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One in four people in the Netherlands is affected by a brain condition – study

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – As many as one person in four has some form of brain condition, but many cases go undetected because people do not seek medical help, according to the public health agency RIVM.

A new study found that 3.8 million people are registered with their family doctor with a brain disorder. Half have a psychological condition such as depression or anxiety, while 1.3 million suffer from chronic illnesses such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease.

Sleep disorders, which affect around half a million people, brain injuries and inherited problems such as learning difficulties are also classed as brain disorders in the study carried out on behalf of the Netherlands Brain Foundation (NBF).

Women are more likely to have a diagnosed brain disorder than men, with around 2.1 million cases in women. However, the RIVM said the actual figures are likely to be much higher because many people do not seek medical treatment.

The total cost of treating brain conditions is around €25 billion a year, which represents more than a quarter of all health spending in the Netherlands. The NBF said it had commissioned the study to highlight the fact that many disorders are invisible.

‘The next step is to tackle the issue through research, but also by improving treatment for patients in the hope that it will drive the costs down,’ said neuroscientist Laura Rigter. (DutchNews)


Caribbean Friendly Skies

SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - Have you ever heard of the ‘Caribbean Friendly Skies’, an airlift concept where all the flight connections are fast, the schedules are efficient, the flight attendants are beautiful, the pilots are good looking, the assistance of the ground staff is above average, the fares are affordable, and the flying convenience is superlative? This concept is a secret tip in air transportation.  So secret that very few people envisioned that it could even exist in the Caribbean. It is a beyond-average program that creates a new image for air transportation in the region.

The ‘Caribbean Friendly Skies’ prioritizes achieving the benefits of having better service, efficiency, and affordability.  If governments are interested in growth and development through increased travel and trade, they would be well advised to cooperate and support such a concept. If they don’t, well…., then they are showing that they are not an appealing destination and should just step aside. Nothing should delay or hinder ‘Caribbean Friendly Skies’. The ‘Caribbean Friendly Skies’ concept puts the perspectives and interests of the end-users first. For instance, the tourists who are fueling the economy revenues for 50-85%. Any authority that is a hurdle in economic development may not be serving its community in an intelligent manner.

Wait a minute? What is wrong an ‘Open Skies’ concept? ‘Open Skies’ is a great catchy name for a hot-air-balloon festival. But it should be avoided when dealing with government authorities and politicians in the Caribbean because it immediately activates defense mechanisms as it comes across as: “Eliminating regulations and government interference,” and gives the false impression of “Everyone can do whatever he wants”.

Open Skies agreements are bilateral air service agreements negotiated between countries. It involves passenger AND cargo services. All sides of the agreement need to commit to opening their respective markets.  Each side’s own objectives and market characteristics may delay or cancel liberalization, because national political and economic priorities are the main determinant and also the main deterrent. The governments of twenty plus Caribbean territories and multiple authorities may be involved. Quite a number! No wonder that ‘Open Skies’ have been suggested and talked about over an extensive period of time. It was never realized. Zippo open skies is where we stand right now, and another summit of Honorables is not going to change it.

What are the differences that one is dealing with? ‘Friendly Skies’ aim to facilitate the joyful flying experience of passengers. ‘Open Skies’ aim to facilitate a free-market environment for air transport operations. Government agencies aim to stay in control. There is another element that needs to be mentioned; some government-owned airlines are worried and are looking for protection. If they would provide impeccable air transportation service, they would not have to worry in the first place.

In order to find a solution, one would have to play Three-Dimensional Chess. This expression is used colloquially to describe complex, dynamic systems with many competing entities and interests, including politics, diplomacy and warfare. To describe an individual as ‘playing three-dimensional chess’ implies a higher-order understanding and mastery of the system beyond the comprehension of their peers or ordinary observers. Finding a person who will be heading the efforts may be a challenge for itself.

How to speed up the process and get the ‘Caribbean Friendly Skies’ concept moving? Incentives! How about awarding those countries and airlines that pledge and adhere to the concept an annually issued Certificate and Seal of Approval? The tourism authorities can use it in their destination marketing. The countries that do not subscribe to the concept will go empty-handed. For travel agents abroad, it suggests that it may be better to ignore destinations that don’t show the Seal of Approval. For vacationers, it is a sign that they are not particularly welcome or that the destination is not friendly enough. Some airlines may be avoiding those territories. The countries that are not willing to cooperate, are simply wasting their money on destination promotion.

