH AS HIV/AIDS AND POVERTY ARE MORE PRESSING THAN CLIMATE CHANGE

Sceptic

he Kyoto Protocol has not reduced emissions of greenhouse gases noticeably. The targets were too low, applied only to certain countries, and have been rendered meaningless by loopholes. Many governments that enthuse about the treaty and want a successor are not going to meet the reduction targets that they signed up to in Kyoto. Even if it is real, man-made climate change is just one problem among many facing the world’s rich and poor alike. Governments and societies should respond proportionately, not pretend that climate is a special case. Poorer countries should not be forced to constrain their emissions and therefore their economic growth, as they will be under a Copenhagen treaty. Some economists believe that a warmer climate would, on balance, improve lives.

Counter

Arguments over the Kyoto Protocol are outside the realms of science, although it certainly has not reduced greenhouse gas emissions as far or as fast as the IPCC indicates is necessary. The latest IPCC Working Group 2 report suggest that the impact of man-made climate change will on balance be deleterious, particular to the poorer countries of the tropics, although colder regions may see benefits such as increased crop yields. Investment in energy efficiency, new energy technologies and renewables are likely to benefit the developing world. A Copenhagen treaty would not force emission constraints on the world’s poorest countries – in fact, it will funnel money to them for technology and climate protection, helping clean growth. More affluent developing countries – including China – will have to constrain their emissions growth but they agreed to this at the 2007 Bali summit

THE DEBATE CONTINUES ONLINE …….

A selection of web sites and blogs.

IPCC

UN climate convention

British Antarctic Survey

Climate Audit

Climatic Research Unit,

Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies

realclimate.org

Science and Environmental Policy Project

UK Met Office

Hadley Centre National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

UN Environment Programme data centre

US National Snow and Ice Data Center

World Meteorological Organization

Brave New Climate

Climate Change: The Next Generation

Climate Debate Daily

Climate Sanity

CO2 Science

Deltoid – global warming

Grist – climate and energy

James’ Empty Blog

Roger Pielke Jr.’s Blog

New Scientist – climate


Human Rights Day – Embrace Diversity, End Discrimination

Human Rights Day 2009 focuses on ending discrimination, under the theme Embrace Diversity, End Discrimination.

“Discrimination lies at the root of many of the world’s most pressinghuman rights problems. No country is immune from this scourge. Eliminating discrimination is a duty of the highest order,” said Navi Pillay, U. N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. ““Our main objective is to help promote discrimination-free societies and a world of equal treatment for all,” she said.

The High Commissioner encouraged people everywhere to join hands in celebration of Human Rights Day to speak out and act to advocate non-discrimination and raise awareness in their local communities.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted December 10, 1948 by the international community, has served as a beacon of hope. The Declaration has been translated into more than 360 languages. It holds the Guinness World Record for most translated document in the world.

“The extraordinary vision and determination of the drafters produced a document that for the first time set out universal human rights for all people in an individual context,” U. N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

Many countries have incorporated provisions of the Declaration into their Constitutions and laws. The principles of the Declarationform the basis of numerous actions taken by the nations of the world.

Join hands to end discrimination

All human rights work can be viewed through the non-discrimination lens. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status.

These stories describe its impact on peoples’ lives and the work everyone can support to end discrimination.

Quality Education for Indigenous Peoples

The enjoyment of the right to education is not fully realized for most indigenous peoples. The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says that without access to quality education indigenous communities will not be able to fully enjoy their rights. The Expert Mechanism is a group of five independent specialists who provide expertise on the rights of indigenous peoples to the Human Rights Council.

In their report to the Council on the right of indigenous peoples to education the experts say, “Deprivation of access to quality education is a major factor contributing to social marginalization, poverty and dispossession of indigenous peoples”.

The report makes the case that designing education programs for indigenous communities must take into account many factors that acknowledge the special needs of these communities. Indigenous students cannot be forced into mainstream education systems which do not integrate indigenous culture, it says.
An approach using a single model is inappropriate because of the diversity of indigenous peoples.

Promoting “indigenous perspectives, innovations and practices in an environment that replicates traditional ways of learning” is another interest of the Expert Mechanism. This includes having mother-tongue based bilingual and multilingual education at the primary as well as at higher levels. Indigenous languages should be integrated into the teaching programs. The report proposes that community members be trained as language teachers and the development of indigenous literacy material.

