Tuesday, 25 September 2012

NEWSLETTER #2 - SOCIETY OF AFRICAN EARTH SCIENTISTS










Volume 1, Issue No. 2,  April/May






Foreword by the Acting Chair of Society of African Earth Scientists, Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu
Welcome to the second issue of the newsletter of the Society of African Earth Scientists (SAES), which will appear as a bi-monthly publication.
   On 26th April, the Society was formally launched at the Africa Centre with a lecture on “Earth and Land in African Thought and Practice”. This was followed by a very vigorous discussion on the role of SAES and  the level of development of its concrete plans for delivering its stated objectives. Fifteen persons participating at the launch included a cross-section of enthusiastic attendees from a diversity of backgrounds, including earth science, agriculture, other science backgrounds as well as the interested  public. They included members of facebook groups: Africa technology Group and Contributions of African Scientists and inventors.
   Vigorous debate after the lecture raised the issues of land tenure and sustainable development project work in Africa. These contributions highlighted the need for SAES to have well thought out  field projects that would meet its stated objectives.
   SAES facebook  discussions have noted two main suggestions for carrying out this field project work. One requires the SAES purchase of land  and the other doesn’t:
  • One contribution at the SAES launch which re-ignited the debate on field projects suggested that SAES should purchase land in Africa which is in degraded and deforested state from a local community and sell it back to the community for the same price as we bought it (after having improved the value and revitalised the land by planting trees and vegetation - using irrigation perhaps and providing access to the use of local groundwater).
  • The other suggestion was that any individual members of SAES who wished to embark on a sustainable development project in his/her home village could do so with SAES support and input.
Both options for field project work remain under consideration.
      Future programmes will include workshops in a) soil and water conservation and b) solar energy (photovoltaics), still to be announced.
   From 11-15 June 2012 the world’s largest solar energy exhibition, Intersolar Europe, will be taking place in Munich, Germany. Both Yeno Thorli and Chukwunyere Kamalu will be attending. It is an opportunity to see if there are appropriate new solar technologies relevant to sustainable African community development at an affordable price. A report back on the exhibition will feature in the June/July newsletter.
   Lastly, a theme that has been resonating both at the launch and on the SAES facebook page has been the issue of African land grabs and the ominous cloud that it has cast over the African environmental, social , cultural, economic  and political  future.  As a society of Earth Scientists, we cannot ignore the threat that land grabbing poses to our work. We know that to lose land to foreign investors is also to lose our groundwater and threaten our water security and implementation of progressive sustainable development programmes. 
   Researching on the internet one will find a  number of organisations that represent themselves as anti-land grab groups. However anti-land grab groups for Africa suffer an obvious  credibility gap if they are not initiated by Africans. One exception to this is the website stopafricalandgrab.com, created by a Nigerian, Dr Emeka Akaezuwa [see selected reading and links at end of the newsletter]. In particular, the literature and video material on the site are genuinely informative on the reality and consequences of land grabbing. The African People’s Declaration stated seems to cover the key demands to be observed in securing rights to African land and resources. From this point of view, the Stop Africa Land Grab movement that Dr Akaezuwa  has tried to initiate through the website and through petition deserves the support of others also alarmed at the pace of  Africa’s effective re-colonization through these aggressive land grabs.  In this vein, SAES has formally offered its support to Dr Akaezuwa’s initiative by means of a letter from the Chair outlining areas of support such as: promotion of the African People’s Land Grab Declaration; dissemination of information from the website; the holding of events to raise awareness of Stop Africa Land Grab; SAES research to develop factual data, reasoned arguments  and a general strong case to persuade African governments of the danger land grabbing poses to future generations,  and the making of the SAES case for land conservation/sustainable development, which is being seriously threatened by land grabbing. It is surprising that at the time of writing only 281 signatures have been added to the Stop Africa Land Grab Petition. Reasons we might identify for this must surely centre on  i) lack of trust; ii) people not believing that a petition is an effective means of protest; or iii) people are simply not convinced that land grab threatens the very survival of future African generations.
   
As of 18th June 2012, Dr Emeka Akaezuwa has formally accepted the SAES offer of support, as re-iterated in his response below:-

Dear Dr. Kamalu,
On behalf of the Stop Africa Land Grab Movement, I gladly accept your offer of support for the initiative to stop Africa land grab and save our people from re-enslavement under the guise of foreign investments.

We wholeheartedly accept the areas of cooperation you enumerated: helping to boost the number of signatories to the petition; disseminating the African People's Declaration; sharing videos and links; developing factual data; and holding events and workshops to raise awareness.

On our part, we will publish any material you have on the topic of land conservation/sustainable development. Please send me, at any time, presentations, research papers, articles, etc. that members of your organization would like to publish.

After I received your email, I went on your website where I read about the great work you are doing. As a learned society, I think your organization should play the very important role of being the Stop Africa Land Grab's scientific experts on land conservation/sustainable development. If you accept this proposition, I would like to ask you to join the Stop Africa Land Grab Movement's brain trust on behalf of the Society of African Earth Scientists. If you cannot accept the offer to join the brain trust, could you appoint someone else?

I have a couple of interviews this week but next week is less busy. If it is all right by you, I will like to schedule a phone conversation with you next week. I think we can get a lot done by phone.

I thank you for taking the initiative to reach out to us and I look forward to working with you.
Thank you very much.
Emeka Akaezuwa, Ph.D
Stop Africa Land Grab Movement
.


REVIEW: LAUNCH OF THE SOCIETY AFRICAN EARTH SCIENTISTS (SAES)
By Yeno Thorli. 

