[QODLink]
2012 Year in Review

The spirit of 'enviro-entrepreneurialism'

The desire to give ideas a go, see how they work in practice, fine-tune it and see the vision adopted by others.
Last Modified: 30 Dec 2012 00:28

When I was travelling in Chile 10 years ago I had a golden rule. If I needed a bus, I would go to a main road and wait. It did not matter where in the country I was nor what time of day it was. Before long there was always a bus.

I have a similar rule for earthrise stories. Look at any environmental issue anywhere in the world and you will soon find someone trying to do something about it. It does not matter whether it is in a remote part of Africa or the middle of a US city. There will always be someone.

Sometimes the stories come one at a time. Sometimes they come in threes.

In Kenya, three presented themselves immediately. Sam Duby in Kisumu has developed a way of turning an old car alternator into a low-cost wind turbine that is easy to assemble. Lucy King in Nairobi has enlisted African honeybees as unlikely advocates to broker a peace between hungry elephants and the farmers whose crops the weighty quadrupeds have targeted.

Conservation programme has seen the number of elephants rise in Kenya. But Marauding gangs of elephants are increasingly raiding farmers’ crops. [Al Jazeera]

Helen and Kenya Mutiso in the Rift Valley teach local farmers about the financial and environmental benefits of growing indigenous trees, in addition to the lucrative fast-growing non-indigenous trees that farmers already know about.

California proved just as abundant. In the hi-tech labs of San Francisco there is a wave of young scientists looking to develop the next generation of smart ‘eco-materials' that might soon be commonplace. They are experimenting with energy-scavenging devices that harvest the ambient energy around electronic products and convert it into usable electricity.

They are surrounding office blocks with tubes of energy-generating algae that feed on polluting emissions from cars travelling on nearby roads. They are also developing plastics that utilise UV rays to heal scratches themselves, reducing non-recyclable waste.

I think what unites all these people is a spirit of what you might call “enviro-entrepreneurialism”. It is the desire to give their idea a go, see how it works in practice, fine-tune it, and then hopefully see their vision adopted by others.

I can imagine that conferences like COP18 could provide an “enviro-entrepreneur” with an opportunity to spread the word and perhaps seek out new funding. But what else? For them, action speaks louder than words.

Over the last few days I have tried to apply the Chilean bus rule to Europe's biggest and most interesting ongoing environmental story.

I have set myself the task of finding a positive angle on the world's worst nuclear disaster. Surely someone in Chernobyl has come up with an awe-inspiring environmental idea? I think I have found the story - but you will have to wait until the next series of earthrise to know what it is.

What I can say is that it is unlikely to fix the problem. It is reckoned that the plutonium in Chernobyl will be a problem for all of imaginable time.

But whether or not they fix the problem is not really the issue. What is important is that they are already putting ideas into action - and not flying half way around the world to sit around a large conference table in a large air-conditioned building to talk about it.

603

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.

Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list