The report identifies gender issues as a common impediment to education for both boys and girls in indigenous communities. In fact, girls are regularly prevented from attending school. The report found that “families often prefer girls to remain at home to perform domestic chores and care for children and siblings”. When put together with other discrimination issues, this has serious social consequences for the indigenous communities.

The Expert Mechanism says that indigenous peoples have the “right to educational autonomy” including “the right to decide their own educational priorities […] as well as the right to establish and control their own educational systems and institutions, if they so choose”.

The report recommends too that human rights education be included in schools to encourage cooperation between the different cultures. The Expert Mechanism advises that “learning about human rights is the first step towards respecting, promoting and defending the rights of all individuals and peoples.” For this to happen, States must ensure funding for appropriate teaching materials and the recruitment of indigenous teachers. Education is identified by the report as “one of the best long-term financial investments that States can make.” This year on December 10, celebrate Human Rights Day by joining together to celebrate diversity and end discrimination.

22 October 2009

A story of modern slavery

The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences, Gulnara Shahinian, in her latest report to the Human Rights Council, has called for comprehensive global action to eliminate the practice of bonded labour which she describes as a form of slavery. Quoting data from the International Labour Organisation, the Special Rapporteur says at a minimum, more than 12 million people are living as forced labourers. The causes are many – poverty, demand for cheap labour, unemployment, national or global crises.

“Time and realities may have changed,” Shahinian says, “but the core essence of slavery persists in modern economies. In its modern forms, we find forced labour in agriculture, domestic servitude, the garment industry, the construction industry and prostitution and in the supply chains of mainstream companies.”

Bonded labour occurs when a person offers their services in exchange for the repayment of a debt and, as part of the arrangement, loses control over work conditions and the length of the agreement. Usually there are no safeguards attached to the agreement that would normally be found with a regular loan such as reasonable conditions of repayment or agreed interest rates. Often the employer uses the debt to force individuals to work in exploitative conditions: bonded labourers commonly work very long hours, for very low wages and with no days off.

Technically, bonded labourers can end their state of servitude once the debt is repaid but as the report points out, this seldom happens. Debtors are often illiterate, lack basic maths skills and are easy prey for money lenders.

In building a profile of this form of forced labour the Special Rapporteur has found poverty first and foremost plays a crucial role: the vast majority of bonded labourers are chronically poor. Consequently, they often have little or no education, they are mostly from socially excluded groups, including indigenous people, minorities and migrants and they are more vulnerable because in many cases they have limited access to land where they might otherwise earn a living.

The Special Rapporteur is concerned that in the eyes of many, human trafficking and bonded labour are one and the same. Shahinian says seeing forced labour only through the prism of trafficking means that the magnitude of the problem is seriously underestimated. “Forced labour which may occur in the informal sector, in supply chains and export processing zones, within indigenous or minority populations and in rural areas – the overwhelming majority – is not addressed,” she says.

International efforts to sign, ratify, enforce and monitor the slavery conventions “pale in comparison” to those for trafficking, she says. Given the gravity of the human rights violations associated with bonded labour and the millions of people affected by such practices in every part of the world, it is important, the Special Rapporteur says that slavery be given its due prominence and attention.

Shahinian acknowledges that many countries have ratified the slavery conventions and the relevant conventions of the International Labour Organization. However, where laws on forced labour exist, their enforcement is limited and Shahinian says there are very few policies and programmes specifically directed at bonded labour. “Comprehensive action to eliminate this phenomenon,” she says, “requires strong political will and the coordinated actions of many Governments to enforce international law and protect the rights of all.”

4 November, 2009

Peter Gabriel and the HUB

It was an ordinary day of skateboarding dog videos on YouTube last November when a harrowing clip appeared. The grainy shots from Egypt showed police officers beating and sodomizing a man with a nightstick. The clip had been distributed by Egyptian bloggers Wael Abbas and Hossam el-Hamalawy as a call to action against police brutality.

There was one problem. YouTube has strict guidelines against graphic sexual or violent material, and suspended the bloggers’ account. Eventually the story got picked up by other bloggers and the mainstream media, and sparked international outrage that led to the prosecution of the offending officers and the reactivation of Abbas and el-Hamalawy’s YouTube account.