The inauguration of the Society of African Earth Scientists (SAES) took place on Thurs 26 Apr at the Africa Centre in London. SAES's acting chair Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu gave its first lecture on 'Earth and Land in African Thought and Practice'. He highlighted the role of the earth and land in Afrikan society and culture, including the role of the ancestors as the owners of the land and the living as the custodians, who must preserve the land and soil for future generations. 
   There were hidden gems in the talk that were teased out further as a vigorous and challenging Q&A session unfolded. Dr Kamalu was grateful for the passionate contributions and feedback from the discussion, and assured participants of his determination for SAES to act including consideration of: SAES position on land tenure in its mission statement; Purchase of land in Afrika for SAES sustainable development including the planting of trees (and vegetation) to conserve the local environment and groundwater supply. [This suggestion was made against a depressing background of statistics given by Dr Kamalu on the growing threat of land grabbing on the continent to Afrikan development efforts.]
    Some participants felt the language and construction of the ideas was a bit 'retro' in parts and that Dr Kamalu spoke of Afrika in abstraction and almost in romantic-speak. Afrika comprises 56 countries so the use of generalities flagged up many questions. Dr Kamalu stated the Society is a work in progress and contributions are welcomed. The initial aims of the Society of African Earth Scientists are: promotion of African self sufficiency in clean water, food and sustainable energy provision; and the promotion of  land, soil and water conservation; and monitoring and writing about the effects of climatic change on the continent.
    These are to be fulfilled through: the promotion of skills sharing and ideas among African scientists on the continent and in the Diaspora; workshops and seminars on a land, soil and water conservation and renewable energy technologies; sustainable development projects in specific African countries and develop templates for its reproductions throughout the continent;  Provide independent timely authoritative research papers towards influencing   policy formulation in African states; on land, soil, water conservation and renewable technologies.
    Ideas for future SAES events include workshops on soil & water conservation and the under-utilisation of renewable energy technologies in Afrika.

For further info and membership of SAES Email: saescientists@hotmail.co.uk, or join the Facebook group on https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/saescientists/>


Earth Science Events
  
June 11 – 15, 2012
Intersolar Europe
World’s largest exhibition for the solar industry
Venue: Munich, Germany

July 13 – 18, 2012
Global problems of the state, reproduction and use of natural resources of the planet Earth
Venue: web-based
Conferences on population are ominous, and one wonders what if anything is being planned/ speculated about populations in the southern hemisphere. The XXVIII International Research and Practice Conference “Global problems of the state, reproduction and use of natural resources of the planet Earth " is held.
The subject of the event is Earth sciences, biological, veterinary and agricultural sciences.
Closing date for application is July 12, 2012
Conference organizers:The International Academy of Sciences and Higher Education (Great Britain)
All-Ukrainian Academic Union (Ukraine)
International Commerce and Industrial Union (UK)
American International Commercial Arbitration Court (USA)
Heidegger Centre of Scientific Initiative (Germany);
Association for the Study of Natural Science (Spain);
Open Philosophical Society of Existential Psychology (France);
Institute of Problems of Society Life (Israel);
Marshall Institute of Economic Analysis (USA);
Venture technologies department of Rörelse Corporation.

August 21-22, 2012
World Congress on Earth Science & Climate Change
Venue: Chicago, USA
The scientific program paves a way to gather visionaries through the research talks and presentations and put forward many thought provoking strategies in Earth Science & Climate Change.

October 22 - 24, 2012
WINDABA 2012
Venue: Cape Town Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
Windaba 2012 is the international event on wind energy in South Africa hosted by the South African Wind Energy Association.
The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) is proud to introduce WinDABA 2012, South Africa's Wind Industry's Conference and Exhibition. We welcome you to join us in this exciting event taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), Cape Town, South Africa.

November  19-21, 2012
International Conference on Biodiversity and Sustainable Energy Development
Venue: Hyderabad, India
Biodiversity-2012 paves a path to move towards the nature respecting the beautiful lives comprising the diversity. The conference states a call to the scientific community to take the Social responsibility saving the Mother Nature and providing a ground to explore the survival opportunities by sharing thoughts through scientific research and applying them into social
life. Biodiversity-2012 shares the opportunity to bring together researchers from academia and corporate, activists, ecosocial organizations and NGOs to foster collaborations through the research talks & presentations to put forward many thought provoking strategies sharing the common agenda of Biodiversity Conservation

December 3 - 4, 2012
Achieving Food and Environmental Security - New Approaches to Close the Gap
Venue: Royal Society, London
THE ROYAL SOCIETY 2012 scientific discussion meetings at the Royal Society
Achieving food and environmental security – new approaches to close the gap
3 – 4 December

Organised by Professor Guy Poppy, Professor Paul Jepson, Professor John Pickett CBE FRS and Dr Michael Birkett
This meeting are free to attend, but pre-registration is essential.
For more details visit http://royalsociety.org/events

December 3 - 4, 2012
Annual International Conference on Geological & Earth Sciences (GEOS 2012)
Venue: Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore, Malaysia

Some selected Reading, Links, etc

  1. Please refer to the African People’s Land Grab Declaration:   http://www.stopafricalandgrab.com/ 
  2. Maathai, Wangari, The Challenge for Africa, Random House, NY, 2009.
  3. Schluter, T., Geological Atlas of Africa – with notes on stratigraphy, tectonics, economic geology, geohazards, geosites and geoscientific education of each counry, 2nd Edition, Springer-verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2008. http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=IfvKWpsISTQC&oi=fnd&pg=PA4&dq=african+geology+undergraduate+textbooks&ots=lQ7JXRkO0H&sig=Y4l2oLYNi5EVzjuxupZbpMdciz4#v=onepage&q&f=false
  4. A link on “Groundwater and Rural Water Supply in Africa”: http://www.iah.org/downloads/occpub/IAH_ruralwater.pdf

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