The negotiations for a ‘Caribbean Friendly Skies’ concept will concern only passenger services and not cargo. Just one example here. The transit passenger from abroad should be protected from filling out forms for entering a transit hub-airport and then when flying from hub to end-destination again new forms that need to be filled out. Many forms are ending up in shoe cartons anyway, regardless of the claim that they are used for statistics. Many territories in the region make themselves ridiculous to travelers by clinging to control by paperwork. For vacationers and other passengers, it is a nuisance.

There must be better ways. That is what the ‘Caribbean Friendly Skies’ shall be about.  Skip bureaucratic nuisance and nonsense and improve interisland travel and tourism. The countries that will not make an effort to look for solutions, could be excluded from the program and may be stuck with a cookie of their own dough, which is being considered “third-worldsy” by guests from abroad, compared to those destinations that are more competitive and in line with modern times.

Now that we have a fair overview of the opportunities, benefits, challenges, and issues, and we are looking back at what has not been realized, one might conclude that we have been dealing with stakeholders who have not tried hard enough, or are not willing to find a solution, or do not understand that airlift is a people business.  So, be it. Just stubbornly keep holding summits and committee meetings, and keep the fictitious barriers in the skies, which symbol to travelers that they are not as welcome as the promotions say. Oh, and if those guests happen to come anyway, don’t forget to levy repelling taxes that are needed for tourism promotion to attract them. I’m not pro or contra anyone; I’m only pro for finding a solution when one is realistically within reach. Call it: ‘Caribbean Friendly Skies’.

By Cdr. Bud Slabbaert


UN experts urge China to ‘immediately and unconditionally’ release human rights lawyer

INTERNATIONAL, 24 November 2017 – Voicing concern that the trial of a human rights lawyer – leading to his imprisonment – fell short of international standards, a group of United Nations rights experts has appealed to the Government for the lawyer’s immediate and unconditional release.

According to a news release issued Thursday by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, was jailed for two years after being found guilty of inciting subversion of the State’s power.

“Mr. Jiang’s trial clearly fell short of international standards and his conviction represents an unfair and arbitrary punishment of a human rights lawyer and defender, whose only crime was to exercise his rights to free speech and to defend human rights,” the experts said in therelease.

“Domestic judicial procedures should be in compliance with China’s international human rights obligations,” they added.

According to the news release, Mr. Jiang, whose wife and daughter are in exile in the United States, was an outspoken defender of his fellow human rights lawyers who were arrested in an unprecedented crackdown in July 2015.

On Tuesday, 21 November, he was found guilty of the incitement charge by the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court after a supposed confession in August, the release noted, adding that the UN experts had previously expressed concern that his confession may have been coerced by the use of torture, in contravention of the Chinese Criminal Procedures Law and international human rights standards.

Those adding their voice to the call on the Government are Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

he release also noted that last August, during a visit to China, Mr. Alston had met with Mr. Jiang, and, in December, expressed concern that Mr. Jiang’s enforced disappearance may have occurred, at least in part, in reprisal for the lawyer’s cooperation with the UN during his visit.

The rights experts have been in contact with the Chinese Government on several occasions to raise their concern, it added.

UN Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.


UN forum explores ongoing discrimination faced by people of African descent

INTERNATIONAL, 24 November 2017 – Participants from Europe, Central Asia and North America gathered this week at a United Nations forum in Geneva to explore ways to combat racial discrimination and to ensure effective promotion and protection of the human rights of people of African descent.

Speaking at the opening of the two-day meeting, held on 23 and 24 November, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that people of African descent continue to endure pervasive discrimination in law as well as in practice, extending from neighbourhoods and schools to workplaces, political representation and justice.

“Whether they are descendants of the victims of slavery brought to North America and Europe against their will, or more recent migrants, people of African descent are frequently denied rights and experience exclusion, humiliation and impoverishment as a result of racial discrimination,” said the High Commissioner.

