I am a journalist and a peace activist. I want to share my experiences with those, who may be interested in knowing the world we are inhabiting...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

'Alarm bells' as greenhouse gases hit new high: UN

GENEVA: Surging carbon dioxide levels boosted greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a new high in 2013, amid worrying signs that absorption by land and sea is waning, the UN warned Tuesday.
 "An alarm bell is ringing," Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told reporters in Geneva. In its annual report on Earth-warming greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the UN agency said concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide all broke records in 2013.  "We know without any doubt that our climate is changing and our weather is becoming more extreme due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels," Jarraud said.
 "We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board," he in a statement, and warned: "we are running out of time."
Especially worrying, Jarraud said, was the sharp rise in CO2, by far the main culprit in global warming, to 396 parts per million in the atmosphere last year. That was 142 percent of levels prior to the year 1750, and marked a hike of 2.9 parts per million between 2012 and 2013 -- the largest annual increase in 30 years. It was not clear why concentrations rose so sharply, but Jarraud suggested it could be due to a shift in the ability of oceans and the biosphere to absorb emissions.

Bio-Gas project launched to discourage abundant forest cutting

To discourage abundant forest cutting in Chitral district, Shandur Bio-Gas project was introduced after a successful experiment by a local NGO at Booni some 75 kilometer off here Monday.
Well-known social worker Sultan Mehmood Khan was chief guest on the occasion while Engineer Qadir Shah presided over the introductory session.
Addressing the event Managing Director Shandur Bio-Gas Muhammad Ali Mujahid said that people are compelled to cut forests abundantly for fuel consumption as natural gas is unavailable in Chitral and in summer season temperature is below freezing point. Besides cooking people are using wood for keeping their houses warmth which cause natural disaster in the shape of flood.
To overcome these damages Shandur Bio-Gas programme introduced. Bio-Gas is a byproduct of animal muck (cow dung) which is very cheap and economical as comparative to other gas. The process of Bio-Gas is to dug a 10 feet well with cemented base and walls which is filled with animals muck and covered then it produce gas which is used as a fuel for cooking and heating purposes.
To make this plan successful a nongovernmental organization is providing financial support for the success of this plan.
Speakers on the occasion demanded the government and NGOs to play their role in such planning in other parts of Chitral too as wood is very expensive and if this plan would become successful it would reduce forest cutting and the poor segment of the society would be benefited.
Sultan Mehmood, Qadir Shah, Allaoudin, Muhammad Ali Mujahid, ex-DHO Dr. Sher Qayum, Sarfarz Ali Khan, Social Organizer SRSP Fakhruddin, Nawab Ali Khan advocate, Zakir Muhammad, Zafarullah, Khan Sahib and others also addressed on the occasion.
Performance award for serving Chitral was presented to senior journalist and President Chitral Union of Journalists Gul Hammad Farooqi.
Talking to our correspondent Dr Sher Qayum said that Bio-Gas is health friendly and have no effect on health and environment. The plan will play vital role in eliminating of deforestation in Chitral.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Home air pollution put the lives of 2.8 bn at risk world wide: Study

Nearly three billion people risk ill health and early death merely from breathing the air in their homes that is polluted by fires made for cooking and heating, researchers said Wednesday.
Some 40 percent of the world's population, mainly in Africa and Asia, use wood, charcoal or coal to cook, warm and light their homes, according to a review published by The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal. "These smoky, dirty fuels are often used in an open fire or simple stove, resulting in high levels of household air pollution in poorly ventilated homes," said a statement.  Led by Stephen Gordon of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and William Martin of Ohio State University, the team concluded that 600-800 million families worldwide are at higher risk of respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, asthma, lung cancer and other ailments as a result of the air they breathe at home.
Studies in India have found that household air pollution can be three times higher than on a typical London Street, and well above the World Health Organization's recommended safety levels.
"Estimates suggest that household air pollution killed 3.5 to four million people in 2010," wrote the team. On current exposure rates, about 2.8 billion people worldwide are considered to be at risk of premature death from breathing polluted air in their own homes