But with thousands of undocumented abuses playing out around the world every day, the episode highlighted the potential for an online-video network devoted to human rights. Filling that void is the Hub (hub.witness.org), a video-sharing Web site launched by ex-rock star Peter Gabriel to empower people to document and publicize unseen atrocities. Now in beta, the Hub allows anyone around the world to submit clips to a central site where its target audience of activists can connect and take action. “It’s a YouTube for human rights,” Gabriel says. And it shows how the dynamics of social networking can be applied in powerful new ways.

The Hub is an offshoot of Witness, the Brooklyn-based human-rights nonprofit that Gabriel started in 1992 after learning the extent of abuses worldwide while headlining a concert tour sponsored by Amnesty International. “What I found extraordinary was that people could suffer in this way and have their stories completely buried,” he says. “But it seemed like whenever there was video evidence, it was very hard to deny and bury and forget.”

For the past 16 years, Witness has provided video cameras to carefully selected activists and community leaders in more than 100 countries. The group has amassed one of the largest existing collections of human-rights-abuse footage and has shown its videos to policy makers and human-rights groups around the world. There have been plenty of success stories as a result, from the arrest of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo for war crimes in the Congo to raising money for land-mine victims in Senegal. Just last year, “Crying Sun,” a Witness video on the impact of war on the community of the North Caucasus mountains, was presented to Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, whose private militia had been widely criticized by human-rights organizations. Afterward, Kadyrov funded the rebuilding of homes, a school, a medical center, and other infrastructure.

Some links

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Alliances for Africa

Amnesty International

Arab Organization for Human Rights

Asian Human Rights Commission

Carter Center

Centre for Human Rights
(University of Pretoria, South Africa)

Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
(Washington College of Law, American University)

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Derechos Human Rights

European Court of Human Rights

Human and Constitutional Rights (Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Columbia Law School )

Human Rights Internet

Human Rights Library
(University of Minnesota)

Human Rights Watch

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

International Committee of the Red Cross

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

International Federation of Human Rights Leagues

International Institute of Human Rights

Rights International

Universal Rights Network

Women’s Human Rights


Climate change – Vietnam

Vietnam is a rapidly developing country and education still has a long way to go. Although there is a subject called social and environmental studies, the curriculum ,teaching methods and learning  process still does not prepare students for a rapidly changing world -particularly in terms of creative and problem solving activities for students. Below is the prime minister’s input to COP15:

Vietnam Responds to Climate Change

Climate change, shown by global warming and rising sea level, is one of the biggest challenges to mankind in the 21st century. The escalation in both frequency and severity of natural disasters and other extreme climate phenomena is the talk of the day in many countries around the world. Responding to climate change requires not only efforts from individual countries, but also the joint actions on the global scale for both mitigation and adaptation.

H.E. Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam 30/11/2009 16:05

In the past 50 years, Vietnam has witnessed a lot of climatic changes. For instance, the average temperature has increased by 0.5 – 0.7oC, the normal sea level has risen by 20cm, and the number of typhoons and tropical depressions rises to 7 or 8 a year. Though preventive measures have been actively taken, losses and damages from disasters are extremely severe for Vietnam. In the last 10 years alone, natural disasters have cost Vietnam around 800 lives and 1.5% of GDP a year.

According to the latest estimates, in 2100 Vietnam’s average temperature could increase by another 2.3oC and the sea level could rise by 75 to 100cm. Many areas in Vietnam could be submerged. The Mekong River delta, which produces more than 50% of rice and contributes 90% of rice export of Vietnam, could see 19-38% of its current land area submerged. Vietnam is among the few countries worst affected by the impacts of climate change, especially by rising sea level due to its long coastline that harbours many densely economic areas and communities. Moreover, the coastal communities are heavily dependent on the weather and climate because of their agricultural, fishery and forestry production. Though full assessment is yet available, it could still be confirmed that climate change has been the biggest and apparent challenge to the protection of food security in Vietnam and the world, threatening the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and the path to poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Being a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, Vietnam has been making its own efforts and closely cooperating with the world community to respond to impacts of climate change in conformity with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” specified in the UNFCCC. The Vietnamese Government has actively been implementing the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol and has attained concrete results. The Vietnamese population is 1% of world population and the carbon dioxide emission is only 0.4% of the world. Vietnam has submitted its First National Report to the UNFCCC and is now preparing the second one. The Vietnamese Government has also approved the National Strategy on prevention and mitigation of natural disasters to 2020, published the scenarios on climate change and rising sea level to 2100.

