Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Critical Goals of COP21 (UNCC Summit, Paris 2015)


5 Demands from UN Climate Change Summit 2015

The 5 Critical Goals of COP21





Many countries have submitted national pledges to cut carbon emissions ahead of COP21, the Paris 2015 UN Climate Change Summit (30 November – 11 December 2015).  Unfortunately, the collective commitment is simply “too little, too late” which would instead warm the world at least from 2.7°C (Celsius) according to the UN. Truth is it is not enough to prevent dangerous warming.  Radical mindset changes in strategic and planning paradigms are needed even as countries attempted to “tweak” improvements in their respective pledges to achieve the long-term goal that is consistent with limiting global warming.



The 2015 Paris Meeting hopes for the first time over 20 years of UN negotiations to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on containing climate change, specifically by keeping global warming below 2°C.



The 5 Critical Goals of COP21

Failure to achieve any of these in a significantly meaningful manner will doom COP21 to be truly the “last best hope” for earth’s survival before we are literally burnt off this planet which we have repeatedly abused and misused its resources.



[1]  Global Climate Leadership

No one wants to repeat the crazy last minute drama at the  2009 Copenhagen Summit when various national leaders were hopeful for a binding global deal which did not materialize but ended with a lame “letter of intent”.  Then and now, there is no one even among the most powerful world leaders who possess the passion, enthusiasm and active leadership to lead this charge. 

  

Once again, COP21 participants can expect world leaders to lecture them from their often limited understanding or mis-understanding of the impact of climate change on themselves and their people. A sharper sense and vision of the greater global good must prevail this time to embrace inclusiveness instead of acrimonious blame-attribution for their political constituents back home. 



It is disingenuous to always blame China and India, who are only fast growing industrial nations in the last decade, for their associated carbon emissions when other G20 nations are actually be more culpable for the cumulative carbon emissions over the past 40-90 years leading to the global warming and unacceptable climate change today.



Global warming has become dangerously real and impending irrespective of one’s agreement with climate science.  Merely holding global temperature increase to less than 2°C is indeed long overdue, but is at best delusional given the absence of global climate leadership among leaders of the world’s top 20 nations who are also mainly responsible for the most carbon emissions.



An Eminent Group of World Climate Leaders (EGWCL) should emerge at COP21.  They are thought-leaders who set examples for themselves through personal examples and innovative thinking which are evident in their own countries.  They do not have to be politicians; just serious and intelligent persons who are passionate in the interest for the greater good and a leaner, better, more equal and equitable society.    



[2]  Corporate Responsibility and Accountability

Many major global companies of many G20 and developing nations are among notorious long-term polluters like oil and mining companies. They should be regarded as climate criminals and held more culpable and responsible for the pollutions and carbon emissions from their worldwide operations, including within India, China and many developing countries.  COP21 should initiate international legal and regulatory programs with other relevant United Nations agencies to monitor, enforce and persecute “climate criminals”, in the same manner like the UN Law of the Sea Convention. 

   

A “Law of the Climate Convention” (LOCC) shall direct international efforts to make fossil fuel history by defining the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of non-renewable fossil-based energy, establishing renewable energy guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of natural productive resources. The LOCC shall impact fossil fuel industries and their conglomerate of associated interests to contain and limit their commercial profitability with the same ferocity and intensity as the world has done with the poisonous and dangerous tobacco industry which kills 50% of its customers.



[3]  Make Fossil Fuel History

There can be no escape from the certainty of fatal climate change without a global political commitment to make fossil fuels history. The single most significant major cause of carbon emissions is the relentless use of fossil fuels eg coal, petroleum, natural gas … etc. 


For years, many scientific studies by the United Nations and other credible research institutes have all concluded that human activities in the past 250 years are responsible for global warming of nearly 2°C due to increasing massive greenhouse gas emission from the burning of fossil fuel (coal, petroleum and gas) for rapid industrial development.  The final solution is simple – make fossil fuel history.




Sweden has recently announced her goal to be among the first nations in the world to end her dependence on fossil fuels.  Sweden already makes two-thirds of its electricity from non-fossil energy sources. The government has also announced that it will be spending money on smart grids, an electric bus fleet, subsidies for green cars, and climate adaptation strategies. 



