50 People Who Could Save The World
That headline in the Guardian
caught my eye, not least because I really do not believe that the case can be made for just 50 individuals. That was the comment I made on their blog and many more agreed
Those who are the most articulate may grab the publicity and the grant aid, so for them it's much easier to mount a platform and perform. However, it's all of us who are not in the headlines who are going to save the world.
I'm not a celebrity, but my involvement in environmental issues goes back to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 60's, to the squatting movement, Friends of the Earth, the anti-nuclear movement in the seventies into the eighties where I was involved in the Ecology (now Green) Party where I served on the executive committee.
So I do welcome the Al Gores and Leonardo di Cappucinos of this world and I applaud the recognition given to Henry Saragih
. He's "a small farmer who has hardly seen his wife and children in 15 years since taking on the Indonesian government and the palm oil barons of Sumatra and Kalimantan. Not only does he lead a union of several million agitated Indonesian peasants, but he also heads Via Campesina, the global movement of increasingly militant peasant farmers which campaigns for land reform in 80 countries.
But then we must also recognise the almost lone voice of Riza Tjahjadi
, co-ordinator of Biotani Indonesia Foundation
, who is not only actively campaigning against the introduction of genetically modified seeds by major pharmaceutical companies with the backing of Indonesia's military (see my October archives)
, but was also a lone voice representing those sinking island nations which are too poor to have attended the recent Bali Conference on Climate Change.
I also welcome the inclusion of Ken Livingstone
, Mayor of London, who has gone from being a far left socialist to an inclusive 'green' innovator, and is championing renewables, energy from waste, heat and power systems, and ways Londoners can adapt their homes. The capital has seen a huge increase in cycling, and from this month most of the city's public buildings will be "retrofitted" to save energy. It's beginning to work, he says: four years ago, more than one in three Londoners used their cars every day; now fewer than one in five do.
Now if Fuddy Bozo
, Governor of Jakarta, were to show a similar commitment, then I would call him a hero and
by his real name and I wouldn't harp on about how he seemingly managed to amass a fortune during his 30 years as a City Hall apparatchik and said he isn't over-worried about the perennial floods "because other cities get flooded."
I'd also applaud if he could get the city planners to adopt the the architectural principles espoused by Ken Yeang
, the world's leading green skyscraper architect. In the tropics especially, high-rises are traditionally the most unecological of all buildings, often wasting up to 30% more energy than lower structures built with the same materials. Yeang uses walls of plants, photo voltaics, scallop-shaped sunshades, advanced ventilation and whatever he can to collect water and breezes.
Here in Jakarta, there is Zenin Adrian
whose Design Lab (ZADL) practices green building with specialization on complex geometry and digital fabrication not only to achieve energy efficiency and minimize environmental impact, but also to generate climatically responsible and locally contextual design.
There are many such local heroes, possibly even in City Hall. I mention this because Jakarta is one of the C40 cities
, a group of the world's largest cities committed to tackling climate change. This group met in London last month, with Ken Livingstone in the chair. I really don't know who represented Jakarta and I'm sure that the majority of my local readers will nod knowledgeably if I suggest that the local delegates probably spent most of their time in Harrods and other upmarket shopping emporia.
Ho hum, eh?