Meanwhile, to actively respond to climate change, the Vietnamese Government approved in 2008 the National Target Programme to Respond to Climate Change (NTP-RCC). The strategic objective of the NTP-RCC is to assess the impacts of climate change on industries, sectors and provinces in each periods, and to have feasible action plans to effectively respond to climate change in both the short- and long-term to ensure sustainable development, tap all the opportunities for economic development on the low-carbon path, use energy effectively and economically, explore and use effectively new energy sources, replace fossil fuels by renewable energy, and to develop green industries. Based on climate change and sea-level rise scenarios, Vietnam is assessing the possible impacts and formulating suitable responses.

Vietnam considers responding to climate change, especially to sea-level rise as an important and crucial task to attain sustained socio-economic development. Together with domestic efforts, Vietnam has actively promoted international cooperation to have coordinated actions, joining the international community to effectively respond to climate change, protect the climatic system on Earth, prevent and mitigate natural disasters. Vietnam is committed to effectively implement measures to reduce Green House Gases (GHG) emissions with the active support of developed countries and the international community.
The Copenhagen Conference is an important milestone in the course of implementation of the Bali Roadmap. At this Conference, Vietnam brings to the world the following understandings:

First, Earth is our common house that requires the collective efforts and contributions from all nations in the fight against climate change.

Second, the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol should remain as fundamental legal documents for the international community to respond to climate change. However, the Kyoto Protocol should be revised and amended to incorporate new provisions for high GHG emission countries.

Third, developed countries should take the lead in making strong mid-term and long-term commitments on GHG reduction. These commitments should be quantifiable, reportable and verifiable in order to limit the increase of global mean temperature to not over 2¬¬0 C by the end of this century.

Fourth, developed countries should provide appropriate financial and technological assistance to countries seriously affected by climate change, especially by sea-level rise, through new financial and technology transfer mechanisms and the access to the adaptation fund.

Fifth, countries including Vietnam, which are most vulnerable to climate change and especially sea-level rise, should be given prioritised mechanisms and special supports in financing and technological transferring, and assisted to strengthen capacity to respond to climate change by high GHG emission countries. The international community should have a coordination body and develop a special support programme for these countries to effectively respond to climate change, and especially to sea-level rise.

Sixth, developing countries should actively contribute to the global efforts by developing and implementing National Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) on a voluntary basis to ensure sustainable development.
As a country providing a fifth of world food exports and also a country among the few worst affected by climate change, especially sea-level rise, Vietnam is particularly grateful for the international assistance so far and would urge for more international support in order to effectively address this challenge so as to contribute more to global food security.

COP15 : Children’s climate change forum

The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides articles which support the right of children to express their views and more importantly have the right to have their voice heard.

During the run-up to COP15 (UN Climate Change Conference 2009) a children’s climate forum has been organised.

The one message that the adults need to hear is  ‘involve us in the climate change analysis and decision making as it is the world that we will inherit from you”

  • Children’s Climate Forum kicks off in Copenhagen

Children of the world are making their voices heard in the lead up to COP15.

Marie Sauer-Johansen “You will become frontrunners of your generation. You are the future, and I hope that you will remember Copenhagen as the beginning when you look back 10-20 years from now,” said Else Sommer from City of Copenhagen’s Department of Children and Family Care as she opened the Children’s Climate  Forum on November 28.

The symbolism could not be stronger when the delegates, 165 children from 44 countries, plastered handprints in all the colours of the rainbow on a large globe and lifted it up, declaring the forum open.

“Children have a great ability to communicate, because we can hold hands and unite. While we are here, we can teach each other a lot about our cultures and  what we are going through in our countries. We can come up with ideas of how to mitigate the effects of cliamte change to protect our environment, our countries, and the world at large, ” says Vanessa Njovu from the Zambian delegation.

Over the next week the children will share their local experiences of climate change and debate solutions, concluding in a resolution to be handed over to Connie Hedegaard, Minister for the UN Climate Change Conference 2009, at the close of the forum.