COP21 should make the battle-cry “Make Fossil Fuels History” its very own.



[4]  Funds for Measurable Action

“Put money where your mouth is please”.  In pursuit of her goal to make fossil fuel history, Sweden has also announced that it will invest an extra US$546 million into renewable energy and climate change in its 2016 budget. 




COP21 should define and articulate an empowering agenda for monitoring and measuring national climate change initiatives and performances.  It is not aimed at regulation and control but at procuring and directing funds from various international funding agencies to support and drive worthy national efforts like Sweden towards ultimate climate change victories.  The relative cost vs beneficial economics of fossil vs renewals guarantee the wisdom of investing in the “make fossil fuel history” movement.  When the social costs of pollutions and climate change are privatized to the culpable “climate criminals”, it no longer makes sense for them to stay in the business for much longer.



UBS, as the largest private bank in the world, has openly encouraged its investors to join the clean, renewable energy movement. The banks analysts are already predicting that the renewable energy movement could likely drive European power plants to extinction within the next 20 years.



[5]  Create a Commons Agency to Win the Climate War

For a long time, human progress was guided by a different set of principles than the current industrialized, market-driven system now accepted as the natural order of the universe. A different way of life characterized by sharing and collaboration rather than production for production’s sake is needed in order to win the Climate War. 



The Commons is a general term for shared resources in which each stakeholder has an equal interest. The Commons owns Climate Change; and victory over the Climate War can only be obtained with resources in the Commons.


The Commons broadens people’s vision from what is mine to what is ours, allowing us to see that we are losing more in the quest for ever-more stuff and money than we are gaining. And while defenders of the status quo will roar that a Commons way of life defies human nature, the truth is humans have lived this way for most of history. If human existence is to continue in the centuries ahead, it’s crucial that we rediscover this sense of what belongs to all of us together.



The Commons means “what we share together”, distinct from what we own separately. It’s a form of wealth belonging to all of us, which is there for everyone to use so long as we take care to ensure there’s enough for future generations.  



In the wintry Paris of 2015, the battle for mankind’s survival cannot be won with the same mindset and cultural practices that created today’s unacceptable climate change. Victory over climate change is not a zero-sum game. Mankind and all creation either prevail in unison or perish into oblivion together.  It demands global climate leadership and a coordinated international effort and political resolve.



COP21 should create a Commons Agency for the War on Climate Change. The Commons Agency would mobilise millions of ordinary people passionate about preserving earth and build an equitable and just society, powered by civil society, Internet initiatives, social media and our own citizenry. It is people power at its most potent to preserve a planet that is worthy of preservation for our generations yet to be born.  Only a Commons Agency can be entrusted with a sustainable future where our children and their children could enjoy as good or better development advantages without having to pay more than we did for our own.  


Play your part.  Share this with your followings via whatever social media so as to reach your Influencers attending COP21 so that we, the Commons, can assure and affirm the successful achievements of the 5 critical goals of COP21.



 







Saturday, 28 November 2015

An Alternative Commons Way of Life



It offers an appealing alternative to more stuff and more money, which drives environmental destruction today





Look around - at indigenous people and civil society, Internet initiatives and our own households - to see a different way of life characterized by sharing and collaboration rather than production for production’s sake.



It’s easy to not think about the looming climate crisis. For one thing, it’s depressing to ponder the misery ahead if we don’t take drastic steps now to curb greenhouse emissions. It’s even more depressing when you consider that even the most modest steps to reduce carbon use in the US have been derailed by corporate lobbyists and ideological zealots.



And even when we do think about climate change, it feels abstract and distant. How can a few parts per million of an invisible gas pose a dire threat to our future, no matter how convincing the scientific evidence. That’s why the heroic work of grassroots organizations like 350.org to translate these facts into action steps is so critical.



I recently read another fresh perspective on climate change that really hit home. “Probably the most pressing need is to shut down the engines of productivity,” said David Graeber - an organizer of Occupy Wall Street and author of Debt: The First 5000 Years who now teaches anthropology at the London School of Economics, in The Nation.



That’s an even more daunting mission than transforming our energy supply, especially on a planet where many people still suffer from a lack of material resources. Yet I think it’s the key to saving the Earth for human habitation. So long as the worship of productivity-- more stuff, more money, more power, more mobility, more space, more control, more everything--reigns supreme, we will continue racing down the path of destruction.