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

UN climate chief says 'door closing' on warming fix

UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres on Tuesday warned time was running out for meaningful action on global warming, citing the plight of low-lying Pacific nations facing ever rising seas.
Figueres, in Samoa for a UN conference on small island states, said the impact of climate change was greatest on Pacific nations, even though they had contributed little to the problem.  "Climate change is the greatest threat these islands face and they are recognised as the bellwether of global efforts to address this issue," she told AFP.  "Unless the world acts on climate change in a timely way, they are going to be the hardest hit."
Figueres said rising seas not only eroded the coastlines of island states, they also spoiled water supplies when they entered the water table and swamped agricultural land, rendering it barren.
Warming also meant more cyclones and storms battered the islands, while planning was underway for a worst-case scenario where populations of climate change refugees would have to be relocated from their homelands.  "Kiribati (which has purchased land in neighbouring Fiji) is probably the most famous, but countries as large as Papua New Guinea are already starting to identify which are their most threatened populations," she said.
"These are extreme measures that these islands are having to look at. Of course they, and the rest of the world, want migration of populations out of the islands to be kept at a minimum."
Figueres said the situation facing island nations underlined the need for progress in the quest to seal a global pact on greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2015. The UN wants to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, which scientists say is the minimum needed to stabilise the climate.
"The science tells us that we have to stay under two degrees temperature-wise and that the door is closing quickly," she said. "It's still  possible for us to stay under two degrees but we have to do it."
Island leaders have become increasingly vocal on the issue in the face of global inaction, with Seychelles President James Michel telling the Samoa conference that the interests of big business have dominated the debate for too long. "It is time that we recognise climate change for what it is -- a collective crime against humanity," he said. "Climate change... is robbing island nations of their right to exist. We must save our future together."
Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak said island nations had to get across a positive message about what needs to be done at a UN summit in New  York this month, which will be followed by an attempt in Paris next year to  forge a new climate deal. "The time for finger-pointing is long past... instead, we must recognise that there is no more powerful form of leadership that leadership by example," he said.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pakistan's media under siege: 34 killed since 2008

Sarfraz ali
As many as 34 Pakistani journalists have been killed and dozes more have received death threats, abduction, torturing and assassination attempts from all sides including intelligence services, political parties and armed groups like the Taliban since the democracy was restored in 2008, Amnesty International said in a new report today.
In only one case those responsible have been brought to justice. A bullet has been chosen for you’: Attacks on journalists in Pakistan, describes how the Pakistani authorities have almost completely failed to stem human rights abuses against media workers or to bring those responsible to account.
Amnesty International has documented 34 cases of journalists being killed in Pakistan in response to their work since the restoration of democratic rule in 2008, but only in one case have the perpetrators been brought to justice.
But these killings are just the most brutal statistic – many more journalists have been threatened, harassed, abducted, tortured or escaped assassination attempts in the same period.
“Pakistan’s media community is effectively under siege. Journalists, in particular those covering national security issues or human rights, are targeted from all sides in a disturbing pattern of abuses carried out to silence their reporting,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.
“The constant threat puts journalists in an impossible position, where virtually any sensitive story leaves them at risk of violence from one side or another.”
The report is based on extensive field research into over 70 cases and interviews with over 100 media workers in Pakistan. It examines several recent cases where journalists have been targeted for their reporting by a range of actors.
Numerous journalists interviewed by Amnesty International complained of harassment or attacks by individuals they claimed were connected to the feared military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). While some are featured in the report with names changed, others could not be included even under a false name because they feared for their lives.
The spy agency has been implicated in several abductions, torture and killings of journalists, but no serving ISI officials has ever been held to account – allowing it to effectively operate beyond the reach of the law. Human rights violations against journalists by the ISI often follow a familiar pattern that starts with threatening phone calls and escalates into abductions, torture and other ill-treatment, and in some cases killings.
Journalists are also victims of human rights abuses by non-state groups across the country. Aggressive competition for media space means that powerful political actors across the country put severe pressure on journalists for favourable coverage. In Karachi, supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) religious group and others stand accused of harassing or killing journalists they consider critical.
In conflict-ridden regions in the northwest and Balochistan province, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and ethnic Baloch armed groups openly threaten reporters with death and attack them in retaliation for seeking to highlight their abuses or not promoting their ideology. Journalists in Pakistan’s heartland of the Punjab have also faced threats from the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi-linked groups.
Despite the wave of violence and attacks, the Pakistani authorities have largely failed to hold perpetrators to account. In the overwhelming number of cases researched by Amnesty International, authorities rarely adequately investigated threats or attacks or brought those responsible to justice.
Only in a handful of high-profile cases have more thorough investigations been carried out, and only after public outrage has made it impossible for authorities not to act.
“The government has promised to improve the dire situation for journalists, including by establishing a public prosecutor tasked with investigating attacks against journalists. But few concrete steps have been taken,” said David Griffiths.
“A critical step will be for Pakistan to investigate its own military and intelligence agencies and ensure that those responsible for human rights violations against journalists are brought to justice. This will send a powerful signal to those who target journalists that they no longer have free reign.”
Media enterprises operating in Pakistan must also ensure they provide adequate training, support and assistance to journalists, in an important, practical step towards addressing the risk of abuses while they are at work.
“Without these urgent steps, Pakistan’s media could be intimidated into silence. The climate of fear has already had a chilling effect on freedom of expression and the broader struggle to expose human rights abuses across Pakistan,” said David Griffiths.