In particular, he raised concern over practises of racial profiling and patterns of police violence in the United States, as well as the disproportionate imposition of capital punishment on people of African descent and other racial minorities.

He also voiced concerns over “systemic anti-Black racism” in the Canadian criminal justice system, including evidence of extensive patterns of racial profiling by law enforcement, as well as under-representation of people of African descent in political spheres across many countries in Europe.

“We – all human beings – are equal; and therefore should enjoy an equal right to dignity,” he added, noting that just and peaceful societies for all can be created only when nobody is subjected to prejudice and segregation.

The meeting was held as part of the awareness-raising campaign for the International Decade for People of African descent (2015-2024).

Also speaking at the occasion, Sabelo Gumedze, the Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on people of African descent, stated that the International Decade is an important instrument to address the common issues facing people of African descent, such as racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia and related intolerance; underrepresentation in political and judicial sectors; and inequality access to quality education, health services and housing.

Underscoring the need to combat extreme violence, racial bias and hate speech which people of African descent continue to face, he called for urgently addressing the root causes of racial discrimination “in an honest debate about history and its connection to modern day racism.”

Other key speakers at the meeting included Opal Tometi, the Co-founder of Black Lives Matter and Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration; Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and Rokhaya Diallo, French journalist and activist.

The meeting also saw three panel discussions on the themes of recognition, justice and development.

Organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the meeting is one of five regional meetings that focus on trends, priorities and challenges at the national and regional levels to effectively implement the Decade’s Programme of Activities.


‘New and better deal’ needed for climate resilience in Caribbean, UN chief tells donor conference

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN, 21 November 2017 – Caribbean countries need “a new and better deal” – one that includes access to concessional finance and adequate insurance – if they are to build climate resilience, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Tuesday at an international conference to mobilize support for the reconstruction of communities devastated by a series of powerful hurricanes.

“During my visits to Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, I saw a level of devastation that I have never witnessed before in my life,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that in these islands alone, damage is estimated at $1.1 billion, and total economic losses at $400 million.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season was particularly active, with storms having been more frequent, and stronger. Of the 13 named storms, eight were hurricanes and of those, four were major hurricanes, including Irma and Maria. Across the entire Caribbean region, there was tragic loss of life and widespread devastation.

The pledging conference today at UN Headquarters in New York, was co-organized by the UN and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which is a regional grouping of 20 countries.

“Let’s not forget that these island States are not only interlinked by geography, but also interlinked by the economy, so when one country suffers, all countries suffer,” Mr. Guterres said.

He noted that extreme weather is becoming the new normal and sea levels have risen more than 10 inches since 1870. Over the past 30 years, the number of annual climate-related disasters has nearly tripled and economic losses have quintupled.

Countries in the Caribbean need a new generation of infrastructure that is risk-informed, to underpin resilient economies, communities and livelihoods, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015 by 193 UN Member States.

But financing is a key challenge for many Caribbean countries, which have limited access to concessional finance because of their ‘middle income’ classification. They also have high levels of debt, much of it incurred through investment in recovery and resilience.

Caribbean countries are also paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year in remittance fees. Disaster insurance has also proved inadequate to this unprecedented hurricane season. Debt instruments should be sensitive to the ability to pay, and have catastrophe clauses built in.

“In short: we need a new and better deal for the Caribbean, if these countries are to build climate resilience and achieve the SDGs,” Mr. Guterres said, urging international financial institutions and donors to coordinate risk sharing and concessional lending terms.

“Today must be about more than speeches and pledges,” he said. “It is an opportunity to forge a partnership for a better future, and to deepen a vision for recovery that brings together all actors and puts people at its centre, as active development agents.”

Also addressing the conference was UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák, who highlighted three key steps the international community can take.

We should not let the people be punished once by nature and twice by outdated economic policies.General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcák

First is commitment to support the rebuilding effort. Funding and technical assistance are urgently needed to help the affected countries to get back on their feet. Housing, telecommunications, water and sanitation, healthcare services and education facilities are needed.

Second is to rebuild with greater resilience, he said, commending CARICOM’s goal of becoming the first climate-resilient region in the world.