It’s a radically radical proposition, not just in its challenge to business-as-usual in corporations and governments, but for the impact on every aspect of our lives. Still to assure a world worth living in for everyone’s great grandchildren it’s necessary to back off from the mindless pursuit of ever-increasing economic production. We must find a new operating system for modern society that will sustain natural ecosystems at the same time as providing everyone on the planet with food, health, livelihood and security.



An impossibly naive dream? Not really. For much of history, human progress was guided by a different set of principles than the industrialized, market-driven system now accepted as the natural order of the universe. Look around--at indigenous people and civil society, Internet initiatives and our own households--to see a different way of life characterized by sharing and collaboration rather than production for production’s sake.



We experience this way of life throughout our lives. Especially when we are enjoying time away from work and shopping - at the park, with our friends, playing with kids, participating in community activities. Pressed to produce a word to describe it, we might say common sense - which is pretty close to what some folks call it: the commons.



The commons means “what we share together”, distinct from what we own separately. It’s a form of wealth belonging to all of us, which is there for everyone to use so long as we take care to ensure there’s enough for future generations.



Greater appreciation of the commons will help ease the transition to a society less dedicated to production and economic growth. We cannot shift to a sustainable way of life without changing how we think about our place in the world. Slowing production will remain impossible so long as most people identify progress, success and self-worth by what is theirs alone.



The commons broadens people’s vision from what is mine to what is ours, allowing us to see that we are losing more in the quest for ever-more stuff and money than we are gaining. And while defenders of the status quo will roar that a commons way of life defies human nature, the truth is humans have lived this way for most of history. If human existence is to continue in the centuries ahead, it’s crucial that we rediscover this sense of what belongs to all of us together.






republished from the always recommendable OntheCommons.org .





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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Singapore Seduced AGAIN by Bogus University Rankings

Fooled Once More by World Universities Rankings
Singapore Top Universities Embrace “Beauty Contest” Criteria for Academic Excellence


The most remarkable outcome in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) 2015 World University Rankings announced last month was the phenomenal rise of two (of the three) Singapore universities, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), to 12th and 13th place respectively. Both Singapore Universities are now ranked above Yale, Columbia, EPF Lausanne and King’s College London.

This remarkable achievement was attributed mostly to high scores for the reputation surveys, the number of international students and faculty, none of which of course have any validity or reliability as indicators or measures of excellence in learning and/or teaching.  

Together with significant changes in the research citations component, the other another important factors for the rise of NTU and NUS were their continuing remarkable performance in the academic and employer surveys. NUS is at the top ten in the world for academic reputation and employer reputation with a perfect score of 100 respectively. NTU is 52nd for the academic survey and 39th for employer with scores in the nineties for both. This should not be surprising since NUS and NTU provide nearly 95% of Singapore’s fresh university graduates.   


This time, the skeptics of Universities Rankings are further proven right. The 2015 World Universities Rankings had made so many strange and implausible ranking shifts resulting in many universities rising or falling by dozens and hundreds from their previous rank.  Truth is, THE had tweaked their “methodology”, as with the other major ranker Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, when it broke away with their data suppliers Thomson Reuters at the end of 2014 and announced the dawn of a new era of transparency and accountability. 

Readers should note that neither THE or QS have ever published the scientific basis of their “methodology”; especially the criterion factors selected as measures of “best” Universities, nor the population and samples of the respondents who participated in surveys purportedly conducted and whose “data” were used to compile the final annual rankings. 



The announcements of the 2015 World Universities Rankings therefore came like the results of a beauty contest with winners (those whose rankings have risen) congratulating themselves with much self-flattery, while the losers (those whose rankings have sank) are embarrassed into protesting only silently and wondering where indeed they have gone so wrong in the past 12 months.

For example, Cambridge and Oxford overtook and pushed Harvard into 6th place.  If THE were to be believed, it was all Harvard’s fault as she suffered a huge decline from 92.9 to 83.6 in THE’s composite teaching indicator (whatever this presumes to measure).  Whatever indeed happened in Harvard in 2014-2015 to “reduce” its teaching effectiveness and impact, according to THE indicators, by 10%?  Should Harvard students therefore demand such fee payback based on this information?

