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Ozone Blog

A blog written by Rajendra Shende, Former Head of the OzonAction Branch, in his personal capacity. This blog does not reflect the policy or position of UNEP or the DTIE OzonAction Branch.
Author: ozonAction Created: 1/3/2011
Ozone Blog
By ozonAction on 8/9/2009
English surrounded by French! That would be the description of Nigeria. Surrounded by five nations that speak French, Nigeria's English not only survived the siege of French but it also survived the host of more than 500 local languages. No doubt, English has become the unifying language of the nation.

When I landed at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport of Abuja, I got a glimpse of linguistic diversity. One of my guests speaking English with Igbo accent was making fun of his colleague speaking English with Hausa accent. I could not get to understand the exact fun part but could guess it very well. In India, the heavy accent of southern English is the subject of much amusement in the rest of India.

While language is fun, religion in Nigeria is a serious matter. Depending on who is responding, and where the respondent ...
By ozonAction on 7/27/2009
 Driving from the airport to downtown in Washington DC, I saw that the blossoming of trees has painted Washington DC's horizons in shades of white and rose. Those are the spring colors, colors of hopes, the colors that signal the arrival of a new season. But it is not only on the trees that I saw the blooming flowers in DC. I saw, smelled and felt the flowers of hope, colors of optimism and a whiff of aspiration in the air all around the ancient district of U street down to the office district of K street and from Kennedy Center on the banks of the Potomac to the Washington memorial opposite to Capitol Hill. In a single day I heard so many important speeches and was part of discussions at the round table. A Senator, a Governor, senior officers of the Environmental Protection Agency, White House Staff of Environmental Council, a Mayor of Berkeley city, NGOs, officers from regional EPAs including those from California, Vermont and Maryland, young and experienced administrators…the list was long. They had one message in common, one resounding and resonating tone that echoed all the time. That message and that tone were of optimism. The fall of climate change was over. It was definitely a new beginning that heralded the big bounce and lively leap into spring...
By ozonAction on 6/29/2009
 When markets collapsed and when most of the major banks around the world went kaput, the governments around the world rushed to bail out the market. Almost overnight stimulus packages got prepared, approved by cabinets, politburo, senates, and parliaments and even by executive order depending on the political governing system in the countries. Almost in military-like marching order, all the sermons on virtues of open market economy made a 180 degree turn around. The goals of zero trade-tariffs and the best practices of 'leaving the markets to work upon themselves' were found to be strategically misconceived. In near orchestrated style, the governments around the world condemned the indulgence in not regulating the markets enough and ordered the system to intervene, control and even take over and nationalize the businesses. The intellectuals in political economy ...
By ozonAction on 12/23/2008
Doha is a quiet city in a land that protrudes in the Arabian Gulf, a perfect example of a peninsula. Leave aside the noise of building construction and the hustle of the National Market where most of the immigrant workers do their shopping and transfer money to their homeland, the rest of the city is as quiet as camels in Omani Market. Even more visited Souq Waqef (Old Market) presents a quiet scene with Arabian backdrop. Its fascinating terraces and networks of complex narrow alleys are bustling with evening crowd that is far from noisy. Quaffing Eshariq Coffee with shisha in Souq Waqef is an experience in solitude in the middle of a swarm of visitors and Doha residents.

Two weeks of my stay in Doha was for a series of meetings on the Montreal Protocol. Every morning before going for the meeting jogging along Al Corniche - a 7 km semi-circular beach road, neatly lined with lush ...
By ozonAction on 11/3/2008
'Happo-en' is a traditional, calm and silent garden in Tokyo, surrounded by crowded and noisy modernity. It looked like oasis of tranquility in a desert of milling humanity. Quite a contrasting setting! UNEP OzonAction recently held a workshop there entitled 'Destruction Technologies for Ozone Depleting Chemicals'. The contrast was even more obvious in the title of the workshop that took place in that quiet, creative and inspiring surrounding. The garden has a 200 year old bonsai and the name-Happo-en- literally means 'beautiful from all angles'. We were discussing the various destruction technologies in 'Happo-en'!


