350!!!!!!

Global warming… Copenhagen 2009… Waterlevels rising…

The answer, apparently, is 350!

OK, so what’s it all about? I didn’t know that that number had any kind of significance until a little earlier today, when I read about it on the No Impact Man blog.

350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth.

The above is quoted from the about-page on 350.org.

When the object of the countries participating in the next climate conference (the one in Copenhagen, thanks to Ms. Hedegaard) is to agree on 450 (optimistic) or 550 (much more likely), it dawns on you why some people out there suddenly think they need to build an entire organisation around the number: 350.

The post on No Impact Man is full of good and solid references.

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No Europeans/Americans seem to be suffering…

… so I keep my money in my pocket; or what else is the reason for the missing donations towards the disaster in Burma???

I can see that the excuse is that the regime isn’t letting the help through. And of course that’s horrible. But some of the international aid organisations like Save the Children are already inside Burma and they are litterally pleading for more donations. So why don’t you donate some of your surplus right now!

I was thinking about the not-exactly-necessary things I’ve bought within the last couple of weeks. I won’t tell you all of it, because, frankly, it’s pretty embarrassing, but I’ve bought some handkies for my husband, a wall calendar to keep up with school holidays etc., white tea to satisfy my spoilt tastebuds, a cute shirt for Dane, Vanity Fair and eh, probably a lot more. So donating a few pounds towards people in real need hasn’t exactly bankrupted me! Nor will it bankrupt you, I suspect…

The next issue of course is what to do about that awful regime down there?!? Handing Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi the Nobel peace prize didn’t exactly do the trick, did it? And the international pressure seems to be making no impression on the generals whatsoever. Small wonder, when the bulk of “international pressure” seems to be directed towards the “evil regimes” in the middle east (and then there’s North Korea). China, who is the Burmese regime’s primary protector, is probably at the core of the problem here. Because the world leaders seem to be more than reluctant to put any kind of pressure on the Chinese, no matter if it’s about their oppressive regime at home or the protection of others’. Did you know that a good deal of the war in Iraq is actually financed by China? Well, it is, because China is lending money to the US on an scale hitherto unheard of. Read here and here. And now China has to deal with it’s own catastrophe, the earthquake. The timing couldn’t be worse!

On a favourite American news site of mine, Slate, they argue for a REAL “coalition of the willing”. Namely countries who are willing to intervene on behalf of the Burmese people against their leaders. France & Germany – have another go, please! And Britain – join a coalition that’ll do the world some good for a change. That goes for you too, Denmark…

Pictures from the New York Times

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Pura Vida

Costa Ricans, who call themselves Ticos, use this phrase all the time. It means something like “How are you”, “I’m great”, “Take care”, “Have a good life” etc. etc.

Well, we had lots of Pura Vida in our three weeks in Costa Rica. More than once we considered to discard our tickets back to the US. For a European or American, Costa Rica is a true paradise, Bountyland. And even if there is obvious poverty there, the Ticos are a good deal better off than many of their fellow Latin-Americans.

Costa Rica is a democratic country, it’s democracy has been functioning well for 50 years. It has no army and no death penalty!!! And there seems to be very little corruption. They are doing their best to turn the threat of devastating mass tourism (Americans – Hawaii has become too expensive) into sustainable eco-tourism.

We didn’t really do anything that last week – we just hung around the pool or the beach. Dane became pretty good at surfing on the rented boogie board in the sea, and he learned to dive and swim under water in the pool. The only unpleasant thing that happened all week was that I got a bad sunburn. On my lower lip of all places! The rest of me and both David and Dane got away with slight reddishness when we forgot ourselves in the sea or pool. I guess my lip got burned because that morning I couldn’t find my usual lipsalve, so just grabbed another one. Afterwards it dawned on me that it was one without SPF. It hurt like the devil and I looked like him too. It’s healing now, but is still rather unpleasant. I wouldn’t recommend it…

We had hoped to change our return ticket to Los Angeles instead of Las Vegas, but that was not possible. That’s another of the new rules the airlines have had to put up with because of the patriot act. How that should deter a terrorist is beyond me, but what do I know…

So – here we are, back in Vegas, which we really don’t like. This time in the Stratosphere hotel. Tomorrow at midnight we board a flight to Brisbane, Australia…

Hadn’t it been for the useless Wi-Fi provider in this hotel, some really nice photos would have accompanied this post. As it is, I just couldn’t upload them, the connection (which I’m paying good American $$ for) is that unstable.

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A thriller

These last days we’ve (me mostly, and David) been watching CNN all day and night long to follow the so-called Iowa caucuses. That’s the pre-elections if you will, among the presidential candidates from both parties. First state is Iowa and that is of course why it’s so important.

The republican candidate who won tonight was Mike Huckabee. I had not even heard of him, when we arrived in the US and I’m pretty sure many Americans hadn’t either. And the democrat candidate who won was the black outsider Barack Hussein Obama. And Iowa is really a very white, a very religious and a very republican state. Those two candidates have very little in common. But they do have one thing: They both speak warmly about a UNITED America – united across the dividing line that has defined American politics for many, many years, a line that started widening badly during the Clinton administration because so many republicans hate him and hate Hillary so much, and which has grown so, so much deeper during the Bush administration, because of the Iraq war.

Even if Huckabee is VERY Christian and is against abortion and speaks about no sex before marriage and all sorts of things that I so not agree with, he said something very beautiful in his thank you speech in Iowa. He quoted someone, I didn’t catch who, but said: “War is not about hating the people in front of you, but about loving the people behind you.” And he drew on that line to talk about how he wanted to unite America across the divide.

Obama’s thank you speech was marvelous – I’m sure you can catch it on one of the networks’ websites or on Youtube very soon. Obama also speaks constantly about healing America and it’s self-confidence. He said: “It’s not about a group of blue states and a group of red states – it’s about the United States of America.” (Quoted from memory).

I’ve just read an article in Atlantic Monthly which elaborates on why Obama can unite America. You should read it… I like Hillary, I always did. But she looks old and worn – not as an old woman, but as an old hand –  and she repeats herself in her speeches.

And why is this so interesting to us Europeans. Well, surely that’s obvious. The president of the United States is half president of the world. What he (or she) does, the signals he (or she) sends, influence us all. If America’s economy doesn’t start to fare better very soon, that is going to affect us all. And if America doesn’t soon start working on healing the wounds in the Middle East rather than deepening them, we’ll all be in trouble. You can continue the litany yourself…

And a bit about us. We’ve been somewhat under the weather with both Emil and me suffering from relatively bad colds. Emil being hit the hardest, lying all of New Year’s day with a high fever. He’s better now, luckily.

Due to the above our New Year was quiet. We had nice food, watched a good film on the computer and toasted in tiny glasses of sparkly to a more peaceful world. It was certainly very peaceful outside our windows, no fireworks whatsoever. Pretty strange – don’t think I’ve ever experienced a New Year without fireworks before! But we watched one million people celebrate in Times Square in New York. They certainly had lots of fireworks!

Today we drove in to San Francisco and parked in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s parking garage. I can recommend that. It’s not exactly cheap, but neither is the ferry. And it’s very central and probably fairly safe. We went and saw an exhibition with Olafur Eliasson, which felt very close to home. David and I liked it a lot, Emil and Ida weren’t so impressed. We also saw an exhibition with an American artist I’ve never heard of before. Joseph Cornell. Very refreshing, very inspiring (particularly to Dane, who’s produced four boxes since we got home…) and very thought provoking. So all in all a very nice day at a very nice – but surprisingly small – museum.

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