Overnight, or precisely in over just one year from 2014-2015, Asian universities suddenly became worse off, except the Chinese Universities. The University of Tokyo dropped from 23rd to 43rd place in 2015, as she saw her research citations indicator fell from 74.7 points to 60.9, together with her sister University of Kyoto who plunged from 59th to 88th in 2015 for similar reductions in the score for research citations.  For some strange unexplained reasons, the Professors of previous years in both top Japanese Universities could no longer produce the same sterling quality of well-cited research papers.

If THE Universities evaluation were continued to be believed, the top Korean Universities had also suddenly gone silly and stupid.  From the top, Seoul National University dropped 35 ranked positions and the Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) 66 positions, due mostly to their significantly reduced scores for teaching and research. Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) also fell 50 places, losing points in all THE criteria, despite earning good income from industry which she served but this was deemed irrelevant for THE Rankings.

Can the same Methodology which had improved both NTU and NUS rankings so significantly be trusted to be robust, vigorous and sophisticated?

It should be increasingly obvious to any intelligent researcher that the 2015 World University Rankings have created its own rankings based on new, revised criteria such as to render it incomparable with all their previous 2009-2014 rankings.   

Specifically, if the Dutch University of Twente (ranked 149th by THE) deserved to be in the top 150 this year, then its 2014 ranking which placed Twente outside the top 200-225 could not possibly be valid.  And if KAIST had indeed fallen 66 places from 2014, then either its 2015 ranking (148th) or its 2014’s (52th) were inaccurate, or they both were.  This conclusion applies equally to all the universities whose rankings may have ”improved”. 



Singapore Universities have devoted much time and resources since 2007 to satisfy the dubious criteria of bogus university excellence, including getting rid of distinguished and eminent local Professors to meet the World University Rankings preferential criteria for foreign faculty, as well as its preference for more foreign students which NTU and NUS attracted with hundreds of free scholarships (since the Criteria did not specify only paid students were counted). 


NTU and NUS managers and administrators, and their experts, should now carefully study the 2015 World University Rankings to discover what their critics and skeptics, many of whom included eminent University Professors, educators and the United Nations UNESCO, have been warning over the past years the Rankings were published – that the World University Rankings are bogus and misleading, since their indicators lack academic validity and have no scientifically-established construct and they utilize a highly questionable survey and data collection methodology to create information for dubious ranking results which could not survive due diligence or methodological and reliability scrutiny.    

Singapore universities should maintain our Integrity and be honestly professional, and reject using the spurious World University Rankings to position our great Institutions of Higher Learning because of their lack of validity and reliability in Methodology and questionable measures of learning and research excellence.

The 2015 World University Rankings is final and conclusive proof that claims by the rankers over the past 10 years that they have carefully calibrated indicators and a uniquely trusted and vigorous methodology are untrue and bogus at best. There is no reason why the Singapore government and Singapore university administrators and academic experts should continue to be fooled repeatedly by such scams and dubious products.

Singapore universities should no longer participate in any “World University Rankings” Fraud.  Singapore’s presence in the World University Rankings invariably lends our hard-earned Reputation for Authenticity and Honesty to mask their lack of credibility, validity and reliability. Our Universities must have the same high standards of integrity and authenticity as the rest of the Nation. 



Related:
QS Ranking Methodology




Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Freedom To Do Good

Freedom has a Natural Moral Purpose

Freedom from Fear Must Overcome the Fear on Freedom

The Enemy of Freedom is Among Us




The life of Freedom is the constant battle for good, the continuous struggle against the conscious human efforts to impede human progress and happiness as well as prevent the outflowing of human intellectual and innovative enlightenment through elitism, class, tyranny, slavery, fear, poverty, injustice and social immobility.

How apt indeed when Terror would choose Paris AGAIN to be its global battlefield last Friday. It was another grim reminder, another timely wake-up call to all Freedom-lovers, of the rights and freedom bitterly and bloodily won by late-18th Century French Revolutionaries upon the founding values of “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” or “Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood (or Community).


No doubt from the human toll of 13th Nov 2015 amidst the bomb-ridden ruins of the Paris suburbs will arise again a renew explosion of freedom’s boundless imagination by a loud proclamation and expounding of its spiritual and humanistic values and beliefs which have created modern commonwealths of free societies and democracies.