I noted such streaks of contrasts almost everywhere in Tokyo. There were Kimono-clad Japanese ladies hurrying for a marriage ceremony accompanied by girls dressed in western styles. In Tokyo, one of the most intriguing sights for me is a Japanese wife dressed in traditional Kimono, with ...
By ozonAction on 10/14/2008
16th September 2008, early morning in Tokyo. I woke up on the 8th floor of my hotel room when the building shook. I realized that it was one of those earthquakes in Japan. I had the feeling of sitting on the top branch of a tall tree being swayed by heavy winds .My instincts were confused. I called the receptionist of the hotel and asked, "Is there an earthquake? What should I do? " I was expecting an answer like "Run down the staircase, or get under the table!" Instead, a cool Japanese response came, "No, it's nothing, have a nice day!'. I started feeling very childish. My whole life was in the hands of Japanese engineers who constructed this 'quake-proof' skyscraper. And I was standing there absolutely still, asking a helpless question which evoked equally a helpless response. I thought, may be one day, God will punish us for scrapping his sky...
By ozonAction on 7/25/2008
Taking a tour in the Champagne region, not very far from Paris, is an exciting experience, as exciting as the taste of champagne! The mounds and hillocks receiving the angled sun light and lined with green vineyards dotted with small churches is a site to cherish. Last week I was there to meet my friend who owns a small vineyard and sells his 'Chardonnay' to a large vinery which makes famous French champagne. But we did not discuss the taste of champagne this time, we discussed global warming, instead! . In France, the thermometer of global warming has nothing to do with measuring atmospheric temperature nor it is correlated to the measuring of rising temperature of sea-water. Instead, it measures the timing of the 'vendange' - grape harvesting. My friend told me that the first day of vendange - a time to celebrate for the vineyard owners and the villagers there - is advancing...
By ozonAction on 7/1/2008
The other day I was reading a document entitled "National Security and threat of climate change". I thought that the title of the document alone would stir national governments and make them think intensively on actions how to address climate change. Even those who doubted the certainty of science, and those who -in the words of Sir Nicolas Stern - are "absurd, reckless, irresponsible and ethically indefensible" would think of doing something after reading it as it deals with issues related to national security.

Security and Safety are the words that make people act. I recall some one saying that those who do not want to throw coins at beggars because they feel that beggars MUST work would start throwing coins if you convince them that beggars and poverty are severe threats to their security...
By ozonAction on 4/16/2008
The "Axis of History" is well known in Paris. It is the famous straight line that joins the historic monuments: the pyramid of the Louvre, the Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe and the Grande Arche.

The other day I went to the roof of the Grande Arche (at the height of 110 meters) to see the exhibition 'History of Information Technology'. It chronicled the events in the development of the computers and internet since 1958. It was the 50th Anniversary of the starting point of the digital revolution that swept over the whole planet and changed the way we live.

The information in the exhibition was startling. Anywhere between 60 - 100 billion emails are sent daily as per the latest estimates as of March 2008. And there are 1.3 billion people globally who surf the internet, the majority of the surfers being in Asia. "Networks" of computers is the founding principle of this revolution. Sharing files and "packet switching" are the key mechanisms for the speedy and effective communications...
By ozonAction on 3/23/2008
One of the key success factors of the Montreal Protocol is the role played by media. When first put forward by scientists, the problem of ozone layer depletion was in reality far away, seemingly much detached from everyday life on Earth. Physically it was more than 20 kilometres up in the sky. Moreover, the cause and effects of ozone layer depletion were removed from one another. After listening to the hypotheses put forward by esteemed scientists Paul J. Crutzen, Mario J. Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland, surely the common man must have said, "there are so many real problems for us to solve, who has the time and mind to hear this stratospherically distant thunder?"

This remote issue was literally brought down to earth and turned into an everyday issue by journalists. They metamorphosed this esoteric atmospheric calamity into an iconic term the "Ozone Hole" which ...
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