Third, he continued, there is a need to recognize that small island developing States (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to climate change, natural disasters and external shocks. To compound this, middle income small island developing Stated face inadequate access to grant and concessional funding because of how their development is measured.

“We should not let the people be punished once by nature and twice by outdated economic policies,” he said.



SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - Lately we have seen an increase in violence on our island.

I believe it is a direct result of the hopelessness and post-traumatic stress which our people are experiencing.

The level of devastation Irma caused is just like that in a war zone and the mental effects are very similar.

The reality is setting in as people lose their jobs and run out of money.

Early on, after Irma ravaged the island, I wrote many posts on Facebook asking what was Government’s Plan for the Post traumatic stress. While being in the field, I could already see the signs among our people while they tried to survive.

So many people have been displaced and are now living in very uncomfortable circumstances which can lead to high levels of stress.

Why didn't government ask the Dutch for extra psychologists to help our local team.

We needed A SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL WELFARE TEAM of psychologists, civil servants, NGOs to go out in the communities to talk to our people in their homes where they are most likely to open up.

Our people are not likely to seek out psychological help.

This team should also include other professionals to assess the person's living condition and could have also been able to determine families needs for food relief as well as temporary roof repairs.

It is not too late and such a team needs to be put in place for the next 18 months.


Claude Chacho Peterson

COMMENTARY: The comments are the sole responsibility of the author.


Encouraging messages

SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - Statistics have a sort of magical appeal and are a bit like mathematical enchanted tricks, aren’t they? The worlds of business and politics are littered with statistics. Some individuals using statistics are like the diplomat who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age. They are selective about the dates they choose, and about the numbers, that they do not want to use in order to keep their audience happy.

Statistics can baffle and excite an audience. They can be a calming remedy. Take stabilizing statistics. They are like looking through the glass of the oven while baking a soufflé; it may hold but with a little draft of opening the oven door, it will still go puff and fall together. With statistics, one can also tell one positive truth while silencing the negative other half.

This tactic is mainly used to prevent that the messenger himself gets hurt. However, it may work on the individual in question like using a silencer on a gun that shoots oneself in the foot, because at some time the truth will come out. It is a tactic of propagandists using their communication like an equivalent for beauty cosmetics; cover-up that is not waterproof.

Even if facts are tough, a message can still encourage the listeners.  Like the general telling his troops who were completely surrounded: “we now have the opportunity to attack the enemy in any direction” or the other military leader who once said: “we’re not holding on to our positions, we’re not going to hold on to anything, we’re going to move ahead”. 

True leaders don’t use propaganda or statistics; they are in the frontlines to charge and actually and actively make things happen. There was a romantic time when officers pulled their sabre, loudly yelled “Attack, follow me”, charged in front of their men and they were willing to take the highest risk of being injured first.  In politics things are different, “Attack, I follow you!” is the essence of the common slogans of politics from behind. The bugler is also taking a backseat next to his politician; of course, for better communication they have to be close together.

Recently I met a politician and I asked him whether he was resilient. “Like a Jo-Jo” he responded. I was puzzled, and I wondered what to think of the meaning of the word ‘resilient’ because I’m hearing it more often lately. So, I looked it up in the dictionary.  The politician was right. Because the first synonym it showed was ‘flexible’. Typical for a politician, I thought. From a populist leader, I would rather have heard that he would have used words indicating that he is persistent or tenacious like a bulldog.

Performers and their coaches know where to set the bar that should be jumped; always higher than the previous mark. They always try harder to come out on top and avoid the agony of defeat. As for high hopes, I’ve also heard about doping and drugs addicts saying that they like being high; unfortunately, they belong in the category of helplessly hoping victims.

Some people love to use the half-empty and half-full glass comparison. They think that it is clever way to perplex audiences. If the glass is half either way, it just means something is wrong with the brew or there is a lack of commitment to consume it. This half-half stuff may have been well explained by George Carlin, a five Grammy Award winning stand-up comedian and social critic, who once said about average persons: “Think about how stupid the average person is; now realize half of them are dumber than that”. I don’t think that anyone will take this personal; after all they considered Carlin only to be a comedian. Plus, even the average person usually thinks he isn’t.