The forum is a collaboration between UNICEF, the City of Copenhagen and 22 Danish school classes acting as hosts for the visiting children.

Many of the child delegations represent ‘at risk’ countries, particularly vulnerable to climate change, such as Konduani Joe Banda from Zambia, a country struggling with droughts and heavy rain falls.

“The effects of climate change have been taking place gradually over the last five years in Zambia. If the sea levels rise in other countries, we see floods in Zambia, resulting in the spread of disease. Rain falls are also happening at the wrong time, and the country suffers under deforestation,” explains Mr. Banda.

After the forum, the children are to educate other children in their home countries on climate change issues.

And what is the message from the children to the adults at COP15, so far?

“Children are the grass roots of all nations, so if our opinion is taken into consideration it can affect the world at large.  My message to the negotiators is less talk, more action. We want to see that the conference actually has an impact,” concludes Mr. Banda.

Check this site also:

considerus.org – a voice for children on climate change

A View Inside Primary Schools – a UNESCO report

Human Rights Day (10th December) has non-discrimination as its theme so it may be worth exploring inequalities in primary classrooms through a recent UNESCO report.

This new study highlights the strong effect of social inequality on primary education systems in many countries and the challenge to provide all children with equal learning opportunities.

AbdelhakSenna

The World Education Indicators’ Survey of Primary Schools (WEI-SPS) offers unique insight into the classrooms of 11 diverse countries* in order to understand and monitor the factors shaping the quality and equality of primary education. It examines the main issues and inputs shaping primary schools: the background characteristics of pupils; demographic and educational characteristics of teachers and school heads; school resources and conditions; instructional time; school management; teaching and learning styles in the classroom; as well as learning opportunities provided to pupils.

The survey was designed to ensure that these data could be compared internationally. It serves as a valuable resource for everyone interested in education quality and equity – from policymakers to teachers and academics. By analyzing the diverse components and issues shaping policies and programmes regarding primary schools, the study can be used to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of educational systems. Furthermore, the comparative nature of the study allows each participating country to evaluate its position in relation to others in terms of the inputs, policies and processes of schools. These comparisons must obviously be interpreted within the unique traditions and contexts of each education system. But this framework will serve as a resource now and in the years to come for those committed to improving educational quality and equality.

For access to the study, please visit:

http://www.uis.unesco.org/template/pdf/wei/sps/Report.pdf

Teacher Training for Psychosocial Care and Protection of Children in Emergencies -excellent free resource for trainers

In the latest Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies Bi-Weekly Bulletin INEE (December 2009 Volume 1) there is reference to an excellent UNICEF resource for trainers/teachers who are involved in education programs in emergencies.

Here is the introduction to the resource:

In order to strengthen its efforts to promote psychosocial support within educational programming in emergencies, UNICEF has developed teacher-training materials to promote greater understanding of the impact of and effective responses to the psychosocial impact of emergencies on learners. The aim of this training is to improve the psychosocial well being of children in emergency environments. However, vulnerability is something many children experience in their developmental stages of growth and learning, so the skills learned during this training can be utilized by all teachers in the everyday classroom context. Over the course of the training, teachers will be exposed to innovative thinking and discussion whereby they will be able to implement identified goals and plans in order to provide a psychologically and emotionally safer environment for all children in their
school.

This manual is grounded in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Taskforce (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (MHPSS), which outline appropriate minimum responses and standards for psychosocial support and mental health in emergencies. In addition, this manual promotes the standards set forth in the INEE Minimum Standards.

Pirozzi

Initial pilot sessions of the training have shown that maximum results are achieved when the approach to psychosocial support by teachers is mainstreamed into the school curriculum and extra-curricular activities. There may be significant relevance to school counsellors as well, though the materials may require some adaptation for their training. Providing exposure to the content for administrators and other school personnel helps to ensure acceptance and sustainability of the programme, as well as a consistency of approach throughout the school system. The materials are oriented towards experienced teachers who already possess strong teaching skills. Shortened or modified versions of the training should be developed to meet the differing needs and capabilities of education personnel other than skilled teachers.

For access to the manual please click here.

The resource is a comprehensive 5 day facilitation guide, and would be useful for all teacher trainers, not just those working in emergency contexts, as it is important to consider children’s psychosocial well being  no matter where they live.