my blog is on global science related issues; especially on the environment and health

Month: December, 2012

ERA/FoEN calls on FG to order withdrawal of JTF from Bodo Community

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) is calling the Federal Government of Nigeria to order the withdrawal of men of the Joint Task Force JTF from Bodo community in Rivers state. Shell petroleum is said to have engaged/contracted  JTF when the indigenes had a peaceful protest over Shell’s recent pollution and failure to live up to a United Nations Environment Programme  (UNEP) recommendations to cleanup Ogoni environment.

In a press statement released by ERA/FoEN on December 17, 2012, the protest in Bodo community is connected to a June 21, 2012 blow-out from a Shell facility for which the community has been mounting pressure on the company for clean- up.

Community folks allege that instead of conducting proper clean up, officials of Shell bribed some chiefs with N10 million with a request that they lie to the community members that the spill was an act of sabotage.

The bribe however angered the community people who started protests since last week. Sensing major trouble, Shell allegedly contacted the JTF which subsequently drafted that swooped on the community last Saturday.

ERA/FoEN described the massive deployment of soldiers to the community and brutalization of community people as “a provocative attempt to shield Shell from taking responsibility for its environmental crimes in Ogoni land”.


“The forceful occupation of Bodo by the JTF is totally objectionable. We must remind the Nigerian government that peaceful protest is a right of citizens in any true democracy. It is simply unacceptable for the JTF to re-enact the same brute force that did not and will not dampen the spirit of the Ogoni people to demand their lawful right to a pollution-free environment”, said ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey.


“Rather than deploy the JTF to Bodo to brutalise people already traumatised by Shell’s wanton destruction of their environment and livelihoods, the Nigerian government should deploy such energies in compelling Shell to comply with the UNEP recommendations for a thorough cleanup of the environment in Ogoniland”.


The UNEP assessment submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan on August 4, 2011 showed hydrocarbon pollution in surface water throughout the creeks of Ogoni land and up to 8cm in groundwater that feed drinking wells. Soils were found to have been polluted with hydrocarbons up to a depth of five metres in 49 observed sites, while benzene, a known cancer-causing chemical was found in drinking water at a level 900 times above World Health Organisation (WHO) acceptable levels.


The report also documented that fisheries have been destroyed and that wetlands around Ogoniland are highly degraded. These have led to irreparable loss of livelihoods and will take 30 years to correct. The report also recommended a $1 billion restoration fund for Ogoniland.

 However, more than a year after its release, Shell is yet to commence remediation activities.

ERA/FoEN Director, Programmes and Administration, Godwin Uyi Ojo said: “The UNEP report is clear on what Shell should do without delay. Unfortunately, Shell has chosen to embark on a “merry-go-round”on the issues.”

“That Shell allegedly bribed community chiefs to lie about its own irresponsible actions in Bodo is the height of insult on the people and indeed the entire Niger Delta people impacted by the company’s operations. We again demand the immediate withdrawal of the JTF from the community and implementation of the UNEP report in its entirety.