The concluding question is, who and what is right? Maybe the pioneers are right. You know? The guys who you can recognize by rolled up sleeves and the first two buttons of their collar open which is their way to dress for success. When they start a business, they don’t even have time for statistics.  They work hard and give it all they have in themselves.

Those forerunners are typified by the virtues of being persistent and tenacious like a bulldog. Their attitude is about accomplishment. Growing or improving their activity regardless of statistics either way is not about comparing with the colleagues or the competition; it is about outdoing them, working harder to get new business, and also about finding different ways to increase revenues.

If you absolutely insist on some humble guiding statistics of encouragement, I personally don’t consider things encouraging unless growth is stable and consistent, and higher than 5%; and an investment is not an investment unless it yields more than 10% net. Even those percentages should be ballpark minima. Anything more than those numbers is just encouraging, anything less is not worth considering seriously unless one wants to run things as a hobby or to keep other people busy. In the worst-case scenario, the latter is the direction towards a breakdown, be it a nervous one or a financial one, or… both.    

By Cdr. Bud Slabbaert


Bonn: UN conference closes with renewed urgency for greater ambition to tackle climate change

INTERNATIONAL/CARIBBEAN, 17 November 2017 – The United Nations Climate Conference (COP23) wrapped up on Friday in Bonn, Germany, with delegations expressing a renewed sense of urgency and a need for greater ambition to tackle climate change.

Participants focused on how to maintain momentum two years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change in the context of the recent announcement by the United States of its decision to withdraw from the accord. At COP23, cities and local governments, including American cities and states, intensified their push to achieve the goals set out in Paris.

The Conference, which ran from 6 to 17 November, was chaired by Fiji, an island State particularly affected by the impacts of climate change. The Fiji Presidency announced an agreement on a Gender Action Plan, highlighting the role of women in climate action.

Apart from negotiations among Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), several new climate action initiatives, commitments and partnerships were announced by States and non-State actors in the areas of energy, water, agriculture, oceans and coastal areas, human settlements, transportation, industry, and forests. Climate finance and climate resilience were also at the center of the discussions at the conference.

More than 20 countries, including the Canada, Finland, France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, launched a new global coal alliance aimed at achieving the rapid phase-out of existing traditional coal power and at placing a moratorium on any new traditional coal power stations without operational carbon capture and storage.

COP23: Concrete Climate Action Commitments

As the UN Climate Change Conference comes down to the last day and governments work to complete the final negotiation decisions, it’s good to be reminded of the new wave of climate action that has been announced during COP23 from countries, cities, states, regions, business and civil society

Read more »

Businesses and other non-government partners have in turn made commitments to focus on powering their operations without coal.

The 19 Member countries of the 'Biofuture Platform,' including Brazil, China, Egypt, France, India, Morocco, Mozambique, also announced on Thursday formal agreement on the development of targets for biofuels and to construct an action plan to achieve them.

“Sustainable biofuels can provide solutions to the energy transport nexus. This partnership offers us that chance,”said Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All).

Among other initiatives announced during the Conference, a global initiative was launched Tuesday with the aim of providing insurance to hundreds of millions of vulnerable people by 2020 and to increase the resilience of developing countries against the impacts of climate change. The 'InsuResilience' Global Partnership is a major scaling-up of an initiative started by the G7 in 2015 under the German Presidency.

The Conference took place one year after the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. The Agreement, which was adopted by the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015, calls on countries to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. Today, 170 Parties have ratified the treaty.

The Conference, which was attended by some 27.000, took place in a sobering context of alarming scientific reports of climatic changes. A week before the opening of the Conference, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere surged at “record-breaking speed” to new highs in 2016.

COP23 will be followed by a series of summits and conferences on climate change which are scheduled ahead of the UN Climate Summit in September 2019, including the 'One Planet summit' to be convened by France next month and focusing on financing, a gathering in California, bringing together non-State actors, and the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018. Brazil has offered to host COP25 in 2019.



SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - Recently, the Caretaker Prime Minister decided to play tit for tat with the Parliament and invoked Article 59 of our constitution to dissolve Parliament and call new elections. I have been contacted by many people who wanted to know whether or not I would run.

After discussions with my family, close friends, my team and the Party, I decided I will be a candidate once more on the SMCP slate for the upcoming Feb 26, 2018 election.

