The Parrot, in this its first squawk for the year, would like to wish all readers (and non-readers if they do read this), a very prosperous and rewarding 2009.
Those who are superstitious would breathe a sigh of relief to see the end of 2008; a leap year, and given the “speed” at which it flew by, it indeed leaped.
As usual at the start of any new year, expectations are high. This is in stark contrast to the end of the previous year in which many are expected to get “high”. That said, 2009 seems poised to be one of those years in which history can either be defined or redefined.
This is against the backdrop that whatever happens in the developed world will impact on the rest of the globe. The United States, which is seen as the leader of the free world, has a new President in Barack Obama.
He takes office in a few weeks. This means that the US will basically start 2009 politically anew. While it will be debated what Obama can and cannot do, what is clear is that the policy makers there will be new come January 20. The world awaits the effects on decisions that will or will not be taken by the 44th President of the USA.
Obama and the rest of the world will inherit in 2009 the effects of the financial meltdown on Wall Street and the growing concerns of climate change.
How and what the developed countries, including the USA, do about the latter will determine the fate of countries seriously affected. This must be taken seriously, and I see no reason why Obama will not.
The evidence over the last few years is too damning to be ignored; the consequences for the future if nothing is done now, is unimaginable. These sentiments were not only echoed by Al Gore and our own President Jagdeo, but by Obama during his campaign.
Given what Obama faces when he takes the oath on January 20, many feel that the challenges are too daunting and that little, if anything at all, can be done within the first two years to help reverse some of the current trends.
On the other hand, others see him rising to these challenges and have already crafted their opinion on how history will judge him; as another Franklin D. Roosevelt. These opinions will be articulated either four or eight years from now.
Much is at stake across the world. In 2008, thousands lost jobs, and millions were affected by natural disasters which claimed numerous lives. Many, if not all, of these disasters were as a result of the changes in climate the globe is experiencing.
Some of these harsh changes in weather patterns occur at times when it’s not expected. Looking at images from around the world on television, it’s difficult not to feel a sense of sympathy for the millions who are affected. In many ways the feeling of sympathy gives way to despondency when one tries to imagine what can happen twenty years down the road.
The contrasting depressing images of houses covered with flood waters in some countries, including the USA, and the inhumane results of famine in parts of Africa, are indeed heart breaking.
For poor and developing countries to mitigate the effects of climate change, huge sums of money will be needed; monies that may not be easily available or accessible.
Here is where the effects of the financial crisis on Wall Street will impact. The question is how these affected countries will deal with the situation. This is the challenge that Obama and other leaders face.
President Jagdeo has emphasised on many occasions the fact that climate change is affecting Guyana, and has proposed initiatives developing countries should adopt to help lessen the effects on countries like ours.
Guyana, which is not a net contributor of pollutants into the atmosphere, is affected, evident by the 2005 floods and the current high-intensity rainfall. This is compounded by the coast being below sea level.
One study shows that some four hundred million US dollars is needed for extensive works to prevent floods in Regions Four and Five. This is equivalent to some eighty billion Guyana dollars!
Governments of countries affected by climate change will have to grapple to meet social obligations and with the additional burden to mitigate the related effects.
This is not easy. What is easy is for the opposition to criticise the administration for flooding in the areas affected. What they are not doing, the opposition that is, is explaining to their constituencies the realities we face as a nation.
The Parrot hopes that in 2009 the opposition will try to have their efforts carved in the annals of our history, not for walking out of Parliament and politically motivated protest, but for helping their supporters to understand the real issues posed by climate change and the Wall Street saga.
As I mentioned, 2009 will be a defining year. Would Obama be able to deliver as expected? Would the developed countries heed the call by President Jagdeo and even that of Al Gore regarding climate change?
Would people stop throwing refuse in drains and canals? Would Hammie remain in office and continue to frustrate development of the city? In 361 days we will be in a better position to say.
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