Climate Change Gender Balance

The eighteenth session of the conference of the parties (COP18) in Doha, Qatar came to an end without the inclusion of gender equity negotiations to address the issues of climate change; despite previous suggestions on the possible difference women’s participation could make. Women and children are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation and it is only reasonable to empower women to help achieve the targets of the Copenhagen Accord (COP-15) of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius
Women maybe tagged the ‘weaker sex’ and yes we may give way easily to tears but according to psychology experts, women are more liable to take risks in positive decision making and not let their emotions sway their judgments. Historically women are making life changing decisions every single day whether it is on how and where to get fuel to cook and feed their household; to bring up children, ensure the home is clean. The reality of how thick-skinned women are, can be seen and felt in the most populous continents of the world (Africa and Asia), where women are traditionally treated as second class citizens.
I think the only reason the man is free to make decisions is because women take the load off their shoulders. Women die young in these poor countries because they carry so many loads. This confirms the adage that states that: ‘A man is only as good as the strength and encouragement his wife gives him’. However, the biggest flaw is that some men fail to recognize or perceive the contribution they make.
During Rio+20 in Brazil June,2012 , the list of challenges advocated for by UN women includes the Nairobi Forward-looking strategies for the Advancement of women, Chapter 24 of Agenda 21,Section K of the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Conventions on biodiversity and Climate Change initiated in Rio in 1992
At COP-18 in Doha, Qatar, Christiana Figueres, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary told delegates that: ‘…women are global leaders and powerful agents of change’. In another meeting, Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, director of sustainability at Masdar emphasised the need for gender equality in the fight against our changing climate: ‘…men and women have a responsibility to play an active part in the dialogue and movement to address climate change’.
Some of the most influential and dynamic leaders in the world today and historically, have been women. Without there contributions and the critical decisions they made, countries would not have the democratic freedom they enjoy to this day.
An example of how times have changed with regard to integrating women into roles which could historically be considered ‘men’s territory’ as requiring high risk decision making where emotions cannot sway your judgment is portrayed in how the Royal Navy in recent years allow women to serve on active duty warships. In fact not just to serve, but even command some of the most highly technical vessels in the world today. Given this scenario, shouldn’t women be included in climate change negotiations? Can they not be part of those influencing debates and add value to the subject matter? It is however consoling to note that a decision on gender inclusion was approved as a DRAFT at the just COP-18 in Doha, Qatar concluded. Perhaps the tide has turned on womens participation on effective decision making to tackle the challenges of a changing climate!

British scientists to explore lost Antarctic lake

British scientists are exploring the lost LakeEllsworth in the Antarctic. The expedition is being sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council and is believed to be costing around seven million pounds.

While I applaud and see the necessity of the project, my concern is the availability of resources Western scientists enjoy. African scientists, particularly those in Nigeria are falling behind due to lack of opportunity and funding to explore and research those scientific challenges facing the country today. The sad reality is reflected in a project I was commissioned to produce by Nature Washington DC. The title was ‘Science in Africa’: My contribution, ‘view from the front Line’ was published on 29 June 2011  and televised. This can also be viewed at

It is little wonder that Professor Temi Emmanuel Ologunorisa, a renowned climate scientist expressed a deep concern regarding the situation in Africa as a whole and said ‘that is why it is difficult if not impossible for a scientist based in Nigeria to win a Nobel Prize in Science.’


North Korea Prepares For Rocket Launch


North Korea said it would carry out its second rocket launch of 2012 to launch another space satellite on Saturday, its fifth attempt to launch a satellite into space. The decision has prompted objections by the US as well as its southern neighbours.


The communist state has notified its neighbors of the proposed flight path, an unnamed South Korean official told Yonhap news agency on Sunday, saying that it would take a similar path to a failed Unha 3 rocket launch in April this year.

According to the country’s space agency, it had worked on “improving the reliability and precision of the satellite and carrier rocket” since April’s launch. That was supposed to take the rocket over seas separating China and the Korean peninsula where the first stage of the rocket would drop into the sea, then to pass over Okinawa. The second stage was to fall in seas off the…

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Dead Sea mud

I was covered in Dead Sea mud during a one week conference for science journalists in Amman Jordan October 2012.
I had to pamper my skin to enjoy the many health benefits the Dead mud is known to posses. It was a soothing experience especially floating on the Dead Sea afterwards. It was the icing on my cake-like visit to Jordan and cannot wait to go back.

Movember should be launched in Nigeria

Most countries just marked another MOVEMBER, a thirty days period during the month of November where men are encouraged to grow fine moustaches in order to create awareness about men’s health especially prostate and testicular cancers. The annual commemoration which started in Australia ten years ago is yet to be felt in Nigeria.


Every day, fourteen (14) Nigerian men die from prostate cancer according to the National Cancer Prevention Programme NCPP. Is this figure not alarming enough for MOVEMBER  to be launched in Nigeria?


The moustache growing charity event also help to raise funds for research and to support agencies to promote men’s health. At the end of the month in November, men meet in small groups to celebrate and give out money raised and then clean shave afterwards. Would be nice to see the country participate in the worldwide event next year.


Movember is a healthy reminder for regular medical checks because as we know early detection of most cancers including prostate can be treated.


According to Wikipedia, the MOVEMBER Foundation has raised more than $174-million worldwide. In 2010 those who participated in the United States raised over  $7.5 million; and this amount has continued to multiply.



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