One of the ballot boxes used in South Africa’s first post-apartheid elections. Photograph by Adam Fagen.
If you had only been listening to South Africa’s commentariat in the run-up to South Africa’s 7 May General Election − rather than checking the polls − you may have been expecting some exciting results last week.
Over the past year or so, we have repeatedly been told that the Democratic Alliance (DA), Agang or the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were going to produce “game-changing” performances. These momentous breakthroughs, it was suggested, would seriously trouble the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and set the stage for genuinely competitive elections in 2019.
But this didn’t happen.
In the end, the ANC won its fifth consecutive landslide with 62.2% of the vote, a drop of just 3.7% from the 2009 elections.
Al Jazeera America was the clear leader in coverage. Besides reporting directly on the assessment and its contents, AJAM had reporters in San Francisco and South Florida to cover the impacts of sea level rise on coastal communities, one in the West looking at drastically low snowpack and drought, and featured NCA authors, climate scientists, and others explaining the assessment’s findings in-depth. AJAM’s 8pm News hosted by John Seigenthaler devoted over half of its hour-long running time to the climate assessment and its implications, more than Fox News spent over the course of the day.
And at the same time Seigenthaler was telling his audience, “the threat is no longer distant; it’s affecting Americans right now,” Fox News was taking a different approach. “The White House releases a dire report on climate change,” Laura Ingraham announced as guest-host of the O’Reilly Factor, “Is it trying to distract its critics from Benghazi and other problems?” She did not clarify during the course of the segment that a 1990 Congressional mandate required that the assessment be released every four years.
By Aldo Caliari, Director, Rethinking Bretton Woods Project, Center of Concern
There is almost no dispute that the worst performance of all Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was registered on MDG 8, the Global Partnership for Development. The impending deliberations to shape the post-2015 development agenda offers a high level political opportunity to correct that imbalance.
For that, it is important to avoid treading the same path of the MDG approach. The initial blueprint for the MDGs entirely neglected mention of the means of implementation necessary in the form of international support. Since it was clear that developing countries would never get on board with an agenda that would harshly judge their progress in improving certain quantifiable indicators without correlative commitments of financial support to help achieve them, one more goal was added, and this was Goal 8 on the Global Partnership. Accepting this approach condoned the methodological nonsense of putting means of implementation as a category equivalent to the goals they should serve. It condemned finance for development to the constraints of a format that required simplified, succinct, one-size-fits-all statements that could never capture the breadth, complexity and diversity needed for development finance to work.
As Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, a topic that plagues the country is the impact hosting these games will have on the local environment and various ecosystems. Despite efforts by soccer’s ruling body, FIFA, to “greenwash” the games—by holding “green events” during the World Cup, putting out press releases about infrastructure construction with recycled materials and speaking rhapsodically about the ways in which the stadiums are designed to capture and recycle rainwater—the truth is not nearly so rank with patchouli oil.
No matter the country, the environmental footprint of these sporting mega-events looks like a stomping combat boot. The impact of air travel alone, with private planes crisscrossing Brazil, a country larger than the continental United States, will be staggering. According to [ http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/sports/2013/12/10/environment-to-lose-big-at-2014-world-cup-272-million-tons-co2-expected/ ]FIFA’s own numbers, internal travel in Brazil during the World Cup will produce the equivalent of 2.72 million metric tons of greenhouse gases. That’s the equivalent of 560,000 passenger cars driving for one year.
Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands, triggering health and environmental problems which still plague the nation. When the Foreign Minister of Marshall Islands Tony de Brun addressed a nuclear review Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting at the United Nations last month, he asked whether anyone in the room had witnessed a nuclear explosion.