While I had hoped we would end up with and pushed early on for a NATIONAL GOVERNMENT WITH A PROFFESIONAL CABINET OF NON POLITICALLY AFFILIATED MINISTERS to handle the reconstruction process while being supervised by a Unified Parliament, the older Party leaders once again demonstrated their inability to show humility and work in the best interest of the PEOPLE AT A TIME OF GREAT CRISIS AND UNCERTAINTY FOR OUR ISLAND.

On a daily basis, I see the despair and frustration of many persons.

People are talking about leaving the island and many have already done so. So many are trying to cope day by day with their damaged homes, unemployment and uprooted lives. I fear that many are already showing signs of depression and post traumatic stress.

More than ever, I feel the need to stand up and try to be part of the CHANGE which is needed for Sxm, Sxmners and Sxm people.

If we have elections on February 26, 2017, I sincerely hope the voters will vote their future and elect 15 Parliamentarians who will put COUNTRY ABOVE SELF while we work together on rising up from the devastation Hurricane Irma brought upon us.

SMCP, under the Leadership of Mr. Wycliffe Smith has kept our promise to the people in 2016 to stay engaged and continue, not only highlight the functioning of Parliament but also that of Government. As a party we are very ENERGIZED TO SERVE THE PEOPLE FOR A CHANGE.


Claude CHACHO Peterson

COMMENTARY: The comments are the sole responsibility of the author.


Bonn: Climate engineering is risky, but should be explored, experts say at UN conference

INTERNATIONAL, 16 November 2017 – Climate engineering, or climate intervention, is risky but needs to be explored as a supplement – not as a 'Plan B' – to greenhouse gas emissions reduction, said experts at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23), in Bonn, Germany.

Climate engineering, also referred to as geoengineering, is the deliberate and large-scale intervention in the climate system with measures including carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere or solar radiation management.

“We can do a lot, we have to do a lot, we have to try much harder at cutting our emissions, but there will remain certain emissions, especially in the land use sector, which are not going away. So we actually need to start talking about this removal of greenhouse gases inevitably,” said Matthias Honegger, research scientist with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, at a press conference.

Different approaches are being discussed. Some already exist, like planting trees. Other ideas include dispersing certain minerals in the oceans to enhance the growth of algae, which then as they sink to the ocean floor, would create a net flux of carbon from the atmosphere into the oceans.

“Business as usual is a little worrying,” said Dr. Hugh Hunt, from the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University. “The concept of not doing anything is full of danger. Now the concept of cooling the planet is full of danger as well.”

“We need to have full-on public engagement, full-on societal involvement. The reason is that the risks of climate change are huge, the risks of doing nothing are huge; but the risks of geoengineering are huge as well. We've got to explore those risks, because who knows, we may end up entering a very risky world without understanding it,” he added. “Geoengineering risks are not well understood and need to be explored.”

Stratospheric aerosol injection

Due to the great uncertainties over effectiveness and side effects of climate engineering – including the risk of disrupting natural systems – experts think that there is a need to discuss climate engineering governance, especially as it relates to stratospheric aerosol injection.

Stratospheric aerosol injection consists of injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere with aircraft or balloons to create a global dimming effect.

“This technology is absolutely terrifying. We may actually need it, but then, who do we want to decide. That's where this society-wide discussion has to take place,” said Janos Pasztor, Executive Director of the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative (C2G2), and former UN senior climate advisor. “It would require a level of international cooperation that we have not yet seen.”

“Who will decide whether we should make use of stratospheric aerosol injection and when that decision should take place? […] Who will make that decision on behalf of the world? And then how far do we turn the thermostat of the global air conditioning system […] to cool the planet?” he said.

“There are issues: the more temperature you want to reduce the higher the chance there will be negative impact and the higher the chance that some of these impacts will not be the same across different geographical zones. You might end up in a situation where some people benefit from the reduced temperature but some people would have negative impacts. What do you do with those people? How do you compensate them? How do you take care of them?” he added.

Mr. Pasztor concluded that the highest priority should remain the gas emission reduction. “But we have to consider these other options, as supplements, not as a 'Plan B,'” he warned.

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