Freedom for what?

True and authentic Freedom has a natural moral purpose that embraces a totally holistic and responsible freedom that respects and appreciates diversity and differences, exercises restraint to recognize their individual sensitivities and to leverage our cherished freedom rights to build up goodwill and harmonious relationship within and among our communities regardless of race, language and religion.

At its birth, Freedom struggles for enlarging social space from fear, from want, from injustice, from slavery, and from class exploitations, so as to be empowered by the liberated space for the freedom of beliefs and choice to embrace its limitless possibilities.

Free society must teach what Freedom means exactly.  Freedom provides the philosophical and political moral raison d'être for the creation of human social systems based on equal opportunity, freedom of speech, popular sovereignty and representative government.

The immature in Freedom and those whose cultures are unaccustomed to Freedom's boundless and porous permissions should be better educated by those Freedom-lovers who knew better the true beauty and value of Freedom.   

A wrong lesson in Freedom was clearly taught by Paris in January 2015 when gunmen responded to offensive and inflammatory cartoons of their religious leader in a terrorist attack on the publisher Charlie Hebdo’s office killing 11 people and injuring another 11. Believers of the same faith from Turkey to Pakistan to Niger to the Middle East similarly erupted in predictable rage and anger over the offensive cartoons.

True and authentic Freedom would not defend Charlie Hebdo’s model of free speech as personified by its conduct.  Its twisted and contorted understanding of freedom, free speech and democracy unveiled a warped personality full of resentment, disdain and contempt for one and all who do not accept its worldview of a self-constructed cartoon reality.   

Freedom is what Freedom does.  It is not about what Freedom can do.  Freedom can do anything and everything!  Rather, it is what you can achieve with Freedom.  Using Freedom to tear down whatever delightful, endearing, inspiring affection, meaningful, cherishable, charitable or even beguiling, appealing and enchanting without any constructive regard for the sensibility of the beholder is a blatant misuse and abuse of Freedom.

Freedom is not just a sweet and desirable concept, it is also pure energy.  Like the sun, it can give life. It can also be even more destructive than a tidal tsunami or an erupting volcano. One should simply speak or propagate whatever the greater Truths with great Love and Compassion.  The impact of Freedom in enlarging the awareness of Truth assures its own longevity.

The deepest enduring quality of true and authentic Freedom is its voluntary exercise of self-restraint. Self-restraint is not censorship.  Self-restraint is wisdom acting out of common human decency and consideration.  Where free speech is indeed a natural freedom right, self-restraint should be regarded as its highest apex virtue.

Only thus can Freedom be shielded and protected from any physical and violent responses arising out of the offense inadvertently created by the exercise of its freedoms, especially free speech.
 
 
Nothing in this Post is intended to condone the wanton Paris massacre, deaths, mayhem, and widespread fear on the 13th November 2015. There is no justification whatsoever for the ISIS actions.  And no senseless deaths of innocent civilians could ever be condoned by any decent human being in the world, as with the barbaric and murderous killings of many others who have fallen victims to ISIS and similar inhuman and evil acts throughout the centuries.

It is worth noting that the French Revolution lasted less than 10 years.  The newfound freedoms unleashed a violent and turbulent decade of killings and abuses of civil liberties in what History remembered as a bloody “Reign of Terror” where suspected “enemies” of the Revolution were guillotined by the thousands.  In November 1799, the French Army led by young General Napolean Bornaparte mounted a coup d’etat effectively ended the French Revolution to begin the Napoleonic Era. Ironically, Freedom’s excesses ended to be replaced by dictatorial extremism. Freedom would eventually return in a re-calibrated enlightened form but not before the 2nd World War.  
 
 

This time, Freedom will defend itself. Freedom will not sit idly to suffer its abuse and misuse by those who choose not to embrace this most human of virtue.  Freedom is the first birthright of mankind.  Those who desire to deny others the rights and benefits of Freedom have no protection under them.  Indeed, why should they be eligible?  Freedom will retaliate, and respond fearlessly and mercilessly.     

Freedom speaks again:
“Mon nom est la Liberté, pas charlie ou Isis ou Daech!”
[English: “My name is Freedom, not Charlie or ISIS or DAESH!”]

 
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